What To Pack For 5 Days In San Francisco In April

I’ve posted packing plans for several destinations here on Privilege, from the Carneros Inn in Napa Valley, to London and the Cotswolds, to Europe, Manhattan, and Hawaii. But I’ve never written one for my home city, and it’s time. At the request of a reader, here’s a guide for a 5-day April trip to San Francisco.

Rules Zero To Three: Packing For San Francisco In April

The first rule of packing for San Francisco is: you can wear jeans anywhere, except, perhaps, and I cannot say for certain, to opening night at the opera.

The second rule (for spring packing) is: read the weather reports. You may arrive either to 80-degrees, although that’s unlikely, or a downpour. Most likely temps will vary between 48F and 72F. I engage in specious precision as an attempt to show you how temperate our climate truly is.

The third rule? Don’t believe anything you read. In all seriousness, the San Francisco Bay Area is a place of microclimates, and I recommend you use a forecast site like Wunderground to differentiate between, say, the Mission District and Golden Gate Park.

Rule Zero, however, and I’m not the first to say it, is layers. Layers, layers, layers. You won’t want a big coat – it’s unlikely to be seriously cold outside or annoyingly overheated inside. On the other hand, 95% of the time you’ll want to tote some sort of jacket.

In April the layer probabilities shake out like this: 4 layer weather 4%, 3 layer 35%, 2 layer 50%, 1 layer 11%. (I completely made that up, but, based on several years of experience.) An aspirational (i.e. high-budget but can be recreated for much less with savvy shopping) 5-day packing list, with flex up or down depending on the size of your suitcase, might look like this.

  1. A *good-looking raincoat* (as my mother would say) to double as a coat for evening (1)
  2. Light jacket(s), weather/wind resistant. (1-2) These really are the key to San Francisco street life.
  3. High wattage cocktail dress(es) or skirts. In case of a party. Which we do know how to throw and where we may embrace the outrageous. (1-2)
  4. Excellent shoes for said dresses and skirts. Break out the sparkletoes. (1)
  5. Pants (probably jeans). Do make sure you bring shoes that suit each hemline/shape (2-3.) Top tip: bootleg and flares look less than their best with sneakers.
    1. If you bring fewer pants, add a street dress that can “dress up.” (1). And a pair of black tights to go with. (1)
  6. Sneakers/flat boots for walking the city. Good to bring more than one pair, if you have space, to diversify the wear and tear to your feet. (2)
  7. Pointed toe flats/heeled booties for jeans nights out or business casual soirees. (1)
  8. Lightweight scarves – one to knot around your neck for day, one large enough for nights (2)
  9. Jewelry – as much or as little as you like.
  10. Hat for sun, if you will be walking.
  11. Sunglasses – Aviators look cool on the Artsy. Grande Dames stick to Jackie O’s.

I do want to point out something kind of cute about my city. We’re provincial – despite our international inhabitants. For all our revolutionary businesses, we’re not cool. San Francisco is so pretty most of the time, our view of bay and sky so available, that we manage neither New York/Brooklyn’s dark edge, nor LA’s burnt-white heat. Color us robin’s egg blue, or gray with white trim.

Our inhabitants likewise.

Artsy Cousins don’t disguise themselves enough, either with clothing or facial hair, to carry off Eff You To The Man. Who can blame them? The weather’s awfully gentle. SF’s Grandes Dames are jaunty, not daunting. They even wear sneakers, on occasion, albeit by Ferragamo. You’ll note a distinct love for navy blue, nautical fripperies, and decorum. And Sturdy Gals? Well, we’re pretty much the same all over the world. That’s how we stay Sturdy.

