What I'm Reading

What I'm Reading

Image courtesy of nytimes.com (Emily Beri/Andy Chen)

Where Have You Gone, Angelina Jolie? Celebrities Vanish From Fashion's Front Row

I find the changing landscape of the fashion industry fascinating to follow.  And I wonder what this means for the world of Instagram stars and influencers if the fact that a celebrity is seen wearing a brand doesn't really move the needle in terms of sales.

Photo courtesy of vulture.com (Bill Matlock/ABC)

Why A Black Bachelorette Is A Big Deal

I haven't been in the loop for a few years, but The Bachelor/The Bachelorette were my Monday-night go-tos during business school with my girlfriends. And it doesn't take a genius to watch a season or two of this monster franchise and realize that people of color a) are severely underrepresented and b) if they are present, exit stage left in very early episodes.

Photo courtesy of nationalgeographic.com (Antonio Faccilongo)

A Million People Live in These Underground Nuclear Bunkers

I find pretty much everything left over from the Cold War a combination of fascinating and terrifying, and this is no exception.  This article also reminds me how little I know about the world - I had literally never heard of this phenomenon before!

Photo courtesy of glamour.com (Miguel Reveriego)

Chrissy Teigen Opens Up For the First Time About Her Postpartum Depression

I've said before and I'll say it again: anything related to being less than perfectly maternal remains a huge taboo for women.  I'm all for bringing everything into the light, so that each individual can find her way and get the support she needs, whatever her motherhood status. (In related news, Glamour has been killing it journalistically in recent months.)

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 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.  


What I'm Reading

Photo courtesy of washingtonpost.com (David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

The 5 Craziest Hours in the White House

When you think about it, there a lot of ways our American tradition of peaceful government transitions is pretty impressive.  But have you ever thought about the nitty gritty logistics?

Image courtesy of economist.com

Chattering Classes

One of my closest friends, who also started our legendary book club, sent us this link the other day.  Groups of women often get accused of gossip and catty chatter, but I actually find many of our meetings adhere to these time honored conversational rules!

Photo courtesy of nytimes.com (Tony Cenicola)

The Banned Books Your Child Should Read

This looks a lot more like my childhood reading list than a banned book list!  Sometimes people like to protect children from certain less pleasant realities, but to a kid that can feel like dishonesty - and what these books have in common besides high quality writing is honesty.

9 So-Called Home Décor Rules That You Should Break, According to These Interior Designers  

I was sort of nodding along absentmindedly while reading this, until I got to the last point.  A striped ceiling? As an unabashed lover of stripes, that sounds pretty fantastic to me.  Now I'm wondering how it would look in my living room... or maybe our kitchen/great room!

What I'm Reading

Image courtesy of news.nationalgeographic.com (Central Intelligence Agency)

See Historic Maps Declassified By The CIA

My dad and I would get out his giant atlas and just pore over maps for fun when I was a kid (nerd alert!), plus I'm a bit of a history geek, so I found these declassified maps incredibly fascinating.

Photo courtesy of modernluxury.com (Nadia Lachance)

The Bay Area's 50 Most Essential New Dishes

I have friends who traipse all over town trying to catch all these dishes while they're still being served, and I know that's never going to be me, but there is an ongoing conversation with a couple of friends of ours about pursuing item #21...

The Mistakes We Make When Giving to Charity

Having worked in fundraising as both a volunteer and a staff member, all I can say is that this should be required reading for all Americans engaging in philanthropy.  If you really want to make an impact with your charitable donations, this is a must read.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg

Ok, I'm a little behind the times.  I just powered through this book on a lazy, rainy Sunday and really enjoyed it.  It was less funny than I thought it would be, in a good way, and more thought provoking/less obvious than I expected as well.  Highly recommend, especially for my friends navigating the dating scene!

What I'm Reading

Instead of articles this week, I wanted to tell you about a great book I read earlier this year: Junk: Digging Through America's Love Affair with Stuff by Alison Stewart.

If you're brand new to the organizing industry, whether you're interested in getting your own home organized or starting to read mumblings on the internet about this crazy things like "minimalism" and "capsule wardobes" and "sparking joy," this book is for you!  Ms. Stewart gives a thorough, well researched, warm, and sympathetic account of the myriad ways in which Americans interact with stuff, and how we're trying to deal with the problems it causes.

