The Abby alphabet

Remember when you were 12 and you and your friends would exchange e-mail personality quizzes? Or you’d post them on your baby MySpace or Xanga pages? Well, this is kind of like that. Except for semi-grown-up bloggers. (Found at the lovely blog The Lighthouse Keeper.)

The farm! That is one stylized, serious-looking farm. Source: Pinmarklet

Ambition: To live on a small working farm with my husband and raise a few children and a pack of dogs. I would also like to continue my education as a writer and editor, whether that includes graduate school or moving up the publishing industry ladder.

Bad habit: Judging people or things extremely quickly. Flying into microscopic rages when tiny things don’t go my way.

City: Well, Charlottesville, because we love it here, but I think my spirit city is Denver. I adore Denver. I think my body gets a rush of endorphins whenever I remember my summer there.

Drink: Tea, of course!

Education: B.A., summa cum laude, English and Journalism, UNC-Chapel Hill. Currently engaging in wishful thinking about a master’s degree in English.

Food: Mainly fruit. Not enough vegetables, but I eat them daily (lately, we’re into asparagus, kale, potatoes, and bell peppers). I could also live on a steady diet of pasta and cheese.

Justin Timberlake. Source: Bing

Guilty pleasures: Trawling breed rescue agencies for dogs I can’t yet adopt. And Justin Timberlake.

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina, although I tend to claim Davidson, because it’s more interesting and it’s where my parents currently live.

Ice cream: The Four C’s from Chaps Ice Cream on the downtown mall (chocolate, cherries, chocolate chips). Or anything that involves chocolate.

Jonesing for: A dog! Or an unlimited supply of perfect watermelon.

Pure kryptonite. Source: Pinmarklet

Kryptonite: Puppies.

Lookalike: Hm. I don’t know. My theory is that people can’t really differentiate the faces of women with curly hair, and so that’s why people tell me I look like Emmy Rossum or Keri Russell. It’s just because we all have curly hair. We don’t actually share a resemblance. I wish my lookalike was Gwyneth. Or SWINTON.

Still from "The Royal Tenenbaums." Source: Google images

Movie: The Royal Tenenbaums will always have my heart, 100 percent.

Nicknames: Abba, Shabbage, Shabbarge, Flabby, Shabs, Abigail, Abberini, Abs, Bob.

Obsession: Making lists. Dogs. Reading, reading, reading.

Perfume: I don’t wear it that often, but my sisters got me a bottle of perfume from the Tokyo Milk line called French Kiss. I like it. It makes me feel glamorous.

Quirk: Pulling my ears back like a dog when someone makes me angry.

Regrets: Not being more open-minded and generous in high school.

Starbucks: No, thanks.

Talent: Reading! I can read real good.

Upper quad, UNC campus. My heart sobs a little when I look at this photo. I want to go back! Source: Me

University: UNC-Chapel Hill.

Vacation: Anywhere in the mountains. We live in the Blue Ridge mountains now, but I still can’t get enough of them. My perfect place is a great field at the foot of a row of folded mountains.

Wine: Malbec or a dry white wine. I still can’t remember the names of the white wines I actually like…

X: X to living in fear.

Years: 23.

Chapel of the Cross, where we met and were married. Source: Me

Zen: I have a few notions of zen. 1) Outdoors with my husband and my (future) dog; 2) Reading or writing in a room of my own; 3) The Compline service at the Chapel of the Cross.

OK, now it’s your turn. Go! See, isn’t it fun to be in middle school again?

Monday Snax

Birthday lilies from my lover!

I just have to say, I had such a wonderful weekend. I spent most of Saturday with Anna. We met at the farmers’ market, which just opened for the season, and picked up food for brunch. The highlight of the market, though, was the farmer who had a truck bed full of 10 week-old shepherd mix puppies. SO wanted to take one home. Of course. But I resisted. After brunch, Anna and I picked up her family’s young German Shepherd, Heidi, and took her to the beautiful Pen Park, where we roamed with Heidi, who swam in the Rivanna River, chased some deer, and carried a huge log for about a mile (like this, except the log was even bigger). We also got caught in a freak hail storm in the middle of a giant field. It was exhilarating. I want to do it all again tomorrow.

