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Never Forget.

Sometimes you just have to write about what moves you.

18 years ago today, sometime just before 9am, a friend knocked on the door of my dorm room. I’ll never forget the sound as long as I live. I’ll also never forget what I was wearing (pink tank top and white pajama pants with little embroidered flowers on them from The Gap), the unfinished wood of my lofted bed on my hands as I scrambled down, and how wide my friend’s already big eyes grew as she relayed the news: “Someone blew up the World Trade Center.”

I don’t remember anyone screaming or crying, just doors opening all up and down the hall and low voices and people moving as if magnetized to the only place with cable and enough room for all of us: the dorm TV room. The carpet was stiff under my bare feet. We watched the towers fall live. It was horrible.

I do remember being singularly focused on my family, still asleep in California and planning a trip to the Middle East the next week. I called on my roommate’s Star-Tac flip phone, begging them not to go. Of course they wouldn’t go! Nobody went anywhere.

Classes started as planned two days later. According to Princeton University, postponing the start of classes was akin to letting the terrorists win.

Patriotism was suddenly for everyone, and everywhere. My roommate and I drove for hours in her Mercury Mountaineer, looking for someplace that had an American flag left to sell us to decorate our dorm room wall. Every bridge across the highway was hung with homemade signs on sheets and poster board.

I had completely blocked out, until my mom reminded me last year, that I spent days in a cubicle in a Red Cross office somewhere in New Jersey, entering data in a giant spreadsheet. Name, company, phone number, floor, last seen wearing.

I flew home for fall break 8 weeks later, from an echoing Newark airport populated only by very intrepid travelers and very comprehensively armed National Guard officers. It was the first time I had seen an M-16 in person. My roommate and I were brutally hungover (turns out you party a lot when it feels like the world is going to end) and terrified.

Thank you for letting me share my memories of that day with you. If you feel so moved, please share yours in the comments below.

LMW

Thankful For So Much... Including An Organized Home

In 2017, the Thomas fire came within inches of my parents’ home. 

My grandparents built the house in 1972, and my parents bought it from them in 2000 and remodeled it as their forever home. So, I didn’t grow up there, but for my entire life it has =been a beloved place to be with family and celebrate holidays.

Charred brush on the left, house on the right.

Charred brush on the left, house on the right.

That whole fall was a wild ride. In an unrelated but unfortunately timed water based incident, the bottom floor of the house flooded and my parents had to move everything upstairs so that reconstruction could begin. Then, the fire came, and they packed up what they could fit in their cars and evacuated. Then came the mudslides, and there was no access to the house for weeks. When the roads were cleared, the house stood in a sea of burned landscaping and melted pool equipment, full of sooty walls and smoke-damaged furniture and clothing.

There are so many ways in which I’m thankful, beyond words and with some significant amount of survivors’ guilt. Of course, that my parents were safe the entire time. That our home was still intact, while so many people we know and love lost everything. That our family has the resources to rebuild. That amazing firefighters came from so far away to work so hard to defend our neighborhood (shout out and huge thanks to the Moraga Fire Department http://www.mofd.org/!). That the Montecito community came together to take care of its own.

This is how warm it gets inside a house surrounded by fire.

This is how warm it gets inside a house surrounded by fire.

And I’m thankful that my dad is the most organized person I know. Because I am here to tell you, when then entire contents of a home have been relocated within it AND packed up for evacuation AND packed up again for post-disaster cleaning, you are really and truly glad from the bottom of your soul that every object has a designated location.

When I went to Santa Barbara to help my parents move back into the house, the three of us unpacked for three straight days. I did not take a picture of the pile of boxes that was delivered to the driveway, which was a big miss, but suffice it to say it was truly heroic. And yet, by the time I came back to San Francisco you would never have known anything had ever happened.

If my parents hadn’t had such an organized home in the first place, it would have taken us three times as long with three times as much frustration… maybe more!

I fervently wish that none of you reading this ever have to evacuate due to natural disaster, let alone lose your home. But based on my experience, I would heartily recommend getting your home organized and inventoried (might I suggest pictures of the insides of cabinets? Those would have helped even more!) as part of your personal emergency plan.

So, in this week of Thanksgiving, when so many people have just lost their homes and loved ones, and even the air around me is choking thick, all I can do is be thankful for everything that I have and try to give back to the people who need it. To help the victims of the Camp Fire, please consider donating here:

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I’m thankful for you!

