In the Meme Time…

This morning, without anything to read at breakfast — the Cheerios box was a few O’s short of a serving and, so, no need to bring out the milk container and its engaging side panel — I spread peanut butter on toast and brewed a cup of tea.

As much as I like good eating, preparing meals — even something as simple as running the toaster in the a.m. — can be a chore when you’re not in the mood.

At such times, I find myself wishing I could just squeeze my meals out of a tube, like an astronaut.

At any rate, this morning I resigned myself to sitting down and flipping through the Sunday N.Y. Times magazine as I munched on my toast.

The Times has been featuring a celebrity “meme” in the weekly magazine. The meme acts as a sort of framing device for the profile of the creative person or titan of industry that’s being featured. It’s entertaining, light reading and there’s no danger that its content will interfere with your digestion.

This week’s “profile” of the very talented clothes designer Phillip Lim filled the time delightfully. A sweet, refreshingly guileless man of impeccable taste, it was a joy getting to know more about the talented, Thai-born Lim.

As I was reading his answers, I couldn’t help but formulate my own answers, simultaneously. Doesn’t everyone do this? How can you not?

So then I thought: why not create an abridged version of this week’s NYT’s meme for my next post.  Here’s what  I came up with (please feel free to take this meme and adopt it as your own — and why not? I filched most of it from The Times:

ACCIDENTAL CAREER: Back when I was living in L.A., I started out working for two designers who created packaging for videos and, later, DVDs. Lots of 150-word film synopses would routinely cross my desk during the day. Some of them were pretty dull. One day, I said to myself, “I could do better than this,” and offered my services. And that’s how I started out getting paid to write.

FAVORITE CLOTHING ERAS: I’ve always loved jackets with tapered waistlines and peplums, like this 1940s vintage style:

ITEM OF CLOTHING I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT: My super comfortable and still stylish Calvin Klein camouflage-print cargo pants.

FIRST PIECE OF ART ACQUIRED FOR THE HOUSE: Our first purchase of real art was an African healing/power figure, which I’ve nicknamed “Nail Boy.”

ALWAYS ON ME: My wedding band.

MISCONCEPTION ABOUT ARTISTS: That we don’t work hard. That making art is easy and that natural talent precludes struggle.

MORNING ROUTINE: I hate alarms. I’ve never been one to leap out of bed. I need to ease myself into consciousness. When my sister and I shared a room as kids, we’d kept a cheap record player on the floor in between our beds. On school days, the first thing in the morning, my mom would bang on our door, raise the shades and shout, “Rise and shine!” It was hellish. But not until my hand had reached for that turntable, flipped on the switch and placed the chunky needle in the groove of the 78 rpm recording of the “William Tell Overture” spinning on top, was I able to even consider getting up. Even then, my head never left the pillow until the sounding of the trumpets. I’m still the same way.


FATHER ARTIFACT: His picture I.D. from the Hotel St. George in Brooklyn, a souvenir of his very first job.

WORKDAY LUNCH: Again, if I could, I’d go the way of the astronaut. Typically, though, it’s a sandwich — using whatever’s in the fridge or cupboard to put between the bread — cheese, tuna, PB&J — because I’m usually too lazy to wash all the components in order to make a salad.

CHILDHOOD OBSESSIONS: Cartwheels on the lawn, The Book of Knowledge encyclopedia, playing my 45 rpm collection, drawing and painting, stickball, bike riding, The Beatles.

FAMILY MEMORABILIA: I have what Catholics called a “relic.” It was a gift from my maternal grandfather, given to me when I was very small. Sorry for the blurry photo — but look what’s inside the circle on the right panel. A tiny remnant of cloth supposedly touched by St. Francis of Assisi. I’ve treasured this since I was little, partly because of how cool it is, and partly because of how much I loved my grandfather, who died when I was 14. Interestingly, I didn’t receive it from my (Catholic-turned atheist) Italian grandfather. I received it from my German grandfather.

FAVORITE PLACE TO VACATION: Grand Canyon; Rockport, Maine; Florence, Italy; the coast of Oregon. If I ever get to England and Paris, I’m sure they’ll make the list.

FAVORITE NEW GADGET: Not brand new, but the newest gadget: my Kuhn Rikon garlic press. Its the bomb.

FANTASY CAREER: That’s easy: a musician. Playing my fiddle in some kind of band. Alternatively, learning to play the viola de gamba as well as the glorious virtuoso, Vittorio Ghielmi (this is a fantasy, remember.)

He’s on the left.

BEST FASHION ADVICE: It’s all in the footware, as I once told my sister. If you’ve got on a pair of great looking shoes, the rest of your outfit seems to pull together.

FAVORITE TV SHOW: It used to be Nurse Jackie (but we no longer have Showtime.) Before that, it was In Treatment (but we no longer have HBO.) I do like The Office (we broke down and bought an indoor rabbit ears antenna — it’s so great and retro-looking.) Truth be told, I bought it so I could watch The Hurt Locker win all the Oscars last night (and Jeff Bridges win his) and watch the Steve and Alec hosting.

BEST RECENT ACQUISITION: A silver sequined throw pillow, a birthday gift from my friend, R.

FAVORITE ITEM IN THE HOUSE: The iPod player in the kitchen. Makes the time spent in there fly by.

WHAT I’D BUY WITH $20:A buffet lunch for two at the Jackson House, my favorite indian restaurant in the neighborhood.

EVENING ROUTINE: Cook some dinner, wash dishes, make tea, ingest something sweet, read or watch a movie.

ALWAYS IN FRIDGE: garlic, pine nuts, avocado, lemon, tortillas, wedge of locatelli romano, organic eggs.

ALWAYS IN CUPBOARD: angel hair pasta, good olive oil, black beans, taco chips, San Marzano peeled whole tomatoes.

OBJECT THAT SPEAKS TO ME: The vintage Gumby sitting on my desk.

HOBBY: Playing Irish tunes and old time music on my fiddle.

TYPECAST: I’m good at taking charge and solving problems for others, but when it comes to myself, I tend to procrastinate.

MOTTO: Don’t give up.

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