My daughter has moved north to start her neurosurgical residency. She’s got an apartment, and furnishings as a graduation present. She and I collaborated on the furniture shopping by texting and pinning links to affordable stuff – it was fun.
That’s an understatement.
She’s living in a newish apartment building, one I’m fairly sure was built with young professionals in mind. I don’t like that term, much, “young professionals,” but it’s efficient. Conveys a lot of meaning. Her place is smallish: an alcove with a sleeping area closed off by glass doors; modern finishes; tall windows. She’s chosen warm and muted colors for living and eating areas, which seem right for the Pacific Northwest.
I haven’t seen her place in person yet, but if feels as though I have since she has sent me lots of photos. At my request, as you can imagine. Here are the shelves/desk surface she and her boyfriend installed, on the wall of the eating area.
My father and stepmother gave her some things they don’t use any more. I love the glass plates. The cute navy Urban Outfitters table is new, transparent chairs from IKEA.
Here’s the living area. My mother bought me that rug at Macy’s, in New York in 1979. China had just begun to export to the USA. Her choice of a blue sofa threw me for a loop at first – I’d been trying to match the rug colors just as my mother and I did 40 years ago. It’s a new century, we match less.
The sofa is on on the way, but delivery dates keep shifting. I’m looking forward to more photos. Also I love that perforated Anthropologie lantern.
Her bed and bath areas are glam – gold, turquoise, and blush. My sister gave her a turquoise ceramic lamp last Christmas – I put in a similar one so you can see the color balance. Her comforter, not pictured, is turquoise silk with a mustard yellow lining. Hand-me-down from her mother. I do mean me. I’m keeping my voice very formal, otherwise I’m just going to blubber and weep incoherently about my baby growing up, family traditions, and the aesthetics of love.
Seemed only right to enable marine references, living as she does close to salt water. Flags not required.
It’s all very much her. A pretty homey place to cozy up in during any short time she has off. As we exchanged images she would refer to my mother’s house in Santa Barbara now and then. Which surprised me with happiness.
Have a good weekend my friends. Cozy as you please.
Some of these pins are Shopstyle links which may generate commissions
You may be struggling through a heat wave, or, in the Southern Hemisphere, fierce cold. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area the days of blue sky after blue sky after blue sky are upon us. Except when the fires burn. Which, yes, we’re burning and sometimes smoke colors everything slightly tan.
In my back yard I feel our region’s hotter temperatures acutely. You may remember that in the last two years we’ve lost the shade of two 70-year-old trees, one a cedar belonging to my neighbor that grew along a shared fence, the other a Chinese elm that shaded our windows, patio, lawn, hydrangeas, dogwood, ferns. You can imagine everything crunches right now.
My best friend and I were talking on the phone the other day about the elm. She has been my friend for more than 25 years, we raised our children together, often in this same living room. She said she was sad about the tree, I said I was too, at first, but that I’d moved on.
I have. I’ve got a plan and a hopeful vision. For now we’ve put up two sky blue umbrellas to protect the living room from the sun’s worst. I open the doors when it’s cool and close them when it’s hot. I hand water the plants I would like to keep alive.
But I’m working on more than simple alleviation. I can see the sky now, I feel the full force of the sun – and although I want to get out from under it I appreciate its authority. Even though my hydrangeas are browning and my ferns, well, to exaggerate a bit, carbonizing, at least now I see them. The elm’s branches used to hide everything, I miss their fey sway, I’m glad they are gone.
In future thinking, I enjoy choosing which plants I try to keep in place, and which I would like to dig up to give away. I want to plant a White Alder this fall, native to California and lovely – I hope birds and pollinators will enjoy. I think I’ll plant my own cedar in the side yard. I’ve told you this before. I’m just thinking about it all now again, as I look at temperatures in the high 80s and am relieved that this week they don’t predict any 90s.
Here’s something else I’m doing more of. Weeding. The elm branches used to blur the difference between weeds and shrubbery. Since everything I’m keeping alive needs all the water it can get, I have to remove interlopers.
