The look in their eyes

There's a certain kind of pensive sadness that I'm drawn to in portraits and portrayals of women. I like that vaguely troubled, introspective look. But there's also an underlying strength to these portraits.


The character of Teresa in Unbearable Lightness in particular reminds me of this. Or Joan Fontaine in Hitchcock's Rebecca. I also think Manet's Olympia has this look, juxtaposed against her naked defiance. It's one of my favourite paintings of all time and I cried when I first saw it in the Musee d'Orsay.


I was thinking about this last week... I often look at those shiny happy Kate Spade-style portrayals of women and it all seems so much more straightforward. There's a beautiful simplicity to their sunshiney happiness. But I really don't relate to it. And it disturbs me somewhat that that's the brand of happiness most often peddled on the blogosphere... To me, it's a bland, unreflective sort of Stepfordness.


When I started Inspiring Women it was in part a reaction to these kinds of portrayals. The women I feature are those who most directly inspire to me. And, without illusions of sharing their talent, there's something in each of them I relate to, a certain insecurity, but real mettle too.


I really like these pensive women so much more—I actually want to know them. And yet I sometimes catch myself thinking I ought to be more like the smiling girl holding the balloons. But, it's important to realize girl holding the balloons isn't real... She's not any woman I know. It might be a lucky and fleeting moment, but it's not a whole life...

I'll keep my uncertain eyes.


Image credits:
1. Unbearable Lightness of Being, dir. Philip Kaufman (2006)
2. Girl in Grey (1939) by Louis le Brocquy
3. Virginia Woolf by George Charles Beresford (1902), via
4. Young Lady by TushTush on Etsy
5. Charis Wilson by Edward Weston via

Sunday best: Simple and good

Yesterday, I set out to stroll to the hairdresser's and felt that something had ticked over in my brain. Maybe it was just the idea of a new hair colour and an afternoon freed up from work, but the weight of exhaustion suddenly lifted.

I felt myself ready to do all the things I've been wishing and shoulding. Our brains are such strange things... who knows what was being worked out in the background, what idea I was secretly digesting. That readiness came suddenly and out of the blue. But perhaps it wasn't really out of the blue...


It could have been a magical cocktail of time and a certain kind of sleep, the right kind of weather, the friendly wave from the old piano-player who lives upstairs. It could have been the fact I was wearing my new "Gauguin" scarf or was still giddy about buying new shoes the night before. Maybe it was just knowing I was going to treat myself to a pain au chocolat after my haircut.

Sometimes being single and living alone makes everything feel very deliberate and preconceived. It's difficult to feel like things are spontaneous when you're constantly making all the decisions for yourself. When I decide to o to the flower market, it feels like I'm structuring my day in a really deliberate way.... a way designed to look and feel a certain way, to embody those things I love... but it can sometimes feel like method-acting. I usually get into the role, but sometimes it just doesn't feel quite real (does this make any sense?)

But yesterday, I got out of my head and just let the day unfold. I made purchases without thinking too much about them - a kind of abandon I don't usually condone, but I just gave into - I bought myself an Adam+Viktoria pillow from Hollace Cluny. I tidied my apartment. I did laundry without all the usual psyching and dreading. It was just a simple day and a good one. And I hope to have another like it today.

Products: Nuage Silk Square from L'Exception | A.P.C. Silk Boatneck Dress from La Garconne | Air Morgan Slipper Ballet from Cole Haan

Friday!

This one rolled around quickly, but I'm glad for it as always.

My week was short on sleep, high on feeling and busy with work. I didn't drink enough water. I forgot to take my iron supplements. I dodged a few bullets and got hit by others. No hits to vital organs though. I went home every day and fantasized about having no feelings, about being some perfectly aloof specimen.


I thought about mirrors again. Stephanie wrote a post about them. And then there was this amazing (I mean, really amazing) photo over on Leslie Williamson's blog. I read a bunch of poetry. Too much poetry really... I was searching instead of being open. I prefer to be open, but I had some idea I wanted to find. And when I didn't find it I went to bed spent and hungry, with a gaping hole of an idea unexpressed and perhaps unexpressable.

