*Lyrics from My Better Self by Tennis from their album Young & Old. I’ve listened to this song at least a hundred times (probably the entire album that many times) and I’m not sick of it, nor did I – until today, reading the lyrics as I sung along – even understand what I was saying. Which is ironic, given what the lyrics for the full song are. So, do this: listen to it WHILE you’re reading the lyrics, then read the lyrics (I noticed that some of the lyrics were not written down correctly – for instance, ‘what is it made?’ is really ‘what is innate?’ – I couldn’t find the official lyrics, so, sorry about that). I feel dumb for not getting it before. “Only the value given shows, that meaning comes and goes.”
Happenings are happening all around me. My brother just got a job in Los Angeles – he found out on a Wednesday, and his gig started the next Monday – and he left NYC for 5 months. All three of my sisters are currently in temporary digs (and in various states of disarray) – though my younger one is more settled, in a way, than the others – and we just moved from our old pied-à-terre to our new one. Let’s call it the Pied-à-deux. Whew, it’s been a bit of a lot. I know that’s horrible English, but it’s true.
And, mere days after we moved our things down one flight I got a call to return to land of the Big House for a meeting with a new client. And three weeks went by before I could return to Brooklyn, and to my overworked, and overtired husband. See? A great big bit of a lot.
*Lyrics from Heavy Feet by Local Natives. I listened to their newest album, Hummingbird, on repeat for three days straight, and then I took a break so I wouldn’t ruin it for myself. You all know I love them. This song is why. Plus, read on, and you’ll see why these words resonated for this post.
You see, a few Christmases ago, my younger sister gave me a print of a Kandinsky painting she spied that reminded her of my love for blurry dots. I actually and sincerely love that side-effect of having poor distance vision, that blurring of all the edges and background that happens in movies, the way that light turns into semi-transparent glowing orbs that sparkle and move when you blink. It’s really just poor vision, but I find it beautiful (and one of the reasons I don’t want Lasik). It took us years – quite literally two actual years – to muster up the effort to go and have it professionally framed. It was an odd size, and also a really high quality print – no cheap frame would do. But, once we did have it framed, we decided it would be the major inspiration point for our color scheme and vibe at The Pied.
*Lyrics from Five Years Time by Noah & The Whale. I don’t really know why I chose this song for today – I had a note about using it for this reveal in my phone. Maybe it’s because I don’t expect to be living here in 5 years’ time, nor do I expect to like all the same things that I do now. Hell, I don’t even think I’d recognize my former self from 5 or 10 years ago. Let’s just say I’m a transition-er, in transition, with transitory leanings, and eagerness to roll along. Shall we?
One glance around our pied-a-terre and you’d think we were the vainest bunch around. There are mirrors in every room, including an additional mirror in the bathroom (that means there are two in there), and a mirrored end table that makes the idea of drinking martinis in this space seem that much more glamorous. But, the mirrors aren’t all about looking at ourselves (though that extra one in the bathroom certainly is). They’re about bouncing light around, and making this teeny space feel bigger, brighter, and by extension, more livable for longer.
You see, when we first approached the paint options for the space, we knew we needed to eradicate the pale cream/dirty yellow completely (or as completely as we could – the kitchen still sports that soul-killing color, but we distract ourselves with delicious foods and tantalizing wines). So, we chose a deep tealy-blue – Gentleman’s Gray by BM – for one wall in the living room. (The other walls in the living room are Coventry Gray also by BM. Funnily enough we had chosen another gray, but the clerk made a mistake. We didn’t notice until after we had begun to paint, so we just went with it. Happy accident? Ok, sure.) We wanted the room to feel cozy, but not small, and to highlight the architectural details that were worth noticing – the crisp white painted tin ceiling and crown, the high baseboard moldings – while minimizing the ones that were more awkward – the chimney breast bump out, and the strange little locker storage areas next to it. We wanted to expand the wall to make it feel broad, tall, and rich. Though naturally all that depth came at a price, and that price was light.
