30 April, 2009

even more newsy bits

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geither probably got on People magazine's Beautiful People list because of nepotism. Nepotism! (New York Magazine)

I saw two little sparrows either fighting or fighting to mate today in front of the Union. But it looked like the girl-bird was chasing the boy-bird and that was confusing.

Wash your hands.

It's estimated that over 70 percent of Kindle users are over 40. Old people! Stop killing books! You're supposed to be saving them! (Galley Cat)

Tonight Guion and I are going on a double date with Rose and Kemp at a sushi restaurant. And then I'll be going to Rose's apartment to join a lot of other fun women for "Gilmore Girls" night. And then I'm going to Spanky's with Guion for trivia night. Tossing all caution to the wind, who cares about exams!

There is a missing poet in Japan's volcano range in the Ryuku Island chain. (The Denver Post)

Song of the Day: "The Party," St. Vincent, from her new album

I'm really just dying for stamps from Corrabelle and Norajane. Where do these obsessions come from? I just really want to stamp stuff... (Etsy)

My orchid has one bloom left. One!

Who doesn't want a villa in Cyprus? Come on, Mom. It's only $1,337,329. Just look at this place! It's exquisite. (New York Times)

Emily and I finished "Cranford" today. It was a bittersweet moment. I'm sad it's over but it was SO GOOD. Judi Dench, A+.

Today I am almost thankful for the coolness of the air and the grayness of the skies. Existing in 90+ degree weather in a room that heats up like a black box is not so much fun.

29 April, 2009

newsy bits

First 100 Days: The Media-Overkill Awards, New York Magazine

Grace is going to India this summer!

Along with a posse of friends, Guion and I helped Chris propose to Missy at Chapel of the Cross last night. Hundreds of votives + hot wax everywhere + rose petals on the altar + a trail of mementos and love notes + one big, shiny ring = YES. Many warm congratulations to both of them.

First U.S. death from the swine flu, The New York Times

I have only two exams left. And then my junior year is done.

Emily left her phone in here and it's talking to me.

I got my flight confirmation times for this summer. Jetting off to Missouri on May 24 and then to Denver on June 5 (my brother's fifteenth birthday).

Watching the BBC miniseries "Cranford" with Emily has been the highlight of exam week.

26 April, 2009


Yesterday, Guion and I took a trip to Eno River State Park.

We basked in the sun and waded in the water. We almost fell in three times. I wanted to see a water moccasin but had to settle for a minnow. We didn't finish our milkshakes from Cook Out because it was 95 degrees. We listened to the men who were fishing off this bank as they established themselves as friends and rivals for that 2-pound bass.
It was a perfect afternoon.

There's a real smile.
Poor kid. No one ever taught him how to smile in photographs.
Complete set of the afternoon's photographs on Flickr.

22 April, 2009

ageless pirates

I hope I could be a cheeky copy editor and write headlines like this, "Nobody Knows How Old This Pirate Is." For some reason, this is hilarious to me right now, hiding and not studying ethics in what appears to be the trash heap of Davis Library. I crouch behind towers of cardboard boxes with labels like, "Archaeological Sample Box" and "Adjustable Shelf End Brackets."

We talked about this today in my ethics class. It's not new, but it's still one of the most amazing and hilariously awkward things I've ever seen. The silent gaps where laughter should be are unbelievable. "Reality has a well-known liberal bias..." Stephen Colbert speaks at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner.

One more thing from ethics class! Remember: None of the people you see in magazines actually look like that. Check out this photo retouching agency. Click on "Portfolio" to see all of the photos of actors they've "improved."

21 April, 2009

battle of the creative writing department

Today I skipped class to watch the Fiction vs. Poetry kickball game on the IM fields. The prose, unfortunately, had the poesy by four points in the end. It was well worth skipping class for--to see a bunch of skinny white kids try to kick and throw a red rubber ball at each other. I recommend it. Everyone was so enthusiastic; laughing, tripping, calling fouls, metaphorical insults. Little quirky events like this make one's day infinitely brighter.

