Cabin fever

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:

The poet and the candidate

We also saw “American Gothic” (faithfully recreated by Hannah and Ethan):

American Gothic

50 Shades of Grey and Rosie the Riveter (Celeste and Emily):

50 Shades of Grey and Rosie the Riveter

And your middle-school yearbook photo (Casey):

Your 7th-grade yearbook photo

We have creative friends.

Monday Snax

General rule: If I don’t have any photos from the weekend, it means that we had a very peaceful, uneventful one, which, in this case, was true. Except for the mice infestation, which is something I am not brave enough to discuss right now.


Formerly Known As. A thoughtful and great article by a Christian man on why he decided to take his wife’s name when they married. (The Curator)

Kyoko Hamada: Letter to Fukushima. A poignant photo essay and journal of a photographer’s journey back to Fukushima. As the media frenzy dies down, the residents of Fukushima still carry on their extremely difficult lives in a barren town. (The New Yorker)

Veiled. Unbelievable Italian sculptures of veiled women. I remember my mother talking about the incredible beauty of these in an art book when I was young. Since then, I’ve always been mesmerized by them. (Even Cleveland)

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Write The Marriage Plot. Jeffrey Eugenides reflects on writing his long-awaited second third (edit: Thanks, Jonathan) novel, which appears this month, nearly nine years after Middlesex. (The Millions)

Ten Types of Writer’s Block (and How to Overcome Them). A practical list for stuck writers. Eugenides himself might have appreciated this. (io9)

Flick Chicks. Mindy Kaling reflects on the absurd and limited number of women that are permitted to appear in romantic comedies. My favorite tropes: “The Klutz” and “The Forty-Two-Year-Old Mother of the Thirty-Year-Old Male Lead.” (The New Yorker)

All Work and No Play: Why Your Kids Are More Anxious, Depressed. Now this is truly sad. (The Atlantic)

Alyson Fox. Fox shoots a series of very different women, all wearing the same shade of Revlon lipstick. (Where the Lovely Things Are)

Tom Boy. A serious shoot for serious women. I like it. (Wolf Eyebrows)

Gun Safety Class at an Indiana School, 1956. Their faces in that first frame! This is so classic BOY. (Retronaut)

Suspended Greenhouse Lamp. Want! Although I get this feeling that the plants would start to singe over time… (Unruly Things)

Ask an Orthodox Christian. Orthodox Christianity is also incredibly fascinating to me, and it seems that way for all of the people who asked questions here, because they all sound like they want to convert. Interesting answers, though! (Rachel Held Evans)

It’s Nearly Halloween. Yet another reason why I have always deeply disliked Halloween. (Gemma Correll)

The wilderness

A mountain near Chuzenjiko that we almost climbed, 19 July 2008. I love the way that Japanese mountains look: this clearly could never exist in Charlottesville.

Guion said something interesting yesterday when we were at the church series, “Good News for People with Big Problems.” He was explaining his current position to some new-ish friends; how he gets paid to do one thing–write great poetry. And he was talking about the feeling he gets when he sits down to write–a feeling that is purportedly shared by his fellow MFA’ers–the thought: “I have no idea what I’m doing. I have no idea how to write!” But then you do. And you keep venturing into the wilderness.

The other internal wilderness in my head right now: the notion of graduate school. Yesterday, I spent some down-time doing practice GRE questions. The analogies absolutely killed me. You can’t figure out an analogy if you don’t know what “adumbrate” means! Le sigh. I was simultaneously daunted and excited. Daunted by statistics like the fact that UNC now only offers a Ph.D. program in English and accepts a mere 18 of the 400+ that apply. Excited by the idea of getting to be in school again. I miss it. I need to talk to people who have master’s degrees or Ph.Ds in English. I’m going to e-mail the few that I know this week and ask them in the most polite way I can think of: “Was it worth it?”

I’m reading my first Pynchon novel now, The Crying of Lot 49. He writes like a post-modern Dickens (the fateful coincidences; the intentional and hilarious naming of characters, e.g., Oedipa, the protagonist, and Mr. Fallopian). I’m not sure what I think about it yet, though. It’s pretty confusing.

We have our church classics book club tonight. We are discussing Walker Percy’s Love in the Ruins. I hated it so much. I can’t even say how much. So I might not. I might just let everyone else talk about it tonight and try to discern why people worship Percy as a Giant of Literature at our church. Maybe his non-fiction stuff is good. I can’t say I’ll ever attempt to read another one of his novels, though.

We got Halloween presents from our parents; it was super-cute and exciting. Mike and Windy sent us chocolate bars, and my mother sent us a package full of candy and her prize-winning (at least, in our house) Halloween cookies. Guion says he doesn’t like them, which I think is super, because that means I get to eat ALL of them.