The Duchess of Sussex

Image from the BBC

An absolute stunner of a modern dress by Givenchy with protocol-required sleeves…but collarbones on display?

The Song of Solomon in the reading?

MLK, African American spirituals, and social issues in the sermon?

An unabashedly progressive and somewhat controversial Reverend?

A gospel choir?

A bride walking herself up the aisle and giving herself away?

All of the Commonwealth nations referenced in her veil?

The signature messy updo?

The groom choosing to wear a ring?

THAT cello player?

Feelings on display? Publicly?!

The (utterly elegant, lovely, and show-stealing) MoB wearing dreadlocks and a nosering whilst seated across from the Queen in coordinated colors?

Stand By Me and This Little Light of Mine?

The new Duchess of Sussex could have gone quietly into her new life, gone traditional, acquiesced to the frank ugliness of the tabloids, played it safe, and had a perfectly nice and boring wedding. She didn’t.

Color me too-emotionally-involved, but the whole ceremony felt at once deeply personal and also a signal for the kinds of public figures this couple intends to be. Weddings are typically the “bride’s day,” at least when one is not marrying into a firm, and that’s what this felt like in all the important ways.

She might be marrying into an institution and making concessions to do so, but she is clearly carving out a way to do it on her and her husband’s terms. She respected the tradition she is stepping into it while unabashedly–without being brash but also without shrinking–brought her own tradition, family, heritage, and personality along with her. This woman is a smart cookie.

I STAN.

 

Weekend Links

And we’ll never be royals
It don’t run in our blood
That kind of luxe just ain’t for us
We crave a different kind of buzz
– Lorde

Another long week, kittens, but the weekend is upon us and on Saturday we are setting up shop on my mate Chris’s terrace to watch Royal Wedding 2.0. We like to think we represent the rowdy and awkward colonist cousin contingent. The news is terrible again this week, so excuse me while I enjoy a little basic pageantry.

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“History” is so much closer to us than most people realize.

We’re getting a new princess/duchess this weekend and she’s quite deft in managing her own style straight out of the gate.

She’s marrying into a strange family, but she’s from a strange family…and truly, aren’t we all?

Oh man, I added this on Monday and things are already getting weird.

ETA, its only Wednesday and I’m grossed out by the whole news cycle around Ms. Markle’s family and their shenanigans. Sali Hughes says it better than me.

ETA again, it’s Friday and this woman is clearly controlling her own messaging straight out of the gate. More power to her. I would never want the life she’s choosing, so I hope this is a signal of being able to set terms and boundaries that will make the requirements of her new role manageable for a person who may chafe under cultural expectations she was not raised with or born to. Good luck, future-presumable-duchess. I’m rooting for you!

The annual Tiny Desk Contest winner performs!

EIC of Vox, Ezra Klein argues the republic has faced worse than Mr. Trump…but also argues as sure as he is about this, he’s not 100% sure.

Whatever your opinion on the move, the difference in the photography is pretty striking. Also…people are dead.

Actively bad news from Jeff’s home state. This newsroom JUST won a Pulitzer.

Oh dear. I have long lusted after Lisa Eldridge’s jewels and now this?

Yanni v. Laurel.

Quick question, when does Ronan Farrow sleep?

Wow…this is quite a statement from the bishops.

The marketing team for this is very, very good.

Speaking of religious news, there was a Mormon news story this week that needs some unpacking. An elaborate fake message, designed to look like an official statement of apology for the church’s racism, briefly blew up on social media before being exposed. Zealous and pious mormons decried the fake news making the church look bad, zealous and irreverent exmormons gleefully opined at the twists and turns the organization was having to make to explain that they weren’t in fact apologizing for past racism. For those not in the know, the LDS church forbade the ordination of black men to the priesthood and the participation of black members in services and ceremonies in mormon temples (which are considered essential to salvation, so…). The most succinct take on why this whole story is gross, regardless of your religious beliefs, can be found here.

It’s been fascinating to watch the party of “law and order” turn on law enforcement.

And a developing story, but another heartbreaking school shooting has taken place. Details are still coming out so I won’t say more than: enough.

