Thursday, April 30, 2009


On the last day of National Poetry Month:

When my dear old friend Benton, a filmmaker and writer, saw Lost in Translation, he said Charlotte, played by the then-unknown Scarlett Johansson, reminded him of me. Naturally, I was curious and went to see the movie. I wasn't sure whether I was flattered or...well, flattered, when it opened with the lovely Ms. Johansson prancing in her underpants.

I understood further when this exchange was delivered between Charlotte and Bob, played by Bill Murray:

I'm stuck. Does it get easier.

No, yes, it does...

Yeah? But look at you.

Thanks. It does, the more you know
who you are... you don't care about
things the same way...

I just don't know what I'm supposed
to be. I thought maybe I wanted to
be a writer... but I hate what I
write, and I tried taking pictures,
but John's so good at that, and mine
are so mediocre... and every girl
goes through a photography phase,
like horses, you know dumb pictures
of your feet...

That's the part that (I think) made Benton think of me. The "taking pictures of your feet" part. Old friends, like notebooks (click) and art projects your mom framed (see below), will never let you forget all those people you used to be...those phases when you took pictures of your feet. Which is exactly what I was doing at 16, probably aching for Spring Break with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Pictured below, is the photo of my feet, remembered by Benton, framed by my mom (and hanging in her bathroom in St. Louis), with accompanying poem winding around below it.

It reads:

Barefoot (Or my premature Peter Pan Syndrome...)

God, what I wouldn't give to be barefoot again.
To get out of this dungeon, this wintry den-

I want to pass through doorways without noticing.

To open the window with no cold surprise
All that I want is some sun in my eyes.

Just to look down and see ten tanned toes
Not big scary boots to keep out the snows.

(Does anyone sanity's froze? Am I the only one who feels strange in these clothes?)

If I just make this one long grey day end.
So I could go back to being barefoot again.

--Jenni Avins, 16

I'm still a bit of a navel-gazer. (Duh.) But aren't we all really? And isn't marking a moment what old friends, photos of your feet and poetry is all about? Even Roger Cohen dug out his diary from the '70s and shared a poem (click) with the readers of The New York Times yesterday.
At it's worst, New York City can feel like total chaos. At it's best, poetry in motion. Sometimes I feel a bit lost in the translation myself. But I've got my own Bobs to help me find synchronicity in the city, and my Bentons (and bathroom walls in St. Louis) to remind me this is no new phenomenon. We've been here before, kid.

Here's a shot of me and Maizie, just a week or two ago, barefoot on the beach.

You'll figure it out. I'm not worried
about you. Keep writing.

Thanks Bob.

Monday, April 27, 2009

love, MOM

Seriously, I am about to give you all the best Mother's Day gift. It's called Postcards From Yo Momma (click)--a bulletin board of hilarious correspondence from moms. You won't regret this.

I learned about it from Lauren Collins in the New Yorker (click) a few weeks ago, and laughed out loud on the train. (Is there something about childbirth that bestows a genius for the comic use of punctuation and capitalization?)

I have plenty of gems in my inbox from my mom too, who generally signs emails in all caps: love, MOM. Here are a few favorites:

Subject: Pixel pink
Finally got the lipstick and will bring it to you soon, only 10 days! love, MOM (I didn't know you jumped out of a plane!)

Subject: Home again
Hi there, I hope your class went well. Tabbouleh is made from bulger wheat, not couscous (what was I thinking?), but I see no reason not to make it with couscous if one needed too. lots of love, MOM

Subject: CORSICA


Mom and Sara

So, MOMs can make us laugh without even trying. But making my mom laugh? Like, really really, laugh, is another story. It's something that only my sister can truly achieve, and it's totally priceless. So, we're pulling out all the stops on this one. Happy Mother's Day, MOM. Scroll down...

your Jaybird

Sunday, April 26, 2009

streets in the heat

91 degrees Fahrenheit in Brooklyn today! The tree outside my kitchen window (see last entry) has yet to blossom, so for now you get the view out the living room--and no, you don't have to pay extra for this.

For a more composed take on street style, see here for a hotter method of keeping cool on Dossier Style.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

on the verge

Winter in New York can bring us to the verge of many actions, some of them drastic. But today, the sun is shining and any second we're going to burst into bloom. Here's the view from the kitchen window yesterday:

And today, it's 81 degrees and those little green buds are starting to blossom:

Any day now we'll be in full flower. Congratulations, New York, we've almost made it to May...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

planet earth

I had a multitude of epic nature shots to share with you on Earth Day. But from where I'm sitting, waking up from a jet-lagged nap on a New York City evening, this one felt the most special.

