Monthly Archives: February 2019


Last year, like all of us, my lovely friend Emma’s little girl was distressed about the forced family separation at the US border. She wanted to send money to help, so Emma helped her to start an adorable t-shirt line called Paradisco – and she’s raised $8,000!! 100% of proceeds from the t-shirts go to  Together Rising to help reunite children with their families.

thumbnail_PD_FBT_white PD_logo_navy_1024x1024@2x PD_TOAG_pink_1024x1024@2x

I’ve just ordered this pink one. I’m going to cut the sleeves off and wear with jean shorts all summer.

PS Emma and I met when we were both marching our children around Nolita in strollers trying to get them to sleep almost seven years ago! Errol was about seven months, Emma’s daughter was about four months. Emma had a thing called a Snoozeshade over her stroller, to block out the sun, and as we paused on a corner waiting for a taxi to pass, I was like ‘WHAT is THAT magical thing’ and voila, a friendship was born. This is why I love New York.


On… Cheap HGs

On Friday I was bored and on instagram, and started taking the piss out of a silly beauty story about hugely expensive ‘Holy Grail’ skincare finds.

I offered to put together my own list of ACTUAL HG products that are genuinely cheap (at least, on a cost-per-wear basis), so then I had to follow through. (Argh, following through, the worst.)

I’ve spent my entire life a writer worrying about wasting money who also happens to love anything and everything beauty, so you can trust that I’ve done the R&D. I used to write funny little beauty articles for Tatler, which is a British fashion magazine, and honestly, I mostly did it for the free make-up opportunities.

ANYWAY. None of these are particularly groundbreaking – and for those of you who know me, I’m predictable/repetitive/consistent, and have talked about most of them before. If you hate buying from Amazon I understand (and side note, how are we feeling about fakes on amazon? I bought some It’s A Ten hair stuff that was, I’m pretty sure, Fakey McFakerson, so I won’t be doing that again), so obvs buy them anywhere you want my loves, preferably somewhere with a good return policy in case you decide my suggestion is sub-par. One woman’s Holy Grail is another woman’s waste of space.

Here’s the complete list, with one reason why for each:


Salux Nylon Beauty Skin Bath Cloth. Don’t spend your hard-earned cash on grainy body exfoliants that go right down the drain: lather up with your favorite shower gel and this magical stuff instead. It feels harsh, in a good way, and it’ll make your elbows and knees feel like a baby’s bottom. With less chance of poo.

Yu-Be Glycerin Cream. I have been banging on about this stuff for years, I should buy shares in the damn company. Mix it with your normal moisturizer when your face feels dry and cracked. Wake up with perfectly boing-y skin.


Cetaphil Cleanser. This alone isn’t enough to shift my usual SPF-concealer-powder-blush sparkle. But as a quick cleanser on make-up-free days, as a second step, or even just as a light moisturizer when my skin is feeling, oh I don’t know, basic, this is unbeatable.


NARS impassioned

NARS Impassioned. A nothing-but-something blush that sculpts and lifts and makes it burn. This is the blush I wear when I want to look like a lady, and you need to use so little it’ll last forever. (I also suggest NARS Exhibit A for the same reason, but that’s less ladylike good, more roll-in-the-hay good, so, you know, whatever blows your skirt up, toots). By the way, obvs NARS isn’t the cheapest brand out there, but when it comes to blushes and eyeshadows, cheap just isn’t as good. (*Taps cigarette, gets super-intense*) The pigment quality isn’t there in powdery products, in my humble opinion. Go cheap for lipsticks and lipliners and eyeliners and mascaras and lip balms instead.


Real Techniques setting brush. Katie Jane Hughes told me to get this on one of her Instagram stories, and so I did, and she was right: it blends foundation and concealer into flawless invisibility.


Lumify Eye Drops. So OKAY, glaucoma specialists do not recommend we use this every day, but oh my GOD you guys, these are so good. No other eye drops compare. Not even those fancy-ass French ones. Or those blue ones from the UK. These. Are. The. Best.


BECCA Shimmering Skin in Pearl. Right now people are going nuts for glass skin, but it’s a swift skip from glass to greasy. This is the only product you really need for sheer glowy brilliance. (Obvs choose diff shade according to your skin tone, btw. I use Pearl, and I am v pale and kind of yellow. Like I always look like I might have jaundice. Just a little bit. I’m cool with that.)


