Monthly Archives: August 2016

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.


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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Link Party: 8/15-8/19

Summer clouds without a filter.

Summer clouds without a filter.

Here’s what I read this week:

1. The precarious future of the Grand Canyon.

2. What will be the Chipotle of pizza?

3. A legendary rock climber’s strange brain.

4. Madeline Gins and the theory of Reversible Destiny.

5. The mountain lions of Los Angeles.

And a bonus: If you have Apple Music, you should watch Frank Ocean’s Endless. I think it was entirely worth the wait.

And in honor of my birthday, do me a favor — do something this week that makes you feel fantastic.

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Think Tank: 23 Favorite Quotes

Today is my 23rd birthday, otherwise known as the beginning of my Jordan year. (As far as I know, everyone still likes me.) I’ve talked about it on the blog before, but I love to take holidays and life milestones as an opportunity to reflect on how beautiful my life really is — even during the trying times — and to think about what makes me Zoë. As the last hurrah of a great day (bagels + ice cream + margaritas), I’ll share 23 of my favorite quotes that inspire me throughout the year, every single day.

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.
Anne Lamott

There are always flowers for those who want to see them.
Henri Matisse

Someone will always be prettier. Someone will always be smarter. Someone will always be younger. But they will never be you.
Kanye West

There is not enough time for hating yourself. Too many things to make. Go.
Tavi Gevinson

You are allowed to be alive. You are allowed to be somebody different. And you are allowed to not say good-bye to anybody or explain a single thing to anyone, ever.
Augusten Burroughs

The ability to think for one’s self depends upon one’s mastery of the language.
Joan Didion

Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.
Orson Welles

Good artists copy, great artists steal.
Pablo Picasso

I must have flowers, always and always.
Claude Monet

I’m a woman phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that’s me.
Maya Angelou

I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I always knew the woman I wanted to be.
Diane Von Furstenberg

You see things; and you say “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not?”
George Bernard Shaw

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.
Ira Glass

If it is right, it happens — the main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.
John Steinbeck

Where your talents and the needs of the world cross there in lies your vocation.

In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing.
Vincent van Gogh

The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art.
Junot Diaz

Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.
Auguste Rodin

Body like the mountain, Heart like the ocean, Mind like the sky.

I am still learning.

Maybe young women don’t wonder whether they can have it all any longer, but in case of you are wondering, of course you can have it all. What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don’t be frightened: you can always change your mind. I know: I’ve had four careers and three husbands.
Nora Ephron

You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.

Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself. (I am large, I contain multitudes.)
Walt Whitman


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Link Party: 8/8-8/12

I love these trees a lot.

I love these trees a lot.

I spent the whole weekend in Los Angeles (Saturday: Santa Monica and Malibu; Sunday: Arts District + Downtown + the Eastside). I have zero regrets.

Here’s what I read this week:

1. Twitter‘s serious problem with abuse.

2. Inside a scandal at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

3. A brief history of Arthur memes.

4. YouTube beauty bloggers and anxiety.

5. Martha Stewart, Queen of the Internet.

And a bonus: Anna Wintour‘s garden makes me swoon.

I’m sending you all of my good vibes for a fantastic week.

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Link Party: 8/1-8/5

Last night at the Hollywood Bowl.

Here’s what I read this week:

1. The life of paramedics in Laredo, Texas.

2. The future of American malls.

3. Harvard’s final clubs.

4. The miseducation of John Muir, America’s highly problematic fave.

5. The oral history of the lobster roll.

And a bonus: Jenna Maroney from 30 Rock + Donald Trump = Donald Maroney.

And because I couldn't decide on what photo I wanted to use, Thursday night's Last Shadow Puppets concert at the Observatory.

And because I couldn’t decide on what photo I wanted to use, here’s also Thursday night’s Last Shadow Puppets concert at the Observatory.

Have a great weekend.

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Post-Grad Adventures: Zoë’s Secret to Post-Grad Success

Let's keep it between us.

Let’s keep it between us.

In comparison to a lot of people I know and work with, I’m basically an infant in the full-time working world. In just over a year, I’ve learned so much about who I am and what I want out of my career.

I could be wrong, but I might already figured out the secret to post-grad success. And the more I think about this secret I’ve unlocked, the more I realize just how applicable it is to any job and every facet of everyday life. Articulated in just three words, it’s simultaneously simple and complicated. Are you ready for it? Here it is:

Know your audience.

I wasn’t a complete stranger to the concept of audience before figuring this out. In every rhetoric or composition class I’ve ever taken, audience has always been an integral aspect to consider when setting up and presenting an argument. In every article I write, I have to think about who my reader is and what I want to tell them. Being able to convince an audience of your credibility or the validity of your opinion rests on your understanding of who the audience members are and where their interests lie. If you’re going to give a talk on steak’s nutritional benefits to a room full of vegans, it’s still possible to have a well-executed presentation and have your information stick in their brain — you just need to think more strategically. If you don’t, you can’t even begin to chip away at their guard.

Thinking about your audience also unfolds many other things for you to consider that can help you frame your argument. What context is this interaction taking place in? What is acceptable behavior? What’s the current political or cultural climate? The list of questions can go on and on, and operate on many levels. For example, think back to your teenage years. If you wanted to ask your mom if you could go out with your friends or if she would buy you something, you had to make an assessment before figuring out how you were going to do it. Was she in a good mood? Had she spent a lot of money on you you lately? Had you done anything bad recently? What could you do to make the conditions just right for the answer to be yes?

At my full-time gig working at my alma mater, pausing and thinking about my audience has also been the best way to keep me from going too far inside my own head. When you’re a professional and you know your stuff, it is so easy to get into the weeds of your project. There’s a time and a place for that, and remembering what your audience needs helps to decide that time and place.

The students I work with and for are really just interested in getting information that’s immediately accessible and easy to understand. They don’t like reading big paragraphs of text, and they don’t like a stuffy administrative voice. I can be creative about the ways I present that information, but remembering what they want and need pulls me in the right directions for what language I should use, details I need to include or channel I can post on. People can also be part of multiple audiences, and I have to take that into consideration — the students who need the information may be first-time college students, or speak English as a second language. 

At the same time, I also have to consider the faculty and staff that are also stakeholders in what we’re doing. There are layers and layers of discourse all occurring simultaneously, and remembering what my main purpose is — to help students have great college experiences — helps me navigate them. Dreaming up lofty ideas and making extremely creative content are fun brain exercises and I like to do both, but ultimately I have to remember what the purpose of my work is and dial forward or back accordingly.

Once you start thinking about your audience in a mindful and deliberate way, you’ll notice that the same strategies can work in other areas of your life beyond the office or the classroom. Your own wants and needs as a multiple-audience member are still important, but you’ll figure out how to fulfill them without stepping on the wants and needs of others. Keeping the know your audience mantra at the front of my mind has given me so much perspective on how the world at-large works, and I hope it does the same for you.

What do you think? Let’s talk about it in the comments.


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