We spent the weekend in NC to celebrate Patrick’s wedding and Mother’s Day. It was so lovely to be with everyone; I only regret that the time seemed to fly by. Requisite photo dump!
Just getting around to uploading these photos now, because, you know, moving.
We are a provocative and weird family.
(Many thanks to beautiful Cousin Emily for many of these spectacular photos.)
Pyrrha wanted no part of any of it and was instead content to patrol my parents’ neighborhood from their bay of windows.
We did have a lovely meal. It was so good to be with everyone. I really like these people that I happen to be related to.
One of my 2013 goals is to take a ballet class. My friend Cate is apparently a sharp-eyed blog reader, and she sent me an e-mail a few weeks ago that said there was an adult ballet class at the city parks & rec center in January and that we should take it. “This is one of your 2013 goals, right?” she wrote.
Oh, right. It is.
Frankly, I was kind of dreading fulfilling this goal. Ballet is HARD, y’all. I took ballet for a handful of years, like many little girls, and I think I probably stopped when I was about 11 or 12. I don’t remember why I wanted to stop, but I think it probably had to do with a combination of factors, mainly, that a.) I was not flexible at all, and b.) my bossy personality often conflicted with the bossy personalities of my dance instructors. (Ballet teachers everywhere being famous for being the real-life, studio versions of Miranda Priestly.)
Over the past year, however, my interest in ballet has been reignited. Reignited! I sit around and watch snippets of ballet performances on the sly. I bought the New York City Ballet workout DVD. I am trying not to start a hoarder’s collection of leotards. I think I’d probably blame it mostly on reading Apollo’s Angels, which is just incredible. Also, three of my closest friends (Emily, Catherine, and Rose) were all very serious ballerinas, and I think I have always been a bit jealous of their grace, experience, and fluidity. So. I took up Cate’s challenge and signed up for the class, and then convinced Stephanie to take it with us, too.
Our first class was last night, in the brand-new dance studio in the sparkling, newly renovated rec center. The group is small (10 women, probably all within their early 20s and 30s) and our instructor, Amanda, is young, calm, and clear. We are all plainly nervous, but I think everyone seemed heartened by the fact that none of us looked like we knew what we were doing.
We jumped right into small ballet routines, with hardly any instruction or explanation at all. And it was fun! And confusing! I was relieved. I was worried that the class was going to be a jazzy pilates routine disguised as ballet, but no, this is ballet. We use all the French terms. We have a barre (which Stephanie and I get pushed to the front of, being the class giants). We listen to simpering piano music for an hour. It is the real deal—I mean, as real as you can get from an adult beginner’s class at the parks & rec center. But I am delighted and heartened.
I’d forgotten how physically AND mentally engaging ballet is. It’s not just the utilization of all of these weird muscles you never use; it’s also this intense engagement of the mind, trying to connect the mind with these strange muscles, and then trying to make yourself look like a swan in the process. I am thinking about all sorts of things now: the shape of my spine, the direction of my hips, the turnout of my feet, the flow of my arms, the arrangement of my fingers, sans thumbs…
I’m committed to not looking like a total gangly fool at the end of these six weeks. It will certainly be a challenge, but one that I’m looking forward to. Thanks, Cate, for making me follow up with my goals! More to come.
We spent a peaceful holiday week-and-a-half with our respective families in North Carolina; it was difficult to come back home. We do love them so much.
There was dear brother Win:
And general family merriment at my grandparents’:
I was able to spend an afternoon with Emily in Asheville before she flew back to Amman, which was a wonderful gift in itself:
Plenty of lounging occurred.
And there was the presentation of this year’s Christmas miracle: “Ziggy + Seahorse,” an original by Grace Farson, which we are excited to prominently display in our home.
An ideal vacation, an ideal way to close 2012 and welcome 2013. Hope you all had equally enjoyable holidays.
Hurricane Sandy was a non-event in Charlottesville, but the whole city shut down anyway, so we had the whole day yesterday to read, lounge about, drink tea, and watch inordinate amounts of TV. I’m not complaining. I started writing our Christmas cards and painted my nails and finished two books. A productive hibernation.
Thinking about my fellow East Coasters who were not so lucky. Hope that power is restored soon and that you all remain warm and safe!
Saturday night, we attended the latter half of a Halloween progressive party. (A party that progresses from house to house, not a party that supports liberal politicians in costume.)
We went as Emily Dickinson and Mitt-ROM-knee:
We also saw “American Gothic” (faithfully recreated by Hannah and Ethan):
50 Shades of Grey and Rosie the Riveter (Celeste and Emily):
And your middle-school yearbook photo (Casey):
We have creative friends.
This weekend, I journeyed to the Triangle to spend some quality time with some much-missed friends. We had a shower for Kathryn, the beautiful bride-to-be. I skipped back to Durham and got to see three great films at Full Frame with Jonathan; stayed up until 2 (super-late for me these days) with him and Brittney, discussing the beauty/terror of whales, Radiolab stories, and dramatic break-ups. They are great. Everyone is great.
A small selection of photos:
The rest of the weekend’s photos are on Flickr.