It’s a different way of gardening, more intentional, less intoxicating, but once I accepted the loss of the elm it became my way.
Talk to me again at the end of August. I suspect I’ll be less sanguine but I think I’ll be glad I stayed optimistic as long as I could.
Recently two bloggers I respect have published simple posts about how we spend our days. First Ronni, of Time Goes By, wrote about “relaxed retirement.” Then Janet, of The Gardener’s Cottage, described her daily routine, particularly now that her husband has been diagnosed with cancer. I highly recommend you read both.
I have found routine to be a great help in managing anxiety, and in making my way to enjoying retirement. I know some people like to do whatever they please any given moment. My issue is that at any given moment I would probably want to drink wine, eat chocolate, and lie down on the sofa to watch lots and lots of television. Currently, Australian.
But more than a day at a time spent that way makes for poor health, and in the end generates more anxiety than it alleviates. So I have organized my (very ordinary) days. That way I don’t have to make choices. Very calming.
Here’s my daily routine these days. I will be curious to hear yours, if you have a minute.
Wake up between 5:30 and 7:30am
Eat breakfast of black tea with milk and toast with nut butters (almond, peanut, chocolate hazelnut)
Sit on the sofa poking around the Internet to lead up to writing my novel (or the blog). We can also legitimately call this Institutionalized Procrastination.
Sidle into actually writing said novel
Some time around 10:30 or 11 leap from said sofa exclaiming either, “Yes!” or, “I can’t do this any more!”
Go move around. Clean house. Or garden. Or do an online yoga class. Alternatively, find myself doing paperwork and never get to move around and regret it when I’m achy that night. It happens. (The fun thing is that by setting a time slot for movement, I’ve developed a habit, and find my body calls me to stand up right about then.)
Eat lunch. With any luck, leftovers from last night.
Lie back down on said sofa (it’s actually a love seat but hey) and watch some of said Australian television. Currently, quirky family drama “Offspring. We can legitimately call this Institutionalized Lazing About.
After an hour or so, might be more, hoist myself with further appropriate sound effects from said sofa, and either:
run errands (grocery shop, dry cleaners, hardware store, the usual)
visit my mother (twice a week)
prepare for cooking a more elaborate dinner than usual
clean the house a little more
sit on my doorstep and watch swallowtails flutter in the abelia
Pick my husband up from the train station
Finish making dinner, eat it
Clean up dinner
Lie back down on, you guessed it, said sofa. Watch more TV.
Go to bed, read a book.
Essentially, a life built of small tasks caring for others, but centered around the very big project of finishing a book – which cares for me. As do eating, sleeping and moving about of course. Television, small squares of chocolate, and <7 glasses of red wine/week serve as my controlled substances of choice. Control being the operative term.
On the other hand I am trying to de-routinize my beliefs.
It seems we’re living through a time of extraordinary political and societal disruption. The 1960s were equally painful, I think, but I was young, and insulated by my family. Now I feel every pain I read about on Twitter, without any buffer but a capacity for analysis.
I hate and find miserable these discussions where people scream talking points, beat each other over the head with fragments of fact, bang their beliefs like gongs. It feels like war. The only way through I know is asking “Why?” “Why do you believe as you do?” If the answer is fact fragments, “Where did you hear that?” If the answer is faith, ask where their faith comes from. Just keep asking why.
I’m applying my approach to myself, too. I posted this on Medium what feels like ages ago – but I keep reevaluating. When I hear what sounds like an inconvenient fact, something that challenges my position, I follow up instead of trying to refute. It’s hard.
See, I have come to believe that we build most of our belief structures to support our emotional reality. It takes a lot of patience and deep breathing to expose yourself to facts that challenge your beliefs, because in doing so you challenge your bedrock emotional comfort.
Comfort in nut butters, I’m all for. Comfort in thought, not so much. Life should always leave something caught between your teeth.
Do you all have a lipstick wardrobe? I think I do. So what was there to do but deconstruct it? Here is my profound analysis.
