The Life You Imagine for Me

Several years ago I did a project where I asked people I was close to on different levels (e.g. family, good friends, acquaintances, etc.) to list  five ways they would describe me. The project was for a class that examined memory through different lenses–cultural, personal, historical, visual, and so on–and my project investigated the ways in which personal experience  influences your impressions and memories of others.

The project ended up being slightly disconcerting, as I got responses back that more often than not seemed to indicate that most people’s impressions of me felt primarily influenced by their  own  impressions of themselves. In retrospect, that’s a no-brainer, but at the time it made me feel vaguely nihilistic, like an authentic place in the world was futile.  But then, I can be prone to nihilism anyway. What with the state of the world and all.

Once I stopped staring at my computer screen yelling “What’s the POINT?! What. Is. The. POOOOINNNT,” I wrote my paper and got on with my life, eventually getting a kick out of the whole project.

Now that I have this blog I get flashes of how people see and relate to me all the time. Friends and readers frequently send me things that they think I might be interested in. It’s fun. And usually they’re right. So at the risk of seeming narcissistic, I thought it would be fun to do a sort of self portrait comprised of various products, images, and interests friends and readers thought I might like.



It seems I’ve acquired quite the reputation for eccentricity! People often send me links to and images of odd/beautiful pieces that they think I might throw on to wander around in the world. Like this $200 leather aviator’s cap from Need Supply that Thomas McBee’s sister sent along. I would wear this. She was totally right.

My head looks like a condom, but it's not a condom, it's an awesome aviator's cap.

Or this avant-garde football sweater from Sibling London that Tyler Doran recommended I spend my life savings on. If my life savings could cover the cost of this sweater, I just might. That is a sad statement about my life savings.

I mean it's basically, like, what... two hats strapped on with some belts? I can make that

Briar Levit sent me a heads up about Yulia Tymoshenko, former Prime Minister of Ukraine. Yulia Tymoshenko looks like the future and Princess Leia and that princess that Bastian had to name in The NeverEnding Story. I have since accepted that I will never look this much like the future.

The future looks like a no-nonsense brooch. And tax evasion.

Many people have emailed me with images of Tweed Rides around the country or suggestions that I look up tweed rides. In theory I like tweed rides, but one of my pet peeves is similarly-dressed people in groups. And bicycles. That’s right, bicycles are one of my pet peeves.

Hey, jacket in the middle. Get in my closet.



Aside from eccentric clothes that look like they might come from some distant past/future, people also send me things that lead me to believe I might be best suited for some sort of genteel life in the wild where I cut stuff and build things. Kiki Raj, of Aspen Colorado sent me a barrage of images of beautiful knives that I could use to help me survive an aesthetically-oriented, solitary life in the mountains.

Engraved Brass Cased Knife from Garrett Wade will cut you and you will be honored.

Three different readers have sent me emails suggesting I check out Dean bags. So I finally did. And I decided that those readers were 100% correct in their impressions of me. BEHOLD

Dean bags...bags for carrying stuff over a mountain.

I could totally fit multiple small mammal carcasses (carcassi?) in that.

Ms. Raj also sent me a link to Kaufmann Mercantile, where I could get perfect objects with which to build my house. Like this tool belt.

Dear Internet, I want this for Christmas.

And this key chain with screwdrivers.

Key chain with screwdrivers? Key chain with screwdrivers!


Perhaps once I finish building my mountain retreat, I should start in on building my boat. Because:

Nothing says wealthy boat owner like dead fish skeletons.

This is the preppiest belt of all time. There are golf clubs on it!

Look at the beading! Oh the beading.


One of my favorite recent referrals came from Harmony Corelitz in the form of a Design Sponge post called “Living In: The Cider House Rules.” I’m going to be honest. I can’t remember much about The Cider House Rules. Someone was adopted? Or not adopted? Maybe there was a miscarriage or some kind of pregnancy tragedy? Someone was a slow learner or had a disability? I don’t know. But look at these products associated with it!

I’ve decided I like the imagined life that emerges from all of these composite self portraits almost as much as I like my real life where the only thing I actually build is a dining set. Because I work for a nonprofit and therefore don’t have the means to leave it all behind and travel on a boat I built. Nor do I have the skills it would take to live alone on the side of a mountain, even though I sometimes fancy myself a contemporary Transcendentalist. And anyway, if I actually lived the life I imagine, I wouldn’t have anything left to imagine. How dull!

But it’s enjoyable–getting snippets of the stories I tell myself fed back to me in reader comments and emailed suggestions. So thanks for all of the referrals!


About Michael von Braithwaite

Does it look like I'd wear it on a boat, at an eccentric person's estate or accompanied by a peacock on a chain? Yeah, I'll probably buy that.


  1. I just read A River Runs Through It for the first time, and there was a lot about mountaineering gear circa 1920-1930. Like, whole paragraphs about the importance of heel height on sawyering boots. Until then, I didn’t even know that a sawyer was anything other than a last name, let alone that there were special boots for it. I suspect you might love dressing like a 1920s woodsperson.

    • Michael von Braithwaite

      I think you might be right! But then I want a night out every now and again. And brunches. And sailboats. And fine clothes. I’M TORN

  2. Brady

    That “Garrett Wade” knife looks almost exactly like a bunch of knives available from “heta tool” in Berkeley for $1.50. Its awesome in america we have $1.50 knives at home depot with crappy blades and crappy pho expensive handles. At the japanese tool store they have honestly crappy handles and really nice steel blades. Much smarter.

  3. awesome aviator’s cap!!!

  4. Kat

    Shit. Now I have knit that hatted-shoulder sweater. Or die trying.

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