L’Oreal Paris Make-Up Rouge Lip Stain in I Enjoy. Pat on your lips, smear around with your pinkie and pretend you’ve been drinking red wine and French-kissing someone delicious. (When you wear red lipstick, incidentally, or any reddish lip color, make sure you blot out any other redness on your face apart from your cheeks first – i.e., if you have a ruddy chin or get broken capillaries round your nose, like I do, throw some concealer on that shit.)


A-Derma Oat Milk Cleanser. This is a giant workhorse of a cleanser: a tiny amount will take off a full face of make-up in about 30 seconds.


Burts Bees Lip Balm in Sweet Violet. Oh man, I LOVE this lip balm. It makes my lips look naturally plump and pink and moist and flushed, which they most certainly are not.

red dahlie

Burts Bees Lip Balm in Red Dahlia. After I waxed lyrical about Sweet Violet on Instagram, I got a bunch of DMs saying ‘no try Red Dahlia GEMMA TRY RED DAHLIA OH MY GOD TRY IT WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS’ so I did, and yup, this color is ALSO AMAZING. I think this might particularly suit someone with lips that have a little more natural red color, so darling, if that’s you, meet your new best friend.


Coconut and Lemon Shower Gel. Like body exfoliants, spending $$$$ on a shower gel that lasts for *literally* 45 seconds on your body and then disappears down the drain is madness, utter madness (unless, of course, you are so obsessed with the scent that nothing else will do, which is totally valid, it’s your life, as Bon Jovi kind-of said). This stuff smells heavenly and is totally free from nasties. Two huge bottles will last you until Christmas.


Jurlique Skin Balancing Face Oil. Does it combat sun damage like it claims? That seems a stretch. But when my skin feels tired and emotional, I give myself a little massage with this stuff, and it’s all better by morning.


La Roche Posay Serozinc spray. I had a bunch of miscarriages in 2017. (Sometimes I like to say it like that, really cavalierly, although it was not a cavalier experience in the least, I imagine being a cavalier is probably rather fun.) Anyway, my hormones were bananas, obviously, and at one point I got – gasp – oily skin. I bought this to use morning and night and it helped, and I’ve kept using it, just because I like it, and I’m a loyal little thing. It feels very soothing and cool.


Shu Uemura Hard 9 Pencil in Stone Grey. Yes, this isn’t cheap per se, unless you consider that I’ve had the same pencil for like TEN YEARS and I use it EVERY DAY. I don’t know why it lasts forever, it just does. It never even needs sharpening. Perhaps it is magic? Also, grey is a weirdly perfect eyebrow color for most people. I haven’t tried it on you, so I can’t say for sure. But I’m quietly confident it will suit you, too.


Plain white facecloths. Use a freshly laundered facecloth every night to dry your face after cleansing, throw straight in the laundry, never have funny little bacteria bumps around your chin and jaw again, never waste money on facials, feel like a duchess, live forever.


Lubriderm Advanced Therapy. So cheap. So, so good. I lube up my entire bod a couple of times a week after a bath, put on clean cotton pajamas, drink a cup of herbal tea and eat dark chocolate and read a beauty blog or two, and yeah man, hashtag winning.


Amore Pacific Treatment Enzyme Peel. You need about a quarter teaspoon of this powder, once a week. It’ll last you forever. Especially good when you’ve been wearing heavy SPF in summer. Watch out for acid moisturizers after (glycolic, lactic, etc); this stuff isn’t as gentle as it looks.


Butt paste. Or Sudocrem, if you’re not in the US. This is pure zinc oxide, which heals and calms irritated skin and is great for red chapped noses when you have a cold, red marks after blemishes, in-grown hairs, and so on and so forth, you name it, this fixes it.


Mise En Scene Damage Care Perfect Repair Serum. Long name, small bottle, big results. (Bigly!) (Just kidding.) (Ugh, sorry.) Like a pep talk for your hair – this adds strength and shine to my embattled old tresses. 





















On…Russian Doll

Goddamn, I loved this show.


