03 June, 2010

Goodbye, Selections

... hello, Little Stories.

While it has been fun blogging here for a few years, things have changed and I'm moving to a newer, fresher location:


If you like, continue to follow me here! I probably won't be posting for more than a week or so, as I imagine the move to Charlottesville and the beginning of my new job will be more than a bit time consuming. But I'm looking forward to writing again.

With much love and joy,

The newly minted Mrs. P.

26 May, 2010

going to get married

Well, friends, it's about that time. Tomorrow morning at 7, my mom, sisters and I are packing up and headed out for Chapel Hill. I'm getting married on Saturday and it's totally crazy and exciting! I feel like my brain is already splintering into a thousand pieces when I think about all that needs to be done. But strangely, and mercifully, I also feel very peaceful and content. I just have to breathe every now and then. Things will go wrong (like the expected rain on Saturday, and other things I simply can't predict), but at the end of the day, I get to marry Guion. And that's all that really matters.
This morning, I read this verse, which charmed and calmed my heart. It's a passage that talks about God's presence among the Israelites as they wandered in despair:
"Your way was through the sea,
your path through the great waters;
yet your footprints were unseen."

(Psalm 77:19)
It communicates to me this beautiful idea of God's omnipresence. Even when we fail to detect him, he's there, treading the same ground. This is something I will strive to remember this weekend, and, hopefully, always.
This blog, my Flickr, and any other Internet presence I may have will understandably be on hold for a week or more. I have to get hitched, honeymoon, move to Charlottesville, and start my new job in a mere two weeks!
Thanks for the encouragement, support, and mutual excitement that's come from all of you out there. I shall return, a happily married woman!

19 May, 2010

ten days left

Back from the bachelorette retreat at Topsail! We had such a perfect time. I love these beautiful women so, so much and my life is infinitely richer because of them.
We're now in the 10-day countdown! It's a bit unbelievable to me still. As soon as I got back, I checked the weather forecast. It looks to be much of what I expected for a typical May day: hot, humid, and the possibility of transient thunderstorms. I hope they will hold off so we can take photos in the Arboretum...
Will try to write again soon. Much love!

10 May, 2010

the memorable weekend

This weekend, I said goodbye to my six fabulous and graduated housemates...
Remembered four amazing years with dear friends...

Celebrated with family...

And (most likely) found a place to live with my husband-to-be! (If all goes according to plan, we'll have the upstairs apartment in this charming, historic home near downtown Charlottesville and the Belmont neighborhood. Old doors, transom windows, and heart-of-pine floors = I'm thrilled.
There is so much going on in my life right now and I am thankful to be home for a few weeks so I can sit still and think about it all. I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and I'm getting married in 18 days; I feel like I should do something else momentous to keep the ball rolling... like become a first-time owner of an angora rabbit (today's obsession, for whatever reason).
All I want to do is lounge in the sun and read. But there are veils to be refashioned and plates to be counted and mason jars to be ribboned! Much, much still to be done. Love to you all, my largely anonymous body of readers!
You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.
Psalm 65.9

04 May, 2010

words words words

Sorry if the last post sounded mean or ungrateful. I know it's no excuse, but I've been really stressed this week.

In better news,
I've almost graduated
My truly FINAL exam is tomorrow at 4
I'm reading Pale Fire and it's reminded me of why I love Nabokov
It's been great being home and I'm looking forward to my time here in May
Guion and I have some decent prospects for housing
We're getting married in 25 days!


29 April, 2010

i'll be so good to you

Annie Clark (St. Vincent). She looks like my beautiful mother, doesn't she?
Mercy! Done with classes. Two final exams and then I'm really done with academic work for my undergraduate career. Graduation happens, and then I'll move home until we get married (which happens in a MONTH, for those who care). These have been swift, swift weeks.
I got to see St. Vincent and The Love Language last night for free at Memorial Hall. Emily came with me and we adored Annie Clark (see above) from a not-too-far distance (we had third-row seats). I also got to see Angela almost get herself kicked out of the concert for being so happy and dance-y. She stole most of the show with her joyful antics and managed to drag Emily and I (and about twenty other people, including Sarah E., who I was pleased and surprised to see but not too surprised, because it's St. Vincent) back to dance with her.
"She said, 'Why is my life so uneven?' ..."
Today was my last day at UNC Press. They threw me a mini food party and my eyes misted up. I am sad to leave these people. They have been such excellent coworkers and endlessly encouraging and patient. I would work here again one day if I could. If we ever return to Chapel Hill...
Things I'm excited about doing in Charlottesville:
- Getting to know all of the great shops and restaurants in the Downtown Mall
- Reading The Hook weekly
- Having a full-time job and being an Adult
- Making friends with our neighbors
- Becoming a part of a local church

26 April, 2010

the recognition of things

This is my last week of classes as an undergraduate. Somehow, I never imagined getting here. When I arrived on campus as a bright-eyed first-year, I never pictured reaching The End. College was supposed to last forever! And now here it is: The End. It seems like a very morbid way to think about it, but I'm excited about what lies ahead. I talked with Danielle about it last night, and we both agreed on this general feeling of readiness. At the same time, I feel unusually possessed of the awareness of time, of the need to be very present this week.

