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Help! I Am Married to an Architect!

Wall at the Trapholt Museum. Kolding, Denmark.

That’s the name of my most popular pin board on Pinterest. Help! I am married to an architect! Scrolling through the collection of followers reveals a posse of certified, breathing architects following my pseudo-architect board. News flash for those poor souls: What I knew about architecture before I met MTM could fit between the covers of a rag like People magazine. My preferred form of design was swirly Victorian. Gingerbread details. Luscious tassels. Explosions of flowers erupting anywhere the eye could light. (MTM doesn’t even call Victorian a form of design. It’s too hideous to deserve it.)

Here and there, I write about architecture on this blog, always with a squirmy feeling akin to the onset of a stomach bug. It isn’t that I don’t like studying finishes, roof lines, glass angles, and – most important – screw details. When a German architect asked me what brand of architecture I practiced, I knew I’d picked up enough of the dizzying lingo to fake my way through a basic conversation.

No.

The onset of squeamishness usually accompanies confusion. Ogling the built environment leaves me equal parts thunderstruck by the smorgasbord of creative possibility and rattled by the bargain basement I comprehend. I know what I like, but I don’t know WHY I like it.

Being married to an architect can endanger a girl, too. I spend time wandering around cities, craning my head to ingest the spaces suspended above me. Walking out in traffic or stepping off a curb and twisting my ankle are routine perils for a soul like me. Once, I clogged pedestrian flow on the Brooklyn Bridge, because I decided to lie prone on the walkway to take a picture of an art installation through a crack in the wooden pavers, setting off a chain reaction of face-down humanity. (Which was funny. Why didn’t I think to take a photo of THAT??)

To understand this thing my man loves, I would stop time.

All I have are words. To describe what can be seen. To relay what happens inside me. To explain the angles and contours of a very basic human need. And, because my pre-editor notes that I tell rather than show too much in my writing, spending a week recounting architectural experiences, juxtaposing them onto an unequally yoked marriage, might give me a chance to work through a tick.

I hope you’ll draw along with me, Dear Reader, that through my fingers you may see.

73 Comments Post a comment
  1. I know what I like when I see it although I don’t know what type of architecture it may be. Yes, I did study some art and such in college and sorta know what a flying buttress is (usually see one on kickoffs), but, I’ll leave the delineation of archy art to the experts like MTM.

    http://www.americansinfrance.net/images/Chartres-Cathedral/Chartres-Cathedral-Flying-Buttress.jpg

    February 6, 2012
  2. Try mowing an architects lawn…oh, perhaps you already do. All I can say is my Daddy has the most beautifully straight lines in the neighborhood. :)

    February 6, 2012
    • Since you told me that story, Lori, I have been relieved that we have little in the way of grass……… :)

      February 6, 2012
  3. I think those of us married to A/E’s (hand raised) deserve an honorary degree in the respective field(s). It gets in your blood and psyche after awhile, and truly gives you an entirely new way of seeing the world than you did before. And always, new things to ponder that, even if you don’t completely understand them (or even the fascination with them) you can be intrigued that your beloved DOES…

    February 6, 2012
    • I would never claim to really understand a thing I’m seeing. It just looks the way it does. Knowing too much weighs it down for me.

      February 6, 2012
  4. I don’t know much about architecture, but I know what I like. I love the things that you’ve been sharing.

    February 6, 2012
    • I have so many architecture stories, but I never want to wear out my readers with a steady dose of the same thing. For a while, I considered making being married to an architect the subject of my blog, but that would even bore me after a while. :)

      February 6, 2012
  5. alice #

    I look forward to your descriptions! I always think writers do a far better job of describing architecture than architects do. Can’t wait to read what you see out there Andra.

    February 6, 2012
    • Ha! Be careful what you wish for. One of the stories involves you. :)

      February 6, 2012
  6. oh, I am looking forward to this :)

    February 6, 2012
    • I wish I had a story about some of your Irish gems, Fiona. Some day, I am going to see Ireland. MTM has been there and partly springs from there. (Last name Maher, shortened from Meagher or O’Meagher at Ellis Island.)

