A piece of a wasted hour

October with Wei
Virginia is perfect this time of year. (A vineyard nearby.)

“Still, a great deal of light falls on everything.” — Vincent van Gogh, in a letter

Annals of Everyday Sexism, No. 1,204

I told him some about my new job and what I would be doing and how I was so excited about it, about the work itself and about all of the new challenges and opportunities it would bring.

“It sounds like Guion and I would be better at that job than you would be,” he said as soon as I finished.

I blinked. “No,” I said. “I don’t think so.”

“Really?”

“Yes,” I said, and then with uncharacteristic firmness, “I am going to be great at this job.” My blood was feeling hot in my face.

He furrowed his brows, implying he didn’t believe me. But for once, I had a retort ready.

“Just because I’m not constantly talking about myself and how great I am all the time doesn’t mean I don’t have any skills,” I said, turning away.

“Oh, you’re adorable,” he said, in the purest of patronizing tones. And all this despite the fact that he is several years younger than me.

(You are not surprised when it happens, this kind of thing, because it has been happening all your life, but you are now almost 30 and ready to say something about it when it does. To name a thing, to call it what it is, to not hedge anymore.)

That said, I just finished the first week at my new job, and I am feeling all of the good feels: happy, grateful, fortunate, enlightened, challenged, hopeful, thrilled, capable, eager.

“Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened, and its deepest mystery probed?” — Annie Dillard

I just finished The Abundance, which I thought was a new collection of Annie Dillard essays because I didn’t read the subtitle carefully. It isn’t; it’s almost entirely old stuff, repackaged. But her old stuff is still beautiful and challenging and mind-expanding, and I was happy to re-read it. If I ever were to aspire to nonfiction in this way, Dillard is all that I could ever hope to be. Her boundless curiosity, her lyricism, her patience, her directness. It will always be difficult to convince me than any other American essayist can surpass her.

Up next on the reading docket: A big haul from the library book sale (somewhat thick, heady European novels that have been on my list for a long time + James Baldwin + John McPhee + Simone de Beauvoir’s short stories) and the Complete Stories of Clarice Lispector (I’m scared).

Wish I could have stayed

Prowling the kitchen
Pyrrha, prowling Juju and TT’s kitchen.

Our weekend away was a happy, full one. The family women accomplished lots for Kelsey and Alex’s wedding; Pyrrha acted like a normal, stable dog and became fast friends with Dublin; we missed Sam; Dad found a new method of receiving basic channels; we spent most of our free time walking the dogs; I nagged Grace to give me some of her clothes; she said she’d sell me her camera instead. At dinner on Saturday, I announced that I would stay for a month. If only I could.

I don’t particularly enjoy driving and nearly five hours in the car by myself (with a sleeping wolf in the back) was plenty. However, after you pass Lynchburg, the landscape suddenly becomes beautiful. The sky clears. The light is purer, the hills are greener and higher. I feel close to God when I’m driving back home in the mountains. “Virginia is God’s country,” my grandmother, raised on a farm near Amherst, has always said. I wholeheartedly agree.

My hair has reached that long, unmanageable point, but I’m too lazy to make an appointment at the salon. “I think I’m just going to keep it at this length for a while, and then I’ll cut it short,” I told Guion the other night, while I was looking at it in the mirror. “I don’t think that’s how hair works,” he replied.

Franzen also finds the “Grounds” silly

It was stupid that a “Vigil of Concern” was held for no conceivable practical reason, it was stupid that people kept watching the same disaster footage over and over, it was stupid that the Chi Phi boys hung a banner of “support” from their house, it was stupid that the football game against Penn State was canceled, it was stupid that so many kids left Grounds to be with their families (and it was stupid that everybody at Virginia said “Grounds” instead of “campus”).

— From the perspective of Joey Berglund, freshman–yeah, I said it! Freshman!–at UVA, in Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. At least we can agree on that, Joey. At least we have that.

That’s all I have for you today. As a disclaimer, I do actually like Charlottesville a lot. But I also like Jonathan Franzen and I’m taking his side on this one.