"He thought that in the world it had always been and always was like this: a bearded man lies in a room on a bed. The boy had just entered into the recognition of things. He still did not know how to distinguish their different existences in time." -- Yuri Olesha, "Liompa"

I will miss riding my bike around campus. I hope I can still bike places in Charlottesville.

Annie Dillard wrote in Living By Fiction that language is like shining a light on Venus. She didn't really explain what she meant by that, but I will keep thinking about it.

I started a personal study of Jude for the next few weeks. It's a very dark little letter. But I like his opening greeting, which expresses this hope: "May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you" (Jude 2, ESV). I like this expression of these virtues (spiritual gifts, perhaps) as finite things that may be increased many times over.

Still anxious about jobs and a place to live. But I'm getting married to the best man I've ever met in 32 days, so I don't really have much to worry about.

22 April, 2010

preliminary marriage goals

Things I want to do after I get married:

- Start reading for pleasure again
- Begin a little garden
- Become more experimental in the kitchen
- Be really savvy with money
- Use the public library so much that I get to be on a first-name basis with the librarians
- Volunteer: after-school program or animal shelter
- Yoga once a week with husband
- Start writing again
- Write letters to friends
- Keep lots of plants in the house
- Try painting again (something should happen with that gouache)
- Run
- Pray with my husband every morning
- Become a better blogger
- Get plugged in with a great local church
- Develop a calligraphy service on the side
- Keep a clean, simple house
- Hike the Appalachian Trail, all the time
- Memorize scripture
- Go on mini-adventures with Guion on the weekends
- Explore Charlottesville
- Did I mention I'm going to start reading again?

13 April, 2010

bluebells are ringing

(The long, strong arm of the tree outside the Shoebox.)

I persuaded my Russian lit professor to let me write my final paper as a short story instead. I'm writing a response to Chekhov's "The Lady with the Little Dog," creating a narrative from the perspective of the main character's jilted wife. It's been a great exercise, but it's also made me realize how rusty my fiction skills are. I may need to enlist some savvy editors to help me whip this funky little piece into shape.

I had two vivid dreams last night: one inspired by No Pants April and the other by reading too many wedding blogs. In the first, I dreamed I went home and was rummaging through my small, small corner of our giant closet (Property of A.G.F.) and was astonished and delighted to find 10 brand new, beautiful dresses. They were colorful and flowing and I couldn't wait to take them back with me to continue this month's challenge. In the second, Mom and I were walking in a field with Mrs. Edwards (where she came from and why, I don't know) as she showed us her set-up for a backyard wedding she was planning (for Sarah, perhaps, I don't know). She had hung a giant red birdcage from an oak tree and over the hill was an enormous field of bluebells. We laid down among the flowers and then Mrs. Edwards told us that we had to go corral a sow.

Guion and I are very, very blessed to be surrounded by such a great cloud of family and friends. I realize this more and more every day.

About 100 pages left in Ulysses. I've got to read something fun and easy next. Proust shall be postponed until the middle of the summer.

06 April, 2010

serenaded hourly

Jesus' practical question was a relevant one last night:

For who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?

I'm so happy we're going to Charlottesville. I'm also so worried about finding a job. Jesus says he feeds ravens and clothes lilies, though. This ought to be enough.

Emily wrote an excellent thesis. I was privileged enough to get to read it last night after I had edited my own and I was so impressed. Clamor for "Backstitch" to be published; it would improve us all greatly.

No Pants April was a great idea, if I may say so.

I have much to do this week. I feel frightened and somehow caged when I consider that I do not have a single free weekend between now and getting married. Things will slow down, won't they? They have to. It is simply inhumane to live at such breakneck speeds. Proulx would denounce it; Woolf would use it as fodder and then call it spiritually destructive. Only McCarthy would laugh.

Somehow this was touching to me on Sunday night, as Kelsey and I drove back to Chapel Hill. I was thinking about the microcosm of Carolina and how I am quietly sad to leave it:

Well, just look around.
It's why I love this town:
just see me serenaded hourly! celebrated sourly!
dedicated dourly; waltzing with the open sea -
clam, crab, cockle, cowrie : will you just look at me?

- "Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie," Joanna Newsom

01 April, 2010

just kidding

Nope, this isn't an April Fool's joke... we're actually going to Charlottesville! It's been a really crazy weekend, but God provided the unexpected with the University of Virginia. I'm really, really excited. And now I really, really have to do some homework, but I promise to write more soon.

Also, to all of my lady friends who are joining me in No Pants April: Happy inauguration day. Don't your legs feel free and gorgeous?

27 March, 2010

and all day long we talked about mercy

Uplifting things in my small world:

- The pure magic of seeing Joanna Newsom live. There's something about her that I want: that merriment.