But now it's Friday and I can see a finish line. And no matter what I tell myself about it being an illusion of freedom I won't find, my mind is trained on it and I'm leaning forward to try to reach it faster. And it will at least mean a coffee after work, perhaps a stroll, perhaps some kind of dessert.

Tomorrow, I'll get a haircut and maybe a new colour too. Maybe I'll buy a few things, something that catches my eye quite suddenly, that strikes me as beautiful and a new kind of talisman. I need things to shore me up right now... the seas have been stormy.

What are you up to? Wishing you a lovely weekend.

A poem for Thursday

I was working on a short story last night. Everything seemed to get lost in it. My main character couldn't hold onto anything and it all slid out of her hands like they were a buttered cake pan. And she started to fall in love with losing and would try to lose harder and faster until even her plot slipped away from her. This poem, which of course you know already, is by Elizabeth Bishop.

One Art
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Louis le Brocquy, RIP

My favourite Irish artist, and among my favourite portrait painters of all time, has passed away at the age of 95. I don't have words to tell you how sad I am. I met Mr le Brocquy once and it was one of the highlights of my life. His work speaks for itself (and the connection I would feel is immediately apparent). I've blogged about some of it previously. And about his wife Anne Madden here. You can read more about him on the Irish Times.


All images via Anne Madden / Louis le Brocquy

Pip-Squeak Chapeau

Ahhh - how lovely and inspiring is this collection from Pip-Squeak Chapeau? I love the styling and mood of the photographs too - so pensive and graceful.

Colour inspiration

I saved the top picture from Ben Pentreath onto my desktop over the weekend. Something about seeing all those colours lined up really tickled my fancy. Then, I saw this amazing post over on Miss Moss - Paris in Colour and I resolved to take a series of colour-themed photos over the course of this summer. A hop, skip and jump and here we are... See what happens when my fancy gets tickled?!


Products / credits: Ben Pentreath Bloomsbury Library Chair | J.Crew ballet collection | The Gentlewoman | John Derian decoupage (1, 2, 3) | Paris in Colour by Nichole Robertson, via Miss Moss

World of Interiors

It's seems a rare occasion, these days, that I come across an interior spread that truly inspires me. But I loved this room at first sight. The textiles in this space are a lot bolder than I would ever choose, but the colour coded books (shocker), the artwork and deep sofas conjure such a lovely space to read and chat, to curl up and cuddle. To hell with ripping asunder the individual pieces that go into the mix - that's the feeling of home for me.


Image credit: Photography by Tim Beddow for World of Interiors, April 2012.

Sunday best: Poseys and new moons

On Friday, after work, I bought the latest Kinfolk. But I've been working so I haven't even looked past the cover yet. My only break yesterday was well-spent running to the flower market. A posey of lily-of-the-valley by my bed always makes me happy. But today, I'm going to use that break to simply sip coffee and read Kinfolk.


I've been looking for some magical reset button in my brain. One that helps me get past recent upsets and flailing willpower. One that catches me up on my sleep. It's just not going to happen like that. So I have to let go of any idea that this Sunday will be restorative in a major way... I have to simply enjoy it for what it is.

What will be restorative in a major way is a mystery to me. I've made mistakes about what it could be... the next long weekend, or the right conversation with the right person. Even that trip to the flower market. Or the candle lit when I finally move to the sofa after an evening's work. These are all lovely things and I'm wouldn't wish myself without. But miniature moments of beauty aren't curative when there's something larger and more troubling.

Still, I know no matter what I write here this Sunday will pass and there'll be no new revelation, no clear new path. My troubled thoughts will stay troubled and I'll take my small comforts in those beautiful little things, those soothing pictures and tiny white flowers. I'll toughen my shell again for the week ahead and look to the new moon for a sign of hope.

