Only Good Girls Keep Diaries…

When did I have time to write all that?!?!!

If only good girls keep diaries, then I must be a very good girl.

“When did I ever have time to write this much?” I said to myself when, in another rainy-day induced fit of house cleaning, I uncovered over a decade’s worth of journals and diaries. Most are thick enough to be worthy of the label “tome.” Few contain content worthy of any label besides “meaningless nonsense.”

I can’t remember ever not having a book to write stuff down in. In my tween and early teen years I keep “diaries.” While most kids would sneak a flashlight under their covers to read Treasure Island (or US Weekly?) I’d make a tent and take an erasable pen to a notebook. Each entry began with the ceremonious “Dear Diary.” (I know. Right? Gag me with a spoon.)

At 16, with a driver’s license pending, college nearing,  and hormones raging, I decided daily happenings in my life might become significant enough to start treating my “personal” notebooks more seriously.

Good-bye, diary. Hello journal.

Good-bye faux letters that droned on and on about the boy who threw crayons at me in art class. Hello mini faux essays with an imposed sense of the profound… about the boy who studied with me before each calculus exam.

As a scholar, journals accounted for a third of my resources on any research project. At times it was a tedious process — reading the day-to-day accounts and musings of someone with whom I had no direct personal relationship, hoping to find gem of a detail that would prove a revelation in the history of art… Mostly, I learned what my subject liked to eat for breakfast…

In my own life, I make it a habit to sit down and read the pages of my most current journal. In doing so, I mostly discovered that meaningless nonsense is surprisingly revealing — there are life lessons to be gleaned from your unpublished, unedited, unmediated autobiography. Mistakes I made in dealing with challenging situations, mistakes I made in love, right life decisions, questionable life decisions — it was all there, laid out in my own words. My journal was my own handwritten guide to” what not to do.”

There are many reasons to keep a journal — for the sake of having memories, as a place to vent — but perhaps the best reason to have a journal is to have reminder that you’re constantly moving forward.

A journal helps you avoid repeating history...
A journal helps you avoid repeating history…

The Life of the Young and Fabulous? Or, #KeepingUpAppearances?

IMG_20130518_120819“Promise me, Joe: when I get married, you’ll do my wedding.”

One of the great advantages to my job is that I have a roladex full of caterers, event photographers, and florists. When weddings happen, I’m your go-to gal for the essentials. When my turn comes, I won’t need a planner. I’ll just call a few friends and ask them to show up with their talents. Joe is a florist. A fantastic florist — the kind that takes you into Wonderland and deposits you among fanciful, gorgeous flowers.

“Of course! But don’t hurry to get married too fast. If your facebook is anything to go by, you’re pretty busy being fabulous and not married.”

It’s (mostly) true.

Artful adventures are just  another day in the life
Artful adventures are just another day in the life

If you follow my (arguably) overactive (and private) instagram account, you’d say I was living the life. Roof-top, top-shelf cocktails. Midweek museum outings. Designer dresses. Center ice playoff tickets. Legends boxes at Yankee Stadium. Michelin star restaurants. Jaunts across Europe. Exhibition openings. Beautiful men always at my side.

You said it, Macklemore: We’re here to live life like nobody’s watching.

Are we, am I, really?

Maybe it’s more like everybody in the club, all eyes on us... and that club is our ever-reaching, ever-expanding internet audience.

When I was a freshman in college, facebook was still a kind of exclusive club. High schoolers and employers had yet to infiltrate it. I was the designated photographer at parties (this was largely because I didn’t drink and was, therefore, the one most likely to be sober enough to remember to take off the lens cap) which meant that, come Sunday morning, mine was the album holding all the documentary evidence. In those days, albums could only have 50 photos — so I was selective. 50 photos came to represent an entire year, not a single night out the way it does now for some college kids. Also, facebook wasn’t linked with our smart phones… in fact, there were no smartphones… my laptop didn’t even come equipped with WiFi. There was no instantaneous sharing. Everything was a #latergram.

That was then. Fast forward a decade, and I’m a curator with an instagram handle, 2 twitter accounts, a pintrest, 3 blogs, a vine, and a facebook. My internet imprint has grown ten fold. So what does that mean?

"I knew it was you!" Thanks to social media, people think I have style.
“I knew it was you!” Thanks to social media, people think I have style.

“I knew that post was from you, even before I saw the name!” my friend living the other side of the world commented on a photo I posted.

It was of a pair of high-heel peep-toe oxfords and my recent neon pedicure.

In thinking about my addiction to all things visual, I realized my decisions on what to share is dictated by a kind of personal branding. A kind of play at keeping up appearances. I guess I want people to see a picture of great shoes, intriguing art, foreign locales, and haute cuisine and think — Kathleen’s at it again!

It’s true that I think my life is pretty interesting — the people in it, the places we go, etc — and why not share it. But it’s also true that, believe it or not, you don’t see everything. After all, sometimes I like to see the sunrise through both my eyes.

Sculpting Opportunities

Installing an exhibition of sculpture is hard physical work. It's good thing I work out.

I stood in the gallery, bent over backwards staring up blankly into my 50-foot ceiling, trying to assess the durability of my lighting tracks.

“How the hell am I going to suspend an 8-foot winged sculpture from up there?! Fairy dust?”

If that had been my only concern with this exhibition, my nerves would have been easily quelled with one stiff drink and a reassuring “no problem, boss” from my assistant. But no, the weighty sculpture flying 30 feet over the heads of visitors from uncertain supports was, believe it or not, the least of my worries.

I looked down at my floor plan. Up at my ceiling. Back at my floor plan. I spun around the gallery, mentally measuring the walls and open space, counting the number of works I had selected. I had 5 installation days ahead of me and at this point, all I could do is hope that it would all come neatly and elegantly together.

It’s a rare moment when life hands you the opportunity you’ve always wanted. Rarer when you’re young and relatively new to the big leagues. It’s your moment to turn into your greatest success or to fall, face first, into the pile of shit you’ve dug-up along the way.

When I was handed the curatorial reins of our gallery’s biggest exhibition of the season, I realized this was that opportunity for me.  And it was giving me heart palpitations.

Our PR department had confirmed an interview with and a feature in the New York Times. No. Pressure.

My team mounts the wall vinyl -- it's officially an exhibition.

Being 26 and standing at the helm of what was already being heralded as a landmark exhibition is daunting. Youth grants me energy. Passion mandates confidence. But youth, energy, passion and confidence doesn’t guarantee success — just sleepless nights and aching muscles.

“I don’t understand why I’m talking to you,” the writer from the Time said to me as I sat down with her the hour before the opening. “I was expecting to speak with the curators.”

“I am the curator.”


My youth belied my position of authority. An hour later, my boss popped in to see how things were going on our walk through of the show.

I imagine I felt the way a bride does on her wedding day.Painting: "After the Reception" by Douglas Volk.

“This is a fabulous exhibition! I’m having a great time!”

Could it be that I had just won over the New York Times?

At 6PM, only minutes after the final wall label had gone up on the wall, the doors swung open, a crowd poured in and the champagne bottles were popped. I can’t exactly tell you what happened over the next two hours — it was a whirlwind of hellos, of press interviews, of congratulations.

I imagine the way I felt is very much how a bride feels on her wedding day: exhausted from all the planning and preparations, unsure of the durability of her lipstick and full-body-ness of her hair, but excited because she knows she’s just launched herself happily head-long into a brand new life.