Luminaries

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!

A Manual for Organized Living

A blogger I’ve followed off and on recently posted a gushing review of Emily Ley’s new book A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living.  So of course, you know I had to pick it up and read it through my professional organizer’s eyes!

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What I love most about this book is how Emily clearly explains that an organized home with systematic routines is the foundation for the rest of your life, rather than the end goal. She rejects the fetishization of organizing so common on blogs and Pinterest, which I find incredibly refreshing!

I also love how she consistently drives home the critical importance of simplicity. I’ve found in my own work that less is almost always more, and Emily shows how it’s possible to simplify in a variety of ways without losing quality of life or experience.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly for its target demographic: female, Christian homemakers in heterosexual marriages with children who live in single family homes in suburban environments.  If this is you, you are going to love Emily and her wise, practical advice!

If this isn’t you, Emily’s perspective might frustrate you. She comes across as an earnest, kind person who is doing her best every day. That said, there are blind spots in this book. She suggests that we store food in the pantry and tools in the kitchen, perhaps not realizing that having a pantry itself is a luxury.  She exhorts us to pull back professionally to make room for family life, which makes it clear that her household is privileged enough not to require two full time working parents.

A Simplified Life proves to me that there are as many perspectives on organizing as there are people who love to organize and believe in the power of an organized home. So, find the one that speaks to you, and use it to help you create the organized home you’ve always wanted!

LMW

What I'm Reading

Wrapping up a few holdovers that stuck with me at the end of 2017...

We Might As Well Talk About Taylor Swift's New Single

The Fug Girls are some of the smartest pop culture critics out there, and their take on Taylor Swift both resonated with me and brought up points I hadn't even considered.  I doubt Taylor will ever read this... but I sincerely hope she does.

Elaine Welteroth, Teen Vogue's Refashionista

I wasn't the only one who noticed that a lot of the best written, most intelligent articles bubbling to the top of my social media feeds in mid-late 2017 came from Teen Vogue.  It's all due to their excellent writers and this woman, who I greatly admire.

Why I Finally Gave Up My Nightly Cocktail

There's a strong argument here that hits home with me.  The concept is being taken under consideration in the LMW household!

How the Sandwich Consumed Britain

I'm actually obsessed with the type of sandwich this article discusses: individually packed, cut into triangles, fillings generally mayonnaise-based.  So of course I greatly enjoyed this deep dive into why these particular meals became so popular and how they're made and distributed.

A Radical Approach to "Just In Case"

Have you ever gone to donate or trash something and then thought, “No, I should keep that just in case”?  I can tell you that I hear this All. The Time., and so do The Minimalists: a pair of best friends who discovered minimal living and are out to spread the good news through their website, podcast, books, and documentary film.  They’ve come up with a revolutionary way of approaching the concept that will likely shock you the first time you read it: Getting Rid of Just-in-Case Items: 20 Dollars, 20 Minutes.

Kind of crazy, right?

But here’s why it works.  Think of something you’re holding on to just in case, and try what I do with my clients: drill down on that.  Just in case of what?  What is the scenario in which you would need this item, and how likely is that scenario to occur in your life?  What would happen if that scenario occurred and you hadn't kept the item – how much expense and effort would it take to replace it?

This might feel aggressive and make you uncomfortable, and that’s ok.  People are often resistant to this line of questioning because it challenges a very deeply held belief for many of us: that one should always be prepared for anything.  But as The Minimalists point out, preparedness for unlikely situations carries its own costs.

For example, I have a client who travels frequently.  She and her husband each have a complete set of rugged, top of the line luggage that they use on all their trips.  Perfect!  However, they have also kept the last couple of sets of luggage that their current set theoretically replaced.  When I asked if she was ready to donate the old suitcases (which are still in good condition), my client said the magic words: “I want to keep them just in case.”

I tried to drill down on this a bit. Her reluctance to donating her old suitcases boiled down to the fact that she had really liked her old luggage set and wasn’t as big of a fan of the new stuff.  She felt guilty that she had spent a non-insignificant amount of money on new luggage only to find she didn’t like it.  It became clear that she wasn’t ready to make this decision, and that was totally fine – I work on my client’s timeline, not mine – but my gentle probing questions got the wheels turning.

Hold on a second, you say – luggage is expensive and can’t be found just anywhere!  This doesn’t pass the 20/20 test!  I would counter that this situation does in fact pass the test because my client will never need the old luggage in the first place.  A scenario in which her new set is completely lost or destroyed is incredibly unlikely.

In the meantime, suitcases are large and take up space my client could otherwise use for other things.  In addition, their continued presence in her home means that she’s continually confronted with a decision she made that makes her uncomfortable and feels pressure to resolve this discomfort.

What are you holding on to just in case, and at what cost?

