Dear Friends,

During a week in LA when my mother’s (Kathleen Collins) long lost/resurrected film Losing Ground was screened at UCLA, I happened to develop my first case of Vertigo and spent an evening in the Cedars Sinai ER. All seems to be under control, and I learned a lot fast (thanks entirely to Woolfers who chimed in when I posted a plea for help). Mostly that this ailment I’d only heard of via Hitchcock is crazy common among women our age and often linked to peri-menopause. But what isn’t? So themes of shaky footing abound, as spring starts to emerge…

Once the dizziness subsided I was lucky to attend an inspiring breakfast hosted by Emily’s List, a 30-year-old PAC dedicated to help get Democratic pro-choice women elected to office. The event was held at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons and featured a panel moderated by Chelsea Handler, with Barbara BoxerPadma LakshmiAmber TablynElaine Welteroth, and Constance Wu in conversation about #TimesUp, #MeToo, and our political state of affairs. They were all amazing, each and every one, but to my mind Padma stole the show with her eloquence and strength, talking passionately about the importance of mentorship and putting your money where your mouth is. I also loved this quote from Chelsea:

“Everyone doesn’t have to be your best friend, but you have to be a sister to every woman you meet.” 




What We’re Talking About

As Black Panther heads into its third weekend already in the top 20 grossing domestic films of all time (and climbing rapidly), we urge the uninitiated to head to your nearest theater pronto. Visually stunning and groundbreaking (#BlackWave2018), its release had almost all Woolfers pumped (with the exception of Nina, who’s atoning). As one Woolfer aptly summed up: “The women are badass.” And did we mention the costumes? Swoon.

Over twenty years ago, Monica Lewinsky became a household name around the world overnight, thanks to the newfound power of the Internet. She was only 22 years old. 22 years old. As she asks the audience in her absolutely heart-gut-brain-wrenching Ted Talk, “The Price of Shame” (Stephanie cries every single time she watches it), how many of us did things we regret at that age? Yet, surely none of us had our most intimate secrets become the stuff of rap songs. In this month’s Vanity Fair, Lewinsky writes poignantly of “Emerging from the “House of Gaslight” in the Age of #MeToo,” and her long journey to turn pain into power. Now an advocate to stop cyberbullying, Lewinsky is reframing her past in a way that is, as Woolfer Alyssa Ettinger said, “gracious and brave.” “They tried to bury us; they didn’t know we were seeds,” Lewinsky writes, quoting a Mexican proverb. Spring has sprung indeed.

Biz Brag Spotlight

Last month in our FB group, we started a new feature called Biz Brag Mondays. The idea? On the first Monday of every month (next one: March 5th, mark your calendars!), members can post about their businesses. We already knew we were among some seriously talented women, but were so blown away by the the first wave of responses that it was a no-brainer to create a Biz Brag Spotlight every so often here at The Woolfer.

This issue we take a look at T. Susan Chang‘s zodiac-sign perfumes. Not only is Susan an author, cookbook reviewer, podcast host, and adjunct professor at Smith College and Bay Path College, she’s also an acclaimed tarot card reader with her own podcast, Fortune’s Wheelhouse. (Susan also has a cookbook podcast, The Level Teaspoon.) And she makes her own perfume! The perfumes are magically constructed on the hour and day of their ruling planets, and each sign’s element  — air, fire, earth, water — determines the perfume’s base notes. Made to order, unisex, and $24.99 per 15mL bottle. We’re so impressed, and excited to try these scents. You can buy them here.

“The way I see it, at a certain point you get too old not to follow your passions, despite what other people might think. The world I want to live in is full of magic, divination, beauty, language, power: every day I try to open the doors that go there.​”  — T. Susan Chang

Woolfer Reads

The latest Woolfer round-up of provocative reads:  Ninaessay for Next Tribe about driving across the country with a guy she hardly knew. Claire Dederer on her midlife crisis (an excerpt from Love and Trouble, which was a HUGE Woolfer fave). Wendi Aarons‘ hilarious update of the 80s John Hughes flick Sixteen Candles, which would be … 50 Candles … Four things men over 40 want women to know (enlighten us!). Women in math panel features all male speakers (for real?). And WTF just happened at Gucci? 

