Monday Snax

Chillin' on the couch with Windy!
Happy birthday, Granddad! He looks very much at home in his chair, which is now taking residence in our house.

We had a lovely weekend with Guion’s parents and his grandfather, aka Granddad; they came up to celebrate my confirmation at Christ Church and Granddad’s birthday! We had such a great time squiring them around town, eating tons of amazing food, and exchanging stories and memories. Brother Win was greatly missed, of course. Wish they could only have stuck around longer!

Snax with roasted kale and butternut squash, because, believe me, this week’s Snax are super-delicious and good for your heart:

With Love from Chitwan. To my heart’s relief, Grace is alive and finally well in Chitwan, Nepal! Read about her adventures and go see how totally adorable she looks on a bicycle by a rice paddy. (Como Say What?)

In Which There’s a Girl in New York City Who Calls Herself a the Human Trampoline. A thoughtful reflection on and celebration of the 25th anniversary of Paul Simon’s magnum opus, “Graceland.” Who doesn’t love that album? (This Recording)

Proust Questionnaire: Tina Fey. One of my all-time favorite women answers the classic questions from one of my all-time favorite authors. What do I have to do to become BFFs with this woman? (Vanity Fair)

A Guide to Crying in Public. As you know, I cry in public often, so I found this especially helpful. Retreat! (The Hairpin)

Big Laughs, Cheap Grace. Thank you, Rob Hays, for finding the words for my dislike of “Modern Family.” Thanks for finding the words when I could not. It is entertaining, but perhaps that is all one can say. (The Curator)

How Dancers Prepare Their Pointe Shoes.  I had no idea this process was so involved! (Behind Ballet)

Iceland Part 1: Roadside Horses and Geysir. Here is a Law of the Universe: If anyone on the Interwebs posts photos of Icelandic ponies, I shall immediately repost photos of said ponies. This law is immutable and shall remain unbroken for the duration of time. (Kris Atomic)

Here’s Another Thing Julianne Moore Will Ruin. FOR REAL. (Best Week Ever)

Dog-Friendly Paris: Doggy Etiquette in the City of Lights. Kelsey and Grace regaled me with stories of the impeccably well-behaved and countless pooches in Paris. I’m not one for big city living, but this account of Paris is tempting! (HIP Paris)

Origami Animals. Origanimals. My dad had a client who once made me an intricate Japanese beetle out of a $5 bill. He would have liked these paper animals. I like them, too; they look like they want to be friends. (Miss Moss)

The Desktop Wallpaper Project. I change my desktop image every Monday on my work computer, and my Mac desktop rotates every 15 minutes, so I guess you could say I’m a bit of a stickler for change. It makes me happy to have a new, pretty image on my computer. If you are like this, check out this site. A collection of beautiful, graphic designer-friendly desktop wallpapers! Artist Michael Cina’s work (around page 7) is my favorite. (The Fox Is Black)

Is Ulysses Overrated? Now I feel a little bit better about giving it only spot no. 7 in my top 10 books of 2010. This guy from Slate thinks it’s a crock and not worth all of the hype. He says there’s only one chapter worth reading. (Slate)

Happiest States According to Twitter. As far as useless and unreliable maps go, this one may rank quite high, but I like its findings. According to a mood map of Twitter, the top three happiest states are: 1) Tennessee, 2) Colorado, and 3) North Carolina. I like it! I can definitely attest to Colorado and NC making that cut. (Daily Intel)

I Am Only 6, But I Think I Can Do This Job. KIDS! Killing me again with cuteness! Application letter from 6-year-old Andrew Scott, who applied for the position of Director of the National Railway Museum. What is it with little boys and trains? It will never fail to make my heart melt. (Letters of Note)

Top 10 Books of 2010: #7

Ulysses

#7: ULYSSES, James Joyce

For the next few weeks, I’ll be thinking back through the books I read in 2010 and ranking my favorites in a top 10 list. Today… (cue Jaws music) meet number 7: The Greatest Novel of All Time, Apparently, James Joyce’s Ulysses.

I know, I know. Of all the books I read this year Ulysses only got ranked number 7. Number 7!? This is mainly because I’m not nearly smart enough to understand it. And because I’m not Irish or Catholic and have perilously little memory of The Odyssey and all the Latin I learned in middle school. But I did read it. I think the better verb phrase there is “labor through it,” but it was remarkable, as everyone says it is.

I am not going to presume to give you an intelligent review of this behemoth of literature. Rather, I am going to give you a list: a brief collection of thoughts on the least “brief” novel probably ever written. So, here we go.

EDITION I READ: A beautiful hardback Modern Library edition, which I just happened to find for a mere $10 at The Bookstore on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. Naturally, I haven’t read Ulysses in another edition, but I loved this one. The margins are wide and the references are complete and easy to find. Recommended.

ESSENTIAL COMPANION: Unless you happen to be a modernist scholar, or a true Catholic Dubliner fluent in Latin and Greek mythology, I’m going to presume to say that you might need a little help with the allusions. I certainly did. Which is why I absolutely relied on this marvelous book, Allusions in Ulysses (which, I’d like to note, was published by UNC Press, where I enjoyed a year as an intern). It is a perfect and clear line-by-line guide to the entire novel and it saved me lots of frustration along the way. I feel that Joyce, like his difficult modernist counterparts, is more deeply and fully enjoyed if you actually understand what he’s saying. Weldon Thornton’s Allusions in Ulysses will help you do just that.