I have not changed color in the past 40 years. I’m neither all the way “cool” nor all the way “warm.” I am therefore forever looking for a not-too-blue but not-too-yellow something-or-other. However, as a white woman, I can get there with a little trial-and-error. (I believe that makeup companies are now serving women of all skin shades; I hope I’m right.)
Lipstick formulations, however, have changed. And I’m a true fan of our modern options.
Because you are my friends, this morning I “swatched” the lipsticks I wear now. I had to wipe it all off before typing, but my arm’s still a little pink. Ready?
From wrist to elbow:
Two-Faced Lip Injection Extreme gloss. You can barely see it in the photo. A clear lipgloss that, get this, actually has left a “plumped” oblong on my inner wrist. I’d show you, but it’s kind of gross. They aren’t kidding.
A nameless pink Burt’s Bee’s lip balm. I use this to “pinkify” lipsticks that show up earthy on my lips.
A sheer Lancôme called Rose Rhapsodie. A work in progress. I want something sheer, but I find this one does the dreaded too-yellow/too-bright thing on me. I am beginning to think I have to look for “pink-brown,” rather than “pinkish.” My daughter benefits from my hunts, I give her my castaways and she looks spectacular.
Lipstick Queen Medieval. A sheer “red.” I love this, but, the formulation has parabens. Boo. Where is something similar with fewer worrisome ingredients?
Bare Minerals Gen Nude matte liquid in Juju. This skews just a little yellow, but, within my range.
The only tube of lipstick I have ever run out of and will buy again. Trumpets. Bare Minerals Gen Nude in Boss. I most often put on a light layer – you don’t need a lip pencil – and then add the Burt’s Bees lip balm to nudge it just a bit pinker. Delicious.
Bare Minerals Gen Nude in OMG. I admit I rarely wear this except to the imaginary charity ball in my mind. But I like knowing I will not be caught unaware by formal dress.
To summarize the color situation – I can’t wear full-on pink or full-on coral. I need something in-between, and I can’t know what will really work until I’ve tried it. To summarize the formulations, I find I like to have:
One clear lipgloss to shine things up, on occasion,
A lightly-tinted lip balm or two for “no makeup” days, and to adjust the matte liquid lipsticks.
Matte liquids for “yes makeup days.”
But I kind of want a couple of sheer actual lipstick options. One should be a pink-brown, the other red.
Sheer red lipstick is just so damn cheery.
Any and all helpful hints welcome. Any and all musings on lipstick, celebrated. Have an excellent weekend.
Previous lipstick posts here, and here. No monetization on this page, older posts still contain monetized links.
So this morning I am sitting in front of the television as World Cup coverage plays. I use those words advisedly; no one’s actually playing right now, men are just bouncing around on a field in brightly colored shorts.
America doesn’t do soccer as well as the rest of the world, for reasons I’m sure experts have discussed ad nauseam. Let’s just say by the time this country found the sport we’d already coopted the word “football” for something completely different and leave it at that.
Even so, I’ve got memories of World Cups past. As a little guy my son was obsessed with the tournament chart. One year he told me he liked soccer for the same reason he liked Pokémon, i.e. so many possible outcomes. Another year, or maybe that same one, memory is tricky, Brazil was headquartered in a neighboring suburb. At night players and celebrants crowded the previously twee streets. Transformation. I remember, four years ago I was newly married, my youngest sister’s husband and son travelled to a few games in Brazil. They sent photos.
A world event that repeats on schedule doesn’t care how it highlights your personal life. It’s a vivid experience of random, one in which we ourselves are the unpredictable.
In any case, I notice, at 61, when I spend a lot of my time sitting on this same sofa writing and groaning about writing, how much these guys love to move. The pregame exercise look like dancing, or horses out to pasture. Heels up. I think about how I creak to stand sometimes – it’s renewed inspiration to get going.
And so gorgeous all of it. They call soccer “The Beautiful Game;” I just see beautiful players. I mean in the usual way, of course, so many handsome men in one place. Such a plus. But also human beings in comfortable clothes moving as we were born to.
I know there’s all kinds of non-beautiful in soccer’s history, corruption, injury, violence. But since no one will die or be left starving if I stick my head in these particular sands, I claim impunity.
