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Open Letter to Marc Maron, Day 27 (on home + voice)

…I can perhaps forget for whole minutes at a time that I am brown-skinned but I can never really have total empathy for, say, a white man cause I can never fully don that mantle of that certain type of privilege.

Reading back over what I wrote yesterday, I’m a little surprised that I wrote it out loud. I mean it’s the kind of post that could invite a slew of naysayers and enduring naysayers takes a kind of fortitude that I keep forgetting I’ve finally developed.

I was thinking today about the name of my blog—The Home Beete. When I first started it in May 2009, I thought it would be a good place to deposit my mania for interior design. But even as I posted pics of couches I adored or wallpaper I wanted to hang in my mythical house, I found myself also wanting a space where I could just write about whatever was in my head. Some place that was more than my journal. I read a wonderful quote from the visual artist Ann Truitt on Brain Pickings today: “…artists have no choice but to express their lives.” So it’s probably inevitable that this blog would become my sounding board, my workshop, the place where I experiment and tinker. Which sounds a lot like home, actually.

Home is the place where I don’t shower on weekends or days off (I know, gross). Home is where I pick my nose obsessively (I know, gross). Home is where my only exercise sometimes comprises moving from one end of the couch to the other. (Look, if you had my couch, you’d stick as close to it as possible, too.) In other words, home is where I can be utterly and completely myself in all my groovy, gross, lazy, manic, high-brow, low-brow selfness. Which sounds a lot like this blog, actually.

I think in addition to the Home Beete evolving into a place where I feel at home, it’s also the place where I find myself becoming more at home with who I am. With the sound of my voice. With what that voice likes to talk about, to scream about, to sing about. With how often that voice comes back to the same subjects. With how the courage of that voice waxes and wanes across a spectrum from sorta courageous to “Y’all motherfu**ers need to listen up now!”

Virginia Woolf famously wrote that every woman, in order to be an artist, needs a room of her own. I think Mrs. Woolf will forgive me if I rewrite that to every woman artist needs a home of her own. And in that home, as she paces its many rooms, filling them with this and that, rearranging the furniture willy nilly, throwing the occasional dance party, losing the vacuum and forgetting to do laundry on a regular basis, investigating what she’s lost under piles of dust and junk left behind by others, she will somehow stumble into the hiding place of that one need even greater than a home of her own—a voice of her own.

To be continued…

Hitting the Links (9/25/09)

clever cupcakesweb

Golf cupcake tier by clever cupcakes from Flickr

First, I apologize to anyone who thought I was actually making a golf reference and is now dismayed to find out that it’s just little old me working some puns to entice you into my little old shelter blog. (And come on people–me talking about golf? Have you met me?)

Instead good folks, today’s blog will be a hurlyburly hodgepodge of the groovy tips and treasures that take my fancy as I take my daily passeggiata through cyberspace. Enjoy!

First up, by way of Design*Sponge, check out this gorgeous stationery from oh joy. Yes, yes, I know e-mail is quicker, but really, I can’t be the only one that appreciates having something show up in my mailbox besides my American Express Bill, can I? And with folders this pretty, I might actually file my receipts rather than just making a big pile of them in my closet to file “some day.”

Again from Design*Sponge, a round-up of reasonably priced hardware. Updating drawer pulls  or hanging a few decorative hooks to corral coats and such is the easy-peasiest of upscales. It’s especially handy if  you’re a renter like me who wants the design pick-me-up without the permanence. Upgrading the hardware is also a perfect way to put the “It” as in “I want it, need it, gotta have it” into your IKEA finds. (Hint: Anthropologie often has swoon-worthy hardware at thrifty prices on its sale page!)

Today’s house tour from Apartment Therapy makes we wonder why the heck I left Chicago, especially the gorgeous view of downtown from the ubiquitous Chicagoland porch. What I really love about this post are these priceless words to live by from Sarah & Steve.  “We’re finally at the point where we love pretty much everything we have. . . Since we started buying less and spending more time waiting for the right piece, our home has improved.”  I also heart the list of sources at the end of the article, which prove that IKEA, craigslist, and haute hand-me-downs can be a designing diva’s best friends.  By the by, my fellow leasees, note that this cool pad is a rental, which means  that “But my landlord won’t let me . . . ” is no excuse for not dishing design in your (temporary) digs.