Stuff I Love But Have Never Bought:
An old-fashioned apron
Jewelry from Etsy
Cooking gear from Williams-Sonoma
Fine china
Weirdly shaped garments from American Apparel
A puppy
Gladiator sandals
Canon digital SLR
Expensive stationery
Physicians Formula bronzer

Aside from instantly accessible community, I think one of the biggest things I will miss about College is sitting on the quad on a sunny day like today. Today it seemed like all of my closest friends passed us, coming to or from class, stopping to chat for a minute or an hour. We watched strangers; heard the baker's baby crying under the tree; posited theories about the Queen of Carrboro, who was selling locally grown kale at the mini farmers' market; threw handfuls of young grass in each others' hair; laughed; winked at the sun.

Overheard at UNC
Girl 1 in the Union: ... That's so funny!
Girl 2 in the Union: OMG. I know! I wish someone would write down the funny stuff we say.

Oh, honey. Someone is. (And it's not that funny.)

P.S. Just received an e-mail from my youngest sister that ended with the line, "I miss you and your wit and your bony ass."

20 April, 2009

some mighty fine trees

I saw an Australian Shepherd puppy tonight, walking through the Pit. I swear my heart stopped beating.

After nearly two full months of life, my orchid is beginning to show the first signs of decay. One of the six blooms just fell off. I feel like Zuzu. "Paste it, daddy! Paste it!"

Facebook is only interesting for so long.

The Telegraph (a U.K. newspaper) said "Middlemarch" is the greatest novel of all time. The Modern Library Association said it was "Ulysses." I haven't read either but now I want to read both. I am afraid to start "Ulysses" without an intense annotated guide, however. Travis recommended a British edition. I'm also considering buying UNC Press's "Allusions in Ulysses" when I do decide to tackle it. For the meantime, my big challenge is going to be vol. II of "In Search of Lost Time," which Moncrieff titles "Within a Budding Grove." This book also goes by the English name of "In Search of Young Girls in Flower." I'm not sure how one phrase can mean both of those things.

Windy and warm today. I dressed like I was going wading at the beach. Let my mane fly around my face, unhindered. It creates more frizz, but I am telling myself that it also creates more of an impression that I am a free spirit. This, albeit, is a false impression, but an impression just the same. Now I just need to stop shaving...

I finally uploaded a handful of photographs that had been rotting on my camera. I also put two very brief videos on Flickr: Franklin Street madness after the championship win and a snippet of Neko Case performing "Maybe Sparrow" at Meymandi.

Toni Morrison is endlessly rewarding. I started "Song of Solomon" yesterday and have been simply breezing through it. Not that it is a light read. But it is so engaging that I cannot put it down very easily. I am not sure what to take up next. My goal is to finish it before finals week, so I can read one or two novels during exams. Maybe even three. I only have three exams, which means I have lots and lots of time to kick around in the grass and read.

The boys on skateboards in the Pit make me so uneasy. Skateboards in general frighten me. It's such an unstable, risky form of transportation--to zip around on a little piece of wood with wheels on it. I can't understand what's saving them from a gratuitously graphic death every time they zoom past me on the sidewalk.

Even if you paid me, I would never be a political science graduate student. Never in a million thousand years.

Google Reader is still one of the best things in my life.

Most days, I like to think about what would happen if I started waving and shouting a random name at a stranger. What they would say if I went up to them and gave them a hug and pretended like I was a long-lost friend from high school. I've always wanted to do this, but I know I'll never have the spontaneous courage.

"A Meeting"
Wendell Berry

In a dream I meet
my dead friend. He has,
I know, gone long and far,
and yet he is the same
for the dead are changeless.
They grow no older.
It is I who have changed,
grown strange to what I was.
Yet I, the changed one,
ask: "How you been?"
He grins and looks at me.
"I been eating peaches
off some mighty fine trees."