I love anything from Leslye Headland – I have seen Bachelorette so many times, it’s borderline unhealthy, and quotes pop into my head constantly (“You guys had an abortion without me?” is my favorite, but there are like seven or eight others, plus the entire hotel pool scene). I will watch (and rewatch) and read (and reread) anything she writes, and the only other person I could say that about is Simon Rich. Hmmm actually and Phoebe Fleabag-Whatserface. And Stephen Falk, now that I think about it, and actually let’s stop naming amazing writers, let’s talk about Russian Doll. It’s on Netflix. It’s smart and furious and hilarious. At one point, Natasha Lyonne’s character describes herself as the love child of Andrew Dice Clay and the kid from Brave. I melted with joy.

Oh. And this isn’t a spoiler, but just a fun fact that a book called Emily Of New Moon features in the show, and it was my no.1 favorite book for YEARS AND YEARS in childhood. (And the sequels: Emily Climbs and Emily’s Quest, because Lord knows I love a series.) Mind. Blown. No one knows Emily Of New Moon. NO ONE. And despite moving countries and houses more times than can possibly be healthy, I still have my original copy of Emily Of New Moon (and all my other LM Mongomerys, and Daddy Long Legs and Pollyanna and What Katy Did and Mallory Towers and St Clare’s and I don’t know why I only read books about girls in the olden days I mean seriously what the hell?).

On… miscarriages

Well, I wrote something about the three miscarriages I had in 2017. It’s here if you would like to read it.  Or just scroll to the bottom of this post.

It was a hard year. I’m so grateful and fortunate that a year later, I had Arthur.

And I wasn’t sure whether to ever talk about it. I’m hardly the confessional self-analyzing type. There are so many more interesting and important things in the world to talk and think about than me. But after I had Arthur, I remembered how when I was going through that hard year, I searched high and low for uplifting and understanding articles about multiple miscarriages. And I couldn’t find any (apart from this lovely one). Just horror story after horror story. And awful statistics. I was paralyzed with sadness, and I wanted someone to say to me: I know you are sad, my darling, but I’ve been there, and I survived, and so will you.

So, since I couldn’t find the essay I wanted at the time, I wrote my own.


Here is a very flattering photo that they took of me for the piece.

Incidentally, I used to look for similar uplifting empathy in literature when I was heartbroken, in my 20s – oh so many heartbreaks! – and when I couldn’t find any modern, genuinely funny stories about real girls who fucked and drank and partied and loved their jobs and made mistakes with men, I wrote my own, and that was how I became an author, despite never really wanting to be an author. Now I write screenplays, and I tend to write things that I want to read or watch, and can’t find. But anyway: the essay! Enjoy.



One in three pregnancies ends in miscarriage. That’s what I told myself when I had my first miscarriage, in early January 2017. I had two little boys, then aged five and almost three. It was my third pregnancy. C’est la statistical vie. A swift D&C operation and I woke up in the hospital, empty, and chatting with the nurses. I decided not to be sad, so I wasn’t. It’s fine! It won’t happen again.

So my second miscarriage, about five months later, was a shock. I’m not the kind of person to have two miscarriages in a row, I’d told my husband breezily. So not moi. And yet, since peeing on the stick, I’d had a sort of – not quite cramping, but an awareness of something. In bed, late at night, I’d focus on it, with a tiny zap of fear. But I calmly reassured myself, because calm reassurance is my thing. It’s even my mantra. Everything is going to be okay.

Then one early summer morning, the awareness turned to light cramps and then severe cramps and then light bleeding and then severe bleeding and then appalling bleeding, just the worst bleeding you can imagine. Bleeding that goes through a pad, knickers and sweatpants in 15 minutes, chunky bleeding, bleeding with intent. There was no need for an operation to remove it this time. It was removing itself. It took a long time. It hurt a lot. (If anyone ever gives you the option of a D&C or “letting nature run its course”, take the D&C. Nature is a bitch.)

After the second miscarriage, I felt lower than I’d ever felt before. I told myself it was hormones, and I had to wait it out. One morning I sat at my desk for an hour, staring into space, and then got back into bed and closed my eyes. This is not the end of the world, I told myself strictly. You have a family. You have deadlines. If you don’t write, you don’t have a career. Get up and keep going. (Tough self-love!)

