Monday, April 25, 2011

Can't We All Just Get Along?

I've stolen this headline from an article I just read about my living room in the premiere issue of the new online home magazine "House of Fifty."
(Click HERE)

(p. 58)

A few months ago, the editor-in-chief Janell Beals emailed me about doing a possible feature.

Hi Lisa,

I just found your blog after wanting to find the person behind the living room I included in my latest ideabook written for Houzz. I selected your room to be included in a piece on how bringing floral patterns into a room can introduce a bit of spring all year long. I particularly liked your room because of its interesting mix. However, for some reason a couple readers decided it was time to bring on the criticism full force.

The comments left on the ideabook started a conversation between my husband and me about subjective design, which led to me deciding to write an article for my upcoming e-zine on this very topic.

I emailed Janell back that I found it kind of amusing that someone would choose to get so worked up about pairing a zebra rug with Peter Dunham's "Samarkand" fabric...and to write whatever she wanted. Absolutely.

Well, the premiere issue launched today and I think Janell's article is fascinating because it addresses something that I notice happening more and more frequently in the blog world.

I'll let her tell it:

"Why is it often difficult to experience disagreement with another's point of view without getting upset? Is it not possible to express that one would not have made the same choice, without tearing down what another has done? Why is it so hard to have a difference of opinion and be comfortable with the fact that not everyone shares our point of view?"

Let me make this clear: I'm SO NOT offended whether people like my house or not. It's small and weird and colorful (like me) and if you're a beige-on-beige addict, I would kind of expect you to run screaming from it. And that's fine. Because one's home is a visual autobiography of the people who live there -- not anybody else.

Here's the bigger issue:

1. Why are the personal choices of total strangers such an affront to some people?

2. Has it become impossible for us to co-exist peacefully if someone has a different point of view?

3. Why is it still so darn hard for us to celebrate each other's differences?

Janell goes on to write:

Perhaps a key to being okay with a conflicting opinion begins with not only being comfortable, but secure, in our own; understanding that there is nothing to be lost by accepting and hearing another's opinion.

Obviously, this is one smart lady.

All this got me thinking and, as usually happens when I start thinking, my thoughts turned to England.
In her book "The Anglo Files", Sarah Lyall writes of the cheerful streak of anarchy that runs through the British personality.

The British may be conformists, but paradoxically, they also demand the right to be left alone to practice their individuality.

In England, you have some of the most upright and proper people in the world living side by side with some of the most peculiar people in the world. All are secure in the knowledge that they are doing what feels true for them.
(Banksy, "Old Women Knitting Punk Slogans")

You have to love a country in which being "a little Brit different" is not only accepted as a legal birthright, it's borderline canonized.

Edith Sitwell

Quentin Crisp

The Marquess of Bath

Vivienne Westwood

Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow

Grayson Perry
My friend Amanda Eliasch

Mr. Pickwick

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a speech to write and a royal wedding to prepare for.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Forgive Me

No proper post this week as I am knee-deep in rewrites for my upcoming speech and am determined not to get sidetracked (see last week's post). Want it to be inspiring and impassioned...otherwise, qu'est-ce que c'est le point, right?

* * * * *

In other news, I've been waiting forever to tell you that I am participating in this year's INCOGNITO art show, the annual benefit hosted by the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

WHEN: Saturday, April 30th, 7-10pm
WHERE: Santa Monica Museum of Art, Bergamot Station
(Incognito 2011 logo by artist Laura Owens)

Featuring original work by 500 contemporary artists, INCOGNITO 2011 has a brilliant premise: Each 8" by 10" piece costs only $300 and you don't find out who the artist is until after you've paid for it -- the concept being, "Trust your instincts and buy what you LIKE."

