A Love Letter to New York

One of my best friends recently moved a couple miles from where I used to live in Brooklyn.

This friend and I have shared everything from Betty Crocker boxed brownies while sitting on her rooftop in high-school to cigarettes, clothes, secrets and grief over puppy loves lost.

Her friendship has remained one of the most consistent things in my life. Although I am thankful to be one of the people sending her off to a new chapter in the city that never sleeps, I feel a longing for the life I used to know in a world that no longer exists. I considered buying a $50 round-trip to visit her in Cobble Hill next month, but it feels irredeemably selfish to travel for pleasure while we grieve 200,000 lives lost to Covid.

If nothing else is true about New York City, it’s that no two days are the same. I used to say the city has a way of slipping into your veins, once you breathe subway air long enough a film of grit enters the bloodstream and you carry it with you the rest of your life. There’s a reason so many songs and movies are produced in ode to its bustle. NYC is dirty and unforgiving — you know they’re not lying about that.

But she was once yours, and that’s what made her beautiful to begin with.

Jacob Blake Should Be At Home With His Kids, Instead He’s Paralyzed & Under Arrest

As you’re aware, this has been a stunning week in American history. Between the grotesque perversity of democracy that was the Republican National Convention and recent events, everyone I’ve talked to recently is feeling an overdraft of bandwidth.

On Sunday night, a healthy 29-year-old Black male named Jacob Blake was shot 7 times in the back upon opening the door to the SUV where his 3 children were seated. The cops that fired were responding to a domestic incident Blake was not involved with. Witnesses say they saw Blake breaking up a fight between two women in the vicinity before he was shot by police.

To be entirely transparent, I heard the news on Monday morning and I filed the information away until I had space to reckon with it.

The headlines don’t pause for deadlines. The workday will not relent in the presence of grief or horror. Instead of processing the weekend’s events in Wisconsin, I participated in a video call with my team in my living room 1,200 miles away where discussion is limited to sanitized topics like family, weekend plans, and the weather. I wrote emails. Later that evening while protests scaled in Wisconsin, I made dinner and watched tv.

I share all this to underscore the tension between having to exist and peaceably fulfill your day-to-day responsibilities while your country’s on fire, literally and ideologically.

On Wednesday, the country woke up to the news of a 17-year-old White male opening fire on peaceful protestors, injuring 3 and killing 2. I sat in my kitchen for a while trying to reckon with the fact that citizens are being killed in the United States by other citizens simply for demanding that the state stop crushing Black and Brown bodies with impunity.

The bullets police shot into Jacob Blake’s body tore his spinal cord apart. His kidney and a fraction of his lower intestine were removed. Jacob Blake will be paralyzed for the rest of his life. And he is currently handcuffed to his hospital bed in the ICU unit he’s recovering in because police claim he is under arrest. Blake’s own father was unclear of the charges. Lieutenant Eric Klinkhammer, of the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department, told the BBC: “Mr Blake is in custody for previous felony warrants. Our policy indicates that all people in custody outside of our jail facility shall be secured with restraints.”

Blake’s mother was among the first to see him after the life-saving surgeries he underwent in the hospital and her son’s first instinct was to apologize for the grief he’d put her through. She asked him if he was the one that shot himself in the back and told him he had nothing to be sorry about.

We are living in a country where Black men are apologizing for the bullets ripping through their own lives. And I will never be okay with that. It should disturb all of us.

Because it’s bullshit.

Beyond such, have you considered the trauma Jacob Blake’s children have endured? The pain they’ll feel realizing they will never be carried by or run alongside their father again? The pain rippling through this community right now and the sear felt in the cities that have seen it all before?

I’m writing you with a heavy heart and I think that’s alright. I don’t understand anything about the age we are living in, and beyond denouncing it as evil, I won’t pretend to. I simply hope you will join me in dismantling the beast devouring the lives of our Black brothers and sisters by organizing, voting, and speaking up against injustice.

My prayers are with Jacob Blake’s family.

What’s In My Bag

Earlier this afternoon, I decided to take a trip out into the world to break up a day full of virtual meetings.

I told Roy I was headed to Target.

Once he hears Target, he knows I could be lost to him for hours, bewitched by every cozy throw and seasonal candle gracing the endcaps of the homeware aisles. But these days, I try to get in and out.

I don’t notice others very much as I am often too focused on keeping my distance and avoiding awkward semi-anonymous pandemic-era eye contact.

I do however still notice errand bags.

An errand bag is a nice purse that is both utilitarian and casual while also making a statement. In the suburbs, sometimes that statement is, “Yes, I’m a mom of three who can afford to be at Target shopping in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon with a $2,000 purse and sippy cup in hand.”

Seeing errand bags in the wild is my favorite thing ever. What can I say? I like familiarizing myself with the trends influencing your average purveyor of Target dollar aisle decorations.

I’m also conscious of the statement I’m making with my own errand bag. I like to think it’s, “I’ve prepared for this trip like it is a Girl Scout excursion and yes, vintage Louis Vuitton is timeless. Next question.”

Over the last two years, I’ve been using a Louis Vuitton Cabas Piano tote (left) as my everyday bag. My mom recently bought me a convertible backpack from Target (right).

I am obsessed with both of them and I’ll tell you why. Let’s start with the Louis Vuitton Cabas Piano tote.

