Sunday, November 24, 2013


At first, I was totally intimidated by many (most) of the people I worked with at SFMOMA. It was a dream of mine to work at that museum. It was my first professional job after graduating from college. I know how to keep my cool, and I tend to air on the side of indifference- my default in a nervous or anxious state, but I was in the company of people I was genuinely interested in, people I wanted to know about, their history. But, of course, there is nothing worse than appearing too eager. It was a situation in which I had to ease my way in.

After I'd assimilated, wearing what I wanted and not giving a f*ck, my new friends urged me to sign up for Friendster. "You have to." That was the line. "You have to!" It didn't appeal to me at all. Back then. Back in 2003. I didn't like it. I didn't need it. I didn't want it.

But I signed up.

"Yeah! You did it!"

Weird. Strange. Too modern for me somehow.

I have the ability to keep moving forward and not dwell on the past. At times the past haunts me in the same way I can be sure it haunts many, but I keep going. Friendster, and now Facebook, posting about my life, sharing details of my self, being connected in an often superficial and meaningless way, to people I never think about, has a bizarre subconscious tax on my life experience. It connects me to the past in what feels like an unnatural bond. When I am near Chicago Lake on a perfect autumn afternoon, after having hiked many miles, the last thing I think to do is take a picture, let alone a picture to post on Facebook. That gesture makes my heart sink. And I don't mean to judge people who do, people who write and post and connect and share it all. But I want to let it all go.

I want to change, and challenge myself, and to have fun adventures always, but I want to do it for myself. I don't want to train my brain to need my experience to be validated by other people, to only feel it is worth something if it is known to others. I prefer to try and establish more of my own rules, and forget more of the systems, and expectations, that can feel so heavy.

And, I guess, what I realize is that I am a private person. I love and hate attention.

I hope that I continue to make conscious decisions about how I live my life based more on intuition than on social norms.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

like Venice, CA, or Barcelona, or, for some reason, the American south

Once in college while I was driving, for whatever reason, the light, the weather, whatever I'd done that day, whatever I was going to do that night, something made me feel a sharp and remarkable, overwhelming sense of gratitude to be alive. Maybe it's because I was going through a Thoreau phase? I felt joyful and happy and light. Right after the feeling struck I looked up and there was a heart-shaped cloud in the sky. The outline of a heart. Unbelievable. And, I was either listening to All Is Full of Love by Bjork or it came on at just that moment- my memory is foggy on this detail (Bjork's birthday is today, November 21st, I found out on Radio 1190 this morning). That feeling of pronounced gratitude I felt back then, I've experienced it multiple times since. It happens a lot when I travel. Really free and inspired and in harmony with the environment. When I am in a place I just love love.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

i love inspiring interviews

One interview I remember having a profound influence on me was in ELLE magazine, circa 2000. It was my sophomore year of college, and the interview was with Uma Thurman. She'd just had a baby, and so the interview had that filter about it- where so many aspects of a persona seem heightened or changed or attuned to the poetic nuances of motherhood. She was 27 at the time, and according to the interview, many thought she was young to be having a baby.

Something about that interview caught my attention. Something about what she said, and the mood of it, and the images produced by the writing, that moment in time... it must have wrenched my heart a little. I always pay more attention when my heart is in minor distress. I remember reading that interview and feeling strongly the importance of taking risks, forgetting what anybody else might have to say about my decisions, and answering to myself. In the interview Uma has this I-don't-give-a-fuck attitude, but it came across so gracefully. The author captured the free spirited power of new motherhood.

There's this part at the end where Uma talks about the decision to become a mother (as I recall). And she gives a metaphor of: the bus is going to show up, and you have a ticket in your hand, and sometimes you just have to get on the bus and go and never look back. You don't need prodding or pushing, you just get on and go. And I love that. I loved that back then in 2000. Take the chance.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


     I was just returning an email to my dear old friend Abbie, who wrote from Mexico, when she informed me that at that very moment she was compiling an email to me with photos (from December 2008, when we met up in NYC).  Stars align. Galaxies find balance. We think of one another at the same time.
     Seeing the photos made me feel so happy- to see myself with her, a lifelong friend from boarding school, and with Kyle and Dan, two of my best friends from college, together in Brooklyn. When worlds collide. Brought back so many memories! Crazy kids. I love these people. It also amuses me to no end when I see photos that I never remember taking. Like the time my friend Dan told me he had a photo of me holding a rifle in a bed in Virginia... uh, don't remember that! Oh, to be young. Oh, to be alive.

