Not Poems, But Patterns.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Hello from Montreal, where I've spent the past three days eating French fries in hot gravy, reading (this, currently), and standing ankle-deep in snow. I've been meaning to post a POV or Weekend Note since yesterday, but amid the distractions of traveling to a city so lovely that even a 10-degree day can't mask its charms, I've managed to produce only a few scatter-brained sentences. (Another lesson learned as a writer: sometimes you just can't force it.)

So I thought I'd share words by someone else — words that I stumbled on recently and loved. They're from Eileen Myles's The Importance of Being Iceland: "I hope you all find yourselves sleeping with someone you love, maybe not all of the time, but a lot of the time. The touch of a foot in the night is sincere. I hope you like your work, I hope there's mystery and poetry in your life — not even poems, but patterns. I hope you can see them. Often those patterns will wake you up, and you will know that you are alive, again and again."

See you Monday.

Non-Career Advice: Jamie Furlong.

Thursday, January 22, 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.


Jamie Furlong / Florist + Server at Blue Hill 
Also: Tea drinker / tree clipper / quote collector 
Age: 29

Respond to people, not their behavior. I learned a trick a while ago that I use all the time when I’m working at the restaurant. I read it in a book: if you’re dealing with someone who’s being especially difficult, try to remember that underneath it all, that person is just wearing a disguise. That unpleasant customer is just a person — a fragile person — disguised as self-important, or unfriendly, or fussy. Once you remove the way he or she is acting from the fact that they’re human, it makes it so much easier to respond with patience. 

Just recently, I was at the drugstore, and the person ahead of me in line was name-calling the cashier because she wasn’t able to give him the discount he thought he deserved. I probably shouldn’t have done this, but I said, “Excuse me, sir, is this the way you always act, or are you just having a bad day?” And he said, “I’m just having a bad day, you’re right.” It may not have been the best way to handle things, but it diffused the situation. It was a good reminder that sometimes, people are just having a hard time. And that at the end of the day, everyone deserves kindness.

Beautiful. Thank you so much, Jamie. More from the Non-Career Advice series, here.

Brian Paquette on FVF.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

So happy to share my latest interview for Freunde von Freunden, which went live this morning. It's with interior designer Brian Paquette of Seattle (the same Brian, incidentally, who's quoted here). I loved hearing his thoughts on art and objects and creating spaces that call on all five senses. My favorite bit of our interview, though, had to do with the importance of remembering our own creativity. 

"Nine to five is not my thing," he says. "On Fridays, our office has 'input days.' Monday through Thursday is devoted to output; Friday is all about input. We read. We go to galleries. We have outside vendors come in to show us new lighting or fabric lines. We’ll go to a new showroom. We’ll look at furniture, jewelry, anything. It’s just about jogging our brains after a week of invoicing and remembering that at the end of the day, we’re creatives."


Find the interview in its entirety on Freunde von Freunden, here. Thanks so much for such a wonderful conversation, Brian! 

Photographs by Dorothee Brand.

Recommended Reading / 17.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Every Monday (or in this case, Tuesday), words to start the week. 


This week, from Paul Cronin's Werner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed: Words of wisdom from the filmmaker himself, including "develop your own voice," "carry bolt cutters everywhere," "thwart institutional cowardice," and, best of all, "get used to the bear behind you." See the full list at Kottke, here.

A few more, just because:
-Tilt-shift paintings. (Thanks, Dad.)
-New York City from a height, in winter and summer.
-Superheroes in solitude and animals mid-sneeze.
-"I am rooted, but I flow."

More recommended reading, here. Photographs by Lena Herzog.

Weekend Note / 05.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Weekend notes are short-form POVs.


Two summers ago, on my first assignment for the website Freunde von Freunden, I interviewed an artist named Aslan Malik. At the time, Aslan lived in an apartment in Kip's Bay, which he shared with a cat named Anise and very little else. Accustomed to writing about interiors polished to magazine-quality perfection, I wasn't sure what we'd photograph. Aside from his art — which included photographs and drawings and pages torn from books — and several pairs of shoes, there wasn't much.

But there was a story. "In 2014, my apartment in Berlin caught fire," he told me. "It was the worst building in the worst neighborhood in the city. It looked like it could collapse any other day anyway, so when it burned, I assumed everything was gone. I felt a rush a joy. The building wasn't destroyed, but the happiness I felt when I thought I lost everything stayed with me. It made realize that I had nothing, really, to lose. So I digitized all of my records, and I moved away." The freedom of having nothing kept him moving — and yet, when we climbed the ladder to his rooftop later, it was clear his life didn't lack a thing. He showed me the Chrysler Building, the Empire State. "Everything's here," he said.

I tell that story often, because it was one of the first big lessons I learned in professional writing — and I think it translates to the everyday, too: there's always a story. 

Sometimes it's hidden — up a ladder, or buried under trees (like Dez's turtle), or shelved in jars (like Zoe's lamb). Yesterday, I stepped into a basement studio of a nondescript building around the corner to find what I can only call a terrarium laboratory, with plants and mysterious wooden boxes and watering systems that mimicked fog. 

It made me wonder: what would I find if I asked more questions, or dug in the dirt, or knocked on doors, or looked more closely? Whole worlds, I guessed, and new faces. Jungles filled with mist. Stories everywhere.

Have a wonderful weekend.

What They See.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

For a cloud covered Wednesday: a website that wonders what the painted eyes and sculpted faces inside New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art are looking at — and shows us. See What They Seehere.


A big thank you to This Isn't Happiness for the introduction. 

Let Me Librarian That.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I've always been a fan of accidental poetry — from Times-based haiku to verse conjured by Google autocomplete — and so I love these shots from the New York Public Library's Instagram, which show the often oddly poetic questions asked of librarians over time. Follow along on the NYPL feed, here, and look for the hashtag #letmelibrarianthatforyou. The first one below says it all.


See also: non-accidental poetry in seashells and the spines of books.

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