I absolutely love that, don't you?
High-priced luminaries like Ed Ruscha, Gary Baseman, Donald Baechler, Raymond Pettibon, John Baldessari and more have all entered works of art this year. Everything is first-come, first-serve and -- as you can see from these photos from last year's show -- when the organizers specify that doors open at 7pm sharp and every second counts, they aren't kidding.
The fellow with the smile snapped up an original Ed Ruscha for $300. (I'd be smiling too.)
(All photos from INCOGNITO 2010 by Steve Cohn)

I have two works in the show and am looking forward to meeting their future owners. Do come say hello on Saturday night if you see me!

Monday, April 11, 2011

How To Write A Speech in 51 Easy Steps

September 2010

1. Accept an offer to give a speech about books and interior design at The Mercantile Library in Cincinnati, Ohio on Monday, May 16, 2011 at 7pm.
(The Mercantile Library. More info HERE.)

2. Tell your friends how excited you are. This will be your first big speech!

3. Look up online how long a 45 minute speech is. Discover it's 35 typed pages. Realize it's double-spaced pages. Feel better.

4. Decide to be organized and write it over Christmas break in order to give yourself five months to edit it and rehearse.

December 2010

5. Decide not to write speech over Christmas (you're going skiing -- what were you thinking?) and instead to write it during your upcoming two month hiatus from blogging when you will have oodles of time.
(On the way to Mammoth Mountain)

January 1-February 28, 2011

6. Spend your blog hiatus relaxing and letting ideas for speech slowly marinate in your brain. Feel terribly clever you are doing this as it's bound to result in a much better speech.

March 2011

7. Return to blogging and thinking about writing the speech.

8. Decide that the most sensible time to write it -- duh -- is obviously over the upcoming spring break when your husband and son will be away skiing for a week. Get excited at how productive you are going to be once the house is empty.

April 2nd, 2011

9. When son and husband drive off, race upstairs, fluff your hair and sit down at the computer. Feel excited.

10. Light a candle.

11. Decide you need some coffee.

12. Go downstairs, grind coffee beans, brew moka pot, heat milk. Refill sugar bowl. Unload dishwasher because that's where all the clean mugs are.

13. Go back upstairs. Open a new Word document. Type "Mercantile Lecture, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 16th."

14. Just below that, type "A 45 minute speech = 35 double-spaced pages."

15. Just below that, type the first sentence of your speech. Feel excited!

15. Spend the next three hours reading the current issues of Vogue, Vanity Fair and Architectural Digest. Marvel that new editor Margaret Russell has managed to make you like AD again.

16. Get back on the computer but first quickly check eBay to see if there's anything good. Place bids on six items. Try to cancel two of them, fail, and then talk yourself into believing that you still really want them.

17. For some reason, feel exhausted.

18. Decide to call it an early night so that you can get some rest and write all day tomorrow.

19. Go downstairs and watch "The Tourist" on Demand.

April 3rd, 2011

20. Next morning, look around and realize your house is a MESS and that it's impossible for you to work in a MESSY house.

21. Spend the next two hours Windexing, polishing silver and moving furniture around.

22. Make a mental note that you want to paint living room bookshelves black at some point in the future and leave a voicemail with Saul, your painter.

23. Get gas for car (in case there's an earthquake) and since you're right there, run into Trader Joe's to buy fresh flowers for foyer, dining room, kitchen, office and master bedroom. Cut and arrange flowers.

24. Sit down to computer. Feel energized.

25. Realize that since this is a lecture about books and design, you should probably look through some of your books. Spend the next three hours thoughtfully looking through them.

26. Notice it's getting dark out and that it would be way comfier to work in your pajamas than in your pants.

27. Feed cat and check fridge for dinner. Wonder why husband didn't stock it for you before he left.

28. Decide all you really feel like anyway is a cup of instant hot chocolate and some Gummy Bears.

29. Watch "The Town" (director's cut) on Demand.

April 4th, 2011

30. Wake up excited to write.

31. Make coffee, eat breakfast, sit down at computer by 8am.

32. Answer call from Saul, the painter. He has the next three days free to paint the living room bookshelves black. Ponder whether this might not be the best time for painters to invade your house because you have a speech to write. Decide that having husband and son out of the house (i.e. absent from painting chaos) is an opportunity you would be foolish to pass up.

