I’m 27 today, and it’s the first birthday I’ve had in which I have felt old or anxious about my age. 27 is chillingly close to 30, after all. Shouldn’t I have accomplished something by now? Achieved some modicum of fame or tweet-able career success? Wasn’t I supposed to have had a passel of sticky, bug-eyed children by this advanced age?
Yet. Aside from the intimations of mortality that 27 brings, I feel very content with my life. If anything, growing older has given me more grace for myself (and hopefully, in tiny degrees, for other people, even though I still score off-the-charts judgmental according to Myers-Briggs).
This year, I’d like to be more capable at giving and receiving grace, however that shakes out in my daily life. I’d like to write more and take the craft of writing more seriously. I’d like to tend to my husband and plants and animals with generosity and patience. I’d like to learn simple conversational French and how to eat food without getting bits of it all over myself.
So. At 27, I feel relaxed about the future, even though death looms.
A.M. Homes’ newest novel presents the story of a modern-day Job, except without the righteousness. Harold Silver is about to have the worst year of his life, but it is thankfully held in the careful hands of Homes, who is funny, extremely skilled, and just perfect for this kind of contemporary tragicomic novel.
Harold is a broken man who is a magnet for other broken people. After his psychopathic brother, George, destroys the family, Harold is left to pick up the pieces, including raising George’s two children, Nate and Ashley. Harold doesn’t know the first thing about children, particularly teenaged ones, and he stumbles through this new fog of his life, in which every person he’s supposed to rely on turns out to be stupider than the next. (In many ways, Harold reminds me of Michael Bluth: The character who is supposed to be the voice of reason among a throng of idiots but makes plenty of his own huge mistakes.)
Despite being unbearably sad at points, Homes keeps the level of comedy high throughout this book. Guion and I ended up reading large portions of it aloud to each other, mainly because it was more entertaining than watching a sitcom or anything else of comparable comedic value.
This is a story about families, both biological and constructed, and the damage that the people closest to us can inflict. This is a story infused with wit and joy, even in the darkest and strangest of situations. This is a story that deserves to be read, for its pleasures are myriad.
Shaun and Ann-Marie came to stay with us this weekend to celebrate Ann-Marie’s birthday and we had such a wonderful time with them: Great discussions, lots of food, a trip to Carter Mountain (Ann-Marie has a lovely set of photos from the excursion). We’re huge fans of them both and can’t wait to see them again soon.
We also got to see St. Vincent in concert at The Jefferson last night and she was incredible. She made me proud to be a woman. (Stephanie ran into her on the Downtown Mall yesterday. That makes me super-jealous.)
Snax, with handfuls of candy corn, which I unabashedly love:
Liz + Matt Married! A few photos of the wonderful bride and groom. We miss them and want them to come back from Italy soon! [You can totally spot the top of mine and Lulu’s heads in one shot… Score.] (Cramer Photo)
The Invisible Mother. Here’s something creepy for Halloween: The practice of covering up moms with oriental rugs and draperies while photographing children. (Retronaut)
London Apartment: Converted School Gym. This looks like a totally awesome place to live, even if it looks like it’d be impossible to heat in the winter. Maybe they run gym classes to stay warm… (Paper Tastebuds)
Is Your Link Old News? But if I ran everything on Snax through this application, I wouldn’t have any Snax to share… (How About Orange?)
DIY Tutorial: Moving Announcement Bookmarks. So classy! I don’t think I’d have the patience or wherewithal for this project (or any DIY projects, really. Not into that), but it’s great, all the same. (Oh, So Beautiful Paper)
We had a beautiful weekend in Charlottesville; the weather was exquisite, as the humidity had fairly retreated and we were left with idyllic warmth. Paul and Christie invited us on their Friday date night and a small group of us went to Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton (a few photos above; more on Flickr). We went to a church potluck and then we hosted a potluck of our own last night. It was all very wonderful.
Win and Tracy were visiting with the purpose of scouting out a place for Win to live in a few weeks. By the grace of God, Win is living in probably the coolest house we’ve ever seen in town: the Massie-Wills historical home, built in 1830. It’s amazing. He is one lucky dude.
