Friday, May 30, 2014

Links may30


  • When I'm in California this summer, I'm gonna eat so many of these. (BuzzFeed)
  • Cannes fashion highlights and lowlights from The Fug Girls (The Cut)
  • Arctic ice sheets melting, rising sea levels, dreaded carbon dioxide emissions: what the distant future may look like. (The New Yorker)
  • With just a few days of May left (did you know it's National Short Story Month?), check out writer Amanda Zubillaga's winning submission. (Flavorwire)
  • And for you ladies, the complete illustrated history of Ryan Gosling, from child star to Hollywood babe to movie director. (Vulture)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fashion prodigy: the sheet dress

Another brilliant fashion moment courtesy of my fashion-loving preschooler. 

On a recent afternoon, Izzy noticed a hole in the seam of her naptime bed sheet. Deciding it would make the perfect arm hole for a one-shoulder "evening gown," she asked me to drape the fabric around her body (with explicit instructions to wrap in such a way as to leave a side slit). Then she convinced grandma to give her the belt off her waist.

Got it hand it to this style wunderkind for her imagination and resourcefulness. Fierce!

p.s. don't you just love her choice of footwear? ;)

Fashion prodigy: the LBD.

This week's obsession: orange lips, cheeks and nails

Someone once told me never to wear orange. "It doesn't really go with your complexion," the lady at the cosmetics counter advised, referring to my Asian skin tone. "It'll make you look...well, tacky."

Perhaps it's my inner-rebel, but if you tell me I can't do something I will gladly prove you wrong. I've never been one to follow rules, especially when it comes to fashion. Stripes with polka dots? Yes. Denim on denim. A-OK. Orange with an olive skin tone? Let's do it!

Here are some of my favorites.

Pretty as a poppy: (L to R) Clinique Chubby Stick in Oversize Orange; Benefit 
Cha Cha Balm in Sheer Mango; Nars Semi Matte Lipstick in Heat Wave.

Orange blush: (clockwise from left) Origins Pinch
Your Cheeks in Coralberry; Tarte Cheek Stain
in Fearless; Nars blush in Orgasm.

Tangerine dream: (L to R) Formula X for Sephora Nail Color in
Electric Cantaloupe; Essie Nail Lacquer in Tart Deco;
CoverGirl Outlast Stay Brilliant Nail Gloss in Go Go Mango.

Orange Crush poster by Walt Otto.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Still rising (RIP Maya Angelou)

Maya Angelou, writer, dancer, calypso singer, streetcar conductor, single mother, magazine editor, actress, poet, memoirist and author, died today at age 86.

"Just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides, just like hopes springing high, still [her work, her life, her legacy] will rise."

One of my favorite Maya Angelou poems: 

A Brave and Startling Truth

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From the fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without flavor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe 
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world 
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

Illustration by Dan Park for Time Out New York.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The power of prayer

I was huffing and puffing and thought I would explode. The word anger hardly described the molten lava swirling inside of me.

This person had wronged me. Seriously double crossed me. I thought she was a friend but now realized she was a snake. My stomach turned as I visualized the word "betrayal" and started thinking of all the people who had hurt me the same way. 

My knee jerk reaction was to get even. Revenge would taste sweet, I told myself. But wisdom informed me better. It took a year to cool off. The lava eventually hardened but I was at risk of becoming a crust of a person. Bitterness has a way of swallowing you up whole.

Pray, he said gently. Just pray.

At first I wasn't sure what to say. Every fiber of my being wanted to simmer in my hatred. "How can I possibly wish good things for her?" I asked. "The worst part is that she didn't start out as an enemy. I thought we played on the same team." I guess I hated myself the most for trusting her.

But I pushed forward. I opened myself to the possibility that I could be bigger than what had happened. I prayed for healing and I prayed that God would break away my hardened shell. I prayed for clarity. I prayed for otherworldly strength. And then I did the unthinkable: I prayed for her.

No, I didn't pray that she would spill coffee on her silk blouse or that the heel of her 4-inch stilettos would slip on a banana peel. I prayed for her health. I prayed for her family. I prayed she would continue to be fruitful in her career. I prayed beautiful things like flowers and singing birds would make her happy. 

This happens every time I pray, especially when I'm in a not-so-great place. I start thinking about all the good things I admire about that person. I meditate on the ways he or she has blessed me, taught me and made me a better version of myself. And then an even crazier thing happens: I start thanking God for the bad experience that got me here in the first place. Yes, I thank him.

It's cliche but there's always a nugget of truth in a cliche. That which does not kill you only makes you stronger (OK, Nietzsche said it but you get my point). My trauma made me stronger. Most importantly it got me to pray, taught me to forgive and brought me closer to God.

"Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue," wrote the South African writer and pastor Andrew Murray. "God's voice in response to mine in its most essential part." 

The Virgin Mary in Prayer painted by Albrecht Durer (c. 1518).