She does take a somewhat dim view of the organizing industry, but I'm really not offended.  It's such a large industry, with such low barriers to entry, that it's hardly surprising there would be a huge amount of variation between organizers.  After all, pretty much anyone can set up show and call themselves a professional organizer - only some of us join NAPO, take classes, find mentors, and work to professionalize the industry!

I'd also recommend this book to anyone who has a very definite opinion on stuff.  Whether you fall in the camp that's appalled how much kids these days throw away, or you're frustrated that people hold on to so much worthless junk, you'll find your eyes opened and learn about new facets of the world of stuff.

In sum, Junk it's a quick, fun read that will give you a wonderful overview of this world of stuff where I write, think, and work.  Check it out and let me know what you think!


What I'm Reading

Clutter Stresses You Out, According To Science

Of course I'm going to toot my own horn first!  Brute Storage, a valet storage service, recently featured a slightly edited version of one of my previous posts on their blog.  They also featured me as one of their recommended organizers.  Thank you, Brute Storage!

Photo courtesy of harpersbazaar.com (Patrick T. Fallon)

Meet the Republican Party's Makeup Artist

Sometimes things like political conventions seem like giant impersonal machines, but this is a good reminder that ultimately everything happens thanks to individuals doing their jobs well.

Photo courtesy of 10news.com

Therapy Pig Roams San Francisco Airport

I've seen therapy dogs at SFO before, and there's nothing like a good snuggle in golden retriever fur on a travel day. But I didn't know about the pig! How sad am I that I don't have to go the airport again this calendar year??

Photo courtesy of nytimes.com (Patricia Wall)

"The Revenge of Analog:" See It. Feel It. Touch It. (Don't Click)

This one is courtesy of my dad, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the content of the New York Times.  While I haven't read the book, I think the review could take the analysis a step farther: I for one am seeing not only analog perceived as better, but analog used to signal luxury and wealth.

What I'm Reading

Photo courtesy of elle.com (Getty/Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photo)

The Afterlife of a Ballerina

I danced all through childhood and dreamed of becoming a professional dancer (although it quickly became clear that a profound case of flat feet was going to get in my way).  The flip side of the dream is something I would never have thought about.

Photo courtesy of nymag.com (Naima Green)

Do Women Still Need A Space of Their Own?

The jury is still out on need, but want?  Absolutely!  I move that the next outpost of The Wing should open in San Francisco.  

The Binge Breaker

Overuse of social media is often cast as a lack of willpower or discipline, but what if we really can't help ourselves because of the way technology is designed?  And what if there was a different way?  (As a side note, The Atlantic is doing a lot of fear mongering these days, whether justified or not.)

Photo courtesy of skinet.com

SKI 2017 Buyers Guide

No, I don't need new gear... but that doesn't mean it isn't fun to look!  For anyone who's curious, my current favored setup is Nordica La Nina skis mounted with Marker Jester bindings plus my Fischer Vacuum series boots.  Backups for bulletproof days are my Nordica Jet Fuel skis (now discontinued).

What I'm Reading

Photo courtesy of buzzfeed.com (Ian Spanier Photography)

The Challenge of Building TV's Best Reality Show

I don't know about you, but when I was in high school I was OBSESSED with The Real World and Road Rules on MTV, and I remember watching early versions of The Challenge.  It turns out the makers of the first reality TV show are still defining the game.

Image courtesy of marieclaire.com (Dana Tepper)

Inside the Growing Movement of Women Who Wish They'd Never Had Kids

There's a lot of talk about "the last taboo" but I really do think this might be it.  As a married woman of childbearing age, the topic of children is pretty much always top of mind for me, so this article definitely struck a chord.

Photo courtesy of refinery29.com (Saint James)

The Evolution of the Striped Shirt Trend (& One of the Key Brands Behind It)

I don't know about you, but I cannot resist a striped shirt.  At the same time, I'm super picky about them, so I currently only own a couple.  It seems I'm not the only one in thrall of the classic stripe!

Lessons in the Delicate Art of Confronting Offensive Speech

The story that spurred this article is now old news, but the topic was relevant before the election and continues to be relevant now.