      February 6, 2012
  7. “I know what I like, but I don’t know WHY I like it.” This is an affliction common to many, nay, I’d guess MOST of us, Andra. It’s frustrating (and sometimes embarrassing) to say I like/don’t like something, and then be wholly unable to give a rational explanation why/why not; i.e., I’d venture to guess the openings in the pictured wall are located just so to provide a particular play of light on the whole at various times of the day, but . . . I cannot say why, and I might be “all wet.” :) (I’ve got to figure how to do that Pinterest thing, so I’ll be able to like/share, too — love that bike converted to bathroom vanity!)

    Studying architecture, per se, never occurred to me, but drafting (as a kid I doodled floor plans) and decor/design have always appealed. Hence, I’m more than a bit intrigued to read what you will show us this week!

    February 6, 2012
    • I’m happy to send you a Pinterest invite if you haven’t already gotten one.

      I hope this series will do exactly what you describe, Karen. As a society, I fear we are too bracketed into our corners, enmeshed in our sense of why the way we see the world is ‘right’ without really knowing why we feel the way we do. Maybe looking at buildings will be a broader portal to seeing the people in our worlds.

      February 6, 2012
      • For some of us, “feeling” as we do is because of parameters that were set in childhood and, despite effort, never fully shed….

        Thanks for the offer, but my granddaughter sent me the requisite invite to Pinterest. When I accepted I assumed there would be some type of “instruction manual” — not so, but I’m reading here and there so that I can learn how it works. In due time, I hope. :)
        .

        February 7, 2012
  8. I so understand that feeling of wanting to understand the thing that drives the person you love. But good luck with that time-stopping thing.

    February 6, 2012
    • The closest I will ever come will be freezing a few moments of it on the page or snapping a transformative photo.

      February 6, 2012
  9. Jill Clary Stevenson #

    I think that your relationship is wonderful. MTM has opened your world to the straight lines and odd angles that most of us miss. And you, my dear, have brought flowers into his world just by being you!

    February 6, 2012
  10. Too funny! And as I have told you before, MTM’s head would explode in my house. It is a combination of Arts & Crafts period, Victorian over decoration, and big-boy-toys. Is “Railroad” an architectural style? How about “floor-to-ceiling bookcases”.

    Yup, pretty sure he would have a seizure.

    February 6, 2012
    • Floor-to-ceiling bookcases, he would love. He had to start taking his architecture books to work, because we don’t have anywhere else to put them. He’s staring down the barrel of culling them this week, and I know he will delay.

      February 6, 2012
  11. Which thread to pull first?

    I understand less of what I used to know…as the digital world moves forward at the speed of nanobots…Bill (my MTM) keeps trying to help me understand the laws of physics so I can understand all the new tech…and I seem to comprehend less. However, I do know when some digital tech helps me and doesn’t perplex me…so that’s when it’s good.

    So rather than try to parse why the architecture makes you feel the way that it does, just feel the feeling…BTW–Looking at your Pinboard “Help! I Am Married…” makes me covet some of those small, orderly, simple abodes in the woods. Why? Because they feel clean and pure and not a burden.

    Personally, I’ve always like living in spaces with texture. I like a mix of wood, stone, plaster…and our current home has little of that…mostly soaring ceiling and curves…which are also very nice in a residence. (BTW, LOVE the pic on the board with the stair rail ending in a rat tail after descending from the groined vaulted arches.)

    I love the built environment too. While I don’t think I would ever choose to be an architect (too much math) I adore contemplating all the ways things may be built to provide structure and shelter. The ones that resonate with me have integrity. To their site, their materials, their purpose, their owners.

    Words are like that too. In my poems, the ones that achieve my goals are the ones with efficiency. They evoke feelings with only the few words necessary to get us to the goal. No more. No less.

    February 6, 2012
    • Much of my pinboard is cabin related. I am determined to have something with a toilet and a bed on our property by the end of the year.

      One of my biggest challenges with words in the coming weeks is going to be to not over-think them. ‘Choose the few that feel the best to me and move on’ is going to be my motto.

      February 6, 2012
      • Bill taught me something –an expression from the software development world-

        MUNG

        which means “Messed With Until No Good”!

        And if I over think things or over handle them they can be MUNGed in no time.

        February 6, 2012
      • Well, I hope I don’t MUNG my book. I have a lot of work to do.

        February 6, 2012
  12. I’m still laughing thinking about all those people on the bridge, like one of those movie scenes where everyone is left staring up into the sky while the person that started it all is walking away. I would have loved to see that photo.