LMW

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 nymag.com (Ari Seth Cohen)

Don't Tell Me to Dress My Age

As a person who is solidly in "old enough for an article like this to apply to" territory, I wholeheartedly identified with it.  I've noticed I'm less comfortable with shorter hemlines without an assist from opaque tights, but care much less about being over-dressed for an event - I love to look polished and put together, and I don't care if that makes me stand out a bit!

Photo courtesy of luvvie.org

I'm Judging You: The Do-Better Manual

All I can say about this book is that it should literally be required reading for every human being alive today.  Blogger/humorist/all around rockstar Luvvie Ajayi presents practical ways to be an actual better person, all served with a side of her trademark sass to help the medicine go down.

Photo courtesy of Nice Life Recording Company

Meet The Rising Musician Who's Starting A Body Confidence Revolution

Well, I know what I'm going to be streaming in the car on the way to a client appointment this afternoon!  Lizzo's comment that absolutely took my breath away relates to something I've been noodling on for awhile: "I hate when things that are good for people become trendy and people belittle their importance.  That's happened with terms like feminist, activist, and safe space."

And now for something a little different...

My dad sent the following to our little family group yesterday.  My sister, sister-in-law, husband, and I were blown away by the acuity of his observations and the quality of his writing.  I just had to share it with you!

India, Two Weeks In

When Claire and I landed in Delhi two years ago, there was one window for internet-obtained visas and nobody in that line.  Now, with greater awareness, half the plane-load is in that line, but there is still only one window.  Such is India.  The people are modernizing much faster than the state.  The state is going to have to figure out how to get out of the way or get upended.  But, the state is notoriously bureaucratic and slow to change.  It is a tinderbox.

We are told that India today, compared to twenty-five years ago when economic liberalization began, is day and night.  Only that perspective gives me hope that this country can bootstrap its way into the 21st century.  The enormity of the challenge is overwhelming (I find myself using that word a lot but will try to reserve it for the extreme cases).

The country remained agrarian through half of the twentieth century, and 60-70% of the population today still lives in the rural villages that - for the most part - have no electricity, running water, or sanitation. That's nearly a billion of the 1.4 billion population.  The cities are a mash-up of crumbling Raj, tin-roofed stalls, and air-conditioned oases for the business community and the tourists.

Using the vernacular of the day - which is pretty nearly accurate - the top 1% are up to date, most everybody else in the cities is a wannabe techie, and the rest of the country is two centuries behind.  There is precious little industrial base.  The industrial revolution never came here.  Consequently, there is precious little middle class, and those that are earning their way to that level with service jobs rarely have any opportunity to accumulate capital.  Success for most urban immigrants is a motorcycle and a smartphone.

This is Jess's nightmare.  Everything about India is crowded.  Unless you venture out early in the morning, you can't possibly walk in a straight line for more than a few steps.  The sidewalks have long since been taken over - and roofed over - as stalls. People by the thousands, dogs (which have been inbred to the point of uniformity), cows which are sacred and therefore simply worked around wherever they choose to be, and an army of green and yellow tuk-tuks (three-wheeled motorized rickshaws) vie for footing on the streets.  Add in a million motorcycles and the habit of all Indian drivers to honk endlessly, and you have a pretty good working example of chaos.

Just when you are getting a grasp on this scene, you realize that you are only dealing with half the population.  You see very few women out and about, even in the cities.  The street is the men's realm, and for many of them it is the sum total of their realm.  Few appear to be seriously employed, in a country where even a full-time job might involve 3-4 hours of actual work on a good day and always includes 144 official vacation days per year (Sundays plus 10 weeks).  And get this:  there are a million Indians reaching age 18 and entering the job market PER MONTH!

Marriages are still arranged by parents in most cases - we hear numbers from 75% to 95% of families - and it doesn't happen until the man has a job to support a family.  (see previous paragraph)   Are you picking up on a growing problem here?   Increasingly, the young Indian men are not only unemployed but unattached into their 30s.  Pre-marital sex is a huge taboo.  Porn is very popular.  Arranged marriages are not, by and large, love matches.  A disturbing proportion of Indians must not ever know what it is to fall in love.

I choose not to adopt the Hindu belief in reincarnation, for fear of coming back as a lower caste Indian.  That would be purgatory (and is regarded as such by Hindus whose goal is to earn exemption from reincarnation).  It is hard to be optimistic for these people, except . . . that they have come so far in the last twenty-five years.

Visitors can't ignore the obvious, but they can escape it.  The top-end hotels - in many cases, former palaces of the maharajas who ruled over 100 separate feudal fiefdoms until the British decided to create India - are truly splendid.  Air conditioned sedans ferry the rich through the rivers of local humanity.  Line-jumping is part of the culture, and the tourist industry knows how to do it for their paying clients.  Being coddled is nice, but being the modern-day incarnation of colonialism and privilege is scary.

