What Defines Me?

I just discovered a colleague’s very stylish blog, and was inspired by her post asking What Defines You?,” and her subsequent personal list. As a bit of a Top 10 List addict, I was fast on my way to rounding up my own. I’ve left jcm off the list, as it’s eminently clear that this blog defines me, but that’s just too easy, eh? Here they flow, in random order:

My 7th Birthday Photo

This photo (May ’77, Cincy, OH) conjures up the warm, sentimental feelings of uncomplicated youth, and a loving connection with my family. Although my folks aren’t pictured here, their nurturing presence is all around (and on the other side of the camera). The Winnie the Pooh cake was likely by my special request. I love the retro feel of the old square prints, with rounded corners.

There is a simplicity to my memories of childhood, and of these such moments…no crowded party, or branded birthday theme (seemingly requisite these days), just closeness and joy. I’m so thankful to have the foundation that my upbringing provided me. Funnily enough, CJ has a photo that is almost exactly the same (parallel lives?). Now, just two months from my 40th bday, I suppose I’m a bona fide “adult”!?

“Peristeriona” Ceramic Vase

This vase holds all the memories of CJ’s and my beautiful around-the-world journey together…Hong Kong to Greece to Senegal. It was something I had dreamt of doing for decades, while I racked up frequent flyer miles!

We purchased this in a charming little shop on Sifnos, an authentic, less touristy Greek Island option that we both long to return to one day. The yellow and black colors call to mind the brilliant glow of the sun, and the contrasting shadows, on the traditional white structures and breezy hillsides.

CJ and I have the gift of travelling very well together, and our time on this island was one of our most special yet…divine food, a white-knuckle scooter ride through the hills, and lots of R&R by the sea.

Olympic Pin Collection

I had the enormous pleasure of attending the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. It was there that I was introduced to the smack that is collectible pins. MOST are very garish, but are still delicious for their own tackiness, but some feature well designed icons. Here are just a few favs from my collection.

They represent my love and vigor for competition, winter sports, and figure skating. They somehow encapsulate and conjure up the feeling of being there. Speaking of, why am I not on my way to Torino for the Worlds!? At least I have a Torino Games pin, direct from eBay, to look at.

“Details III,” by Fernando Reyes

This 24.75″ x 17.5″ x 1″ collage is made up of original block prints, etchings and drawings by Fernando. It hangs on our most prominent family room wall. I jokingly renamed it “10 Nipples” (can you find all 10?).

I’ll never forget when we visited Fernando’s studio, and I gasped when I spotted this piece on an easel at the entrance. It embodies male beauty and sensuality, self-expression, and movement. I blogged at length about our happy discovery.

Japanese Tansu

I bought my cypress tansu at Kiku Imports, on Sutter St. It fits in perfectly with our eclectic, but predominantly Deco-to-50s, Japanese, Modern interior design melange. It’s the perfect storage unit, beautiful but functional, with lots of doors and nooks to tuck away all the things I want to remain hidden (perfect for an OCD-er!). This particular tansu is intended for kitchen use, but resides in our dining room.

I’ve always been drawn to ancient Japanese culture and spirituality, and the way it imbues the art, furniture, design and fashion. Hopefully, I’ll get to Japan one day (Kyoto, and western Japan). I love that this piece has a story to tell of its past, in its scratches and patina. I’m fascinated that Japanese are purging their tansus as quickly as Westerners are snatching them up. We’re as transfixed on their old culture as they are eager to forget it…at least the younger generation.

“Missa Solemnis,” conducted by John Eliot Gardiner

I bought this CD while living in New York City for a design internship. I used to spend hours haunting the aisles of music stores there. This Beethoven choral masterwork is among the best classical sacred music in my book, and one of my favorite works in my beloved classical vocal genre.

