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The Official CL: One Year Later

Tuesday, May 21, 2019


OCL turns one-ish this week, and we're celebrating with a new look!
I'm so grateful that CL indulges my terrible attention span, my listless creativity, and my tendency to sort of steam-roll over most decision-making. OCL is our digital platform to experiment with design and prose, and I love having this space to try new things, especially when so little else in my life is as generous. And, you know, f*ck consistent branding. We aren't a corporation. I wouldn't have it any other way.

One thing hasn't changed, though: OCL will continue to document how we cultivate joy and purpose through the pursuit of well-rounded, well-read lives.

I'm also obsessed with the word "cultivate." Though all plant-like things wither under my care, so much more grows in my life with proper discipline, passion, and relentless effort. This is all, of course, by design. With labor, care, and study, we create the conditions under which we believe we will flourish. And flourishing, we are. Mostly.

See you soon,
LC




The Catalogue: No. 31

Friday, May 17, 2019


Dirty thirties, we have arrived!
Here's what I've been reading:
The Instagram Aesthetic Is Over | Taylor Lorenz for The Atlantic
Anything that feels staged is as undesirable for Blutstein’s cohort as unfiltered or unflattering photos would be for older influencers. “For my generation, people are more willing to be who they are and not make up a fake identity,” she says. “We are trying to show a real person doing cool things as a real person, not trying to create a persona that isn’t actually you.”
Intellectually, I know that individuals and communities are complex and can care about/advocate for/be outraged by multiple things. I know it's reductive to accuse us of caring more about shitting on the Olivia Jades of the world than uplifting the newest generation of powerful, well-spoken, fearless leaders. But I do want to shine my own tiny little light on initiatives like JUV Consulting, an extraordinary venture by now-teenagers born into a fucking dumper fire and asked to survive, somehow.

‘Lit’ Is Over, and Other Things You Can Pay Teens to Teach You | Rainesford Stauffer for The New York Times
“Don't talk about teenagers, talk to teenagers,” said Ziad Ahmed, 19, JÜV’s C.E.O. and a rising sophomore at Yale (major undecided). He co-founded the consultancy firm in 2016 with Nick Jain, 19, the company’s C.O.O. and a rising sophomore at Princeton and Melinda Guo, 19, who goes to Stanford and serves as a member of the board. To be clear, the JÜV team scoffs at the idea of a “Gen Z expert”: anyone who pretends to speak for a generation, whether that’s a peer or adult. They aren’t a research firm, they say. They aren’t a focus group. They are, according to Emma Himes, JÜV’s 18-year-old director of development and a rising sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, “a really diverse group of trained teen consultants who can help you.” 
 Rise of Populists in Taiwan: “End Of Taiwan As We Know It”? | William Yang for Ketagalan Media
A KMT-leaning political staffer who asked to remain anonymous said that the reason there is a sense of doom right now is that Taiwan has long used fear as a political tool. “The DPP exploits the “fear of unification with China,” and the KMT exploits the “fear of isolation and war from independence,” he said. “But both scenarios are still some distance away from reality.” He believes that unification between Taiwan and China requires working out how two constitutional systems would interface with each other, which is very difficult.
Instagram Food Is a Sad, Sparkly Lie | Amanda Mull for Eater
This is why Instagram stunt food works: It transforms an indulgent meal or snack from a physical activity to a status performance. In the most successful of Instagram food operations, the posting of a particular item signals both affluence and leisure. Lines can stretch for hours for rainbow bagels with birthday cake cream cheese, or milkshakes bedecked with an entire movie theater snack counter’s worth of candy, so if you’ve obtained one, not only did you spend $15 on a pile of novelty sugar, but you can afford to spend two hours on a Tuesday waiting for it, not to mention the time required to lovingly photograph it in natural light.
Inside Ivanka's Dream World | Elaina Plott for The Altantic
Washington is a city where people are even quicker to forgive—to reclassify whatever once outraged them as nothing more than noise. Take that January evening at the Metropolitan Club: a gathering of people who privately bemoaned Ivanka’s complicity in this and that but who were happy to show up. Happy to sip the white wine, applaud the usual platitudes, and enjoy the soft air of comity. Call it a favor to Dina. Or call it what it really is: Polite society, in the end, will always take back those who are polite.
The Other Notre-Dame Was Not Rebuilt | Amy Wilentz for The Atlantic
Haiti doesn’t have a lot of billionaires hanging around, ready to take special charitable tax deductions by giving huge donations to rebuild the church. Nor is the Haitian cathedral a “world” building in the way that Notre-Dame de Paris had become. So when people saw Notre-Dame de l’Assomption in ruins on TV in 2010, they didn’t know what it had been before. As a piece of architecture and a monument, it had no real meaning outside Haiti; very few people outside Haiti felt it was a part of their lives as humans on the planet—unlike the cathedral in Paris, with its 13 million visitors yearly. Rightly, those who saw reports of the Haitian earthquake turned to more human-focused organizations and projects when they decided to make charitable donations.
Caster Semenya Loses Case to Compete as a Woman in All Races | Jeré Longman and Juliet Macur for The New York Times
A group of scientists has charged that the I.A.A.F. relied on faulty data in trying to establish the precise advantages of athletes with elevated testosterone levels. Semenya’s lawyers and other supporters have argued that science has not conclusively shown that elevated testosterone provides women with more of a significant competitive edge than factors like nutrition, access to coaching and training facilities, and other genetic and biological variations.
The ruling by the arbitration court was also watched closely by transgender athletes and by officials of the International Olympic Committee as they prepared to set guidelines for participants in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Transgender athletes are no longer required to have reassignment surgery to participate in the Olympics, and those transitioning from female to male can compete without restriction.

