Nicollective Bargaining

Greetings, Dames Nation! We the Nicollective are delighted to be here with you. Much love and Toast blessings to Dames Sophie and Margaret for asking us to fill in.

NIKKI: Nicole! It's been a whole day since we spoke and a few months since we saw each other; how have you been keeping busy?

For my part, I have been working a LOT. I was promoted recently, and there’s a lot to do, and every single day for a solid week now I have plumb forgotten to work on the employee self-evaluation that's due soon, even though I am, like, Jared levels of excited to do it. I also just interviewed one of my heroes, and am in a pretty intense phase of book edits—it's out in under a year, which is apparently TOMORROW in publishing world? I love my editor, Julie, so much—it is truly a gift to have someone whose job it is to FIX MY WORDS. She has gently pointed out my flaws with love and seems to understand that I require a great deal of reassurance, which she offers in the form of "<3" and "THIS IS SO FUCKING GOOD" comments in the margins. (Honestly, friends, should you ever choose to write a book, accept nothing less than the nonstop and slightly overblown praise that is your DUE.) (Also! Don't be like me and rewrite the entire first half based on a weird and distressingly vivid dream you had.)

tl;dr I am busy all the time and feel very lucky about this whole [*gestures vaguely*] CAREER THING. I still miss The Toast a little bit every day, but not as much as I miss you and Mallory. Why aren't we in the same place, always!

NICOLE: It’s VERY unreasonable, isn’t it? I miss you all the time! As you know, I have a very small baby (born on August 29th, hence joining me in the nightmare of being a Virgo) and so most of my energies are just being spent keeping her alive, while also finding ways to amuse myself without any adult company at, like, four a.m. There are SO many shows, did you know that?

I’m also working on my crush on Armie Hammer, which is entering its third or fourth month and I hope is nearing peak intensity. I’m trying to channel it in more productive directions than just rewatching The Man From U.N.C.L.E. so I’ve been listening to the audiobook he recorded of Andre Aciman’s gorgeous gay coming-of-age novel, Call Me By Your Name. Also by reviving the “If X Were Your Y” Toast series later on in this very Tinyletter!

The degree to which I am excited about your book is EXCESSIVE! No, I think it’s very cessive. It’s correct. Do you have any other advice about writing? You’re very good at it, so you seem like an excellent person to ask. I am not writing a book, but I’m recapping Poldark AND Outlander AND The Crown, which a book. And of course I am now writing an advice column for you over at Catapult, because we just recreate our partnership wherever we go and whatever we do.

NIKKI: YES, I have linked to your inaugural column below! I could not be more thrilled to be working with you and Jaya on it (Jaya is another person I miss nearly all the time). I’m also happy to have published you and our friend Angela Chen in the same week; I would like every week to be like this please.

Your baby really seems like the BEST baby, adorable and endearingly chill in the way little siblings can sometimes be because they know they have no choice but to lower their standards. I love every picture of her and can't wait to MEET her. (This is my official request for about 1,000 more baby photos in my Insta feed; I know that's 100% your priority, right after the keeping her alive part.) I think you should have, at minimum, seven more children, since you make such excellent ones.

YOU'RE very good at writing. I still feel like a rube a lot of the time. I know I'm a good editor—I can look at a piece and see what is working, what needs tweaking, what should be moved, what should be cut. When it comes to writing, I feel like I'm more of a "wait for inspiration to strike" person, but then I look at my pitches and drafts and realize, no, I just put myself out there a lot. Maybe the only "advice" that's really worth anything, tired though it may be, is to stick with it and keep pushing past the doubts (assuming you are a regular human being with doubts, I mean; those of you who never doubt yourselves, where are your five bestsellers, hmmm??) and do it even when you aren't sure how. (Also, a sadly timely note: don't be so rude and terrible to work with that I text every single person I know about you and then put you on my (truly, very short) shit list!)

Your love for Armie Hammer is truly just and right and I could not be happier for you both. Apart from his entire filmography, what have you been watching during the wee-hours nursing sessions? (IS THIS WHEN WE TALK ABOUT PSYCH AND THE REUNION MOVIE?)

NICOLE: Being rude is so fascinating to me because I’m very bad at it! I will sometimes say “I sent her a VERY snide email!” and Mallory will ask to see it and be like… “what part of this was supposed to be snide?” In my heart, however, it’s vicious!

But yes, people who are rude to my loved ones and colleagues go in the VAULT and are never, ever forgotten.

NEVER FORGOTTEN, like Psych! It makes me so happy that you are also a Psychfan, I feel like we are legion, and had the show been around during a more Twitter-heavy era, it would have been cherished by a wider audience. Did you remember that Anthony Rapp was the core talent of the musical episode? I just revisited my (blushes) soundtrack. Top five episodes, let’s hear ’em!

NIKKI: Oh, please share, is a snide email from you one with no exclamation points? I sent one of those last week and frankly wonder how the recipient can continue on knowing they have disappointed me that much. It takes quite a lot, actually, to get on my bad side, but: mistreat a friend or colleague or, heaven save you, one of my kids, and you’ll be forever cast out.

