30 July, 2009

the stationery life

The three of us at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, during "half-time," as Jonathan said
Jonathan was here for the past three days and I can't say just how lovely it was to have him here. Every day was perfect. We laughed so much. We went to the grocery store; fell in love with downtown Boulder; had the utterly perfect, classic picnic (brie, gouda, grapes, dark chocolate, freshly baked bread and "wine"); saw "Much Ado About Nothing" and barely escaped the rain; made a pizza and a sour-cream chocolate cake with chocolate satin icing; watched MTV with Claire; had many long, happy chats on the couch with Kitteh. I'd forgotten how sincerely wonderful it is to have someone around without having to explain the context for every story and reference. I've missed good, old friends and he was exactly the respite I needed. I was sad to see him go, but glad that he was off to love on the Barge Train in the District before they headed back to Chapel Hill.
Holden Thorp and the love child of Nicolas Cage and Tom Green also made an appearance in "Much Ado About Nothing."
Can I name a child Esme? Or at least an Australian Shepherd?
I want to read so many BOOKS! I cannot read enough! Boulder must have the most independent bookstores within the smallest space in America and it was driving me mad. I was speechless with distraction. Jonathan and Sonya had to pry me away from the stacks. Top of my list for fall: "Lamb," by Christopher Moore, and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," by Jonathan Safran Foer, and "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," by Junot Diaz.
I'm ticked with Sen. John McCain from Arizona. Remember him? Because of his poor decision-making skills, we're going to have to hear about the former Gov. Sarah Palin for the REST OF OUR LIVES. That's such a bummer. We will hear every crazy and nonsensical thing she says from here forward. Because that's her genius; she will not vanish, even though she has no message to give us.

Slate, regarding of her resignation speech, said it perfectly: "Watch it as many times as you like; you still come away feeling you've been treated to a cozy chat with the Mad Hatter. The media are bad. Those ethics complaints are expensive. Alaska was a great idea. She is not a dead fish. Put it all together and what do you get? A born fighter who has given us no sense whatsoever of what she's fighting for."
Jonathan has told me to start my 365 project again--but with a twist. Start with the first day of our senior year, Aug. 25, 2009, and finish once graduation is over and "adulthood" has commenced, Aug. 25, 2010. I think I'm going to do it. Obnoxious? Dumb? He says he misses it. If Jonathan likes it, it's worth doing again. So, friends, assemble!
Thumbs down on wearing a tiara on your wedding day. This is not prom.
Jonathan and I have unequivocally decided that this is the year of GOYA: Get Off Your Ass. Following GOYA, I've decided to buy a used copy of "The Joy of Cooking" and try to make at least one recipe a week. And if not from that book, at least make something new every week. (This is also a subtle plan to make Guion love me more.)
CAN NO ONE IN THE BLOGOSPHERE SPELL "STATIONERY" PROPERLY? Gosh, cute blogging women, you do NOT love "letterpress stationary." Letterpress is only ever stationary, unless you're actually chucking it at someone or have given it wings.
How wonderful: 100 salads for summer. Add this to list of new recipes and things to try.
Yesterday my Uncle Steve, my dad's eldest brother, came to visit and we took a long drive up in the mountains to see the mining ghost towns beyond Black Hawk and Central City. I really enjoyed our time together. Even though the last time I talked to him or even saw him was probably 10 years ago, I kept feeling this sense of the undeniable connection of family. We had this bond because we were related and as he talked, I saw my father in his lips, my aunt in his eyes, my grandmother in his cheekbones. And I was happy, to be with family again.
Grace has a new blog and it is much cooler than mine.
The Audacity of Hops! I'm a little dismayed that Obama's beer of choice is Bud Light.
My heart is so happy in Chapel Hill and Davidson and I can't wait to return to those two places.

23 July, 2009


Things I have learned today:

- Making challah is fun
- North Korea thinks Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton looks like a "schoolgirl." Or a pensioner going shopping.
- The famous Spanish Civil War photograph of the soldier being killed may have been faked
- "Middlemarch" continues to be delightful
- I like fresh mango
- I miss my sisters
- Bluebell ice cream is divine (thanks for having a birthday, Mark!)
- I don't want to read another story about Honduras; I'm sick of hearing about "ousted President Manuel Zelaya"
- New Jersey rabbis get busted for trafficking kidneys on the black market. Why is this so funny?
- Living without power for two days makes you more introspective. And feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder.
- I like wearing a bun
- There's nothing better than an e-mail from Guion to brighten your inbox
- Foil yogurt lids may occasionally explode all over your face and shirt
- I think Obama's idea of tying teachers' pay to student performance is a bad idea
- The new nightgown from Anthropologie was totally worth it
- Sometimes people like to cling to untruth and total ignorance. Like Rush Limbaugh, who still insists that Obama is not a U.S. citizen.
- Earl Grey tea with milk is a wonderful thing
- Hiking might be the best form of exercise
- The days pass quickly when you have things to fill them with