The bottom two are notes I wrote Abbie while at boarding school circa 1996-1998. We were close friends from the first moments we met on Hyphen-3, the third floor hallway where I would make a top-ten list of things for lonely lovers to do on Valentines Day, where we would bond over our love for Pearl Jam, and adventure, and making mischief, and finding love, and being wild. 

I love you Abbie. 
(And Kyle. And Dan.)

Saturday, October 5, 2013


The wild country- indigo jags of mountain, grassy plain everlasting, tumbled stones like fallen cities, the flaring roll of sky- provokes a spiritual shudder. It is like a deep note that cannot be heard but is felt, it is like a claw in the gut.
- writer Annie Proulx, Close Range, 1999

What love feels like in the fall.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


I worked at the Denver Art Museum for a while, and during my time there I encountered and learned many things that hover in the realm of disbelief. Details of lives, stories so subtle and accidental, yet managed to change my perspective by making life ever so slightly more poetic.

One day I was invited to take a look at a newly arrived set of prints by a Japanese printer named Sadao Watanabe. He had a very distinctive style, depicting primarily Christian scenes in graphic outlines and blocks of color. The prints arrived from the home of a recently deceased Watanabe collector in Boulder. In addition to the prints, the collector donated an entire personal library of art books. The curatorial assistant told me a story about the book collection.

Every book held within it a trove of letters and notes and tickets, housing details of the time the book was read, or new, or available as a container. Can you imagine that? An entire collection of art books, each one with its own assortment of objects and memories. It blows my mind. Of course, I immediately adopted the same practice. How could I not? There is something beautiful and obvious about giving books that purpose. Beyond changing lives, beyond simply objects.

Monday, August 19, 2013

West Side

I have loved Venice Beach and its surrounding neighborhoods for a long time. I went in my late teens to visit somebody, and ended up buying the best pair of jeans that I sadly regret giving away. I love the architecture of the houses there, the bungalows, the flora, that walking around you can pick fruit off people's trees and eat it... Everything about it inspires me. My love has less to do with the beachfront Venice that many associate with that geography, and much more to do with the overall neighborhood, the mood of it, and of course that I can get vegan hot and sour soup at Mao's, trust me, a rarity. I'm super happy to be headed in that direction for my birthday this year. What better gift to give myself than the gift of inspiration?

p.s. This is a photo from Mao's, featuring my friend Brigid's sunglasses.

Monday, July 1, 2013

I have to travel.

The first time I traveled overseas was in fourth grade. My mom, dad, sister and I went to Iraq for a couple weeks (where I met/saw my grandparents for the first time). After that we spent a week or so in Europe, in Switzerland, Luxembourg and just a tiny part of Germany. I discovered Gruyere. There are some sweet pictures of me in Iraq wearing a California Raisins sweatshirt.

That was all it took. I was forever changed. That one trip made it impossible for me to imagine a life without travel. It's so much a part of who I am that I start to lose myself if I go too long without a change in geography. I get stir crazy.

I am so deeply an aesthete that I am enraptured almost anywhere. Throw in the spontaneous beauty of travel and it becomes almost too much = just enough.

Monday, May 27, 2013


I am so in love with these late spring, early summer early mornings.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

