While exploring LA with my partner a couple weeks ago, we stumbled on a stylish, magical block on La Brea featuring the combined shops of American Rag Cie. We checked out the fun vintage shop at the far end first, but when I walked into their home and decor outpost, Maison Midi, it was as though the clouds parted and angels sang just for me. I wanted — no, needed — one of everything.
A California mainstay for over thirty years, American Rag began with a few containers of vintage clothing from Marseille and has since blossomed into a well-curated clothing mecca for men and women complete with a denim bar and vintage shop, and the aforementioned homeware heaven, Maison Midi. Every Mediterranean bit of gorgeousness you might desire, from their perfectly Parisian bistro chair selection to their beautiful Portuguese pottery, south-of-France table linens, Moroccan tagines, Italian glassware, French country flatware, Egyptian cotton napkins… the list is seemingly endless.
On my short list were these super-extra, super-chic light turquoise pineapple lamps with pleated floral shades, the faux malachite lacquer serving trays, some striped linen napkins, and tumblers in every candy hue imaginable. I also had to stop myself from snapping up every quirky bit of artwork I stumbled upon. Oh, and peep that stylized leopard rug under the table! *swoon*
Did I mention they carry furniture as well? Beautiful ceramics and dishware? Baskets and rugs and cutlery, oh my! I seriously couldn’t get enough. If a perfectly eclectic, perfectly colorful, classic-yet-current decor shop exists, it is Maison Midi.
A smattering of their wares can be found online, but for the full kid-in-candy-store experience, visit their shop at 148 South La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036. I promise you won’t be sorry.
Bonus: Visit Neighborhood across the street, a lovely little coffee shop with wonderful service. Enjoy!
I wrote this poem a few years ago, on a day when my depression seemed to be swallowing me whole. Some days I come back to this feeling for a while, especially when an emotional lifeboat seems difficult to find.
sinking slowly kicking back to the surface over and over and over again until she tires of treading, ever-treading
gently she sinks, lips pressed together in a hard line until she rests at the bottom where no one can tell the difference between errant tears and the waters in which she resides
crumpled and frayed, perhaps she can learn to unfurl to sway like the graceful kelp that stretches upwards toward the sun, but for now, she cannot even open her eyes, or imagine that somewhere there is light and warmth and sunshine
the pressure becomes a comfort — something to hold her pieces together, something to keep her from flying apart, to keep her from dissolving into the aether above — because it would be so much easier to cease to be, so much easier for sentience to become scattered stardust
It’s that time again! Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and there are countless beautiful ways to tell your loved ones they are special. I’ve rounded up some of my favorite picks from small, indie, B-corp, and sustainable brands below. Enjoy!
Local fave Blockshop just restocked their stunning, oh-so-soft Flock throw, plus debuted two new colorways. Perfect to cuddle up under with a special someone.
These versatile and beautiful matchstick hoops from Baleen make a sweet wink-and-a-nod gift for that hotter-than-hot person you want to spoil this V-day. Plus they are 20% off with code LOVE20 for Valentine’s Day.
For the Goth-but-girly John Derian-esque aesthete in your life, theIn My Dreams necklace is the perfect way to tell them you’re dreaming of them. Plus, it is HUGELY marked down right now!
When you and your partner are weird in all the right ways together, it’s magic. Tell them so with this quirky-sweet card from indie printmaker Pier Six Press.
For something intimate, you can’t go wrong with a massage candlefrom Maude. Hand-poured with cruelty-free ingredients, there are three scents to choose from (I’m eyeing no.3) plus an unscented option if you’re unsure of your lover’s preference. Mood lighting can turn to pampering, and then who knows? *wink wink*
These gorgeous disc chimes are handmade by female-powered Pigeon Toe Ceramics, perfect for the tasteful homebody or décor aficionado in your life. Hang them indoors as a decorative object, or outdoors for a soft, modern windchime. They’ll think of you fondly every time they look up.
Bluebonnet soapfrom A Wild Soap Bar is my favorite shower indulgence right now. Responsibly wildcrafted and organically grown botanicals, certified organic oils, and a company that gives back — yes and please! Plus it smells heavenly and lathers beautifully. Pick up a couple and get down and dirty.. err… squeaky clean with a partner, or stock up to share with your favorite pals who deserve some self-care.
And finally, a gift of poetry to ponder alone or to share with a loved one. Kate Baer’s newest collection is on my short short list to read, and I’m looking forward to her signature blend of pathos, humor, and razor wit with bated breath. Consider it an unorthodox bouquet of flowers for your valentine that will last and last.