Products: Donna Karan cashmere-blend tunic from Net-a-Porter | Rose Noir from Byredo | Leggings from Shopbop | Andrea Fohrman Luna Pendant Necklace from Twist | Honolulu Honey lipstick from Nars | Riley Tote from Rennes | Hario V60 Ceramic Coffee Dripper from Williams Sonoma | Kinfolk magazine | BE & D Stevie Ballerina Flats from Shopbop

Friday!

Sometimes I think I should really get over the whole "Friday" thing. The emphasis we place on it is so clearly outdated... harks back to a time when weekends (and summers and time in general) stretched far as the eye can see. And now all these things are more like the pause between in inhalation and exhalation; that brief second when you're neither breathing in nor out... Too fleeting to even quantify.


Still, the idea of Friday still has potent connotations. It's really difficult not to act as if it means some kind of unfettered freedom, even when it mostly means working weekends and chores. Those weekend associations are too strong to go ignored. No matter what I tell myself, I'll never be wholly blasé about reaching Friday.

After featuring Anabela's scarves (twice), I thought I really deserved one (anybody else use their blog to build a case for making a purchase?) I think mine's at the post office right now - am so excited to collect it! And yesterday, thanks to Pennyweight, I went for another silk scarf. This one had me at "Gauguin."

So many dreamy things around these days! I went a little berserk for Amy's epic arrangement. I fell pretty hard for the photography of Roberto Rubalcava, spotted on Miss Moss. Jessica's photos and posts always feel like a beautiful dream to me... perfect light and all those beautiful plants!

I'm going to give the flower market another go for lilacs this weekend and I'll cram some gallivanting in between stints of work. Wishing you a grand weekend!

A poem for Thursday

In much the same vein as yesterday's post, I love this poem very much. It is, of course, by Billy Collins.

Advice to Writers
Even if it keeps you up all night,
wash down the walls and scrub the floor
of your study before composing a syllable.

Clean the place as if the Pope were on his way
Spotlessness is the niece of inspiration.

The more you clean, the more brilliant
your writing will be, so do not hesitate to take
to the open fields to scour the undersides
of rocks or swab in the dark forest
upper branches, nests full of eggs.

When you find your way back home
and stow the sponges and brushes under the sink,
you will behold in the light of dawn
the immaculate altar of your desk,
a clean surface in the middle of a clean world.

From a small vase, sparkling blue, lift
a yellow pencil, the sharpest of the bouquet,
and cover pages with tiny sentences
like long rows of devoted ants
that followed you in from the woods.

Domestic science

When I'm working too much, I actually miss housework. I'm not sure where it comes from. My favourite book when I was little was about "Jane" cleaning her garden shed. You could argue, chicken/egg style, about whether I loved it because I already identified with it. Or perhaps it was that book that gave me the idea that housework was a lovely kind of activity.

All I know is that after a day at work when nothing gets nicely tied up in brown paper and twine, I like to come home and wipe my counters, sweep my floors. When it's all done, I make tea and light a candle. You guys! I'm living the Peter and Jane dream...



Products: Brushes from Andrée Jardin | Marché St Pierre Torchon from Ancient Industries | Murchison-Hume cleaning products | Table brush set from Mjölk | Metal basket from Neëst | Sewing Box from Kaufmann Mercantile

Sleepy blues

These are tired days and nights. Insomnia and fretful dreams, winds whistling through broken seals in my windows... it's such a numbed form of pain, such a gaslight torture our minds inflict on us. I find myself looking enviously at babies asleep on the bus. Out cold. Waking up fully ready to play and soak up the world and kick and scream about everything in their tiny lives.

Still, I'm a fan of a foggy things. And there's something sensual in that blundering fog of exhaustion. I like the world shrouded in grey and blue, easy on the eye and on the mind. And those colours seem bottomless or fathomless, so that you might fall and fall. And eventually succumb to sleep after all.