18 April, 2009


There is nothing finer than lounging in the grass, under the patchwork of sun and shade from a newly-budding oak, surrounded by a circle of books. And a few good friends.

This has been my primary activity for the past two days. It's like taste-testing paradise.

"Learn about pines from the pine, and about bamboo from the bamboo." - Matsuo Basho

16 April, 2009

so i think i have decided to join FLO Foods next year

"Prayer After Eating"
Wendell Berry

I have taken in the light
that quickened eye and leaf.
May my brain be bright with praise
of what I eat, in the brief blaze
of motion and of thought.
May I be worthy of my meat.

15 April, 2009

i'm up in the woods

I feel like it has rained five days out of every week for the past two months.

Yes, Tom Tancredo is racist and out of his mind, but don't throw bricks at him. Let him spout his madness and then voice your opinion fairly, non-violently. The "Dance for Diversity" was a better idea of protest than heckling and hurling stones. It was not fruitful.

"A fashionable milieu is one in which everybody's opinion is made up of the opinions of all the others. Has everybody a different opinion? Then it is a literary milieu." -- Marcel Proust

My extensive research on the Carrboro Farmers' Market, area farmers and other local foods groups has made me more eager to grow things, to get dirt under my fingernails. After interviewing three of its members, I even considered joining FLO Foods next year. But then I wondered if I could bear being judged for everything I put in my mouth. I blame all of this on Angela, the indefatigable Pollan evangelist.

One of my biggest weaknesses: notebooks and stationery. I love paper. I do, I do, I do.

"Roses for Stalin" is one of most hilariously creepy things I've seen all week. I've seen it before, but I was reminded, in my media ethics class, how bizarre it is.

Reading Lolita has been an unbelievable experience. It's one of the most beautifully-written books I've read all year. And one of the most unsettling. Who else but Nabokov could make a pedophile a sympathetic protagonist? I don't know what to do with Humbert Humbert, and that is perhaps what Nabokov wanted.

I went running yesterday morning in the damp haze on the Battle Park trails. It was so fresh and still that I had to turn off my iPod and just listen to the birds, exchanging thin bits of song, the distant murmuring of a flooded stream, squirrels crackling through the leaves, my breath and my feet, pounding in synchronized rhythm.

I have been thinking, and praying, about the Pratts all day for the past two days.

12 April, 2009

green in the mouth of spring

Gloriously pristine afternoon in Davidson. I am working at Main Street Books (they just got the Internets, it seems) and having a very quiet Sunday. I sold a John Grisham novel, counted mounds of bills and coins from the New York Times faithfuls, listened to NPR. I told a woman not to waste her time on "Twilight" and then I cut the bestseller lists out of the NYT Book Review and Stephanie Meyer's name was just grinning wryly back at me from the top. Did you know that 16 percent of ALL books sold in America last quarter were hers? 16 percent! That's obscene.

Teen vampire romances aside, I had a lovely weekend at home. On Friday, we had torrential downpours (it rained like it was trying to break through the roof) almost all day, but I almost liked it, because it gave us the excuse to sit on the couch, wrapped in blankets, sipping tea. Guion and I joined Kelsey and Grace and read for nearly two hours; he read a fourth of "The Road" and I finished "Nightwood" and "The Joke." I love days like that.

We celebrated Easter on Saturday at my grandparents' house. Guion helped Grace and I hide "2,000 eggs" in the backyard (my 5-year-old cousin's estimate) and didn't get to go skeet shooting in the field with Sarah Palin Jr. (Kelsey. Sigh. My sister). Guion was disappointed about this, largely because instead of playing with guns, he got to be a model for Grace's photo shoot.