Weekend Links

“Men seek rest in a struggle against difficulties; and when they have conquered these, rest becomes insufferable.” 
― Blaise Pascal, Pensées

Howdy kittens, it’s been another full week of news and I’m just avoiding most of it in this week’s links because I need a happy place. I love short work weeks, but when you have to cram five days of To Dos into just three, you can head into the weekend frazzled. I have spent the majority of the day sleeping after putting a major work event to bed after several weeks of work yesterday, and have zero regrets. Tonight I’m going to a podcast live show with a buddy, and am otherwise having a very chill weekend at home.

Come, let’s dive into the gorgeousness of the Met Ball, debate over the meanings of This Is America, and delight in some wacky creativity.

How the Met got vestments from the Vatican for the annual Met Ball.

Speaking of, Racked dives into the tenure of Anna Wintour at Vogue, her time at the helm of the Met Ball, and how one of the most iconic platforms in the world is changing with the times…sometimes.

Only one more season of Kimmy. But more importantly, only one more season of Titus.

Ever wonder how chicken became a mainstay? Wonder no more!

An essay on the lost pleasure of shopping with other people instead of online. Most of my personal shopping is still vintage or second hand so I have to go out and physically try things on to see if they work, but it is pretty solitary. Going to markets with X. when she was in town last Thanksgiving was the first time I’d been shopping with a friend who wasn’t my husband in years!

I absolutely loved the Chanel cruise collection this year and will commit murder to get my hands on one of those berets!

David Fahrenthold is doing some of the most extensive reporting on Mr. Trump’s finances and his latest piece in the Washington Post is worth a read to get a sense of the weird side of property development and how it can be manipulated. But the salient point is that Mr. Trump made a change from debt-based financing to cash just under a decade ago, and he started spending that cash pretty lavishly. This is a very elaborate way to avoid the words “money laundering.” If nothing else, I feel like the narrative around Mr. Trump and his various business partners is revealing how much white collar crime has been winked at in the US, and for how long.

This longform piece in New York Magazine contends to understand Mr. Trump you need to understand Mr. Roy Cohn and how the New York intelligentsia and glitterati incubated the graft that eventually put him in the White House.

So maybe let’s not give this guy that new show his shopping around?

I’m grateful (though still terrified) at how the radicalization of young men online is finally getting some sunlight. Grateful that it’s happening, scared at how deep and widespread the ugliness goes. This piece in Rolling Stone makes for scary but important reading. “[These men] have been portrayed as disturbed young men with emotional “challenges.” Had they been nonwhite Muslim extremists, this would almost certainly have not been the case, notes Pete Simi, an expert in far-right extremist movements at Chapman University. “U.S. law enforcement and policymakers and the general public tend to perceive right-wing extremists in ways that de-emphasize their relevance and diminish the threat they pose,” he says. “We find it more difficult to frame those who are closely tied to the status quo as a threat.”

I have loved Donald Glover since his Community days, and the breadth of his work in acting, comedy, and music is downright extraordinary. He dropped a new track and accompanying music video last week that is uncomfortably good and provocative. It’s a heavy piece of art.

It’s my pet topic, I know, but I enjoyed this piece about Livia Firth’s take on sustainable and responsible consumption.

Um, there’s some parallel journalism going on that should be getting more traction than it is as time of writing. The New Yorker. The Guardian. Making threats like these seem…not coincidental?

The Bluths are back!

Sometimes it feels like there few champions left to cheer for. I’m not sorry Mr. Schneiderman has resigned, but I’m disgusted that the Governor of Missouri has not.

I loved this exchange between writers Leandra Medine and Pandora Sykes on brand new motherhood.

THERE IT ISTHERE IT IS. THERE IT IS.

And finally, this guy’s channel is whimsical and fun and an overall delight. Enjoy!

Bank Holiday Thoughts: Long Term Goals

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.” 
― Gloria Steinem

Gather round, ducklings, for a rambling post of a topic that’s been on my mind lately and that I did some thinking about as I sat in the (rare!) British sun for hours this past weekend.

Scene of the crime.

For someone who is a Grade A organizer and planner, I’ve come to the realization that thinking in terms of long term goals is not something I have ever been very good at. I can project about 3 years out at a max but beyond that is difficult for me to conceptualize.

