What is an education, anyway?

What did I get from Simon? An education – the thing my parents always wanted me to have. I learned a lot in my two years with Simon. I learned about expensive restaurants and luxury hotels and foreign travel, I learned about antiques and Bergman films and classical music. All this was useful when I went to Oxford – I could read a menu, I could recognise a fingerbowl, I could follow an opera, I was not a complete hick. But actually there was a much bigger bonus than that. My experience with Simon entirely cured my craving for sophistication. By the time I got to Oxford, I wanted nothing more than to meet kind, decent, straightforward boys my own age, no matter if they were gauche or virgins. I would marry one eventually and stay married all my life and for that, I suppose, I have Simon to thank.

But there were other lessons Simon taught me that I regret learning. I learned not to trust people; I learned not to believe what they say but to watch what they do; I learned to suspect that anyone and everyone is capable of “living a lie”. I came to believe that other people – even when you think you know them well – are ultimately unknowable. Learning all this was a good basis for my subsequent career as an interviewer, but not, I think, for life. It made me too wary, too cautious, too ungiving. I was damaged by my education.

An excerpt written by Lynn Barber, whom the movie An Education was based on.

The whereabouts of time

There are few ideas I think of more often than the concept of time. The, however foolish, way I understand time is that it is a constant, as defined, interpreted and created by society. It’s a socially constructed idea that would continue to exist without said definition — time goes on without its acknowledgment. What?

As with every new year, I’m prone to those awful pensive state of minds where I can’t help but rant about my discontents about this arbitrary time of new found goals, the shortcomings of society, the educational system — anything really. [Exhibits A-Z of my cynicism and negativity: On people becoming increasingly banal, on being skeptical of NY resolutions, on arbitrary ambition, on — this one is just really me being incoherent and trying to sound like a smart 16 year-old, on apathy, on being devoid of personal emotions, etc. See the archives.]

This year, hopefully as a sign of growth and progress, I will transcend beyond those diatribes.

Anyway, as the frou frou statement, “As I grow older…” goes — As I grow older (and wiser, I hope), I’ve realized that:

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Chicago, I love you

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R U Wired?

That’s what it says on top of the bathroom mirror at It’s a Grind.

I use the restroom often — due to excessive liquid consumption, not excessive high-fiber consumption, to be frank.

Exciting details ensue.

This is why I love school

(And take 1-unit classes on the “History of Type”)

“For homework, please draw your name (first or last or nickname) in one of the fonts you have the sheet for. Of course, that means that you’ll either have to research the letters online to find those m’s or j’s or k’s or other letters that aren’t on your sheet — OR you have to try to extrapolate from the features in front of you. This is all about learning to look at the letters, so do not be anxious about getting it ‘right’ just try to make the best possible observations and drawings.”

Everybody says time heals everything

…but what of the wretched hollow?

Steeped in History: The Art of Tea

I wasn’t supposed to take photos, but the security guard was a nice man and kindly turned the corner when I pulled out my phone. ;-)

See the rest of the set here.

10 to 60 without retouching

This is amazing. It’s quite old, but Vogue Paris did an editorial featuring model Eniko Mihalik at the ages of 10, 20… 60 with only make-up, etc.

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In Defense of Food

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.


I’ve really got to hand it to Michael Pollan for being so savvy with his catchy, catchy taglines.

I just finished another book by him, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. Overall, it was a very quick and easy read. It was equally interesting as The Botany of Desire, but definitely more politicized. The book is divided into three sections and the first two deal with “nutritionism” and the Western diet and the accompanying diseases. These first two sections do a good job in dispelling ambiguities of the politics of food and agriculture and exactly how much policies have affected the way and what we eat now and consequently, have made us “overfed and undernourished.” Much of these first two chapters deal with a lot of potential and relevant ideas, especially with the healthcare debate going on right now. An interesting, but seemingly obvious figure he gave was that “in 1960 Americans spent 17.5 percent of their income on food, and 5.2 percent of national income on healthcare. Since then, those numbers have flipped: Spending on food has fallen to 9.9 percent, while spending on healthcare has climbed to 16 percent of national income” (p. 187-188).

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If you never see me again…

This is why. So, read it. Fan it. Whatever!

Photo 32

Dedicated to B. Frank

My roommate, J, just asked me if I considered myself romantic. After careful deliberation and suspicion of the context and reason for her query, I said, “Behind closed doors.” To which she replied, “Yeah, you don’t seem it.”

“And you?” I ask.