Pratt’s Ex Libris Collection. Well, of course I’m posting this (if I haven’t already…) The Pratt Library’s collection of gorgeous book plates. I wish people still used these things. I know I would. (Where the Lovely Things Are)
Weird Writing Habits of Famous Authors. I enjoyed reading about the habitual quirks of some of my all-time favorite writers, including Eudora Welty, Vladimir Nabokov, Flannery O’Connor, and T.S. Eliot. (Flavorwire)
Other People’s Houses. A collection of dreamy photographs from the domestic lives of some of today’s most beloved bloggers and photographers. Who doesn’t love a dash of beautiful voyeurism? (Other People’s Houses)
Iceland, Part 10: Blue Lagoon. I know I just keep posting Kris Atomic’s photos of Iceland, but I can’t help it! This place looks so otherworldly. I must go. (Kris Atomic)
Kimono. A collection of gorgeous, modern-looking kimonos from 1920s-1930s Japan. (Anne Louise Likes)
Wasabi Wonder. More from Japan: Ever wanted to know what wasabi looks like in real life, i.e., coming straight out of the ground? Take a look! It’s such a fascinating and weird plant. I bet that friendly-looking farmer just reeks of wasabi all day long. But what a gorgeous place to farm! (Tokyo Photojournalist)
Paper & Kyoto: Shops to Visit. Even more from Japan: Uuugh. This post just confirms what I already ardently believe: That I have to get to Kyoto soon and that the Japanese create the world’s most beautiful stationery and paper products. (Upon a Fold)
Sarah Palin for Newsweek. Noted photographer Emily Shur talks about her casual cover shoot of Sarah Palin for Newsweek. Shur really humanized Palin for me in a way that the “liberal media” have not. It’s an interesting little vignette, at least. (Emily Shur)
Dear Mom. Catching bunnies snuggling together? The best thing ever. Guion, I think you should know that even though I’m obsessed with getting a dog, I’m also still obsessed with getting a bunny. Or three. (Maura Grace)
The Lost Roles of “Arrested Development.” Rainn Wilson as Gob Bluth?? Can you imagine it? I certainly can’t. I love Rainn, but let us all say thanks that we were gifted by the glorious presence of Will Arnett. (The Bluth Company)
As you can see, we had a very happy and Wolf Pack-y weekend in Raleigh celebrating Win’s graduation. We love hanging out with Win and with the Tillman-Pratt family and we got plenty of time to do that this weekend. Win’s the best bro-in-law ever and I’m excited to find out what he’ll be accomplishing next year! More photos on Flickr.
Snax with sweet tea and North Carolina-style barbecue:
People of Pharping. I can’t believe my little sister has been hanging out with these people; these photographs look straight out of Nat Geo to me. (Grace Farson)
Welcome to Pyongyang. To the great surprise of many, photographer Charlie Crane was granted unique access to the capital city of North Korea. His photographs of Pyongyang are chilling; the place looks just as cold and artificial as you would expect, and yet the faces of the North Korean people he captures are haunting. They appear so starkly alive in this superficial atmosphere. Highly recommended. (Behance)
Let’s Live Here. I mean, duh. Lush French chateaus for everyone! (Miss Moss)
Les Flaneurs. This looks like such a charming place to live. (My Funny Eye)
A Pool with a House. I’m not much for houses with backyard pools, but I could definitely make an exception here. (Wide Open Spaces)
The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. This is one of my favorite blogs. Designer Matt Dorfman shows the different book and magazine covers he creates for his clients. So fascinating, especially to see the final design that’s chosen and why. I think this cover is genius. (Matt Dorfman)
Win came for the weekend to scope out Charlottesville and we had such a good time with him! I have the best bro-in-law ever. We’re really, really crossing our fingers that he’ll come here, but we will support him regardless of his decision. Even though Charlottesville will get the sadies real bad if he doesn’t move here…
Snax with homebrew from the Pratt brother master brewers:
What’s Your Secret, Deborah? Apparently, Deborah is the top name for female CEOs. Why? My guess is that these girls heard about the story of Deborah in the Bible, the only mentioned female judge of Israel, and felt empowered to divide and conquer because of their ancient namesake. (The Hairpin)