My uncle, king of all gadgets, brought his Kindle to the family gathering. He was very excited to show it to me and let me fiddle with it. And even though I felt myself attracted to the idea of carrying 1,500 books with me at all times, there was a sick knot of dread in the bottom of my stomach as I held it in my hands. I can't imagine myself ever forsaking my library, my physical library, the pride and joy of my life, for a little device with a keypad. I still can't abide by this. I still can't help but see it as the omen that is heralding the death of my deepest loves. Authors, books, publishing houses, the verifiable, credible, excellent written word... these will be things I will have to explain to my children. "When I was a child, we read things called books. Yes, you had to actually turn the pages with your fingers. So archaic, I know ..."

I do not want to be a rich woman. This is a good thing, because at this rate, I never will be one. I do not want to drive an expensive car with my sunglasses and designer bag. I do not want a brood of blonde, entitled children with names extracted from New England townships. I do not want expertly highlighted hair or perpetually manicured nails. I do not want to pretend I have suffered. I do not want any of these things.

(A blonde kid hangs out the side of his father's sleek black BMV convertible, griping at his mother, because she, with her Gucci sunglasses on her head, is not holding the right flavor of ice cream cone in her tan hand. He sticks his tongue out at her. She turns her head, looks down at her magazine. He slumps down in the leather seats.)

The more I hear about Scandinavia, the more I am convinced that I MUST GO THERE.

For my public affairs reporting class, I am doing my final project, an enterprise piece, on the local foods movement in Carrboro, with a focus on farmers in Orange County. Between my hours of research and interviews with farmers and activists and academics, I feel my magnetic attraction to land, dirt and plants increasing exponentially. Sure, it's a romantic idea, but I want to be a farmer some day. The Pratts are already living the dream in their backyard in Southern Pines and my mom is preparing the soil for her own mini-farm. It can be done. One of the academics I spoke to last week, a woman in the folklore department, told me that she sees the urge to farm as something that skipped a generation. My grandparents were all about agriculture, but their children, my parents, showed less interest as a whole. Now, I know dozens and dozens of students whose primary goal is to farm. It's an interesting phenomenon. If anyone has an answer as to why this might be the case, I'd love to hear it.

I really wanted a puppy for Easter. I didn't get one.

Yesterday was Emily's 21st birthday! Happiest wishes to an unbelievably great roommate and friend. She is a beautiful woman and I hope I'll grow up to be more like her.

Everyone is having so much fun in Bollywood.

09 April, 2009


I'm going home today! The sun is shining! Guion is coming with me! I've been reading lots of prose and poetry lately and that makes me so much happier! It's Holy Week! I saw the German shepherd three times today! My orchid is still alive! I LOVE EVERYONE!

06 April, 2009

do not torture me with beauty

I went to the Palm Sunday service at Holy Family Episcopal with Guion and Dr. Tillman this Sunday. Before we went inside for the service, we got to wave palms and walk in a procession around the church, singing “Hosanna.” The morning sun was hot and comforting; a fat bumblebee wandered between us and frightened a woman who moved behind her husband and I smiled, wanting to tell her that bumblebees don’t have stingers; we went through the Passion, as recorded in Mark, as a congregation and it was very moving and as I looked at the cross draped in red, I considered the tension between culpability and grace; I love saying "the peace" to my pew neighbors; the Prayers of the People is one of my favorite parts of the service. Guion is going to make a good Episcopalian of me yet…

Reason no. 3,405 to love Scandinavia: it produced the artist Camilla Engman, whom I am nursing a deep woman-crush on.

Childhood fears I have been completely cured of:
Talking on the phone
The ocean
The elderly

Every time I walk through the Arboretum, I have to fight the powerful urge to steal handfuls of flowers.

The Boston Globe is under threat of being shut down. The Boston GLOBE, people!

"Night winds in Georgia are vagrant poets, whispering." -- Cane, Jean Toomer

Right now, my top two favorite names for a boy and a girl are Elijah and Elia. It’s too bad that they’re basically the same name.

