Tuesday Book Club: Nineteen Eighty-Four

bigbrother

1984

“Who controls the past controls the present. Who controls the present controls the future”

Nineteen Eighty-Four is a consuming text. I can’t read anything else right now. I’m most concerned with how history is rewritten and edited to serve the Party’s current needs. I can’t help but wonder how recent world-shattering events will be rendered into history: Who is at fault? Who hurt whom more severely? Who will be memorialized?

How do these present events and their representations in our past affect our future?

Have you read Nineteen Eighty-Four? Were you as disturbed by it as I am? I’m about a third of the way through and am simultaneously enthralled and repulsed. I’d love to hear your thoughts. For being well over 60 years old, I think the text still has some relevant and timely questions worth pondering.

(image 1 via // image 2 via)

Compression

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These photographs by Michael Wolf are so haunting, don’t you think? If you suffer from claustrophobia these might even be hard to fathom.

Born in Munich, Germany, Michael Wolf has lived in Hong Kong for the past twenty years and has devoted much of his work to studying intense population saturation in some of the world’s largest cities. This series, “Tokyo Compression”, provides a visceral glimpse into the density of Tokyo’s underground network.

 

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109The condensation on the windows conjures up obvious images of breath and humidity, but also of steam, sweat and even tears. It’s as disturbing as it is melancholic.

Wolf has dozens of series relating to life in Hong Kong, Asia and other overpopulated metropolises. His series ” Architecture of Density” is similarly fascinating and will leave you with a sense of wonder as to how it all got built. I’ve never appreciated living in a semi-pastoral country as much as I do when I look through those images.

You can find out more about the photographer here, as well as peruse his other collections and books.

(all images via Michael Wolf Photography)

 

Let’s Chill on Friday

beach girl

Well, our weekend will have nothing to do with the beach or sand or surf, but it is so fun to imagine, right?

What are you up to this weekend? Our friend Phil will be in town with us before heading back stateside on Monday. We’re looking forward to showing him around Bern and hopefully taking a hike on Sunday. I honestly can’t believe this is the last full weekend of July, but I’ll spare you the melodramatic Where has the time gone? diatribe. It’s a lot more fun to focus on the good and the happy parts of this weekend, namely that we’ll be celebrating one full year in Switzerland. What excitement!

I hope you have a fun weekend full of summer exploits. If you find yourself inside with a prickly sunburn, here are a few fun links from around the web:

Crazy-easy dill pickles for burgers, sandwiches, barbecue and snacking.

The five best canned beers for summer. Charleston, represent!

Ode to the Classic Bistro. Let’s all go to Paris soon, OK?

Clever place cards for your next dinner party.

Anyone else want to see this movie? I know the director has always remained in a swirl of controversy, but his movies, man, they’re great.

18 essentials for a Modern Rustic Home. Lusting after that Agency chair…

Witty dog.

A pretty dress for summer weddings.

Two groovy tunes for your weekend: Part 1 and Part 2

Whale riding. I would simultaneously be thrilled and terrified.

Why do we love to quote movies and TV shows? My sister and I are guilty of having entire conversations out of movie quotes. It’s…charming.

An easy pasta that I loved.

 

(image via)

#100happydays

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I just learned about the #100happydays project through Newly Swissed and I am fascinated and also, what seems, the last person on the planet to hear about it.

The creator of the project, Dmitry Golubnichy, lives in Zurich and developed the concept last fall after visiting with friends. He was complaining about his life and his problems when his friends nearly hit him upside the head–his life was amazing, couldn’t he see that?! Well, actually, no. Like most of us he was caught up in the minutiae of the day-to-day and had lost perspective of what was wonderful and beautiful in his life. He decided to document what made him happy for the next 100 days, positing a picture of a piece of happiness onto his preferred social media platform.

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What started out as a personal challenge has become a global movement, though he is reluctant to use that exact word. Indeed, people from over 170 countries now participate in the hashtag challenge and as of today there are almost 17,000,000 posts on Instagram alone. That’s million with an m. 

Through email exchanges with participants and large surveys, Golubnichy, originally from Latvia, found that people who completed the full 100-day project reported feeling at least 20% happier than they did at the beginning of the challenge. It’s an exercise in relishing the little joys and small happinesses that we encounter each day.

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Adam

So, what are your thoughts? Initially, I think this is a great idea, especially for finding ways to not take our blessings and joys for granted. I live a pretty grand life and I think this challenge would help me appreciate and accept the little victories.

On the other hand, I’m more and more convinced that our goal as humans is not only to pursue happiness, or even to be happy all the time. Constant happiness does not make us more well-rounded or interesting people. We need sadness and humility and heartbreak to feel life in its fullest capacity and denying those contrasting feelings isn’t healthy or satisfying. I really love this quote from The Good Life that helps explain more what I mean:

Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say, “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness.” Ask yourself, “Is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.

In a personal sense, this philosophy directly applies to the past year. Adam and I have been in Switzerland for a full year as of this weekend and it certainly has not all been happy times and upbeat days. There were a lot of low points, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a good or meaningful experience, because it has. It has made me grow and change in innumerable ways and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities we’ve had. I haven’t been happy for a full year but I am satisfied with what has transpired, both good and bad.