- Reading Chekhov for class. He might be my second favorite writer of all time. Like Woolf, he believes fiercely that there is no such thing as a minor character. Unlike Woolf, he has never passed a word of judgment on any character: he simply presents them to you with open hands. "Here are these people I have seen; do what you will with them."

- Prospect of dinner at Sage tonight with Guion for my birthday.

- Prospect of seeing "Uncle Vanya" at Memorial Hall on Wednesday night.

- Marriage counseling and reading and praying together.

- I am giving up pants for the month of April. (Grace, you must join me!) I have recruited a number of other women (Courtney, Danielle, Emily, Kathryn, maybe Amy and Sarah) to join in this endeavor. You must wear skirts and dresses for a month. (The only exception is if you're working out; then you are allowed to wear pants.) I think it will be an excellent challenge in thinking about how to wear the things that we already own with creativity.

- I marry Guion in 63 days!

- Eating grapefruit fastidiously.

- Outrageously loud birds.

- Committing to reading two nonfiction books per month. Currently: "The Arabs," by Eugene Rogan. An exhaustive and helpful history.

- Jonathan, crying over poetry.

- My orchid is still alive.

- Tallahassee is very warm.

- Chekhov once said that a writer's job is not to give the right answers to questions, but to pose questions in the right way.

22 March, 2010

here we come, florida

We're moving to Tallahassee! Guion will be attending grad school at Florida State to acquire an MFA in poetry and I will be looking desperately for jobs! If you have any contacts here, or have visited and have any tips about good places to live and work, we'd be eager to hear from you. I'm excited! If all goes according to plan right now, we'll be aiming to move down here in August, after spending a summer living cheaply and finishing up our jobs in the Davidson-Salisbury area. While it was a difficult choice to make at some points, I think I'm definitely going to enjoy winters in Tallahassee more than I would in Boston or Manhattan...

19 March, 2010


Five things that I could talk about all day:
1. My family (parents, siblings, Guion, Pratts)
2. Literature
3. Food justice
4. Dogs
5. Where Jesus intersects the mundane

First really warm day of spring! I dropped off my thesis, had lunch with Guion on the wall outside Peabody, and am now sitting on the front porch with Sarah and Amy. We like to sporadically shout at people we know. Or don't know--in Sarah's case.

I went running on Wednesday morning and my body has punished me by giving me shin splints. Dad, what am I supposed to do to get them to go away?

Since I finished my thesis, I decided to start another literary challenge: Ulysses. Rather like writing all that nonsense about Woolf, it's one of those projects that has its bright moments, but may or may not be worth all of the blood, sweat, and stream-of-consciousness tears.

17 March, 2010

helene cooper

After she finished speaking, I went up to her and said, "In my four years at Carolina, you're the most incredible guest speaker I've ever heard." I wasn't exaggerating. Helene Cooper spoke to my Diversity and Communication class today and I was blown away by her. She is the current White House correspondent for the New York Times and author of The House at Sugar Beach. Her graciousness, humility, and intelligence was so inspiring. Cooper, who was born in Monrovia, Liberia, immigrated with her family to the United States as civil war was intensifying. She enrolled briefly at UNC-Chapel Hill, and then went on to a career as a business reporter for the Wall Street Journal, later moving London to cover the transition to the euro, and finally ending up as a foreign correspondent. She spent a few months embedded with troops in Iraq in 2003 before returning to her homeland to write her memoir.
Cooper’s life story seems proof of the mythical American dream–that fabled ascent to success told and retold in the well of common history. Yet Cooper’s story is not predictable or purely suburban idealism: she seems to have infused her energy and keen perception of the world into every part of her life. She is proof that women–and, more specifically, women of color–can and will succeed in a male-dominated profession. She is proof that a bachelor’s degree isn’t your only ticket to career success. She is proof, in my mind, that journalism still has heart. I’m planning on reading her memoir soon. I look forward to getting further acquainted with this incredible woman.

11 March, 2010


"I love her because she makes things with her hands. It's as if her synapses were connected directly to her fingers." (Stephane, "The Science of Sleep")

I finished my thesis today. Staring at that stack of paper, I simultaneously feel an enormous sense of accomplishment and doubt if it was all worth it.

09 March, 2010

what belongs to what

"I make it a real thing by putting it into words. It is only by putting it into words that I make it whole; this wholeness means that it has lost its power to hurt me; it gives me, perhaps because by doing so I take away the pain, a great delight to put the severed parts together. Perhaps this is the strongest pleasure known to me. It is the rapture I get when in writing I seem to be discovering what belongs to what; making a scene come right; making a character come together. From this I reach what I might call a philosophy; at any rate it is a constant idea of mine; that behind the cotton wool is hidden a pattern; that we—I mean all human beings—are connected with this; that the whole world is a work of art; that we are parts of the work of art."