Speaking of IKEA, I kinda fell a little in love with this headboard this past Saturday. (There were a couple of others, but the images don’t seem to be available online.) Now if I can only figure out how to sell my current bed—which was a present from my mom and sis—without having said mom and sis disown me, or worse, stop giving me their clothing/accessories/chick lit castoffs.

Lena Corwin is one of my favorite bloggers. I really love the visual lushness of her blogs and the spareness of text. (Which is kinda weird since I’m a writer, right?) And yes, I have blatantly copied Lena’s style  for many of my own posts. BTW, she and fellow artist Maria do lots of lovely partnerships–like their new Plants journal–which they sell on their even lovelier Web site Lines & Shapes. I’m thinking the Lena-designed travel poster will be winging its way to some folks for Christmas this year . . .

I have a glue gun. I have tons of fabric. Now I can have a groovy magnetic knife rack thanks to this DIY to-do from The Farm Chicks. So who’s giving me a ride to IKEA? I’ll treat for the cinnamon buns!

Full disclosure: I did not just “happen” to run across this next—and final—link in my “daily passeggiata through cyberspace.” I sought it out. For you. So you wouldn’t worry that my obsession with/stalking of 20× had abated. So here’s “Hot Dog and I” by Fernanda Cohen, which I’d really like to get because it reminds me of Ignatius J. Reilly and a particularly amusing section of John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, but I’m not sure if good Christian girls should have pictures of naked men eating hot dogs on their walls . . .Sigh . . . .

No animals were harmed in the writing of this post


Buona sera, bon soir, and hola.

So, I’ve been toying with the idea of sending a Home Beete! questionnaire to some friends with groovy pads. I thought perhaps I’d take a test run and be my own guinea pig. Feel free to chime in on which questions you wish I’d ask–instead of, in addition to, which ones are a big yawn, and which ones floated your boat, revved your engine, and did other good stuff.

(Editor’s note: Wow, reading these questions and knowing I have to answer them just made me quite anxious. Sigh . . . )


THB: Where do you live?

Paulette: I live in Silver Spring, Maryland in a one-bedroom apartment with loads of closet space. Yes, I am boasting.

THB: What’s your favorite room and why?

Paulette: The living room. I have comfy couches, art I enjoy looking at, my gorgeous Gee’s Bend cotton rugs (bought majorly on sale), and a new TV with cable. It’s the first room I’ve put together that made me think I just might have some decent interior design instincts.

THB: What’s your favorite piece of art or memento or plain old thing in your home?

Paulette: That’s a hard one since my place is somewhat things-central. One of my favorites is my 20× print of Sarah McKenzie’s “Lift.” (Not pictured below, sorry.)  It’s a painting of a crane–the industrial kind–in bright colors, and it makes me ridiculously happy every time I see it.


THB: Describe your aesthetic in three words.

Paulette: Paris apartment Bloomsbury-style

THB: What’s the best piece of decorating advice you ever got?

Paulette: Learn to edit. You don’t have to have everything  you love out all at the same time. It’s okay to swap things in and out. It’s also okay to periodically rearrange your rooms until they feel Goldilocks-right.

THB: What’s on your home wish list?

Paulette: I’d love to have another Tord Boontje chandelier. I’d also love to have ceiling space to put another Tord Boontje chandelier.


THB: What do you do at home?

Paulette: Read, write, dream, putter. What don’t I do nearly enough–dust/vacuum/straighten up. I am, however, pretty good about washing the dishes!

THB: What one item that you can’t bring yourself to part with should really go to the Salvation Army or freecycle or the trash?

Paulette: I’ve actually been on a clearing-out kick, and I’m both horrified and fascinated that after three or four trips to the thrift store, I still haven’t run out of things to give away. I probably should get rid of the broken vintage clock I have that I bought when I decided to give into my genetic predisposition for clock fancying.


THB: Got color?

Paulette: I live in a rental, so everything’s kinda beige. If I was motivated, I’d either repaint everything Benjamin Moore’s Decorator White, which is great for backgrounding art and won’t piss off a landlord, or I’d commit to picking a color–Paris gray? turquoise?–and painting some accent walls.

THB: Any last words?

Paulette: What I love best about my apartment is that it “looks” like me.

Ready, Set, Launch!

I’ve been procrastinating starting this blog for months now despite my frequent declarations of a launch. I had figured out some things I wanted to feature, but I couldn’t figure out the “why.” Why did I want to write this blog? What was I supposed to write on the “about this blog” page when I had at least a billion different takes on “home” cycling through my head? And with so many people much smarter than me in this arena out there, why add my voice to the conversation?

