Thing I am most proud of


I've wanted to do this for years: profile families and individuals who are reshaping America, starting at the dinner table. One of the reasons that food is such a passion point for me, and why I've chosen to work in food media, is because food isn't just a physical need—it's a unifying cultural force, and I think the opportunities around humanist storytelling in food and drink—and the power those stories could have to affect real-world change—are infinite. It seems especially important, and poignant, this year, that we're able to bring First Generation Thanksgiving—which I have literally been imploring the media outlets I've worked at over the past few years to do—to life, with the generous support of our friends at Ford. This is America in 2017. You're welcome at our table.

Things I buy all the time in great quantities


This has been going on for years. Creature comforts: Glossier Milk Jelly Cleanser ($18). Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee with Lion's Mane ($14.99). Dior Diorshow Iconic Mascara ($29.50). MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation ($29). Kat Von D Tattoo Liner ($20). Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz ($21). Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Wipes ($20 for three). Rimmel London Insta Fix & Matte Translucent Powder ($8.50). Collection Lasting Perfection Ultimate Wear Concealer ($11). Tarte Double Duty Beauty Shape Tape Contour Concealer ($23). Illy Medium Roast Ground Moka Coffee ($15). Uni-Ball Vision Elite Rollerball Pens, Micro ($10.43 for a dozen). Rose Bud Salve ($8). Shin Ramyun ($16 for 20). Colourpop Ultra Matte Lip lipstick in Saigon ($6). Ann Demeulemeester Boots ($1,000-ish). Aviator Nation Sweats ($150-ish). Terax Crema Conditioner ($78).

Inevitable New York


In my junior year of high school, I had a math teacher whose favorite restaurant was Bouley. We knew this, for sure, because he had two signature catchphrases: "Math is #1" and "Bouley is also #1." For a girl growing up in Queens, a first-generation immigrant just like the vast majority of my classmates in the 1990s, fine-dining was an alien concept we'd only ever encountered in movies, where white tablecloths either served as backdrop for comic relief (see: Pretty Woman; L.A. Story) or signaled that something was about to go down, usually involving bad guys. Which is to say, we didn't know much about fine dining at all—but we knew about Bouley, thanks to Mr. Geller.

It's hard to explain what the closure of an iconic New York City restaurant does to the psyche and culture of the city. I suspect it's not vastly different than how the closure of any established favorite affects any other city. Maybe we're all just caught up in the self-important mythology of New York, but humor me for a moment, because the past few weeks have been especially brutal. Bouley is gone, along with the 24-hour Greenwich Village haunt French Roast (b. 1993) and the always-reliable Great Jones Café (b. 1983). Recent rent hikes also mean that Union Square's noodle shop Republic (b. 1995) and Blue Water Grill (b. 1996) will close sometime in the next year.

The passage of time, nostalgia for the past, old New York vs. new New York, you've heard it all before. The city is unstoppable, and recently, just in the past year or so, I've really started to feel this weird, palpable sensation that I can only describe as inevitability. Maybe it's because I'm turning 40 later this year, everything somehow seems more significant.

#howisummer


This is the first weekend I've spent entirely in New York yet this summer! Here's what I've been up to so far this season. I kicked off the summer in Oxford over Memorial Day Weekend—it's my center-ing place, where I go to re-ground myself, read books, see films, sit in parks, eat as many breakfasts as possible, and think. (I had a hotel drama this time around—which is not something I've ever experienced before.)



I go to England a lot—and I love raiding the local drugstore for beauty products when I get over there. Here are some things I picked up on that trip (some of them you can totally get Stateside, like Simple micellar wipes, Astral moisturizing cream, Rimmel Stay Matte pressed powder, and Rimmel "Cappuccino" lip liner. Obsessed with all of these products.



Just a few days after that much-needed weekend in the UK, me and some of my team at Food & Wine headed to Colorado for the 35th Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. It was glorious and all I wanted to do was stay in Aspen forever. Here's Day One:



And Day Two:



Then back in the office for a few days before skipping town again to spend the weekend in the Hamptons (really, Sag Harbor) to celebrate the opening of the Eleven Madison Park Summer House with the good people of American Express, who invited me along for the ride.



And then I was only back in New York for four days before heading out of town for an extended Fourth of July weekend in Brighton, one of my new favorite places on Earth. It was the first time in 15 years I'd been in Brighton, and all I've been doing since is trying to figure out when I can next go back! I'm in love with that city and its vibe (and its seafood). Here's a combo vacay vlog and June favorites video. Some of the products I mention that you can pick up via Amazon Statesides: E45 Itch Relief Cream, Donna Karan Cashmere Mist deodorant, the Becca x Chrissy Teigen palette, and Embryolisse.