Match time. I hope you’ve got a moment of indulgence lined up, one that makes you happy and hurts no one at all.
I have so many style posts I want to write! The story of my daughter’s new blue sofa. Musings on the right lipstick wardrobe in 2018. The burning question, why don’t I have any clothes that work for non-casual daytime events? All fully compelling, at least to my way of thinking.
Instead here I sit, again, at the Centurion Lounge at SFO, making a breakfast of eggs, tea, and Xanax. No champions required. I’m on my way to Southern California. My nephew graduates from high school today, my daughter from medical school tomorrow. In retail they call this season Dads and Grads. Did you know?
Hence the issue with daytime event wear. I got nothing. I mean, I’d be fine in New York, where you can wear black any time of the day, but Southern California? I’m stumped. I figure for the Los Angeles segment I’m going to go somewhat flash and trash – of the vintage off-white, gray and black Issey Miyake pleated top, Vince cropped cuffed pants, and Gucci slides printed with pink parasols and mustard yellow tigers variant. Add Rolex Cellini watch in case that’s not enough. For the beach town shenanigans I’m either going to be wearing 15-year old navy linen Armani pants, a white tee, and gray sweater – essentially how I dressed for work in my 40s – or a black floral Comme des Garçons top and skirt with brown Isabel Marant Dickers – as though I were opening an art galley in lower Manhattan.
Start with the shoes. So many identities in so few clothes. I don’t have a capsule wardrobe, just capsule personas.
In any case, far more important are the large flapping black gowns of our graduates. My nephew is off to college on the other side of the country in the fall. I congratulate him and his family from here, and will do so in whirlwind person very soon, with any luck.
My daughter, you guys know how proud I am of her. But she’s 30. I have told her before and I will tell you here, her success now belongs fully to her. The pride I’ll keep. I would say that all I want is for my kids to be happy, but over thinkers can’t stop there. A job takes up so much of your life. Finding one that suits you, whatever its worldly rewards, I did not know when I was young how much it mattered.
My daughter will be most of this year in scrubs. Capsule wardrobe. I bought her new clogs a while back Always start with the footwear.
I’m going to sign off before Xanax Lisa shows her full face. She is funny, but prone to unpredictable communications. Have an excellent weekend, all of you and any grads you happen to be close to.
Someone replied to my tweet, saying they would be volunteering, to a different end. This was someone I imagine has different political values than I, but also someone I know to be courteous, friendly, responsive. So I answered, “Excellent. I think as long as we are volunteering with charitable feelings in our hearts, it can’t help but be a good thing.”
It was a quick statement, made – I confess again – more to communicate that I had not meant to offend, that I was drawing no line in any sand, than from any beautiful model of virtue.
But this morning, I think maybe I couldn’t have done any better?
I am guessing that no matter what side of America’s current political divide you occupy you see the size of the gap in our country’s expressed values. We are split, and the further apart we get the more we voice anger and even hatred about the other.
I doubt this is binary, that all good people are here, none there. It’s probably too complicated being human for that kind of simple black and white. At the same time I yearn, actually yearn, for a leader who could speak to concerns so universal that we’d come back together.
And I truly, madly, deeply wish that we were all speaking in a more kindly way to each other.
So I wonder if acting upon charitable feelings might serve as a unifying idea, for some future leader. Before we could act on charitable feelings we’d have to have them, of course. But I’m guessing many people, when reminded, do want to be or at least to feel themselves to be charitable, and might respond, if someone would just set a tone.
I am perhaps too optimistic. But when I looked up the definition of “charitable,” just now, to make sure I wasn’t prattling on with more than usual abandon, the words gave me some peace.
relating to the assistance of those in need.
“charitable works such as care of the sick”
synonyms: philanthropic, humanitarian, altruistic, benevolent, public-spirited; More
apt to judge others leniently or favorably.