    February 6, 2012
    • I wish I had a photo of the people instead of the artificial waterfall through the crack in the bridge. Those pictures really didn’t turn out, but the people one would’ve. :)

      February 6, 2012
  13. Imagining you lying on the bridge blocking pedestrian traffic made me smile.

    BFF has a degree in Architectural Drafting and used to draft custom features for Cedardale Log Homes.

    I lean toward clean simple lines . . . rather than fussy Victorian detail.

    February 6, 2012
    • Nancy, I never knew that about BFF. Then, you totally understand. :)

      After almost a decade of living with an architect, I now lean toward clean simple lines, too. He doesn’t give me much choice…………

      February 6, 2012
  14. several items of note:

    1.) I love hearing you share the bits of architectural humor! LOVE LOVE LOVE! Always makes me smile hearing how you describe the interactions.

    2.) Perhaps another interesting blog idea would be the opposite, from the perspective of architects (much less the more modern concerned) who are talking to their significant other about architecture

    3.) if you have more of these blasted Pinterest invites I’d like to request one too, ever since Jared Smith actually publicly voiced his interest in getting an invite I became more and more curious. Curiouser and curiouser.

    February 6, 2012
    • I hope some of these posts will be funny, but I’m sure a couple of them will stray from that norm.

      If I used MTM as the example of talking to dunce spouse about architecture, it would go something like this: MTM – I like this building. Me – WHY?? It looks like a metal clad penis. MTM – *Sigh*

      Your Pinterest invite may have already reached you. I sent it. :)

      February 6, 2012
      • well if there is anything we can all get behind it is metal clad penii (plural of penis?) lol

        So Pinterest has to be linked to either FB or twitter? Hmmmm…. I’m not sure what to think of that. Seems like a user unfriendly method of making your product perfectly suited for company buyout by either FB or Twitter one day.

        February 6, 2012
      • Kenneth, I don’t think it has to be linked to either one…they are both using the OAuth login…I don’t have mine connected. I sign in with my own credentials…I only Tweet or FB a pin when it seems of interest to more than me.

        February 6, 2012
      • When I signed up, I didn’t have to do that, and my account still isn’t linked to either FB or Twitter. I don’t want FB mining information about everything I view and pin on Pinterest or any other site, so I leave everything disconnected. I sign in with my email address and a password.

        February 6, 2012
      • looks like they switched over completely, no other way. I guess I can connect it with my twitter since I don’t use that anymore anyway, or maybe I can just make up a fake twitter to use or something

        February 6, 2012
      • That’s so interesting!! When I checked my settings on Pinterest, it had defaulted to link to FB, which I did NOT select. I changed it, but………….

        These things do not sit well with me. Where’s the social network that’s just social??????

        February 6, 2012
      • @cheryl – it does have to be linked to sign up for an account now, didn’t used to be

        @andra – that network doesn’t exist, because there is no money in it

        February 6, 2012
      • You can unlink them as soon as you sign up. Who knows how long that will last?

        February 6, 2012
      • alright I’m in and I went to your page and did a follow all and now I’m trying to figure out why I have a hundred things showing up and none of them are yours! lol

        February 6, 2012
  15. I’ll be interested in reading! I know next to nothing about architecture but I do know a little about the hazards of being close to a technical person — I am the daughter of an engineer. The optimization involved in life with an engineer is sometimes terrifying.

    February 6, 2012
    • Annabelle, I will try to set at least one of the stories in your neck of the woods. I have several. :)

      In the meantime, go have a look at the Seagram Building. It is on Park Ave. between 52nd and 53rd Streets in Midtown. This is the first building I recognized as designed by a specific architect, one who will be the subject of a post later this week.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seagram_Building

      February 6, 2012
      • I’ll do that! It’ll give me a good excuse to go pick up some macarons. ;)

        February 7, 2012
      • The post today upon which you commented. Same architect as the Seagram Building.

        And, I will be in the city on Tuesday. Where or where do I get macarons near there?

        February 7, 2012
    • Living with an engineer. Wow. I totally understand. :)

      February 6, 2012
    • As the wife on an engineer. I can testify that there is always “a better way.”

      February 6, 2012
      • Yes there is… but by exercising tremendous effort and strength of will, it is sometimes possible to keep that information to oneself. :)

        February 6, 2012
      • mtm #

        Bill, please send me a powerful portcullis so that I can no longer stick my foot in my mouth….since I lack the strength of will you so aptly describe.

