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.