It was recently brought to attention that all of the links I painstakingly include each week are not easily visible from mobile devices. While I’m working on a long-term solution to customize my mobile design, just know I often include links to articles and products I reference, particularly in the image credits. Phew!
- “The Glass Castle”: A good (bbhead!) friend of mine recommended this novel and let me borrow it a while back, but I’d done her a disservice and only just started it last Friday while myself and 90,000 other San Franciscans were without power. Even after power was restored, I couldn’t put this book down. It’s a heart-wrenching memoir of a woman’s rough childhood and upbringing, and certainly put things in perspective for me. Bonus: It’s been made into a movie, to be released this year.
- Crossword App from NYT: Monday would have been my maternal grandpa’s 87th birthday. Among other things, the New York Times crossword was always a favorite of his — and my mom’s. The crossword app is free, even for non-subscribers, and there are themed puzzle packs for purchase if you’re a super #wordnerd like me. I have a feeling Pop would have stuck to the ol’ ink and paper, but I love feeling connected to him all the same.
- José Eber Curling Wand: I never got into the Harry Potter life, so I didn’t believe in magic wands until I met this one. It transforms my unruly hair into glorious beach waves, in no time at all. I’m particularly clumsy, so I have burned myself a few times (yes, even while wearing the included glove). But pain is beauty, right? And, I’m 20 days accident-free… although I probably just jinxed that.
- “Sign of the Times” – Harry Styles: Before you get all Judgy McJudgerson on me, you must know I didn’t realize this was Harry Styles until I saw him on last week’s SNL. I’d heard it enough to fall for the addictive crescendo and soulful sound, but I hadn’t placed the voice. So, despite him being the reason 1D broke up and a million hearts broke with it, I can’t get enough of this one.
In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”
The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.
By 30, you should know…
21. The names of the Secretary of State, your great-grandmothers, and the best tailor in town.
Finally — an easy task (for the most part)!
This week’s “reading” was simply a fill-in-the blank exercise to identify these prominent people.
- The Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson
- Your great-grandmothers: Lillian, Wanda, Marie and Edith
- The best tailor in town: TBD
I could leave it at that, but you know that’s not my style. Here’s a little more about my perspectives on each of these people.
Secretary of State
From his multi-millions as (now former) Exxon CEO to his close ties with Russia, Rex Tillerson’s name has been on a lot of lips since his nomination and confirmation in early 2017. I don’t know how you couldn’t know his name at this point.
But, I didn’t know a whole lot about his background beyond Forbes profiles and mass-media blunders, so I figured I’d study up. Despite opposing many of his political positions, I was pleased to discover his extensive involvement in the Boy Scouts of America — he even served for a few years as its national president, which is its highest non-executive position.
Being a Boy Scout does not inherently make you a good person, but I was grateful to find some common ground with the guy. It’s too early in his service, in my opinion, to judge him outright and I hope to hear of positive policy work and relationships formed in his future. Call me an optimist, but I’d rather that than stew over every single pick in this administration.
Half of this section was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. We were always very close with my maternal side of the family tree, and I knew those names without hesitation.
My mom’s maternal grandmother, Lillian, was alive for the first few years of my life. I remember giggling over our July birthdays, her affinity for baking and how much she adored being the matriarch of an extensive clan. I’ve always loved her name, and when the time came for Brother and SIL to name their second daughter, I suggested Lillian in her honor. Plus, it’s one of the most fun names to say, a la “Rugrats” dynamic duo, “Phil-lip” and “Lil-li-an.”
My mom’s paternal grandmother, Wanda, died long before I was born. From the stories I’ve heard over the years, she was a vivacious woman with a zest for life and a helluva lot of patience — six kids will surely do that to you! Her only daughter, my Great Aunt Mary, tells the best stories about Wanda and the whole family; her voice carries through the phone with incomparable charm and wit.
My dad’s side of the family tree was a bit more distant from my upbringing. Part of it was geography, but I relied heavily on my dad’s Aunt Merlyn for genealogy stories when I was a kid. She died last year, and with that went one of our last remaining links to my dad’s side.
Through the help of my mom, though, I was able to learn the names of my paternal great-grandmothers.
My dad’s maternal grandmother was Marie. My mom tells me she was a seamstress by trade and spoke very little English. She was a strong Sicilian — and don’t you dare call her an Italian! (This, by the way, sounds exactly like the type of woman to raise my Grandma Helen.)