Products: Saipua soap | Toast PJs | Rough Linen bedding | Billy Collins poetry | Clipper tea

Green things

As I type, Bringing Nature Home (photographed and written by the incredibly talented Ngoc Minh Ngo with floral work by Nicolette Owen) is winging its way to me. This is time of year that I really crave a garden, even a few pots on a fire escape. But I'm also glad for flower markets and the citrus trees on my window-sill... they seem to never tire of bearing fragrant flowers and tiny fruit for me!

I know this book is going to inspire my future trips to the flower markets. Sometimes, I'm just happy to plonk flowers in a vase and watch them bend and unfurl as the week passes. Whether it's a little or a lot, making room for green things is one of those miniature moments of beauty... perhaps all the more beautiful because it's fleeting, always changing, never completely tameable.


Image credits: 1. Amy's amazing work for BHLDN, photographed by David Meredith | 2. Summerhouse by HSP Garden Buildings | 3. Sweet Paul magazine feature, photographed by Andrea Bricco, styled by Alicia Buszczak | 4. Goose Cottage garden designed by Rachel Warne | 5. Excerpt from Bringing Nature Home, photographed by Ngoc Minh Ngo, via Design*Sponge

Sunday best: Handled things

I started reading Edmund de Waal's The Hare with Amber Eyes yesterday at the coffee shop, knowing the minute I finished my coffee, I had to come home and work. So I stayed there a long time. I would read a paragraph and then look up. I gazed out the window for what felt like vast stretches.

The phrase that leaped at me in those few pages was "my life of handled things". In biographies we put so much emphasis on relationships with place and other people. I loved the idea of telling a life story based on handled things. And I couldn't help but think what the salient objects I would include would be.


Favourite mugs, books, jewelry and Ted... these go almost without saying. The switch on my Jielde lamp... there's untold joy there. The magnet closure of my favourite purse. The button on the 1930's elevator in my building. The advance lever on my k1000. The felted wool inside my favourite mitts. The pump on my favourite skincare products. That one knot on my oak floors that I stick my toe into when I'm talking idly on the phone... No biography would ever include these things.

The book's epigraph is this quote from Proust's Cities of the Plain: "Even when one if no longer attached to things, it's still something to have been attached to them; because it was always for reasons which other people didn't grasp..."

Many years ago, BFF told me about this artwork: Object Carried for One Year by Kelly Mark. From her site:
"Wherever she went, Mark carried a small aluminum bar in the back pocket of her jeans for a year. Because of the softness of the metal, it registered the year's worth of bumps and abrasions that accompanied her daily routines. At the same time that the bar registered these traces of the artist's physical existence, it became a kind of fetish object, a thing that she was compelled to observe and handle on a constant basis. At the end of the year the bar was engraved, like a trophy, with the artist's name and the title and date of the work."

But our lives are filled with handled things that are never engraved and put in a glass case. They remain with us, even if we are no longer attached to us. That narrative... our live with those handled things... most often goes completely unexpressed. The new owners may wonder, but they'll never know. Even if we were there to tell them, they couldn't.

I think of favourite clothes as belonging to this category too. I hate new clothes. I detest wearing something for the very first time. I always feel bashful when people notice it. I relax around things when I break them, when they start to take on that patina and form themselves to me. And so it's funny, in a way, that I do this post every week with all its new and shiny objects. Really, my Sunday bests are about wearing those things three months in. When they're no longer shoes and sweaters, pants and purses, but just other things in my life of handled things.

Products: Mountain silk scarf from Fieldguided | Vince fine-knit linen top from Net-a-Porter | Mother The Teaser jeans from Net-a-Porter | Rose Noir by Byredo | Cathy Waterman Black Diamond Double Leaf Ring from Twist | Dieppa Restrepo Oxford from La Garconne | DD Tote from ELA

Friday!

My day started today with a lovely comment from Eva Zeisel's granddaughter on an older Inspiring Women post I wrote. Her family have published a book "Eva Zeisel: A Soviet Prison Memoir", her story of being imprisoned under Stalin, which I'm sure is worth checking out. Such an intriguing and inspirational woman she was! You can learn more on the Facebbook page too.