Saturday night, Guion and I went to dinner at the lavish Tavola as a belated birthday event. So good. And then on Sunday, we got a great (albeit short) visit from Dad, Sam, and Sam’s hockey teammate. They passed through Charlottesville on their way home from a tournament in D.C. We had burgers outside on the downtown mall and reminisced about life back home. It was great to see them, even though Sam is HUGE. I am not used to that child being six feet tall.

Snaxy snax with snax sauce:

Myths: From the Rise of the “Model Minority” to the “American Decline.” A very thoughtful and insightful piece on the subtle racism and expectations that Asian Americans face today. (Serenastyle Blog)

The Allure of Rue Montorgueil. Let’s go to France. To this street. Tomorrow. (Lost In Cheeseland)

The Rough Guide to the Waste Land. A travel guide through Eliot’s epic. (McSweeney’s)

Map of the USA from a Californian’s Perspective. Haha. At least we get to be the “Fashion Bloggers” state! (Delphine Ephemera)

Drop-Your-Jaw Embroidery. This has been heavily circulated in the lady blogosphere already, but it’s still pretty amazing: embroidered classic book covers. I think Black Beauty is my favorite. (Little Is the New Big)

Three-Year-Old College Student Really Wants to be New Jersey’s Governor. OMG. I love children. (Daily Intel)

Solid Bond in Your  Heart. Japanese children kill me. This photo, too. Tears! (Hamada Hideaki)

Monday Snax: Back to reality

Whew. What a lovely, busy holiday vacation we enjoyed in the great state of North Carolina. A brief photo recap:

We ate many lavish meals... (Here, the annual Christmas Eve dinner at the Pratt's.)
... got dressed up...
... received the most amazing gift of all time: The long-awaited pop art portrait of Tracy Morgan, by the one and only Grace Farson.

(More on Flickr!)

It’s hard to transition back into the real world, but we did have a magical holiday. Guion, however, is now sick again and I have probably the busiest week ever at work–which is why this post was written in advance.

Snax with leftover holiday honey-baked ham:

This Is Insane. Snow kind of makes me cranky when I have to travel, but I have to look on the bright side: At least we don’t live HERE, wherever this is. A time-lapse video of a blizzard. (Dooce)

Frost (24). Winter in France. (Flora Douville)

Satomi Kawakita. Such delicate, beautiful jewelry. If only I had $1,180 lying around for a ring… (All the Mountains)

Making Amends with the Guy Upstairs. The sweetest–and possibly most heart-breaking–prayer from a child. (FOUND Magazine)

The Year Kenny Loggins Ruined Christmas. It’s just… amazing. I have no other words. Childhood Christmas memories illustrated in MS Paint? It’s the greatest. (Hyperbole and a Half)

Hark, a Vagrant: 292. Hunks in the war and The Yellow Wallpaper! I am endlessly enthralled with Kate Beaton’s work. (Hark, a Vagrant!)

Pomeranian puppies. Don’t like little dogs, but these little fluff-balls are killing me. When they bark? Just sounds like a flock of chickadees. (Cute Overload)

Quote, a Waste of Eliza Dushku’s Talent. I love the Hylton family. (Mixed with Gold)

Holiday Slideshow. Slideshow of the annual door decorating contest at UNC Press, where I was an intern my senior year. I really miss these people. (UNC Press)

Natalie Portman in Vogue: Behind the Scenes. I think she is one of the most beautiful women alive and I love hearing her talk. I’m also looking forward to seeing and being thoroughly creeped out by “Black Swan.” Anyone want to go see it with me? (Faye Dinsmore)

Lars Wastfelt. Absolutely gorgeous and sweet family photographs from, of course, a Scandinavian photographer. I know, I have a type. (Miss Moss)

We’ll meet again soon, and I’ll start talking about my Top 10 Books of 2010. I know you’re thrilled.