Childhood fears I have not been cured of:
Dark rooms
Red-eyed rabbits
Swimming laps

When I grow up and have my own house to decorate, I want a wide bedroom with white walls, white curtains and white bed linens. And an outrageous number of windows. I will also spend an irresponsible amount of money on fresh flowers and mismatched china.

Portrait of Eugenia Primavesi, Gustav Klimt

A terrific rainstorm hit this morning at 10 while I was in class. The rain roared against the windows and I was excitable, afraid. It made me think of Burke and his frustrating description of the sublime, how it is this contradictory emotion of witnessing a beauty so overpowering that it makes you fearful. I think a thunderstorm is the chief example of the sublime.

“Unnecessary” quotation marks in “signs”

My final word to the wise: GO HEELS!

02 April, 2009

a raspy death-rattle

Thanks to Dr. Tillman, our room's flower count has now been upped 11 (little yellow daffodils), bringing our grand total to 28. 28! I hope we will have bees soon...

The DTH's crossword puzzle today is just too hard. I hate that. I hate that I don't know the second lightest element, Arlo's favorite restaurant, "Juno" director Reitman or the Wisconsin birthplace of Orson Welles. Because I SHOULD know ALL THESE THINGS. Clearly.

While I was sitting in reporting class today, I kept thinking about how happy I would be when it was over, how I'm so utterly exhausted by being a reporter. And then I remembered that I'm going to be working for a newspaper this summer. You can never escape journalism. It is always breathing down your neck, albeit these days its breath sounds more like a raspy death-rattle...

I am reading four books right now, all of which I am enjoying immensely. (It took me way too long to finish D.H. Lawrence, St. Mawr and the Man Who Died, and Thomas Merton's Zen and the Birds of Appetite. Both were good, but slow. But then again, Zen is slow. Zen is mostly incomprehensible to my western mind.)

Current four books:
1. Cane, Jean Toomer (for my literary modernism class; it's amazing)
2. The Joke, Milan Kundera (my birthday gift from Angela; it's superb so far)
3. The Essential Haiku, transl. Robert Hass (anniversary gift from Guion)
4. Collected Poems, Wendell Berry (my birthday gift from Guion last year, that I am finally getting around to reading through)

I seem to read things in strange yearly cycles; I'm magnetized to things on an annual basis. According to my journals, almost exactly one year ago, I was also reading haiku and meditating on its minimalistic beauty.

Here are two from the grand master, Basho:

It's not like anything
they compare it to--
the summer moon.


How admirable!
to see lightning and not think
life is fleeting.

To reward myself for finishing a poli exam, I also bought a copy of Lolita, which will be taken up once I've finished The Joke. I have an unflagging fascination with Nabokov, because when you read him, you are reading the words of an incomparable genius. English was this man's second language, and yet he can write it with more skill and more depth and more beauty than more than half of native English-speaking writers! It's unbelievable to me, every time I remember this.

In other news, it's the end of the written world as we know it.

It's also Scott Phillips's fault that I really want to own and consume the second volume of Proust, Within a Budding Grove or In Search of Young Girls in Flower or whatever you want to call it. "When I read Proust," he told me at a party a few weeks ago, "I feel the way that some people do when they're reading romance novels. Like everything is bright and real and exciting!" I remembered that feeling and thought I should like to have it again.

I overheard a prematurely middle-aged man in Davis Library last night talking on his cellphone. He was standing in a hallway, assuming no one could hear his conversation. But we could all hear him when he said, plaintively, "... so I met her on this trail, you know, and we really hit it off, but then I didn't ask for her number, and she went off and talked to this other guy... I just, I don't know. I feel like I should have gone for it." I exchanged raised eyebrows and subtle smiles with the two girls at an adjacent table. We were all thinking, "Yeah, dude. You should have gone for it."

"Turning points in the evolution of love are not always the result of dramatic events; they often stem from something that at first seems completely inconsequential." -- Kundera, The Joke