Well, I’m breaking my sacred vow again and going back to Baltimore this weekend. And in Baltimore we have opportunities for socializing, drinking, and dancing. But limited internet access. So long, blog. I’m off to party with these guys.
Full disclosure: Last summer I was an intern at the publishing company that released this book. I worked on the book a little (proofreading and copy editing) and had totally forgotten about it until I got home from college and found my copy on my desk. (It had been kindly sent to me by my former coworkers.)
The book is a collection of design projects based on twenty maxims that the designer, Stefan Sagmeister, feels he has learned so far. And the book is really unexpected lovely. Some of the art he creates is beautiful, some of it is disturbing and ugly, but what I really loved was that each phrase, no matter how banal, has a weight here that is unexpected. For instance:
These images appeared on billboards in a field in a Parisian suburb. And the message is true. It’s stupidly simple, but so beautifully presented that these photographs have stuck with me since last summer. I didn’t remember every maxim in the book; I did remember this one. I’m someone who tends to be nearly pathologically self conscious. I can remember changing to go over to a friend’s house and debating what I was going to wear for half an hour; worried about whether I looked too fancy, or not polished enough. Whether people would think I was trying too hard or not hard enough. To limit such a worry to clothing isn’t accurate either; I worry about how I’m standing or laughing or talking. Every form of self expression feels, sometimes, like a possible opportunity for failure. But you know what? I’m trying not too care anymore. Wear what you like, because truly: your friends will look at you and forget. Talk and laugh how you like; maybe you sound funny but so does everyone else sometimes. Trying to look good limits my life.
A cool thing for those who are intrigued. A website has been set up by the publishing company and the designer for you to submit your own maxims, beautifully designed and presented, of course. Check it out here: ThingsIhavelearnedinmylife.com.
I just finished an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. This show might actually be too awkward for me. I didn’t think I had a problem with television being too uncomfortable to watch. I didn’t love the UK version of The Office as much as the American version, but I have friends who literally cannot watch it for cringing. I find Curb Your Enthusiasm funny, but at the same time, I just watch Larry David and hate him intensely for making everyone around him deal with his awkwardness. I have a friend who can’t watch Seinfeld because she passionately hates all the main characters, and now I’m starting to get what she means. I’m waiting for someone to grab him and scream, fucking relax already! It’s going to be okay! Sometimes people lose their shoes or don’t call you back. It’s going to be fine, Larry David. Just stop making everyone around you contort themselves in horrible ways to deal with your lack of social skills.
Still, I’m going to keep watching. Not really sure why yet, evidently.
I’ve developed a minor obsession with the Highline. Everyone likes being part of a secret. In the summer of 2006 I worked for a television production company and had tons of free time at work which I spent online doing basically nothing. I read the paper and did minor amounts of research on random topics for potential television shows and eventually stumbled across a website devoted to hidden or abandoned places in New York. Alleys that dated from the late 18th century too narrow to drive cars through, or subway stations that had been closed. The Highline was an elevated railroad line that operated until 1980. And soon there’s going to be a park in the sky downtown on the west side, but I want to get up there before the park opens, so I can see how it looked before it was manicured and public.
Edited to add: The internet is a wonderful thing. 33d Street between 11th and 12th avenues. Supposedly here the Highline comes down close to street level. One more summer project for the list.
I also did not post this entire weekend (I had a friend visiting for Memorial Weekend), breaking the only rule I created to run this blog. Since I created the rule, I declare that said rule is really sort of bullshit. But still. I feel like I’ve failed a little. I’ll make it up somehow, blog. Just you wait.
It would be nice if vacation could always be an interrobang. Instead I have already reached the point where I am tired and thinking too much. Truly to think too much is a rare sort of curse that creeps up on you and then never ever leaves. I was remembering ninth grade today and the two week period when I stayed after school with the boy I liked. We would curl up against each other in the empty hallway outside the computer lab or we’d go to the lobby of the recital hall. He was my best friend and he had told me two days before New Years that he loved me. At the end of January he pulled me aside just as school was ending, in a tiny corner at the end of the hallway when everyone else was busy talking and gathering up their bags and asked me if he could kiss me and I said no. I really wanted to kiss him but in the moment I was so nervous that I froze. And so I didn’t get my first kiss until a year or so later, from a boy I didn’t like nearly as much. And so I think too much about what would be different about my life if I’d kissed him when he asked, or if I’d never moved to New York, or if I had ever really learned how not to be scared of new things. I think I might be pretty different. There’s an actual physical sensation when I’m confronted with the immense difference between how others see me and how I see myself. It feels a lot like missing a stair and then holding your breath for a second while your heartbeat restarts itself.
More , less .
You can burn your paper fingers in the ashtray
Place your swollen lips on mine
You can shave your heavy head in my carpeted hallway
Sure for the first time you’re wearing the right clothes
Now take them off
Meet me on the band room rug
Tie my right hand to the ride
You can take a live wire into the bath with you
For a feeling you can’t find
You can entertain your childhood friends with a tour of the bedroom
Laugh to erase the dirt on your mind
Oh let’s move out
Meet me at the motel
Tie my right hand to the bible
Too little too late but we can’t say no
It’s too much to feel
Tie my right hand to the bible