(c) Wei Tchou.
More and more, I find that I take after Pyrrha.
For example, we both:
- Are wary of strangers.
- LOVE playing with dogs.
- Dislike having our routines disrupted.
- Have sensitive stomachs.
- Enjoy snuggling on the couch.
- Adore walks.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
We are also still adapting to the presence of the snuggly little baby Laszlo. He is adorable and all, which I think she acknowledges, but he can really be a pain sometimes. But he makes up for all of his crying and all of his antics by falling asleep on my lap in the evening — a joy that Pyrrha will, however, never experience.
In other news, my current obsession: Studying French style. What is the secret? How do all French women look so beautifully and effortlessly stylish all the time? Is it something in the cigarette smoke–filled air?
If not in Charlottesville, I would live in… Denver.
My dream holiday would be to… Southern France.
My current obsessions are… ballet, lingerie, writing letters, finding even more playmates for Pyrrha, perfume, clean countertops, and Guion’s cooking.
I channel my childhood self when I… think that I could still be a ballerina.
The fictional character I most relate to is… Isabel Archer from The Portrait of a Lady, because she could never get anything right.
If I had to be outdoors all day, I would… be a dog trainer or a shepherd with a pack of sheepdogs.
I’m terrified of… tooth decay.
My celebrity crush is… Marion Cotillard or Daniel Day-Lewis, depending on the weather.
My beauty product of choice is… Benetint.
My favorite article of clothing is… the drape-y maxi dress my mom got me for an early birthday present.
My friends and I like to… trade links to articles with varying degrees of cultural sarcasm.
If I could go back in time for one decade it would be… 1920s urban America.
As a teenager, I was totally into… horses. And team policy debate. I’m not gonna lie.
I tend to splurge on… Pyrrha!
Self, how did you do with your 2012 goals? I’d say… meh.
Adopt, raise, and train a healthy and happy dog. (Done!)
- Keep running, even though I hate it. (Not really. I ran the 10-miler and that was IT.)
Read 75 books. (Yesh. Read 142 books in 2012.)
- Stop interrupting people when they are talking. (Maybe? I have at least been more cognizant of this bad habit of mine.)
- Take the GRE. Start thinking more seriously about whether to go to grad school. (Nope.)
- Go hiking more often. (Not really.)
Make books of all received letters; get them out of those musty shoeboxes. (Done!)
Dress better; stop schlepping around in frumpy clothes. (Maybe?)
- Memorize scripture. (Didn’t.)
Call my family more often. (Maybe.)
- Read that book of Japanese short stories in Japanese. (I read one of them?)
- Take a graduate-level English class at UVA, if feasible. (Nope.)
Improve my calligraphy skills with the flexible nib. (Maybe.)
Spend more time with women. (Yes!)
On that dismal note, here are my goals for the coming year.
- Read 75 books.
- Read fewer books at a time; dare to re-read some things; concentrate on worthwhile tomes.
- Accordingly, read Infinite Jest.
- Also, finish Proust.
- Take an adult ballet class, even if it kills me.
- Take a personal finance class.
- Take the Claritas investment fundamentals exam and don’t fail. I think I will fail.
- Read the Bible every week.
- Train Pyrrha to be more comfortable around small children. (Accordingly, here are Pyrrha’s 2013 goals.)
- Wear pants less often.
What are some of your resolutions for the coming year?
I have a month to go in the year, yes, but I am pretty sure this list is solid. Here are the worst books I read in 2012, ranked in order of how much I hated them.
- Swamplandia!, Karen Russell
- Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward
- NW, Zadie Smith
- The Savage Detectives, Roberto Bolaño
- At Home, Bill Bryson
- The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga
- I Sailed with Magellan, Stuart Dybek
- Under the Net, Iris Murdoch
- Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri
- Doting, Henry Green
- Arcadia, Tom Stoppard
- Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry
- Kitchen, Banana Yoshimoto
- Snow, Orhan Pamuk
- The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein
- Amongst Women, John McGahern
- Madeleine Is Sleeping, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
There are some much-beloved names on this list, I know, but I just have to be honest with you, faceless Internet readers. Wanna fight with me about some of these? I am up for it.
Otherwise, what were some of the worst books you read this past year?
Dusk in the neighborhood.
Tomorrow morning, Guion, Pyrrha, and I are setting off for Southern Pines for a long weekend with the Pratt family. I am looking forward to seeing everyone, taking long walks with Pyrrha and Windy around the neighborhood, and stuffing my face.
On the eve of this great American holiday, here is a preliminary list of things I am thankful for right now:
- Guion, everything that he is now and is becoming. And those blue eyes of his! Like an ice dragon! Have you looked at them lately? His eyes are a seriously unreal color, much like Jack Donaghy’s.
