POV: Pursuits.

I met my fiance, Rob, on a blind date—or, I suppose, as close to blind as you can get these days. Leading up to our meeting, my sister-in-law, the one responsible for our meeting, filled me in on a few key details: “He’s tall,” she said. “He’s funny. And he has a clean apartment.” Aside from that, I also knew that he was a violinist and that he loved wine. My sister-in-law had written an article that revealed the lengths he’d gone to properly store it in his apartment, including taping down the lights in his refrigerator, and investing in a device outfitted with a surgical-grade needle that allows wine drinkers to taste sips from an aging bottle without removing the cork.

“I hear you like wine,” I said at some point on our date, prepared to confess how little I knew on the subject, and that whenever I’d ordered a glass in the past, I’d made my choice based on which had the easiest name to pronounce.

“We don’t have to talk about stupid wine,” he said. It’s a line we repeat often—usually just before talking about wine—and laugh.

Cirera + Espinet on Clever.

I recently had the pleasure of writing about this 540 square-foot bachelor pad in Barcelona, which features red marble countertops, dark green micro-cement floors, and terracotta velvet curtains instead of doors. Designed by local firm Cirera + Espinet, the apartment is full of unique solutions to a host of common small-space conundrums: cramped corners, lack of light, inadequate storage. What I love most about it, though, is that despite its bright colors (and all that luxurious velvet), it's a space that somehow still manages to feel minimal. “We wanted to create a multifunctional apartment,” the designers say, “that was daring and simple at the same time.”

Read more on Clever. Photos by Enric Badrinas.

Recommended Reading / 64.

From the New York Times: a 2016 interview with Jenny Slate, who talks about her love of tiny wooden animals, which she keeps around her house (and occasionally in her purse). This caught my attention, as someone who has a few of the very same wooden creatures scattered around my apartment: a cat on the bookshelf, an orange fox near the sugar bowl, a moose in the closet. Says the comedian, "I love having a little secret that doesn’t hurt anybody and that’s a reassertion of myself. I tend to be calm and happy when I’m looking at things like this rabbit, which remind me of when I was younger and only knew how to be myself." Read the interview in its entirety, here.

Three more, just because: 
-In Sweden: real homes become museums for a day.
-"I hate slick and pretty things."
-While not technically a "read," this episode of the podcast Song Exploder—which features the story behind a song by the South African singer Nakhane—is full of beautiful words. I've listened to the episode twice, and have had the song, "New Brighton," on repeat for days.

More recommended reads, here. Wishing you a wonderful Monday.

POV: Presence.

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 tried acupuncture for the first time recently, spending an hour in a brightly-lit office, discussing sleep and stress levels and the color of my tongue; then, another 30 minutes on a bed in a dark room, my body a constellation of thread-thin needles. A tiny lamp, burning orange, shone on my toes.

As the pins went in, I recounted past needle encounters gone wrong, and my unfortunate tendency to faint post-puncture. “Meditate,” said the doctor, most certainly reading my mind. “Your thoughts may drift, but just remember to breathe.” An assistant switched off the foot warmer, draped me in a blanket, and shut the door.

Dutifully, I focused on my breath. But not a minute passed before I was trying to figure out what time it must be, picturing the clock on the door counting down the seconds. I thought about the 78-degree weather in the next day’s forecast and the final sentence of a freelance assignment due that week. I wondered whether paper invitations were a worthwhile wedding expense. I studied a vent in the corner of the ceiling and asked myself what would happen to the needles in my legs if I went to sleep and let them fall slack.

The assistant reappeared. “That was 30 minutes?” I asked. She told me that it had in fact been a little longer, then set to work removing the pins. The light was back on, buzzing.

One of my earliest memories is being picked up at nursery school, and telling my dad I hadn’t slept at naptime. “I was thinking instead,” I said. “What about?” he asked. “Wars,” I answered. “And hospitals.”

Later, when I was a little older, I remember going on field trips with my elementary school classes—sitting in plays, wandering museums, shuffling single-file through the kitchen of the local bagel shop—and using the time to daydream. If something didn’t hold my attention, there was a never-ending queue of other things to think about.

Many years later, my ability to focus has improved. But there are moments—regularly, every day—when I find I’ve tuned out what’s in front of me. A stranger at a dinner party may be talking and I’ll come to the terrifying realization that I haven’t heard a word they’ve said. Reading on the subway, I’ll reach the end of a news article having read the first line but skipped over everything else. Sometimes, still, I daydream through plays and movies, absorbing nothing of them.

