My high school French teacher, Madame B., was a jolly, heavy-set middle-aged woman with a quick laugh and a lovely sense of perspective — even in high school, I could tell that she was amused by the petty dramas and mishaps of her teen charges, but in a way that suggested that she appreciated our youth rather than condescended to it. I remember one of my classmates sighing loudly about the D she had just received one languid afternoon in our classroom on the fourth floor of the main hall on our campus; her seatmate prodded: “What are your parents going to say?!” and the girl’s shrugging response was, terrifyingly: “I’ll just tell them I’m pregnant. And then the D won’t matter.” (Can you imagine?! Teenage girls are the worst!) Madame B. gasped and then clucked her tongue — “Tsk tsk tsk, no no no — we will figure out a better way,” and then she looked out the window and murmured “Mon dieu. These girls” to no one in particular.
I think of Madame B. occasionally because she had us memorize the Renaissance poem “Allons voir si la rose” and recite it aloud, alone, in turn, in front of the entire class. I was horrified by this assignment, as I was painfully shy in my early high school years, and nothing could have been more torturous than standing and reciting a poem in awkward high school French in front of my cooler-than-I classmates, D-grade girl included. (Do you know what I mean by awkward high school French? That mode of speaking a foreign language where you don’t want to appear like you’re trying too hard, so you don’t really aim to nail the accent? So you half-assedly attempt the word voir and hang onto the “r” at the end a little too long instead of straining for the correct pronunciation, which sort of melts into nothing at the back of your throat — vwaaahrrrhhhhhhhhhh—? Again — ugh, teenage years are the worst.)
At any rate, I occasionally think of the words to Ronsard’s poem; they’ll float into my mind at random moments: “et sa robe de pourpre” will cut into my thoughts when I hear the word “purple” or “qui ce matin avait declose” will roll off my tongue when I for whatever reason think of the word matin (“morning” in French). And instantly I’ll skip back to Madame B. and the recitation and, specifically, the unceremonious way in which she’d tap the next classmate to jump up and deliver the poem — she’d say: “vite, vite, vite!” in rapid-fire succession. (Go, go go!)
This is how I feel the last two weeks have been: VITE VITE VITE! GO GO GO!
And I honestly like it. I like being busy. I like the urgency of having plans to run between (although I am never as graceful as the chiffon-and-silk-clad chic pea in the photo above while doing it! Ha!) But it means that this post is going live very late on a Friday morning. SO VITE VITE VITE — for today, a very quick and haphazard list of things on my radar…
+I have been a longtime devotee of Glossier’s Boy Brow, but I just picked up a stick of this and people go insane over it. If you’ve never used a brow gel/pencil, you must give them a try — I was reluctant but it completely finishes a look and I can’t leave the house without applying it!
+Speaking of dresses — I wore this dress to our inaugural Magpie book club earlier this week, even though the weather was determined to foil my plans: it was in the 60s and downright cool that night, so I wore a jean jacket and Chanel flats with it instead of bare shoulders and sandals. I got a couple of questions about the dress via Instastory, and the short answers to all of those are: it is so beautiful and well-made in person and it runs a little large.
+Speaking of book club — ZOMG! The Magpie book club was absolutely the highlight of my summer thus far; I loved meeting so many Magpies I’ve only known through comments / email / direct message, and the observations and insights this ring of smart ladies brought to the table were nothing short of brilliant. We talked about the book (Anjali Sachdeva’s All the Names They Used for God) thoroughly, intensively, for a good hour AND THEN — the author dialed in! I had emailed her to applaud her on her incredible short story collection and she responded with a generous offer to answer questions live at our book club. One comment she made that has stuck with me: I asked her about the fabular nature of many of her short stories, about how the supernatural forces across many of her short stories — the mermaids, the mindreaders — require that you suspend belief or flip into some sort of allegorical mode. Her response was that sometimes the world is too hard to look at head-on — it’s too horrible, too distressing — and that fables give us the space to more comfortably broach these topics, understand them, emote around them. She also explained that she prefers short fiction to longer form because she’s able to achieve more layered, intense writing in them. A lot of food for thought. (And please read along with us for next month’s book pick, which I announced here, and which is getting a lot of buzz. I also have a couple of spots open for next month’s book club — date TBD — and will announce details soon if you’re interested in joining in person.)
+I’ve been on the hunt for a pair of tortoise shell glasses, and I love these — and they’re $50 off today!
+Am I showing too much of my inner dork by admitting I am contemplating buying this? Needlepointing seems so therapeutic and far more attainable than learning how to knit, which requires more skill and more tools.
+I just reread this post on moving fast and slow through motherhood…and it still rings true, five months later.
+I have not forgotten about the Women of Substance series! I will be bringing a new lady into the limelight soon, but in the meantime — a) email me if you have a nominee, and b) I love her.
+On a more serious note, rest in peace Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain — what a sad, shocking, confusing week.
Onto the weekend…