VW, A Sketch of the Past

05 March, 2010


Today I want to go back here. Yesterday in Russian class, we read the Turgenev story "Meeting." He complains about aspen trees, how they are always babbling, noisy. Reading that line brought me back to this place, Elks Meadow State Park, where I went hiking alone at the end of my summer in Colorado. I had never been hiking solo before and it was a clarifying and uplifting experience. I'd never encountered aspens before--only birch trees--and I fell in love with them. But Turgenev was right about their noisiness. When the wind blows, it plays through the leaves of the aspens, causing them to sound exactly like rushing water. I found it deceptively beautiful; when I first heard them, I kept looking around for the source of the water. Was it a creek over that hill? A waterfall beyond the forest? No, only this little grove of trees, calling out.
Angela recently posted an interview she conducted with me about one of my personal heroes, Woolf. In the interview, I try to explain why I love her as I do.
Spring break starts today! I'll be headed to Southern Pines for this first weekend and then home for the duration of the break--aiming to finish my thesis and make an assortment of wedding-related decisions. I can't wait to go home.

02 March, 2010

i dream of farmland

During our marriage workshop day at the Chapel of the Cross, Guion and I were asked to make short- and long-term goals for our lives together. The short-term goals came rather easily, although they tended to be more vague (write, keep stable jobs, survive). As we considered the question of where we wanted to be in 10 years, we looked at each other for a moment, and then said, at the same time, "On a FARM!" Yes, we want to be farmers. Yes, we are drawn to all of the beautiful things that make absolutely no money (poetry, publishing, farming, music, animals).

I was daydreaming about it this morning in class. I want to live in a home that looks like the seamless combination of these gorgeous rooms. I want to have acres of green fields and forests at my disposal. I want a pack of dogs, a few chickens, a pair of bunnies, one tolerable cat, and a Jersey cow. I want our children to be low-maintenance wild things that run around outdoors all day and help me garden and feed the goats.

It's a dream that I inherited from my parents. We bought six acres way out in Iron Station, but never got around to developing it and building a house there. We are happy on our busy little street in Davidson and I don't think we'll ever move, but you can still tell that Mom and Dad haven't let the dream die. Mom's prodigious, tiered side garden attracts the envy of most of our neighbors. Dad's favorite pastime is escaping to the woods behind the College with a few Frisbees and Dublin, the next-door Lab. I think it's an interesting phenomenon, this reception of a life goal from one's parents. I hope it will become a reality. One day. Ten years from now, look for me in the middle of nowhere. I'll be standing in a field in my Hunters with a pitchfork and a blue-eyed child.

25 February, 2010

stuff and nonsense

Have I told you how much I love our wedding photographer, Meredith? Because I do. She's not only amazing at what she does, but just about the sweetest person we've worked with amid all of this wedding madness. She's incredible and I can't wait to see her in May.

Speaking of our wedding, would it be criminal to forgo flowers? They're the only thing that's stressing me out right now. I love flowers. If I were rich, I would have vases of fresh ones in every room. But they're so unbelievably expensive and our little budget can't really handle them. That said, however, we've been receiving some wallet-friendly suggestions from people--and an extremely gracious offer of help from one of our dear neighbors. I think it will all come together. I'm just anxious about it. And I don't really have the energy to be anxious about anything right now.

News flash: The woman in the Honda with the border collie was in the exact SAME place again this morning, trying once more to pull off an extremely poorly planned ten-point turn! What is she doing? Why is her dog with her? The world is full of mystery.

Last night, as I was perusing the blogosphere while waiting for the ice skating to begin, I stumbled upon these gorgeous wedding photos by one of Charlotte's most respected wedding photographers. The bride is an old friend of a friend and although we have not spoken in years, I feel oddly compelled to tell her how remarkably beautiful she looked. For real. This girl is a knockout. And godly; a pre-req. for marrying into Crossway royalty, you know. But the photos are stunning. The picture of her and her dad kissing her head: gorgeous and sweet.

Snowed this morning. Fat, floppy snowflakes that flew sideways and refused to stick. This has been the longest winter ever and I am so eager to have it go. I miss wearing dresses.

23 February, 2010


Today's little stories.

As he read the Turgenev passage that dripped with sentimentality, my Russian literature professor drew his upper lip inward, laughing, and I remembered my father; my father and his mocking face when you gave him a compliment.

In the Peabody building driveway, a woman in a white Honda was attempting a very poorly executed turn. She had wedged herself between a stone wall and another car and her bumper had already scraped the top of the wall. There was a panting border collie in the front seat, looking as nervous as his owner probably was. I looked in at the woman and involuntarily raised my eyebrows. I jumped up on the wall to get around her and into the grass, still damp from the arrival of morning. I was wearing my Hunter boots and immediately wished I was walking around my farm instead of my ever-shrinking campus.

I finished writing my paper about the implicit prejudice in Time magazine's coverage of the Fort Hood shooting earlier than expected. The sun had finally broken through the watery gray clouds. I cleaned up the kitchen, wiping down all of the counters and scrubbing the pile of pots and pans, inwardly delighted. I remembered my mother's subtly reinforced value of the unity between a tidy kitchen and a peaceful heart. It felt true at that moment.