Why prayer will help you live longer. (Huffington Post)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Rise of the good boy

I came across this interesting article in the April issue of Glamour magazine about the rise of the "good boy." Apparently in Hollywood bad boys are over. "Total d*ck moves like posting an ex-girlfriend's sex tape online are starting to feel as dated as The Situation's abs," Jason Sheeler writes. "The message is clear: The most bankable, most wanted stars are good boys."

Hollywood loves to latch on to the newest trend and in this case it's the "nice-guy movement" (which kind of makes me roll my eyes). Haven't smart, sensible women always gravitated towards the good boy? 

My girlfriends and I have a term for said nice guys: they are "good eggs." What makes a man a good egg is simple. He keeps promises. He values honor and integrity. He knows right from wrong and chooses right despite pride, greed or temptation. He is kind. He is generous. He is loving.

What do you think? Are bad boys over? Is it hard to find a good egg?  

Captain America illustration by Mike Zeck; color by Gerry Turnbull.

Men in their 20s: arrested development? (The Wall Street Journal)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Fashion prodigy: the LBD

Izzy took an Anthropologie basic black tee and asked me to tie a rubber band in the middle, paired it with a chunky jeweled necklace and voila! Instant LBD. 

This girl's a fashion prodigy.

Broadway baby.

Friday, May 16, 2014

"Brusque, pushy and underpaid": the firing of Jill Abramson

The spectrum of my emotions at the ousting of New York Times top editor Jill Abramson: shock, disbelief, confusion and disappointment followed by a barrage of questions, "So soon?" "What happened?" "How could they do that?" "What did she do?" "Was it a coup?" 

In short, I am troubled. 

Of course when news of her firing hit the Internet on Wednesday the rumor mongers went straight to work. "She got fired because she's a woman," "Top editor complained about pay inequality weeks before firing," and my favorite, "The New York Times wanted an agreeable editor... What it got instead is an assertive, ambitious woman." There's so much chatter on Twitter my head is spinning.

The stories and opinions are quickly surfacing and while some of them lack class there are a few that are noteworthy. Like this eloquent take Ann Friedman wrote for The Cut

             "From the outside, depending on your point of view, Abramson’s firing 
             was either sexist retribution or a gender-blind decision to ax an ineffective 
             boss. But from the inside, incidents like this are never so clear. Women 
             never know whether they’re being met with a hostile reaction because of 
             their performance — something that they can address and change — or 
             because of both male and female colleagues’ internalized notions of how 
             women should behave."

Friedman's observations beg the question: How are women supposed to act in the workplace? If we are bold and assertive we are deemed man eaters. If we show emotion we're considered weak. If we make decisions based on fact and rationale we're cold, calculating b*tches. And God forbid if we're ambitious. 

Dean Baquet, Abramson's managing editor who now has the top spot, thanked his former boss for teaching him "the value of great ambition" and then added that John Carroll, whom he worked for at The Los Angeles Times, "told me that great editors can also be humane editors." 

Seems Baquet admired the fact that Abramson knew what she wanted and how to do it. What he didn't like was that she apparently ruled with an iron fist. I wonder, would he have said the same if Abramson was a man? I think if Jill Abramson were born John Abramson we would not be having this conversation.

I don't know Abramson personally, I've never worked for her nor the Times. I will never know exactly what happened or why she got fired. But as a woman and as someone who has held leadership positions I understand what it's like to work in a man's world. I know what it's like to be the "only one."

             "The first woman, or the only woman, is never just one woman. She’s 
             everyone, both an outlier and a trend. And she’s profiled accordingly, 
             scrutinized by both the public and her bosses," Friedman writes. 

I've questioned my bosses for their leadership decisions. I've pushed for change and have been pushed back. Like Abramson, I've asked the boss for better pay. And I'm pretty sure I too, have been let go for these reasons.

The workplace is like life. "Learning to get people on board with your ideas is an art," Friedman writes. "One that requires work to master no matter what your gender." I've been lucky enough to have terrific bosses (both male and female) who have modeled this for me. I've also had terrible bosses (both male and female) who have taught me how not to be in the workplace.

Whether Abramson was terrific or terrible and whether or not she had mastered the art of idea selling only her co-workers can judge. And even those opinions will range from passionate, fearless and talented to unapproachable, condescending and brusque. 

I wish only the best for Ms. Abramson. She did some incredible work while at the Times, including winning eight Pulitzers as executive editor. Though the circumstances around her exit are unfortunate (and perhaps for her, heart-wrenching) I hope it continues an honest dialogue about gender inequality in the workplace.   

Photo by Peter Yang for New York Magazine.   


This hilarious Daily Show clip pretty much sums up the double standard in our culture:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Spring cleaning: your makeup

Illustration by Arianna Alexis @ Cool Girl Style.

OK ladies, when was the last time you cleaned out your makeup drawer? If you're like me then you probably have an old tube of expired mascara lying around, crumbling eye shadows and (eeks!) tubes of lipsticks from years past.

Several months ago I suffered from an eye infection. Could it be my contact lenses? Tainted saline solution? Pink eye? I switched to a different contact lens cleaner and even saw an eye doctor. But the infection came back with a vengeance. Then one morning it dawned on me: my mascara! I tossed the old tube and voila! The next day my eye problems were resolved.