So Let’s Look At Artsy Cousin By Day, Grande Dame By Night For A Few San Francisco “Use Cases”

Untitled #200

Mission District (where the portapotties at Dolores Park are a scene in and of themselves)

Untitled #201

Bike Ride, Maybe Out To Fort Point To See The Golden Gate Bridge From Underneath

True Religion Halle Distressed Mid-Rise Skinny Jeans
Mary Katrantzou Flamingo Print Shirt
Saint Laurent Patti Leather Lace-Up Boots
Ray-Ban Aviators
Rag & Bone Stretch Linen Cargo Jacket (sold out – similar)
Swash Locket Cotton and Silk Scarf
Michael Kors Pavé Triangle Stud Earrings (on sale)
Philip Lim 31 Hour Zip Backpack

Untitled #199

Soirées (of course, for restaurants and casual parties, we’re in jeans, booties, a blouse and a jacket)

Joie Calvina Silk Dotted Necktie Neck Blouse (for “business casual” when your business is anything but that)
Max Mara Sargano Camel Hair Pencil Skirt
SUNO Floral Print Stretch Silk Skirt (for when you can’t bear to give up your Artsy Cousin even at night)
Eli Tahari Alejandra Silk Tie-Dyed Blouse
Jimmy Choo Mimi Mesh Almond-Toe Pumps
LD Tuttle The Bow Open-Toed Ankle Boots
Escada Beaded Wool Dress (the big idea is to let your dress and shoes provide the embellishment. That way you don’t have to travel with big jewels.)
Meira T Diamond & 14K White Gold Triangle Earrings
Manolo Blahnik Metallic Leather Pumps
Christian Louboutin Pigalle Glitter Pumps
Oscar de la Renta Embroidered Tulle Illusion Gown (this dress makes me sigh with pleasure. But I’d make them lengthen the underskirt.)
IPPOLITA Rock Candy Dark Amethyst & 18K Yellow Gold Stud Earrings
Oscar de la Renta Alyssa Beaded-Applique and Leather Pumps (it’s ok, you can sit down until you kick off your shoes and dance barefoot)

And If You’ve Forgotten Something And Need To Shop in SF?

All The Big Names

  1. UNIQLO (always my fave for t-shirts and light jackets)
  2. Saks
  3. Neiman Marcus
  4. Barneys NY ( in SF, but fine, we’ll let them keep the geolocator)

Some Indie Cred

  1. M.A.C. Does the Belgians like mad
  2. Claudia Kussano Jewelry Local Mission District artisan
  3. Self Edge for very pricy but very cool denim

See You Around!

Our legendary fog is may be disappearing – sad for the planet but good for camaraderie on city streets. We’ll be out and about when you visit, unless it’s raining. And if it’s raining, given our drought, we’ll wander even so, grinning like happy silly fools.


All links are from Saks. They are affiliate and may generate commissions. The post is not sponsored by Saks but I wouldn’t object. Corrected degrees from C to F, courtesy Nancy Friedman. Thank you!

Update: This Morning’s Post On Paint And Tile Is Now Available

Yes, I did post and unpost. Now I’m reposting. Carry on. This time it will stay up, I suspect.

When Paint Color Saves You From Bossy Tile


In the course of our house fixup, on our way to the big bangs (master bedroom, front door, and culling 27 years of kids’ stuff so there’s space for my new Albert & Dash rug) I’ve stumbled upon a couple of nice small improvements. The first, which I’ve shown you, was the laundry room. The second, the master bath.

All I did was choose non-white paint for the walls. But I’m jumping to the end, let’s backtrack.

Maria Killam, one of the interior design bloggers you all introduced me to, espouses a concept in which hard surfaces can be bossy. Yes oh yes they can. For 23 years I’ve been living under the rule of muddy purplish-gray bathroom tile. I have no one but myself to blame, as I approved the choice. My only excuse is that the recommending architect had a British accent, and was a tall acquaintance of my father.

The offending tiles are big and very square, grout lines pronounced. The walls used to be white-ish, as you can just about see in last year’s post on repurposing wedding crystal.