Keeping the company of old friends is so renewing. This weekend, I realized that I’ve known Catherine, Kathryn, and Jonathan for six years now. To date, their friendships are the oldest ones that I’ve consistently maintained. (Including Emily, who wasn’t there but should have been. Durham feels absolutely desolate without you, dear.) I posit that a large part of the joy of old friends rests in the lack of having to explain things. You don’t have to explain your background, your family, your fears, your aspirations. You laugh about the old inside jokes, of course, but what is almost richer is the moment where you forget those old jokes or stories and then a word or a gesture sparks something and you suddenly resurrect the old days together. Your eyes widen and you say, “Ohh, I totally forgot about that night,” and then you experience it all over again.
There is much more I could say about these people, about how we’ve evolved together and separately, but all I need to say now is that I love them and I am so thankful for them. It is a considerable mercy that North Carolina is not too far away.
Here’s some stuff I did over our Christmas break. Now I need to catch up on work… clean the house… nap…
All holiday photos on Flickr. Maybe later I’ll talk to you seriously. And then debut my top 10 (fiction) books of 2011!
Ah, Thanksgiving. It was so ideal. The weather was divine; the food, miraculous; the company, perfect. As always, it is difficult to get back into the weekly routine, but I feel sufficiently rested and hopeful. I left ineffably thankful for our families. And I got to spend plenty of time with dogs, which was naturally another thing to be grateful for. Photos from the holiday weekend on my Flickr.
Snax with leftover turkey and cranberry sauce:
The Extraordinary Syllabi of David Foster Wallace. Kind of thankful I’m not taking a lit class with DFW. Although I think it is totally wonderful that he assigned The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. (Slate)
Women Who Write Like Men and Men Who Write Like Women. A somewhat interesting corollary to my thoughts on this matter? So, it turns out that men and women do actually use pronouns differently, and so we can overgeneralize and say that there are some “men who write like women” and some “women who write like men.” Haven’t processed the implications of this, but it’s still interesting. (Full Stop)
Joan Didion on Stage. More Didion (because I’m reading The Year of Magical Thinking right now, probably). And because she is snarky and cool. (The New Yorker’s Book Bench)
Living with (Millions) of Books. Houses without books look soulless. (English Muse)
Jonathan Lethem’s Alphabetical Absolutism: How Writers Keep Their Books. Photographs of contemporary writers’ bookshelves. I liked Junot Diaz’s thoughts on the matter of buying more books than one can read in a year. (The New Yorker’s Book Bench)
Peter Jellitsch Draws the Wind. Now that’s a crazy endeavor. But how cool is this? Very. (Fox Is Black)
Bicycle Portraits, Part III. This looks like a beautiful book. Would make a gorgeous gift for the avid cyclist in one’s life. (Miss Moss)
30 Tech Gifts Under $100. It seems all people want these days are gadgets, so this is a small but helpful gift guide for design-friendly digital-age presents. [Side note: Can I talk about how much I hate the asterisk in the Design*Sponge title? I always want to leave it out, even though copy editor rules tell me you’re supposed to punctuate a title the way a firm punctuates it. Still. I think it is stupid, Bonney. Even though your gift guides and your general website are great.] (Design*Sponge)
Constellation Calendar. Ooh, love. Even though I can’t identify a constellation to save my life (except probably Orion’s belt). (Unruly Things)
The Class Comforter. The sweetest. I would like to have that job/get someone else in my office to have that job. (Sweet Fine Day)
The scene above from “Mean Girls” is what most people seem to think when they find out you were homeschooled.
The fact that I was homeschooled from kindergarten through my senior year of high school is not something that I often divulge to people (until now, I guess, Internets), because you get asked about a million insulting questions right after that. “Did you have any friends? How were you socialized? Did you even learn about evolution? How did your parents teach you everything you needed to know? Do you make all of your own clothes? Was college really, really hard for you? But you seem so NORMAL!” And so on. Sigh.
That said, today I was reflecting on the reasons why I’m thankful I was homeschooled.
So, here’s my list:
Things You Get If You’re Homeschooled, Apart from a Lot of Discrimination
- An extremely high tolerance for “weird” people and “nerds.” Later in life, you have a lot of grace and common language with these people, because you were/are one yourself or spent a lot of time with them. Either way, homeschooling makes you patient with the uncool.
- A total lack of pop culture references from your childhood. If you grow up without TV, like we did, you have to pretend that you really miss Nickelodeon shows and 90’s bands that you are supposed to cherish just to appear normal. Even today, when people are like, “OMG, don’t you wish you could watch ‘Saved by the Bell’ all day??” I always pretend like it’s my favorite, too, even though I’ve never seen it. As Emily likes to say, “I cultivate a nostalgia for a childhood I never experienced.”
- Great rapport and ease of conversation with grown-ups. Yeah, we dress funky, but your parents love us because we carry on conversations with them like mini-adults.
- A curious mind and an excitement about learning. Unlike our more traditionally educated peers, homeschoolers often have no shame about loving school. We didn’t get recess or video games or texting; our default hobbies were usually an extension of our educations. Best day in the world for me? Library day!
