March Playlist

Handing it off to the new music editor at truelane, my sister Elyse Lankford!

Here we go—the first installment of a monthly playlist curated by me, Elyse: lover of tea, Seattle, and music, and sister of Truelane.

This playlist is a collection of new and old jams for me. Overall easy-listening with hints of punk, 60s/70s rock, and a couple beach tunes to get you through the rest of this cold/wet time of year. January and February were wild in terms of releases—especially the singles leading up to new albums from bands like Tennis (out now!!), Mac Demarco, Vagabon and Real Estate—some of which I included in this playlist. Keep an eye out for these records, next month’s playlist, and leave any music recs below in the comments!

Terrible People — Pale Noise
Difference — Horse Thief
Minneapolis — Vagabon
In the Morning I'll Be Better — Tennis
Dull Boy — The Growlers
My Old Man — Mac Demarco
Getting Better — Twin Peaks
All Skaters Go To Heaven — IAN SWEET
Never Be Mine — Angel Olsen
The Strange and the Kind — Surf Curse
Little Queenie — Sadgirl
Vegas — Big Thief
Darling — Real Estate

Elyse Lankford is an art student and graphic designer/booking assistant at a Seattle music venue. Dream trip? Probably Switzerland and northern Italy. Dream concert? Tennis then Twin Peaks opening for The Strokes. Dream meal? Neapolitan pizza. Dream job? Something to do with music and art and travel. 

What I've Learned Being Single

If you’ve been single for a while—whether intentionally or not—you’re accustomed to seeing a variety of reactions from people when it comes up in conversation. As with most topics of discussion, you’ll most likely get one of three typical responses:

“That’s awesome.”

“That’s so sad.”


A positive, a negative, and somewhere in the middle. You might fall into the second or third answer categories depending on your situation. However, if you’re single by choice like I am, you’ll side with the positive. Being single is awesome. I’ve spent twenty-five years doing it. Anyone with that much experience should have the expert-level skills that I do.

At the same time, it can be hard to receive commentary from people who think being single is sad or challenging. Even if you are a picture of confidence and exude nothing but bliss and contentment, they don’t quite believe you because they can’t wrap their heads around why someone would prefer to be alone.

It’s sort of a valid question, but it also isn’t. To put it epically, since the dawn of time, humans and even animals have been drawn to togetherness. We want support. We want community. We want one person, specifically, to be that for us and also, to fill our hearts with joy. While it may be an innate, genetic desire to couple up, I can say from my own experience that gene might be extremely recessive in one person compared to another. One person may tell me how much I’ve missed out on by choosing to avoid a relationship, but I will tell them right back, I’ve gained much more than they might imagine.

COMMUNICATION SKILLS. Not only do I wish to be single, but as a moderate-to-severe introvert, I spend a lot of my time alone. Because I choose to be alone so often, it’s become important for me to recognize when I’m feeling too much of something to handle on my own. I know when to go to someone with a need that I have. On the other hand, living in my quiet, I’ve learned to listen. Being able to sense other's needs—often branded simply as ‘compassion’—is a skill that all of us should learn and continually develop. Building close friendships with people both like and unlike me has helped in this area immensely.

HOW TO TRUST. Although I’ve come a long way, this one is still the biggest challenge for me. When you live alone, work alone, eat alone and sleep alone, it’s incredibly easy to develop a wall—not quite as strong as bricks and mortar, but maybe along the lines of sticks and mud—and only trust those on your side: namely, yourself. Even when dealing with friends, it used to be quite easy for me to doubt their ability to follow through, and I still convince myself I’m the only person I can count on. But trust is such an important quality of our unique human experience, and without it, you may come to fail yourself one day, and then where would you be? I guess I’ll say I’ve learned the importance of trust, although I’m still growing and developing the skill itself.

SELF-CONFIDENCE. Never in my life have I felt the need to have a man tell me that he thinks I’m cool or beautiful. I don’t dress for attraction. I dress for myself. I dress for the people that will appreciate the effort and art and investment that comes with creating an outfit. I’m the girl that loves indulging in beauty and fashion as a hobby, and I treat it as something fun. I don’t care one way or another if someone sees me without makeup (my Snapchat is essentially daily proof of this), but taking the time to put myself together makes me feel ready to take on the world from the inside out. It’s completely and utterly crucial to get this message out to young girls: you should never do anything just to please others, especially if it does not bring you joy. I am lucky to have never struggled with this, but your worth is not found in others approval. I would say this skill is even easier to develop as a strong single woman outside of a relationship.

