Link Party: 9/19-9/23

Highlight of my week: discovering this beautiful patch of sunflowers on campus.

Highlight of my week: discovering this beautiful patch of sunflowers on campus.

Here’s what I read last week:

1. If you have a strong stomach, you should totally read this story about witches who lived on a Chilean island.

2. Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s philosopher-king.

3. I will read anything Rebecca Traister writes because she is masterful and insightful, and this conversation with Ava DuVernay delivers.

4. I am here for any analysis about the Little House on the Prairie universe. Here’s an interesting look at parenting in On the Banks of Plum Creek.

5. Disco A-Z.

And a bonus: My mom and I went and saw The Dressmaker at the movies yesterday. If you like dark comedy, you will like this movie.

I’m sending you all of my good vibes. Have a great week.

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Post-Grad Adventures: First Day of College Advice

Oh, 18-year-old Zoe, you sweet summer child.

Oh, 18-year-old Zoe, you sweet summer child.

My first day of college was exactly five years ago today — September 22, 2011.

Zoe at 23 would probably be so annoyed with Zoe at 18: I had absolutely no idea of what the hell I was supposed to be doing, and figured that once I got to school that I would figure it all out. I remember a lot about that first day — the weather, what I wore, the classes I took and where I hung out — but the main thing I remember is feeling excited about embarking on a new experience. There’s no way I would have been able to know or understand what four years of undergrad would give me: a degree program that taught me way more than how to read literature, a student assistant job that opened so many doors, campus involvement that I wouldn’t trade for the world and some of my favorite people in this little universe of ours.

Today, I’m lucky to be back at my alma mater as a staff member that interacts directly with students. All summer, I talked to incoming freshmen and transfer students and answered their questions about navigating the university labyrinth: how to sort out their financial aid package, register for classes and more. Today was their first day of class, and I saw so many social media posts from students thrilled about starting college. I walked around campus today asking returning students for their advice for new students, and the vibe on campus was electric with possibility. I hope that they are able to have a great college experience like I did. Throughout the day, I thought about the advice I’d give to them and what I wish I would have known on my first day of college. Here’s what I would tell them.

Know that you’re entitled to changing your mind.

When you’re young and still figuring out the world, it’s really easy to succumb to the pressure of what other people want for you, or what you think other people and society want from you. But at the end of the day, all that really matters is that you’re happy and healthy. If that means that you have to put yourself in a potentially uncomfortable position to get to happiness and healthiness, you gotta do it. Living with regret is not fun.

I have always found it pretty ridiculous that society at-large expects teenagers to pick a major and stick with it for four years and most likely the rest of their lives. It’s just not realistic, and you have to do what you love — I would probably make more money if I had picked something in the science or engineering fields, but I would have been really bad at it and miserable. Plus, my interests and tastes changed dramatically between 18 and 22. You have to allow yourself the room to grow and explore what you really want. If that ends up being far away from the original plan, that’s totally okay. Change is good.

Practice proactivity.

That being said, you are the master of your fate and the captain of your soul. If you want to make the most of your college experience and position yourself for the best post-grad outcome, you have to put in the work. Take class seriously, get involved on campus and explore all of the options readily available to you. While you’re working towards building a solid college career, you’ll learn tons about yourself and what you want out of life. You may realize that your passion is helping people, or that you enjoy event planning. You may also realize that you’re not as good at math as you thought you were, or that you need to work on your interpersonal communication skills. Once you graduate, that proactivity you’ve been training for the the last few years will pay off in spades.

Read everything.

I knew both English majors and non-English majors who would say that they never read the assigned class readings, as if that was something to be admired. My advice to any student is to read everything that your professors assign. (For the most part, college professors assign much more interesting books than your high school teachers.) You’ll  e much more prepared for lecture, and you’ll be able to ask better questions about the concepts you don’t understand. Broadening your literary horizon is so important to building perspective, and it has never hurt anyone to be well-read.

It’ll go faster than you think.

I was able to do a lot in college, but I still wish I was able to do even more — I wish I would have applied for more scholarships, been more proactive about getting my college writing published and worked harder on finding somewhere to intern. The undergrad years are an incubator for adulthood that you’ll never have again. One day you’ll wake up and wonder how all of a sudden you’re a third-year student when you feel like you just moved into your freshman dorm. But if you apply yourself and take full advantage of the time you have, you’ll go so far and have a blast. I’m rooting for you.

What advice would you give to someone starting their undergrad career? Tell me in the comments.

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Link Party: 9/12-9/16

I love clouds.

I love clouds.

Here’s what I read this week:

1. Inside the gentrification of Los Angeles’ Grand Central Market. I had no idea of the beginnings of GCM and its history, and this is an eye-opening and well-written piece.

2. A life as a Whole Foods cashier. This hit me with the post-grad feels.

3. Ikea and its ephemeral home goods.

4. The definitive story of why Apple killed the headphone jack in the iPhone 7.

5. George Price and his altruism equation.

And a bonus: On Wednesday I went to a great speakers panel hosted by Bird. You should subscribe to the Bird newsletter if you want to read about really awesome ladies.