Five alternate lives

I got to talk to Emily for over an hour on Thursday night and it was SO good to catch up with her; I’ve missed her company a lot. She was telling me about this book she’s been working through, The Artist’s Way. It’s a book created to help artists work through blocks.

One of the exercises she described asked you to write down the five alternate lives you would have liked to have lived (e.g., the careers/vocations you might have pursued that deviate from the path you’re on now). I was thinking about it today, and this is the list I came up with:

1. Australian Shepherd breeder

Australian Shepherd puppies

As totally weird as dog lovers can be, I’ve always been one. I got mocked mercilessly in middle school–by my FATHER–because all I wanted for one birthday was a subscription to the magazine Dog Fancy. (He kept referencing the movie “Best in Show” whenever I got the magazine in the mail, which I hadn’t seen at the time. Now I have and I admit, yeah, those people are weird.) But I wouldn’t breed these dogs to show. I’d breed them because I LOVE these dogs and because I’d love to train them in agility competitions. Or even sheep herding ones. I just think they’re the best dogs around, still.

2. Farmer


Guion and me in a few years.

Specifically, I’d like to live somewhere either in North Carolina or even around here in the Shenandoah Valley. Prettiest country around. And I would specialize in either berries or horses. Because I love berries and horses.

3. Graphic designer

Letterpress cards from Seesaw.

This is a skill I’d love to have. I’d love to have a business creating beautiful stationery (and then another one to teach all of the Cool Lady Bloggers how to properly spell “stationery”). Branding companies would also be fun. And I’d definitely want to make my own fonts, too. I’ve always loved fonts.

4. English professor

This is actually my thesis advisor. Hi, Dr. Carlston!

I know it’s hard work and you have to labor six to eight years to do it, but I think I’d really love the life of an English professor. To have a job that’s essentially defined by your love of literature? What more could you ask for? (Cooperative students, better pay, and less academic politics maybe…)

5. Editor at a large, successful publishing house

Streep as Miranda Priestly in "The Devil Wears Prada." Yes, I know she's not a book editor. But still. She's badass.

This one is simultaneously the most ridiculous and the most realistic. Ridiculous because who knows if publishing houses will even EXIST in 10 years; realistic because editing is the path I’ve more or less taken so far. I know editors are somewhat glamorized in film and stories and such, but from what little I’ve seen of it in my internships and work, I think it’s a place I’d like to be. Particularly with fiction. Sorry, Financial Analysts Journal, but you don’t pluck my heart strings.

Common theme in my five answers? All things that people don’t have much use for anymore! The world doesn’t really need more Australian Shepherds, as brilliant as they are. Farmers barely make enough money to survive, much less food. People don’t write handwritten notes anymore, so there’s not a huge demand for expensive letterpress cards. There are probably more wannabe English professors than wannabe English students; grad schools are brimming with them. And, as mentioned above, editors will soon have nothing to edit. Thanks, Interwebs.

But. Even with my semi-dashed dreams, now I’m curious. What about you? What five alternate lives might you have chosen for yourself?


– The only place you can go on the Internet and not read nasty comments–literally, the ONLY place–is The Daily Puppy. For realz. There are about 200 comments with every puppy and everyone just says a variation of the same thing: “Eeeeeeeee, you are so precious I want to EAT YOU UP!!!” or “OMG you CANNOT be this CUTE!!! LOLZ :-D.” Stuff like that. It’s comforting, in this vitriolic world of totally crazy and aggressive online commenters; dare I say, it is a breath of fresh virtual air.

– Thanks, Twinings! I learned how to pronounce “rooibos” tea. Want to know? It’s “roy-BOSS.” Now I won’t sound stupid when I get it at the Tea Bazaar.

– I want to be friends with the cool girls at work.

– I am going to walk home tomorrow from work. This is because Obama is coming for a visit (stumping for Tom Periello), and all of the roads are going to be shut down near our house. He’s coming to speak at the Pavilion, which we can see from our bedroom window. We want to go hear him, but I’m worried I’m going to miss it. According to Google Maps, it’s going to take me 1 hour and 7 minutes to walk home. Adventure! I’m actually kind of looking forward to it.