PERSONAL GROWTH. Young couples are fascinating to me. Getting married early is wonderful for some—they blossom and develop within another person, which in some aspect, does make it easy to grow in love and understanding. On the other hand, I have always felt that I simply do not know myself enough to be able to get involved on such a personal level with another human being—it’ll take my whole life to get to know myself, and putting another person into that mix has never made sense for me and my situation. As a single woman, I’ve been able to travel the world on my own (that alone develops a strikingly hefty skill set in itself), have once-in-a-lifetime experiences that literally would not have happened if I were in a relationship, and been able to love and support close friends and family at any time or place. I also enjoy total freedom in my living situation, my finances, my career, and my interests. I used to be totally anti-relationships and anti-men, but I’ve grown even in that area. I’m perfectly content in my life and where it’s going, but at this point, whatever the world throws at me…I’m happy to roll with it.

COMPROMISE. Friendships teach you many skills that you might learn in a relationship. Whether it’s with a roommate or a travel buddy or even one of your siblings, most of us compromise every day. I’ve always loved the very idea of compromise. Google defines it like this: “an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.” There it is, right in the middle of a tense situation. You put your wants and needs aside to help someone you love, and someone you love does that same thing for you. Even though compromise means you, personally, are settling for something less, I just think it’s the most beautiful idea. Both sides are offering equal olive branches for the sake of being on good terms. It works the same way for anyone you love—romantic or not.

WEAKNESSES. It isn’t easy to admit your faults. But here are mine. I hold grudges. If I think someone has wronged me, I’ll dole out a tragic combination of the silent treatment and the most passive, cutting things I could possibly say to make them feel bad—even if they don’t realize I’m upset. I’m lazy. I have a terrible spending problem. I have unrealistically high expectations and false hopes about most things I encounter in my life. I hate listening to the same story twice. I’m annoying on so many levels. The list goes on and on, but the redeeming quality is that I’m working on them. We all are, every day. The important thing is to realize your weaknesses, which is the first step before you can work on minimizing them.

There are umpteen sides to every story, but for me, there’s no question in my mind that I’m exactly where I need to be in my life right now. At some point everyone wishes they could go back and change the past in one way or another, but this is one area that I would always keep the same. So now, let’s say you and I are having coffee. It comes up in conversation that I was single, am single, and will continue to be single for the foreseeable future. I think it’s great. And I hope, after reading this, only one response will come to your mind.

“That’s awesome.”

Why I Quit Fashion Week

Almost six years ago, twenty-year-old me thought she knew exactly what fashion week would be like: lights, cameras, and action around every corner. I thought I knew what the scene would feel like and which shows I’d go to and just how much traffic there would be. Looking back, I wish I would have taken a step away after that first time at the rodeo, and really considered going back before I started planning for the next one. Now, six seasons later, I’ve finally decided to say goodbye to fashion week, and it’s one of the best decisions I could have made for my brain and my business.

If you’ve never been to fashion week, the first thing that comes to my mind is that you have absolutely no idea. Of course, we all have images of Bryant Park tents flashing forever in our minds from Sex and the City or Lipstick Jungle, but it hasn’t been like that for years. I started going when the shows were presented at Lincoln Center, which was my favorite setup. Now, the shows are scattered all over the island of Manhattan, and it makes for even more of a madhouse than it already was. Besides the top-tier designers who showcase their presentations at dynamic venues such as the Park Avenue Armory or the Russian Tea Room or the High Line, most shows now take place at Skylight Studios in two locations, downtown and midtown. Once you think you know what to expect, tack on about a zillion levels of insanity and you’ll be a little closer to the real thing. It takes at least forty minutes to get anywhere in the city, and unless you have a private car service taking you around, someone’s going to land that taxi before you can even get your hand in the air. You’ll be late to fifty-percent of your shows, and you’ll feel guilty for running in at the last minute or disappointed because you’re too late. Your phone will always die by noon if you don’t have a battery pack, and you’ll always forget to eat until suddenly it’s five o’clock and you’re on your way to your next show, dying for just a cube of cheese.

I do not claim to be an expert about fashion week—for that, turn to Hamish Bowles or Eva Chen. I have my own experiences, but I guess part of my stepping away is out of homage and respect for an age of fashion that once was. Back when fashion week was for editors and buyers who were evaluating collections and predicting what trends would sell months in advance. Even when I first started going, fashion week was a lot more about celebrity star power than blogger street style. Seeing how it has evolved with the fashion industry has been inspiring, for sure, but as with all things that grow and change, there are pieces that get lost in the mix. These days, the front-row celebrities are girl-next-door bloggers just like you and me—I think that’s as cool as the next person, but it is a change of pace.