The cabinets used to be a light wood veneer. Like this, in the front powder room. On the shelf you see clay thingies my son and daughter made in school. Surely you also decorate with artifacts from your children’s glorious past?


When first we remodeled, the light wood, chrome and gray scheme passed for Scandinavian modern. But over the years, the cabinets yellowed, veneers shredded, tile oppressed.

When we repainted, I knew we’d have to take on the failing cabinets. I assumed we’d paint the bathrooms all-over white-ish. That’s what you do, right? But hold up! When I saw the cabinets with primer on, looking kind of whitewashed and taupe-y, I changed my mind. Gather ye inspiration where you may.

I tortured my painter for a week, at least, to get the color right. First I insisted the walls needed a purple tint. That was stupid. Then I finally did what normal people would have done immediately, I went to a paint store. Benjamin Moore got closest with Dellwood Sand. My painter was a Kelly Moore guy, so he recreated the color onsite.

Several swatches later, here we are. The space feels so much better. The bathroom has two skylights, and we left the ceiling and door white, to maximize light.


The tile is still too big and square. The grout, too visible. I can’t decide if it’s good or bad that the glass block in the shower matches. At least the design repents not.


But this Rosier Than It Looks In Photos Sandy Brown Who Knows What To Call it Maybe Taupe has – to my eye – warmed the space and, polished it, all at once. I love a pair of neutrals.

Of course, the new color forced me to replace pale blue towels with new white ones. (Oh, and they are organic cotton.) But that kind of color bullying I can embrace.


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Going In-World, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:44am

I was walking back from the grocery store yesterday, and decided not to check any of my social media.

As a congenital Pollyanna, I do not think social media is “bad.” Nor do I feel the world is going to hell in a handbasket; I don’t wax nostalgic for a pre-machine era. But I do think we’re going to have to manage the seduction of the virtual exactly as we must every other overabundance technology has created.

Consider food. We’re built to search for and store calories. We’ve automated the search, we have to manage our storing. Consider the combustion engine. We’re built to move around. We’ve automated the moving, we’ve had to invent “exercise.”

Consider community. Human beings need each other. Help, recognition, nods of “Mmmmhmmm.” Expressions of horror, grief, and sympathy. It’s kind of beautiful, our need for each other.

Now ready access to our comrades’ voices has been automated. These automated voices are neither bad nor pretend. If we find our need for each other beautiful, then so is social media. But, most likely, we’re going to have to regulate ourselves against an obesity of contact. Other people’s gazes are addictive, their “likes,” and “shares,” and comments, even more so.

As I walked back along the train tracks, under some evergreens, light filtering through leaves, I imagined a futuristic movie, as one does. I thought we’d say, in that movie, “I’m going in-world,” rather than, “offline.” “Let’s go in-world now, Lisa,” I thought.


I didn’t put technology away. I took some pictures with my phone, but I took them without connection to my online community. Otherwise known as My Camera Is Good Enough, Thank You So Much Instagram For Your Help, But Not Today.

I imagine resisting the virtual world will get harder and harder as time passes. Eating to avoid obesity is hard. Exercising to avoid falling into disrepair is hard.

I’d always rather think about what I’m going toward than what I’m denying myself. “Dang that’s a beautiful apple.” “Oh boy what a great triangle pose!” Hence, not unplugging, just going in.

Here’s a photo I happened across when I got home from my walk. Seemed appropriate.

A photo posted by E. Smith (@esmith_images) on

That poor guy may never hear the end of what he missed, in-world. Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

If You’re Playing With Style Assumptions, Rocksbox Is Your Friend


You may have noticed the recent proliferation of subscription services. Sign up, pay a fee, and monthly deliveries of goods ranging from beauty products to pet supplies arrive at your doorstep. I’m not wanting to add stuff impulsively these days, so have chosen to sit on the sidelines.

However, when Rocksbox, a service for monthly jewelry deliveries, got in touch, I had a thought. Why not use a service like this to explore style – to investigate new possibilities, or even understand my current assumptions? And I wondered if it might be fun for those of you working on new wardrobes – either for new body shapes or new life circumstances – to play with self-decoration.