LMW

What I'm Reading

Image courtesy of Getty Images and Victoria Warnken/Bustle

Image courtesy of Getty Images and Victoria Warnken/Bustle

How About We Don't Expect Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle to Get Along

As usually happens when I read a piece by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, I started cheering in my head when I got into this one! More great work here on the outsized expectations we have of women and the strangely specific roles they are forced to play.

Is Wokeness In Fashion Just Another Illusion?

I will not be including a picture of the Instagram post in question here, but if you click through you can see what the uproar is about. Personally, I find it incredible that in our connected world anyone could possibly claim ignorance on so basic an issue as usage of the n-word. If you speak English, spend time in the United States, and do business with Americans, it is your responsibility to behave in culturally appropriate ways - just as it would be if you were occupying space in any other country and culture.

Sex Work Has A Class Problem

I don't have strong feelings on the concept of sex work in general. They call it the world's oldest profession for a reason and I know it will never go away, but the intricacies of how to protect people who might be victimized and still enable people who feel empowered by their choice of work are complex. This is a great take on how some of these issues play out in the actual practice of sex work.

The Strange Brands in Your Instagram Feed

Can I be honest? I haven't for one second thought that any of these brands were worth purchasing, even before I knew the details about how they came to be.  If something is too good to be true, it probably is!

Thoughts on Natural Disaster

My home town is burning.  And that's in every sense of the words "home town:" I grew up in Ventura, CA; went to high school in Ojai, and my parents have lived in Montecito for 20+ years.  If you're not from Southern California and those names are sounding familiar to you, it's because of the Thomas fire, an epic blaze engulfing huge amounts of land across Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. 

Yesterday morning, my parents packed their cars and put the silver in the pool.  (Yes, really – this is a good strategy if you’re short on time or transportation because pool water will not damage silver, and you can also do this with oil paintings although frames may be ruined.)  By the time the mandatory evacuation area included our house, they had already left.  They of course texted my sister and me to ask if there was anything specific we wanted them to save.

My response today is very different than it would have been a few years ago.  You see, I was always a pretty materialistic person – I liked nice things, and I preferred more of them than less. I was also really attached to my stuff, especially the higher value things and those from my childhood.

My work has really changed my perspective on stuff.  As I watch my clients grapple with their possessions and space, it continues to impress on me that what’s important is not the stuff but the memories and relationships the stuff represents.  I’ve also realized that it’s easy in our culture to form an unhealthy connection to said stuff, and to let that replace more meaningful connections to people.

I still love nice things, but I know I don’t need very many of them, and I also know that they are replaceable.  So, when my parents asked if I wanted them to save anything, my answer was no.  Everything I need is with me in my home in SF, and I will always have lovely memories of my childhood, my family, and my friends from across the years.  Of course, if the house is damaged or destroyed, it will be sad.  But practically speaking we will be ok.

Another reason I’m so calm about this is that we’re both mentally and logistically prepared for fire.  We know our house is in a risky area and have prepared to evacuate before, so we know what to pack and when.  Our house is insured and has a spray foam protectant system in place that can be used by the fire department if they have time.  My dad even recently had every single family photo digitized, so we don’t need to take up space in cars with albums and boxes of pictures.

As I said, we’re prepared, safe, and fortunate enough to have the resources to recover and rebuild if necessary.  Many people had much less warning and are less lucky, and will need help from their communities.  If you’d like to pitch in, there’s great info on how to help here: #venturastrong

And don’t wait: prepare for disasters likely to strike your area today.  Coming soon: a post on organizing our earthquake preparation strategies.

LMW

What I'm Reading

Image courtesy of wired.com (Getty Images)

Image courtesy of wired.com (Getty Images)

Why Men Don't Believe the Data on Gender Bias in Science

If you, like me, have ever been frustrated by interacting with a man who prides himself on his pure, logical mind and yet seems to be completely ignorant of the realities of prejudice, this is news you can use.

Photo courtesy of racked.com (Jessica Pons)

Photo courtesy of racked.com (Jessica Pons)

My Super Sweet 15

Growing up in Southern California, I always knew about quinceañeras, but I didn't know they had become this much of an industry.  This is another fascinating look into one of the ways immigrant populations add to the cultural tapestry and diverse economy of the US.

Photo courtesy of vulture.com (Sergi Alexander/Getty Images)

Photo courtesy of vulture.com (Sergi Alexander/Getty Images)

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About "Despacito"

Given that this article is now over two months old I would have thought it would have lost relevance... but based on the pop radio station in San Francisco, "Despacito" is still going strong.  To me the song seemed to come out of nowhere, but this article explains in depth how clueless that perception is.