What I’ve grown most tired of is the hustle. Fashion week starts months in advance, with emails going out to hotels around the city and designers around the world to fill up my time in Manhattan. I am wholly independent and have never worked with an agent, so it’s up to me to build partnerships with brands. Finding hotels that will put me up for free in exchange for blog and social media coverage has always been crucial, and usually this means sending upwards of fifty queries waiting for a positive response. The same goes for fashion shows. I email every single designer on the list for NYFW’s The Shows, requesting an invitation—and still more after that, as many designers present independently and not within part of the collective. Half of them come back positive. The amount of “paperwork” and research that goes into putting together a fashion week trip is mind-blowing.

Another part of it is an industry stereotype. For as many true and goodhearted souls there are in fashion, there is a handful of fakes that are only in it for themselves. As much as we wish that wasn’t true, it’s unavoidably true and just plain unavoidable at New York Fashion Week. You run into several people who will start talking to you for the sole reason of having someone to talk to. It’s the nature of the industry. This can apply to any line of work, of course—my intent is not to rag on the fashion industry, as there is much to enjoy. I’ll say again, there are a thousand wonderful people at fashion week who are kind, honest, and trustworthy. I have met and bonded with some of my best friends at fashion week, and that’s what I want to focus on going forward.

Some of my decision to say goodbye to fashion week is due to growing weary of the things I’ve mentioned above. It’s a lot of work—emotionally and physically—to spend four or six or nine long days in the city that never sleeps, experiencing the kind of lifestyle that gives it that name. But the main thing is, I’m not the style blogger who writes about trend forecasting—I don’t understand it myself. I’ve never been able to afford the designer pieces that are shown on the runways I’m sitting at, and I don’t like going out or partying or drugs or giving air kisses to people I’ll never see again or many other things the fashion week world is about. I’m at a point where I’m working hard to develop a structured and thorough vision for my blog—and as much as fashion week helped me get to where I am today, I no longer see it as part of my future.

It’s wonderful to be able to look past the negatives and truly enjoy fashion week for what it is: a spectacle of the frivolous and fabulous, a celebration of art and culture, or even just an exciting week of catching up with industry friends. Fashion week offers many people a lot of wonderful things, and it gave me six seasons of once-in-a-lifetime memories—most of them good ones. But I’m saying goodbye to make new memories in more parts of the world with fewer expectations and less pressure. I’m looking for a breath of fresh air in the sea of sameness that fashion week cultivates twice a year. That’s the way fashion works, after all. Out with the old and in with the new. 

Presidential Bio Project

Things have changed since we last spoke. My last Life post is dated September 29, and we are now almost a month removed from the establishment of one of the fears I mentioned in the post—a fear for our future that was realized on Election Night. Now I, of course, harbor a mere tinge of worry compared to others in minorities around me, but it is still hard to believe that such an abominable and disgraceful human being is now in a place of power and respect; in fact, the highest place of power and respect. A small part of my distress even comes from the fact is that I've enjoyed following politics for so long, and have always been fascinated by the White House, its goings-on, and its residents. Now, I find it hard to even turn in its direction.

Due to my belief that He Who Must Not Be Named might well be the absolute worst president to assume office in the history of our United States, I came to the conclusion that I should first seek out the competition. I always hear names like Taylor and Nixon and Pierce thrown around as recipients of the award for "Worst President Ever," but I've decided to form my own opinions on the topic, and that means reading up on every president the United States has ever had. 

Which leads us to the presidential biography project. 

My next reading escapade has become a thematic one. I'm reading one biography on each of our forty-four presidents—forty-three men, thanks to Grover Cleveland who served two nonconsecutive terms. I'm thirty pages into my read on George Washington—Washington by the famed Ron Chernow—and have only just realized what a daunting project I've gotten myself into. Of course, Chernow is a brilliant writer, and yes, I wanted to read more, but maybe not 1,000+ pages on one human being...forty times over. I remind myself with every page turn that this is worth it and important.

And no, I am not the only one, as you might think for a moment. It's a thing. There are entire websites and forums dedicated to blogging and documenting a reader's journey through the lives of our forty-four presidents. My favorite is this guy's, who writes just as well as any of the biographers themselves. I feel a sense of patriotism and historical wonder just from reading his book reviews.

I think it's patriotism that got me initially interested in embarking on this adventure in the first place. It's only December, and I've found it's hard for me to imagine respecting the Office of the President when I have no respect for the man who actually is the president, and somewhere deep down, I hope this project can help me find a way to feel better or more positive about the bleak outlook that currently shrouds our nation. The project will take me something like four years anyway, so at the very least, it will provide a worthwhile distraction from the ensuing madness.