Finally, right after arriving back to New York from Brighton, I bopped off to Los Angeles for a week to check out the brand new Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills (obsessed, could live in that hotel, obv).



I'm on the ground now for the next few weeks, just making sure I have all my ducks in a row before fall starts (Labor Day is in, like, six weeks! Where did the summer go?), but am already in the throes of researching a long weekend destination for September and then... drumroll please... my BIG BIRTHDAY TRIP for later this year. It has to be grand/epic (or maybe I'll just go somewhere I've been before and loved, I can't decide).

The best fish sandwich


This is the best fish sandwich I've ever eaten. Smoked in a little hut right on Brighton Beach, a hot mackerel kipper on a buttered warm toasted bap—flaky, light, savory, completely unassuming. I ate the whole thing in three minutes flat. The perfect seaside sandwich.

Eat this £3.80 sandwich at Jack and Linda Mills Traditional Fish Smokers: 201 King's Road Arches, Brighton.


Things I always bring on a true vacation


Once or twice a year I try to get away on a short true vacation: at least four full days of not work-travel, not working remotely, not answering emails, not near people from work, not near people in my industry. Here are some things that I always make sure to pack:

— Only comfortable clothes (read: only things with stretch)
— Only comfortable shoes (no heels)
— One or two good books (usually 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)
— No laptop
— Good pens and paper for all the writing I will (won't) get to
— An extra bag to bring back all the shopping I'll do
— Minimal makeup (but I always overpack lipstick)
— Sunglasses for hiding from strangers
— Underwear (once I went to Paris and forgot all my underwear at home)
— At least three cameras (iPhone counts as one)
— A hoodie (which I mostly just wear at the hotel)
— Big headphones (Bose)
— Cordless headphones (Airpods)
— Corded headphones (the free ones that come with phones)
— Sweatpants (I never regret bringing sweatpants / I always regret not bringing sweatpants)

Currently I am packing The Essex Serpent and my favorite sweatpants from Aviator Nation.

See you later EMP


Twelve years ago I wrote my first book proposal at the bar table just to the left of that rose. I'd procrastinated for six weeks before my agent, the ever-patient Mel Flashman, called me on a Friday and asked, "What are you doing on Sunday? Meet me at Eleven Madison Park." We spent the afternoon drinking cocktails and talking through the 21 chapter outline. Mel took notes on a yellow legal pad and, around 7 or 8 that night when we finally left, she handed me a stack of paper with the instructions, "Type these up." That's how How Not to Look Fat was born.



Last night, EMP threw one of the best parties I've been to in years—a closing night for the iconic Madison Park location as we know it. The playlist was epic—Questlove played all the best songs from high school (read: nyc in the '90s)—the drinks were 🔥, and the kitchen was open (for roaming and eating). It was the quintessential New York City send-off for the quintessential New York City restaurant: irreplicable, unpretentious, first-rate, dead cool.




Can't wait to see what happens when the space reopens, post-renovation. In the meantime, see you all at the Hamptons iteration later this month.

A post shared by Danica Lo (@danicalo) on

The most dystopian parts of my day


1. Walking from Westfield to Brookfield on my way to work, through a long corridor with a giant LED ad that runs its entire length. It's like the Walking Dead in the morning, except everyone is much better dressed and technically alive.

2. Waiting in line at the Whole Foods in Union Square surrounded by 100 people, each with their own little individual basket filled with low-carb healthy protein free range organic eggs and unsweetened almond milk and pre-washed organic baby spinach in a box, headphones in, looking at their Facebook feed.

3. The subway during rush hour, now that it's cleaner than it was in the 90s.

4a. The notion that Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un both hold nuclear codes and...

4b. These two bozos could potentially blow this entire world into smithereens because of some perceived insult casually lobbied pre-dawn, from a resort in Florida, in under 140 characters, over Twitter.

5. That every morning I get up and coordinate a choreographed dump of my team's collective brain thoughts onto the intangible internet, and millions upon millions of anonymous strangers out there find, read, digest, use, and share the contents of our brains.

6. Everything, mostly.

Lost and found

Last fall, I was commissioned to write this piece for a mainstream women's mag website. I was paid in full for the story but it never ran, and now both commissioning editors no longer work at the media outlet, so I thought I'd publish it here.

Hed: How a 48-Hour Lululemon Immersion Made Me a Better Person, Sorta.


Over the course of this year, Lululemon has quietly launched a series of Immersions—invitation-only all-expenses-paid multi-day yoga and personal development workshops where the brand convenes a hand-picked group of influencers, athletes, corporate execs, and thought leaders in far flung locations spanning Austin, Texas; Java, Indonesia; and Moganshan National Park, located about 120 miles outside Shanghai. There hasn't been any real press on these retreats, so, to be honest, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I RSVPed "yes" to October's Immersion in Whistler (seriously, no one would tell me anything about the trip ahead of time) but I had a gut feeling that this vague and mysterious retreat would be good—or at least really weird—and that I'd definitely have something to say about it in the end.