*Lyrics from Kelly Clarkson‘s 2004 song Since U Been Gone (yes, she spelled it like that). This song has been looping in my head ever since we landed yesterday from a brief trip to Utah for a family holiday. The air quality was extremely poor (read this article if you like), and it was my first time at altitude. Add that to my recently discovered exercise induced asthma (and the warm weather scent that fills our pied-à-terre air), and you could say that breathing easily is a luxury I won’t soon take for granted.
Sausages. I’m not really a huge fan. But it’s all I can smell from out my new window since the new restaurant opened up on the ground level. (Lucky for me, it’s winter, and thusly the windows are mostly shut. Mostly.) Now, there are worse, far, far worse smells that I could have been inundated with. (This IS New York City we’re talking about here.) Worse scents that could rise up and hit me in the face, fill my nostrils and linger there like an unwanted houseguest, or a particularly chatty colleague. No, instead, I am faced with sausages.
A friend on facebook recently wrote about her discomfort at the fishmonger’s counter of her local market. The subsequent ‘clobbering’ (I believe that’s how she put it) and decapitating of three fish made her, as a buddhist, very (and painfully) aware of the fact that not only was a life about to be over, that it was also being taken, by force. Pretty heavy stuff. That’s sort of what that sausage smell does to me. Reminds me of my place in the world, of my own ambivalence about eating animals, of the highs and lows that come with living in a world with so many inhabitants, of so many various ways of living. Makes me think simultaneously of pigs and fat, of warm, delicious sauces, and of blood, and makes me feel hungry and mildly off-put at the same time.
Which brings me to my point: our kitchen! read on…
*Lyrics from Coldplay‘s first single, Yellow, off their first album, Parachutes. Don’t you miss old Coldplay? Don’t get me wrong, I still love Chris Martin’s voice, and they’re clearly talented, but, well, maybe I shouldn’t like the same band that my 9 year-old niece thinks is great (‘OMG, I LOVE them!’). Maybe I’ll just remember when…
Speaking of ‘remembering when,’ remember when I moved into my pied-à-terre and I was all ‘we’re going to do this fast because we must’? Yeah, well, turns out, not so fast. Some things went really quickly – e.g., choosing and applying paint colors, buying a sofa and mattress, getting some cabinetry for the kitchen – while other things moved much slower – e.g., accessorizing, figuring out where to put things, getting a table for the TV, hanging art. All along, however, there was the dream to reupholster a little vintage chair I had originally purchased for my tiny mom (the chair felt a little lower than today’s chairs, and she’s shrimpy short) and move it to the apartment. We have limited floor space, and limited doorway and hallway space (see: the bed debacle), and this petite chair that wasn’t going to work for my mom seemed perfect. All we had to do was choose a fabric.
Chirp, chirp, chirp. Choosing a fabric. One would think it would be easy. As it turns out, not easy at all. It took months. And months. As a matter of fact, when the upholsterer finally came to pick up the chair (they pick up!) and get started on it, the whole process only took about a week. He had a slot open up in his schedule, and just powered through it. So, we were the hold-up on this one. No one else to blame but ourselves.
*Lyrics from All Our Wonder by Memoryhouse off their album The Slideshow Effect. I stumbled upon these guys during another Spotify adventure and wound up really liking them. Give them a listen. What else have you go going on?
Back by popular demand, here’s another installment of Kitchen Monthly! Ok, maybe not popular demand. But, if my instagram feed is to be believed, you guys love to look at baked things, and probably want to know how you, too, can live my fabulous life. (If you can’t tell where the sarcasm is in that statement, well, perhaps you should just run along.)
It’s no secret that I love to bake. And, it’s no secret that I love my kitchen. At home, that is. The one at the rental pied-à-terre? Well, it’s functional. And by functional I mean that it takes me two hours to make soup. Ok, maybe it always takes me that long, but it feels like things take even longer. The stove/range is an apartment-sized 20″ and the counter space, while improved greatly by the addition of some IKEA cabinets and a length of countertop, is still limited. And there is no dishwasher. And we have a limited number of things like bowls, utensils, muffin trays, etc. At the house we pretty much have enough cookware, etc., to host a meal for a dozen comfortably. Here, we have enough for two, or three (and lately that’s been three as one of my sisters is staying with us in our tiny flat – for now.)