So I signed up.

Here’s how it works. You pay $19/month to rent unlimited “sets” of jewelry. (Note: as this is a blogger PR program, Rocksbox gave me 3 free months.) A set comprises earrings, a necklace, and a bracelet. You don’t specify which set you receive, per se, rather you browse their selections and indicate preferences, then their stylists choose for you. Kind of fun, that.

You can buy any of the pieces at any time for 20% discount off retail, and every month you also earn virtual “Shine” spend against purchases. For example, I had a $10 credit for use in March. It has expired, but I’ll be given another one for April.


The logistics seem easy enough. Sign up, give a credit card, indicate preferences. Stylist chooses set, sends it. Once a package is in transit, you get cute chatty emails about how to track it. The box, inside a little mailing bag, arrives via USPS. Whenever you want to return the set, use the included USPS return label and put the package in your mailbox. Done. (If you lose the label, you can print a new one. Handy.)

And their followup marketing is also cute. Little prizes to win, sometimes at random in your box, sometimes on social media for Instagram posts and the like. If I were young, their emphasis on #ItGirls would make me nervous. At 58, as I said, I find it cute.

What sort of jewelry arrives? Well, I mixed my preferences up, favoriting some pieces similar to my own, and some completely different. The first set that show up was built around the Completely Different.


You may have noticed, I don’t wear statement necklaces. But I totally enjoyed playing with this. Gave me renewed appreciation for collarbones and their buddies.


I’d always avoided big necklaces because of my broad shoulders and long torso. Not necessary. Good, and liberating, to know.


The other pieces were similar to things I own, so less to learn, more “Oooh, pretty.” BTW, any close-up of my hand and wrist is always going to be in black and white because I do not think the Internet needs to see the full blue and white glories of my vein traceries. You are welcome.


If the Rocksbox idea appeals to you, use the code skyepealexoxo to receive your first month free (good for 30 days from today). I had originally thought that this project offered no monetary compensation for me, but that’s not quite true. Any time this code is used, I get $25 in Forever Spend towards Rocksbox jewelry. If enough of you participate, I will be using this to fund a giveaway for Privilege readers.

Truth be told, I already have more jewelry than I can wear. Confessions of a High WASP, Part Eleventy Billion. But I don’t yet know everything about style, so I’m looking forward to the next shipment.

And Here’s Pretty Much What I’m Wearing Besides Jewelry

By the way, the black top was a present from my sisters, for my 50th birthday. They took me to the Beverly Hills Hotel, and then shopping at Fred’s. I bought a pink cashmere sweater tricked out with a rhinestone Hello Kitty insignia, and this top. The top endures. I highly recommend black mesh or lace, to cover and uncover, strategically. The pink sweater? It served its purpose. Lessons come in many guises.


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When A Garden Surprises At Easter Time


I spent a good bit of last week’s blog break standing in my yard, not always in the grip of awe and wonder. I waxed pragmatic – planted some things, pulled other things out of the ground, snipped errant branches, watered. And was surprised, as I am every year at this time, by a brief spate of pastel flowering.


Mostly this garden is quiet. Green and white – with a few red berries and leaves for winter, a little pink from the lace-cap hydrangeas in early summer. No wall o’flowers allowed, unless they are white, and part of a green hedge. A pox on vivid.

But when Easter comes, as it will every year, suddenly the garden teems with pale blue forget-me-nots and pink bleeding hearts, coral bells and native iris. In the last few years, bright yellow oxalis has also volunteered, resulting in an Easter basket of small woodland blooms.


It’s important to point out that the garden wasn’t all, or even mostly, my doing. I had help and a guiding spirit.

