Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Rock, Purpose, Scissors

Last weekend we went to see an exhibit called “Design Life Now” at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum. This museum is in the beautiful old Andrew Carnegie mansion on 5th Avenue with halls and halls of creaky deep dark wood inside. This exhibit, in stark contrast to the museums very walls, was a collection of the best design from the past 3 years in architecture, furniture, jewelry, product and miscellaneous. Shiny new efficiency against polished old opulence.

A prevailing theme was that there were several items that wanted to look like something that they werent.

A chair with fake silver duct tape embroidered onto it to make it seem like an old worn out piece of furniture that was taped over. Vases that looked like they were not made from ceramic, but almost cloth because they bulged all over in places irregularly. Another vase of crunched metal was descibed as “run over by a car”, but it wasnt. Things that looked like the way one material might act, but made out of another.

Now maybe I just dont appreciate or understand the innovation, but is this design? One could argue that its provocativeness alone gives it worth, but is it simply just a curious looking item? What is its function? It seems like a hybrid of art and design. Is function optional in design? and now that I have gotten myself into this questioning tangle–how does one define design anyway?

These objects seem to have the ingredients of design, intent, materials, slickness, but then as the designer breathes life into it, its idealess structure causes it to it act like a paper airplane made out of steel.

But maybe thats cool.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Journey Towards Understanding

There are a lot of intolerant people in this world. They are intolerant of peoples differences; culturally, religiously, philosophically, visually etc. We have all probably been intolerant at some point or another. But we are growing.

I think in our journey towards understanding other people, the biggest obstacle is not differences that have to be overcome, but intolerance itself. So, in trying to be tolerant of others and to understand their position, should we be tolerant of intolerant people who are not willing to change or who suck on their ignorance like a constant comforting lollypop?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Carry Sunbeams Home in A Jar

To end this cold week, I give you the Sun Jar.

Click on title for the link.

Have a warm cozy weekend.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Girl With the Turquoise Earring

I reached up to my blank earlobe this morning and sadness fell over me. My earring was gone. And since I had worn it to bed and at the hair salon the day before, I knew that this time, it was probably gone for good.

I am speaking about a certain pair of rectangular turquoise earrings that I have blogged about before because they have a magical power, or so I thought, that they can never ever be lost. I have come so close to losing them so many times, but then have found them again and their significance in my life has grown far beyond the initial $8 I probably paid for them about 10 years ago at my former college. (click on title for link to former post on this topic)

I had to leave to go to work, so I put on a different set of earrings and I went on my way this morning, a little less whole than I was the day before, a little more defeated. Searching for the significance of this event I thought that it probably means it is time to move on, and although it is hard, it is certainly necessary in life and one is seldom ready.

Working in the morning took my mind off of the earrings and gave me new disappointments that I had to focus on. The day was slow and steadily going downhill step by hopeless step it was slipping away from me, a Wednesday in January as dreary as it damn well pleased.

It was about 1:00 and I put on my coat to go out to face the cold and get something expensive and unsatisfying for lunch. Coat was on, ready to get my bag and I look down and what is sitting in between my two booted feet, a backless little silver and turquoise miracle.

I told a coworker all about my story and wanted to cry with happiness. I could say it was a coincidence, that it has always been, but instead I want to say that there is something special about these earrings because sometimes, on a grey Wednesday in January...you just need something to believe in.

Beauty Parlor World

I know we have talked about this before, but I am happy to report that I think I finally may have found a hair salon and hair dresser that I like:

Close to my apartment, charming faux vintage decor, gay guy who told me I look like Audrey. The woman who cut my hair didnt speak to me and I was so so relieved, no awkward conversations, reasonably priced for NY, not too pretentious and While My Guitar Gently Weeps was playing as she snipped and snipped and snipped.