22 February, 2010

puppies and dolphins

I turned in my full draft this weekend, and so I took the whole weekend off my thesis. It felt amazing not to be chained to my busted laptop, tapping out confused prose about alternative forms of artistic creation. Guion told me I seemed happier than I've been in a long time, which might just be true. I am pleased I have a little less than a month to edit, and then, on March 19, I will be free!

I've had enough of this temperamental weather. Yesterday was impossibly gorgeous. Guion and I went to church with Alex and Kelsey and then came back, walked to the quad, and lounged in the grass for three or four hours. We "did our marriage push-ups" (his term for the book we're reading together, Sacred Marriage) and talked with random friends who stopped by. It was perfect. And now, today, it's cold and raining. As if it had never met yesterday.

I got a beautiful little letter from Grace yesterday. She is the cutest and most talented person I know. She also knows how to tug on my heartstrings: there was a DOLPHIN smiling at me at the bottom of the page.

I really want to adopt this puppy. Right now. A certain fiance didn't think he was CUTE. This certain fiance might be going blind.

For Christmas, Guion gave me the guitar that won him Euros and small fame this summer in Ireland. I finally picked it up last night and remembered how joyful it was to play... but now slightly disappointing, because I seem to have forgotten almost everything I knew. Not to mention the fact that my calluses have disappeared. I think it will gradually come back to me, but I need to keep playing--or, more accurately, keep struggling.

18 February, 2010


I'm getting married in 100 days!

"These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves."--Gilbert Highet

I finished The Museum of Innocence (last line was heartbreakingly good) and will be going to the library after class to pick up James Baldwin's Another Country (at the year-long recommendation of Reva Grace).

All of last semester, I hadn't felt ready to leave UNC. But now I feel like I do. I know I'll miss it something awful as soon as I graduate and have to be an adult, but I get the pervasive sense that it's TIME. Four years have been great. But four is enough.

The Guardian's top 10 unreliable narrators.

16 February, 2010

if i have not love

"I woke up in the night and said, 'But I am the most passionate of women. Take away my affections and I should be like sea weed out of water; like the shell of a crab, like a husk. All my entrails, light, marrow, juice, pulp would be gone. I should be blown into the first puddle and drown. Take away my love for my friends and my burning and pressing sense of the importance and lovability and curiosity of human life and I should be nothing but a membrane, a fibre, uncoloured, lifeless to be thrown away like any other excreta.'" -- Woolf, in a letter to Ethel Smyth, Aug. 19, 1930.

(I feel like this is Woolf's version of 1 Corinthians 13. If I have not love...)

Despite the busyness of my small life, I am quite happy.

10 February, 2010

today's open letters

Dear blogosphere,
That new French film or that hipster boy on the subway piqued your curiosity. Your curiosity was not peaked. Unless it was the Alps.

Dear flu-like symptoms,
Go away.

Dear thesis,
You've been very cooperative this week. Thank you.

Dear women's studies major in my class,
We get it. Most of us are on your team, anyway, so stop talking to us like we're your enemies.

Dear Guion,
Thanks for not fighting in the second Civil War on the seventh floor of Davis library. I'm glad you're still around.

Dear wind,
Cut it out.

09 February, 2010

fear no more

Perhaps because my ears were blocked, and perhaps because I was in a general haze from the fever, campus seemed incredibly quiet this morning. The sky was pewter gray, air was cold. Students were walking all around me, but no one made a single noise. Not even their feet. It was as if a giant fleece blanket had fallen over the university. I dropped off my assignment and came back to the Shoebox, read The Museum of Innocence and "The Overcoat," and pretended to sleep away my illness.

Florida State really, really wants Guion! Best news of the month. Tallahassee sounds like a place we could grow accustomed to over two years.

"Outside the trees dragged their leaves like nets through the depths of the air; the sound of water was in the room and through the waves came the voices of birds singing. Every power poured its treasures on his head, and his hand lay there on the back of the sofa, as he had seen his hand lie when he was bathing, floating, on the top of the waves, while far away on shore he heard dogs barking and barking far away. Fear no more, says the heart in the body; fear no more." -- Mrs. Dalloway*

Once I get married, I am going to start blogging differently. (As a choice, not as an involuntary consequence.)

It is raining now and the cars on the street sound like waves against rock.

*Oh! Frightening coincidence I just happened to discover. Apparently, Fate has deemed that I will be drawn to this exact passage at this exact time of year. See here.

08 February, 2010

time and will

Sick. Flu-like symptoms, I believe. Roommate has it, too. And poor Guion has a fever and is driving himself home right now. Don't. want. to. do. anything.

But I did read this today and it made me feel better about Kemal and Fusun:

"Like everything which is not the involuntary result of fleeting emotion but the creation of time and will, any marriage, happy or unhappy, is infinitely more interesting than any romance, however passionate." -- W.H. Auden

06 February, 2010

home, for a short while

I'm at home today... I came back yesterday to buy my wedding dress. At last! It feels really fantastic to have that checked off my list. Mom and Grace also found the dresses they're going to wear and they look like total babes. I've had a quiet morning here with Mom. Grace left for Asheville this morning, Sam is at a friend's house, Dad is playing hockey. We had breakfast, talked about reception centerpieces, how to make the favors for guests, and on wishing we knew better than God. I've been trying to work on my thesis, but I haven't written more than a paragraph. It's too difficult to accomplish things at home. I don't really want to go back to school in an hour. The drive here was long, lonely, and even a little scary; practically no visibility and I saw six bad wrecks (two completely totaled cars).