I am not sure how we never discussed Psych in all our years of friendship; what an oversight! It's one of my go-tos when there's nothing new under the sun and I need to watch something so I’ll finally stop working. Dulé Hill brings me enormous joy. (To everyone about to message/tweet at me: YES, I know he tap-danced with Yo-Yo Ma on the set of The West Wing; what do you take me for.)

Top five, let's see. idk if these are the BEST, but they are the ones I rewatch when I'm in need of comfort:

"100 Clues" (love a good Clue homage, love a good chocolate dance)
"Last Night Gus" (I always laugh until I cry a little)
"The Spellingg Bee" (first Juliet appearance; also this is the one where you start to appreciate what a glorious nerd Gus is and I <3 it)
"Feet, Don't Kill Me Now" (largely for the Dulé Hill tap dancing)
All the Despereaux (Cary Elwes) episodes, though the first—which I cannot find a great clip of—is my fave.

I can barely remember the musical episode, I feel bad. What are your favorites?

NICOLE: Only one exclamation point from me is SO CLEARLY “you’re cancelled in my heart” that it shocks me others do not realize that.

Okay, my all-time favs! I’m very, very much with you on all of yours (especially “100 Clues”) and would add “Nightmare on State Street” and Deez Nups”.

I was trying to articulate what I love about Psych and I think that it’s almost too pure for How We Live Now? Like Leslie Odom Jr.’s Christmas album, it’s a warm bath of joy and too good for us.

Now, let’s tear into the rest of this TinyLetter! Dames, get bossy.

Stuff Nikki Read and/or Loved This Week:

We'll just be watching this gif on a loop from now until February, we guess.

  • As aforementioned, Nicole is now slinging advice for us, and as one of her editors and also a human being in this confounding world I am so glad we’ll be able to benefit from her wisdom. Her column will generally focus on friendships—those relationships none of us can live without, though they don’t always get the most attention in musical theatre ballads or advice columns. You can read Nicole’s first installment here, and then send her all your questions at

  • Colin Kaepernick is GQs Citizen of the Year, and as he remains committed to his powerful silent protest, GQ collected moving accounts from many of the people closest to him—including his partner Nessa, Ava DuVernay, Carmen Perez, J. Cole, and Eric Reid—on what his protest means to each of them. The result is an important cover story everyone should read, and then send to someone else to read, and then read a few more times.

  • #AustraliaSaidYes to their non-binding postal survey on marriage equality. Now a bill goes to the Australian Parliament. Onward.

  • This essay by Brianne Kohl about running and street harassment is a great addition to the many “we’re angry and we give no fucks” pieces out there, illuminating a problem I rarely thought about because I am not a runner. And speaking of men behaving horribly, our friend Jaya Saxena has a must-read over at about the cultural moment we’re in: “We all have the capacity to learn, to change, and to keep our mouths shut until we do. Not doing so is a choice . . . If the daily onslaught of sexual assault accusations will teach us anything, it’s to get used to losing our heroes, and the danger of having them in first place.”

  • This roundup might prove for some of you—as it was for me—an ideal read after all the shit-shoveling and necessary fighting we’ve been doing for a solid year.


  • This seems like good news and I do love the sound of “a multiple-network bidding war.”

  • Finally, the deep dive into movie capes that we all DESERVE

"Moses, Moses, Moses. He doesn't know the first thing about CAPE SWISHING." - Alternate Ramses. 

In Lieu of Links, Nicole the Cliffe Graciously Submits This Original Composition

If Armie Hammer Were Your Boyfriend

If Armie Hammer were your boyfriend, and someone dared comment negatively on your bold, take-no-prisoners attitude towards fashion, they would only do it the once, and then live in a cave alone for the rest of their lives.

If Armie Hammer were your boyfriend, he would always take the most incredibly flattering couples pics with you, because he has almost a 7 foot wingspan and could serve as a human selfie stick. He would never mind doing this.

If Armie Hammer were your boyfriend, just being in the same house with you would be so entrancing that you could do basically whatever you wanted while he played chess and waited patiently for you to pay attention to him again.

If Armie Hammer were your boyfriend, you would want to have a bad day just so he could comfort you.

If Armie Hammer were your boyfriend, he would know when it was PARTICULARLY important to you that no one interrupt your amazing anecdote, and would stare balefully at anyone who tried it. 

If Armie Hammer were your boyfriend and he saw a cute puppy while you were at work, he would ALWAYS take a picture of the puppy to show you later.

If Armie Hammer were your boyfriend, he would buy you really thoughtful presents constantly, and would always do the thing where he would hide it in one of his two meaty hands and ask you to guess which, and it would bug the HELL out of you if some other asshole did it, but it’s charming coming from Armie.

Did I mention how good the presents would be? Because he knows your style COMPLETELY.

If Armie Hammer were your boyfriend, and you asked him to listen to the new Carly Rae Jepsen single, he would bring to it the same ferocious intensity of purpose he does to all of his actions.

If Armie Hammer were your boyfriend, no matter how much tapas he lovingly hand-fed you, you would never have to worry about staying awake long enough to get into bed under your own power.

If Armie Hammer were your boyfriend, he would make a lot of really dumb jokes and you would never, ever get tired of them.