– Have I mentioned that I can’t wait to see my family?

– Confession: I probably look at the “Pets” section of Charlottesville Craigslist and/or the Charlottesville SPCA once a week. Just to tempt myself with the love I can’t have.

– Hannah and I talked about Japan last night again at The Local and my longing to return was reinvigorated. I think I’d like to live there for a year. Teach English, maybe? We’ll reevaluate this plan after Guion gets his degree.

– Coworker: Calling yourself Jim Halpert would be inaccurate. We are not that cool.

– Hear me, ye Interwebs: I am NOT PREGNANT.

– I kind of want to be Very Mary Kate for Halloween. Anybody know where I can buy a sweet blond wig?

Monday Snax

A Braeburn, or a Winesap, perhaps?

Yesterday afternoon, we went on an adventure with Sam to Carter Mountain Orchard. I think the entire town of Charlottesville was there, but it was lots of fun; we picked nearly 9 pounds of apples, including some varieties I have never heard of/tried before (Winesap, York, Stayman). I am looking forward to making an apple pie tonight. I will post pictures of our adventure shortly, possibly later tonight. So much to do, though! Three big books to read and finish by the end of the month, a large calligraphy job for my dear Katherine’s wedding, and many letters to write!

Snax, with just a hint of autumn weather:

Nettles at The Garage, October 23: Guion is playing a concert at The Garage in Charlottesville, and it’s FREE! So you should totally come. I’m so pumped! (Nettles)

Why Do Japanese People Live So Long? This is great. I got to witness a lot of these things while living in Tokyo for a summer, and have tried to adopt some of them to my life. I was particularly convicted by the point this article made about rejecting dairy. Japanese people believe that adults shouldn’t drink milk. They’re catching onto something, because they have the longest lifespans in the world. (Tofugu)

Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery. Not just “a” bee mystery, THE bee mystery! At long last, we have discovered the cause of the vanishing honeybee hives across America. This is interesting stuff. Now we just need to find a cure. Keep fighting for the bees! (New York Times)

Indian bicycle, by Grace. A recent painting Grace finished; based on a photograph of a bicycle she took in Hyderabad. I’m so impressed by my siblings! They exceed me. (Como Say What?)

Cliff Asness, Superhero. I exchange e-mails with this guy at work. Craaazy. (Daily Intel)

Most Unnecessarily Dramatic Quote in New York Times History. It’s true. This is so hilarious. I hope this woman can laugh at herself, but I’m doubting it. (Best Week Ever)

Disgraced Hedge-Fund Manager Forced to Sell Teddy Bear Collection. I’m SO happy they made the Victor Nightingale reference. Anyone else get it? (Daily Intel)

Troy, the Great Pyrenees. I HAVE to get one of these one day. HAVE to. (Daily Puppy)

Could You Zoom Out, Please. OK, just one more puppy link. Must. Snuggle. (Cute Overload)

The World’s Most Honest Journalism Job Ad. Sad, but true. Also hilarious. The Illinois Valley News is looking for a reporter, and they aren’t sugar-coating the position. (Gawker)

5 Simple Ways to Cut Your Car Expenses. Good tips. Thankfully, we have inherited some of these from Granddad Tillman after we inherited the Jeep. We are doing the best we can to keep it in top shape! Aside from the battery mishap, it’s been solid. (Wise Bread)

42 Things You Didn’t Know about Thom Yorke. I’ve been in a real Radiohead mood lately, so this was fun to read. (Flavorwire)

Closet Visit: Bo Carney. Blogger Jeana Sohn raids trendy women’s closets; this is one of my favorites. Bo Carney owns a vintage store in Los Angeles and I really want to hang out with her and be her BFF. (Jeana Sohn)

Monday Snax

From our recent hike to Crabtree Falls

Autumn is still dragging its heels in coming to Charlottesville, but the mornings and early afternoons have been quite pleasant. That feeling you get when you’re sitting in direct sun, but it’s just warm, instead of sticky and oppressive? I’ve missed that. It’s coming back. Slowly. We had a nice weekend adventuring with friends–taking a hike to Crabtree Falls (photo from the summit)–and just lazing around the house together, which was really great. I’ve missed doing that. Last night, we watched “A Very Long Engagement” for the second time, and I was reminded again how much I love Jeunet’s method of storytelling in film. He’s writing a novel with moving pictures! I love it.