My dad’s paternal grandmother was Edith. About the only memory I have is from visiting her and my great-grandfather’s gravesite when I was about nine years old. Ever the strong, silent type, my dad didn’t talk a lot about his grandparents around me — although that could have been a side effect of his memory loss after the stroke.
I only met one of my great-grandmothers, so it’s no surprise I’m filled with envy and emotion when I see friends post photos with generations of strong women. I may not be able to rival Great Aunt Merlyn’s knack for genealogy, but I can sure as hell appreciate the women who influenced my upbringing in their own way.
The best tailor in town
Finally, a real stumper. I am not the fashionista I once was — or at least, once thought I was.
I rarely buy new clothes, and when I do, it’s usually athleisure. The clothes in my closet that aren’t athleisure generally fit well… until they don’t, and then they’re donated.
The last item I had tailored was a bridesmaid dress I wore once and haven’t seen since I loaned it to my HS bestie (no rush on returning it, Jen 😉 ). But, I wouldn’t recommend the tailor anyway because of the pricing; though they did manage to get it done quite quickly.
I’ve seen enough episodes of “What Not to Wear” to know how invaluable well-fitting clothes can be. Pieces tailored to your body (obviously) fit better, which makes you feel better, and then the world is sunshine and rainbows. I’m being a jerk, of course, because I haven’t invested in pursuing a tailor.
So that’s my task in the next few weeks… as I prepare to donate ~10 bags of clothing, in fact. If you have recommendations for tailors in the SF area, please do let me know! I trust Yelp for many things, but a personal suggestion in this arena is always best.
It’s been a whirlwind of PR nightmares from Pepsi to United Airlines to Melissa McCarthy… (If you don’t understand the third one, start watching “Last Week Tonight.”) I don’t know many who are applauding those mega-oops moments, but here’s what I do appreciate this week:
- Spring Cleaning: In preparation for an upcoming move within SF, I’ve taken a liken to purging stuff with the help of friends. Thanks to two separate sessions, led by my master-purge peers, I’ve managed to gather countless items to donate and four bags of trash! Who knew I’d accumulated all that stuff in just 2.5 years?
- A Fresh Mani/Pedi: My Sunday night routine often involves painting my nails as a therapeutic way to wind down the weekend. I was trying some “maybe” colors I wasn’t ready to let go of, but then a dear friend suggested we catch up over mani/pedis Monday night. I can’t think of a better way to spend an hour — being pampered while connecting with loved ones is simply the best!
- Easter: This coming Sunday is sure to be filled with a joyous remembrance of resurrection and life for my fellow Catholics and Christians. Egg dyeing and chocolate bunnies aside, Easter has become one of my favorite holidays for humble reflection and celebration.
- “HUMBLE” – Kendrick Lamar: Speaking of humility, Kendrick Lamar’s latest has flooded my ears all week. It could be a coincidence, given the major blunders we’re witnessing firsthand, but I think I’d be into it regardless. Completely NSFW language ahead — beware before blasting in your office.
The List was originally published in Glamour by columthe nist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.
By 30, you should know…
19. When to try harder and when to walk away.
Similar to last week’s task, this challenge made me think a lot about what it means to quit.
Often seen as a pejorative term, quitting is frowned upon — usually without taking into consideration our human and humble needs. It doesn’t have to mean you’ve given up, or you haven’t tried hard enough or some other iteration of being a whiny baby.
To be clear, it’s understandable why “winners never quit and quitters never win” was drilled into our heads as kids. The point is about learning resiliency, and how there will often be things in life you have to do — whether or not you want to.
I was on a cycle for years of starting the year strong with Girl Scouts. We’d come off an amazing summer trip; I’d be pumped for the year ahead; and then around the time we had to sell cookies or calendars, I wanted out. Girl Scouts was dorky, or I was frenemies with a troop member or camping was gross. My parents wouldn’t let me quit mid-year, though — I was to see myself through the end of the year and then I could choose to not sign up for the following year. And what would always happen at the end of each year? Another amazing summer trip, and we’d start the routine all over again.
