It all started with a photography request for Linkedin from Nikki. A lunch date and a saleish pitch later, I got her to be a model for me to broaden my photography portfolio. We took a trip to Philly, stopped by Cake and the Beanstalk, strolled through the lovely teeny little hidden streettettes (that’s how tiny they are!) and climbed the iconic Rocky Steps of the Art Museum.
If colors could be words for a day, then Gatsby’s garden must have been stolen to blend into the paragraphs of our excursion. The sun was high, dappling vibrance on every pigment of our surroundings and making even the most minute details palpably lively.
And if words could be colors just for a post, then here goes a little portrait of Nikki:
Me (M): You obviously like reading, what about reading that makes it so enjoyable?
Nikki (N): What about reading isn’t enjoyable? Reading gives you somewhere to go when you have to stay where you are. If the writer is good at his/her job, you’re not sitting in a cute coffee shop in Olde City (which, mind you, is probably the best place to be in the real world); instead, you’re in the Scottish Highlands during the Battle of Culloden, fighting against the Red Coats. And all of the men around you are your comrades.
M: What did you take away from The Great Gatsby? Have you seen the movie? Do you think it did justice to the book?
N: So many takeaways! However, the most important one is to avoid dwelling on the past, which is difficult in its own right. Especially in terms of the “the one who got away,” it takes considerable emotional strength. Gatsby, with his authentic hopefulness and optimism, is blinded by love and what he felt for Daisy years ago.
Oh, and the second most important takeaway: make sure you’re remembered for something other than throwing those lavish parties.
The latest film adaptation of The Great Gatsby received a lot of criticism for mixing music from the Jazz Age with Jay Z’s raunchy hip-hop beats, but that’s truly the movie’s only flaw. Bahz Luhrmann captured the glamour of Gatsby’s parties, the breeze blowing through the curtains in the Buchanans’ East Egg estate, and the famous Big-Brother-like stare of T.J. Eckleburg on the billboard. Luhrmann didn’t neglect a single motif or symbol. You go, Bahz.
M: You said you have a relationship with the books that you read, could you describe this relationship?
N: You build very intimate relationships with characters, to the point where you feel very much like close friends. And all of those friends are on a bookshelf, waiting to be picked up when you’re looking for advice, for a great escape from the present, or for a way to pass the time in a doctor’s office. Books become like old friends: your relationship evolves, for better or for worse.
M: So, what’s the story with the post-it notes in your books?
N: This was a technique I developed in high school to ensure I wasn’t missing any important points for AP Literature quizzes. Now, the post-its signify the few areas of a book that should be re-read if there’s no time to comb through the pages. With Siddhartha, for example, some of the words to live by are marked by post-its: “What can I say that would be of value to you, except that you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find?”
M: Books and reading aside, what speaks to your interests?
N: Guitar, piano, and yoga, but above all, people! I love people. I love hearing their stories and learning from them. It’s part of the reason I like psychology, and it’s definitely the reason why I love my job in training and development. Consulting with different areas of a business and unearthing – then satisfying – their learning needs is something I wouldn’t mind doing for the rest of my career.
M: So why the Art Museum as a must-do backdrop?
N: I’m a hopeless romantic when it comes to history, which is why the art museum is so appealing. This classic location is a place anyone traveling to Philly for the first time needs to see. It’s more iconic than Independence Hall, without the impressive age. Run up the steps. Sit at the top on one of those cement spheres. Behold the city from at its grandest point.(M: I rarely do caption, but this is Yoga like a boss!)M: Just curious – Are you related to Audrey Hepburn?
N: Well, her birthday is 16 days before my own. But if you think of the film My Fair Lady, where she plays Eliza Doolittle, I’m more like Henry Higgins: I’m related to a lot of crazy people.