Thank crunchie for Friday! My week has been hectic with work and I feel like I haven't come up for air at all. I've been making little promises to myself to hit the flower market with a vengeance this weekend and have my fingers crossed that there will be an abundance of lilacs there. I always feel like I wait and wait for the lilacs to come... they make me so happy (I enjoyed looking at these ones while I was dreaming about them).

I also have ten pages left of my book and I know I'm going to cry... so I'm planning to squirrel away and savour those last pages and then bawl my eyes out. And isn't it curious that we can look forward to those kinds of moments of sadness, save ourselves up for them, knowing we'll be devastated and wanting that beautiful release.

I loved these thoughts on contradictions on Jessica's blog. I feel like it's somehow related to my own reflections this week. Siubhan's London trip and high tea made me strangely happy, somehow a little weepy, but in a good way... maybe I'm just so tired everything beautiful strikes me as a little tragic. Oh, am I even making sense?

Anyway, that's me for another week. Thanks for all the kind comments and e-mails this week. I wish you all a lovely weekend!

Jolynn Krystosek

I came across the work of Jolynn Krystosek last night and was instantly intrigued. Her wax carvings are pretty incredible. But I especially love these drawings (continuing from yesterday's theme).

Softly monochromatic

It has to be said that despite recent forays into colour, I remain steadfastly a neutrals girl. Colour will always be a fleeting thing for me - flowers, nail polish... transient little hits sate my appetite for the hue of the moment. But I feel fully myself wearing neutrals, surrounded by neutrals. What I love about these images in particular is there's still some softness and nostalgia to them...

1. Two scarves I'm in love with: Scout and Catalogue's Galileo Moon and Fieldguided's Mountain. I really couldn't choose. Both call to me with equally dulcet tones.



2. Jennifer Ament's art really appeals to me right now. I have a secret spot up high on a wall where I'd love to hang her mask.


3. ELA's D.D. tote is on my "investment" wishlist. I loved this bag at first sight. I loved it even more when I saw it was inspired by a door in Florence.


4. These Deux Souliers shoes and me. Forever.


5. I recently ordered some tea and the most beautiful tea strainer I have ever seen from Bellocq. If it weren't for the blogosphere, I'd think I was pretty silly for liking a tea strainer quite as much as I do this. The Little Dickens tea is amazing too.

Going turtle

Every once in awhile I have an overwhelming urge to go turtle, completely withdraw from the spheres I'm in and just putter about by myself. I keep careful watch on this tendency... it sometimes strikes at unhealthy times when I'm avoiding something I ought to confront. But often it's an instinct that guarantees I focus on creating rather than consuming and a pulling back from things in the world that seem to hurt me, intentionally or not.

I read this interesting piece on the weekend. There were parts I was extremely skeptical about, but I took to heart the part about our decisions influencing how our brain continues to transform. I feel daily how the choices I make (both micro and macro) and even those things that I seem to choose without choosing affect the course I'm on, but also my very nature, my deeper self.

When I left academia, one of the reasons I did so (that I sometimes lose sight of these days as I've been known to voice regrets about that decision)... was because I felt like I wasn't actually creating anything from within that structure. Philosophers actually adding NEW arguments were few and far between. There were lots of clever debates, beautifully-constructed arguments aplenty. But it often left me feeling hopeless about what I might contribute. Nowadays, I often feel the same way about journalism (minus the clever and beautiful part).

The internet too leaves me feeling the same overwhelmed insignificance. The truth is that when I think about myself as part of something larger, no matter what kind of thing that is, the point of it all evades me. Some people feel better, stronger and more significant when they're part of a community. I feel less so. But the internet does let me be alone too. I get to have my autonomous blog and do my thing and I can choose not to run with the pack. The degree to which I seek out and participate in the community is very much within my control.