When we moved in, this 1953 rancher’s backyard consisted of:

  • Entry through a standard mid-century sliding glass door…
  • onto a large, irregular cement patio complete with embedded metal poles. We assume they were for a vinyl awning, but never proved out the hypothesis.
  • The usual lawn.
  • One beautiful Chinese evergreen elm.
  • A tall dark green hedge.

When we remodeled in 1992, we took off the entire back of the house, replacing the sliding door and cement patio with a wall of windows, a slate hall and an extended slate patio. The hedge was uprooted to make room for a new master bedroom and bath.


So then we needed a new backyard.

I started working with one landscape architect, but her sketches were too involved, too mannered. Then a friend introduced me to Jeff Savastuk of Froghouse Gardens. And Jeff made me a garden I love to this day. It’s serene, layered, and natural.


It’s important to find someone talented, someone you like to work with. Professionals are so great, even for, or maybe especially for, enthusiastic amateurs. They lay the foundation for years of tomfoolery.

By the time I moved back into the house after my divorce, in 2008, Jeff had decamped for Portland, Oregon. The yard had deteriorated. So I worked with yet another firm on a rehab; they kept to Jeff’s original design but changed out overgrown or dying shrubs.


I like the new inhabitants, but I liked Jeff’s original work best. Every Easter I remember why. I prefer my gardens ragged, but hopeful.


In software, hidden images or little tricks are called “Easter eggs.” They serve both as a signature of the developer, and as little moments of fun for the user. I always wonder if Jeff planned these seasonal colors. Or maybe when someone who knows his stuff works with your climate and life in mind, you get lucky. Either way, thanks Mr. S., long overdue.

The Point Of You When There Is No To Do, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:54am

I often think life should be lived backwards. I’m not thinking of Youth is Wasted on the Young, or Everyone Should Get a Divorce Before They Get Married, although both those ideas can be true.

No, I’m starting to wonder whether everyone should retire before they start their career.

One morning during my quarterly Privilege blog break, I picked up my lined yellow pad, crossed out To Do, and wrote instead, Things I Might Choose To Do. Then all day I tried to ask myself before everything, “This?”

I’ve been planning and resulting my entire life. My work motto was, “Always Be Closing,” taken from David Mamet’s play, “Glengarry Glen Ross.” I can’t tell you how many outfits, trips, and Thanksgiving dinners I’ve planned, down to the 15-minute increments required for making of mashed potatoes and gravy.

This last week, with no blog posts to write and, for a few nights, not even a husband to feed, I was clearly in a position of choice.  And yet I made lists. I wrote down things like Clean The Kitchen and Return Levis. Finally I tried to plan my children’s lives. Luckily they are considerate and loving people who know how to accept an apology.

So at last, one day, it might have been Wednesday, I put aside To Do. And found myself outside, in my side yard, taking the time to hand water a few new plants. I looked up. It was a beautiful California morning, the sky blue like it had melted to the color, the sun warm on cooler air. A breeze at the edges. Awe, joy, wonder, bliss, all of it swelled in what I have to call my heart because I cannot locate another source.

Northern California Rapture

Even though it’s just a corner of my house – with regular telephone lines, sky, and trees – when I subtitle this blog, “The raptures of living” that’s what I mean.

Technically, when I was a young woman in Manhattan, I could have looked up from, say, Central Park. I had received my initial inheritance. I wanted for nothing. But back then anxiety would have overshadowed rapture. I must be a data point in someone’s experiment about self-created fears.

How much of the anxiety endured when young do we create for ourselves? Maybe unavoidable? Maybe – in privilege at least – the unknown bears as much responsibility as much as the exigencies of survival? We have to build constructs about the world then hustle forward towards self-taped finish lines. Out of breath.

If I could bottle up how I felt in my back yard this week, and give it away at street fairs, I would. It’s not surprising that one can enjoy retirement. “News flash! Middle-aged woman feels happy in garden!” But the only material difference between now and Central Park is a bunch of stuff I know. Stiffer joints. And peace in my relationships.