- Mom and Dad.
- Mike and Windy.
- Kelsey and Alex.
- Win (and Tracy, by extension).
- Pyrrha, our sweet and neurotic little baby.
- Our community in Charlottesville.
- Christ Episcopal Church.
- The women in my small group.
- A fenced-in backyard.
- Kind-hearted, attentive landlords.
- My job.
- My coworkers and bosses and the camaraderie we share.
- Louis, my new camera, inherited from Grace.
- The poetry of the Bible.
- The public library system.
- Used book sales.
- Tea. Always and forever tea.
- All the dogs!
- Old friends.
- New friends.
- Maxi skirts and dresses.
- Makeup samples.
- Marcel Proust.
- The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th ed.
- The trees in Charlottesville in the fall.
- Marilynne Robinson.
- Our cars, that they run.
- Sufjan Stevens.
- Japanese vocabulary that still comes back to me.
- Art museums.
- The Virginia Museum of Fine Art.
- The Atlantic Monthly.
- The New Yorker.
- Pyrrha’s dog friends.
- Handwritten letters.
- Joanna Newsom.
- Friends’ babies.
- Pyrrha’s ecstatic jumps in the air when I come home.
- Long walks around town.
- Enormous clouds of starlings.
- Virginia Woolf.
- Great restaurants.
- Brother Beer Works.
- Japanese ceramics.
- UNC-Chapel Hill.
- All of my beloved former English professors and even the journalism professors who scared me into a job.
- High-quality writing utensils (especially pens from Japan).
- Childhood memories.
- Letters from Aunt Lib.
- The Chicago Manual of Style.
- Soft leather leashes.
- Vladimir Nabokov.
- The Eucharist.
- A community of artists.
- Little notebooks.
- Relay Foods.
- Ample storage space in our tiny hovel.
- Memories of the Compline service at the Chapel of the Cross.
- A new Trader Joe’s in town, even if the parking is apparently atrocious.
- Anton Chekhov.
- My beautiful rings, from Mary Windley.
- Cut flowers on the kitchen table.
- Homemade oatmeal.
- Journals, which I have kept for about 18 years now.
- The Book of Common Prayer.
- A priest who loves William Faulkner.
- The view of the mountains as I drive home from work.
- Talking about film with Jonathan.
- American literature.
- A warm home in the winter.
- The Virginian countryside.
- The person of Jesus.
Somewhere in Japan, July 2008. Exhibit A: Proof that I can’t wear shorts. Or dress myself like an adult. I was a giant horror to all the chic Japanese women.
Garments and styles I’ll never wear again:
- Shorts. No shorts ever again, unless I am doing some strenuous physical activity. I can’t look good in them, no matter how hard I try.
- Cable-knit sweaters. I can’t even begin to tell you how ugly these make me.
- Boxy turtlenecks. À la Lands’ End. You know what I’m talking about. You know they’re bad when not even the models can make them look good. I don’t think I’ve worn one since the late 1990s, though, so I’m fairly safe from repeating this one.
- Polo shirts. I have never been preppy enough to pull off a polo. I don’t think people with naturally curly hair are allowed to wear polos?
- Capri pants. Do people still wear capris? Are they even called that anymore? (And is a capri higher than an ankle jean? Someone educate me.)
- Jean jackets. I’ve never been able to pull off a jean jacket.
If you wear any of these things, I am not passing judgment on you. I have simply come to the point in my young adult life where I have learned that I cannot wear certain things. I need to establish these rules. Because deep down, I think I just want to float around in big, drapey, tent-like garments, the kind that 50-year-old community college art teachers wear. I have to put some limits on myself.
As we near our second anniversary (!), I’ve been thinking about how fun it has been to be married to this dude. Here’s a list of stuff Guion is good at:
- Making great beer and great music.
- Dreaming big.
- Not complaining when Pyrrha wakes him up to go out at 3 a.m.
- Fixing stuff when it breaks.
- Reading my mind.
- Cheerfully taking care of all the little mundane, sundry errands and household tasks.
- Remembering to pay bills.
- Singing. Guys, he wakes up in the morning singing. No other human does that. No other human is that internally happy.
- Having the best name that no one can pronounce.
- Making friends.
- Being THE calmest. About everything.
- Defusing fights.
- Hanging out with babies.
- Finding something to appreciate in things that I would deem “low-brow” or “stupid.”
- Telling stories.
- Encouraging me to try new things.
- Improvising marinades and sauces in the kitchen.
- … and many other things that I can’t include here, because grandparents read this blog sometimes.
Guion! Man! You are the best.