I've been doing a lot of freelance writing lately. Some of the assignments have made me reflect more deeply on my understanding of myself. The fact is, I'm so often "shoulding" myself to be the opposite of what I really am, that I set myself up to be working against my very nature. I've been going back to basics, trying to better understand what I am, what I need and what I really want. I think I've been exasperated by some of my own recent confusion and indecisiveness because I'm not really addressing more basic questions with more elusive answers, because I'm trying to figure out what I ought to do instead of what I want to. Even when I'm rebelling in some way, I appeal to a paradigm that's largely my own negative construct of how I should be.

When I wrote this post about hanging back and fiddling with my camera, I hit a vein of gold in my understanding of myself. If that moment could be a metaphor for how I live and the role I happily play in groups, I believe I could find my happy medium. The visual of it even makes me happy. I'm not alone, but I'm acting alone. There's nothing scrappy or rebellious in that moment, in fact the mood is benign... everybody's secure in themselves. Others are there, but they aren't defining or crowding.

I want and need other people around me, I believe we all do. But I don't actively thrive in company. When I'm happiest is those moments when I extricate myself from company without disowning everybody. The thing is I'd rather be a bad creator than a commenter. I'd rather be fiddling with my camera and taking my crummy shots or puttering about with words by myself than sharing and discussing what I've created with a community. And I can "should" myself all I want about how I ought to feel otherwise, but I really don't think I'll ever make it so...

Steven Seinberg & Veranda

I've loved the last few editions of Veranda magazine. Granted, everything's beautiful in a mostly completely inaccessible way, but that's never stood in the way of inspiration for me. Somehow, I've always found myself more inspired by things wholly out of reach than the high street iterations of things. I suppose, as well, if I'm going to dream I like to dream about something slightly ridiculous.


But the palette is truly the palette I gravitate towards over and over... I live with lots of blues and taupes. There are other details I like too - the nailed brass band around the coffee table appeals to me. The simple arrangement of glass objects too. And I've been thinking about Twombly-esque abstracts of late. The painting here by Steve Seinberg really sings to me. Here's some more of his work from his website...


Image credits: Suzanne Kasler-designed room, photographed by Thibault Jeanson for Veranda April 2012 (more info here) | Paintings from Steve Seinberg's website

Sunday best: Muted

True story: I pulled all the items for today's Sunday best onto my desktop, mostly thinking about ways I might actually wear that "June" colour I blogged about last week. And it was only when I went to photoshop them together that I realized I'd created a muted version of the Irish flag. I considered starting over but then realized I actually like it...


And hooray for black cardigans! If I had to pick one item of clothing that is my armor it would be a dark cardigan. I nearly always wear a cardigan. I love them, feel exposed without one, prefer them always to be navy or black. And it's the only way I can wear light colours  - if I wear a dark cardigan over top.

My weekend has been nice in ways I didn't expect it to be. I crashed so hard on Thursday night and slept way too late on Friday, leaving myself completely disoriented in a pleasant kind of way. Then, I spring-cleaned and did some writing and some Very Deep thinking Pooh bear would be proud of.

But let's talk about books. I haven't read any Haruki Murakami, but he's on my list. I just grabbed the Wind Up Bird Chronicles, feeling that it was a good place to start (if you have strong opinions, pipe up now!)

I hope your weekend has been lovely. Happy Sunday! Go easy on the chocolate eggs.

Products: Wayfarer sunglasses from Ray-Ban | 3.1 Phillip Lim Draped Neck Shell from La Garconne | Joey Chino by Closed from Steven Alan | Featherweight cotton cardigan from J.Crew | M.I.L.C.K. clutch from ELA | The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami | June nail polish from Chanel | Necklace from Anne Sportun | Bloch london ballerina from Gravity Pope

Thursday!

Friday comes a day early this week as tomorrow is a holiday and I'm giving myself a little blog break for a day.

What a week! Change is swirling around me, glancing off my shoulders but I seem to just be an onlooker, wondering when my time will come and what that will look like. To be honest, I've been thinking a lot about Ireland again. But that's a placeholder idea for me and I'm not sure it means it's something I actually want. It's a bit like fantasizing about old boyfriends because you just haven't met a new guy yet. It carries the same confusion about understanding what I really feel and want.


