Wednesday Postcard: “La liseuse”

Bonjour! This week’s carte postale features “La liseuse” (The Reader) by French painter, Jean-Jacques Henner (1829-1905).

Apart from the beautiful image of a woman reading in the nude, the model’s bright red hair caught my eye as I spotted the linen postcard at a local antique shop.

The caption on the back of the undated postcard seems to indicate that it was printed in 1981 or prior since the original painting was part of the Louvre’s collection from 1909-1981. Until 2016, the oil-on-canvas painting was at the Musée d’Orsay.

Speaking of Musée d’Orsay, its current director, Laurence des Cars was recently appointed as the new president-director of the Louvre beginning September 2021 — the first time it will be headed by a woman!

Over the years, I have accumulated hundreds of postcards from around the world, which I’ve either purchased from my local antique shops or received from thoughtful jet-setting family and friends who know I collect them. When I travel, I also like to send myself a carte postale just for fun!

I hope these postcards will make you want to revisit a favorite vacation spot or to embark on a journey to the destination of your dreams (when it’s safe to travel freely again, of course!)

And if you’ve been to the Musée d’Orsay and/or the Louvre, tell me about your experience there – I’d love to hear from you.

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, take care!

Visiting Berlin: “Like You! Friendship – Digital and Analogue” Exhibition

Please note: These pictures were taken in February 2020, before the non-essential travel restrictions were put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Museum für Kommunikation in Berlin is a 5-minute walk from the historical landmark, Checkpoint Charlie. It is housed in an elegant building that was built in 1898. During World War II, it was badly damaged, but it was reconstructed and renovated over the years. In 2000, the building reopened as the Museum of Communication.

In Germany, there are Museums für Kommunikation in Frankfurt and Nuremberg (Nürnberg). There’s one in Bern, Switzerland, too.

Museum für Kommunikation Berlin| 20. Feb 2020

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Museum für Kommunikation (permanent collection) | 20. Feb 2020

Museum für Kommunikation (permanent collection) | 20. Feb 2020

It was a sweet coincidence that when my dear friend and I took our children to the interactive museum, there was a special exhibition on view called “Like You! Friendship – Digital and Analogue!”

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

The exhibition invites visitors to think about answers to questions, such as:

  • What is friendship?
  • Is it possible to find and meet new friends virtually on social networks?
  • Or does making friends still require real-life contact in the analog world?
  • Does friendship function in exactly the same way in digital spaces as it does IRL (in real life)?
  • Where do we draw the line between networking and friendship?

Although studies have shown that people with friends experience increased happiness, the exhibition points out that people who identify as “loners” have a distinct personality type. They are emotionally self-sufficient and lead fulfilled lives when they’ve found a friend in themselves.

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

You can have a seat here and listen to the “sounds” of friendship (I’ve added a short playlist of friendship songs below.)

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Artists Nanne Meyer and Eva-Maria Schön have been friends for over 30 years. They both live in Berlin, but decided about seven years ago to send each other postcards with their own designs. Here are some of the postcards they’ve exchanged over the years “inspired by the desire to brighten each other’s day”:

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

The following display asks visitors “What does friendship mean to you?”

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Discovery Tables

At the Discovery Tables, visitors are invited to explore their own friendship history.

The table below illustrates where people first met their friends:

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Looks like many people made friends at school:

My dear friend and I first met at work in San Francisco:

At this Discovery Table, visitors are asked, “How long have you known your best friend?”:

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

You take a color-coded sticker that corresponds to your age and you stick it on the board (on the right) that applies to you: (I’ve known my best friend) “for 5 years, for 10 years, for 20 years” and so on.

I know it was just for fun, but it was harder than it looked. If the exhibition’s intent was to provoke more questions, then they’ve succeeded!

First of all, you have to define what “best” friend means, in my opinion!

I spent a tad bit longer at this table because questions kept popping up in my head about “best” friends:

  • Is it the person you’ve known the longest? 
  • Is it the one who has helped you through tough times? 
  • Is it the one with whom you’ve never had a big fight? 
  • Is it one’s spouse or life partner? 
  • Can one have more than one best friend? 

Often we think about what we are getting from friendships. But we also need to remember what we are giving to our friendships. Two questions I need to ask my friends are:

“Am *I* a good friend?”

“Am I meeting your friendship needs?”

Friendship – Analog

One of my favorite childhood friends and I met in middle/junior high school, but we went to different high schools. Instead of talking on the telephone, we wrote letters to each other. We maintained our epistolary friendship all throughout college. In our best cursive, we immortalized our thoughts on pretty stationery and sent them through the mail. I know, it was very Victorian-era!

But the anticipation of receiving a reply in the mail was thrilling! The arrival of a missive provided that giddy feeling similar to seeing presents under the tree on Christmas morning!

Museum für Kommunikation (permanent collection) | 20. Feb 2020

Our analog method of keeping in touch through “snail mail” worked well for us until email became commonplace. The digital chirp of “You’ve got mail” simply did not hold the same charm as getting a tangible stamped envelope in your mailbox!