FAVORITE CHAPTER: Part II, episode 4, Calypso. We first meet Leopold Bloom as he makes breakfast for his wife, Molly, while she languishes in bed. It’s a funny, domestic chapter, and yet very sexy, too.

READING ALOUD: I highly recommend reading difficult portions of the novel out loud. If you can find a place where this will not cause you undue awkwardness, by all means, read this book to yourself. I can guarantee that your comprehension will be aided tremendously. I know mine was. I recall reading it aloud to myself and Guion as we drove to Southern Pines for a party, and I can still remember what I read because it was that much easier to understand.

MOLLY’S SOLILOQUY. Insulted that I keep talking about strategies for comprehension? OK. Fine. Just take a gander at the famous, oft-quoted Molly’s Soliloquy from the novel, written in its entirety here. Got all that? Good.

WORKSHOPPING ULYSSES. I think I used this in a Snax post, but I’m going to use it again because it’s hilarious: A McSweeney’s writer imagines the comments that James Joyce would have received from his imagined MFA workshop. Especially hilarious once you’ve actually read it, but still, worth it.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT, AND WHY I’LL READ IT AGAIN: I think reading Ulysses extends beyond the “shoulds” that are tossed out by the literary elite and our diligent English professors. I think we read it because Joyce changed the landscape of the novel forever with this book. He started a conversation that is still happening today: What is a novel? Why do novels matter? And do they still matter? For those reasons, I’m looking forward to returning to Ulysses in a few years.

Monday Snax

Kelsey is turning 21 on Thursday! Happy birthday, Kels. I love you and this picture.

Guion and I had a good chat on Saturday morning at Panera about how these are the Best Days of Our Young Lives and how we don’t want a baby in at least five to six years. Good to establish these things early.

When I’m up at 6, still shaking off my barrage of vivid dreams, the first actual thought in my head is, “I have GOT to go to bed earlier.”

This weekend, Mom booked a room for all of us family women at this resort in the Meadows of Dan (the most dramatic name for a town ever). We’re celebrating Kelsey’s 21st birthday and I can’t wait! So excited. We’re going to try to get Mom tipsy, do lots of yoga with The Teacher, and probably watch “Little House on the Prairie” re-runs, while Mom reminds us, “I learned everything I know about parenting from this show.”

All I can think about are the winter holidays! All!

Snax in a brown paper bag with googly eyes:

Feedback from James Joyce’s Submission of Ulysses to His Creative-Writing Workshop. I have to credit my genius spouse with this one; he sent it to me as a consideration for Snax publication. Definitely merits the attention. “Kick-ass work, JJ, but way too long. Have you considered turning this into a short-short?” (McSweeney’s)

40 Things You Didn’t Know About Tina Fey. For instance: Her first name is actually Elizabeth, and she is a UVA graduate! I asked some UVA grads the other day to name some famous alums–besides Edgar Allan Poe–and they couldn’t come up with any. Tina Freakin’ Fey went to your school! You should know this! I love this woman. (Flavorwire)

Hard to Kill: Houseplants for the Inept. I love taking care of living things, whether they are betta fish or plants. We have a few plants surviving in our little home, so it was nice to read this article about other organisms that are fairly hardy. I’m all about the orchid; we have one that’s still going strong, even though it dropped its petals months ago. I was actually able to get my previous orchid to bloom again after a full year of hibernation. (New York Times)

A Livable Bento Box. I know most of my links pertain to Japan or the Japanese, but I can’t help it! I love them so much. This house is so sleek and minimalistic. I don’t know if I’d actually like to live there, but one can certainly admire this family’s peaceful architecture. (New York Times)

Living In: Breathless. We had a showing of this charming, iconic Godard film at our house a few weeks ago. Everyone loved it! All of the women wanted to go out and get her hair cut. (Design Sponge)

The House of Fake. People dress up and act out famous paintings! This is always fun to me. Makes me think of Arrested Development, too. “THERE IS NO GOD!” (Miss Moss)

Pretty Girls and Floral Paint. Enchanting little paintings. (Design for Mankind)

Women Reading. Last year, my grandmother bought me a beautiful day planner that contained paintings of women reading. I saved almost all of the paintings and have tacked them up in various places (like in my cubicle at work!). There are lots of images of women with books, and this is just a small collection of them. (Where the Lovely Things Are)

The Impatient Pirate of Cornelia Street. I really want to know what was in that chest… I love the continued exchange, too. (Passive-Aggressive Notes)

Sarah Palin Is in a Fight With a Wall Street Journal Economics Reporter About Economics. Because, well, I just feel like sometimes no one realizes how purely idiotic this woman is. Stupid people get WAY too much attention in modern American politics. Way too much. (Daily Intel)

Eight Things That May Have Caused George W. Bush to Make This Expression. I have no idea, but I love the suggestions! What’s your guess? (Daily Intel)