What objects define you?
“What does that mean,” you say? “Nothing defines me.” OK, perhaps “defines” is an uncomfortable word. Perhaps what objects “express” you is a better way of putting it. Or maybe you’ll call it a touchstone, if you want to focus on things that are mostly inspirational to you. Whatever, let’s not quibble.
Here are the things that “define” me, express me, are my touchstones. They’re what I love, but also things that really have some kind of emotional resonance for me. Fortunately it hasn’t been too hard to pick since I’m not a huge hoarder. I’m not a real collector (except photography), have moved a LOT, am recently divorced (left most things with the ex) and am a person who gets an unseemly amount of pleasure in culling my possessions. These 10 will probably change over time, but since I’ve been pondering this question for the last 6 months, they’ve remained reasonably consistent. In no particular order and in two batches…
My father’s twin lens reflex camera. It’s heavy, clunky, and takes forever to set up. But I adore the retro, gritty, industrial feel that’s always felt somewhat mysterious to me. And it still works despite having been being ported from Hong Kong to SF to DC to NJ to Chicago to NY and back to SF again. Yes of course, I remember it as a kid and the endless and embarrassing pics my father took of me, (which I’m sure has done much damage to my psyche). But really, I keep it around because it’s just effing cool. I’m trying to figure out if I should get the updated digital version. Probably not.
My journals. I write because it’s my therapy, my solace, my smarter self. There have been times when I’ve been so in need of “a good write” that I’ve gone and bought a journal at the closest store just to get me through a particularly bad day (my last emergency run was the afternoon of my XXth college reunion. ‘Nuff said.) My journals are not terribly pretty and mostly chosen for function–lightness, reasonably tight line spacing, and oddly enough, colors, so I can find them easily in the ocean of black I usually surround myself with. Oh, and they’re cheap, bought in bulk at Flax. But I do write in them with the most luscious, swanky, sexy retractable fountain pen (using green ink) given to me by my love. The pen should probably be on my list too, because it makes me eloquent and real. So I’ll cheat by putting it into the photo.
On the Caterpillar: Women’s Pub Outing. This photo by Grace Robertson just makes me smile. It is pure joy. The delight, abandon, and terror of these ladies as they rumble down a rollercoaster in Clapham in England’s grim post-war years throbs with life. Purchased at my favorite gallery on earth, the Peter Fetterman Gallery in Santa Monica, which set me on the path to a magnificent obsession. Damn.
Microfiber sponges. Yes, really. Because our cat is obsessed with them, and that makes me happy (especially when he entertains himself). Hours of fun, believe me.
My Father’s Bowler. Yes, another brit thing (sensing a trend here?) Handmade at Lock & Co. It’s a crazy piece of design: rock solid and capable of stopping most projectiles from doing any damage. I like that it’s bespoke. I like that my father wore it to that mysterious world called work. I like the tradition and am intrigued by its symbolism of upper middle and upper class propriety/imprisonment (merci M. Magritte). But what I really like is its dark side: how its very propriety has been turned against it. Think about the women taking sexual charge in movies like Cabaret, or any show by Fosse, or in the otherwise unbearable Unbearable Lightness of Being. Tradition and subversion: works for me.