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A Possession Obsession: Anna Quindlen

A Possession Obsession: Anna Quindlen

Pulitzer prize winning journalist and best-selling author Anna Quindlen is the expert when it comes to expression. Becoming the third woman in the New York Times history to have a regular column in the Op Ed section in 1990, Quindlen has truly made her mark in journalism over the last thirty years. In addition to contributing to the tone of the country's most influential newspapers, Quindlen also went on to write four best-selling novels (with another on the way this April). Now she shares her possession obsession with us - a Royal Copenhagen bird she deems something she's still keeping safe for her Mother. It's a special heirloom with an even more special story...

How did you come to own your heirloom?

My mother loved little pretty porcelain things, perhaps because over the course of ten years she had five children and needed something tranquil in what was often a chaotic life. In 1971, I bought her this Royal Copenhagen bird for Christmas. It was her last Christmas; by mid-January she had died of ovarian cancer. So the little bird reverted to me, although I still think I'm just keeping it safe for my mother.

How do you live with your heirloom?

It sits on my desk every day, and has for many years. It's a kind of constant memory embodied in an object.

Who in your life has most influenced your personal style and taste?

I sound like a broken record, but probably my mother. Most of the time she was in maternity smocks and shorts, but when she dressed to go out she really dressed to go out. Black dress, black heels, red lipstick, jewelry. She taught me how to put on makeup and what to wear and not wear. Brunettes don't wear blue. It's as simple as that.

Fill in the blank: Whenever I look at a _______ I can’t help but smile.   

Labrador retriever.

What’s the best part of your day? 

If I've had a good run of writing, I can knock off at about 4 p.m. and watch an hour or so of TV before my husband gets home for dinner. I think the person who invented the DVD and On Demand cable should win the Nobel. I can curl up with my needlepoint and watch Homeland or The Good Wife. I hate people who trash TV. There's so much good stuff on these days.

Describe your ideal day.

Read the papers, power walk for an hour, talk to my best friend Janet on the phone, go out to Cafe Luxembourg for breakfast with one of my kids, read a Scandinavian mystery novel, putter around the neighborhood, buy something at Babette, and maybe have everyone over for takeout from Shun Lee.  Or, alternatively, go to London and just walk around from morning 'til night and finish at the theatre in the West End. I appreciate either very ordinary, or very out-of-the-ordinary.

What is your favorite place to shop for antique/vintage pieces?

I collect Victorian mourning jewelry, and there really is no better place than the stalls and small shops of London.

What was the most memorable gift you’ve ever given or received?

For his 50th birthday I told my husband we were going to brunch. We got in a cab and after a while he realized that we were on our way to Kennedy Airport. When we got on a flight to Montego Bay, he figured out that I was taking him to the elegant house called The Hermitage on Bluefields Bay in Jamaica that we had rented for years when the kids were small. When the kids got on the plane just before they closed the doors, he started to cry.

What was your last purchase that you believe will mean something to you 10 years from now?

I built a writing porch on a knoll overlooking our country house. It seemed like a ridiculous indulgence at the time, but now I think that if it only had a bathroom I would move into it full-time.