Friday, July 30, 2010

What might they have talked about?

{From left: Andy Warhol, David Whitney, Philip Johnson, Dr. John Dalton, and Robert A. M. Stern in the Glass House in 1964. Photography by David McCabe}

{From ArchDaily.}


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fashion fast

There was an interesting article in the New York Times about individuals who went on a "fashion fast" . The challenge was to live with only 6 items of clothing for one month (underwear, shoes, and accessories not counted).

It made me think that in a certain way it's what I've been doing for the last 3 months. Admittedly not just 6 items, more like 18 (ok, perhaps 24), but it was quite liberating to be limited to just the clothes I had brought with me for all occasions and weather. While I did miss many things I have at home, rarely did I feel deprived. Indeed, I must confess it was really my shoes I missed most from my full range of choices at home.

But now dear reader my fashion fast is becoming a fashion fast forward -- I'm heading home!



Thursday, July 8, 2010

It is an honour

I was lucky enough to be given this token of recognition from the inimitable, stylish, eclectic, and always-has-such-good-taste blogger Jane on the Nearness of Distance. I am touch, honored, and thrilled.

I am supposed to - and will - tell you seven things about myself. I am never sure whether to go toward the big and important or toward the small, irrelevant, but in fact utterly essential. But of course this indecision is very much part of the award ritual since I always eventually decide on the latter. So here we go:

  1. I am prone to food obsessions. I once ate ravioli with butter and sage four nights a week for about six months. It was delicious. Why eat anything else? Like many people (?), my breakfast is unvarying for 5-year stretches or longer.
  2. I believe fervently in a concept known as the "fun breakfast". During the week, my breakfast is always the same: yogurt and tea. But on the weekends, I get to have the fun breakfast. The fun breakfast varies by local conditions. I think this goes back to my childhood: on weekdays we ate healthy breakfast cereals but on weekends we were allowed to eat the sweet ones. And this is important: travel breakfast=fun breakfast.
  3. I am currently obsessed with Ricola. Not just any old Ricola. The the ones that come in a box and that are lozenge shaped (not the chewy ones that come in a small box, or the individually wrapped ones, or the small cube shaped ones).

    It of course happens that this is exactly the shape that is not sold in the United States (though I've heard a rumor - urban legend? - that there is kosher deli in Williamsburg that sells them). And notice all the flavors that we don't get in the US: elderflower and sage. Notice in the picture that the pink box says salbei on it? Proof that they don't export this flavor. It's a conspiracy.
  4. To wit, I believe in conspiracy theories. No, not the second-shooter, Elvis-lives variety. The conspiracies I see come in two types. Some fantastic product that I find abroad is not sold in the country where I live, and I must (must!) have this product, but there is just no way to get it. The second conspiracy is even more insidious. Have you ever encountered the perfect product in some category? Just to fix ideas, the perfect pair of shoes: comfortable enough to wear every day, stylish enough to wear with fancy outfits. If such a product were invented, they would have to stop selling it, because it would destroy the industry. Well, such conspiracies are real. Believe me.
  5. I'm convinced that I've discovered the cure for jet leg. Two glasses of Champagne before every trans-oceanic flight, one glass before a shorter flight. Always follow with a glass of water. Works like a charm.
  6. I seem to have an affinity for countries that begin with the letter I.
  7. I am a recent but enthusiastic convert to the Kindle. I don't own the reader, but use the app on my iPod touch (which was a recent hand-me-down acquisition). I know people of my vintage (and older) always fret: it's not the same as reading a book. I agree, and in so many ways (touch, smell, heft). I love my relationship with books (indeed, relationship: first you flirt, then you're all over each other, and then there's the long affectionate after glow), but when traveling the Kindle reader is great. You flick through pages with no effort, and you don't end up carrying around two volumes of Proust with you (which is what I in fact have been doing for the last two months)...
I'm not going to tag anyone yet. But I know you're out there, and I'll tag you soon!



Thursday, July 1, 2010

Simple facts

I'm a little frazzled and edgy today, the reason being that I'm not sleeping well. And the reason for that in turn is simple: sunrise. I'm always caught a little off-guard at this time of year by the long days. They are wonderful aren't they? But long days imply either early sunrise, late sunset, or both. Early sunrise can be a great thing if you're a farmer readying to milk the cows, a hiker wanting to make as much progress as possible during the cool early daylight hours, or possibly a rodent eager to gather nuts. Late sunset of course means long leisurely nights out.

Less extreme than sleep deprivation, but more insidious, is confusion and disorientation. With years of habits we come to associate certain feelings and activities with certain levels of light. You wake up feelingly like you've just gone to sleep (and you have) -- it should be dark. You're out having far too many drinks after dinner and stumbling home -- it should be dark. You arrive at your first appointment for the day -- it should be light.

One of my vivid memories of my year in London was waking up to broad daylight, feeling tired, and then discovering it wasn't yet 5 am. These are the simple facts as of 1 July:

City Sunrise Sunset Daylight hours
New York 05:29 20:31 15:02
London 04:47 21:21 16:34
Paris 05:51 21:58 16:07
Mumbai 06:05 19:20 13:15

It explains everything, doesn't it? In New York, nights out are dark at this time of year, and I wake up as the sun is on the rise (I'm afflicted with a serious case of early rising.) In London, sun rises at 4.47 am. How does one cope with this? Are drapes heavier? Are sales of eye masks one per man, woman, and child? And Paris, sunset almost 10 pm, with dusk taking you to almost 10.30 pm, those long endless evenings. They were not just figments of your imagination. They really happened. (Well, at least the light. For the rest, I can't say.) And Mumbai, sunrise 6 am. Memories of being woken by the parents as they make their way to play tennis, and deciding since I'm awake and won't get back to sleep I might as well go. Listening to the morning birds. Watching (being blinded by) the rising sun as the game plays out.

It all makes sense.


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