I have been remiss in leading our book club, wholly skipping the July book club pick in favor of other literary meanderings. I hope you will forgive this truancy, but on the rare occasion I have the wherewithal or time to read, I have been selfish.
“I feel like…this,” I’ll say, scarfing down a handful of pages of the latest thriller in something akin to standing in front of the kitchen cabinet, eating a fistful of cereal right out of the box. (Incidentally, why I chose the picture above for today’s post — what is that chic lady doing? Taking a break from a dressage event to read, quickly and quietly, amongst a crowd of onlookers? I love it.)
Or, “I need something substantive today,” and I’ll savor a paragraph from this slim volume of essays I am loving by one of my favorite poets, and it’s a sensation similar to eating a ripe peach and letting the juice run down my chin — decadent, evocative, best done in moments of unharried quiet. Some of her chapters are academic-leaning, but the first few consist of poignant reflections on aging, intellectual pursuit, and, always, the reverent mystery and glory of the natural world.
“I don’t think I am old yet, or done with growing. But my perspective has altered–I am less hungry for the busyness of the body,” she writes, addressing her advancing age head-on, “more interested in the tricks of the mind.”
Her words and the seasoned, sage, sit-back-and-tilt-my-head-in-appraisal perspective that support them remind me of where I am along the arc of adult life, and that place is best defined by extreme “busyness of the body.” Oh, I am tired. My body is banged-up and bruised from the intensity of pregnancy and birth and all its unholy aftermath couple with the physical exertion that breast-feeding, and carrying a baby, and wrangling a toddler, and not sleeping through the night for an eternity entail. It feels as though I am never without something in my hands or slung over my shoulder or resting against my breast, despite my best efforts at a hands-free life. And on top of this, there is the frenetic busyness of the mind: the fretting over micro’s horrible cough, the logistics around even the simplest trip to the playground (“can we time it around mini’s last toilet visit and micro’s last feed?”), the never-ending to-dos and admin tasks that accompany motherhood and marriage.
And, we plan to move in the next few months. (Fellow New Yorkers will respect the traumatic undertaking this will be with two small children and a large dog in tow. I do not know how we will pack. Where will the boxes go? Dangled out the window? Lining the common areas of our apartment building? My mind explodes. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.)
But so, my Magpies —
Will you forgive my negligence in slinking away from the YA novel I’d selected and instead supplanting it with Mary Oliver’s essays? Because I need it right now (and her words rank highly among the fragments I shore against my own ruin). It is reassuring prose — elegant, self-effacing, measured, quiet. As such, it stands in stark contrast with the busyness of this body and this season of life and shows me what might lay at the other end of the span of the next few decades — at least, if I am able to remotely channel the archetype of graceful aging she models.
And in the meantime, I’ll appreciate its respite from the fracas of parenthood in all its ungainly glory.
+Really, really enjoyed this thriller. It’s quickly paced and easy to read and full of the twisty-turniness us thriller fiends love best.
+Was lukewarm on this heavily-touted novel by a former sports-writer, whose past profession reveals itself in the uneven prose: the author is at her best describing the pick-up basketball games her protagonist plays and far shakier elsewhere in the novel, especially in the preposterous, borderline disastrous, dialogue. I could sense the striation of her artistic muscle as she attempted to flex outside of her skill-set. (Harsh, I know.) But narration and dialogue should not be of the same voice — except for maybe in the highly styled, well-crafted prose of a Junot Diaz or Sherman Alexie, when it is understood to be intentional. The book was also cloyingly determined in its pursuit of “the woke,” which I found fatiguing. The exception to my scathing review? I loved her descriptions of New York; much of the novel takes place on the Upper West Side, and I recognized many of the landmarks. It was straight-up fun to see a novel unfold in my backyard.
+This gingham midi gives me Brock Collection vibes. Love the shape — and the $49 pricetag is a delight!
+OK, BRIDELETTES: HERE IS YOUR DREAM DRESS FOR A WEDDING-RELATED FESTIVITY. I am dying over it. Where can I wear this?! Pearls and bows?!
+A second approach. This post makes me cry.
+These widgeon fleece coats are AMAZING (and on sale!) for babies and toddlers. I love that they are secured with velcro — no zippers or snaps to contend with. And, this Etsy shop offers monogramming!
+This blouse looks like a La Double J print!
+How great is this dog basket?!
+Another $30 hit from my favorite Amazon clothing retailer.