In honor of Women’s History Month, we have collected some of our favorite books retelling the conventional story (read: male) through the female POV. Many thanks to Kristen Buckley for starting the conversation! Topping the list is Marion Zimmer Bradley’s classic Mists of Avalona feminist retelling of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable from the perspective of the bewitchy Morgaine Le Fay. Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Seawhich gave voice to Mr. Rochester’s first “mad” wife, was a close second. Then the much-missed recently deceased Ursula LeGuin‘s Lavinia, about the wife of Aeneas, who is frustratingly silent in the Aeneid. And, in that same vein, we recommend PenelopiadMargaret Atwood’s sly take on The Odyssey through the eyes of the very clever Penelope. Finally, don’t miss Sena Jeter Nusland’s lush Ahab’s Wife: Or, The Star-gazer. 

Woolfer of the Week

Lydia Lee
46, Menlo Park, California

Tell us what you’d like us to know about yourself, in under 50 words
I’m a freelance writer who specializes in architecture and interiors — I love design’s ability to bring people together. I’m the child of anxious immigrant parents and grew up isolated in the suburbs with my head full of books. I live with my husband, two kids (10 and 12), one aging cat (20?), and two beehives.

What’s the strangest thought to cross your mind as you lay awake in the middle of the night?
​That I’m lying there with the night sky and stars above me and the earth below me and just a few boards separating me from full-on open wild darkness.

Who, or What, is your Current Crush?
​The adorable kids in Stranger Things. I just binge-watched the second season and I want them all to have amazing adult careers because they are so fantastically talented.

What is on your nightstand?
​A basket with a bunch of mini-bottles of lotion that I’ve collected over the years. In the winter my skin freaks out, and even though I moisturize ​religiously before bed, I still wake up itching sometimes. I figured that this would be a great way to use up all the random lotion when I’m totally desperate and sleepy in the middle of the night.

Woolfer Wins

We’re obsessed with these exfoliating pads for getting rid of dry, scaly winter skin … Nina uses the Trish McEvoy pads twice a day, but many Woolfers also swear allegiance to Peter Thomas Roth. For those looking for double duty, Clarins’ One Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser is another, slightly more economical, popular daily slough-er. Anything to feel slightly less rough around the edges, right?

Pic of the Week

OK. We’ll admit it. We have a massive collective crush on Rachel Maddow, whose show on MSNBC scored as the #1 cable news show for two consecutive weeks in January. Keep up the good work, Rachel!

Upcoming Events

Shout out to Diana Kane English‘s Persisticon, a comedy show on March 25th featuring Bridget Everett to benefit Emily’s List. The event is currently sold out, but you can still get on the waitlist and make a donation at

Also on March 18th, we have dueling East coast/West coast WWVWD events. The ladies in NY have been invited to a lecture and discounted shopping at Babeland in Soho, while over in Venice, Nina’s hosting a cannabis tea party for the San Francisco based, women-run company Kikoko,  accompanied by a trunk show with jeweler extraordinaire Margaret Solow.

In Case You Missed It…

On a last note, we’re totally psyched for spring, but these last days of winter do have their benefits … To take advantage of these waning, winter nights, we give you the WWVWD SexTape, a compilation of Woolfer recommended tunes to listen to when “getting it on.” We are forever indebted to Andrea B. Rashish for posing the question and mix master extraordinaire Laurie Nardone for making the playlist.

Also check out our other Spotify playlists: The Woolfer and Woolfer VagTunes. (Recommended pairings: and Dr. Laurie Mintz’s  Becoming Cliterate.)


Nina, Stephanie & Kris

The Woolfer Newsletter Team
Stephanie Staal and Nina Collins have worked together and adored each other since 1994 when they were both babies in the world of book publishing. Stephanie is a lawyer, journalist, & author of READING WOMEN, and Nina is the founder of "What Would Virginia Woolf Do?" Hillary Richard is also a lawyer and co-host of the Raging Gracefully podcast. Sidney Morss is a recent NYU grad and the youngest member of our team.

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