Short answer to why I'm doing this? "I want to be the kind of woman Josh Lyman would date."

Fears, For Now

Is modern fear addressed enough? I’m sure it is, I just don’t look in the right places. If you know of any spectacular articles, please feel free to send them my way. I try not to use this blog as a journal too often, but a lot of you are twenty-somethings that I closely identify with often, so I always hope that something I write will help you identify with me right back. September 8 to October 8, I am traveling—New York, London, Milan, Paris, and Minneapolis, and while I’ve thrived on being present and living in the moment in each city I’m lucky enough to experience, I’ve had a little grey puff clouding my head with worry. It’s been distracting and preoccupying, and I hope that by typing it out, it might dissipate—just a little—and I can live my last, lovely week in Paris with the hope that something even better awaits me on the other side.

Fear of guns.

As many of you know, I’ve been in Europe for the past two weeks. While I was in Milan, there was a shooting at the mall in the town where I live. Five were shot, and all of them died. It was a targeted shooting, which means the shooter was trying to harm someone in particular, but there were still five people that were killed for no reason. I’ll tell you I’m aware and up to date about the gun violence all over our country in the last few years, but I’ve learned—now—that it all changes when it’s this close to home. It makes me afraid to go back. It makes me afraid to go to home. Death is so finite, and while I don’t fear dying in itself, I do fear the immediacy of it, the aftermath, and the moments before in a situation like that. How do you go on and go about your day without feeling paralyzed by what could happen in the moments you can’t foresee? How can I ever go back to that Macy’s and browse the sale shoes like I do when I’m bored on Sunday evenings? An answer might be, “Eh, you’ll forget about it,” or, “You’ll get over it,” but what does that mean for the victims? What does that mean for the four women and one man that died at the hand of a cold and hating man this week? That we’ll forget them? Is it selfish to not want to be forgotten? Is it morbid of me to put these thoughts into words and publish them to the Internet?

Fear of my future.

I got this job. I accepted a job as a library technician in my town, and my immediate concern is that it isn’t the right time for me. A lot of you already know that I’m passionate about library work and how a library functions within a community, so I spontaneously applied for an open position a few weeks back. Surprisingly, I got it—surprising as in they adjusted the starting date to accommodate my month-long trip abroad. I felt so much pressure and desire to take it that my hesitancy was overwhelmed by excitement. Then of course, once I said yes, I immediately questioned the timing and my abilities and my blog and where am I going from here and how does this job fit? Will it ruin my life? Will it be the best thing that ever happened to me? How much time will it take away from writing my blog? What does that mean for truelane in the next two months? What if I find something I love doing more than blogging in the next two years? What if it means losing all of you that I’ve grown so fond of? I have to keep convincing myself that change does not equal loss. Becoming something more does not mean giving up what you have. Maybe it means truelane will become a book, or a magazine. Maybe it means I’ll become a librarian and wham, my life’s goals and desires will have flip-flopped. I can say 'maybe' as much as I want, but the possibilities still give me anxiety, and a reason to remain stagnant.

Fear of America’s future.

Whatever side of the fence you’re on, America is feeling the heat. It tires me to think of going back to the States and see twice as many headlines about the upcoming presidential election as I do here in France. For now, there seems to be no solution, so what does that mean for the next month? Why does no one know where America is going, and why can’t anyone work together to figure it out? I’m not saying that there is an Answer For All Time, but I want an answer for now. I want our country to grow with compassion, not with contempt (everybody wishes this, and then when you voice it they say ‘do something about it!’), but think about this—is there anything we can do about it? To me, it feels like there’s nothing I can do about it. I am registered to vote, and I will on November 4—but I don’t have political knowledge, and I don’t have the gift of public speaking, and I am not your typical person to stand on a parapet and announce my plans to change the world. I work in quieter ways, and often, it feels like the slowest—or even a standstill. Welcome to politics.

It’s hard/weird for me to publish this post because we’re all different. I’m in one situation, and you are in another, and we won’t always see eye-to-eye on things. A situation within the topics I’ve addressed above might and probably will be drastically different to various readers. Everything always seems to pile on my mind at once, and I often file my fears away as a midlife crisis (which happens to me weekly). But this month? My fears are a consuming presence. It takes a lot of energy to quiet them enough into just letting me sleep. I’m a smart person, but I’m not the smartest, or even wise. So for now, I don’t have answers, just questions that I only ever want to ask the universe—afraid, of course, of what the answers could be.