This digital method of communication proved to be “too fast.” We learned soon after that we actually didn’t have much to say via email.

Friendship – Digital

Even before the pandemic forced all of us to switch to virtual communication tools, I’d been keeping in touch with my friends primarily through email, SMS/text messages, and social networks.

More than ever, we’re relying on mobile apps and various video conferencing platforms to get in touch, stay connected, and keep the twinge of loneliness at bay.

Virtual communication tools like these are absolute lifelines! Not only do you keep the connection strong across the miles and time zones, but when you do see each other again in person, it won’t be awkward.

I text my dear friend in Berlin almost every day about things both big and small — la vie quotidienne. So when I saw her in February, it was like I had just seen her yesterday!

I’m curious to know: How do you keep in touch with your friends? How do you define “best” friend?

For more information:

Like You! – Museum für Kommunikation

*More to come on my visit to Berlin and the Museum für Kommunikation*

Like I’ve Been There Before: ‘Friends’ 25th Anniversary Pop-Up Experience in San Francisco

Fans of the hit comedy, Friends, will have a blast at the show’s 25th Anniversary pop-up that recently opened in downtown San Francisco!

view of Market Street from the second floor of One Powell

Located inside the AT&T Flagship Store at One Powell (in front of the Cable Car Turnaround), visitors can enjoy two floors of interactive digital displays, view actual props and costumes used on the show, and step into recreated show sets, like Central Perk and Monica & Rachel’s apartment in West Village.

It was my first time at the Friends 25th Anniversary Pop-Up Experience, but the spot-on sets and familiar memorabilia on display made me feel… like I’d been there before!

not sure why I’m knocking here – after all, I’m “inside” apartment 20!

Enjoy two floors of interactive displays:

Look through the peephole and view a short clip from the show:

Record your cover of Phoebe’s famous song, “Smelly Cat”:

Read lines from scripts:

Visit the mini Friends museum with real costumes and props from the show:

Chandler’s Halloween costume

the award that Joey stole, plus Rachel’s wedding garter

Find Friends-themed merch at the Friends Boutique:

Check out the couch that Ross, Rachel, and Chandler tried to carry upstairs:

… and the fountain and orange couch from the opening credits:

Central Perk:

Watch the video for the Friends’ theme song here (from YouTube – All rights reserved) >

Your Friends will be there for you, but this Pop-Up will be in San Francisco for a limited time! ☕️

Are you a big Friends fan like me? If I had to pick a favorite character, I’d pick Phoebe (she’s kind, plays guitar, and speaks French)! Who’s your favorite Friends character? Tell me in the comments below!

Oh, Snap! You Can Experience the 90’s at This Pop-Up Museum in Oakland

Yo! Opening night at 90’s Experience was hella fresh, dude

For a limited time (through August 2019), you can go to an interactive pop-up museum at Oakland’s Jack London Square and have a 90’s Experience! No, not in the nonagenarian sense (although that might be interesting, too!)

At this 90’s Experience, you get to relive the era of grunge music, slap bracelets, acid wash jeans, and party like it’s 1999!

A nostalgic mixtape of 90’s jams gets the party started inside the former office space (no pun intended, Mmm kay?) while energetic staff members highly encourage visitors to snap pictures with fun 90’s-themed displays, including:

  • The throne from the popular Will Smith TV show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air:

  • Laser beam school portrait background:

  • Giant cereal boxes and milk cartons:

  • You can recreate Nirvana’s iconic Nevermind album cover:

  • Doodle on a giant composition notebook page with giant scented markers:

  • Beep, beep! 1-4-3 means I love you! Look at this giant pager:

  • Teenage bedroom with a day bed, Trimline corded phone, and posters of boy bands and Britney on the wall:

  • I’ll be there for you…Have a seat on the Friends couch or take a pic with the curvy yellow frame hanging on the door:

Before they let us inside the pop-up museum, a staff member asked us, “What’s your favorite 90’s movie?” I said, Titanic! Like Rose promised Jack (who could’ve fit on that door, by the way), “I’ll never let go…”

As my trip down memory lane came to an end (and into the gift shop), my heart sank with the realization that I had just spent $32 (plus fees) for an experience that wasn’t all that and a bag of chips. The experience was enjoyable, but left me wanting more.

For instance, I would have liked a room where you could learn 90’s dances, like the Achy Breaky Heart, Vogue, Macarena, or Kid ‘n’ Play! Where are the Magic Eye books or posters? How did dial-up internet sound? (Listen here.)

But it’s all good. I learned that the 90s Experience will donate a portion of its proceeds to a variety of local non-profits, so I gotta give ’em props for that!

Good times: In the 90’s, I graduated from high school and college, visited France for the first time, and got my first car! Tell me in the comments below: What’s your favorite accomplishment, movie, song, or memory of the 90’s?