I’m not yet the Buddha, trailing inner quiet. My To Do has outlived its usefulness by years. But the impetus is shifting.

What might I have done without self-created anxieties, when young? I admit, some worries are real. Life requires work, and failure is scary, and all that warrants nervousness. But the stuff I made up? My To Do lists based largely on imagination?

Ah well. Regret nothing. Only resolve to recognize the privilege of the moment. Only resolve to start afresh from the authentic. Only resolve to say, “Hey life, thanks for the raptures. You did good.”

Only resolve to make sure you know what is the point of you when there’s nothing To Do. Then, probably, go Do something.

What If Stacy And Clinton Came Back, Took Your Clothes, And Gave You $5000?

How would you put together a wardrobe on $5000? I saw that Stacy London’s on TV again. Clinton’s been back for a while.  So I thought it might be time to have a What To Wear extravaganza of our own. We don’t do shame here, so we’ll leave out the Not. My take.

Elegant capsule wardrobe


How About A Little Look At The Reasoning?

  • Necessaries. Fancy underwear is great and all, I’ve owned my fair share of fancy Swiss cotton, but at the end of the day Target is my source of choice. As I’m small/medium-busted, they can even supply my bras. I wear flannel PJ bottoms to write – why not zebra stripes?
  • Workout & Swim. Here in California, where one can easily spend successive days by the pool, we need 2 bathing suits. One bikini (Thanks to Stiletto Jungle) for the days when I love the sun, one Land’s End shaper for the days I do not love my midriff. And workout gear is non-negotiable, but I’m OK with cheap Champion from Target. I’m so proud of myself for exercising that I require no image-augmentation from my sweaty clothing.
  • Outerwear. Northern California requirements are clear – we want water resistance and room for layers underneath, we don’t need industrial-class warmth. A field jacket and a lined trench would be my bare minimum.
  • Day Clothes. 95% of the tops I wear are t-shirts from either UNIQLO or J. Crew. The key for extreme casual style is color, color, color. I wear neutrals and blues, sometimes adding a stripe of a complementary or contrasting color with a layer. And I have realized good sweatshirts now get more use than my beloved cashmere sweaters. So I just might splurge on this expensive Kenzo number. (Mater has one of his scarves…)
  • Night Out. There is absolutely no room in a $5000 wardrobe for the kinds of dresses I used to enjoy. No Prada, no Narciso, no Dries. No Lela Rose. What to do? I think I might buy a dress from Siri, in a perfect fabric, in the perfect color, and wear it so often it became my signature. I think I’d be happier with that than multiple cheaper department store dresses. For non-dress dressup, I’d stick to dark wash boot leg jeans, (happily inexpensive!) a black linen-cotton sweater from Brora,  and edgy comfortable shoes a là Une Femme and Duchesse.
  • Accessories. Those who can wear costume jewelry survive this category much better than I do. Needing precious metals, I chose a reasonably priced pair of gold and diamond hoops, and some interesting lavender pearls. The bag is Village England, a brand I learned of via That’s Not My Age. It’s logoless. Booyah! And a pretty colored cashmere beanie from Brora matches the requisite Etro scarf. Another case of picking quality and allowing it to become your signature.
  • Shoes. Turns out, we women buy a lot of shoes not because we are fetishists but because we know instinctively that shoes can make an outfit. I like comfortable modern footwear, with a little attitude. Nikes, Vince, Birkenstocks, Havaianas (lavender!). And, again, no more Louboutin, Caovilla, or Choo. To dress up, I’d go for a pair of generic satin heels, in a fun color, with a bow. Paired with the Siri dress, memorable. And I could buy new pairs of shoes in a different color for future events. At $79/each, doable.

What I Had To Give Up And A Brief Summary Analysis

Technically, Stacy and Clinton never threw away people’s underwear, jewelry, handbags or workout gear. So we could repurpose those budget amounts, stick to the concept, and augment this very sparse list. What would be the next items, or the next upgrades to items on the list? I have a few candidates. You probably have others.