This week’s Monday Snax are sponsored by Reuben, who is, as of this morning, still alive and pretty! Now, commence time wasting!

In Character, Starring… This is one of my favorite features from Vanity Fair: collecting actors and asking them for a face or depiction of a certain elaborate scene. Jeff Daniels’ take on this is really the best. I’m so impressed. So entertaining and funny. (Vanity Fair)

Stupidity and Politicians. A quotation from Bertrand Russell that I find to be regrettably relevant to the current political atmosphere. (1,001 Rules for My Unborn Son)

Renovating a French Farmhouse. Um, I can has?? (New York Times)

President Obama Holds Lemonade Summit in Virginia Backyard. Haha. (Daily Intel)

Oh, What An Angry Person You Are! Young actress Tatum O’Neal’s cheeky response to a fan letter from 1982. I’ve never seen her in anything, but I want to after reading this letter. (Letters of Note)

The Colors for the 2011 Spring Season. I’ve never understood this. What group of powerful designers gets together and decides, unilaterally, what the colors for the season will be? Is there a G8 summit of fashionistas? Do they have a Style UN? (Delphine Ephemera)

Luca Luca Spring 2011. I don’t normally find much interesting about fashion blogs, but I was really struck by this collection from Luca Luca. I want to wear all of those clothes all day. (Love Made Visible)

Baby massage. Joanna Goddard, of A Cup of Jo, and her baby, Toby, show how a baby massage is done. It’s so adorable, and I’m not even in to babies right now!

Law Schools Now Require Applicants to Honestly State Whether They Want to go to Law School. (The Onion)

Margot Was Already the World’s Worst Roommate. Hipster pug! For whatever reason, no other breed looks more disdainful or ridiculous in clothing. (Hipster Puppies)

Dancing With the Stairs. I had to cover my mouth when I saw this one, to prevent myself from a tiny laughter explosion. (Regretsy)

Gossip Girl Recap: We Make Our Own Fairy Tales. Important Disclaimer: I don’t even watch this show. I really don’t. We don’t have cable. But I love reading NY Mag’s recaps of every episode, because they are so hilarious and highlight the extreme absurdity of this show. Even if you don’t watch it, you will think this is funny. (CoCo, I’m sorry. I know you think of Serena and Chuck and Blair and Nate like your own family.) (NY Magazine)

Nancy Drew. Retelling those cheesy–and often very weird–Nancy Drew covers. (Hark, A Vagrant!)


Things I am tired of seeing on the Interwebs:

— “Vintage-themed” engagement shoots (e.g., guy in suspenders with Ray Ban glasses and the girl with a flower in her hair and red lipstick. Standing in a field. Occasionally with paper moustaches and/or a red balloon. Ugh.). I automatically unsubscribe from any blog I’m following that posts one of these photo shoots. SO over it.

—  Stuff that Taylor Momsen is wearing.

— People using the adjective “Mad Men-esque” to describe stuff.

— Blogging about Twitter. Isn’t that silly?

— Bloggers posting photos of babies, followed by comments like: “I could just eat him up!” “I want to snack on his cheeks!” Eew. Gross. Please. Contain yourself. Baby cannibalism is not cute.

Things I will never tire of seeing on the Interwebs:

— Puppies.

— Articles making fun of Sarah Palin.

— Anything that Daily Intel ever does.

— Pretty photography that isn’t trying to make a statement or be anything.

— My friends’ photo-of-the-day Flickrs. Love them to death, particularly since mine ended today! I’m happy to be done, even though I know my mom will be bummed. (Will be posting those last photos sometime tonight.) Don’t be sad, Mom. Who knows? Maybe I’ll take it up again in January. But I’m not making any definite promises.