Okay, so I underestimated the Midwest. It was far prettier than I remembered, and I had a genuinely lovely few days there, thanks in large part to my family and my Dad's family. We had a relaxing and full time in Ohio and Indiana, filled with lots of laughter, Roachdale, resuscitated memories, corn detassling, and the Olympics. The chances to love and be loved. And then half of us made it back for Paul and Alex's gorgeous and quasi-Jewish wedding last night. They both looked amazing, full of an eagerness that is wholly deserved, since they've been waiting to get married for twelve years. And it was great to see all of the old high school friends, too, to note how we've changed and how we've stayed the same. The convergence of memories and remainders of old lives and all that sort of thing that happens when you meet people you were once intimate with.
Watching the Olympics makes me acquire all sorts of weird emotions. On one side, I love seeing these men and women who are incredibly good at what they do, but on the other, I think most of them are so doped up that it's hard to know who deserves the credit. And then I am humbled by their skill and devotion, and on the other side I'm critiquing them as if I were qualified to. But the best thing I've seen so far, because it was so inspiring and genuine, was the men's 400M freestyle relay. Go watch the clip of it somewhere online (NBC, maybe?) if you haven't already.
Oh, and Kels and I got a car. It's just the most darling, ugly-as-sin little thing you've ever seen. You have to kick it to get it to start in the morning. But I won't complain. It'll be nice to have a form of transportation, however cheap, around Chapel Hill.
What is the What was powerful, as I expected it to be, but not in a cheesy or predictable manner. Eggers skillfully avoids what I think would be a common pitfall of writing about a Sudanese refugee: turning him into a continual hero or model of Faith and Perseverance Against All Odds. Even though that is Valentino Achak Deng's story, Eggers never lets one forget that Deng is, above all else, not much different from anyone else. He's human. We're human. And humans do terrible things to each other, both on that continent and this. Very well-written, highly recommended to those of you who like to read things.
And I really like Gillian Welch. I admit it without shame.
(5 points to the person who can name where the title of this post comes from without Googling it.)