What if my parents had let me quit any of those times I cried dramatically about hating it? I wouldn’t have completed thousands of hours of volunteer work; nor earned my Silver Award, my Gold Award (the highest honor in Girl Scouts) nor my college scholarship for scouting service. I wouldn’t have continued what have become some of my longest-lasting friendships. I wouldn’t have cried at the thought of my former camp suffering from a massive brush fire last weekend.
Instead, I would have learned it’s OK to give up when things get tough.
I went through similar lessons in my years of athletic competition. Whether it was a practice, scrimmage, game or tournament, I’d want to give up when I just wasn’t feeling it. But I’d learn at the end of each season how perseverance paid off and hard workers were often rewarded. Setting records, learning leadership, forging friendships — these are just a few of the perks of sticking a tough situation out. And earning those after you’ve been ready to give up is all that much sweeter.
Now, what’s equally important, is knowing when to walk away.
This is one I clearly haven’t mastered, as evidenced in last week’s essay. Comedienne Kathy Griffin writes this week’s response to The List, and she provides the classic example of leaving an unhealthy relationship.
The problem for many of us, though, is not seeing how unhealthy a relationship is until we’re out of it. Hindsight is often 20/20… so how do we bump it up into foresight?
Objectively, you can look at the data. See what patterns emerge from past relationships (or jobs, or friendships… you get the idea). Do you leave feeling used or bad about yourself or some other negative way? Is it really possible for the situation to change, or are you giving it your all without ever receiving anything back?
Griffin points out how stereotypically easy it is for men to move on from relationships. They leave without looking back. But women, often, are “more analytical and accommodating. We tend to hang in there and try harder.” That’s not necessarily wrong of us, but it can explain why we can feel like it’s our fault if/when things don’t work out.
The point this week, I think, is finding the balance and trusting your instinct. If you feel you should try harder, then set a timeline to check in with yourself again and see if things have improved. Don’t give up, per se, but reevaluate what’s worth your precious time, effort and energy. And if you feel it’s time to walk away — or all of your friends are saying so because they’re acknowledging what you won’t — then know that you will be OK and aren’t a failure for doing so.
At the end of the day, it isn’t selfish to prioritize your needs and learn these lessons. It’s self-care.
A San Francisco tradition, a local legend, a Monterey murder aaand a Kiwi songbird… What’s not to love?
- Ferry Building Farmer’s Market: I’m not one for crowds, so I didn’t think I’d ever be brave enough to shuffle through this iconic Saturday farmer’s market along the Embarcadero in SF. A friend convinced me after our gym class this weekend, and although it was packed — thanks in part to the gorgeous weather — it was such a treat to support local businesses. Perfect produce, fresh flowers and artisanal accoutrements, oh my!
- Slim’s: Established in 1988, Slim’s is an SF venue for the history books. I made my patron debut there Sunday night, seeing Electric Six for the third year in a row — this time, with a friend instead of my ex 😁 While I’ve enjoyed each of their performances, the band sounded better than ever… and I think Slim’s had a hand in that. The vibe is cozy but dynamic, cool but not pretentious. I’ll be sure to revisit soon and test my theory with other performers.
- “Big Little Lies”: If you haven’t been watching this HBO miniseries, explain yourself. I’m not the biggest fan of Nicole Kidman or Shailene Woodley (or Reese Witherspoon, lately), BUT this show blew my biased expectations out of the water. The characters are multidimensional, the story is riveting and the soundtrack alone makes it worth a watch. If you’ve seen through the finale, check out this article about the characters’ costume choices.
- “Green Light” – Lorde: I’ve loved all of Lorde’s singles thus far, so it’s no surprise her long-awaited latest is a hit. Her vocals remind me of Ellie Goulding meets Asteroids Galaxy Tour, with her own signature sound ever-present. Don’t let the upbeat tempo and pop feel fool you — this song is about devastating heartache and loss. Well done, Lorde. I can’t wait to hear what else Melodrama brings.
By 30, you should know…
18. How to quit a job, break up with a man, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship.
Well isn’t this week’s List item just a bowl of sunshine?
I could keep my response as brief as this: If you’ve mastered any of these techniques, please let me know.
Instead, I’ll do as I do, and share a few (mostly unsuccessful) experiences of my own…
My parents taught us to never quit — if you commit to something, you see it through. So perhaps this lack of practice in my adolescent years could explain why I’m quite awful at quitting a job.