I got up. I kept going. I won a WGA award for a comedy spec script. I Instagrammed things that made me smile. I went to LA and sold a new TV show. I came home to New York and wrote the pilot. I took phone calls and meetings and made jokes. (The other thing that I am quite good at, apart from reassurance, is compartmentalizing like a sociopath.) A specialist did a bunch of tests and said, nothing is wrong, this was just bad luck, go have some sex.

When I got pregnant a few months later, I was very nervous.

The doctor said my first scan looked fine. Great hCG levels. Too early for a heartbeat. Come back in seven days. I skipped home. My husband high-fived me every time I puked: a good sign. Everything is going to be okay. The next week, the doctor frowned at the screen. Come back next week. Seven days after that, it was over. No heartbeat. Just a black hole of nothingness on the ultrasound.

My husband was travelling for work. I walked out of Mt Sinai, stumbled along Fifth Avenue as the leaves fell from the trees in Central Park, and called him, weeping. I’m so sorry, I kept saying. I’m so sorry. He begged me to stop apologizing, but I couldn’t. I was too full of sorry. I texted my friends. Please don’t send flowers this time. I couldn’t bear it.

Another D&C. I lay on the operating table waiting to go under, hot itchy tears running out of my eyes and pooling in my ears. I tried to apologize – I can’t stop the damn things – and then I looked over at the anesthetist, and she had tears in her eyes, too. Afterwards, I didn’t wake up and chat happily to the nurses. I just woke up and then closed my eyes again.

November and December were very hard. A little voice in my head kept whispering Three! Three! Who has three miscarriages in one year? It was obscene. Ridiculous. Laughable. Tragic. I kept telling myself: You will feel better tomorrow, just hang on. But every day, I felt worse. The earth was jelly under my feet. I couldn’t catch my breath.

I compartmentalized hard. I didn’t want to do anything at all except cuddle my sons or escape into writing (deadlines: always a comfort). I avoided seeing anyone except a handful of my best girlfriends, who kept me laughing when I wanted to cry. But if they asked questions about the miscarriages, I deflected. I didn’t want to talk about it. I was just too sad.

Kind people offered advice. Get reflexology. Try acupuncture. Have your thyroid checked. Take Coenzyme Q10. And baby aspirin. Do yoga. Meditate. A friend gifted me a fertile eating program, and I obediently gulped down raw milk and bone broth. I didn’t know if it would improve my eggs. I couldn’t imagine ever trying again. But it was nice to be told what to do.

One morning I forced myself to go to Pilates, sure that I’d feel better if I just exercised, and then had to leave, because I kept dropping big fat tears on the reformer machine. I stood on the corner of Prince and Broadway in Soho and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I called my husband and told him I was drowning in sadness. I could hear the fear in his voice as he tried to comfort me. Everything will be okay.

But it wasn’t. The thing I’d always relied on – my delusional, reassuring optimism – was powerless against a heart full of tears. Three! I told myself I was lucky to have so much I loved: my family, my career, my friends, my city. And I told myself to ditch the stupid mantra. Everything will be okay? Who was I kidding? For millions – billions! – of people every day, things are not okay. For refugees and abused children and people whose loved ones are killed and women who have stillbirths and people who can never have babies at all, okay might feel impossible. Three miscarriages, in comparison, was nothing. What kind of insane privilege made me think I deserve to get what I want? And a third child, at that? The indulgence of it! How dare I ask the universe for more?

I went through the holidays on a sort of numb autopilot. We got home to freezing New York City in January 2018. I spent a couple of days settling the boys back into our normal routine, with that familiar heaviness in my chest. Then one morning I sat at my desk and thought: Enough.

I went for a walk in the crisp winter air and looked up at the beautiful buildings and the flat blue sky and the people around me and said goodbye to my three losses. I didn’t cry. I didn’t name them or have a ceremony or anything dramatic. I just said, I’m sorry I couldn’t give you what you needed to become a baby.

Then I went back to my desk and sat down and wrote. And I felt better. Lighter and clearer. I played Guess Who and baked cakes with my sons while it snowed outside. I read books about The Beatles. I worked out. I ate boiled eggs with butter and sea salt. I put on lipstick. My ABC show wasn’t picked up, so I wrote a movie spec, a romantic comedy about grief, and sold two more pilots. I went out for dinner with my husband. I saw my friends. I remembered how to laugh and forgot how to cry.

