Magpie Book Club 2019: Winter Hours.

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.

Post Scripts.

+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!

+A great dress option for a pregnant mama!

+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?!

+Back to school picks.

+Another $30 hit from my favorite Amazon clothing retailer.

+A sweet monogrammed gift for a newborn.

+So many cool gifts at this home boutique — love this clam dish for a beach home or this ceramic wine chiller. And for my own home — this rope pendant and these chairs!

+Dogs for micro!

13 Comments

  1. I always love hearing about what you’re reading! The Falconer had been on my list, too, but I may bump it down a few notches in favor of other selections. I’m currently reading Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror and it is GOOOOOOD.

    xx

    1. Lots of #turbothot material in Trick Mirror! I think you’d enjoy. Tolentino is a talented young writer at the New Yorker. Her longform pieces for that publication are definitely worth seeking out! xx

    2. Interesting — I just saw her book featured/mentioned elsewhere. Must be out in the ether. Thanks for the rec! xx

  2. God bless you!
    It is difficult to be a mother to two children under three (I know since I went throught it: mine are six and four now), but I promise it gets better as they grow older.

    I had to move twice, once with a baby in my hands, the second time when I was pregnant with my second child, I know what you are going through, and, trust me, you will get through it. I have had an intense career and held demanding jobs but it was nothing compared to marriage and motherhood (although happy ones:)).

    Thank you very much for this amazing blog and for all your time.

  3. 100000% agree with the suggestion! Used Sven moving in NY for my last move and they packed everything for us very efficiently for a very fair rate. They label everything and it’s great. Then I hired a TaskRabbit to help me with the unpacking and organizing (chose someone from the organizing category). All this help wasn’t free, of course, but it did not add that much more to the move (was much less than I expected) and was so, so worth the investment. Then you don’t live one day with boxes! And they’ll bring supplies so you truly just wake up and buy some iced coffee and muffins and you can stick around if you want just to oversee if you reaaally want to be a part of it. The best.

    1. YES. We did this back in Chicago because we had to move so quickly to NY, and I agree. Hadn’t thought about the logistics here but I like the idea of getting a hotel room for the kiddos with the nanny and overseeing the pack in the apartment, then moving the next day! I’m scared for the packers… xx

  4. Hi! I recently moved out of NYC with a toddler. We hired the movers to pack us, and I do not think any other way would have been possible. They spent Monday packing, we stayed in a hotel Monday night, and Tuesday AM they drove and we flew to our new city. For an in city move, that would all be even simpler. Regardless, they pack more quickly than we can and more efficiently, and you don’t have to worry about when to do it or where to put the boxes.

    1. Thank you, Leah! You’re helping me realize this can be done. Had forgotten about the gift of packers! xx

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