I’m pretty sure this has to do with being a military brat who never lived anywhere longer than 3 years until I went to university. Growing up, my life was routinely segmented off by frequent moving dates and it’s only in my 30s that I’m understanding how this may affect my worldview. In some ways, it’s deeply positive! Barring personal or natural disaster, you can survive anything for a set period of time with an end date so I think I developed a robust ability to endure less then ideal circumstances and have a genuine attitude of “this too shall pass” to most challenges.

On the other hand, things like 5-10 year plans have never really played a starring role because they have never been or felt relevant to my circumstances. If I was eventually going to be in another school, another state, or on another continent, it never seemed like a good idea to conceptualize things that required any kind of permanence. Again, in my early 30s, I’m only really starting to understand some of the connectivity of this to my life choices. And also again, in a lot of ways this is positive! It’s allowed me and my partner to dream big and take chances that we might not have had we organized our lives in more “traditional” ways, at least according to how we grew up. But it’s also meant that I’ve made a lot of non-strategic choices over the years, some of which have had long lasting ripple effects. Frankly there have been whole months and years that I felt like I was “winging it” as an adult. I still do!

But I’m feeling myself go through a mentality switch these days where I’m starting to be able to conceptualize a future a few years down the road. I’m doing work I enjoy and can see myself doing for a long time, Jeff is in a good (if still busy) place with his career as well. Knock on wood, but it feels as though we are slowly moving out of the “hustle and grind” phase of our work lives into the “work smart” phase where we will (hopefully) begin to build our savings and make the big decisions adults make around where to make a permanent home, what that home looks like, and who we want in it.

I’m still pretty present-focused in that I’m starting to feel like a lot of hard work is paying off. We live in one of the most amazing cities on earth, we’ve put the time and energy into our careers and it’s starting to pay off, our marriage remains strong, we’re healthy–all pretty damn good things. Let’s be honest, it’s taken a decade to get to this point and we’re still not as insulated from shock as I’d like to be….but we’re getting there.

And so, slowly, things in the more distant future are starting to come into focus. We spent some of the bank holiday weekend planning out the rest of the year in terms of work and budgets, and even did some planning for holidays. We’ve learned how important those are to us over the past two years and how grateful we are to live somewhere and in a culture that encourages us to take them rather than making us feel guilty for doing so. We picked some mutual goals to work towards, and I’ve got my own weird and fun projects going on in the background to keep me entertained and grounded. I’m looking forward. And at the moment, things feel good.

Anyone else gone through this particular transition? Any wisdom to share? 

A Few Acts of Self Care

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.” 
― David Mamet, Boston Marriage

The universe has been particularly kind to me lately, kittens, and I’m still enjoying one of the longest running streaks of solid mental health and overall life balance I’ve had in years. However, due to one of my team members being on holiday, plus suddenly getting involved with an unexpected event planning job, plus some additional projects at work, PLUS the fact that we have a short work week this week thanks to the bank holiday…well, things are good, but there has been an uptick in stress.

Because I’m on deadlines for big projects that I genuinely love working on, I don’t want to get knocked off my game due to something within my own grasp like self care. So here’s a short and by no means complete list of ways I’m keeping myself sane during a busy spring:

Self-medication with friend chicken encouraged.

Schedule some long phone calls with friends. Katarina and I make time for a decent hour on the phone once a week and it’s always a highlight for me. We range from girl talk, to work, to writing, to politics, to love lives, and normally at least half of it involves inside jokes that have lasted nearly two decades now. X and I don’t get to talk as much but keep up an almost constant text conversation to make up for it. It’s medicine for the soul.

Take a walk. Now that it’s light out later in the evening, I’m trying to walk home from work most evenings. It’s about a three mile jaunt and it’s amazing how much it’s been helping step away from a work mindset at the end of the day. Spool up a podcast or an audiobook, and get your cardio in!

Spend some time by yourself in a non-standard location. Go out for a meal with only yourself at a new restaurant, wander through a new area of your city or neighborhood. On that walk home I mentioned, I’ve been trying to vary up my route as much as possible and I’ve discovered some hidden gems in my area of the city as a result. It’s refreshing to go exploring.