Which brings me to my next point. I was thinking about buying art for the walls of the apartment. But is it really necessary, I thought? I have major guilt about buying things that are not functional. You might imagine that I would be pro-art and design. Which I am, for the most part. But I am also developing an aversion to knick-nacks and I always think about moving day and how that little thing I bought would fit into a box. I also thought about the benefit of having nice plates, pots and utensils in the kitchen. I love to live with well designed things but then I tell myself I dont need them.

But when I was sitting and getting my hair done, it hit me.

People like to look at beautiful things, be it hair or a chair. And this is everyones pursuit in life, even the most ascetic person. Beauty is not an absolute, it shifts with our expectations of it. But for the most part we all want it in some form or another and to ease any guilt for the future I tell myself, its really okay.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ideas about Ideas

I have had 3 isolated ideas about ideas lately that I thought I would consolidate into one post:

The First: If you have a new idea that may be controversial, it is always best to deliver it to your audience in beautiful wrapping. People are much more likely to begin to accept something new if you are nice about it. Give them their pills in ice cream.

The Second: Isnt it always great to see someone changing their mind right in front of you? To watch a new idea settle and take hold and grind the gears of themselves, eyes moving back and forth. I imagine this happens in large meetings, people have to change their minds on the spot. It never really happens where I am. But it is nice to imagine people convincing people to change right before your very eyes.

The Third: I love the feeling of a new idea that is a really really good one. When you have it, you usually know it. It works, its fresh and its just a little bit uncomfortable too. I always feel a little uneasy, like I will be unveiling an alien that I have kept in my basement. Like people will gasp. I may be entering a contest for something soon and I can almost smell the perfect killer idea that I want for it. But it is not here yet and I am getting bogged down wanting a feeling, when I should focus on the task at hand.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Secret Lemon Messages

You may already know about this, but I didnt. So I thought I would share a story on the off chance that you might be as amazed as I was by this.

We were eating fish and had wedges of lemon sitting on the plate. These particular lemons cost almost one dollar each, totally exorbitant, but they were worth it. They were big and very juicy and fresh and amazingly refreshing, even in winter.

Joe started talking about writing in lemon juice messages with a paintbrush. He spoke of it casually as if it were something that we both knew about.

But I didnt know.

I expressed my ignorance and without further ado, we paused dinner and he squeezed one of the juicy lemon wedges into a little cup, three pits spit out, along with some yellow, stingy juice. Then he went and got my squirrel hair paint brush. We petted it for a moment, marveled at its softness and then held a few seconds of silence for the squirrel who lost their lives for this lovely item.

On a piece of paper he wrote in lemon juice with the brush. It dried. Then he held the piece of paper over the flame of the candles that we were eating dinner by. I looked over his shoulder with anticipation and wide eyes. Nothing happened.

Then something started. As he waved the paper back and forth on top of the flame words began to emerge in a beautiful brown color exactly where the lemon juice was. It looked antique and romantic.

He wrote my name.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Walking Into Oblivion

Today thoughts felt incomplete and scattered. Quietness of mind and reflection have dried up. The garden of my vocabulary is dormant and covered in new blue frost and I cant seem to find the words for the most simple thought these days. I have slept enough, but I feel tired still. I have eaten enough, but want something else anyway. What is it? I want a day off, but they never seem to help, I want dark chocolate and coziness but it gives way to pointlessness.

I walked 40 blocks the other morning in an effort to recreate the invigorating hardship that we faced last winter for the transit strike. I walked to work that week, 40 blocks down and then across the park. But I was a part of something then. A part of a communal struggle, that wasnt so bad after all. But the other morning I was surprised at the lack of people outside, I felt gray and alone and even my ipod could not cheer me up for good.

I know its winter, it happens every year, but every year I think its something else that is causing my imagined hardship. I have bundled up so that I dont feel the cold, but I can still feel it wanting to get in and rob me of everything.

Magic Beans

I am nothing without you. But, my dear coffee, when I take my first sip of you on this cruel New York winter morning, I am whole again. I feel your power rush around my brain instantly, swirling and encompasing it, to soothe, to excite, to wake up and calm me down and face this world with everything that I have for it.