Here's a postcard from what may be, to me, one of the greatest spots on earth to watch the sunset: the bluffs above Sands in Isla Vista, California.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

sunday in the sky: Brisbane-LA-NYC

Here we go. I mailed a postcard from this mailbox outside the airport in Brisbane, Australia before I took off Sunday (yesterday?) morning.
Come fly with me.

Many hours of writing and reading elapse until...

The ultimate luxury: morning California light.

A rosy fog blanket rolling back from the Pacific.

The Channel Islands.


Just call me angel of the morning, angel.

Then slowly turn away.
Taking off for New York: look closely for our shadow on the Pacific.

Maybe the Colorado River. I can't say for sure.

Snow still hanging, I believe, on the Rockies.

The Great Plains.

The Atlantic.

East Coast of the USA.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

nest for the night

A nest for the night and a morning swim in Brisbane. Now, onto L.A. then home to NYC.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

sets in the west

The sun may be rising in the east, but for the time being it's setting on my days in Western Australia.

the helicopter pilot and the barrel racer

Willie Cook will marry Liz Hore today in the Cardrona Valley of New Zealand's South Island, sealing the deal on one of the most bad-ass and beautiful couples I know. Here at the Brown household we're sorry to miss the celebration. We'll be thinking of them all day long and know the barrel racer will make the most beautiful bride.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


looks so pretty making quesadillas in her kitchen.


In this family, "adventure" means you don't know where you're going.

The key is to trust one another, bring snacks and stay positive. Maizie's already onto it, as you can see above. After lunch at a winery in Margaret River today us girls hoped for the best when Doug followed a hunch and turned onto red-dirt road.

And look where we ended up:

Does this not look remarkably like the beach where Danny and Sandy frolicked in the beginning of Grease? You decide. Theirs:


Here's to adventure.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


is two.

crocodile hunters

Here's Doug a while back at a costume party in New Zealand, in a moment of foreshadowing before the big move to Australia.

While he tamed the cows at the farm yesterday Sara, Bella, Maizie and I checked out a local wildlife park.

Our first crocodile...and as long as we're reinforcing Australian stereotypes...

Why yes, there are kangaroos all over the place.

It's good to wear black to these places. One never knows how she may end up accessorizing.

Today at the beach, the wee naturalist in training.

The spirit of Steve Irwin lives on...look what came to visit a few feet off the shore.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I have had the weirdest day.

First photo of the day:

"Has anyone seen my tiara?"
Maizie's wand must have had some bizarre malfunction when she cast a spell on me this morning. Within an hour I was sitting shotgun with a perfect stranger doing donuts in a mudpit.

That vehicle is a 1972 Torana Ute. Here's Shane, the driver, who also built the car.

Us Yanks might compare a Ute to an El Camino, but we would be grossly underestimating their significance. Here in Australia, Utes are not just utility vehicles with extra room in the back, they are a subculture and a lifestyle.

People drive from all over the country traveling to Ute Musters where they can race through the bush and burn out in the mud. It so happens that the first annual Busselton Ute Muster is this weekend, just a few minutes from the farm. So Brother Brown dropped me off to have a look while he checked on his cows.

Truly I don't know how to string this series of events into something coherent for you, so I'll just tell you what happened.

I spent a couple of hours chatting with guys like Paul, pictured above, who drove with two mates from Perth, Shane, who took me for the spin in the mudpit, and members of the Rebels Motorcycle Club who put on the event. All the races and action were a bit delayed due to some heavy tension between the bikers and the police, so I took a family beach break midday.

There's Sara with the babes and the Indian Ocean. She took them for a walk while Doug recovered from a jellyfish attack that made mine yesterday look like a mosquito bite.

On the way home we took a small detour to go for a kangaroo hunt. Bella and Maizie thought it was silly I'd never seen one.

I have now. Here are three standing at attention in the paddock. We got a bit lost in bush, but after half an hour of bumping through the outback we found our way back to the road.

While Bella and Maizie had a bath and Sara made dinner I headed back to see how things were shaping up at the Ute Muster.

The cops had left and happy hour was warming up nicely.

Shane was back in the bullring showing off for the young bucks on the haybales.

I stayed to watch the sunset and circle work, which is what they call donuts here, and made it home in time for dinner and easter egg filling.

It seems exploring rural Australia may bring adventures similar to the New Zealand chronicles, in terms of sheer randomness. (Remember the day Mr. Universe turned up?)

It's just another day in the outback: fairies, mudpits, bikers, jellyfish, kangaroos and easter eggs. Who knows what the next tap from Maizie's magic wand will bring...