Photo courtesy of newyorker.com (Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty)

Photo courtesy of newyorker.com (Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty)

What Le Cirque Will Be Remembered For

Almost 20 years go, I ate at Le Cirque in Vegas with my parents, and I remember thinking it had to be the pinnacle of fine dining.  I never knew the real scoop on the NYC original!  And if you didn't already think Ruth Reichl is a badass, you will now.

What I'm Reading

Photo courtesy of npr.org (Martin Grimes/Getty Images for Grey Goose)

Photo courtesy of npr.org (Martin Grimes/Getty Images for Grey Goose)

Louise Linton Said She "Sacrifices" More Than Other Taxpayers.  It's Not That Simple.

We could all use a refresher on the economics and political principles that underlay the latest scandal-of-the-week.  And if you, like me, post about fashion on Instagram, I hope you can join me in taking a renewed look at our content and remembering that the ability to wear a wide variety of things just for fun is an incredible privilege.

Photo courtesy of racked.com (Greg Finck for Sarah Haywood)

Photo courtesy of racked.com (Greg Finck for Sarah Haywood)

Weddings of the 0.01 Percent

Even though It's been over seven years since I planned my own wedding, I still love reading and talking about weddings - especially when there's as much juicy insider detail as there is in this article!  But as with so many things, I finished it remembering the sociological research which tells us that, past a certain point, money doesn't actually buy any additional happiness.

Photo courtesy of the guardian.com (Alexandra Iokovleva/Getty)

Photo courtesy of the guardian.com (Alexandra Iokovleva/Getty)

Why We Fell For Clean Eating

I completely cut out sugar and processed grains for a solid three months about five years ago, and continue to minimize both of those things as much as my inherent tendency to being a sugar monster allows.  I've never really thought of this strategy as a health panacea though - it's really a weight maintenance tool for me.  I generally avoid extremes, and this article reassures me that that's a wise strategy.

Photo courtesy of racked.com (Claire Zulkey)

Photo courtesy of racked.com (Claire Zulkey)

Shopping For Boys Cloths Is So Boring

This article also brings up an excellent point to me: why does "gender-neutral" skew so masculine?  My sister and her wife dress my niece in all kinds of things, from frilly dresses to onesies that are clearly from the boys' department, and that just seems like a progressive strategy.  But I wonder if they or anyone else would put boys in pink and glitter sometimes in the name of gender neutrality.  I wish they would!

What I'm Reading

Photo courtesy of elle.com

Photo courtesy of elle.com

Kate Middleton's Engagement Dress May Have Triggered the Downfall of the Brand Issa

I own one Issa piece, a gorgeous peacock green gown with cap sleeves and a plunging back, and was a fan of the brand's simply elegant aesthetic.  It's too bad the brand disappeared, but this article is a sobering reminder that fashion is above all a business.

Photo courtesy of marieclaire.com (@ashleybouder)

Photo courtesy of marieclaire.com (@ashleybouder)

Ballet Has A Sexism Problem - But I'm Fighting Back From the Inside

I've had season tickets to the San Francisco Ballet for at least five years now.  In that time, I don't recall seeing a single piece by a female choreographer.  And I'm pretty sure there there have been few if any pieces created by people of color.  These are both serious problems.

Photo courtesy of theguardian.com (Popperfoto)

Photo courtesy of theguardian.com (Popperfoto)

"London Bridge is down:" the secret plans for the days after the Queen's death

This is fascinating.  Royals lover, hater, or not-carer, there is a lot going on here for everyone!

Restaurants Banning Children: Is It Good For Business?

As a child, I would have been outraged by this.  My parents were sticklers for table manners and took us with them to all kinds of fine dining restaurants starting when we were quite young, and I was really proud of being a well-behaved child in an adult environment.  However, my adult self realizes that not every kid is restaurant ready and that paying customers deserve the kind of experience they've sought out and paid for!

What I'm Reading

Image courtesy of gofugyourself.com

Vogue’s March Cover Celebrates “No Norm Is The New Norm” By Adhering To Norms

Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan write the way I wish my inner voice spoke: with warmth, humor, impeccable word choice, and incisive analytical ability..  I've been reading their fashion blog Go Fug Yourself since the early days, and I love that they're willing to engage on social issues along with red carpet reviews.

Photo courtesy of bonappetit.com (Alex Lau)

Charcoal, Old-School Pizza, and Every Other Food Trend You'll See in 2017

I've been a fan of cauliflower for a long time (my mom used to puree it as a side dish and I always thought it was the ultimate comfort food) but I have to admit that most of the things on this list are completely off my radar!