Staying comfortably alive is, unfortunately, much harder as a woman than you’d think. Collateral damage of war, terrible domestic violence, and a surprisingly insidious gap in medical care — and rights. Most medical knowledge we have is based on research on male bodies. Knowledge and effective treatments for women’s health conditions and diseases are shockingly in short supply. Women are regarded as more “emotional” than men, dismissed as “hormonal” when concerned about alarming physical symptoms, and are often dismissed in a way that makes the “hysteria” diagnoses of bygone days seem not that far away after all. Black women and other women of color are disproportionately affected. Heavier women are told to lose weight as a catch all solution to every ill. Pregnancies are more dangerous in the U.S. than any first world country has a right to be. And a whole host of reproductive health concerns have been made violently worse by the recent Supreme Court ruling that struck down Roe v. Wade. Abortion access is imperiled in much of the country. Safe and easy medical treatments for other reproductive issues will be harder to receive due to the ban of practices deemed to close to those used for abortion. In short, women’s health care in the United States is a travesty. It is an environment that is negligent at best — and malevolently hostile at worst — towards female bodies.
A smattering of recent news:
According to the 2021 Global Women’s Health Index, not only did women’s health get worse worldwide in 2021, the United States was ranked 23rd in the world. Twenty third.We are one of the richest countries in the world, but we don’t even crack the top 20 for women’s healthcare.
Recent reporting in the New York Times brought to the forefront how very little we actually know about an organ possessed by approximately half the world’s population: the clitoris. Virtually no one is studying it. Most medical literature ignores it completely. Surgeries and procedures regarded as routine and straightforward have documented injuries to the organ as a result of anatomical ignorance. And even though regular examinations are recommended, most providers “neither know how to examine nor feel comfortable examining the clitoris.”
Abortion bans in the 100 days since Roe V. Wade was struck down by the Supreme Court have resulted in incredible harm to women’s healthcare, including but also well beyond abortion procedures themselves. “Abortion bans have impacted healthcare beyond reproductive care, keeping Americans in some states from obtaining treatments for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and even cancer because the medications can be used to induce a miscarriage.”1 Women in the middle of life-threatening medical emergencies are sitting and waiting until legal teams, not doctors, decide if their lives are threatened “enough” to provide care.2 Other very basic, safe medical procedures that utilize similar methodologies or medications as abortions are in serious jeopardy due to the potential legal ramifications for the providers. A miscarriage has become a prosecutable crime. As Jia Tolentino pointedly explains, “We’re not going back to the time before Roe. We’re going somewhere worse.”
What can we do?
PlannedParenthood.org remains a steadfast resource for women’s healthcare, including issues related to menstruation, endometriosis, UTIs, PCOS, pregnancy, contraception, and more.
Abortionfunds.org lists abortion funds in every state if you’d like to donate, as well as links to resources to help find a clinic near you or get more information about safe, effective abortion pills.
National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center advocates for policies, offers resources, and holds events and trainings in support of the mental and physical health of indigenous women in the US, extending even to housing instability and gender-based violence.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has excellent advice to keep your digital privacy safe, whether you are seeking an abortion or a provider of abortion or healthcare support. What was benign data can now potentially be used as criminal evidence, so know your digital rights and protect yourself accordingly.
We are in this together. Let’s do all we can to close the gap in our rights to healthcare and bodily autonomy. Women’s rights are human rights.
To get to Hell,’ he says in a low voice, ‘they take you through America. There is a door behind a door.’
My partner and I read the dreamiest, most evocative experimental novel recently, A Door Behind A Door. Yelena Moskovich has created perhaps the ideal read for this bizarre moment in time: a loose-yet-considered dreamscape that pulls together the 1991 Soviet diaspora, Jewishness and identity, queer desires, a murder mystery, romantic and familial love, and micro- and macro-level power dynamics, with a sprinkling of incarceration politics thrown in for good measure. It is neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring – Moskovitch has delivered us a compact, fragmented fever dream that is just as much a novel as it is extended poem and expansive allegorical metaphor. Gradually you will feel increasingly unmoored from reality while simultaneously honing in on every word and sentence, so deftly does she utilize nuance and precision of language. A Door Behind a Door is utterly unlike anything I have ever read. Haunting, sexy, violent, and thought-provoking, pick up this novel and buckle up for the post (post?) pandemic read you didn’t know you needed.
