30 March 2011

remembrance of things past: french nostalgia

As I wrote earlier this week, I've been getting a little nostalgic for France, as I normally do in the spring, possibly because of that song "April in Paris."

Or it's possibly because after months of feeling out of place in France {when I lived in Normandy 6 years ago}, spring is when I finally started to feel at home.

So this is a remembrance of things past kind of post {with a nod to Proust, of course}: here is something I wrote about the smell of France when I was living in Normandy.

I wrote this for my hometown newspaper, The Hawk Eye, which was publishing occasional columns from me about my life in France (with a nod to Julia Child there}.

You know you're from a small town when you can get a column in the newspaper just for going somewhere else. {And to this day in Burlington, people will reference me as "that French girl."}

In this column, I wanted my Iowans to be able to breathe in France, just as I was. I also wanted them to take a deep breath of Iowa and appreciate where they were.

{A good note before you read this: I lived in France twice. My junior year, I studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence, so when I talk about my French life before or what my life was like after coming back to America—well, I'm talking about that period in between Aix and moving back to France after college.}


I’d forgotten the smell of France after going back to America. I forgot a lot of tiny details of my French life when I returned to the Midwest, small everyday nothings that together created days of everything.

I think that I let so much of my French life slip through my mind because back in America, my normal, expected, and loud life pushed away the inconspicuous pieces of France.

I remembered my idealized chunks—mostly based on the vague notion of a better way of life that seems to lengthen every minute of every day until they melt into each other.

In my memory of France, there was little room for realistic details; I painted a large canvas quickly, catching the light and colors like an Impressionist. I smudged over the deceivingly mundane, so my picture of France comes out somewhat like a Renoir.

The faces are animated, full of life and accuracy, but the food and drinks on the table are blurs of color and short strokes. You know there’s a croissant and maybe a cup of café noir, though, in the same way that I knew vaguely that the forgotten details of my French life—the details that had sustained me—had been real and solid.

I felt that there were details, like the exact sound of French sirens and what fromage blanc tastes like with three scoops of sugar in it, but they were only sketched in short strokes as the immenseness of American life marched over them.

But the smell of France...it’s come back to me.

29 March 2011

so normandy is where we'll go

France—France has a particularly deep smell to it, and I know I'm romanticizing France again. An entire country can't smell good; sometimes, not even an entire city block can smell good.

But to anyone charmed with France—and especially to anyone who's been lucky to live there and knows that France isn't always charming—it has a particularly deep smell, and there are many words I considered using instead of deep.

Nostalgic. Inspiring. Full. Rich. Spring-like {even when it's not spring}.

But deep is what I mean. The smell of France always makes me want to drink deep, write deep, think deep, and live deep.

It makes me want more from a day; it makes me want to be more present in a day.

To me, it's the smell of France that's so intoxicating, so deep with possibilities. Americans have tried for years—and will continue to try—to figure out why France is so appealing to so many of us.

History? Pain au chocolat? Cafes? Literature? Architecture? Art? Rolling hills covered in vineyards? Cheese?

There are so many reasons to be charmed with France, but for me, all the reasons are held in the smell of France. {So much so that I once wrote an entire piece on the smell of France, back when I lived in Normandy.}

Spring in America usually brings moments of France back to me, and it happened this morning.

I stepped outside with little pug at 7am, and the air had a bite of France to it. For the entire walk, I hummed the song "Normandy" from Once Upon a Mattress, which is about spring moments in France.

I couldn't help it; I had smelled France and I think if you listen to this song, you'll be able to smell the possibilities of a French moment, too.

27 March 2011

what lent is teaching me about distraction

For once, there was no music or radio going in my car. And in that silence, I heard a noise. A whir? A ping? {Is ping a word used to describe car noises?} Perhaps it's a scraping, metal-on-metal sort of noise?

After listening for awhile, I've decided it's really more of a creaking noise coming from the back of my car.

Is that a normal noise? Does my car always do that?

And here's where the panic/self-reassurance cycle sets in.

Panic: My tire is going to fall off, omg.

Self-reassurance: I'm sure that's a normal noise, and you've just never heard it because you always have some other noise distracting you.

Maybe it's Robert Segal on NPR explaining why the economy is recovering even though jobless claims are up for the millionth month in a row.

Or maybe you're distracted by singing along with Carol Burnett in Once Upon a Mattress. "Though a lady may be dripping with glamour / As often as not, she will stumble and stammer / When suddenly confronted with romance..." Don't you kind of want to sing with me now and forget your panic?

Panic: Remember that one time you went to the mechanic, and he said, "Now, I don't want to alarm you, but your hose {internal side note from the past: what hose? How many hoses are in my car?} could be corroding right now. And you'd never know it until something bad happens"? Remember that time? Your hose, one of them, all of them, could be about to explode. Or something.

Self-reassurance: But remember, too, how you figured out that that mechanic was just trying to take advantage of you? You with your 'girl alone in a new town and unsure of what hose he's talking about' look on your face? If there was something wrong with your car, your new mechanic would've told you when you got your car checked recently. You are all right; the car is all right.