"Some elders once came to Abbot Anthony, and there was with them also Abbot Joseph. Wishing to test them, Abbot Anthony brought the conversation around to the Holy Scriptures. And he began from the youngest to ask them the meaning of this or that text. Each one replied as best he could, but Abbot Anthony said to them: You have not got it yet. After them all he asked Abbot Joseph: What about you? What do you say this text means? Abbot Joseph replied: I know not! Then Abbot Anthony said: Truly Abbot Joseph alone has found the way, for he replies that he knows not." -- The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers, LXXVII, ed. Merton

I resurrected my book blog, The Unrehearsed Reader. After a hiatus since November, I figured it was time to pick things back up again. Mini reviews of "Vanessa and Virginia" and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" come next.

Our invitations came in the mail last week and I'm delighted to have them here, along with being quite pleased with how they turned out. I need to go buy a calligraphy pen today at Michael's so I can start the fun and arduous task of addressing them.

I gave Win "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" for his birthday and as I handed it over, I wanted to read it again, right then. It is one of those books that is difficult for me to say why I love it so much. It's not even the characters that are so compelling or powerful; it's something about what Kundera is releasing. His prose is like freeing birds from a net.

I happily discovered this week that two of my favorite humans, Danielle and Sarah H., have blogs. For inspiration and entertainment, please read Dannilynn and Intervals of Sanity.

"Human time does not turn in a circle; it runs ahead in a straight line. That is why man cannot be happy: happiness is longing for repetition." -- Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"

03 February, 2010

attached to life at all four corners

Instead of working on my thesis during the break between meeting with Kathryn and class, I read fifty more pages of Orhan Pamuk's The Museum of Innocence. I think it was a good choice. I haven't done anything indulgent since the semester started. Reading it today was like getting a shot to the blood, reminding me of what I love so dearly: words on a page! Pamuk's writing is so beautiful, too. I picked up this hefty novel as a fluke; I'd seen it at Bull's Head while waiting for Guion and paged through it, thought it sounded interesting. Pamuk has been on my to-read list since he won a Nobel in 2006 for Istanbul. When I searched his name at the library, this title, which was published in 2009, came up first, and so I thought I'd go for it. I'm glad I did. Reading it is giving me a little bit of my life back.

That said*, after reading the novel today, I was worried. Why is it that love stories never happen between married people? That all the passionate affairs are always illicit in some respect? Kemal, the main character in Pamuk's novel, is newly engaged when he falls for his distant cousin, Fusun. Their rambunctious and yet sadly touching trysts are troubling to me. Why can't he be in love with his fiancee? I suppose the tension that arises from an extramarital affair naturally makes a more interesting, complex novel... but what about a true novel? Marriage, I suspect, can be just as interesting and complex as an affair. Is it not true that husbands and wives may be just as madly in love as Kemal and Fusun? Woolf says that "fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners." Fiction, then, should give us more difficult--yet passionately loving--marriages.

Does anyone have a good example of a novel of deep love between a husband and a wife, or between lifelong partners?

(*J.Hecht has his "brass tacks;" I, apparently, have my "that said.")

02 February, 2010


Happy anniversary, Guion! I can truthfully say that the past two years with you have been the happiest of my life. Here's to many more!

31 January, 2010

snowed in

Pretty, snowy morning. A glimpse from my bedroom window, which happens to be as thin as a few sheets of paper. I feel rushes of icy air whenever I get in bed. The rest of my body is cocooned under my blankets, but my head tends to freeze. It's an interesting sensation, to say the least.

The tremendous snowfall (for this state, at least) has created a lovely social effect on our house. Because no one can go anywhere, we've all been hibernating together. Sarah made us fabulous Indian food last night and all seven of us talked until 11, laughing, telling stories, spilling Meller's M&Ms all over the floor... it's been so peaceful. I almost wish the snow wouldn't melt so we could stay like this until the semester ends. I don't think we've had this kind of camaraderie before and I am reluctant to see it go.

I've never been this productive in my life. On average, I'm writing five to seven pages a day. It doesn't sound like a lot, but for me, that's a considerable rate of creation. Not all of it is even very good, but at least I'm getting it out there. Meeting with my adviser on Friday was more encouraging than I expected it to be. All of the work I've put into this thesis may not actually turn out to be worth it, but I'm not going to surrender now.

Song of the day: "Magpie to the Morning," Neko Case. It sounds like all the rest of her stuff--but it never gets old. So beautiful.

Dates to keep: Today is Win's 21st birthday, and Tuesday is Courtney's 22nd birthday and mine and Guion's two-year anniversary.