I’ve been trying to check out some new magazines, one of which is Paper. In their design issue, they spotlighted a magazine, apartamento, which features homes as they’re actually lived in: reams of unfiled papers, unmade beds, rugs turned up at the corner you always trip on. Published in Europe, apartamento is only available at Urban Outfitters and American Apparel. So on the way home one evening, I snagged the last remaining copy from the 7th street UO outpost. (Thankfully the mag had been marked down from $25 to $9.99.) As I enthusiastically flipped through apartamento on the Metro, I found myself silently–and not so silently–exclaiming, “Wow!” I wanted to make everyone on the train car run out and buy their own copies so they culd be awe-filled with me. And that’s when I had my Oprah Aha! moment about my motive for The Home Beete!: enthusiasm.

This blog is about my enthusiasm for creating “home” whether that means hanging art on the walls or creating a welcoming space for guests or figuring out how to look like a nester without actually being one or simply daydreaming about your some-day home as you eagerly devour stacks of house porn. I hope this blog will encourage you to investigate your own enthusiasms and to refine, expand, and understand your own definition of home. To paraphrase William Carlos Williams, who’s to say you’re not the happy genius of your house or apartment or your mom’s basement?

So to get started, here are a few things about which I’m particularly enthusiastic . . .

Here's my beloved, already dogeared copy of  Apartamento No. 2. (I'm furiously on the hunt for a copy of issue # 1.)

Here's my beloved, already dogeared copy of Apartamento No. 2. (I'm furiously on the hunt for a copy of issue # 1.)

1. apartamento–It’s totally PIA to get a copy, but the writing is so intelligent and the homes are so delightfully unstudied, quirky, and real-peopley that hunting it down is absolutely worth it.

Dear Mr. Boontje: I apologize for my inexpert wrapping of your garland lamp, which makes it look way less cool than it actually is.

Dear Mr. Boontje: I apologize for my inexpert wrapping of your garland lamp, which makes it look way less cool than it actually is.

2. Tord Boontje–I don’t remember when I first discovered this Dutch designer, but I immediately fell in love with his ultra-glam take on nature. I’d coveted his lamps for a couple of years, and I finally took the plunge last year with two of his garland lamps. And yeah, I do like bragging that my lamps are  in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

Domino. RIP March 2009. Sigh, sob, sigh . . .

Domino. RIP March 2009. Sigh, sob, sigh . . .

3. Domino magazine–So why am I touting a magazine that published its last issue in March? Because it was absolutely perfect, that’s why. The tone, the featured homes, pages and pages of cool covetable stuff, the way after reading each issue, I felt like I was that girl, that cool downtown Paris apartment woman who also has a magical way with scarves . . . So, get thee to Ebay and buy up any copies you can get your hands on from anyone who’s foolish enough to part with their back issues. And you can also pick up the Domino book, which has culled the best of the best from the mag’s brief but monumental existence to make all of our lives just a little bit more decoratively hip or something like that . . .

From, my print featuring one of the chairs from Luke Strosnider's series "Every Chair at the Visual Studies Workshop." (p.s. I just ordered two pieces by Jorge Colombo who's work is being featured on the next "New Yorker" cover.)

From, my print featuring one of the chairs from Luke Strosnider's series "Every Chair at the Visual Studies Workshop." (p.s. I just ordered two pieces by Jorge Colombo who's work is being featured on the next "New Yorker" cover.)

4. 20×–So I had to put this Web site at number 4, because if I had put it in the number 1 spot, thereby continuing to zealously evangelize about it to anyone who’ll listen, I’m pretty sure Jen Bekman–the genius gallerist behind 20×200–would seriously file a multi-state restraining order. In a nutshell, Bekman works with visual artists to create affordable editions (starting at $20) so that any art appreciator can also be an art collector. Many of the artists Bekman works with already have their work in permanent museum collections, so believe me, this isn’t art school level stuff. Here’s the deal, I’ll probably manage to work 20×200 into so many future posts that’ll you’ll be able to make a drinking game out of it. So do us both a favor and just go to the site and fall in love with it already so you’ll be appreciative rather than annoyed by my (many, many) future mentions.

Soooo, I could go on and on, but given that this post is now officially way over the legal limit for blog posts, I’ll save some enthusiasm for future posts.

In the words of the divinely sculptural Jonathan Adler, “See you later decorator” . . .

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