Photo courtesy of Congresswoman Grace Meng

Our Laws Period-Shame Women—So I'm Going to Change Them

The experience of reading this op-ed by Congresswoman Grace Meng was another "check your privilege" moment for me.  I remain appalled at the ways in which our society refuses to openly deal with a natural process that is experienced by literally over half the population.

Photo courtesy of nytimes.com (Janus)

Are You Not Washing Your Hair Enough?

Well, THIS is timely, given my recent post about my stripped down hair care routine!  I now feel like I have to clarify and say that when I wash my hair, I really wash it, and also specify that since I don't use any styling products I don't get the kind of gunky buildup the article talks about.  Blow dry bars don't wash hair all that thoroughly, ladies, and then they top it off with tons of product.  Ew!

 

What I'm Reading

Photo courtesy of washingtonpost.com (Eric Vega/Getty Images)

Why We Love to Hate McMansions But Still Buy Them

I'm never going to be a McMansion customer - I love urban living and happily give up space in order to do it.  But I also never really thought about the unique ways in which they represent our culture over and above the mismatched decorative elements!

Photo courtesy of boston.com

Travelers With Nut Allergies Clash With Airlines

My husband is severely allergic to peanuts, so this issue is very real for us.  To manage the situation we fly United exclusively, since they do not serve peanuts and his allergy is such that if one or two people eat a Snickers bar on the flight he won't be affected.  I'm pretty shocked at some airlines' responses to allergies, though - there are a lot of kids out there with food allergies who will soon be paying customers!

Circling the Sun

Our next book club meeting is on Sunday, and this time around we chose Circling the Sun by Paula McLain since a few of us loved another of her books, The Paris Wife.  As a kid, historical fiction was my jam, and reading this book did take me back!  However, I have to say I liked it but didn't love it - some of the characters felt one-dimensional to me even though they're based on real people.

Image courtesy of nymag.com (Bobby Doherty)

America is Still the Future: A Love Letter to My New Country

My husband sent this article to me since Andrew Sullivan is one of his favorite conservative writers.  There is a brief moment towards the beginning where he almost loses me with clueless white privilege, but he does bring it around and I really enjoyed the perspective.  

 

Weekly Peek

Something's up when Grandma and Grandpa are on the march.

Rise Up

For those who follow my Instagram @lmwedits, you'll know I put on my "women's rights are human rights" t-shirt to join the San Francisco Women's March this past Saturday.  I was proud to participate alongside women, men, and children of every age, race, sexuality, country of origin, and gender expression; and prouder still that both of my parents marched in Santa Barbara along with my sister, sister in law, and niece.  If these two lifelong conservatives got upset enough about the threats to human rights in this country to hit their first protests at 60-something years old, you can bet that something big is going on.  The fight for equality for all human beings is far from over, but it feels good to be a member of the movement along with my whole family.

Photo courtesy of vertical-method.com

Flipping the Script

At a silent auction last year, I came across a monthly pass to a new studio called Vertical Method.  It's sort of a combo of Pilates, barre, and some other things, except for using a mat and a horizontal bar, everything is done off a vertical bar.  I'm a big fan of Pilates - I take a private lesson once a week and fit in group classes where I can - so I figured I had to try it out.  It's definitely a good workout, and it will really help your posture if that's something you struggle with.  The vertical bar also adds a sort of jungle gym element, which I enjoy!  I just wish the studio was a little closer to me with better transportation - but it's a good option to have when I'm looking for something to mix up my fitness routine.

That small cabin is usually 10 feet off the ground!  Photo courtesy of squawalpine.com

It's Dumping

In case you've been too bogged down in all this rain to notice, the Sierra Nevada mountains have been getting slammed with snow since the end of 2016 - 23 feet of it so far!  In fact, today, Highway 89 was closed due to an avalanche (if you ski at Squaw Valley or Alpine Meadows, you'll know this is as the road that connects Truckee to Tahoe City and Lake Tahoe) and people are still snowed in from the weekend.  While we're all excited about what this means for the slopes and the drought, don't forget about everyone working overtime to clear the roads, restore power, and make the environment safe for the rest of us!

Photo courtesy of cryptozoic.com

Game Night

Because of all this snow, my parents' condo at Tahoe didn't have power over the MLK long weekend, prompting us to cancel a planned ski weekend with friends.  We were definitely bummed out, but we still got everyone together for dinner and game night at our house.  Our standbys have been Settlers of Catan and Cards Against Humanity, but one couple brought a new-to-us game that quickly became a hit: Spyfall.  It's a little bit like Mafia, but more complex and unintentionally hilarious!