I think the moments of truest love happen like this:

"They had met first in Scotland, fishing--she from one rock, he from another. Her line got tangled; she had given over, and had watched him with the stream rushing between his legs, casting, casting--until, like a thick ingot of silver bent in the middle, the salmon had leapt, had been caught, and she had loved him." Between the Acts

28 January, 2010


This time it wasn't a joke...

Kemp and Rose got engaged today!!
Couldn't be happier for one of my all-time favorite couples. It's also going to be non-stop wedding planning madness around here--now two of my bridesmaids have fiances!

25 January, 2010


I feel exhausted, but brimming with praise. I have run the full gamut of the emotional spectrum this weekend. It is difficult to describe the span of sentiments between finding your wedding dress and finding out that your grandmother's cancer was worse than expected. I lost it in the middle of lunch with them; just started sobbing over my chicken casserole while everyone was talking very civilly and plainly. I couldn't think of anything else. The slightest memory of her would incite buckets of tears; my mind was a frenzied loop of prayer. But then, today, God came through and her scans came back negative. She will still have to endure what I understand to be a "preventive" form of chemotherapy and radiation, which is of course tremendously unpleasant, but it is infinitely better news than we had expected. If you know her, thank you for praying, and please, keep on; we covet your intercessions. God is listening.

Back to that other little bit of news: Yes, I think I found my wedding dress. I actually fell in love with the back of the gown first. Trying it on wasn't this supernatural moment that I feel most brides expect--when the heavens open and fairies alight on your shoulder and your mom has to have "a moment." (She did cry a little, though, especially once that cathedral veil was tacked to my head.) But I did feel very pretty and I felt, finally, like I was going to get married. I wish I could show you, but I think Guion reads this every now and then, and we just can't have that. Suffice it to say: The gown ROCKS. It's enough tradition with a dash of modern to please me and my no-strapless manifesto.

I'm hoping this thesis wasn't a terrible idea.

"Intellectual freedom depends upon material things. Poetry depends upon intellectual freedom. And women have always been poor, not for two hundred years merely, but from the beginning of time. Women have had less intellectual freedom than the sons of Athenian slaves. Women, then, have not had a dog's chance of writing poetry. That is why I have laid so much stress on money and a room of one's own." -- Woolf, A Room of One's Own

I read a helpful little piece on one of the many wedding blogs I subscribe to about why one bride chose to take her husband's name. Kemp, Rose, Guion, and I had a mildly heated conversation about this topic one night at dinner. Thanks mostly to my entrenchment in all things Woolf, I am predisposed to see the name change as a hold-over from the patriarchal past, when women actually were men's property. But after reading this article, and recalling my discussion with Rose, I see taking Guion's last name in a different light now. As a twenty-first century feminist, I'm exercising my right to choose by taking his name; women didn't have that choice centuries ago. And so, as much as I love my last name and its rarity, I am happy to take Guion's last name. But I'm definitely keeping my last name as my middle name; it's too weird to surrender.

21 January, 2010

the worst story in the Bible

While my orchid is blooming to life, other things in ARMO are dying. My goldfish (the last remaining decorations from the annual New Year's Day party) died this morning. (I had changed their names from Taylor Swift and Sonia Sotomayor to Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell, respectively). I was going to ask Amy to feed them for me this weekend, since I'm going home to wrestle through other wedding plans, but when I came upstairs to check on them, they were floating at the surface. I wonder if Virginia drowned in homage to her namesake. I am sad to see them go; Nessa was especially lovely. But they did only cost me 25 cents. So I'm not too torn up about it.

I read what is arguably the WORST story in the Bible this morning. Geez, Elisha, you can't take some teasing from little kids? Someone is still really sensitive about getting bullied on the playground. Please read, and subsequently cringe along with, 2 Kings 2:23-26:

"[Elisha] went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, 'Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!' And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys. From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria."


1. That's a lot of little boys.
2. Talk about the super-fragile male ego...
4. I love that last verse: And then, pleased with the carnage, he went on his merry way.

Moral of the story: Don't make fun of prophets. Because then bears will eat you.

I am looking forward to going home. It's cold and rainy here and I'm already tired of having to deal with parking fiascos, school, presentations. Guion is going to come up tonight and spend the night with us and help me calm down and make some more nuptial decisions.

Observation about being engaged: Engaged women are supernaturally magnetized toward one another. Get two women who don't know each other at all in a room, reveal the fact that they're both getting married, and they will be BFFs in about 10 minutes. "Oh, you're using that florist? Me too! OMG, that's so crazy..." I confess. I do it, too.

19 January, 2010

a bird

I prefer unorthodox compliments. This may be one of the chief reasons why Guion has maintained such a strong hold on my affections. This afternoon at the Press, Elaine, one of the senior editors, looked at me and said, "You're so colorful today. Why, you look like a bird!" I liked that; I could be a bird.

I went shopping with my bridesmaids (minus Grace) at the mall yesterday and had a great time. Kelsey and Kathryn managed to find dresses, which was so exciting, and they look AMAZING. My bridesmaids are going to steal the show. For sure.