  1. I’d want a casual blazer. Something to wear with jeans for polish.
  2. I’d miss my Comme des Garçons fierce heart tee, would probably replace it.
  3. In making this list, I thought I wanted this Michelle Mason $600 raincoat, but I realize that’s for my pretend, swash-buckling life. In reality, I’d go for a motorcyle jacket, leather or canvas.
  4. Since I’d be keeping my jewelry, I wouldn’t need a 3rd pair of earrings (which would have been semi-precious chandeliers) or a necklace. Or a watch.But those are very necessary parts of my wardrobe.
  5. My beloved Valentino Tangos. With this budget, one has to rely on one’s own creativity for impact – there is little room for extraordinary pieces.
  6. Rain boots. In the California drought, I forget.
  7. More tee shirts. More pajama bottoms. More shoes. Probably even more shoes.

But no new category. Once you find a happy style, (for me, Extreme Casual/Polished Tomboy,) you stick to it, no matter your budget.

And with that, I’m off for the usual Quarterly Privilege Break. See you in a week(ish), with new posts, but I look forward to your thoughts on the $5000 wardrobe and chatting with you below.


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Why I Still Call This Blog “Privilege,” Or, Saturday Morning at 9:07am

When I listed my daughter’s ballet shoes on eBay, I was reminded that my user name in many parts of the Internet is Amid Privilege. You know how that happened. I started this blog as a way to explore and articulate my as-yet-unnamed family culture, to integrate it with my blurt-it-all out, notice-every-iota, feel-all-the-feels temperament. I had my reasons, as they say.

In those early days, I wrote in a voice from my past, the imperious tones of older female relatives. Then, as it became clear that the artifacts and aesthetics of that culture were most interesting to readers, I began to write about style. This dovetailed quite nicely into my 2011 back-to-work project, since, lo and behold, I had to wear clothes. Cue the outfit posts. So fun.

Now we’re on to full lifestyle blogging. Martha Stewart meets Jacques Derrida. Kidding. But the joint’s still called Privilege.

The other night I heard my stepmother speak about her childhood. She was born in Germany, during the war, and emigrated at 5, her mother having divorced her German husband to marry an American soldier. This is a story worth telling. Meaning hangs on bare facts. The pain of war, the fraught role of women, the experience of immigrants in America. The word “father.”

I found myself wondering, what would I say, if ever I found myself at a podium with an audience and an hour? Not that I’d be at a loss for words, they gurgle in my throat at the ready. But what would I say that mattered? I imagine bunting on the hills above Darjeeling, fluttering –  there’s a pattern if one can but see it.

So I leave Privilege up top. If I changed the name I’d call it Kindness. Because if I find underlying meaning in my life experience so far – that’s it. If the world makes sense, when we grow up in privilege and we are not harmed, we will become kind. Our striving to Get will lead us to Give. Otherwise we’re all going to hell in a handbasket and I refuse.

Kindness can’t be legislated. Can’t be theorized. Shame gets us only so far. I believe that people are naturally good but I concede that even in privilege people get damaged – grow up sad or angry or in need forever. If we fail to heal ourselves we can’t follow what I optimistically believe is the natural course.

So take the time and thought to parent kindly, remember that supermarket clerks are human and deserve courtesy, keep your hand off the horn. It’s all hard and if you find yourself unable, you’re probably tired.

Be then kind to yourself.

It’s possible I rely too much on my family as proof that people are good. Please excuse my pride, in advance. Nobody’s perfect. But they work in the service of knowledge, social or personal. Everyone’s trying or has tried to give.

And my stepmother, who, when asked what she had learned in her retelling and repicturing of her past, said, “I was a coward.” She must in fact have been heartbreakingly brave. In the context of her story, she meant she did not search for her German father, didn’t see him until he reached out decades later. But still, once safe from war, to look back and wonder how one could have done better.

