POV: Rotations.

Friday, March 27, 2015

POV ("point of view") is a series that addresses many of the same themes covered in my Equals Record column: growing up, saying yes to adventure, learning to embrace a quarter-life crisis. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV focuses on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories

I spent Wednesday — the last day of a spontaneous week-and-a-half getaway to Los Angeles — in the heat of an 80-degree March afternoon, barefoot, in front of a tinsel-like stretch of the Pacific Ocean.

My nephew, Dash, newly turned two, squatted in the sand beside me, eyes fixed on a bird wetting its wings in the surf. “Bird,” he said, blinking with such force that his lashes, straight as sticks, created shadows down his cheeks. Then, noticing the distant hum of an engine overhead, he looked up, pointing at a cottony stream of clouds left in the wake of passing plane. “Plane,” he said.

“Dash,” said my brother, Max, “tomorrow, Shoko’s going to be on an airplane.”

Dash shoveled sand into a Smurf-blue plastic mold of a castle.

“The next time we talk, I’ll be in New York,” I said. “In the apartment I showed you on the phone, with the bus stop outside and the train going over the bridge.” I paused. “Beach today, city tomorrow — isn’t that crazy?”

He turned the mold upside down, revealing the crumbling architecture beneath it, mouth open as the turrets fell. Then, already at work building the next one, he answered me flatly, with what’s become his most-used (and most useful) word as of late: “yup.”

Flowers Afloat.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

For those of you who loved the room with the dandelion canopy, the greenhouse made of sugar, or the umbrella that mimics light through the leaves of trees, here's another wild, wondrous project that may strike your fancy. Called Floating Flower Garden, the installation — housed at Tokyo's Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation — features over 2,000 living flowers in what its creators refer to as an interactive garden.

Writes the crew at Japan's teamLab: "Viewers are immersed in flowers, and become completely one with the garden itself...A person will become integrated with a flower when they look at a flower and the flower looks at them; possibly at this [moment], the person will truly see the flower for the first time."

See more at teamLab's site, here. New POV coming tomorrow!

Waves of Freedom.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Easkey Britton is an Irish artist, scientist, professional surfer and Ph.D. She's also the co-founder of Waves of Freedom, an organization that aims to empower vulnerable members of society through surf. Her efforts to bring the sport to the women of Iran (who will be the first ever in their country to surf) has been chronicled in the upcoming documentary Into the Sea.

According to the WoF website: "At the core of Waves of Freedom is how surfing can become a medium to empower those who are most vulnerable in society...surfing is not just a sport but a lifestyle and an art-form synonymous with freedom and creative self-expression. Waves of Freedom has grown from a belief that the ocean does not discriminate."

Learn more at Waves of Freedom, here. See also: Skateistan, a non-profit that teaches children in Kabul, Cambodia, South Africa, and Afghanistan to skate.

Recommended Reading / 24.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Every Monday, words to start the week. 

This week: Dear Data, a project by designers Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, who are spending a year getting to know one another through the data they draw. Each week, the two decide on an area of their lives they'd like to explore, and exchange a card that illustrates seven days of experience as related to that topic. Above is a week of complaints; others have focused on clocks, physical contact, cell phone addiction,  and mirrors. See more, here.

Three more, just because:
-The first and last frames of fifty-five films.
-New ideas for psychiatric wards as designed by those who inhabit them. Stand-out features include a Staircase to Nowhere and  ceiling of umbrellas "upon which users can project their choice of weather."
-From Emerson, useful words for a Monday morning: "Break the monotony. Do something strange and extravagant."

More recommended reading, here. Have a happy Monday!

Were / Are / Will Be.

Friday, March 20, 2015

I knew I wanted to share a passage from this Andrew Solomon speech the moment I read its first paragraph (thanks very much to Kathy Lee for passing it my way). It's called "The Middle of Things: Advice for Young Writers," but I think it's relevant to anyone following a creative path. Below, my favorite bit.

Life is most transfixing when you are awake to diversity, not only of ethnicity, ability, gender, belief, and sexuality but also of age and experience. The worst mistake anyone can make is to perceive anyone else as lesser. The deeper you look into other souls  — and writing is primarily an exercise in doing just that — the clearer people's inherent dignity becomes. So I would like to be young again — for the obvious dermatological advantages, and because I would like to recapture who I was before the clutter of experience made me a bit more sagacious and exhausted. What I'd really like, in fact, is to be young and middle-aged, and perhaps even very old, all at the same time — and to be dark- and fair-skinned, deaf and hearing, gay and straight, male and female. I can't do that in life, but I can do it in writing, and so can you. Never forget that the truest luxury is imagination, and that being a writer gives you the leeway to exploit all of the imagination's curious intricacies, to be what you were, what you are, what you will be, and what everyone else is or was or will be, too.

I love that so much. Read the full speech at The New Yorker, and have a lovely weekend. (Also, thank you for being understanding of my erratic posting lately — will be back on track soon!)

Photos by Emily Johnston, whose spectacular new work can be found here.

Non-Career Advice: Brian Paquette.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Non-Career Advice is a series that asks people - young, old, and in a range of occupations - for words of wisdom unrelated to work, career-building, dollars, or getting ahead.
Brian Paquette / Interior Designer
Also: Painter / record collector / proud Seattleite 
Age: 33        

A break from busy-ness is an act of bravery. "The word 'busy' bothers me more than most. You hear it all the time in the creative world: I'm so busy; I don't have time; I'm completely swamped. It's almost a point of pride. But it's not true. None of us should be so busy that we don't have time to take a step back here or there. And if it is true — if you really are so swamped that you have no time for anything else but work — then you're undervaluing yourself, it's as simple as that.

Our society tells us it's not right to be still — or that it's not right to be alone. Maybe that's where a lot of our desire to be constantly doing comes from. But so many of my best creative moments happen when I'm alone — taking a walk, listening to music, looking through my books, taking pictures. I take those times as seriously as I do my work. They're vital. And this is, too: aloneness is not the same as being lonely. Not even close."

Thank you so much, Brian. More from the Non-Career Advice series, here. (You can also find my interview with Brian for FvF, here.) Photo by Dorothée Brand / Belathée Photography.

A Thing of Beauty.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Dawn Ng's A Thing of Beauty makes breathtaking landscapes of what she refers to as a "grand orchestra of stuff": door stops and fly swatters, dust pans and cleaning buckets — all items she's collected from Singaporean food shops and convenience stores. The resulting photographs reflect "the intangible value of commonplace items as fossils and emblems of people, places and memories…and helps us see a bit of ourselves in the things we keep." Makes you think a little differently about the contents of your supply closets, your kitchen cabinets, and the worlds contained in your home's dustiest corners. See more, here.

Have a wonderful Wednesday.


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