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?


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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I Went To The Mall Today

As some of you probably know, Florida has been re-opened since May 4. For the internationals reading, you should know our state governor Ron DeSantis is fully Trumpian. One of his talking points when asked about Florida’s half-million Coronavirus cases is the increase of testing. He’s been seen at press conferences wearing his mask incorrectly and touching his face repeatedly while urging constituents not to so he’s not exactly an example of reasonable leadership during a pandemic.

He does, however, understand that Florida’s economy relies on tourism. This means our survival is dependent on keeping the lights on and we peaked at 15,300 new Coronavirus cases on July 12. Florida’s reporting system has also been riddled with controversy so it’s likely the figures are completely off, but I digress.

Given these political circumstances, the local culture here is proceeding with life as it formerly existed simply with masks, disinfectant spray, and utmost caution.

I don’t really have much incredulity to lend to this fact because I still see Trump lawn signs on my local runs. I am cautiously optimistic about the Biden/Harris ticket but we can all agree we are so far from ideal or agreeable circumstances in any case.

So it goes.

With this in mind, I’ve been trying to find creative ways to make outings that provide some break to the tedium of post-COVID living while keeping myself and others safe.

My office has announced we should expect to be remote until 2021.

Roy and his colleagues have a also been working from home. We have made a comfortable routine, but at times we can feel the space in our home shrinks the longer we exist in it. I can only imagine the severity with which friends in New York City felt this at the peak of the pandemic’s crest-wave in the city.

After editing 90 pages of copy today, I spontaneously drove to Millennia Mall. This is the ritziest shopping area in Orlando as it’s a mid-level to high-end mall. You can find H&M, a Johnny Rockets, and Chanel within walking distance of one another. What’s not to love?

I figured I’d distract myself from the state of the world with some window-shopping while fulfilling my quarterly visit to the only Lush store in the tri-county area.

I’d also been eyeing a few shirts at PacSun and thought I’d go see them in person since it’s been years since I bought anything from the store. My hopes for purchasing these YG and Matisse tops were abandoned when I learned Millennia Mall does not have a PacSun.

Upon giving up my search for cool graphic tees for the summer, I began wandering into old store favorites and new curiosities.

Each brand varied vastly in their post-Coronavirus approach to welcoming customers back. Some had promotional safety guidelines.

Others felt like clubs with employees monitoring the entrance like bouncers for capacity. The doorman at Sephora asked me if I’d been in since they changed things and once I confirmed I had not, he instructed me not to touch the testers.

At some point, I wandered into Hollister. I don’t know what I was expecting but everything was marketed towards Gen-Z and I felt distinctly aged out. I was hit by the nostalgia of British chavs in high school wearing Hollister sweatpants to school to lazily emphasize their wealth.

Even their sweatpants cost $45.

I could never afford anything in there as a teenager but I distinctly remember falling in love with a low-rise pair at $78 jeans and by the time I’d saved enough money slinging açaí bowls at the local Planet Smoothie to buy them, I never found them again.

The most shocking difference I found had to be the Apple store which has historically been their busiest location for sales in Central Florida. All products were stored, two letter-size sheets were taped on the doors explaining their absence on the doors and I wondered what the company’s pandemic compensation policies must be.

While I expected each store to emphasize safety and caution, I did not expect to see many stores closed due to limited hours. There were also an unusual amount of sales. You got the sense stores were doing everything to push seasonal merch out the door. I’ve even seen holiday decor in retail stores lately so it makes sense that brands are retiring Summer capsules to make room for Fall and Winter.

I briefly wandered into Banana Republic where a 19 or 20-year-old girl greeted me at the door. I thought of my summer spent with an aunt in New Rochelle where I was the teenager working at the White Plains Banana Republic location taking advantage of my employee discount to build a proper professional wardrobe.

How things have changed in the decade since.

I witnessed every age group and every demographic shopping, everyone I saw wore their masks correctly. And honestly, the mall felt far less populated than it usually is on a Thursday afternoon which I actually preferred. Meanwhile, I was surprised to find that the syrupy prompts from associates to assist you as soon as you cross the threshold of their store had not relented.

I was the only customer at White House Black Market where I tried on this gingham print midi dress which fit like a dream. I wondered where I would wear it to and settled on a pair of two-tone mules instead.

I also bought a wedding reception dress not featured here. For a party that may not happen this year as planned but the next.

In any case, joy is not to be made a crumb.

Revisiting The Weekend

Hello friends,

I hope the beginning of this week finds you healthy and happy.

I have been fighting a headache over the weekend that simply will not quit. I went so far as to Google “prolonged headache covid” but the search results tell me I should probably just take an Advil and hydrate.

Roy and I took belated engagement photos yesterday morning. We started at 8am and just 45 minutes later we had to pack it up thanks to the humidity but despite the heat and some natural awkwardness, our photographer captured several sweet moments.

You are invited to match the enthusiasm of our mommas by enjoying the pictures below. I am going to put an ice pack on my head and pretend I’m still enjoying a morning stroll across a beautiful park.

In reality, I’ll be on conference calls.

Such is life!

Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.

Emily Brontë

A Weekend With Beyoncé and Blueberry Pancakes

Beyonce screen shot from Black is King
Black is King, Disney

Hey friends,

What are you watching this weekend?

I’m currently streaming Black is King, Disney’s cinematic collaboration with Beyoncé. I’ll start off by saying if Beyoncé is not already very much your thing, you won’t enjoy it. Because it’s essentially an extended Beyoncé music video with a very loose Lion King narrative.

I liked it in the general sense because I like Beyoncé. But I’m not sure if I would call it a conceptual success. The official description reads, “The film reimagines the lessons from the 2019 blockbuster for today’s young kings and queens in search of their own crowns.” The themes explored are more mature in nature and a few scenes might be potentially frightening for younger audiences.

If you’re interested in checking it out, I’d suggest having it on in the background while cleaning or doing laundry but it’s not something you need to sit and watch.

Another album I’ll suggest for your rotation is Taylor Swift’s folklore which I’ve been listening to on repeat since it’s release last week.

Taylor’s latest album is an extremely refreshing departure from the stuff she’s produced over recent years. My favorite Swift album has always been Red and musically, folklore is Red’s understated sister. The remote collaboration between her, Bon Iver and The National’s Aaron Dessner on this album also brought a return to her signature emotive chords and evokes a certain seclusion distinctive of the world it was created in. It’s indulgent.

And here’s my favorite statement on the matter —

There’s also something distinctly nostalgic about a Taylor Swift release given they’ve historically aligned with the beginning of Fall. Although we’re still several weeks out, I’m already excited for it. I’ve also changed my nail color from a summery pink to metallic brown. I’m not kidding around. Although the temperature change in Orlando is insignificant, there’s definitely a shift in the rhythm of everyone’s pace and the seasonal offerings alone are worth daydreaming about. I’m not like, ordering pumpkin spice syrup but I’m ready to make apple pies.

Speaking of, I made blueberry pancakes this morning. They came out more like crepes. I would try a different recipe next time but I highly recommend integrating homemade pancakes into one of your weekends this month.

Image provided by Ala

Although we’ve casually seen immediate family on the occasional basis, we are otherwise staying in and avoiding social gatherings.

These days, a trip to the dog park and ordering take-out after could be the highlight of our week.

But it’s really not so bad that way.

Riyah, August 2020