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Just before my birthday last summer I was out shopping and eating with friends in LA, and I stumbled upon a candle in a little shop that I kept coming back to. The vessel was a bright, shiny gold, with an artful label of all text. The scent was deep and woody, and the name? “Polyamberous.” The quip made me smile, as I always love a good wordplay. It took me a bit to decide between it and another candle I liked as a little gift for myself — I was apprehensive about making it mine, to be honest, in more ways that one. I finally said “yes” to it in my head, and as soon as it found a home on my nightstand, I felt seen. Yes, I was – I am – polyamorous. I wasn’t out to anyone but myself, and I wasn’t seeing anyone yet. But I felt like I had finally embraced this part of me.
The smell of amber and tonka bean is heady and rich, much like my life these days. I’m grateful and scared and learning and growing every day. What I am not doing every day, though, is asking myself, “what’s wrong with me?” Not anymore. And that, more than anything, is the true gift — a gift to myself that was long overdue.
Welcome to December, land of colder weather, warmer sweaters, and visions of sugarplums. Here is my wish list for this year – lovely items to give that special someone on your list, or maybe even yourself! After all, YOU are definitely a special someone.
Coach”s new Studio bag in green is everything I’ve been craving – an evergreen shade that takes me right back to the 90s (in the best way) paired with a sleek shape and classic brass hardware. Love love love.
Speaking of love, Pamela Love’s designs hit just the right sweet spot between edgy and classic, with an undertone of mythos I adore. My favorites are these pomegranate studs and heart-in-hand huggies, each sold singly. They’d be the perfect additions to my earring mix right now, plus they are made from recycled (and recyclable) materials. Style AND substance!
And speaking of the 90s, I am fully on board with the the chunky loafer resurgence. These are well-priced, beautiful, and this Alpine green shade would go with just about anything.
If you have someone in your life you’d like to spoil with incredible sleep, may I suggest one of these gorgeous velvet weighted blankets from Bearaby? Their eco-velvet is 100% upcycled, GRS-, STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® and Fairtrade International certified, perfectly cozy, and oh-so-soothing to sleep under. Trust.
I couldn’t possibly do a December gift post without including my favorite winter candle of all time. This gilded white ceramic iteration of my beloved Frasier Fir candle is calling my name.
At the top of my list are gifts that do good, and you can’t go wrong with any of the gift items featured in the ACLU’s shop. My personal picks are this excellent civil rights calendar and this minty soft reproduction rights tee. Every purchase made supports the ACLU and allows the fight for our civil liberties to continue.
For the beauty lover in your life, a clean beauty set like this one from Ilia is oh-so-nice. I can’t get enough of their Balmy Tint hydrating lip balm these days, and this pretty set will have your mom or bestie looking glowy and holiday-festive in a flash.
Ideal as a stocking stuffer, cool-aunt gift for a teen (hello!), or hostess gift, these super-stylish bubble candles are scented with grapefruit – if you can bear to light them.
And finally, for the chocoholic in your life, this tasting set from San Francisco small-batch maker Dandelion Chocolate is everything. They visit each origin, work closely with their cocoa producers, and use only ethically sourced beans and organic cane sugar to make their confections. Indulgent deliciousness, beautifully packaged and ready for gifting.
Today, how about you give yourself a little boost? Cell phone affirmations, anyone? I saw this idea on Instagram several weeks ago and thought I would give it a whirl. In the screenshot I saw, the basic folder names on their home screen had been replaced with affirmations — so instead of “Finance,” my money apps folder now reads, “I am rich.” Gone is the “Games” label — now it says “I can play.” Health and medical-type apps proclaim, “I am healthy,” while social apps remind me that “I am connected.” House and home apps remind me, “I am sheltered.”
I’ve been thinking about these little phrases off and on over the last few weeks, curious to see if I noticed any changes to my outlook, and after a month or so, I think I can confirm a change for the better. More and more lately I have been feeling the collective societal clapback against “screen time” and media influence, to the point that Instagram can feel like too-guilty a pleasure, or playing a game on my phone to unwind feels like time I should use to do other things. While there are definite issues with too much time spent online, guilt for me was sometimes pushing the pendulum too far in the other direction. Reminding myself that “I am connected” when I go to open Instagram now reminds me that I am able to connect with a bigger world of inspiration and ideas, people and places. “I can play,” reminds me to approach games with that spirit – not as mind-numbing time wasters, but small opportunities for play amidst a busy day. And even though “I am rich” can feel a little wry when ye olde bank balance is low, it is also a great reminder that I AM rich, regardless of that balance — rich in love, in friends, in joy, and in opportunities.
As far as remembering to do affirmations or other such gratitude practices, this one seemed low-lift and easy. I didn’t have to remind myself to make time for something extra: I swipe my phone open all throughout my day, and there they are waiting. Maybe give it a try, even if it feels a little cheesy? You might just make yourself smile a bit more this week.