Besides being a casual shopper and just barely following the yoga pant scandal a few years back, I had very little a priori knowledge about Lululemon. One thing I am aware of is the company's reputation for having a very specific corporate culture—"Our core values are personal responsibility, entrepreneurship, honesty, courage, connection and fun, so we attract and recruit people who share those same values," Director of Global Community Christa Hull tells me. So yes, whatever stories and mythology you may have heard about the warm, fuzzy feelings and deep devotion Lululemon inspires in its employees and community at large, well, I'm here to tell you that they're all true—and it's by design.

"At Lululemon, we prioritize our employees feeling connected to themselves and the people around them," Director of Leadership Development Susan Karda says. "Part of what we try to do is create more meaningful human connection, self-awareness, and leadership within our employees. We receive such positive feedback around our immersive experiences and summits internally that we realize it’s something that’s extremely unique to the brand."

I'd heard a lot about Lululemon brand culture—and couldn't resist the opportunity to experience it for myself—so late last month I threw all the athleisure-wear I own into a suitcase and headed up to Whistler, where over the course of 48 hours, I'm pretty sure something good happened to my insides that I still can't quite explain.

Free career advice!


If you're coming to SXSW this March and have questions you've always wanted to ask someone about working in lifestyle media, digital editorial, food media, fashion writing, or just broader digital strategy, consider signing up for a one-on-one mentorship session with me!

I didn't know the mentorship program existed before I was invited to participate this year, but at SXSW, you can sign up to have one-on-one sit-down sessions with people who work in your industry—or the industry you want to get into—outside of the more impersonal panel-talk setting.

I'll have office hours on March 11th, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Westin Austin Downtown. You can sign up for a time slot by clicking the image, below.

Routine


Every morning, the first thing I do is look at my phone: Twitter, email, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube. For the last three months, 99 percent of my morning news intake has been filled with bad news starring Trump and his Republican enablers. After I spend an hour-ish catching up on all the terrible things our government has secretly done while the east coast was asleep, I get up, drink two pints of water, take a vitamin C tablet, and make myself a cup of tea (sweetened with manuka honey). Then I get ready for work. Usually, to cheer myself up, I'll watch a YouTube video while I put on my makeup. I try not to look at my phone on my way to the office, because I try to be optimistic about the day. I feel like I get a lot of clarity on my walk through the Oculus every morning.

I really like my job. I have a great team, I work in a great building, I work for a great brand. So even though my days are stacked with meetings and I'm usually super-busy, almost all of my days are good days.

Then I come home and spend a lot of the evening catching up on more bad news.

So far, 2017 hasn't been super.

Luck


There was a great little piece in the New York Times last week called "Stop and Acknowledge How Much Luck Has to Do With Your Success." It's something I've thought a lot about over the past 20 years—mostly framed as "If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans" or "Everything happens for a reason." Here are some "lucky" moments in my life that changed everything and made me who I am today.

— Bombing the essay portion of the Hunter College Junior High School entrance exam
— Applying to Dartmouth only because one of my closest friends in high school had gotten in early decision
— Applying to a fellowship in Egypt senior year of college on a whim, in the middle of the night
— Completely failing to land a corporate job during recruiting season
— Landing an internship at Marilyn Agency while I was interviewing for an internship at Wilhelmina
— Bumping into the founder of Wilhelmina's plus division in the women's room one day
— Reading contributors' bios in an issue of Wallpaper in 2001 and learning that Central Saint Martins offered an MA in Fashion Journalism course
— Emailing two newspaper fashion editors in New York asking for an internship, and Libby Callaway at the New York Post hiring me, sight unseen
— Staying really late at the office one Thursday night and joking around with then-features editor Faye Penn, who was sitting at the random layout computer set up behind me that we should run a weekly column in the paper called "How Not to Look Fat"
— Picking five random agents' names from a list on Mediabistro and emailing Mel Flashman for the first time late on a Sunday night back in 2005

I wonder how much of this luck can be partly ascribed to being a young 20-something kid just starting out in this industry. Have I just been overthinking everything since 2010?

Heading home!


It's time.

7 More days of freedom


Seven more days til I'm back in an office full-time and the most pressing concern I keep turning over in my mind is whether or not I should bring my Muji kettle with me. In the meantime, I'm in Helsinki seeing some friends and panic-buying salmiakki and Moomin merch.