I have spent countless hours drinking coffee. It is sometimes even a social event. At both of my jobs in the past few years I have had a boss who is willing to stand around and not only drink coffee, but talk about it too. How we take it, what ratio makes it best in the machine, is the milk bad? how you feel when you dont have it, how you feel when you do, headaches, laughs etc. I love doing this, which is probably why it has happened in both of my places of work, because I start the conversation.

It is really such a trite thing these days, especially in New York, it is literally at every corner. Either big business beans, or small town goodness, from a cart or a truck. But it never looses its special place for me. I must have it within a certain time of waking up or the black death of headaches will set in and my day will turn into a pile of twitching mush and absolutely cannot be restored.

Yes I am addicted and I am proud. Good things keep surfacing in research about drinking coffee, I just read something yesterday that it may be a mood stabilizer, which makes perfect sense to me really.

So raise your steaming, energizing cup, and praise the beverage that gives life, stability, social engagements and clarity to so many.

Cheers my dear friends, cheers.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Philosopher’s Gown

Now that my applications are behind me I am in this wonderful, peaceful limbo. All I can do is wait. And during this time of waiting, I can breathe and I can live and do all sorts of silly frivolous things that I have been putting off. It feels good.

First and foremost, I have to find a wedding dress. I oscillate wildly between loving this lacy, shimmery, flowy girly task and resenting it because of the expense, because I will have to succumb to the wedding machine and because it is just not as easy as I thought it would be.

It is difficult because I am not just looking for a dress to make me look pretty and princess like, I am looking for a philosophy. Of course, I am heaping way too much importance on this poor little garment, but that is what I tend to do.

In asking myself what kind of wedding dress I want, I am forced to also ask myself what kind of person I am. Am I sophisticated and straight and long? am I short and fun? am I 1960's or 1920's? am I modern and simple or am I intricate and embellished? I find all of these qualities enticing in a dress and one thing I know that I do not want to be is like everybody else. Although, everyone thinks that to some degree I suppose.

I told Joe that I want the dress to set the mood for the evening and in this case I really think it has the ability to do so. I love fashion and I also hate it, but I am not denying its power. I want to harness that power and wrap it around the hearts of all of my guests and squeeze until they feel the pull of a totally new idea, that they would not have thought of, that they would not have dared do themselves, but that tickles their noses with my feathers and sings.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A Big To Do

Like the arm of a starfish, every time I have the pleasure of crossing something out on my to do list, it regenerates.

Bills, cleaning, sending thank you notes, buying gifts, re-potting a plant, clothes for an occasion, research, buying a new light bulb and the list goes on growing and shifting and reinventing itself.

I know that it is good to be busy for the most part, but I seem to be longing for those days of a teenage summer, when I was still too young to work and I had the distinct feeling of having nothing to do. Drinking gallons of iced tea and talking on the phone for what seemed like forever.

My mother used to refer to things being “a big to do” when she thought it was a complicated insurmountable task, which was and is often. I still do not know if this is a my Mom-specific phrase or it has leaked into the population. But what I am finding out is that I guess life is, for better or worse, a big To Do.

I have often wondered and joked that since I am the author of my own to do list, why dont I just stop putting things on it. Then I would be free. Little menial tasks make the list and then burn a whole in me until they are complete. I think if I stopped it would be a sad day really, because the list whispers to me from my crowded bag “keep going”, and I need that.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Dark, Calm 60’s Jazz

I stumbled upon a wonderful interactive web radio station.

You are given the option to choose the decade you want to hear songs from, the genre and perhaps the most notable and important, the mood—Dark, Positive, Calm or Energentic and any place in between.

Then all the songs display themselves in a nifty shifting weblike structure on your screen as they play.

Dark/Calm 60’s Jazz is a favorite combination of mine so far.

It is called musicovery, click on the title of this post for the link, its addictive.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Contrast and the Country

One of the most important things that I learned about design in school is the power of contrast.