When I'm not happy with the big picture, I tend to drink up miniature moments of beauty. In fact, I think I trust those kinds of moments more than the grandiose gestures and big waves of feeling that sometimes knock my feet out from under me. Matt's post "the miniature" is such a beautiful articulation of one such moment.

Indeed, I think one of the reasons I like blogging and instagramming is precisely that pregnant pause to capture a miniature moment. I remember when I saw Francesca Woodman's photographs and they were so small. It was a time when I only wanted to print big and epic and fantasized about large format cameras (long before digital anything). And Woodman's small prints were a Copernican revolution for me. That only one person could sensibly look at a print made the looking so intimate, so highly personal and very memorable.

And I think when we take a moment to snap something around our homes; the light on a Sunday morning, my favourite reading spot, the swan's neck curve of a ranunculus stem, even the over-photographed perfection of a cup of coffee, that I experience some of that same sensation. It's heightened and personal, maybe more precisely because it is banal and accessible. It's a very tight perspective and a moment that might otherwise pass unnoticed.

I was always in the habit of actively perceiving when I had a darkroom. But since I moved here, I lost it. I think I was just coping with all the move entailed, so didn't step back and pay attention in that peculiar way. It makes me happy to find myself back in that mindset using Instagram. And, yes, it's easy to pooh-pooh the amateurishness and accessibility of social media - a gazillion people taking photos of cups of coffee with bad cameras and gimmicky filters. But it's also beautiful. And there are way worse things we could be pausing to reflect on and savour.

In this vein, I also loved Helen's beautifully photographed fading tulips (in fact, I've been loving Helen's blog so much lately - it always feels like home to me) and Anabela's carnations too (my grandfather had carnations in his garden and they always remind me of him. I love their fragrance.) And thanks to a twitter link from Samantha, I reread this Paris Review interview with Alice Munro. It's impossible for me to talk about miniature moments without referencing her stories.

I have no real Easter plans, just work; it's never-ending for me these days. I hope you have a lovely weekend though!

June in April

I've decided April's colour is "June", which is confusing I'll admit. Actually, I bought Chanel's June nail polish in February and couldn't resist wearing it in March, but I've decided that it's really the colour for April and have been noticing shades of it everywhere. It's not a colour I'm wild for en masse - but I love it mixed in with mostly neutrals.


And the pattern of the moment is polka dots, which makes for a very happy Janey! That Rennes tote is winging its way to me as I type (eep!) Though, let's be honest, every month could be polka dot and I'd only start to crave a little plaid come the fall.

Okay, I'm going to say this bit really fast: Very occasionally I see a dress and think to myself, if I were ever to get married, I would do it in that dress. I feel that way about this Carven dress shown here. But that will never happen, so let's pretend I didn't said anything and move along.

And I'm obsessing about decor, which is very frustrating when you have no money to spend. The stores near my apartment all have gorgeous displays of intaglios. One in particular has lovely burnished silver frames and my heart skips a beat every time I go inside.

What colour is creeping into your consciousness right now?

Images: June nail polish by Chanel | Heath ceramics seasonal bud vases | Riley tote by Rennes | David Austin Carding Mill rose | Carven Dress from La Garconne | Rochas Suede pumps from Net-a-Porter | Antique framed intaglios from 1stDibs | Living room via Lonny

A poem for Tuesday

I've been thinking about change. I feel like I want something big to happen, that I landed where I am by a series of decisions and adventures that I didn't fully think through and if I knew what I know now I might do things differently (that old Unbearable einmal ist keinmal, perhaps!?)