Don't get bloodshot, mucus-infected eyes like I did. Clean out your makeup! Toss the old and bring in the new. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Generally, lipstick and lip pencils have a shelf life of 2 years. You'll most likely use it up before then (especially if it's your favorite)

Tip: If I've been sick, I dip my lipstick in rubbing alcohol then wipe off with a tissue (to kill the cold germs).

Mascara by Caroline Papadato.

Switch out your mascara every 3 to 4 months. Bacteria can build up on the brush which can lead to pink eye, infections and other gunk invading your eyeballs. Gross. 

Tip: Do the smell test. If your mascara has a funny odor it's mostly likely rancid. Toss immediately. 

Eye Shadow by Sara Singh.

Liquid eyeshadows should be tossed after a year while powder eyeshadows will last up to 2 years. Eye pencils will also last 2 years.

Tip: Sharpen eye pencils before each use to prevent bacteria from spreading.

Liquid foundation and concealer will last between 6 months and a year. If you're using a pump then keep it for a year. If you're dabbing your fingers in a bottle every day, toss after 6 months.

Illustration by The Red Dot.

Cream blush should be thrown out after a year. Powder blushes and face powder can last up to 2 years.

Makeup Brushes by Elaine Biss.

I use a makeup brush to apply liquid foundation and I religiously wash my brush after every application. Just a little soap and warm water will do it. 

The power of makeup.

Links may15


  • Juxtapoz celebrates 20 years. (Cool Hunting)
  • Street style in Minneapolis. (NYT/Intersection)
  • Famous people with unique hobbies. (Mental Floss)
  • Justin Timberlake pays tribute to Michael Jackson. (YouTube)
  • A big shake-up in the world's most prestigious newsroom. (The New York Times)

Painting: Big Eye Marilyn with Mickeys by Ron English

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

This week's obsession: gladiator sandals

Gimme a good pedicure and a great pair of sandals
(like these from Sam Edelman @ Nordstrom Rack).

Government, law, civil engineering, art, the Roman alphabet, architecture and... the gladiator sandal. These are some of the great things ancient Rome gave to the world.  

A few of my favorites as we get ready to step into summer (especially with this heat wave!):

Pair these Circus by Sam Edelman sandals with this.

A snakeskin print to liven it up a bit.

A fashion hit and enduring years after its debut (and now on sale!).

If you want to splurge.

The cork sole and high ankle strap make this one stand out.

I love the delicate rope detail on this pretty sandal.

I wouldn't dare but if you feel so inclined.

Only 38 days til summer (but what happened to spring?).

You are what you eat

This new documentary confirms my suspicions: too much sugar is killing us. Go see it and let me know what you think. Propaganda piece or truth?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy mama's day

Today's your natal day;
Sweet flowers I bring:
Mother, accept, I pray
My offering.

And may you happy live;
And long us bless:
Receiving as you give
Great happiness.

--Christina Rossetti (1830-94)

No one's smile
Has ever warmed my heart
Like yours does;
No one's laughter
Fills my heart with delight
As quickly as yours can.

--Barbara Cage

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Links may06


  • The world's most colossal statues. (Slate) 
  • Kimye tone it down for this year's Met Gala. (Marie Claire)
  • Firstborn children dream bigger, achieve more. (The Atlantic)
  • Speaking of female breadwinners, former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts is joining Apple for $68 million. (Fashionista)

Photo of Guan Yu Statue by Fabrice Fouillet. (LensCulture)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Maps... (a different view)


We've been making maps for thousands of years. From Paleolithic cave paintings of the night sky and Cuneiform clay tablets found in Kirkuk to European exploration of the Americas and Google Earth, maps help us explain, define and navigate our way through the world. 

When I was a kid, I would spend many lazy summer afternoons studying my treasured globe. I loved that thing. Sometimes I would close my eyes, spin that blue orb and wherever my finger landed would be the place I would "travel." Morocco. Bali. The Sahara. Such a big world, I thought. I wonder what all these people are doing right now.    

Maps tell us stories. One of my favorite travel sites, Urbane, creates maps that characterize physical places by social connotations. For example, instead of making a map of Manhattan neighborhoods with names like the Upper East Side, Spanish Harlem and Tribeca, Urbane uses crowd-sourced adjectives like "rich and white," "zone of perceived danger" and "apartments you can't afford." Yep. Pretty much sums up NYC.

Check out this brilliant map of Seattle.

And this one, explaining London.

Demystifying Colonial-era neighborhoods in Boston.

And getting the low down on Dallas.

Toronto, San Francisco, Miami, Mexico City, Portland, Philly, New Orleans, Seoul. If you've ever lived in any of these cities, nodding in agreement to the inside jokes will provide a deep sense of satisfaction. On the flip side, if you've never been to these places you'll just have to visit and find out for yourself.

Now close your eyes, point to a place on the map and see where your finger lands. Then go there. Happy travels!  

All maps designed by Urbane. (If you don't see your city, let them know!)