Example 1: I left my college retail job for a call center job (making double what I did at the mall), only to confirm within a few weeks that I was not meant to be in customer service or scripted phone calls. I was very fortunate to find an external role just two months later, which put my degree to use and was sure to grant me more success. The problem? I needed to start with two days’ notice to my current employer. And while I knew going into the call center that I wouldn’t be a lifer, I felt absolutely terrible. I ummed and ahhed my way through a verbal resignation, hanging my head as I handed over a poorly written notice letter. Was my manager surprised? Not one bit. But I felt like a doof all the same and swore I’d never fumble my way through the experience again.
Example 2: A few years later, it was time for me to move on and pursue a relocation opportunity in New York City. This dream of mine was finally going to happen, but I had to go through the nightmare of resigning first. This time, I was able to give plenty of notice — I just wasn’t sure if my employer would grant it to me or send me packing that afternoon. What happened, instead, was a somewhat more coherent resignation speech and letter to my VP, plus a personal Facebook post that evening announcing my relocation. I didn’t specify whether or not I was leaving my company (we had an NYC office), and my post was not visible to non-friends. I came into work the next morning to a message from my VP, asking to see me. They were upset because they “hadn’t accepted [my] resignation.” They lectured me about the importance of social media and not burning bridges, but I remained baffled. I’d already signed paperwork with my next employer, and felt I’d done my due diligence by giving as much notice as possible. I hadn’t disparaged my employer in any way, shape or form; and someone had clearly shared my post with my VP for them to even see it. My heart beats rapid-fire even now, more than four years later, at the thought.
If only I’d had these articles to guide me then!
Romantic breakups aren’t much easier, I’ve found. While I’m more often the dumpee than the dumper, it doesn’t feel good to be on either side. I’ve learned to focus on my own needs, while avoiding the “It’s not you, it’s me” babble. Wanting to part ways with them doesn’t make them terrible (necessarily); it makes them not right for me. And with hindsight always being 20/20, it’s safe to say that both parties in a breakup will eventually find the relationship had to come to an end — better sooner than later, right? Right.
I believe it was in Aziz Ansari’s “Modern Romance,” and if not, he’s getting credit anyway: Break up with someone how you’d want to be broken up with. Don’t be a dick, and relationship karma will reward you, because getting dumped unceremoniously suuucks. PS: Maybe it’s the term “dumped” that makes it all the more painful. Let’s find a different word for that.
Some more helpful tips:
- How to Break Up with Someone You Love
- How to Dump Someone Like an Actual Adult
- How to Break Up with a Really Nice Guy [or Girl?]
Finally, there’s confronting a friend without ruining the friendship. Oof.
This, again, has been a struggle for me through the years. I’d like to think I’ve gotten better — in large part, because my career consists of giving and receiving critical feedback — but it’s still a hard thing to do. No one wants to make their friend feel like garbage when you’re expressing an opposing opinion or critical callout.
A recent example comes to mind: I knew one of my very best friends, whom I love and respect dearly, was planning to vote for Trump. I wholeheartedly disagreed, avoided the topic and figured we’d all laugh about this in a few years.
As the election drew nearer, then came to a close, I knew I had to say something. We live in different time zones and have opposite work schedules, so we often text first anyway to make sure the other can talk.
I approached her, first and foremost, with positivity. Our text history is too long to revisit, but I recall the conversation going something like this:
Me: I love and respect you and hope this doesn’t sound rude, but can you help me understand why you’re voting for Trump?
Her: Haha [laughing because she knows I wrote and rewrote that 20 times before sending]
Her: Explains her reasoning, which is thoughtful and not accusatory of Clinton — or me
Me: I appreciate you letting me ask… Explain my viewpoint, again without accusation or hate speech
Her/Me: When are we getting together next?
Crisis averted. We don’t need to have the same viewpoints to remain friends, although some of my peers disagree with that very statement. For me, our friendship is too valuable to let this end it — and if I do, I have a hell of a lot of family members to dissociate from.
Some ideas to manage the message:
- How to Confront a Friend — seriously, wikiHow has everything!
- How to Give Negative Feedback (Without Sounding Like a Jerk)
- 13 Ways to Communicate Without Drama
Phew! If you made it this far, I hope you’ve learned something or maybe even laughed a little.
Again, if you’ve mastered any or all of these techniques: Please comment with your tips and tricks!