- Natural ease with humans of all ages. We spent time with adults, babies, and kids of our own age every day, rather than just kids of our same grade. This means you could entrust your infant to just about any homeschooler and he or she would be equipped to care for it, solely from their experience raising their own six siblings day in and day out.
- Interests and knowledge in unusual areas. We can’t just join the school soccer team like everyone else. So you meet kids who are free to follow their own bizarre passions and became self-taught experts in things such as calculus, roller hockey, the Elvish “language,” debating the implications of medical malpractice law, tap dancing, origami, mastering the viola, and castrating goats.
Yeah, it was a weird way to grow up. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I’ve never purported to be fashionable. I tend to wear things until they wear out. I might dress like a soccer mom sometimes. Almost all fashion blogs are extremely boring to me. I don’t know anything about how to put an outfit together.
And yet. I really want to be “fashionable,” whatever that means. I am surrounded by many women who unfailingly rock whatever they are wearing. I envy them and simultaneously I love watching them wear just about anything. These are not famous people, but they should be, because they know how to wear the hell out of a garment.
To name a few of my personal fashion icons:
Grace has been obsessed with fashion since she was a child. She wore my mother out by insisting on changing her clothes every few hours. When Grace was five, my mother finally gave up battling her every Sunday on what she would wear to church. So, little Grace showed up for Sunday school in a “101 Dalmatians” bathing suit, a pink tutu, and snakeskin cowboy boots. The kid was very forward-thinking.
Once Kelsey and I left home, Grace took over the giant walk-in closet that was supposed to be shared between the three of us. Instead, it’s now a bedroom-sized space for her gargantuan wardrobe. Kels and I like to joke that she has a preternatural sense of where everything is, despite the fact that it often looks like a disaster. If we happen to borrow a T-shirt from a folded stack of about 50 T-shirts, Grace knows. She comes into the closet, sniffs the air like a wolf tracking something, and says, “Did you take something?” (We swear she knew when we took some of her dresses and skirts and other enviable pretty things home with us when she was abroad.)
Grace is the person you want by your side when you venture into Goodwill or any other thrifting location. Scanning for gems in a thrift store might be her spiritual gift. She pulls things off the rack that look totally absurd and gross, but the minute she puts them on, they are transformed and she looks like a goddess. We all hate her for it.
Her style has evolved over the years and I think it’s become increasingly crazy, which I like. She is a huge fan of layers. Whether she’s layering vests or skirts or bangles, she likes to wear many things at once. She does not believe in minimalism when she dresses and yet she always makes it work. Grace, thanks for being my perpetual wardrobe inspiration and for always showing me how I can wear something better.
From the first day I met Catherine at UNC, I have been enamored with her wardrobe. I always want to look exactly like her.
Even though I have never been to Europe, my general sense is that Catherine has a very European style. (She’s half English, after all, and has family in France.) Catherine is extremely cultured and elegant. She partakes in the finer pursuits; she is a gifted ballerina and violinist and speaks beautiful French.
Her wardrobe always speaks of this elegance, and yet it is very versatile. One day, she will wear a gorgeous dress from some Paris boutique; the next, she will look incredible in her running skort, t-shirt, and big earrings. I don’t know how she does it.
One of my favorite things about Catherine’s style is how she picks an accent piece and wears it with everything for a week or more. Sometimes it would be a pair of earrings. Sometimes a bracelet. Sometimes a lavender-colored pashmina. Regardless of the weather or the situation, Catherine would wear that one piece. She brought class to every environment. Whenever I see her, I am usually stunned by how amazing she looks. I think she can do anything.
Angela pretends like she doesn’t know about fashion, but she always looks 110% incredible, so I don’t believe her. I’ll give her a compliment about whatever fabulous thing she’s wearing and she just says, “Abby, stop it! I love what you’re wearing!” And I’m wearing some dingy T-shirt and jorts or something like that.
Angela excels at minimal outfits with a lot of personal panache. On their own, the separate items of her dress seem simple and plain, but when she puts them all together, she looks nothing short of magnificent. (It helps that she’s also exceptionally beautiful.)
I think Courtney was probably an artist in her former life, because if anyone knows how to use color, it’s this girl.
I had the great fortune of getting to live with her during my senior year of college. CoCo was always busting up in the living room wearing something fabulous and making the rest of us jealous. Her use of color is inspiring to me and I wish I had her sense of how to combine things for maximum effect.
Courtney is also very capable with mixing and matching, as her 30-day project demonstrated. She has a way with clothes and should be soundly commended for it.
Mary Boyce and I were talking at church the other day about how we want to dress more like Cate. Cate just had a baby and looks like a rock star. She has the most incredible look that’s a mix of spontaneity and deliberate lines. She also dresses almost exclusively in whites and neutrals, which I find compelling and amazing. Because of Cate, I want to buy more white things. I foolishly think that if I only had more white pieces, then I’d look as fabulous as she does all the time.
Also. If I had a friend who was my male fashion icon, it would definitely be JONATHAN (see photo above with Catherine and Emily). He’s taught me the dire importance of tailoring. And I very often just want to steal most of his clothes (especially his shirts, which are amazing).
Do you have any friends, family that you’d consider your personal fashion icons?