My Latest Snag: Dixie Design Invitations.
I am throwing a baby shower in a few weeks and was particularly excited about the prospect of selecting invitations. I have a weakness for paper. I had long eyed the traditional-meets-preppy designs of Dixie Design, and so had a ball selecting just the right set for my best friend. (I’m not sharing the exact design I went with because I want her to be surprised! This was the runner up — a reminder of those Herend bunnies I was talking about the other day.)
You’re Sooooo Popular: Le Scarf.
The most popular items on le blog this YEAR (yes, the last 12 months!):
+Every time I have featured one of these on the blog, it has sold out.
+My favorite sweater. (Seriously. I think I’ve been wearing it in the last 10 Instastories featuring myself.)
+Such a fun shoe — and now marked down even further. I currently have the blush in my bag. Do I need these?!?!?!
+This statement-making dress sold out, but is now restocked! The 80s are BACK baby.
+I wear these shades constantly.
+Wore these breezy caftans all summer long (I loved my first, shown here, so much, I ordered a second!)
+Lululemon lookalike. (Reviews!)
#Turbothot: On Being an A Student.
I recently came across an article fetchingly titled “What Straight A Students Get Wrong.” I found it via my friend Hitha, who features “five smart reads” almost every day of the week in her Instastories. I appreciate that she often shares contradictory viewpoints from the DMs she receives in response to these links; I respect a woman who fosters productive debate and permits all voices to be heard.
But I digress.
Onto “the problem” with straight A students.
The crux of the argument is that within a few years of graduation, my hard-earned 4.0 GPA was as worthless as the class ring I somehow convinced myself I needed and then promptly never wore again. (I know that’s a dicey simile as I have several friends who wore their rings religiously for years. #wahoowa #gohoosgo #ireallydoloveuva #justnotthering). The author cites research that demonstrates only the faintest of correlations between grades and job performance. He goes on to point out that brilliant creative types tend to have a history of “spiky grades,” inferring that they prioritized activities that sparked creativity over an even cadence of high scores. He goes on to say: “Getting straight As requires conformity. Having an influential career demands originality.”
I came to a quiet simmer within the first few paragraphs. “Shhh, shh,” I shushed myself, annoyed by my defensiveness. Midway through, I was at a rolling boil. By the end, when he tells me that I should “apply my grit to a new goal: getting a B,” I was apoplectic — not only because I did not care for his know-it-all tone (it smacked of mansplaining and something about it felt like the written equivalent of an irritating tapdancing scene with a Gene Kelly wannabe: stagey, pretentious, and cloyingly carried off with a smile), and not only because I was a straight A student (though this fueled a rage I did not know I had in me), but because — though he does briefly acknowledge this towards the end — his criticisms are misplaced and his conclusions unscrupulous.
If you don’t care for A students, change the grading system. High performers will always adapt to the rubric. Right now, students are maneuvering within the system they’ve been handed.
If you think A students are driven by conformity above all else, my guess is that you are shortchanging and misunderstanding many of them. What about work ethic? What about healthy competition? What about a desire to succeed? What about inborn curiosity? What about overbearing parents? What about going to school on scholarship and feeling a drive to prove yourself? What about loving academics for its own sake? What about not wanting to let your family down?
But even if we accept that A students are “conformers,” I, for one, learned a lot by “conforming” to the grade system, and I applied those lessons to my (not entirely lackluster, thank you very much) career. To begin with, I learned how to evaluate professors early on in order to determine what they’d care about and adapt my study plan to their style. Was Professor X the type to issue fact-driven pop quizzes? Open-ended questions seeking creative responses? Group projects that assessed collaboration skills (incidentally, my least favorite kind of project)? Did she favor class participation or perfectly written essays? Did he prefer frequent office hour visits or the occasional well-worded email? Diagnosing the professor’s style was an art form unto itself and it prepared me to work with and under different kinds of bosses. Because let’s face it: the working world might value “creativity” and “originality” to some degree, but not before you’ve worked your way up the ladder by impressing the pants off of each and every boss along the way. And the only way that happens is by making them look good and absorbing their work preferences, which infers a certain level of familiarity with — yes — diagnosing your boss’s style.
But finally, and most pressingly, I take great issue with the myth of the dropout-student-turned-massively-successful-businessman. Yes, there have been successful entrepreneurs who have skipped school and turned out more than fine, Peter Thiel being the face of that small and bright elite. But to tell students that “underachieving in school can prepare you to overachieve in life” is not only misguided but unethical. I say this pointedly because I worked for many years in the area of educational access and college attainment and the deeply sad truth is that the odds are not in the favor of students who leave school or struggle academically. Now, I know I’m taking his comment out of context and running across the field with it, but even if we presume he is talking to a classroom full of privileged, conformist, straight-A students and that little harm can be done by telling these prigs (using that term facetiously, as I’d count myself among their ranks were I still in college) to loosen their ties a bit (an irritatingly elitist set-up for an article in and of itself), I still find fault with his reasoning and tone: he’s focused on the symptoms rather than the system, and with a distastefully self-satisfied air about him to boot.
Is that the fieriest I’ve ever been on this blog? Pardon.
My chorus, your thoughts?
#Shopaholic: Skin-Clearing Magic.
+I have been reading insane reviews of this “radiance oil,” designed specifically for problem skin. I might buy a bottle to combat my next break-out.
+Back in the day, I frequently gave presentations. One lesson I learned from a speech coach who counseled me was that I should always wear what makes me feel most empowered when making a presentation. When you feel good, your entire carriage changes. I tended to wear high heels and sleek dresses. This is just the kind of thing I’d have picked for such an occasion. Serious but form-fitting — and the frilled collar adds just enough panache.
+Have heard this candle smells like magic.
+Found some great new finds at J. Crew. Love this boxy denim popover (with white skinnies), this patterned cardigan, this quilted denim coat, these cateyes in the glitter tortoise, and this elegant dress for an Ingrid Bergman moment.
+I bought mini this magnetic booklet for Church on Sundays and it has been the BIGGEST success. Keeps her busy for a long stretch — and it’s quiet. I also pulled it on our long car ride down from NYC to DC for Christmas, and it entertained her for maybe 30 minutes straight? Genius for car travel and Church. Is it the most Catholic toy ever? Yes.
+Mr. Magpie and I are returning from a lovely weeklong trip to DC and Charlottesville with the beginnings of twin colds. Ugh. While we visited the spa at the resort we stayed at, I was digging the eucalyptus diffuser — it cleared my sinuses. It reminded me that I read good things about this eucalyptus spray for the shower and it sounds ultra-appealing right now.
+This bag came in handy on this trip. It folds up into a tiny square and holds quite a lot. I swear we doubled our baggage on the return. A great gift for a frequent traveler — or yourself. I keep mine in my suitcase.
+A friend recommended this for air travel with mini. The raised ridge keeps toys, snacks, and crayons from rolling off and also gives the germaphobe in you peace of mind. Related: 8 things I never travel without and my favorite travel gear for mini.