Neat Materialism

"I always was saying ‘I’m not saving lives; I’m not a brain surgeon.’ And that’s true- I’m not saving anyone from any life-threatening illnesses.  But I get to tell stories, and that’s a pretty important task."

Emma Stone on acting, Vogue July 2012

You can read the full interview here.  And here’s a few photos of Vogue’s interpretation of the duality of sexy/silly and brain surgeon/comedian. 

Pinterest Mini-Deconstruction

Confession:  To quote the Avett Brothers, I’ve found myself ill with want lately-full of have-to-haveness of new things, new haircuts, new cities, new jobs, etc. Then I briefly agonize over the justifications of things I “need” vs. what I “want” and the blurry conflation between the two. I observe this blurring of want and need in others quite often too. I’ve been looking at Pinterest a lot lately and thinking about its purpose and usefulness, and, coincidingly, about the language and emotion it evokes from its users.  Sure, it’s a virtual pinboard, which I LOVE.  I love a physical board displaying things and ideas that inspire, remind, promote, resonate, etc. Maria Bamford agrees. And with a virtual board, hundreds, thousands and maybe bazillions of people can see and perhaps be inspired by your pins. But what of this public sharing or public display of likes? Is there a dark side of Pinterest? What about the feelings of need, want, and consumption that can be generated from using Pinterest? I specifically did some investigating on the categories of fashion, beauty, and interior design and the user comments attached to the images.  Let’s begin with what I consider the least frightening of comments: The “I like this” or “I love this.”   Perfectly healthy expression unless the object promotes harm.  The feeling then might progress to “I want this.”  Ok, healthy in moderation.  Then there’s the “I need this.”  Perhaps sometimes, like how I need some adult-looking shorts from Ann Taylor.  Seriously, I’m 27. I’m finally a woman. There’s got to be a Forever 21 cutoff sometime, right? Then there’s the scarier reaction of “I have to have this,” or rather, “I HAVE TO HAVE THIS!”   You might be thinking that this is all an exaggeration, that comment means nothing, and that I’m reading too much into it. And it’s not like that person will literally die if they don’t have or obtain the object.  Well, I might actually die if I don’t have this picture from the junk / treasure store down the street.

But there are significant public and private confessional performances happening in these exchanges between pinner and viewer. What are we learning about one another through Pinterest? What is the pinner trying to say or promote through the intentional pinning, regardless of her textual description? And how does the viewer translate the image and corresponding text? What does she then do with the new image/new knowledge? The onlooker can’t truly know the deep-seated emotion or intention of the pinner in those moments of expressed like, love, need, want, and have-to-haveness. Does the pinner even realize herself to what extent she feels for the object and the outcome of such feeling? But do either HAVE-TO-HAVE to know?  Why does it matter?  It’s not like wanting is something new that people are just now starting to exhibit, but Pinterest seems to have opened up a new public way of expressing it. 

So I’ve been reminding myself to create, to love, to be nice to Ben, to try to make do with what I have, and to be well-mindedly inspired. It’s also tricky to be both simultaneously present and consciously seeking new places and ways of moving forward.  Mary Oliver’s poem “Messenger” has been on my daily mantra list for the past few months…

Are my boots old? / Is my coat torn? / Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? / Let me/ keep my mind on what matters, / which is my work, / which is mostly standing still and learning to be / astonished.

Sometimes I just want to curl up in bed and read some feminist theory.

Harper’s Bazaar began a feature a few months ago entitled “My List” in which every month a different designer gives an hour by hour detailing of his or her typical day.  I’m not quite sure if you common people reading this will even understand.  But anyway, this is one of my new favorite things that I’ve come to anticipate. Below are some highlights to catch you up to speed.

Tom Ford: Prune

"I make myself a tall glass of iced espresso ( I don’t like warm drinks), get into a hot bath, and slowly sip my drink as I come to life."

"Then I take another bath, this time with soap, and wash my hair."

"If I do have to go out at night, which I do about four nights a week, I try to take a 45-minute nap, have another hot bath, and put on a clean shirt."

"Believe it or not, I usually take another hot bath and wash my face."

Karl Lagerfeld: He Doesn’t Want That Here

"And then I wear jeans; at the moment they are from my new collection.  They are dark gray with my face, my profile, printed in black on them, but you really have to look to see it."

"I actually have two houses.  This house here, it’s only for sleeping and sketching, and I have another house two-and-a-half meters away for lunch and dinner and to see people, and where the cook is and all that.  I don’t want that here."

Donatella Versace: Goes to a lot of meetings.

"I only watch the news on TV.  Otherwise I catch up on movies on DVD.  Recently I watched The Help, The Ides of March, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.  I’m also a big of Downton Abbey.”

Peter Dundas: The Commuter

"Seeing that my apartment is in Paris and I work in Florence, I usually go to work by airplane; it’s an hour-and-a-half flight."

Mashups and Synapses: Elephants

A few weeks ago I caught Barbara J. King on NPR talking about her blog post that comments on recent findings around matriarchal familial units of elephants.  I was particularly moved by this feature, although it’s not uncommon to catch me getting teary-eyed whilst listening between the hours of 12 and 2 pm.  The piece reminded me of Sylvia Plath’s poem “Metaphors.” I remember feeling a hunch when I first read this poem for a Lit Crit course in college that maybe the use of the elephant comparison wasn’t just about getting and/or feeling super enlarged when pregnant…


I’m a riddle in nine syllables

An elephant, a ponderous house,

A melon strolling on two tendrils.

O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!

This loaf’s big with its yeasty rising.

Money’s new-minted in this fat purse.

I’m a means, a stage, a cow in calf.

I’ve eaten a bag of green apples,

Boarded the train there’s no getting off.

So, this isn’t a blog about dissecting Plath poems.  That would have been ten-years-ago Liz.  But can I now gush about the band Warpaint who happen to have a song entitled “Elephants” ?

They look and sound so big time here.     

I hope you check out some or all of the aforementioned subjects.  And look for more mashups and synapses in the near future…

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to Florida.  Here are a few pictures of the most recent.  Location: St. Petersburg.  Attractions Captured: Vinoy Hotel and Dali Museum.


Robin. I mean, Robyn. Well, both.


Robin. I mean, Robyn. Well, both.

A McFowler Country Christmas

I’ve so enjoyed decorating for Christmas this year with fresh and recycled items from my backyard.  I have found working with these materials to be more inspiring than buying a bunch of nonsense at craft and decor stores.  Here’s a few pics… 

We did buy a tree instead of cutting one down in the woods like last year.  My favorite thing in this room is actually the crazy string of balls hanging atop the window. Sorry childhood,  vintage,  and owl ornaments.   

There’s a huge stash of glass bottles by the old chicken coop.  The green ones were probably used for turpentine, and now I think they make for a lovely centerpiece for holding fresh holly, spruce, and camellias. 

Probably my favorite discovery thus far in the holiday season- decorating grape vine wreaths.  This one contains snippets of fresh fraser fir, spruce, holly, sage, rosemary, and a pine cone. 

If you are one for celebrating and decorating, I hope you are finding inspirational activities as well.