Have a great weekend.

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Culture Connoisseur: Smorgasburg LA

The 48 hours of Saturday and Sunday are the most precious of the entire week. You only have 48 hours to cram in everything you need to do: laundry, running errands and catching up on much-needed sleep. It’s only fair that you devote at least a few of those hours to fun. If you live in or near Los Angeles, you should devote them to Smorgasburg LA.

Smorgasburg started out as an offshoot of the Brooklyn Flea Market a few years ago. It was originally just a way for local food vendors to get in on the weekend flea market crowd, and it became its own very big thing. It still runs from April to November, and hosts some of the most important names in New York food.

This summer, the same team decided to bring the event to Los Angeles. It’s held every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Alameda Produce Market, which is just outside of the Fashion District. In addition to a beer garden and food stalls, some of which only come out for food festival events, there are vendors selling clothing, housewares and other lifestyle products.

One of the first things I noticed were these colorful umbrellas. A+ aesthetic choice.

One of the first things I noticed were these colorful umbrellas. A+ aesthetic choice.

Back in July, my friends (Adrian, Czarina, Klarize and Alan) and I braved a hot day to check out what Smorgasburg LA had going on. It’s relatively easy to get there from the 10 Freeway, if you know where to turn in to park — the garage across the way has free parking for the first two hours.

We got there around lunchtime, so we were immediately interested in getting a sandwich or taco. We chose crab sandwiches from Summer Crab. It’s best to take a quick tour of the entire festival first: you can scope out your drink and dessert choices, and you get a better feel of all of your options. Never pick the first vendor you see.

This is the Trap Queen: soft shell crab with chili sauce. Served with a side of cassava chips.

This is the Trap Queen: soft shell crab with chili sauce. Served with a side of cassava chips.

After hanging out under a much-needed umbrella and wandering past a tent that sold art prints (I have to stay away from those or I’ll buy the whole store), we scoped out the ice cream. Smorgasburg LA in general is really big on celebrating the food holidays the Sundays happen to coincide with. We went on National Ice Cream Day, so a bunch of LA ice cream shops came out with their trucks. It was a good choice on a hot day, but I definitely want to go again when it’s not so crowded for the hype of a food holiday. The upside was that I tried Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream for the first time and loved it.

 

Sweet cream and Intelligentsia black cat espresso.

Sweet cream and Intelligentsia black cat espresso.

My last item of the day was a cup of strawberry lemonade. Earlier in the day, I had seen an event-goer carrying what looked like the most refreshing cup of fruity goodness. Czarina and I finally tracked down the vendor that was selling it and immediately bought two cups. 12/10, still thinking about that lemonade.

Yooooooooooo.

Yooooooooooo.

My favorite thing about Smorgasburg LA is that you have a bunch of food options in one place — you get a real slice of LA food culture without having to trek all over. Events like these are a good barometer for what people want out of cultural experiences. To me, Smorgasburg’s rise is saying that the people of LA want somewhere to hang, enjoy the outdoors and eat good food. And it’s easy to get a taco from a truck in downtown, a donut from the West Side and an acai bowl from a popup and not feel all that guilty about driving and wait times. There are only so many hours in a weekend, after all.

Have you been to Smorgasburg LA/NYC, or know of something similar? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

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Link Party: 8/29-9/9

Ice cream always makes everything better.

Ice cream always makes everything better.

Hi! Long time no see. It’s really only been about two weeks, but it feels like a really long time to me. In those two weeks, my work/freelance/personal lives consumed me and I got a cold that kicked my ass. I’ve kind of been on the Internet, but not in a particularly mindful way.

But those two weeks off were actually a really good thing, because I realized just how much I miss doing this as a regular thing. Back when I first started, I would write 2-3 posts a week. Now I’m lucky if I can get a Link Party out on time. I want to get back to a regular writing schedule, so that I have time to do what I actually, really love I can have consistent brain workouts. This means reshuffling of priorities, setting harder deadlines with myself and probably less sleep. I have a feeling that this will all be worth it in the long run.

You, dear reader, have been consistently awesome from the beginning. I am always shocked to hear from people, in comment form or IRL, when they say how much they like it. Thank you for being the best.

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

1. This 24-year-old woman tried a Coke for the first time. I really loved this essay — I thought it was extremely well-written and weaved in all the right social elements.

2. Ayahuasca is having a moment.

3. The wonderful house dress.

4. If you haven’t read the LA Times “Framed” series, you should: it is a wild, wild ride.

5. Watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as a film about technology.

6. Elizabeth Holmes and the story of Theranos.

7. The last time Luc Sante saw Jean-Michel Basquiat. This type of personal essay is one of the many reasons why I love the Internet as a writing space: a quick but powerful thought.

8. If you don’t know much about Gene Wilder or Gilda Radner, you need to read this post ASAP.

9. Why aren’t we desperate for the new iPhone?

10. The Internet is obsessed with live streams of nothing.

And two bonuses: Whoever runs Merriam-Webster’s Twitter is a savage we can all take some lessons from, and a great video from PBS Idea Channel asking if the Internet is a public space.

