Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ideal Selves

Ideal Selves

Ideal Selves

Ideal Selves
works cited: megan nielsen skirt; loft blouse; j. crew belt; UO flats; breda watch; WYNC bag (I ♥ radiolab!)

A post unrelated to anything else, brought to you by the beginning of Dissertation Madness:
When I was at Kramer books recently, I picked up The Architecture of Happiness (the dilettante's everyday architecture, sorry Emily I'm sure you're cringing) and have been reading it in my spare time. Since moving to DC, I've been missing my community of other grad students and my campus more than I expected, and trying to adjust to working on my dissertation from my living room or coffee shops. When I was reading this book the other day, I found a line that resonated given my recent relocation: "Belief in the significance of architecture is premised on the notion that we are, for better or for worse, different people in different places--and on the conviction that it is architecture's task to render vivid to us who we might ideally be." Struck by the idea that a well-designed space might remind me of my best possible self, I headed to the Library of Congress all day today, feeling that enormous vaulted ceilings and enormous rows of desks would help me get in touch with my scholarly possibility more than the crowded corner of a coffee shop. And you know what? It worked. The enormous main reading room gave me the feeling that I was pursuing knowledge in a space built for such a thing and I felt immense joy as I wrote today.

44 comments:

Louise, Raspberries In Winter said...

Our library out at Uni, though not nearly as grand as the Library of Congress, never fails to help me study. They are some of the best places, libraries.

rebecca said...

I love this. Glad you took that advice to heart and found a place that put you in your element! Thanks for sharing.

(Annd, I love that skirt too. The buttons down the front get me every time.)

RebeccawithanR

Eliza said...

what a lovely idea! and so true, too. lucky you have such an auspicious locale to go to!

Bridget said...

Seriously, I wish I could study every day at the Library of Congress. Or have a gorgeous sunroom with their mosaics on the floor, and a giant library desk. Perfect.

Laura said...

What a lovely concept. I'm wondering if that would work as well for me if I were to begin my work-related researching in our local campus library. Hmm...

dotty said...

i heart good spaces.
and libraries.
and i even have a bit of a soft spot for that book.

(this from a future architect)

Khadija said...

I can't read the rest of the post until I say this - I love radiolab too! I have their podcasts downloaded on my iPod for listening in the car :)

Mary said...

You look wonderful today, and your post was inspiring. It's definitely motivation for me to either clean up my living room or get outside more often.

Amy said...

Wonderful thoughts and a beautiful post. Libraries have always held a feeling of "home" for me, no matter where I go. Working in the Library of Congress would be a dream come true for me- cherish it!

wildchild said...

it just gets you in the right frame of mind. i can totally relate :) glad you found somewhere that makes you feel more like you

Terri said...

I've lived in the DC area for five years now, and I still have never been to the LOC. I hear it's absolutely gorgeous. I'm happy for you that you were so inspired!
http://stylishsass.blogspot.com

Miss Bibliophile said...

That book has been on my To Read list for a while now. I completely agree with that quote. I often find that I prefer writing at a coffee shop over my apartment. Just that little change of space makes it feel more like an event, rather than something I'm squeezing in between other chores. Now it sounds like I may have to take the train to the LoC to really get some work done.

chillairandperfume said...

i am so affected by environment as a student. it makes all the difference in terms of my productivity and focus. fortunately, there are all kinds of beautiful, study-friendly places in boston.

see my fashion blog here: chillairandperfume.blogspot.com. i could use your support, ladies!

Jana Lopez said...

That line is so true. I can so relate, I used to go to places just like that here when I need to make a paper. It's nice to hear that you were able to find a nice space and write just the way you want to :D

http://janastyles.blogspot.com

genevievvve said...

You inspire me! Thanks for this.

I think this concept is both freeing and a little... oppressive. I currently live in an environment that I do not feel reflects my best self, but then again it is liberating to be reassured that I have the power to seek out a space that will reflect or inspire the self I want to be.

I admire your simple style, and as a fellow grad student, I relate to you a lot!

allie said...

I completely relate. I have the hardest time being productive in certain environments. I can never get anything done in my living room, for instance, because I'm always distracted by other chores/tasks I've been putting off that things around the house remind me of.
There's a particular spot in my university's library that is my go-to get stuff done spot. It's quiet, but not too quiet and is nice and cozy. I'm glad you've found your spot within your new city! I've never been to the LoC, but I'd love to someday!

Jill said...

Brava! I went to the New York Public Library's main building for the first time since living here last week to get some work done, and it was SO inspiring to be among the quiet, the magnitude, and the sheer awe of being among so many people just quietly working.

Are you enjoying The Architecture of Happiness? I read The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work and pretty much absolutely hated it...but heard that ...Happiness is far superior. I'm wondering if I should give old de Botton another shot.

BiblioMOMia said...

That room works for me every time...
And you looked every inch the responsible grad student for your trip there!

kristin said...