“those who were less charitable called for his resignation”
synonyms: magnanimous, generous, liberal, tolerant, easygoing, broad-minded, considerate, sympathetic, lenient, indulgent, forgiving, kind
“he was charitable in his judgments”
Of course this wouldn’t be enough. Wanting to do right by others and take a less-judgmental stance gets incredibly difficult to turn into actions once you butt up against many-layered problems like national borders and abortion, or deeply held beliefs around the meaning of “family,” for example.
But I do think there might be value in a gut check. At the very least, before I voice an opinion, I would like to know that I am motivated by charitable feelings, not just my own petty urges. I wonder if I review my opinions through a filter of charity, what, if anything, might change.We can get to policy implementations later.
I will of course also feel rage, fear, sorrow, and a sheer desire to swat the ignorant and the arrogant. Humans do.
I doubt I’ll be discussing this with inland California voters. Thanks for listening. Have a wonderful weekend.
On my way to Seattle last weekend I stopped at the American Express lounge in the San Francisco airport. The place almost justifies that Platinum card fee – the food includes stuff like fresh farro and mint salad, Filipino pulled pork, free Prosecco – you get my drift.
On this visit, on beyond and better yet than the buffet, a reader recognized me and asked, “Do you write a blog?”
We talked only briefly, she had just finished a big event, and also I suspect wanted to be considerate of my time. But before we went to our separate tables she said something to me that I’ve been thinking about ever since.
“Thank you for your work.”
While I acknowledge that I work at this blog thing, and even that it fit the criteria for a job when I monetized, I had never thought of the posts here as “my work.” Work as a process, as labor, yes, but that it could collectively be seen as a creation hadn’t occurred to me. (I promise, I’m not looking for praise, you all are very supportive, I want for little.)
It’s just that blogs are so of the moment. They are built that way – you post into time, again and again. And because this particular blog has had several incarnations – from Hello World to High WASP deconstruction to Style and back to Hello World – the posts may lack the kind of theme I expect of a body of work. In any case, I have not made and may not ever make the leap to considering my blog posts an actual body of work. They feel like a journal. All well and good.
Do I have a body of work then? (And I ask you the same question. Do you feel you have “a body of work?” I don’t find myself so interesting that I self-scrutinize in public unless I hope the thoughts are useful.)
I am clear that I have worked hard, as my father once said in comforting me, “at any number of things.” I’m clear that I’ve had jobs – hey, it’s hard to ignore a group of people who expect you to show up and often expect you to point out which way to go.
My children were work, but they are not remotely my “work.” My garden is work, but the bones were laid by others, so it’s not really mine. Maybe I am writing this novel because it would in fact become my “work?” Perhaps we need a definition. I sure do.
A body of work has to endure, either concretely or in the imagination, as the creation of an identifiable hand or hands.
There is one possibility that fits this definition for me, and that’s the ways of the community here. Which might seem odd, but that’s what comes to mind. I envisioned and worked on the mores, if you will, the culture. I meant to foster some kind of openness to criticism, along with much civility as humanly possible.
However, my intention required your willingness. So maybe the culture of the comments is our body of work. See our hands. Small. But worthy. To endure, with any luck, as how we navigate all the other more important aspects of life. I know it endures for me and I thank you.
And since that culture also includes not taking ourselves too seriously, OK, fine, yes, I loved Markle’s outfit but I did not get up at 1am to watch the wedding. Hoping to find a replay, as I hear the homily and the choir were brilliant and I bet that veil is even better in the breeze.
Have a wonderful weekend, o my colleagues and my buddies.
Today I am up in the Pacific Northwest, either helping or along for the ride (you decide) with my daughter, as she looks for an apartment. I would prefer to mention the exact city, as then I could say things about said city that would make sense, but I do not know that I should be so direct.
After all, would my daughter want to be so direct linked to all this folderol?
In any case, here we are. We will set out on the hunt this morning. I have no idea how this will go, I haven’t looked for an apartment since 1979. Whoa.
If anything of interest happens, I’ll report back. In the meantime, I wanted to show you this rosebush. I planted it 30 years ago and it never grew, certainly never bloomed, because other things were planted in front and around it. Suddenly I’ve got an arch of red, red roses along my fence. Let’s hear it for living things that get their turn.