POV: Acclimation.

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. Each POV entry will include a photograph and a short reflection based on what’s pictured. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV focuses on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories

Monday night, with a blizzard just hours away, Lily, Jamie, and I walked four blocks home from a neighbor’s apartment, where we had drinks and ate dessert and watched the previous weekend’s episode of Girls. It was 10:50, just minutes before the citywide travel ban was scheduled to go into effect, during which subways and buses stopped service and all cars were to be off the street. 

It was quiet outside, a rare thing, even for a Monday. The streets were deserted, the sidewalks white. Above us, an empty J train clattered over the Williamsburg Bridge. We crunched through the snow, our faces sleet-stippled.

 “We haven’t even lived in this city that long,” said Jamie, her voice muffled inside her hood. “Can you believe how little time it’s taken for all of this” — she gestured to the ice, the snow, the whipping wind — “to feel normal?”

Goodbye at the Door.

From time to time, I've wondered how my relationship with my parents — to whom I speak nearly every other day — differs from the relationships they had with their own mothers and fathers when they were my age. It's surprised me that even as I approach 30, I still very much need them — in different ways than I did as a child, but important ones nonetheless. In early adulthood, when everything — work, relationships, friendships, homes — has see-sawed, they (and my entire family) have remained firmly in place. As my dad said to me on the phone the other day, "We're your constants."

I came across Angelo Merendino's photo series Goodbye at the Door a while ago, but came back to it this morning. The images, which show Merendino's parents waving as he comes and goes, illustrate the sweetness, the sadness, and the steadiness of evolving family relationships. He writes: "As long as I can remember, my parents have stood by the door and waved goodbye when I would leave. There was never an 'I'll just let myself out.' It was always, 'We'll walk you to the door.'" 

See more at Angelo Merendino's website, here.

At Home at School.

As a former student of a progressive elementary school known for its out-of-the-box thinking, I was immediately struck by the idea behind this Japanese nursery, which was designed to remind children of being at home. Meant to resemble "not a small school, but a big house," its designers were told to think of the space simply in relation to the daily activities of its pint-sized pupils — playing, snacking, running free — rather than as a building meant for educational instruction. 

The end result features cozy, muted classrooms (with not a chart or diagram or alphabet poster to be seen), and two smaller playgrounds as opposed to a single large one. Fascinating.

Photos by Yoshikazu Shiraki. Thanks, Dezeen.

Recommended Reading / 18.

Every Monday, words to start the week. 

This week: a post from Winesburg, Ohioa blog I came across a few weeks ago, the archives of which I devoured in nearly one sitting.  In this entry, dated December 7, writer Cassie Marketos (who also happens to be a former college classmate), tries to recount the books she's read over the course of many travels. There's Colin Thubron's Behind the Wall, whose pages fell out all over the beach in Eastern Thailand; Donna Tartt's The Secret History, finished on the prow of a boat; a paperback with a title she can't remember, that she traded for a sandwich in Spain.

I love this because Cassie's words are beautiful (and so are her images), but I also love it just for the idea. In winter, when the cold keeps me confined to a seven-block radius — and non-work-related reading is often limited to what I can manage in the ten minutes before sleep —  it makes me want to read more, travel more, trade more, move more. See for yourself, here.  (And, please, if you have any book recommendations of your own to share, do!)

Three more, just because:
-The best hugs on film.
-A table with deer's legs (and a bench inspired by a pretzel).
-Interesting: "The unique trait of Sapiens is our ability to create and believe fiction. All other animals use their communication system to describe reality. We use our communication system to create new realities. Of course not all fictions are shared by all humans, but at least one has become universal in our world, and this is money. Dollar bills have absolutely no value except in our collective imagination, but everybody believes in the dollar bill."

More recommended reading, here. Stay safe and warm in the storm tonight, fellow East Coasters.

Not Poems, But Patterns.

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 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.

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 / ice cream sundae connoisseur  
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Recommended Reading / 16.

Every Monday, words to start the week.

This week, from Joan Didion's 1975 commencement speech at UC Riverside: "I'm not telling you to make the world better, because I don't think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I'm just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave's a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that's what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it."

A few more, just because:
-Wild deer and a Brazilian cockatiel named Jack.
-Honey bourbon apple cider.
-Words from Pema Chödrön: "Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know."

-And lastly, here's an interview I did for a blog called Happy and Heartworking, which is about "finding out who we are and doing it on purpose."

More recommended reading, here. Have a wonderful Monday! Photos by Max Wanger.

POV: Human.

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. Each POV entry will include a photograph and a short reflection based on what’s pictured. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV focuses on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories

It wasn’t until I began regularly using the term “human time” — which, in my mind, was any period of the day not dedicated to frantically meeting deadlines — that it occurred to me I might need to rethink things. An unexpected deluge of work in the fall left me feeling thrilled and grateful and deliriously anxious all at once, and my life — which, until then, had never been so busy that I couldn’t indulge in a night off or a moment’s reflection — felt as though it had been put on pause.

 “I’m just taking some time to feel like a human again,” I’d say, wild-eyed, as I stole five minutes here and there to make the bed, or trim my nails, or cook a meal. Some weeks, even sleep felt like a luxury, and those precious reminders that I was human (and not, in fact, an extension of my laptop), were sometimes reduced to fleeting bits of the morning’s early hours, listening to the conversations of passersby outside and taking long, slow breaths.


Hello again! So very happy to be back after three motion-packed weeks, which took me from Los Angeles (where I spent time with family, including a certain stripes-sporting, fuzzy-eared creature), to Joshua Tree (where I rang in the new year in sub-freezing temperatures in a heatless house in the middle of nowhere), to Portland, Oregon (where I hiked in the mist, and ate trout and ebelskiver, and bought a dress covered in threaded bananas). 

Now I'm back in ice-cold Brooklyn, catching my breath and taking an opportunity to wish you a happy start to 2015 — I hope its first week has been wonderful. 

I'm excited for what the new year will bring, here and elsewhere and all over.  I'll be back tomorrow with a new POV — in the meantime, stay warm. (Ideas to get started: dance, jump for joy, just keep moving.)

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