POV: In Spirit.

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 watched the fireworks on the Fourth of July perched on a picnic bench on a Williamsburg rooftop. I was with friends, but it seemed the whole city was out, clustered on neighboring roofs, their silhouettes illuminated in the glow of rainbow-colored starbursts. When it was over, I got a video call from my family, celebrating 2500 miles away in Southern California daylight. "I'm there in spirit!" I said, waving to my sun-speckled niece and nephew, my parents, my two brothers. 

Later, my mom sent photos of everyone in the pool, accompanied by emoji hearts in every color. "We felt it," she wrote.

Non-Career Advice: Huy Bui.

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.

Name: Huy Bui/ Architect + Designer 
Also: Dog lover / plant whisperer / co-owner of An Choi

There's beauty in every season. "I've learned that everything in life has its seasons and its micro life-cycles — our moods, our emotions, our relationships, our careers. Everything is constantly moving and evolving. Accepting that has helped me; it's made the more challenging times in my life a little easier to understand, and I'm more open to change and surprise. I think back to being 21, and I think I'd tell myself: you may feel like shit now, but it's okay. That's part of the process. Nothing is forever — there's another season just around the bend. We all operate according to our  own timing. I understand now that we need to experience the harder things and be patient and trusting when it comes to getting to whatever's next. Winter has its purpose — the freeze needs to happen for the plants to bloom in the spring."

Thanks so much, Huy. More from the Non-Career Advice series, here.  Photo by Emily Johnston (from our Freunde von Freunden feature this past winter).

Moving Music.

In 2010, Dotan Negrin quit his 9-5 job, purchased a moving van, and began traveling the world with an upright piano and his dog, Brando, in tow. "I was unhappy and frustrated with the way the world works," he writes. "I spent two years after college jumping from job to job without really feeling like I was moving forward. I wanted to figure out a way to make a living doing the things I am most passionate about: music, traveling the world, and meeting people."

Years later, he's visited 300 cities in 21 countries. Of his early days on the road, he says, "Every day I was meeting at least 30 people and would have conversations and people would invite me to their houses and I would have dinner with their families. It was such a gratifying experience. I wasn't making any money. But it showed me the world. It showed me there were other ways to live rather than how people tell you."

Beautiful. See more on Dotan's website and Instagram.

See also: trading photos for travel / a traveling couch / a 24-year road trip.

Recommended Reading / 39.

Every Monday, words to start the week. 

This week, via Nowness: Notes on the Gaze, the first in a female-directed, four-part series on the "emotional and storytelling power of clothes". In this installment, Chelsea McMullan investigates what it means for women to admire other women on the street. "If the male gaze wants to possess, or overcome a fear of, women, then what do I want?" she writes. "I think I want to be other women, to feel what it would be like to change bodies; to have a different hair texture, eye color, or body shape; to see myself through the eyes of other women."

"In more recent years...I've realized the power of smiling at another woman," says an interviewee. "This culture is so hostile that it's stolen our ability to look at each other...I think to take that back, and to smile, and not feel like there's anything wrong with admiring the way someone looks in their skin and in their clothes is really beautiful."  Watch the video, here.

Three more, just because:
-Love peeking into Windows of the World. (See also: Coffee Cups of the World .)
-Candy kebabs.
-From Steinbeck, favorite words on the importance of slowing down: "Don't worry about losing. If it's right, it happens. The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away."

More recommended reading, here. Have a very happy (late) Monday.


Midsummer snaps from Instagram and beyond: learning to make a tagine from this skilled chef in her dream kitchen upstate; the world's most perfect bagel, found at my neighborhood coffee shop (though that's an oft-debated subject); and a couple in honor of Father's Day, and my niece turning seven. For those wondering about the taped-up words: one is an excerpt from a poem I've loved for years; the other is a favorite line from e.e. cummings — your head is a living forest full of songbirds.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend. Mine will be a bit like the calm before a storm — my parents fly in to the city Monday, and my brother, Max, and his family follow on Wednesday. Then on Friday, we'll leave together for two weeks in Tuscany and Amsterdam. (Any travel recommendations, if you have them, would be so very much appreciated!) 

