The Things She Carries

phone

For me, one of the marks of a great interview is when I think about it long afterward. The most recent one to do it for me was a Vogue video Q&A with New York’s ultimate sweetheart: Sarah Jessica Parker. The interviewer fired off 73 questions while SJP gave a mini-tour of her West Village brownstone. The decorating voyeur in me loved every bit of it; from the footage, SJP’s home felt homey and eclectic. It got me thinking: Our homes can tell our stories even more than our outfits–and sometimes, even ourselves. If someone stopped by my apartment with a video camera, how would I want them to feel? I’d hope bright and cozy, surrounded by books and bits from my travels.

My favorite question was when the interviewer asked SJP what the coolest thing was in her living room. She said her (agreeably, very cool) light-up globes. Of course, that inspired me to look around to decide what the coolest thing is in my living room. It was a hard decision—after all (most likely to the dismay of my clutter-free mother…sorry, Mom!) I don’t think of keepsakes as kitsch; instead, I see them as relics, reminders of the moments in our lives that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle. In my living room, I’ve got everything from a Beyonce concert photo book (“Heeyyy, Ms. Carter!”) to a flag from my first adult trip to Puerto Rico—not to mention shelves and tables full of books. But in the end, I realized my answer to the “coolest thing” question would be the vintage rotary phone I found at an antique shop in Hoboken. It sits atop a stack of books on my desk, and I often look at it while I’m writing and wonder who might’ve used it almost a century ago. It reminds me that beautiful things are timeless, and will last long after we’re gone.

It might be time for spring-cleaning, but I, for one, am holding on to all my mementos. If someone wandered into your apartment or house, how would you want them to feel? What would you tell them is the coolest thing?

 

 

Advertisements

HUH? Cathie Black Chosen As NYC School Chancellor

Yesterday I was at work when one of the editors walked over and announced “Cathie Black was just named Chancellor of New York City schools.”

My immediate reaction was HUH? Apparently, I was not alone in this reaction, as the Daily News seemed to feel the same way with its headline the following morning:


I was particularly confounded because her book, Basic Black, was like my Bible when I was a magazine intern trying to move my way up the ranks. I feel like I knew so much about her history and career — she’s a media titan who has moved her way through major newspapers and magazines, earning the prominent position of Publisher at publications like New York Magazine and USA Today before going on to become the President of Hearst Magazines. And a woman at that. Not too shabby, and the experiences and words of wisdom she shared in her book will always stick with me as I create my own path through the world of media.

But when the announcement was made, the glaringly obvious item missing from her impressive resume was education experience. She hasn’t so much as taught a class, and both of her children attended boarding school in Connecticut. Ok, I thought, maybe I don’t have that great of an understanding of what exactly a school system chancellor does. So I Googled. And essentially, her responsibility will be to serve as the leader of the NYC Department of Education, home to the largest school system in the nation with 1.1 million students and more than a few problems.

Mayor Bloomberg has attributed his selection of Black to the fact that she is a “world-class manager.” And after weighing all of what I know, I feel a bit torn. A part of me is happy about the fact that one of my magazine idols is breaking barriers: not only is she the first woman in this position, but she is also showing the country that a resume doesn’t have to dictate what you can do in this world; some passion, a great skill set and some innovative ideas can bring something new and appealing to any position.

But then the other realistic part of me that left the theater crying after watching the documentary about the terrible state of the US school system “Waiting for Superman” chimed in. The fact of the matter is, our nation’s education system is in dire need of help. I strongly believe that a great education is necessary for success, but the numbers of children in our country, including New York, who will never see that success because of the lack of good teachers and schools is horrendous. So for this city’s Education Department, which is home to what have been called some of the worst public schools in the country, don’t we need a leader who knows the education system inside and out? Someone who understands both the good and the bad of the system thus far and can say she has the experience to back it up?

Whether it’s an unconventional approach or experience that matters most, only time will tell how Black will do in this position. All I can do is hope that Mayor Bloomberg’s experiment won’t be at the expense of the city’s children.