Have a wonderful weekend.

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Link Party: 8/22-8/26

Last weekend I went to a little place called Lotusland. Stay tuned.

Last weekend I went to a little place called Lotusland. Stay tuned.

Quick question: where did August go? This summer has felt like a rubber band — one minute it feels like it’s been the longest summer of my life, while the next seems like yesterday was just the first of March.

Here’s what I read this week:

1. If you’re interested, this article from a former Gawker editor-in-chief explains the outlet’s demise very well.

2. Inside Urban Outfitters.

3. Conversations with Chance the Rapper.

4. The story of Pandora’s famous charm bracelet.

5. Instagram’s geotags as powerful travel guides.

And a bonus: If you’re in need of a new body lotion, this one is a game changer. I smell like the prettiest beach on earth.

Enjoy your weekend.

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Culture Connoisseur: What I Read In Print

One of my favorite feelings comes about like this — I arrive home after a long day at work, look through the pile of mail on the dining room table and see a new issue of a magazine addressed to me. I love the accessibility that the Internet gives me when it comes to reading a variety of publications, but nothing beats the feeling of holding a print magazine in my hands. It makes the reading experience seem weightier: a team of people like myself made it happen, and I’m about to delve deep into it. A magazine issue is also a piece of art, as it makes a statement about what’s important in the world we’re living in today. I honor that.

I’ve subscribed to different publications over the years, but I have favorites that I return to over and over again. Here are six of them.

The New Yorker.

When I was a junior in college, I attended a lecture where the speaker recommended that we read The New Yorker. I went home, purchased a 2-year print subscription and never looked back.

Getting this magazine every week has exposed me to the best of the best culture writing that’s out there. I often link to articles in my Link Parties because they are, without fail, thought-provoking and unique. Some of my recent favorite reads include a story about Donald Trump’s supporters, the Bouvier affair and a Nora Ephron essay.  I don’t read every single article anymore, but I pencil in time every Sunday afternoon to peruse the week’s issue. This magazine has indelibly changed my perspective, and pushes me to be a better writer and a better critic. I hope it never ever ever goes out of print.

Vogue.

As a teenager, I was so obsessed with fashion and haute couture that you could point out a piece of clothing and I could list off all of the details of who made it and what collection it came from. Every few months, my grandma would give me a stack of Vogue. I would pore over and rip out ads and editorials that I would tack up on the wall.

I don’t have time anymore to follow fashion week coverage, but I always make time to read Vogue. Many people discount women’s magazines as less-than journalism, which is really silly. Vogue is the barometer for women’s style, and serves as both a historical and cultural source of information about what we wear, what we buy and where we go. The organization does have a long way to go on its diversity in its editorials and coverage, but it’s moving in the right direction. The clothes the features talk about are often not accessible to most people, but the Devil Wears Prada point is real and salient. It’s a magazine I await every month.

The California Sunday Magazine.

My other grandma gets the newspaper, and in one Sunday edition this magazine was tucked into it. She gave me the copy, which I really enjoyed flipping through. Fast forward to this past spring, when I attended a Pop-Up Magazine event. They’re made by the same people, and I took advantage of a subscription deal — I’m so glad I did.

The California Sunday Magazine is a general interest magazine that features exceptional investigative reporting. If you like reading about a variety of subjects, you’ll like California Sunday Magazine. As a writer, I consider every issue a crash course in writing technique and brainstorming. The editorial staff chooses such interesting subjects, and I have yet to be disappointed. I have loved reading about the paramedics who live on the Texas-Mexico border, a Fort Bragg manhunt and women in the computer science field.

Condé Nast Traveler. 

Condé Nast Traveler is a new addition to my monthly print subscriptions, but I instantly fell in love with it. The caveat with this magazine is that everything the editors feature is wildly expensive and inaccessible. It’s so out-of-reach that it’s comical.

Regardless, it’s a fun dream session — I now want to vacation like Giorgio Armani and escape to remote islands off the coast of Washington. I also get a thrill out of the layout and design. If you love fonts and genius photo layouts, Condé Nast Traveler is your magazine. I also love that it’s a little bigger than the standard-sized magazine, which gives the text and photos room to breathe. That kind of material choice can make a huge difference, which is something the digital often can’t do.

 

New York Magazine.

I often read New York Magazine‘s online content, which is where I get most of my general news from. The writing is always smart. I like getting the magazine sent to my house so that I can spend some extra time reading the cover stories or longreads, which often turn up on this blog.

The Atlantic.

I also read a lot of The Atlantic on the computer, but I kinda like reading the print magazine more. With the constant refresh of online media, it’s easy for the fun features or sidebars to get lost in the ether. I also like telling myself that I only have a few more pages to read rather than gauging how much more scrolling I have to do. Reading online is wonderful and has turned me on to so many new publications and ideas, but I will always choose print over digital. Every time.

What magazines or newspapers do you subscribe to, or want to subscribe to? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

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