And perhaps this is why I didn't find Melancholia sad. Because I'm craving change, something to sweep it all clear. Of course, I'm not really thinking about death and world destruction, but as a metaphor it doesn't scare me. Still, much as I'm craving change, I also feel trapped in my days. I don't know how to get going. So, the idea of something external forcing it seems attractive. This poem is by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Wild Dreams of a New Beginning
There's a breathless hush on the freeway tonight
Beyond the ledges of concrete
restaurants fall into dreams
with candlelight couples
Lost Alexandria still burns
in a billion lightbulbs
Lives cross lives
idling at stoplights
Beyond the cloverleaf turnoffs
'Souls eat souls in the general emptiness'
A piano concerto comes out a kitchen window
A yogi speaks at Ojai
'It's all taking pace in one mind'
On the lawn among the trees
lovers are listening
for the master to tell them they are one
with the universe
Eyes smell flowers and become them
There's a deathless hush
on the freeway tonight
as a Pacific tidal wave a mile high
sweeps in
Los Angeles breathes its last gas
and sinks into the sea like the Titanic all lights lit
Nine minutes later Willa Cather's Nebraska
sinks with it
The sea comes over in Utah
Mormon tabernacles washed away like barnacles
Coyotes are confounded & swim nowhere
An orchestra onstage in Omaha
keeps on playing Handel's Water Music
Horns fill with water
ans bass players float away on their instruments
clutching them like lovers horizontal
Chicago's Loop becomes a rollercoaster
Skyscrapers filled like water glasses
Great Lakes mixed with Buddhist brine
Great Books watered down in Evanston
Milwaukee beer topped with sea foam
Beau Fleuve of Buffalo suddenly become salt
Manhatten Island swept clean in sixteen seconds
buried masts of Amsterdam arise
as the great wave sweeps on Eastward
to wash away over-age Camembert Europe
manhatta steaming in sea-vines
the washed land awakes again to wilderness
the only sound a vast thrumming of crickets
a cry of seabirds high over
in empty eternity
as the Hudson retakes its thickets
and Indians reclaim their canoes

March

My March, as captured on Instagram...


I so enjoy little snapshots of my friends' days on Instagram. I wish more (and by "more" I mean "any") of my Irish friends were on there - so if you're running around Dublin with an iPhone, think about it! I'm at "seenandsaid" if you want to follow me.

P.S. See larger here. And this was February.

Sunday best: Armor and old books

When I was 18, I read what I thought was the best book I'd ever read. I found it in my parent's study, a diamond in the rough. I kept their copy for my own and it has since moved everywhere with me. But I never reread it.

There were good books before that one and many more after. And many of those have been reread over the years. But I'm always been scared about rereading that one book, nervous about over-writing that original experience with some new understanding, with different emotions or - worst case scenario - just not liking it as much.


However, when asked, I still list it among my all-time favourite books. I still think about it, the ending in particular. And this weekend, I started reading it again. It's a strange thing... there are whole passages I must have committed to memory that have stayed with me and my mind knows the words before my eyes reach them.

And then there are stranger moments, when I find something underlined or a note in the margin. And I wonder at myself, why that sentence, what was the association? I can guess at it but that visceral reaction is gone. It's a bit like looking at a photo of an old boyfriend and examining his face for those deep reactions you once had, but only finding him hypothetically handsome.

Still, there are new attractions overwriting those old ones. My taste in books remains mostly unaltered. My aesthetic, whatever it is, seems somewhat consistent over time. I'm discovering something new in the familiarity of rereading. I think my eighteen year old self wasn't so bad after all, though she was wrong about so much of what she thought lay in her future.

There's something about my mood these days making me want to retreat. I want to hide behind clothes that feel like my armor. In March, the world felt like something hurtful and I tried to feel buoyant. But in the last week, I've given in and sought comfort in old and familiar things, in favourite clothes, in wearing black and in books. I know I can't look inward for long, but I'm happy to be mining my own self for comfort and finding old loves to love anew.

Products: Carven Knot Front Blouse from La Garconne | Antique books from 1st Dibs | MiH Jeans Paris jeans from Net-a-Porter | Mulberry Postmans Lock Wallet from La Garconne | Arrow ring from Odette | Rose Noir by Byredo | Bloch ballerina flats from Gravity Pope