 Have lots more to share in the coming catalogs.

With love always,
LC

Surviving "Achievement Culture" & My Modified 2019 Resolutions

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


Sorry for the dramatic-ass title, but most days I really do feel so overwhelmed. I haven't yet transcended "achievement culture," which means, at a real advantage to everyone I work for, I tend to tether my self-worth to my productivity. I also have multiple side gigs/passion projects that at times feel like full-time commitments within themselves. Add to that my complete unwillingness to delegate, my intense (rarely rightly so) personality, and a vague determination to be well-read and well-exercised... and you understand why a lifetime of sleep deprivation has left me a meager 5'1". I know "busy" is not a substitute for a real personality, but busy is what we're working with until I have a man I get to sacrifice for my career.

I know I'm not alone in this. All of my friends are ambitious, well-rounded, highly disciplined people - even when they don't always acknowledge this in themselves. But I think while there's so much glorified tiredness/stress and commercialized self-care, we don't talk enough about the stigma surrounding the poles of effort and failure. What it's like to visibly put in 110% every waking moment and still feel inadequate. One of my modified resolutions for the year - because sorry, but the "generosity, love, and light" bit is really not working out - is to be more transparent about how my big, fiery temperament has also led to big, fiery failures. I am as abrasive as I am passionate, and struggle to balance my own tunnel vision with the need to work among giants.

So here are the modified resolutions and affirmations for the rest of this year. You can read my January 2019 version here, and while I'll certainly aspire for that level of human grace, I've had to set goals closer to my current, haggard state of being.

Service over self.
One of my greatest peeves in life is people who chase titles and accolades with minimal intention of actually earning them. One night, I told my sister over drinks that I was going to be a "very important person one day" (as a joke, to warn her to stop telling people embarrassing shit about me) and my uncle told me to sit the f*ck down and focus on how I can serve the people around me first with no expectation of praise or reward. The people truly deserving of those honors have no qualms about when or if they'll receive them. At the same time, I can be hugely insecure and cling to my little titles as a form of validation. I'm hoping this will be the year I learn to put work first, worry about credit later. (But like, is this also a woman thing? Where we aren't as egocentric as men and that's why we fall behind in "traditional" ways? Will revisit in Q3. For now, the goal is just to keep it low key.)

Chill the f*ck out. Or at least keep it to myself.
I got a teeny little Moleskine where I jot down all the (hundreds of) petty thoughts I have instead of texting/Snapchatting/saying them out loud, and I'd equate the catharsis to getting a bit of froyo when you really want a fat-ass cone of ice cream. It's functionally equivalent, just enough to keep you from doing something you'll really regret. I just don't want to be notorious for talking trash when I'd rather be known for doing solid, at times excellent work. I also want to be held more accountable for the times when my temper tantrums are just that, masquerading as full-bodied critique. My vision board is be more Toni Morrison, less The Bachelor suite confessions.

Hope everyone else's Q1/Q2s have exceeded expectations.

More love -- the most love,
LC

The Catalogue: No. 30



I've decided to revamp the way I do catalogues to match LC's style. This will help me be more well-read on topics outside of my usual reads, aka juicy stories about Anna Delvey, the scammer, who tricked NYC into thinking she was a German socialite or why the new stylish top knots are great for babies.

We Tried The Food At The New 'Clean' Chinese Restaurant Lucky Lee's...
| Ben Yakas, Gothamist
The language Haspel initially deployed to describe her vision for the restaurant—and the language used in the Instagram below in which she attempted to defend her intentions against criticism—sparked a conversation about cultural erasure, long-standing stereotypes about Chinese restaurants, and the manipulative nature of the food-wellness industry. "Every restaurant has the right to tout the positives of its food. We plan to continue communicating that our food is made with high quality ingredients and techniques that are intended to make you feel great," the Lucky Lee's post states.