And I got pregnant again. Unexpectedly quickly. I wasn’t ovulating (at least, according to calculations). It just happened. Maybe it was all that raw milk.

I was very sick and very, very anxious. I was mute with tension before every appointment. I didn’t tell anyone at all as long as possible, and I hid the bump for as long as I could. I didn’t want people to congratulate me, or check in with me, in case I had to give them bad news later. If someone talked about ‘when the baby comes’, I would change the subject. I assumed something would go wrong. With apologies to Obama, I couldn’t risk the audacity of hope.

But there was a heartbeat, every single scan. Then arms and legs and a little nose. I ordered a baby Doppler, and listened to the heartbeat myself, day after day. Then he – another boy! – started kicking and didn’t stop. He kicked all the time, and he kicked hard. I’m here, he was saying to me, I’m here and I’m strong and healthy and I’m not going anywhere. I love you, I would say back. I love you I love you I love you I love you. I didn’t exhale the entire pregnancy.

And then on September 27, 2018, he was born.

He is perfect.

Arthur Noel Barry. He is sleeping on my chest as I write this. I am so lucky and so grateful.

I wasn’t sure whether to ever talk about this. I’m private when it comes to the big stuff, and I’m also aware that so many people struggle to even get pregnant once, and that miscarriage is a verboten subject. But over the last two years, every time that I read something about someone else surviving multiple miscarriages, it gave me huge comfort. So if this can comfort someone who is, right now, drowning in tears, the earth jelly under her feet, then I am telling my story for her.



On… footwear

I wear a lot of sneakers. (Trainers, if you will. Treads. Runners. Every time I move countries, I have to learn new names for a bunch of different shit. Luckily I am a nimble little wordsmith. Although just there, I couldn’t think of a term that felt better than ‘bunch of different shit’. Hmm.)

I used to wear flat Converses with elastic backs for easy slip-on-slip-off. SO chic and cute. Especially when they get all beaten up, and you have (faux) tan legs in summer. But then my back and hips went kaput (woe is me). Flat shoes are BAD for backs, my loves.

So now, I wear high-top Converses with a one-inch insert to give me a little lift and save my aching back. And! Elastic laces so I don’t need to worry about the 90 seconds it takes to tie them up, particularly because if I crouch down for any reason, I’m liable to have at least one small boy throw himself at me for a piggyback. With elastic laces, I can instead spend that 90 seconds 1. applying some extra make-up because it always helps  2. begging aforementioned small boys to eat something (no for real, how are these my children? My mother once said I was the kind of child who ate everything ‘that wasn’t nailed to the ground’) 3. downloading a podcast and actually we should talk about podcasts soon 4. remembering the baby’s diaper bag (which is, literally, just a diaper and a couple of wipes in a sandwich bag, shoved in my pocket, because I like living on the edge, and if the baby has a serious poo-splosion I’m going home anyway).


Tiny little lift for your flat shoes.


Elastic laces for easy slip-on-slip-off.

I own high-top Converses in silver sequins, gold sequins, and leopard print, and wow, I… did not realize that I do not have even one normal plain pair of Converses. Hmm. How telling. However, sequined Converses are TOTALLY a neutral and go with everything. Jeans and a hoodie? Yes. Cocktail dress and red lipstick? Also, yes. Smart pants for work? Of COURSE yes. Whatever ices your cupcake, toots. I wore sequined Converses for my wedding reception, and that was quite possibly one of the best decisions I ever made.

Plus: the crappier and more used the sequined Converses get, the cooler they are. I don’t know why it works that way. It just does.


I like these. I wonder if I should get them.


Maybe a pink pair. Pink is also a neutral.

While we’re on the subject of footwear, when I’m at home writing, which is most of the time, I wear these Heat Holders socks.61wiNaBfEOL._SY679_Oh, how I love Heat Holders. No other sock compares. They are like wearing warm fireplace puppy cuddles on your feet. They make me SO happy. (Unless I’m trying to write but feeling sleepy. My husband and his brother had a theory when they were at college: cold feet wake you up and make you study harder. They would take off their shoes and socks in the depths of the Irish winter, and cram. And it kind of works. So in deadline situations, my feet are bare-ass naked.)