*Lyrics from A Simple Answer off Grizzly Bear‘s latest offering, Shields. I’m a fan of their music, and it grows on me the more I listen to it. Feels new and old at once, and familiar and fresh together. And emotional (and we all know I love emotional). And I always think of London when I hear them – posters promoting their then latest album, Veckatimest, were plastered all over the tube stations when I visited England for the first time ever. So, yeah, I’m a fan. Hope you are, too.
Have you every wanted to polish something silver-ish, but weren’t sure how, or even if it’d work? As a fan of finding thrift, antique-ish pieces to use as accessories (and even furniture, gasp!), I’m always coming across things that look like they could be silver, but I’m pretty sure they aren’t (the sale tag usually clues me in to that fact). Recently, I spotted a sweet little silver tray that I thought could be used as a mirror-esque item to hang on the wall in the pied-à-terre. (We all know the power of bouncing light around in tiny spaces.) For about $12, I thought, good shape, good size, reflective, textural, I’ll take it! (Jeff said, that’s old, and I hate old anything. I said, too bad, trust me, it’ll be great!)
So, I brought home the little gem, figuring that its character, intricate pattern, and patina would only act as another transitional item that might help visually blend our new things with the entirely old and crumbly existing architecture of the apartment. Only I had no idea how to clean it. So I decided to take a chance on a silver polishing product called NEVR-DULL (yes, that’s right, nevr). Found it at the hardware store that’s directly across from the flat. How convenient is that?
*Lyrics from Feist‘s Undiscovered First from her ablum Metals. The video I picked was from the Black Cab Sessions recording, and I chose it for a few reasons: (1) because I always like to showcase an alternate recording to the album version when I can; (2) because they all look like they had tons of fun working in a moving vehicle (and bonus points for it being in an English cab); and, (3) because if Feist can not only perform, but also shine in a tiny, teeny space, then I have no excuse, have I?
The first thing you do when you downsize – and in this case we not only downsized, but also downgraded – is to compare what you had with what you now have. In our case, we’re going from a home that we spent the last few years lovingly renovating to a state of comfort and luxury, to a rental unit that has seen its fair share of occupants (and coats of glossy, pale yellow-ish paint) over the years. The contrast, to put it mildly, is stark.
*Lyrics from Wild Women Do as performed by Natalie Cole from the hit 1990 movie Pretty Woman. Those of you too young to know, the late 1980’s were a time of great sexual empowerment of women (note the sarcasm dripping from these words – there was no other empowerment allowed), and a time of great artistic achievement in music video technology where incorporating the film that the song was written for in the background (and sometimes foreground) of the video was the height of sophistication. Also, Pretty Woman has been in rotation on cable, most likely for the parallels between Richard Gere’s character and Mitt Romney’s stint as a ruthless businessman who bought companies only to chop them up and sell them during that same time period. It was de rigueur for the time, I guess, just like terrible perms, lip liner, and super-tight spandex everything. But I digress.
So, okay, so the house hasn’t sold yet. Which is to be expected, I suppose (summer is slow, historically, for selling houses). I’ve never sold a house before, and every market is different, and every home is different (just like every buyer), so, well, we’re waiting. Turns out impatiently waiting. So we decided to go ahead and rent a small apartment – may we call it a pied-à-terre? mais oui! – in Brooklyn, in the neighborhood where we’re aiming to eventually move to permanently. Or at least as permanently as can be.
Shocked? I am, and I was part of the decision-making process! We’re going forward with the next phase of our life, despite the obvious obstacle of having not sold our home yet, and not knowing how long it will take to do so. Clearly, we have the most beautiful home on earth (duh), but clearly we are waiting for just the right person(s) to claim this home in the name of their god and country (ok, or just their family).