[…]

"It's an odd experience, walking into this beautiful, place—I mean, being on University Place between 10th and 11th Streets is not cheap—that's proclaiming 'clean' and #feelgreatchinese and knowing that when my grandparents came to this country and opened a Chinese restaurant, because that was one of the few businesses they could go into as immigrants," Chung said. "It feels like a lot of privilege to assume this take on Chinese food would taste 'better' than all other Chinese food."

"I think her approach would have been better as, 'Hey, I'm a nutritionist, I see so many people with dietary issues now. I love Chinese food and came up with these ways for my clients to enjoy it... and I wanted to share it with you now,'" Chung added. "I just have a lot of questions: Did she study Chinese cuisine? Or work with Chinese chefs or go to China to better understand the roots of the cuisine she loved? I wouldn't claim to make 'Better tasting Italian food' without going to Italy to actually understand it. Right now, there's no acknowledgement that she's done any work to understand the culture she says so interested in."
I actually went to try it this past weekend as I was quite curious (and my mom had told me to go try it). I personally thought the food I got was pretty good and the storefront is so cute, but it's definitely overpriced. The store is handicap accessible which I think is rare for restaurants / places in NYC in general. However, it still says something like "Feel Great, Chinese Food" on the side of the store and they seem to have hired a token Chinese chef. The restaurant also was half-full of customers. Hard to tell if they came because they were curious (like me) or because they had stumbled upon the place or because they actually wanted her "clean" Chinese food. The implication in her marketing that other Chinese/Asian food is unhealthy is still there. Until she improves that, I can't support her or her business. Her apology sucks and she 1. lacks effort 2. issued what reads like a fake apology 3. hasn't done more to improve. I have more thoughts on this, but this is supposed to be a summary catalogue of articles I want to share so I'll stop. Another great article about Lucky Lee's is here on the NY Times though.

Your Questions About Food and Climate Change, Answered (How to Shop, Cook and Eat in a Warming World) | By Julia Moskin, Brad Plumer, Rebecca Lieberman and Eden Weingart, Graphics by Nadja Popovich, Illustrations by Carl Vander Yacht, NY Times (Food, Interactive)
It’s true that one person alone can make only a tiny dent in the global climate problem. It’s just a really huge problem that requires large-scale action and policy changes to address. And food isn’t even the biggest contributor to global warming; most of it is caused by burning fossil fuels for electricity, transportation and industry.

On the other hand, if many people collectively made changes to their diets, that could start to add up.
There's also a quiz NY Times created so that you can see how your diet contributes to climate change. I'm not the best at being sustainable and more environmentally friendly, but it's good to know there are small changes like eating less beef (I already don't eat lamb) or being better about food waste can make a change.


With love,
CL

Personal Finance: Introduction to Budgeting

Tuesday, April 30, 2019


PLUS: Download our personal budgeting spreadsheet below!

So we're starting a Personal Finance series!
Personal finance/investing can be super f*cking complicated if you don't come from a family/background that regularly discusses it or with much financial literacy -- which is super common. I graduated from an undergraduate business school and had a major in Economics, and I still find the topic very dry and complex (which is probably why I couldn't do Finance/investment banking!)

For those of us who aren't particularly passionate about investment banking but very, very passionate about returns on investments and what they can afford us (shoes! books! donations to coalitions and non-profit organizations of our choice!), so we're compiling the quick and dirty finance lessons we wish we'd learned in high school. Obligatory heads up that the "personal" is "personal finance" is very literal, and your strategy will shift hugely depending on your priorities/salary/etc.

Topic 1: Introduction to Budgeting
Here's a cute first-date question: what does your budget breakdown look like and how much of your discretionary income do you allocate to self improvement? 
I don't think budgeting is synonymous with frugality; you could budget very closely and still have zero savings because you've ~consciously allocated~ the majority of your discretionary income to sample sales. The point is, even if you're very comfortable spending the majority of your money (or if you have no choice because cosmopolitan costs of living are ridiculous), you shouldn't be surprised by where your money is going each month.
I like to do all of my budgeting in Google Sheets because it's super accessible (as in, I can give it a quick peek on my work laptop, on my phone, etc.) so that I should never, ever have an excuse to accidentally overspend.
The basics of budgeting are (1) fixed sum or percentage-based allocations to different categories of expenditures, (2) a table of dated entries crediting and debiting each category and method of payment.
In fact, I've put one together and shared it below for you to use.
It's pretty simple (and please don't over-analyze the sample entries; I made them up, including the income). You divide your income into percentage-based allocations (ex. 20% of my paycheck goes towards my rent.) The worksheet automatically populates the dollar amount of your budget based on the percentage inputs.
Your entries require a bit more grunt work; track your expenditures (either by keeping your receipts or through an app), then categorize & subcategorize them to deduct from your budgeted allocation. For example, on March 13, I spent $34.00 on a baby shower gift from Nordstrom's. The workbook deducts $34.00 from the money I allocated for discretionary gifts.