In the meantime, I'll be back here Monday — I'm planning to have Recommended Reading, Non-Career Advice, and a POV up before I leave!

Everyday Rainbows.

The perfect antidote to a slow, sweltering, cloud-heavy afternoon: artist Julie Seabrook Ream's #100daysofrainbows, which features a daily rainbow crafted from a meticulously arranged assortment of ordinary household items. (The latest posts feature Lucky Charms marshmallows, scissors, guitar picks, and star-shaped Jello.) The bad news is that the project — which began just over three months ago —  has a cap. The good news? There's still seven days' worth to go.

Follow along on Instagram, here.

Recommended Reading / 38.

Every Monday, words to start the week. 

This week, from Letters of Note: a letter written in 1965 from artist Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse. Hesse, also an artist, was struggling to create (sounds familiar). In friendly response to her dilemma, LeWitt wrote, among other things:

Learn to say "Fuck You" to the world once in a while. You have every right to. Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rambling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just DO.

Amazing. Find the letter in its entirety, here.

Three more, just because:
-The world's oldest person just turned 116 this week. Her secret? Sleep.
-The makings of the perfect cake for summer: figs, honey, mascarpone, pistachios.
-From Georgia O'Keefe: "I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life — and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do."

More recommended reading, here. Have a very happy (late) Monday.

Weekend Note / 07.

Weekend notes are short-form POVs.

I have a memory of swimming in a friend’s pool at the age of seven or eight, hanging on to the concrete edge with slick fingers, my ears submerged. It was night. There was a party, and a miscellany of mothers and fathers stood in clusters in the garden, trading stories and casting occasional glances poolward, where their daughters — myself excluded — were playing mermaid. The girls had rings around their ankles and were flailing to stay afloat, a cacophonous feat. Nearby, I bobbed against the wall, monitoring the way the noise shifted as I dipped beneath the surface — gone, and there it was again. For the first time, I felt alone, and liked it.

Every year around this time, I’ve written something about the importance of rest and the joys of a slower season, which for me, has always been summer. After an endless winter and the ecstatic rush of spring, it's feels necessary to find ways to slip away now and again, to escape — even if it's just below the surface of familiar waters. Even if it's to a place within. 

Two nights ago, I had dinner at a friend’s apartment uptown. Three levels down on the street, people walked their dogs, rode bikes, jogged toward the park. Inside, tucked away, we sat on the wooden floor and ate a meal in fading sunlight, candles all around. Someone read a poem. The room was still. For a moment, out of nowhere, I remembered the pool — its deep blue quiet, its waterlogged tranquility. There, in a tiny, tidy apartment three floors above the ground, I felt blissfully isolated. I might have forgotten where I was entirely if not for a breeze that found its way in through an open window, ruffling the pages of books on the windowsill. 

The poem came to a finish. Somewhere in the distance, faintly, were fireworks.


Thank you so much for reading, as always — and have a wonderful holiday. After spending two consecutive weekends outside of the city, I'll be enjoying this one here — with any luck, doing a lot of what's described above. Have a great one! 
Photo by Emily Johnston.

School in the Rain.

I've always loved stories about unconventional schooling facilities around the world, like this rainbow-colored primary school in Paris, and this soothing Japanese nursery designed to remind children of being at home. Today, I'm adding another to my archive with Kumamoto City's Dai-ichi Yochien, a preschool with a courtyard designed to encourage the accumulation of rain puddles. On sunnier days, children can use the space for sports; in the winter, it can be converted into a skating rink. Smart.

Another interesting tidbit: each student's family purchases his or her own desk and chair — a sweet souvenir of sorts, which is theirs to take home after they leave.

Thanks to GOOD for the heads-up. Photos by Ryuji Inoue courtesy of Hibino Sekkei.

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