19 July, 2009

cue voice-over

I am pleasantly laboring under the illusion that time is passing very quickly here. I met Claire for coffee/tea after having a post-church lunch with Dan and realized, "Wow. I felt like I just did this Sunday routine." It's a rather nice realization. I think I have 22, 23 days left until Kelsey and Guion get here.

I started reading "Middlemarch" yesterday and it is reminding me why I love to read. It is SO good. Granted, I'm only 115 pages in (with about 800 left to go), but it's just great. Eliot is funny and insightful and these people are somehow both fresh and familiar. It's playing out like a BBC mini-series in my head. (I even imagine the great background music--the strings begin a feverish rush as Dorothea opens the letter from Causabon! A light opens on her pale face as she begins to read. Cue voice-over...)

Help Sonya, my dear Denver friend, become the next Fanta girl! Check out her great video and give her a vote and a five-star rating! I promise she deserves it. (She should win alone for her excellent video-editing skills. Seriously; her video is better than all the rest.)

Mark Sanford is such a disaster; it's almost entertaining to watch. The op-ed that he had published yesterday was such a greasy, PR attempt at back-pedaling; it just makes everything worse. No one believes anything that he says anymore. This is why politicians should just STOP talking about how moral, noble and "Christian" they are; they will just trip up, as we all do, but they're giving the rest of us a very public and bad name.

I got to talk to Emily last night on Skype and it was so good to hear her voice. Can't wait to see her again.

My morning date with Christa was so perfect; exactly what my week needed. We had divine blueberry pancakes while watching "The Village" (which I had never seen, and really liked. It was great because I knew nothing about it, so none of the surprises were spoiled) and rifling through her prodigious collection of craft materials. She is really fun and her house is unbelievable. We walked through the woods in our skirts to the rocky overlook and got slimed by some mysterious forest goo.

I am so sick of subsisting on organic peanut butter and corn syrup-free preserves. I need to become more culinarily creative. (NOT A WORD I KNOW.)

Grace is back from India! She has a head full of lice and wonderful stories that I can't wait to hear. I miss that kid.

"God is a comedian playing to an audience that is afraid to laugh."--Voltaire

16 July, 2009

let me not be my own life

I am happy, but restless. I am trying to remember that there is joy and contentment to be found even here, even in the absence of Guion and my family. All the letters and cards I've received, however, have certainly helped.

"Let me not be my own life: badly have I lived from myself: I was death to myself: in you I live again." -- St. Augustine

My hike on Tuesday to Herman's Gulch with Reid and Sonya has been my favorite hike all summer. It was just the perfect day. You can see the photos on Fbook or the video of Reid reading to use from "The Idiot" at the lake.

Driving home after documentary night (at Sean, Reid and Josh's; we watched Madonna's film on Malawi, "I Am Because We Are," in honor of Sean, who is leaving for Malawi today!), I was stopped at a light when I happened to look in the windows of a diner across the street. A man and a woman were on a date, sitting across from each other in a booth. She was wearing a red dress and he was in a white polo. She was leaning in, bent over the table, and gesturing with her hands and he was sitting back, straight, his head held up, almost looking over her. And I thought--and so much as said to myself--"Ah, she's much more interested in him than he is in her. But I hope it turns out. I hope they will be happy."

Finished "The Confessions" and the collected poems of Anna Akhmatova and have started Novella Carpenter's "Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer." It's confirmed everything Claire has told me about Oakland and Berkeley so far. "Everyone there is crazy," she told me. "And I was wondering why that was the case, but then I realized that people who--in, say, Boston or Denver--would not be crazy, see all of these strange people in Berkeley and think, 'Hm, maybe I'll become crazy, too!' And that's why it's an epidemic."

Things I want to do when I come back to Carolina:

Get a bike
Outfit that bike with a basket/crate
Buy "The Joy of Cooking" and try to make at least one recipe a week
Join Eric and Emily's small group
Join FLO
Bike to the farmers' market every Saturday
Grow herbs
Keep taking yoga classes
Write lots of letters
Become a true friend to my housemates

Pancakes and craft morning tomorrow at Christa's! I'm so excited.

