T.J.: Compass Loop (gift from Kate)
She said “so you could always find your way back to me”. I put it on a necklace and carry it with me wherever I go. It allows me to see the things most precious and navigate my way back to them. It reminds me to always look for authenticity. And that I have already found it in my one true love, Kate Miller.
T.J.: Engraved Mont Blanc Pen
T.J.: I had a teacher once in college who helped me win a scholarship for playwriting that I didn’t even apply for, said to me: “keep writing. you’re a good comedian but you could be a writer too, you can do both. as long as you keep writing. and never capitalize anything.” So I have this pen as a reminder to me to keep writing & ink on paper is worth much more than driving a Mercedes Benz.
Also what I wrote bought the pen, and then with the pen I wrote something that paid for the pen, so the pen paid for itself.
T.J.: Hobby Horse (1st piece of furniture ever bought)
T.J.: When I first moved to Chicago after college, I had to furnish my new apartment. I had no idea what it was like to be this new person, an adult and I was wondering trying to think of what I would buy; a chair, a table… What do people need? What is necessary to have a life of your own? I was wondering and wandering furniture stores and suddenly I realized – everyone needs an antique plastic hobby horse. Then I bought a desk.
T.J.: Philosophy Chair
T.J.: These were the first expensive pieces of furniture that I bought. I’m looking forward to having them until they’re worn and weathered pieces of history. Mine has a tiny table that holds a glass of scotch and a cigar. I think of our chairs as thrones for my queen and I to sit on as we attack thinking problems like how to use culture to make a meaningful positive impact on the world…Leather and Feldt.
T.J.: I like to carry “papers” on me. They remind me that I live in a nation, that I’m American & how much I travel & how lucky I am to be able to take those travels while making people laugh on every corner of the earth. I think the earth is a cube. I love with comedy globally not locally, I eat organically and don’t dress androgynously.
T.J.: Signed Nietzsche and Ionesco Philosophy Books
T.J.: Basically I owe any meaning in my life to philosophy, and these authors may be my two favorite thinkers of all time. And that my wife surprised me with books they had held in their hands, or were on a table in front of them and they signed & then someone else moved the book out of their way so they could sign another, well that… that’s love. And it reminds me that there were actual people who wrote these books, and that any human being can create a great work of words. It gives me hope, and I use them as a booster seat when I’m at the big kids table.
Kate: Box of Letters From Peru
Kate: In the beginning when we had only been dating for a few years, T.J. went to Peru on a medical mission for one month. It’s in a remote place where there is mostly only jungle and no cell phone reception for miles. I had to stay behind in NY & we knew we wouldn’t really be able to talk. Before he left, he gave me this box of 30 individually wrapped letters, all sealed in these tiny envelopes, the kind you put keys in. I opened one every day that month, and on days when I missed him the most, I opened two. They were about our relationship and all kinds of things. The next year, we went to Peru and worked in that hospital together. It changed my life in many ways, and reminded me that love is the strongest force.
Kate: Copy of Alice in Wonderland
Kate: A dear friend gave me this treasured book as a birthday gift one year. “I feel like she would have wanted you to have it” he said & made me promise it would stay in my family forever. We were working on a project reinterpreting some pre-Raphaelite works of art at the time, so he wrapped it just like this in a piece of heavy William Morris fabric we were using & thats the way I always keep it. It used to be that books were bound with multiple pages on huge sheets folded back onto one another. You’d cut them open with a knife as you read them. Because Alice knew the stories by heart, some of the pages in her book were never cut open, so you have to peer inside the loops to see the hidden writing on the secret pages. Its always been my favorite story, the one I related to most. I discover something different every time I read it.
Kate: Le Mutt (childhood stuffed animal & book star)
Kate: I’ve had Le Mutt since before I was born. My uncle gave him to my Mom at my baby shower. He’s been everywhere. I used to pull him around behind me in a box with a shoelace attached to it, then I took him with me whenever I stayed the night somewhere, & now he’s traveled the world. When I look at his floppy ears it melts my heart. My best friend found this book & sent it to me. “Hey look, Le Mutt’s famous” she said. Its all about objects of affection- our first loves in childhood & what they mean to us. He reminds me to see things as a child might. The truth is when I was younger I’d push the fur back from around his eyes, they used to scare me when I saw them like that, but I loved him anyway.
Kate: Vintage Kimonos
Kate: I’m convinced that in a past life I was Japanese. The last time I was there, after about a month I met this Zen master one night at little hidden restaurant she runs with her husband out of their house & she told me she thought so too. “Welcome home” she said & brought out the biggest bottle of sake I’ve ever seen. In Japan its harder to find vintage kimonos, but every now and then they appear. I’ve always loved those golden age films from the 20s & 30s with those glamorous ingenues in Kimonos. I found one of my favorites at an estate sale in a house tucked up in the Hollywood hills, it belonged to a costume designer who was exactly my size. When I’m a grandmother I’ve decided thats all I’m going to wear.
Kate: Old Pointe Shoes
Kate: They remind me that struggle is worthwhile. Sometimes I put them on and walk around just to remind myself you can always work harder. I started dancing when I was 4. We were lucky in those days & always had a live pianist. I fell in love with Chopin, and speaking through movement. My teacher wouldn’t let us get our shoes until we learned how to sew the ribbons on ourselves. Thats how I learned to sew, and bandage a toe properly after losing a nail.
Kate: Beauty & the Beast image and Ball + Chain (wedding gifts from T.J. to K8)
Kate: T.J. gave these to me together & said “this just about sums it up”. I like imagining the life of these objects before they found their way to our nook. I like imagining that they were headed for each other all along. A strange pairing of objects sparks the brain and reminds me what I love most about interior design, art & life in general.Shop Now$200+
Kate: Grandparents Jazz Records
Kate: My grandparents just adored Jazz. They had this amazing collection with all the greats, Count Basie and everybody you can think of. My grandfather also loved blues & the early stuff. He was a labor lawyer who represented black clients during Jim Crow in the 50s. I remember how severe he was in standing up for what he believed was right. I remember my grandmothers sweet steady voice, sometimes she would sing me to sleep. I love imagining them sitting near one another and listening. Every time I visit their old house I bring some records back. Most of the time when I play them I close my eyes and think of their smiles.