Of course, there’s nothing special about this. Everyone gets distracted; it’s healthy—and healing—to daydream. But I notice these small daily allowances now more than ever—now, when it feels imperative to stay awake, to hear others, to read the words and understand the full story. It’s made me realize how easy it is to drop out of the present. To find a way out of engaging with what isn’t easy or immediately attention-grabbing. To miss things completely: strings of words, entire stories, precious opportunities to lie down and breathe deeply.

My fiance, Rob, and I took a trip to Aarhus, Denmark last year, arriving on a Sunday in mid-November. The day and a half prior had been frenzied. A nine-hour delay out of New York, a whirlwind stop in Oslo, and a mishmash of wintry weather made for a weekend that seemed to represent a microcosm of the year leading up to it—exhausting, full of joys and frustrations, and over in an instant. The first day, I barely left our hotel room. On the morning of the second, I went for a walk alone while Rob, a musician, rehearsed for a symphony performance at a nearby concert hall.

With no international phone plan, there were no calls to take, no texts to write, no breaking news to read. Instead I hobbled on cobblestones, drank three cups of coffee in three different coffee shops, and met the people who made them. I ate the world’s best lunch—crumbly, caramel-y cheese on the densest, stickiest bread imaginable—plucking the crusts from the plate as the waiter came to retrieve it: “Wait! I’ll take those with me.” I read a book. I thought of things to write about. (In fact, I planned to write this piece there, and then, as always, the time flew.)

Later in the afternoon, I slipped into the concert hall to watch the last hour of rehearsal. I felt a very particular kind of happy, awake to my senses and a little overwhelmed. I’d feel the same way months later in New Orleans, licking sugar off my fingers to the tune of a lone trumpet, and again, more recently, catching up with a crowd of familiar faces in the sunlight at a friend’s art opening. But in that moment, in Aarhus, none of this had happened yet. There was only this humming hall and its glowing, wood-paneled walls.

The symphony was playing sections of the same piece over and over with Rob conducting, standing on his toes in polka-dotted socks.

When I was younger, ignorant to the bliss of music without words, I might have daydreamed it all away. Now, alone in the audience, I was convinced I could hear every note.

You can find my previous POV entries, here. Thank you so much for reading.

Many Voices.

In belated celebration of International Women's Day (but also because it's never the wrong time to recognize creative women), here are snippets from conversations with five inspiring artists I've been lucky enough to interview.

1) Arpana Rayamajhi, Jewelry Designer, New York City

Photo by Anna Rose

For The Weekender (translated to German): “I’ve always made things, and ultimately, the reason I do what I do hasn’t changed. It’s just that the language I use to talk about it has gotten a little more sophisticated. When I was younger, I would say, ‘I do this because I love it.’ Now it’s, ‘This is a medium for me to connect with myself and the world.’ In ten years it could be something completely different.”

2) Nicole Katz, Director of Paper Chase Press, Los Angeles

For Sight Unseen: "Being a manufacturer in California is important to us, now more than ever. We live in a state that’s approaching a $15 minimum wage, has some of the most stringent environmental and labor laws in the country, and supports a huge immigrant population—my family included. These are values we care about and that we live by."

3) Carla Fern├índez, Fashion Designer, Mexico City

Photo by Ana Hop 

For Freunde von Freunden: "We want to prevent the extinction of Mexican crafts. My clothing is very fashion-forward but if you look at how it’s made, you’ll understand that it has traditional roots. I’m always thinking, how can we allow these people, who do such amazing work with their hands, to keep their skills?"

4) Megan Eaton Griswold, Owner of Little Moving Spaces, Jackson, WY

Photo by Jenny Pfeiffer

For Architectural Digest: "I wanted to make something small and affordable, yet give it a style we hadn’t seen in a yurt before." (Griswold on her Wyoming yurt, which boasts "the lattice structure and mobility of its traditional Mongolian counterpart, but also a porcelain stove, Michael Anastassiades lighting, and a kitchen built using 800 pounds of Carrara marble hauled in by sled on a trail she forged herself.")

5) Carly Jo Morgan, Furniture Designer, Los Angeles

Photo via the artist's website

For Sight Unseen: "I spent most of my life identifying more with men, which I grew to realize was more out of my own insecurities. Something has softened in me, especially since becoming a mother, and now strong, inspiring women are flowing into all aspects of my life. The sisterhood is deep."

Many thanks to these women, and all the many others I've had the pleasure of interviewing over the last few years—your stories continue to inspire me.

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