Clean something. We had our annual apartment inspection by the landlord this past week and used it as an excuse to do some deep cleaning, a bit more thorough than our weekend tidy ups. It’s cathartic to feel like your space is in order…even if the feeling is temporary and fleeting because cleaning is a Sisyphean ordeal.

Find a small way to save a bit of money and enjoy the sense of responsibility and control it gives you. I changed my route to my normal workspace in a way that combines walking and a single bus trip, the fare of which is lower than the Underground during morning rush hour. Since I’m walking home most days, my weekly travel expenses have gone down–it’s not revolutionary, but it’s nice anyway.

Do a bit of healthy food prep and chop up some vegetables that you can use later in the week for snacking or cooking. It will make it easier to make healthy choices when you’re in a munching mood, or when you need to throw together a meal.

Read, physical print if at all possible. I live my life online, for work and for a lot of my free time. Switching up a screen for an actual page really helps me enjoy reading better and allow myself to stay focused on a single piece rather than jumping from piece to piece the way that online reading can encourage.

Take a break! I am the worst at remembering this, but a 10-minute break to make a cup of tea or stroll around the block can help me completely reset my brain.

How do you keep yourself level when your To Do list gets a bit nuts?

Weekend Links

“Maybe you guys should ah, get a sense of humor and try it sometime… but, ah, he simply made a joke.”
-Sarah Huckabee Sanders, October 10, 2017

Woof, the news this week again should have lasted us a month, but it’s 2018 and the space time continuum doesn’t make sense anymore. Between Rudy Giuliani, that weird doctor, the ongoing issues with porn stars, another shake up to the president’s legal team, leaks of questions in the Mueller probe, and Kanye West, I JUST CAN’T. I didn’t even reference most of these stories in the links because at time of writing, the news is flying so fast that anything I post will likely be invalid within ten minutes. I will say that unless the plan is to simply declare that Mr. Trump is above the law (and let’s face it, that doesn’t feel beyond the realm of possibility), Mr. Giuliani isn’t striking me as a particularly good lawyer right out of the gate…

It’s Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK and I’m logging off for a good while to celebrate. Share your weekend plans with me in the comments!

The “furor” over the White House Correspondents Dinner exhausted me. Organization hires comedian to roast the media establishment including those in the room, comedian does that job, establishment who offered invitation and knew what the job entailed wrings hands at being roasted. Side helping of virtue signalling from those who have either turned a blind eye to or actively participated in the coarsening of our public discourse by defending the most coarse and crass person in it: the actual man in charge–who coincidentally spent the evening ranting falsehoods about said establishment to his base. Spare me. She did her job and the performance of disappointment over it is annoying.

ETA. Ha, all we had to do was wait a couple of days to be reminded that Ms. Sanders is either badly out of the loop in her own place of work or willfully misleading the press. Either of which makes her badly placed to do her job and probably not deserving of a huge heap of defense.

I was a child bride who got married before the world of Tinder and I routinely joke that if Jeff dies young on me, god forbid, I’m calling it. Done. I’ll buy fourteen cats and be done with the world, because the world of dating just seems cripplingly complicated to me.

Or I could just schedule an appointment with this woman. What a story!

We can’t win.

Everyone has a problematic fave. (ETA: good lord, Kanye, shut up.)

Busy Phillips, meanwhile, is a non-problematic fave who we should enthusiastically support!

Okay, what do we mean when we say toxic masculinity? Believe it or not, there are actual organized “movements” or “tribes” who embody and proselytize for institutionalized misogyny. The “incel” subgroup has been getting some attention (finally) and its online presence is both horrifying and morbidly fascinating to read about because it so ugly and so blatant of its ugliness. There needs to be a lot more attention towards the radicalization of young men online across the world and across ideologies; people are dying from it.

Speaking of, let’s discuss some of the terminology of this movement. Let’s also dwell on its idealized version of femininity and how I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist in nature…

WOW, bad optics.

Someday bad editing from this administration will tweet us right into a war.

WHO ASKED FOR THIS?!

These drawings are incredible.

How does this man still have a job?