Not to blame the world. That’s kindness.

If I’m wrong, if there’s no correlation between privilege and good behavior, why then is the world getting better, overall? So let’s say I’m right. Let’s say people are basically good. Let’s say our main job in parenting is to do no harm. Let’s say that every little bit counts. And let’s admit that when we are lucky we owe it to the very idea of humanity to be worthy of our good fortune.

It’s hard to go by Amid Privilege. In counterpoint, I write on my Twitter profile, “I try not to be a jerk.” I imagine there are many who land on this blog, see the title, and depart in haste. But Privilege is the truth. And truth demands we keep our feet on the evident path.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone. Time is a privilege and a kindness both.


Keeping A Resolution At Last, Also Known As, Pointe Shoes For Sale


Time to check off of my New Year resolutions. Wait. Some among you may remember vaguely but correctly, I made none this year. I’m talking about resolutions from 2014. What?!? I am a wholehearted believer in better late than never.

I had vowed to learn eBay. Alicia Kan gave us an amazing guest post on how to do it. I had planned to sell my old clothes there, and my daughter’s rare, vintage, unused pointe shoes. When it became clear that I could not easily find volunteer work that fit with my other projects, I decided to conflate fashion, charity, and the blog. I have been giving most of my clothes to the American Cancer Society boutique in town.


But I still owed my daughter, and my conscience, a sale of the shoes. So, tomorrow, up on eBay they go. Here’s the product listing:

Unique, hard-to-find, vintage pointe shoes

This lot includes 9 pair of vintage Freed DV Wing C pointe shoes, one pair of Blochs, and a box of Freed and Bloch elastics. Shoes are all new-in-bag, all size 4.5XX. All were bought at San Francisco’s SF Dancewear in 2003. As dancers know, each pair of Freed shoes is marked by its maker. These Freeds include 4 pair from the “Square” maker, 2 from the “Taurus”maker, 1 each of “R,” “Q,” and “”V.” All the Freeds are pale pink, the Blochs are pale gold/peach.

Here’s the history of the shoes. My daughter used to dance seriously. The spring before she was set to attend ABT’s summer intensive in New York, she got injured. These shoes were bought in anticipation of a heavy pointe schedule that never materialized, and have been sitting in her closet ever since. That was 12 years ago. We have 10 pair of shoes for sale, the entire lot can be purchased as one for the next 7 days. If the lot is not taken, I will then list each pair separately, at a higher starting price.

This is my first and probably only sale on eBay, but if you would like some information about my online trustworthiness, a link to my 6-year old blog can be found in my profile.”

Oh, and if any readers want to give me suggestions for the listing, I’m all ears.


I’ll be pricing the entire lost at a starting bid of $350. Buy Now for $450. Similar shoes apparently sell for up to $55. Note that one reader, back in 2014, bought a pair to hang on her daughter’s wall. Warmed my heart, that did.

In case anyone reading would like the lot, email me today, and I’ll extend a special Privilege reader price of $400. Email me at skyepeale(@)yahoo.com.

A note. These are old Freeds, from makers no longer working. If you’ve just started dancing, they aren’t a good option for you, since you won’t know if these specific makers’ shoes fit your feet. I imagine that the most likely buyers will be either a dancer who’s been at this for 10 years and wishes she could still find “Square” Freeds – for example – or a dance studio that wants to offer special shoes to its pointe students and is willing to hold them for the right dancers.

But as this is the first and only time I expect to be selling ballet shoes, I simply don’t know. I do know, however, that pale pink satin is really pretty, and resolutions are to be kept.


Edited: Here’s the eBay link. http://www.ebay.com/itm/9-Pair-New-In-Bag-Vintage-Pale-Pink-Freed-Pointe-Shoes-Women-Size-4-5XX-/301562195693. If it turns out they don’t sell as a lot, I’ll update here and let you all know.