I wrote the first chapter of my thesis this week. At 20 pages, it feels like an accomplishment, but I know it's only the tip of the iceberg and I'm not even convinced that it's good.

Jonathan made me the most incredible dinner last night (minestrone soup, vegetarian lasagna, and poached pears--all from scratch!). It was one of those evenings of sincere conversation and laughter that you wish you could extend for days. I came home and watched "Pride and Prejudice" with Courtney and Caleb. Caleb and I cut up the whole time, prompting CoCo to exclaim, "What are you two, 12?!" To which we responded, "We might be."

I think I should be more worried about wedding planning than I am. I'm supremely laidback about this whole thing, and I'm not sure if that should concern me or not.

13 January, 2010

varying temporal rhythms

My head is full of distracted prayer for my grandmother. I am frustrated by my inability to do anything. I wonder if it is foolish to pray for miracles.

"Life is not possible without an opening toward the transcendent; in other words, human beings cannot live in chaos." -- Mircea Eliade in The Sacred and the Profane, a reading for my Place and Ritual in Religion class.

Eliade propounds this idea of religious nostalgia, people trying to get back to God and to initial creation through ritual and recreating space. He affected my thinking this week in three ways: one, by reminding me that we sanctify time and space daily, even when we don't recognize it; two, the religious woman or man is always hungering for the more "real" reality, which is God's presence; and three, my religion is just as fantastical or absurd-sounding as anyone else's.

08 January, 2010


Watch this:

The Cost

And, how do you feel about living in a yurt in Alaska? With every passing slide, this couple gets crazier and crazier.

06 January, 2010

one thing

Found this elsewhere on the blogosphere, and thought it was a good list to fill out:

One Thing in 2010

One thing I will learn: How to trust God with the unknown.

One place I will go: Boston (I hope!).

One physical habit I will break: Slouching.

One physical habit I will cultivate: Running weekly. I've realized, as I've written before, that I was built to run and I need to do this.

One mental habit I will break: Letting internal fears and ruminations control my mood.

One mental habit I will cultivate: Curbing my tongue and negative attitudes and thoughts about other people.

One relationship I’ll repair: A friend from high school whom I've drifted from.

One work habit I will change: Letting my workload control my mood.

One thing I’ll throw out: T-shirts I don't wear but somehow collect.

One thing I’ll eat more often: Leafy greens!

One thing I’ll eat less: Sugar in artificial forms.

One thing I’ll drink more: Water. (And Guion's beer, most likely.)

One thing I’ll drink less: I don't know, actually. I think I drink very healthy.

One overdue e-mail I’ll send, or overdue phone call I’ll make: E-mails to wedding contacts who are helping with the reception and ceremony.

One resentment I’ll get over: Don't have any resentments right now. I might later.

One person I’ll treat more respectfully: Guion. He treats me with love and patience every day and I don't always honor him as he deserves.

One thing I’ll spend less money on: Eating out.

One other change I’ll make in my finances: Relentless budget-keeping.

One thing I’ll spend less time doing: Complaining.

And a thing I’ll spend more time doing: Kissing Guion and telling him I love him.

04 January, 2010


145 days!

03 January, 2010

assigned reading

I am relieved to remember that I still have a handful of days at home before I have to return to the rigors of a new (and final) semester. My brain is reluctant to slow down when I consider all that I must accomplish between now and May:
small group
maintain friendships

Tis the season for headbands, for I have acquired five in the past week. They are the best remedy for a bad hair day, which I am certainly experiencing today. I haven't the energy to shower. Showers are such a pain. Headbands are the remedy. Grace made two of them by dismantling floral arrangements and using hot glue; they're adorable. And Guion gave me a gorgeous one from Anthropologie that will be featured in our Save-the-Date photo (we had a brief shoot with Grace yesterday).

A man came into the bookstore today to buy "Beloved" for his daughter. I told him that it was one of my favorite novels and his reply was that she had to read it for a high school assignment. My heart always sinks a little when I hear that. My assumption, proper or not, is that these students will read these great books and hate them because they are assignments and then never want to read them again, attaching the memory of high school drudgery to Morrison's name forever. I think one of the main reasons I love books as much as I do is because the great ones I got to read were rarely ever assigned. Since I was young, my mother turned me loose in the library and let me read literally anything I brought home. When choice is involved, the chances for love are much greater. (The same could be said for arranged marriages, perhaps.) I think about how I would solve this problem if I were a high school English teacher, though, and my belief becomes complicated. It would be impossible to teach if I let students choose what they wanted to read among five different novels. I don't know the answer to this dilemma, but the way they teach kids literature in school is the primary reason I'd homeschool my children. After tutoring English in public schools, I find traditionally educated kids who love to read something like Christmas miracles.

I am reading "Absalom, Absalom!" because there are at least 30 reasons why I should love Faulkner but don't.

Obvious numbers: This is my 200th post on this blog, and my first post of 2010.

"'I don't plead youth, since what creature in the South since 1861, man woman or mule, had had time or opportunity not only to have been young, but to have heard what being young was like from those who had.'" Absalom, Absalom! William Faulkner