A December of doing nothing


From the moment I went freelance on August 1, I knew in the back of my mind that I'd be taking December easy—I'd earmarked a check-in with myself around the six month-ish mark and the holidays are usually a quiet time in digital media anyway. I told myself I was going to work as hard as I could the first few months of freelancing, establish a roster of regular clients, and pare down from there—that's the strategy with which I approach pretty much any situation in my life when both ultimate goals and clear pathways to success aren't immediately obvious (especially when it comes to work). My theory is that you can't meticulously plan and control process, details, and outcomes if you're (1) not sure what you want, in concrete terms, and (2) if you don't really know what you're getting into, so you might as well go all-in, then figure out what you can do without after a 90-day trial run. In my case, the "great unknown" is the current state of the industry—we've seen plenty of legacy magazines and media brands fold or drastically scale back over the past few years, and the past five months have been no different. So, while the market is strong for freelancers right now (the more staff jobs are lost, the more contract an freelance work is available), doing the work is like throwing spaghetti against the wall: you can type until your little fingers fall off, but if your commissioning editor gets the boot, your outlet folds, or there's a holdup at payroll because of corporate changes, as an outsider, besides sending strings of strongly-worded-but-polite emails into the ether, you're kinda out of luck.

I've been really lucky: freelancing has been really good to me. After working in the industry for 15 years, I have lots of good friends in assigning positions at big publishing houses. So over the past few months I've been working consistently—and have gotten some really plum assignments that included lots of once-in-a-lifetime travel (see: What to do on the Rocky Mountaineer in Conde Nast Traveler, and my week at Versailles Behind the scenes with Brad Kilgore at A Taste of Waldorf for Food & Wine). For anyone who's thinking of going freelance and wondering about how the finances stack up, I can only speak from my experience, but I made way more money as a freelancer than I did as a director at a major media company—and while it's not a regular paycheck that's direct-deposited into your account every two weeks (and sometimes you do find yourself badgering editors to approve your invoices), freelancing can be very financially rewarding.

There's also the lifestyle, which is pretty much unbeatable. Over the past five months of saying yes to nearly every assignment editors threw my way, I'd estimate that, on average, I probably worked really hard two days every week—and by really hard, I mean I'd start writing at 6 or 7 a.m. and would churn through the day writing, doing phone interviews, transcribing, and writing more, until 11 p.m. or midnight. OK, that sounds like a crazy day, but keep in mind that the rest of the week—for five days!—I'd probably work about two hours each morning, then be free the rest of the day. Plus, no commute. And NO MEETINGS, which is a huge boon to productivity. To be honest, I can't really think of many downsides to freelance life, besides the obvious: drastic reduction in human contact, no brainstorming sessions with your colleagues, no funny Slack convos, reduced exposure to shared cat GIFs. The only thing that really bothers me, that I'll never get over, is surrendering control of your work. As someone who works outside of an office and isn't part of a core decision-making editorial team, you completely lose control over your story once it's filed—you have no real say over how it's illustrated, very little say in the editing process, no control over publication time or date, and zero influence over how your story is positioned in the larger framework of digital editorial strategy. That's been my only frustration over the past few months. Freelancing has taught me to be way more zen about this, though, and I've definitely learned to let go (a little bit).

So yeah, back to December. It's been such a luxury to do very little this month. I've really been laying low since Thanksgiving, getting lots of sleep, eating enormous holiday meals, watching way too much YouTube, and traveling. There have been a few stories here and there—my trip to France, a story for GQ on ugly Christmas sweaters, and some news reblogging here and there. But otherwise, zilch. It's probably the longest break I've taken since I started working full-time after grad school and it's been glorious. Like, today for instance, I woke up at 7 a.m. and went back to sleep after realizing I didn't have anything pressing to accomplish this morning, now it's noon and I'm thinking I'll spend my afternoon at the Natural History Museum and maybe go for a drink at one of my favorite places in town, a deconsecrated church where my friend Alex and I threw our joint 22nd birthday party. I feel like a lady of leisure.

That said, I've recently made the decision to step back into an office job, so it's T-10 'til I'm back on staff somewhere! I'll let you guys know when that announcement is official in the new year. Giving up my introvert/recluse lifestyle wasn't the easiest decision to make, but it's the opportunity of a lifetime—and I'm super excited to get back into the strategic side of digital editorial. You know what they say about the pendulum swinging both ways—I guess after months of stepping completely away from the managerial side of things and focusing on writing (which I love), there's something inside of me that won't feel fulfilled unless I'm hitting goals on a bigger corporate scale. So yeah, I'm very excited.

OK, let's go see some Dodo birds.
"Observe Everything. Always think for yourself. Never let other people make important decisions for you." — from Bad News by Edward St. Aubyn