In typography, in texture, in size, in color. All of these things are the ingredients for shocking and new beauty in my opinion. And this concept can apply to all sorts of things besides design.

Fast forward from art school to this past weekend. We went up to the country on Friday to escape the noise and insensitivity and filth of the city. Driving in the rich country darkness and arriving way after check-in time Friday we found our key in an envelope under a mat in front of the door of room 2. The envelope was wet from the rain and the script Welcome! was beginning to run. How sweet.

We spent all of Saturday enjoying the unseasonably warm weather and walking around the quaint small town we were in, art galleries and vintage stores. Bells tinkled as we opened door after door of adorable shop and were greeted each time by an eager and sincere salesperson who chatted with us about the unusual weather and asked us where we were from. Maybe I could live in the country, I thought? Why not?

Then we decided to drive way out of the town we were in and stopped in another town and went into a flea market. It was a sea of useless, sad, people and items all placed out on plastic white tables drenched in the dim yellow light of my 3rd grade cafeteria. The woman who sold knives was wearing a jean vest and was young and toothless. Two men sat behind the Kiss paraphernalia booth, just in case business picked up and one had to ring someone up while the other bagged the items. A family of three all dressed exactly as if they had stepped in moments ago from 1962- 2 women in hats, man in nifty small suit. We decided to leave.

Of course I would like to think that everyone has a place somewhere and has a different beat of life, but this experience was depressing. I stared out the window on the ride home, watched the bare trees rush by and I thought about my place, as usual.

When I arrived home my apartment never looked so good and I could not wait to go to my wonderful rewarding job on Monday and to ride the bus with people with nice teeth and to see no darkness at night.

We need contrast; for its beauty, for its new perspective, to appreciate things and to be refreshed.

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”-Anne Bradstreet

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Something Better Beginning

This is the final draft of the last paragraph of my admissions essay, I just submitted the whole application online tonight.

So, this marks both the end of something and maybe also a beginning...

As a layperson it is tempting to view science as something that is certain, the results of research being enough information to end a conversation as an infallible statement of truth. I have learned that science does not mean the end of uncertainty or the close of an argument; it is often the beginning of both. Biological anthropology attracts me because it helps me understand the complex history of our species and by illuminating the past it can shape our future. Ironically, it reminds me that I am just a sliver of a sliver of the life in our world, but I am confident that I can make a contribution that is larger and longer than my own short and insignificant time on this earth. And I suppose that is a part of what makes us human, the awareness of our place within the greater context of the earth’s diversity and the ability to be inspired by it.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

2007, The Year of the Conversation

She got up from the table of the restaurant and went to the restroom. I slinked over to her almost empty tea cup and checked the quote on the back of the tea tag. I felt slightly mischievous doing it, like I was checking the brand of her jacket or something judgemental and insincere. But I craved the last drop of wisdom and guidance that I knew that Celestial Seasonings tea bag tag held.

The tag read, “No man is an island, entire of itself...”-John Donne

I took it as poignant at that moment, because I wanted to, because I had not been outside all day and also because I was with a friend who I had not spoken to in months.

What 2006 has taught me, in its silence and reflection and empty lab and ignored phone calls and incessant anonymous blogging is that everyone needs people. Even me.

When my friend got back from the restroom, I showed her the quote because I wanted her to see it and because I wanted to clear myself of any guilt. She read it.

Two nights later, on New Years day, I was eating with Joe and his brother, we were having a wonderful and uncharacteristically civilized dinner together. Laughing and sharing food and all trying to start out on the right foot in 2007.

They only had chamomile or peppermint. Ugh, I thought. But I ordered the chamomile because I needed something decaffeinated. It arrived. I checked the tag immediately, “No man is an island, entire of itself...”-John Donne

And what could be taken away from that is that either Celestial Seasonings needs to get more quotes for their tea tags or I am drinking too much tea, but instead a blush of goosebumps tickled over me.

And so, for those of you who know me, I hope to speak to you soon, really.

Happy New Year.