there and back again

Packing up my stuff and leaving town.
June 26, 2008, 8:54 am
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Plane at seven tonight to London and then in Cambridge by Saturday afternoon.  At this particular point in time I can’t imagine anywhere I want to be less than the UK, but that’s the way it goes.  It’s been a rough week or so and I haven’t posted anything for fear of sounding exceptionally whiny.  I think once I’m actually settled down and unpacked I’ll be able to feel more positive about the whole experience.  At the moment I miss everyone too much.

Sadly the people I’m missing already aren’t my family; I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m having to confront that the fact that as much as I love my family (and I do, we’re all pretty close), I may not love them as much as I love my friends.  It’s a strange feeling, to realize that you’ve been lucky enough to stumble upon people who suit you so well, who you love more than you can possibly express, and then to feel a little guilty about it.  I think maybe it’s an age thing.  In another five years I’ll swing back and feel more balanced.  But for now it’s painful to think about how long I’m going without the things in life that make me truly happy.

Leaving for a few days then, and I’ll give you a picture to tide you over.  About two weeks ago I went to the MET and saw one of the photography exhibits they’ve got on right now.  Of all the offensively British pictures in the exhibit, this one takes the cake.  A long time ago, my family went to Wales for a few weeks and I spent all my time climbing on ruined cathedrals.  They didn’t look like this one; they were more rugged, older and somehow more authentic, but it’s a nice picture anyway.

Rievaulx Abbey, 1854 – Roger Fenton


In other news, I really need a new shade of nail polish.
June 16, 2008, 11:14 pm
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I’ve been thinking a lot about how people who have been friends forever tend to perceive each other.  We put each other into little boxes—not out of cruelty but because it’s easier, it’s part of human nature.  We like that we’ve got such comfortable routines, that we have a shared history.  

I’ve always had this terrible habit of bitting my fingernails; it started as a nervous habit that I just couldn’t break.  But I’ve been trying to get rid of it this summer and one of the ways I’ve tried to stop is by always keeping my nails painted.  This isn’t something I normally do; in general, I tend to be pretty low maintenance about little things like that, make-up and such.  But I’m liking having red nails this summer.

On the other hand, my friends are totally perplexed.  Did you ever have one of those days when you wore something a little fancy or different and everyone you saw made a huge deal about it?  They’d smile at you and ask what the special occasion was or who you were trying to impress and I really hated it.  As I get older, I spend more time thinking about how I look and what I like to wear; it’s less about vanity and more about that fact that as I get more mature I like taking bigger risks with what I wear, I like experimenting with how I look and how others see me.  I didn’t really ever rock the boat, sartorially speaking, in high school.  So now if I ever show up wearing something a little different, or with painted nails, I have to have the whole “special occasion” conversation.  So we have the conversation and I have to defend why I’m wearing a dress or why I’m wearing heels and it gets awkward.  I start to feel less confident in what I’m wearing and my friend then has to backtrack.  You look nice, they’ll say, just different from usual.

I wish that sometimes we gave people a little more leeway for personal expression.  I’m not perfect, I’ve definitely asked people why they’ve chosen what they’re wearing day to day.  But isn’t fashion really just another form of personal expression?  I don’t ask people why they listen to the music they like, or why they chose to get that particular haircut.  It’d be nice if we could give everyone a little more room to experiment with who they are.  

Sometimes I really wish people would just smile and say, “Hey, you look nice.” 

Things I have learned in my life so far.
May 29, 2008, 11:58 pm
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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:

Trying to look good limits my life.


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:

What next.
May 26, 2008, 11:14 pm
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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 Interrobang.png, less .

Things I’m thinking of doing this summer.
May 21, 2008, 8:57 pm
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Working through my booklist.  

Reading books that already live upon my shelves, thereby saving money to spend on laundry, alcohol, and frivolities in England.

Purging my room and closet of unwanted things.  I aim to live a more streamlined life.  

Getting my tattoo.  This is probably not going to be accomplished, but I should at least get some serious research done regarding artists and locations.

Wearing heels more.  This one is weird, but I’ve bought a pair of blue sandals with a slight heel and usually I would buy shoes like these and only wear them for special occasions.  But now I’m starting to get to the point in my life where I feel like I should dress for me and ignore the voices in my head telling me that I look impractical.  If in my head I’ve got an outfit I think would look nice, wear it.  Life is short and I like it when I dress the way I think I’ll dress when I’m an adult.  I think I might actually be an adult now.