i w a s r e m e m b e r i n g c a l i f o r n i a

     I got the idea to live in San Francisco when I was in college. Maybe it's the fact that it seemed like the complete opposite of where I went to school in northern Virginia, a geography I never really liked and tried desperately to escape every chance I had. One spring break I made plans to go San Francisco on my own, to explore the city and see if I liked it.
     In writing this, I remembered for the first time in years that I had an ex-boyfriend fly out to meet me on that trip- bad decision- for a few days. Not just any ex-boyfriend, but my first love, long-term high school boyfriend. Why? It's hard to say. I didn't love him any more, but I think I wished I did. I remember throwing a full pack of Marlboro Lights out the window, declaring that I was through with cigarettes. He yelled for me to stop, insisting I was crazy, but nothing was gonna stop me from throwing those babies out the huge city window, with no curtains, in the white-walled hotel room where I was staying.
     I was twenty-one at the time. I had no money (awesome planning), so I made good luck charms and tried to sell them on Haight street for a dollar. The charms were made of random garbage like Juicy Fruit gum wrappers, hole punches, and tape. I made them very small so they could fit in places like wallet pockets. I think I had recently read a Basquiat biography. There was an older man named Bobby who worked the front desk of the hotel. I showed him my good luck charms. I said that I was trying to sell them, 'like Basquiat.'
     I remember the exact outfit I had on that day. I wore a 3/4 sleeve vintage sweater that had peach and rust-colored stripes on it, and a vintage sea green skirt with forest green flower outlines and pale peach flowers on it. I also had on a recently borrowed pair of dusty orange leather, wooden-healed wedge sandals that I wore over thigh high coral-colored wool socks. No matter how great I felt in my San Francisco-inspired outfit, I was bad at selling good luck charms on the street.
     That is also the day I met Dudley. He asked to sit down across from me at a cafe when there were plenty of other places to sit. I was eating a beautiful sandwich, for which I had just enough money. I ended up staying with him the first week of the first summer I lived in Berkeley. Only as a friend. Dudley was more like a brother. He had a creepy van because he used to be a ski instructor in Vail. I borrowed it one day to drive to my first day of art theory and criticism class at UC Berkeley. It was my first time driving there, not surprisingly (though things have changed) I was running late, and of course in a panic to find a parking place. At some point I noticed an underground parking garage and got really excited.
     As I drove down the ramp, I heard the most vile screeching and scraping sounds when I realized what I had done. The roof rack was hanging on by only a few very loose screws. Not only had I done serious damage to Dudley's car, I was worried someone would steal the roof rack while I was in class, but nobody did. Then something strange happened. When I got back to Dudley's the roof rack wasn't there. Apparently it fell off the top of the van as I made the 45 minute drive north, driving 70 miles per hour, back to his place.
     I parked the van a few blocks away and paced as I tried to think of what and how to tell him (a new friend but still a relative stranger) that I tore up the top of his van and lost his roof rack. I even called that same ex-boyfriend, a mechanic, and asked him to make an estimate of the damage, based on my description.
     When I did tell Dudley what happened he told me that he didn't care. That he'd thought about trying to sell the roof rack for a while, and that he was happy to be rid of it. He said the dents, black marks, and scraped paint didn't matter either. That it was on the roof. It wasn't important.
     Sometimes, it just makes me laugh, the roof rack story, and the sequence of events that made it possible.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

wonderful ideas

From The Having of Wonderful Ideas
by Eleanor Duckworth (1996)

The having of wonderful ideas is what I consider the essence of intellectual development... In making things work in a classroom, it was but a small part compared with finding ways to interest children, to take into account different children's interests and abilities... You don't want to cover a subject; you want to uncover it... uncover parts of the world that children would not otherwise know how to tackle. Wonderful ideas are built on other wonderful ideas... There are two aspects to providing occasions for wonderful ideas. One is being willing to accept children's ideas. The other is providing a setting that suggests wonderful ideas to children- different ideas to different children as they are caught up in intellectual problems that are real to them... The best one can do is to make such knowledge, such familiarity, seem interesting and accessible to the child... such a way as to catch their interest... realize that their ideas are significant- so that they have the interest, the ability, and the self-confidence to go on by themselves... First, teachers themselves must learn in the way that the children in their classes will be learning... Intelligence cannot develop without matter to think about. The more we help children to have their wonderful ideas and to feel good about themselves for having them, the more likely it is that they will some day happen upon wonderful ideas that no one else has happened upon before.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dropping Keys

The small person
Builds cages for everyone

Instead, the sage,
Who needs to duck her head,
When the moon is low,
Can be found dropping keys, all night long
For the beautiful,

By Hafiz, a 14th Century Sufi Poet from Persia