What a great observation! Glad it worked for you.

Jo said...

Kramer's! I miss studying there...I was in DC for my undergrad. Mostly, I miss the key lime pie.

Anja said...

I know the feeling. Have been writing my thesis for the last months and don't know sometimes how to get my motivation up as well. Maybe I need to get back into the scolarly self as well.

SIENA.STYLE said...

i love your skirt! you look very pretty
kisses from prague and enjoy your day!
http://sienastyle.blogspot.com/

Jess said...

Love this, and that you are experiencing the truth of architecture - it is so much more than it seems.

apurpledress said...

I love your outfit. I adore skirts like that. The buttons are such an adorable detail.

Celynne said...

That's great! Score one point for the libraries. There's a reason they're meant to be quiet places people... /library-rant

I have to agree though, places and buildings do bring out different aspects of ourselves. It's interesting how deeply our environment shapes and affects us.

Emerald said...

cute top!

Mel said...

LOVE this. It's so true, and well-written!

girl in the poodle shoes said...

I am with you on this, it's all about surrounding oneself in inspiring environments.

Xo,
Girl in the Poodle Shoes
^Follow the link to visit my style blog, thanks!!

Ann E. said...

Great quotation and a great outfit!

Eclectic Flair said...

This might sound a little silly but I have been wanting to read that book since I saw it in the movie 500 Days of Summer. In the commentary, the producers said it was a great book. Yes, I watched to commentary. :P

Glad that change of scenery worked for you! As always, you look great!

Lidi @ Eclectic Flair

Rosiecat said...

Yes. Yes yes yes. Now imagine what it's like to work in ugly windowless rooms all day! That is why my sanity is put to the test every day in the lab :-)

(Your outfit is lovely too--so cool and comfortable for these last days of summer.)

Keisha said...

While not quite as stunning as the Library of Congress, when I was going to college in Boston I would write my hardest term papers in their social science room--part of the "museum" section that still has ballrooms and grand fireplaces and marble statues on every flat surface. Those papers were always 10000% better than the ones I wrote in a bland dorm room.

Emily said...

Thanks so much for this--it is exactly how I've been feeling lately! Last year of the Ph.D., most of my colleagues have moved, and I'm the one still here. Even when it's empty, the library just feels like a place where stuff gets done. Good luck writing!

Dorky Medievalist said...

You should also try the Folger. I've never been able to work in coffee shops but I get a lot done in reading rooms. Good luck with the writing.

Camille said...

this post makes me so happy! I must read The Architecture of Happiness and I must surround myself with open spaces (currently, my office has lots of natural sunlight, vaulted ceilings and floor to ceiling windows... it makes me very happy). I'm glad that you're transition into your new DC life well and keep on visiting wonderful academic places! The world is your library! :)

Shakespeare's Feminine Ending said...

I second D-Med's use of the Folger, although the lighting is better in the LOC. And I loved how you put your feeling at the LOC--that the enormity made you feel like you were doing what the space was built for. I think it's a feeling of peace with your vocation--that desire and doing line up. The first time I was in that room I was 18 and writing a paper on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and I freakin fell in love. I find that the spaces in which I got really great writing done in the past, if I can return to them I will go into the same mode and feel, as you say, "immense joy." For that reason I use a reading room at a uni other than my own--because it reminds me more of the Rad Cam, of the LOC, and of my own alma mater's marble-and-dust.

Alli (One Pearl Button) said...

What an inspiring post! I think I'm officially starting to hit that phase of dissertation writing where it feels like it will NEVER.BE.DONE. Maybe I just need to find a new space to work. Thanks, Tania!

Rhiannon said...

love that skirt and those flats!
www.modernsuburbanites.blogspot.com

Jenn said...

Love this outfit - so cute!! I'm glad you found a good space to work in :) I need to start listening to Radiolab, my apartment-mate told me about it the other week.

amanda said...

What an interesting idea. I think I will pick up this book now! I recently moved, to begin my first real college teaching job, my doctorate fresh in hand. Everything here is different, and as I begin to acclimate, I find myself changing. I am drawn to different music, different clothes, even a different daily schedule, I wonder if my surroundings have forced this adaptation. Beautiful look today, by the way!

Ashley said...

I always find myself coming back to your blog, no matter what. Every time I come to your page, I'm automatically inspired to do some bargain-hunting and to get dressed super cute. Love it!

Anonymous said...

Like you, I moved away from my home campus at the beginning of writing my dissertation. It took me a lot longer to realize what an impact the move had, however. Good for you to have figured it out so quickly! It's an insight worth its weight in gold.

AM said...

Ahh, I have that book! I haven't read it yet, so thanks for the reminder to pick it back up! I think I could use some space revamping motivation given my work-from-home situation.

Ann Marie
www.stellawishes.com

simplychicforcheap said...

wow, that button-up skirt is adorable! love it! :)

xo jeanette
simplychicforcheap.wordpress.com

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