The workbook also keeps track of your surplus (the money you estimated you'd spend but didn't) and rolls them into a running total for end-of-month savings. This is the number you want to maximize!

The workbook is also totally customizable, so you can play around with the categories, like adding student loan payments or changing the percentage allocated to rent.




Upcoming topics -- stay tuned:
Side Hustles & Extra Income
Investing
Planning for Retirement
Personal Finance Apps
Habits for Financial Health

Love always,
LC

Fitness Friday: No. 2

Friday, April 26, 2019


(CL Editor's Note: This was written in late March. I've actually already finished my half-marathon and will publish a post about that soon.☺)

My half marathon is in 2 weeks, so I wanted to write about how I started running and how I trained for this. No joke, I couldn't even run a mile a year ago. The last time I had truly run was back in middle school when I did track and field and even then, I was doing like long jump or something! In high school because I swam and played water polo, I was in a ~ special ~ PE class where we had a class period to practice the sport we were in and therefore, I never ran. I did run one mile once though for some required national physical exam and I remember it being very painful (a wow am I tasting blood and wow why are my ears ringing painful).

After I started my full-time job in late May and joined my first project in mid-June, I noticed that for some reason, consultants loved running. It's probably because when you're travelling or in a hotel that just has a couple free weights and some treadmills and ellipticals, you learn to run. It also so happened that on that team, more than 3 people were marathoners! I was feeling inspired by them and by Leona's completion of C25K (a great app - Couch to 5K) and decided I'd pick up running.

Not going to lie.. C25K starts you off pretty "easy" and even that was painful for me. You walk for 5 minutes and then run for 5 and then walk more and run more, etc. I could barely run for 5 minutes but it got easier as time passed. Also not going to lie, sometimes I cheated and would walk a little more or skip some of the days, but I did complete the C25K program and ran The Color Run for fun to celebrate my ability to run 3 miles. Honestly quite a feat considering that when I started C25K, I did doubt if I'd ever be able to run more than 15 minutes.

Now, I run around 10 miles a week. Usually I will do one long run (3 - 6 miles) on the weekend and a couple short runs (1-3 miles) on the week days. I have run 7 miles once or twice and ran 12 miles once in the last couple months, so I do think I'll be able to finish a half-marathon of 13.1 miles! Apparently, if you can run half the distance then you can definitely finish the half-marathon. On my off days from running, I cross-train by taking a class at my gym, lifting, doing stairmaster, or using the elliptical. The elliptical is one of my favorites because it's good for cardio, but no/low impact on the body. I've learned that my legs and body probably weren't made for running as my knees and ankles will usually hurt so the elliptical is great on my days off. I try and use the Nike Run Club app that has a half-marathon training program, but definitely don't follow it strictly.

The secret to running is running gear, mainly running shoes. Shout out to Jinny for educating me on socks, shoes, compression, etc. when I first started really wanting to run more. It really was a game changer for my ankles and legs to get running shoes. The next secret is running outdoors! For me, it's way easier to run outdoors than indoors as running on the treadmill is super hot and boring. I can easily run 2+ miles outside, but if I'm on the treadmill, running even 1 or 2 miles can be super challenging.

Looking back now, I have had some bad timing as I was in London and took time off from training and will be going to St. Charles, Illinois for a week-long work training the week before this half-marathon. Regardless, I'm super excited (and scared) to run the Shape NYC Women's Half-Marathon on April 14th. I'll write another fitness update when I've finished it, but feel free to reach out and ask about running! 

Happy running,
CL

The Catalogue: No. 28

Thursday, April 25, 2019


Recently I got a NY Times subscription in an effort to lead a life as a more well-rounded individual (but let's be honest, I just wanted to read more Modern Love columns). I first encountered this column in college, because they do a "College Essay Contest" that someone at my college had been a finalist for. After that, I couldn't stop reading them. Each story is unique - some are sad, some are happy, some are moving, some try and teach the reader lessons, but all the ones I've ever read have been good.

Here's a sample of some of my favorite Modern Love essays:

White Shirt, Black Name Tag, Big Secret

  • "It was weird to see him not wearing his white shirt, tie and black name tag, but it was just as weird for me not to be wearing mine."
  • "I was using what trainers call "approximations," rewarding the small steps toward learning a whole new behavior. You can't expect a baboon to learn to flip on command in one session, just as you can't expect an American husband to begin regularly picking up his dirty socks by praising him once for picking up a single sock."
Honey, I Swept the Floor!
  • "Why do so many husbands feel the need to boast about completing simple household chores? With mine, it’s all about branding."

Putting Love to the Stress Test
  • "When two self-described tech geeks slide into a relationship that seems too easy, they design a month long trial to expose its flaws."

Someone also created an amazing website to see all of the Modern Love columns together using the NY Times API.

Happy reading,
CL

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