The analytics company is deadlong live the analytics company?

Yes, for the love of god, stop doing this.

Also, stop writing pieces like this. Just stop. Everything about this is dreadful and makes me want to scream into the howling void.

The only redemption, and it’s cold comfort, is the twitter jokes.

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And possibly this Twitter rebuttal.

Wow, memories of this hysteria are flooding back.

Time. Is. Up.

What I’ve Bought, Didn’t Buy, and Why

“Buy what you don’t have yet, or what you really want, which can be mixed with what you already own. Buy only because something excites you, not just for the simple act of shopping.” 
― Karl Lagerfeld

So, here’s the bit where I confess that I’m trying a bit of an experiment this year in my ongoing, unofficial series on consumerism: I’m restricting myself to buying only 18 personal items this year. Well, that’s the goal anyway–who knows what human frailties await us–but for the time being I’ve managed to keep on track with only 7 purchases so far in 2018.

Full disclosure, not all items count against this tally. I’m not counting things like replacing tights with holes in them, restocking underwear, and other utilitarian aspects of life, and books will never be subject to a quota in this household!

So what does count? Anything that goes on my person or for a hobby kind of activity–basically things I buy strictly for my own pleasure or wants are tallied up, as are big ticket items for the home.  Thus far, they have all been purchases for my closet:

  1. New works heels – to replace yet another victim of London’s cobblestones. I picked up a brand new pair from LK Bennett at a charity shop for about a 1/10 of the sticker price
  2. A vintage belt
  3. A black blazer – which is something I didn’t already own, believe it or not
  4. Wide leg trousers
  5. A casual shirt
  6. A pair of earrings, which I bragged on yesterday
  7. Another blazer – a gorgeous gray wool one, and vintage Burberry to boot

Every single one of these items was a planned purchase, had been considered for months, and by avoiding impulse buying I didn’t pay full price for any of them thanks to sales or bargaining. Four out of seven are vintage or second hand purchases, which is very much in keeping with my typical spending habits. This list comprises most if not all of my spring and summer shopping list. I’ve by using my list system to be much more thoughtful about my wants, and to identify and fill gaps in my wardrobe. Seriously, who says they love clothing and doesn’t own a black blazer?

A few other projects have been going on in the background over the last six months as well, including my now annual 3-month shopping ban–my gray blazer being a cheat item I bought during this time, but one I didn’t regret in the slightest because 1) it had been on my To Buy list for months so could justify a slight bending of the rules and, 2) c’mon, vintage Burberry on the cheap!

During this same time, I’ve gotten more ruthless with my closet and have donated several pieces to Mary’s Living and Giving. I found I was holding on a several items that I hadn’t worn in months or longer and, having decided on a use-it-or-lose-it attitude towards a lot of “stuff” in my life lately, I had no qualms in letting them go. So, in spite of a few new purchases, my closet continues to be more streamlined and slimmed down than it was a couple of years ago.

Finally, I’m trying to not buy any new makeup for an entire year unless I’m replacing an item I have completely run out of and cannot replicate with what I already own. Skincare is exempt because while the fashions and styles of makeup shift, skin is forever and I believe in spending money to keep it healthy and clear. I’ve got a pretty well established stable of products and very rarely see the need to deviate from them, so purchases here have so far been only to replace items once I’ve run out of something.

What are my other 11 purchases for the year going to be? I’m not sure! I’ve been thinking about getting a bike for a while (for nearly a whole year, lest you thing I rush decisions), but truthfully I’d rather get some more furniture for the house with that money right now. I’d like to get a couple more jewelry pieces as I slowly transition away from cheap and costume-y to more substantial stuff that I hope to own the rest of my life, but I can wait for the right ones to come along. Now that I’ve done my seasonal shopping, I am going to see how long I can go without adding anything else to my wardrobe because I really feel like there isn’t anything I truly need at the moment for either work or casual. Over the past year I really feel as if I’ve come to a much healthier attitude towards “things,” which in turn is allowing me to flex the muscle of thinking in long term goals. More on that later.

Have you done any spring or summer shopping for this year? What have you bought? Are you planning any future shopping, and if so, how do you choose and prioritize your purchases?