“Oh yeah, definitely. I am hopeless.”

GREAT. Sometimes, I think the universe is playing a big joke on me, pairing me with those love-y types in futile hope of changing my cold exterior. I’m no cynic though.

That’s no accident!

Needless to say, I get overly excited when I spot “fittingly” outside of this blog.

The Queen of Night

I just finished Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire and wanted to share some excerpts on the section about beauty and tulips—especially the Queen of Night tulip.

“Maybe there’s a good reason we find their fleetingness so piercing, can scarcely look at a flower in bloom without thinking ahead, whether in hope or regret. We might share with certain insects a tropism inclining us toward flowers, but presumably insects can look at a blossom without entertaining thoughts of the past and future—complicated human thoughts that may once have been anything but idle. Flowers have always had important things to teach us about time” (p. 68-9).

[Photos by Screen Deb and gwiwer]

“Queen of Night is as close to black as a flower gets, though in fact is is a dark and glossy maroonish purple. Its hue is so dark, however, that it appears to draw more light into itself than it reflects, a kind of floral black hole. … For Dumas the black tulip was a synecdoche for tulipomania itself, an indifferent and arbitrary mirror in which a perverse consensus of meaning and value came briefly and disastrously into focus” (p. 92-93).

“The canonical flowers seem to me almost all female—except, that is, for the tulip, perhaps the most masculine of flowers. If you doubt this, watch next April how a tulip forces its head up out of the ground, how the head gradually colors as it rises. Dig down along the shaft, and you’ll find its bulb, smooth, rounded, hard as a nut, a form for which the botanists offer a most graphic term: ‘testiculate'” (p. 98-99).

This is easily one of my favorite books. Pollan’s writing is clear and simple, yet beautiful and his ideas and conclusions—especially while intoxicated in the name of “research”—are fascinating. I appreciated the nuanced botany information but really fell in love with his ideas of order and disorder à la Apollo and Dionysus. It’s difficult to say what my favorite chapter was, but needless to say, there’s something for everyone: sweetness, beauty, intoxication and control.

Such easy mornings


An e-mail from a professor I will have in the fall:


Thanks for your note. The fonts will be the ones in the shop… including some mystery things!!!! You’ll see that you can find some cousins to your dear Helvetica! they will also respond well to your care and attention, I hope.



Ain’t it the truth

There comes a point in life where the respect of a few starts to mean more to you than the attention of many. I’ve been there. At first you feel like a loser for abandoning your “principles,” but then you realize that those principles never really had your back. When the shit hits the fan, those few people whose respect you’ve earned will keep you from getting buried, and it will be worth more to you than all the adoration of all the juicy political gossip sluts on the Internet. ~Lynde

On a related note, I am tired of Twitter.

Post-Paris melange

I’ve been apprehensive about trying to write some fantastic encapsulation of my travels – because, really, I don’t think it’s possible.

How any traveler manages to go abroad and so concisely bring that world back to us amazes me. It requires more than just being a competent writer, but an aptitude for recognizing the finer details from all senses and people around them – things that I am still working on and coincidentally, the same reasons why I admire journalists.
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À bientôt, j’espère.

Photos originally uploaded by lempel_ziv

I have a 73 year-old cousin in Paris

He writes a column and children’s books. COOL!

Also, my sister has sent me on a mission to find Leonardo Da Vinci’s last house, Clos Lucé Manor, near Amboise in Loire Valley. She wants me to find this book on cave dwellers in the bookstore of the house… I’m so down. She’s also requesting macarons. Done.

Serious, me? SRSLY?

Someone asked me why I didn’t write serious things in my blog. It’s not that I’m inept at having a serious conversation or that I don’t have serious thoughts – I know, shocking.

It’s more of the perceptions that are so entwined with Fittingly and myself, developed throughout the years. After something has built itself on certain pillars and characteristics, it’s as if that existence is so engrained that acts or behaviors that deviate from that perception is just strange – neither positively or negatively – just strange.

I have a pretty clear idea of what people expect from this blog and if I can be a little presumptuous, it’s quips about culture/technology, mundane daily happenings, occasional rants about school and excess pretension or whatever. Those categories, while broad, leave little room for musings on life, God or moral righteousness.

Plus, I’d like to think those conversations are saved for close and dear friends.

An influx of inspiration

There is an incessant influx of novelty into the world, and yet we tolerate incredible dulness.
Henry David Thoreau

Photo by moleitau via Flickr

© Copyright 2003-2020 Millie Tran. All this happened, more or less.