These two approaches are very conflicting ideas, yet both valid and deserving of attention and debate. In some ways, I’m sure this falls on the glass half-full or half-empty spectrum, but I’m not ready to consider myself a pessimist simply because I don’t believe in constantly striving for happiness. I do, however, like the idea of finding pleasure in the everyday and celebrating small joys simply for finding perspective and contentment.

What about you? Do you lean one way more than the other? Have you participated in the challenge? I would love to hear how it went! Or, are you thinking about trying it? Should we all?

(top two images via, quote via)

 

Introducing: BRIKA

I Got This

 

Storage Bin

 

 

Have you ever heard of BRIKA? It’s a company founded by two women in Toronto, Canada, and focuses featuring crafts and well-designed pieces from authentic artisans, makers and designers. Their regularly rotating stock is inspiring and thoughtful, full of treasures and gifts for everyone in your life, including yourself.

I only recently learned about them but I’m already enchanted by their beautiful offerings and commitment to the small craftsman. Each time I’ve visited their site I see something new, but I also find that a few of my favorite items are already sold out–things move quickly there!

Olive Square Messenger

 

Light Gray Leather Bracelet

 

Hexagon cards

 

You’ll find gifts, including pre-packaged gift boxes, as well as accessories, items for the home and office and art prints. Jewelry, kids items, stationery, bath and body products and small keepsakes make it a well-rounded collection.

I may have picked up a little something for a special someone in my life, and I’m honestly considering getting some early Christmas shopping done. It’s never too early, right?!

Welcome Baby Box

 

Feather Leggings

 

Max Raccoon

If you’re itching for a little Christmas in July, or just in need of a few items for friends or yourself, I highly recommend visiting BRIKA’s website. Comparisons are the thief of joy, but if I were to make one I would say that BRIKA is sort of like a more carefully curated Etsy with a much smaller selection and higher overall quality. I like learning more about the people behind the items and what inspires them.

Happy shopping!

Art print // Storage bin // Messenger bag // Leather bracelet // Hexagon Cards // Welcome baby box // Feather leggings // Max Raccoon

Tuesday Book Club: The History of Love

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How often do you reread books? I find myself picking up books repeatedly quite often, though that habit has significantly decreased now that we live in Bern and I’m separated from my library.

I love rereading books. I tend to read books that I’m really interested in very quickly. The word I most associate with this behavior is devour. I’m so involved with a book that I can’t put it down and I nearly inhale it, which can be a beautiful thing because I’m so absorbed in the literature and it’s working on me in incredible ways. What’s unfortunate about this practice is that I can forget what the book is about because it all happened so quickly, too quickly. I have an issue with pacing myself when it comes to books.

Perhaps it’s the challenge of trying to read 40 new books this year, or as I mentioned above the lack of access to my preferred private and public libraries, but I haven’t reread as much this year as I normally do. Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love is only the second book I’ve reread, The Fault in Our Stars being the first.

The History of Love was a pure joy to read again. I originally read it a few years ago when someone told me it was their favorite book of all time. I read it with the hopes that it would also become my favorite book of all time, which was a poor way to start a story. The project was doomed to fail because I think we all know you can’t force a favorite. I liked it, but obviously not well enough because not only did it not become my favorite book, but I hardly remembered a thing about it.

The novel revolves around three main characters. Our first, Leo Gursky, is a curmudgeonly octogenarian who has lost the two greatest loves of his life, a girl named Alma from his hometown in Poland and a book he wrote in his early twenties. The second is 14-year-old Alma who is named after every character in the book The History of Love. The final character is Zvi Litvinoff, the author of The History of Love. The disparity between these three characters is a joy to read, but it is Krauss’ subtle humor and cheeky monologues that really propel the narrative. It’s suspenseful without being a thriller, and humorous without being glib. There’s a balance to the novel that keeps you rooting for all the characters in equal measure, adding a rich fullness to the text. I’m not sure I could have gotten to this understanding without a second read.

That is the beauty of reading again and why I will continue to do it despite many people considering it a waste of time when there are so many other books to read. Of course, there are so many places to see in the world but that won’t stop me from going to Paris as often as I can. I learn something new with every read and I see something new with every visit. Our perspective changes as we age and mature and experiencing literature and locales with fresh eyes is enlightening and rewarding. Long live the reread!

What are your thoughts? Are there any books you reread regularly? I’ve read The Giver about a dozen times and Life of Pi a handful of times. Poetry, as well, is always good for a reread.

 

Buddies

Sisters Bern 3I’m working on a project for my dad right now and I’m spending a lot of time looking through photos of our recent trips. My brother-in-law shared the photos that he took on their trip to see us, including their last week in Paris (over 700 in total!!), and I found several pictures of Courtney and I from behind (in a good way).

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I love seeing these pictures of us sharing an umbrella or a conversation, or simply holding hands running down the side of a mountain. I love my sister.

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Sisters Lucerne 2

 

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It’s so great to have these buddy pics, no? Adam and Jared are so understanding of the close relationship we have and always give us our space when we need it. Well, I actually think they prefer to give us some space… We can get a little wily.

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What are you up to this weekend? Adam and I will be hanging out in Zurich with our friend Phil, who is here in town for work this week! I’m sure we’ll be spending lots of time in the sun by the lake. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and get a chance to spend it with your buddies.