Less than a month! And Jonathan (happy 21st, by the way) will be here in 11 days!

12 July, 2009

today's laughter, brought to you by

"Let me peek out there and see if there’s an open door somewhere. And if there’s even a little crack of light, I’ll hope to plow through it."

- Soon-to-be former Gov. Sarah Palin, in an interview with The Washington Times published Sunday

(It's time to revive the flat-out insult.)

10 July, 2009

100 personalities

I have this theory about people. I feel justified in calling it a theory, because Proust thinks it, too. I don't have the passage in front of me, but when Marcel goes off on a brief stint with his grandmother in "Within a Budding Grove," he remarks how he "met" Madame Swann in a diving instructor; his dearest love at the time, Gilberte, in a Spanish gentleman; and Monsieur Bergotte in the fat lady in a deck chair. It sounds a little crazy, but I've thought this for such a long time now that I was positively delighted to have found external confirmation.

Where J.Hecht has his "100 persons" theory (the idea that there are only 100 people who exist to him in the world), I have my "100 personalities" theory. Wherever you go, the people you meet will only be slight variations of other people. Most seem to be carbon replicas of others. Social assessments come rather swiftly under this schema, and I find myself grouping people into these pre-arranged categories: Oh, that boy acts like X and Y, and this girl is a clouded mirror of Z, and so forth. This was even the case in Japan. It got to the point where I started to think I was seeing old neighbors on the train.

The same has been more or less true for me in Denver. While I still recognize that everyone I meet possesses his or her own unique qualities, I can't help but identify them with previous personality patterns I've met. Everybody follows a personality design that is repeated in a million others. It sounds very Darwinian and cold, but I don't think of it that way. Rather, I find myself thinking of people I meet as just distant copies of other relatives, friends and acquaintances.

One can never have too much cheese. This might be my new life motto.

Despite this, I've been going vegetarian for the past week and a half. It's all Angela's fault, like usual. I find it easier to accomplish when I have entire control over what I'm eating (par ex., not eating at Lenoir, my house, someone else's house). And, so far, so good. I don't really miss meat all that much, although it does take an ounce more planning and preparation.

This just in: Malia and Sasha grill Pope Benedict XVI on stem-cell research and abortion. Not really. But the headline passed through my mind...

Last year, I was a better blogger and writer. I wonder if journalism is to blame? But then I read such brilliant journalists with such skill with language and think, No, journalists can be, and very often are, excellent writers. So what's wrong with me? I think I've fallen out of the habit of writing for pleasure, even though I've faithfully kept my year-long project of writing a (manual) journal entry a day. It has not been a very rewarding venture, but I am trying to make it more fruitful. Somehow.

Today I am reminded of this quote by Walter Brueggeman: "You are not the God we would have chosen."

I can't wait to see my totally cool and world-traveling sisters! And Guion! Laughing with this collection of people is among my chiefest joys in life.

I am really excited about a week from today. Christa and I have set a pancakes-and-movie breakfast date at her mountain lodge in Morrison! It's going to be the best.

Today I decided what I am going to name my three future dogs: Soren, the German shepherd (thereby beating Grace to naming her son that. It's on, G. Either I get a dog or you have a baby. Whoever does it first gets the name); Kuma, the Great Pyrenees (Japanese for "bear"); and Zooey or Piper, the Australian shepherd. I had a dream about a whole fleet of Aussies last night, with their precious little faces pressed up against the backdoor window, and I had to take them all in and protect them from the dark night and the wolves.