There is nothing the tourist industry can do about the polluted air and rivers, so they simply deny the issues.   We have now been in the cities and countryside across a huge swath of northern India, and we have yet to see a spot of blue sky through the gray haze.  You can smell it and feel it; you instinctively want to struggle to the surface to gasp fresh air as when deep in a pool.  We are surprised not to hear more coughing.  Lung disease must be a lingering future epidemic.

The tour guides swear the river water is pure, but they don't drink it.  The rivers drain from the Himalayas and serve as sewers across vast plains, and the accumulation of run-off during the heavy rains is beyond our ken.  We have seen the high water marks and find them hard to believe:  during the monsoon, the rivers rise 30-50 feet and spread to 25-30 kilometers wide in some places.  The Hindu practice of cremation and deposit of ashes in the rivers doesn't help.

There are the usual tourist destinations: temples, forts, palaces, shrines, mausoleums, monasteries, folk music and dance venues.  We allow ourselves to be herded with only a little grumbling.  Frankly, those things are hardly worth talking about.   They are not the story.   You come here to see a significant chunk of the world's population trying to find its way in the modern world, against enormous (dare I say overwhelming?) odds.

-Marshall Milligan

 

What I'm Reading

Photo courtesy of buzzfeed.com (Getty Images/Kevin Mazur)

The Media and Malia

I have a feeling that, for each and every member of the First Family, their time in the White House has only been the beginning of their impact on our world.  It's going to be fascinating to watch where they go and what they do next.

Photo courtesy of theringer.com (Getty Images)

An Etiquette Guide for Using Uber Pool and Lyft Line

I've taken Uber Pool and will definitely do so again - if I'm not in a major rush, it's by far the best combination of cheapest and fastest way to get from Point A to Point B in San Francisco.  I don't have any horror stories, but I do sign on to each and every tip here!

Image courtesy of ballot.fyi

Ballot.fyi

This is the best nonpartisan resource I've seen to get you up to speed on the multitude of ballot propositions we Californians face this November.  If you haven't already, please register to vote, make your voting plan, and arm yourself with the information you need - this country needs informed voters to make their voices heard!

Photo courtesy of impossiblefoods.com

Meatless Bleeding Burger Arrives in SF at Jardiniere and Cockscomb

Honestly, I can't wait to try this.  I've been gradually reducing my red meat intake for a number of reasons (mostly health, with a side of irrational "cows are cute!"), and the thing I find the hardest to kick is the occasional decadent cheeseburger.  Could this be a true substitute?

What I'm Reading

Photo courtesy of The Boon Fly Cafe

50 Things To Eat In Wine Country Before You Die

For a person who's lived in San Francisco for almost 10 years, I don't get up to wine country all that often.  However, a good friend just moved to downtown Napa, so I'm hoping to reinvigorate my efforts to get up there - and maybe try a few things on this list!

Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (Alex Jamison)

We don't know what Rosa Parks was wearing the night she was arrested.  But she was carrying this dress.

The details of history are just as poignant and important as the wide thematic swathes we learn in school.  This is just one of many fascinating things I've read coming out of the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and I'm going to make visiting a priority next time I'm in Washington DC.

Photo courtesy of nytimes.com (Andrew Burton)

Olympic Cover Up: Why You Won't See Some Shoe Logos

One last article on the Olympics: I'm always a little disappointed to read about the money and politics behind the games, but at the same time I find this stuff fascinating.  Athletes really have minefields to navigate outside their actual sports.

Photo courtesy of theguardian.com (Sophie Dahl)

My Grandfather Road Dahl, The Magician

Road Dahl is one of those historical figures with a messy past who begs the question of how much people are a product of their time.  With that said: his work absolutely entraptured me as a child.  I think any of us who loved his books will recognize the source of all that magic here.

 

What I'm Reading

Rio Games: Why Olympians Shatter Records in Swimming but Not Track

The Olympics may be over for now, but I'm still fascinated by the ins and outs.  Did you know about the impact of pool design on race times?  I certainly did not!

Image courtesy of buzzfeed.com (Ariel Davis)

"A Honeypot for Assholes:" Inside Twitter's 10-Year Failure to Stop Harassment

As I plot the next phase of my business, I'm keeping a sharp eye on the serious safety and privacy issues that go along with public activity on social media.  

Photo courtesy of yelp.com (Connie T.)

The 18 Must-Have Classic San Francisco Dishes

Like any self-professed San Franciscan, I'd make a different list, but I do love this take on the must-eat dishes in our food obsessed city.  I can personally vouch for the crab cocktail at Swan's Oyster Depot - you won't get better crab anywhere else in the world!

Tim Gunn: Designers Refuse to Make Clothes to Fit American Women. It's a Disgrace.

Not only is it a disgrace, but it's financially short sighted!  The plus size clothing market is huge and ready to be disrupted.