33. Drive to hardware store and buy two gallons of black semi-gloss.

34. Since you're around the corner, stop by framers and pick up vintage newspaper photo of Winston Churchill and wife Clementine in South of France that's being framed.

35. Go back home, make some instant hot chocolate and sit down at computer.

36. Write eight sentences in three hours and realize they're really good ones. Calculate how many more sentences you still need to write to make 35 double-spaced pages.

37. Take a 15-minute cat nap which weirdly turns into 90 minutes.

38. Go through your stack of books and remember how great "Tender is the Night" is. End up reading the first half again.

April 5th, 2011

39. Painters arrive at 8am. Supervise them while they remove your books from shelves and stack them accordingly.

40. Grumble to yourself that having them here is really going to mess up your writing concentration.
41. Spend the day alternately staring at your computer and going downstairs to check on painters. Stand with your nose pressed against plastic sheet taped to living room archway and try to calculate progress from their blurry shadows. Wonder if they think you're creepy.

42. Back in your office, look through the Facebook photos your husband has just posted of ski trip and add funny comments to each one.

April 6th, 2011

43. Wake up feeling vaguely nervous. Spend entire day at computer and succeed in cracking the outline for the speech. Feel fantastic!

44. Realize it's dinner time, you're still in your pajamas and the cat hasn't had lunch yet.

45. Sort out the cat and celebrate cracking the outline of your speech with a bottle of Mike's Hard Lemonade and episodes two and three of "Mildred Pierce" on HBO. Notice that Guy Pearce is oddly slim-hipped.

April 7th, 2011

46. Feel so good about progress made yesterday that when a friend asks you to go see "Jane Eyre" with her in an hour, you accept immediately. Hang out in the lobby for an hour afterwards talking about Michael Fassbender.

47. Go home, feed cat, change flower water, snack on Gummy Bears. When husband calls, tell him you can't talk because you're working.

48. Write painters a check and ask them how soon you can put books back on bookshelves. When they tell you 7pm, set your iPhone alarm.

49. When the chime goes off, spend rest of night painstakingly creating "bookscapes" for each shelf.

50. Just before you fall asleep, realize that husband and son will be home in 72 hours, you have a blog post to write for Monday and that you haven't showered in two days. And there is seriously no food.

April 8th-10th, 2011

51. Spend the next three days at desk in your robe and pajamas. Write like Charlie Sheen on Red Bull. Wish you actually had Red Bull as coffee ran out yesterday. Only leave computer to eat (instant hot chocolate, stale Pringles, bread and jam, bread and cucumbers, bread and cheese and a couple of pears you find in the back of the fruit drawer).

Somehow, get first draft of speech done. It's 38 pages double-spaced and needs editing but it's going to be great. Seriously consider whether this could lead to a lucrative new career of travelling around the country giving speeches.

Feel excited!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Salvaging Sunday

One recent Sunday morning, Piero, Luca and I were sitting around the breakfast table in a bit of a funk. It had been raining for days, the internet and cable TV were down and we were all feeling psychologically waterlogged. There didn't seem to be much in the way of enlivening conversation.

Luca: What are we doing today?
Me: Same as yesterday.
Luca: Yesterday was boring.
Piero: (to Luca) What do you want to do?
Luca: Have friends come over.
Me: Today's too busy.
Luca: What about tonight?
Me: Tonight? It's Sunday.
Piero: I have to work tomorrow.
Luca (to us) Now you're boring.

Talk about an instant game-changer. Piero and I looked at each other in horror. Had we become so stodgy and set in our ways that we couldn't make a last-minute plan to invite friends over for dinner?

Had the heady thrills of spontaneity vanished from our lives?

Were we fated to trudge forward into the future with some dreary prearranged itinerary clasped in our hands?

Umm, that would be no.

But it would have to be simple.
It would have to be fast.
And it would have to be fun.

Were we up to it?

Umm, that would be yes. Check out our night below:


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