My love for this bag is somewhat nostalgic. It has the signature Louis Vuitton canvas lining with an interior zipper pocket and a cell-phone pouch that was most probably designed for a Motorola Razr because it’s definitely not fitting an iPhone. At 12×10 inches, it’s the smallest Cabas tote style but roomy enough to carry an umbrella and snacks. The Cabas Piano tote (once also favored by Angelina Jolie) was discontinued in 2008 as the brand prioritized marketing for newer tote bags like the now ubiquitous Neverfull tote.

At the same time, I understand the subject of luxury handbags might carry some loaded assumptions.

When it comes to material possessions, I advise making the investment and remaining as understated as possible while doing so.

In other words, you will never see me wearing a Gucci sweatshirt and I found a 2006 edition of this bag for a quarter of its original retail price on the popular resale app Poshmark.

Once my order arrived, it was clear it had been in storage for a while — maybe even the last decade. I rehabilitated with a ton of leather conditioner, love, and TLC. Ultimately, I decided I wanted the vachetta leather (the base and trim) to look less worn, so I sold the one I’d renewed and bought another one from 2008. That’s the one I carry these days.

I briefly considered doing luxury handbag restoration and resale in a professional capacity but once style becomes work, it’s no longer fun.

This year, I’d been on the lookout for a miniature backpack for a few months after I fell in love with a Marc Jacobs bag I never committed to purchasing. My mama recently bought me this yellow one from Target and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since.

While the Cabas Piano tote is leather, the Target bag is polyester. The former requires being mindful about where you’re setting it down or whether it’s raining while the latter is carefree enough to take to a music festival.

While I do believe in the value luxury handbags add to one’s wardrobe, errand bags are not about luxury. They’re about utility.

The backpack I’m using now has a convenient front-zippered pocket for phone, lip balm, or sanitizer. It’s roomy, compact, and on-trend without feeling loud. I guess what I am saying is it just lets you to blend in. Which is a very 2020 mood. I’m keeping Louis but he might just go into storage until we find a reason to pour champagne again.

Here’s what I am carrying in my bag until then:

– Marc Jacobs keychain featuring a keychain from Groningen where Roy and I were engaged (my BFF’s hometown!), a car key and a house key (with a sunflower print on it just because)

– Neutrogena Hydro Boost water gel lotion sunscreen in SPF 30

– Ray Ban sunglasses case with prescription sunglasses inside

– Grove hand sanitizer in blood orange scent (I prefer Purell, this one’s kinda weird)

– AirPods and pom-pom guy AirPods case

– Pouch featuring an impressionist ballet scene with a mix of lip shades, floss, and hair accessories

– Daisy print mask my brother bought me because he’s rad

– Isabel Marant Smile lipstick shade in La Seine Shadow

– Too Faced Lip Injection Plumping Lip Gloss

– & of course, my phone which is being used to take photos and is thus not featured.

A woman’s bag is an intimate look into their priorities. I’ve tried to make my own practical while also capturing the things that make me thankful (daisies! 19th-century art! non-greasy sun protection!)

The details tell a story. What’s your errand bag saying?

The Come-to-Jesus Moment This Country Can’t Miss

Hello friends,

My apologies for the absence around here.

The idea is to blog multiple times a week but when time gets away from me, I remind myself the days are being lived and I am satisfied with that this summer.

As you can imagine, it’s been a quiet one. Last weekend, we finally departed from routine and took a 2-hour drive to Anna Maria Island at the courteous invitation of a friend. When I was younger, I took life in Florida for granted but as an adult you gain a new appreciation for the fact that people choose to retire here. Florida may carry some well-deserved stereotypes but have you ever watched the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico?

Exactly.

I voted in the Florida state primary last week. And it was surprisingly difficult to find a voter guide for local elections. I thought I just didn’t know where to look so I called a BFF who happens to be a lawyer which I will use a shorthand to communicate she’s got some stuff figured out. Imagine my surprise when we were both flummoxed by the vacuum of information a Google search led us to. The main outlet following the election was pay-walled.

We resigned to polling a few members of the local public defender’s office and looking up the websites of the candidates running.

The same day I voted also happened to be the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I thought it was strange we didn’t hear more about it from a cultural standpoint.

It’s the centennial anniversary! But somehow the brands will make sure you know when it’s National Donut Day. I digress.

The only dialogue I saw on the internet surrounding the 19th Amendment didn’t secure the right to vote for women of color.

The older I get, the more I realize voting is just not that important to a subset of Americans.

I will never forget a conversation I had with acquaintances just prior to the 2016 election where they informed me they weren’t going to vote because they didn’t want to participate in a farce since Hillary would win anyway.

That logic never really panned out.

Even still, we are nearing one of the most important elections we will experience in our lifetimes yet Roy and I will meet people completely ignorant to logic or empathy when it comes to politics. Instead we find people that are defensive, cynical, disenchanted, and occasionally others like us — cautiously hoping for the best with the disappointment of 2016 still fresh in mind.

Michelle Obama sat the country down for a serious talk during the 2020 Democratic National Convention last week. In case you missed it, I’ve linked the full video. I highly suggest listening to it and sitting with the words for a while, and even as an opportunity to meditate on what it means to be an American at such a time as this.

I’ve shared the words that stood out to me below.

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