        February 6, 2012
      • You are both being too hard on yourselves. Strong, opinionated men must turn Cheryl and me on.

        February 6, 2012
      • Andra, you’ve just read my private journal in my mind.

        February 7, 2012
      • It’s definitely an acquired skill. You can practice by watching someone repeatedly smash their head into a wall without attempting to stop them.

        February 6, 2012
      • Your restraint is admirable, especially when I turn to you with metaphorical blood running down my face and ask for help…you don’t belittle me one bit!

        February 7, 2012
  16. I was lucky: a journo, I married a journo….but maybe that makes for a narrower perspective. You see broadly though MTM’s eyes as well as your own. It is a noble thing to know how much one does not know. is it not?

    February 6, 2012
    • A LOT is what I don’t know. But, I always enjoy learning. :)

      I think you and Phil compliment one another well. I remember the post you wrote about the BT Tower. That was an architectural piece of sorts, revealed through Phil’s eyes and your words.

      February 6, 2012
  17. I am NOT married to an architect, but I appreciate design. I’m not particularly knowledgeable, but I’m very appreciative. I think you’ve done a fabulous job of describing how you feel about architectural malaise! I’m going to check out that particular Pinterest board. I might learn something! Debra

    February 6, 2012
    • Debra, you will learn that I want a cabin. It’s cabins, cabins everywhere over there. :)

      It is hard to appreciate a thing when it is over-analyzed. Another reminder to myself through the portal of another’s profession. You have lots of cool buildings where you are. I love the LACMA and wanted to get to the Getty but failed. Even walking Hollywood Blvd was a treat for me, more for the bone structure than the glaring features.

      February 6, 2012
      • There are two Getty’s and the one in Malibu is very unique! I will keep trying to entice you to come give it another try :-) and I’ve only been to Charleston once, about ten years ago, and loved it! I can still visualize the most beautiful Bed and Breakfasts overlooking a point on the Atlantic! Charleston has some incredibly authentic architecture! :-)

        February 7, 2012
      • Lots of urban planning and architecture conferences are held in LA. I am sure we will get MTM on the docket for another one. :)

        Charleston has some interesting architecture, but there’s really no pushing boundaries or evolving of styles. It’s great to visit and roam in, and if you haven’t been in a decade, you should definitely come back. Our restaurant scene is really top notch.

        February 7, 2012
  18. “Talking about love is like dancing about architecture.”

    That quote stays with me, and after reading your post today, it’s all I can think about.

    February 7, 2012
  19. I have to start following your pin board for sure- I love architecture- but I am no expert on the subject- But, I can appreciate beauty and skill- and the fusion of form and function. Beautiful post-

    February 7, 2012
  20. “To understand this thing my man loves, I would stop time.”
    What a mate you must be!

    February 7, 2012
    • Ha. I don’t know that he would say so, but I hope he would. :)

      February 7, 2012
  21. love the architecture pins…very Dwell (a fave mag) ~

    February 7, 2012
    • Ha. I always look at Dwell, too. MTM gets it at work.

      February 8, 2012
      • Dwell? That is an automotive term used when setting the timing on a car. Why on earth would archy-techs care about that?

        February 13, 2012
  22. Your writing is so fascinating. I suppose it’s right brain (or left brain or no brain) but I get so caught up in the way you say what you have to say sometimes I have to re-read it to see what you were actually saying. :)

    My dad was a carpenter, he has some great stories about jobs he did. I’m trying to convince him to start a blog with some of his experiences. Maybe we can convince your husband to do a collaborative with my dad, haha

    Anyways, I’m going to have to continue your architecture series when I get off work. I think my boss is getting suspicious :)

    February 8, 2012
    • Arley, that is a very helpful observation for me. I am writing this series the way I am this week, because I want to work on the literary nature of my writing in advance of editing my novel. I wish I were skilled enough to weave words that make a person forget they’re reading. Someday………I’m pretty determined. :)

      MTM writes on this blog sometimes. One never knows what he might be willing to do. Haha.

      I will be featuring one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken on the blog later this week. I’ll be interested to hear your critique.

      February 8, 2012
  23. I know the squeamish feeling of confusion very well, Andra. I know nothing about agri erm architecture though. I feel I may learn a thing or two as I read and catch up! :D

    February 11, 2012

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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