09 July, 2009


When I look back at my life, I think I will list this as one of my greatest accomplishments before I was 22. Yesterday, along with Reid and Michael, I hiked my first 14,000+ foot peak. There were many times that I thought I might possibly die, and even times when I thought we would all die. But reaching that summit at Torreys: glory! Elation! One of the best feelings ever.And who knows? Maybe this one won't be my last. As Michael reminded me when my lungs were burning and my legs ready to quit, it wouldn't be worth it if you didn't have any pain. Like most things in life, I'd say.
It's exciting to have reached the point in my summer where I am legitimately busy, not just at work, but outside of work--with meetings, appointments, lunches, dinners, hikes. I girded myself for another lonely summer this year, but that has not been the case at all. My heart is light here. I am happy and I daresay I will even be sad to leave. I believe, more firmly than ever, that community is such an essential part of a joyful, well-balanced life, and I am inexpressibly grateful to have found it here, in whatever surface pockets I can reach.
One of the only consequences of my job this summer is that it has made me a terrible reader. I've only finished six books this summer (granted, two of them had more than 600 pages) and still have at least six more on my list (including the whopping "Middlemarch"). But once I get back to school, I will finish those and "Lamb," which God has apparently decreed I must read, since three different people, entirely unannounced and unconnected, have told me I have to read it.
I am hand-writing my cousin's wedding invitations right now. I've reached a style that I think looks nice; I just hope they do, too.
I am really hungry most of the time, but I hate spending money on food. This is a really silly hang-up of mine.
I've been wondering lately what my life will look like a year from now. Aside from a few particulars, I really have no idea. Even though this would have stressed me out last year, I find myself oddly at peace about the unknown. I credit this to Guion, who does not seem to worry about anything at all. The quality of a rock star, I guess...

01 July, 2009

subtle slopes

From today's hike in Elk Meadows park. The air is thin and quiet here; it only barely grazes your skin. It was a lovely afternoon. No day could possibly be otherwise when you spend it outdoors in a place that looks like this.

As I was driving here today with David and Dan, I realized that I feel like a different person here. And I wondered if this slight shift in personality would follow me back home, back to the familiar scenes and faces and schedules. I'm not sure how to describe it. I think it has something to do with the abatement of fear. I feel open to unseen possibilities, chances to meet people and say things I would not ordinarily say. David said to me, in the car on the drive back, "You seem very active, like you always want to go and do things, and that's nice." This is not at all the way someone would have described me a few months ago, I think. Maybe it's just the subtle slopes of growing up.

And then there is God. God, who seems to be simultaneously silent and provident. Lately, I tend to think he's been catlike and aloof, but then grace and mercy appear when I least expect them.

"Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah..."

Last night, I went to watch the documentary "Food Inc." with Claire. Even though it was the visual representation of Michael Pollan's books, it was still a life-changing experience--and I say that plainly and truthfully. I can't think about food the same way anymore. What I loved about the film is that it wasn't just about what agribusiness is doing to our health (although it's doing a considerable lot), but about how America's destructive food culture is affecting public policy, immigration, science, the environment and general societal relationships. It was fascinating. You should all go see it, if only to see the veil lifted from industrial agriculture. And I also loved it to actually see and hear the energetic, pure back-to-nature-polyculture farm evangelical Joel Salatin (whom you will remember from "The Omnivore's Dilemma"). Just love him. He knows what's up. I want to be his best friend and work on his gorgeous, almost unbelievably idyllic farm in the Shenandoah Valley.

I finished "Between the Acts" today and it was pretty crazy. The end was like unraveling thread, but purposefully so. I need to sit down and think about what it means. While I am still finishing "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "Lapsing into a Comma" (a gift from one of my coworkers), I have three choices for what to start next: "Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer" (by Novella Carpenter), "Down to Earth: Practical Thoughts for Passionate Gardeners" (by Margot Rochester) or "Middlemarch" (by George Eliot). I have a feeling I'll opt for Carpenter first, and then, evaluating my progress on Pollan and Walsh, start "Middlemarch." The book itself is very daunting to look at, but I know I should read it. The Telegraph (UK) thinks it was the best novel ever written, and my dear Woolf said of it herself, "It is one of the few novels written for grown-up people."


Jonathan is now officially coming to visit at the end of the month and I couldn't be more thrilled. I can't wait to see him. We are planning to see "Much Ado About Nothing," performed by the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder, and do many other wonderful, spontaneous things.

"Like quicksilver sliding, filings magnetized, the distracted united. The tune began; the first note meant a second; the second a third. Then down beneath a force was born in opposition; then another. On different levels they diverged. On different levels ourselves went forward; flower gathering some on the surface; others descending to wrestle with the meaning; but all comprehending; all enlisted. The whole population of the mind's immeasurable profundity came flocking; from the unprotected, the unskinned; and dawn rose; and azure; from chaos and cacophony measure; but not the melody of surface sound alone controlled it; but also the warring battle-plumed warrios straining asunder: To part? No. Compelled from the ends of the horizon; recalled from the edge of appalling crevasses; they crashed; solved; united. And some relaxed their fingers; and others uncrossed their legs." -- Between the Acts

She is the reason, if you haven't already guessed, why I use semicolons so liberally.