This CD was released when Gardiner was ALL the rage, and could seemingly do no wrong in critics’ minds. I was immediately drawn to his recordings because of their pristine quality, yet balanced with a passionate restraint and truth. I feel this recording is faultless. I’m not as big a fan of the more bombastic approach, ala Bernstein.

CDs are so retro, but that perfectly reflects my status as a quasi-luddite. And, out of all my recordings, this one offers me the finest transcendent soul therapy…yes, music as escape FROM real-life, but connection TO the spiritual!

Marching Frogs Candleholder

I used to admire this whimsical candleholder every morning on my way to work, as I’d pass by the window of an eccentric little antique store on Christopher Street, in the West Village. Such purchases didn’t seem obvious to me at the time, since a real “home” was still a long way off. But during my parents’ visit to NY in ’91, they bought it for me as a gift.

It has NEVER left my dresser, and still sits there. At first glimpse, it embodied the joy of life, and the confident, in sync partnership that I longed for, since coming out to myself in ’84.

Aesthetically, it is no longer as much to my taste, but I’m still moved by the symbolic and iconic value it holds for me, and keep it on my dresser also as a sort of protest to attaining PERFECT “style.”


She is our baby girl (despite being an old lady, at 62!), and our third companion. We give and receive so much nurturing and love to and from her. Her presence in our lives teaches us how to love each other better, and how to care for and nurture a soul.

Working from home has allowed me to enjoy her even more. Her every graceful nap position and meow…Ah-dorable!

My Stage Makeup Kit

Glitter + Kryolan Aquacolor (in a rainbow of colors) + lipstick + blush + brushes + fake eyelashes + applicators + sequin strips + foundation + more…

Putting on my full face twice per weekend for my current show Pearls Over Shanghai has been a wonderful new evolving craft for me. (At 1 to 1 1/2 hours, my application time approaches my onstage time!) It is both meditative, as well as centering. It helps me get into, and put on the characters I create. It is playful and fun, and accentuates the magical and spiritual qualities of theatre. It also reminds me of the wonderful world of colorful friends I’ve made throughout my theatrical life.

My MacBook Pro

This computer has allowed me to grow my design business. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to continue my livelihood in its most recent freelance incarnation. And, I’ve gotten so much satisfaction out of working from our home office (doubling as our dining/guest bed-room).

It also feeds many of my loves, via youtube, jcm, and helps me stay in better touch with family and friends (especially those afar), as well as meeting new like-minded friends.

It’s sleek, it’s beautiful, it’s Mac! And, for creatives Macs are a religion. The smooth touch of the keys and matte screen provide visceral pleasures. It’s scary how much livin’ I do via my MacBook. Surely, a true sign that the 21st Century has been officially ushered in!

Dat’s All Folks

It’s wasn’t so easy to distill this down to 10. Even as I finish this up, I’m thinking I should have included the path we walk nearly every weather-permitting week in Golden Gate Park, and I’m sure I’ll recall more overlooked items in the coming weeks. It goes without saying that my friends also define me, but nothing iconic or tangible came to mind that speaks to ALL of the dearest of them, other than perhaps the shadow box I shared in a prior post. Enjoy! And, share some of your own, even if only in words.

6 comments so far

  1. Ice Charades on

    Did you grow up in the ‘Nati? I lived in Mt. Lookout before moving to Mexico City. Very cool list!

  2. jumping clapping man on

    Indeed! Mt. Lookout…how lovely! I spent plenty of time there in my college years.

  3. Aaron on

    Didn’t know you were such an Olympic Collector…I’ll send you one of the many I have from Vancouver!

  4. jumping clapping man on

    OMG, fer realz?! You are the best!!! Well, that is, if they’re well designed! 😉

    Let me know if you want my address. I’ll email it to ya! And, you will receive good karma for a lifetime!

  5. Aaron on

    Yep, email me your addy. And a pin you shall receive!

  6. […] (graphic designer extraordinaire) published his Ten Things in his own smart, cheeky, very Paul blog. Fabulous (and we’re officially in love with his […]

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