Panic: My tire is going to fall off, omg.

Self-reassurance: Sigh.

My internal voices are no help when it comes to my car because my car is a mystery to me. A mystery that came with a very long instruction manual explaining everything, but still a mystery because I haven't read that manual.

When something goes wrong with my car, I do what any typical 20something with a liberal arts degree would do: I take it to someone who knows what a chassis is.

{Case in point: When I hear the word "chassis," I think of the Irish play Juno and the Paycock, where Captain Boyle, drunk and confusing his words, declares, "Th' whole worl's in a terrible state o' chassis..." This is useful knowledge, I guess, when wanting to dig into literature, but it does nothing for trying to figure out my car.}

In short, when I'm in my car, I'm not paying attention to my car. It does its job, and I fill the time and space with noise, a little bubble of entertainment.

Except for right now.

Right now, I'm halfway through Lent, and for Lent, I have given up distraction.

Sounds deep, eh? I can make it sound deeper and more spiritual: I have given up what is distracting me from a fuller communion with God.

I'm not trying to be flippant {all internal dialogue above aside}.

I really am seeking a more connected time with God this Lent.

But it's one thing to sound deep, and it's another, more challenging thing to take a look at your day and pinpoint distraction so that you can figure out how to break the deep into the practical.

For this big Lenten idea to work, I broke the pretty rhetoric into practicalities {necessary for a perfectly practical girl like me}:
  • no TV or movies when I'm alone
  • no music or radio in the car
And so this leaves me in silence. A lot.

Ostensibly, this silence is to focus on God, to pray, to sing random church-y songs that are in my head {I have many of those}.

But as you can see, my brain usually takes the silence in the car as an opportunity to panic, which I wish it wouldn't do.


I have more to say on this Lenten distraction fast, and I'll say it soon. In the meantime, I'll reassure you: my tire did not fall off. Yet.

25 March 2011

winter's leftovers {a poem}

The freezer is full of winter's leftovers
Tupperwares that are icy nights, hot soups, and fleece blankets.
Lentil, tomato, chili, ham and wild rice:
Once, they were comfort and sustenance
against the cold, against
the all-consuming dark.

They fought
although most people just thought
of them as dinner.

And come June
most people will think
of salads with a light vinaigrette
and fresh basil from the garden
as they clean out their freezers.

"I can't stand the thought
of soup right now,"
they'll say,
throwing away winter

24 March 2011

expectations {a short story}

My library had a used book sale last weekend, and stepping into the library basement, I almost squealed from delight.

And I could tell you a lot more about that {and maybe I will in a separate post}, but right now, I want to get to the point of this post. For the sake of focus, I will simply say: I bought The Giver, that young adult book by Lois Lowry.

I bought it because I was having a nostalgic moment, and I bought it because...

Ah, wait.

That is digressing, and I'm trying to get to the point.

Which is: I'm re-reading The Giver, and it reminded me that I wrote a short story a few years ago that feels very Giver-esque. {Scroll down a little, and you'll get to the story.}

The prompt stemmed from magic realism {think: creating a world so like our own but with elements of the magical in it—all done to try to make a point about our real reality}, and I wrote this in one flow, one typing session at the computer.

And the ideas, I have to admit, frightened me a little when I re-read the story. For example: I talk about Thought, Word, and Deed in here. Capital letters like that and all, and those words come straight out the Confession of Sins I say every Sunday at church.

Was I harboring frustration at the church? At God? At the Christian view of life and how it constrained my life?

I honestly thought that when I finished this story because you know that idea that you write to find out what you're thinking about? That when you let the pen or your fingers flow, your mind lets go of its grip just a little and then bam, you see what you've been thinking, really thinking?

Well, that's not the case here. I know it's not, and I think this story flowed so well because of the detached tone I took, not because of inner hatred toward the church.

So all other Anglicans reading this {and especially people at my church}, please don't try to stage an intervention, not even during the Confession of Sins. God and I, we're doing okay, but it seems the liturgy has so worked its way into me that it came out in a story.

But now that I've been re-reading The Giver, I realize how similar my story and my world are to Lois Lowry's world and story.

So it seems that The Giver also worked its way into me—all the way back in fourth grade—and then came out in this story. Ok, my story has some slightly creepier elements to it, but do you remember The Giver? That was the creepiest book I had ever read back then, simply because the world was so familiar but unfamiliar at the same time.

I'm going to think of this as an homage to Lois, as opposed to plagiarism. Thinking of plagiarism is never fun, but re-reading books from your childhood is. Little bonus fun tip there.

And this was a longer digression/intro than I intended.


The morning was very sunny, perhaps too shiny, too overwhelmingly clean. And even though she had to squint and even though she knew it was not good for her eyes, she looked at the sun, right at the gleaming sun. So high in the sky already, a reminder of lost and wasted time. Of loss. Of missed opportunities, chances and moments that will never come again, fleeting flits of time to forget, burned away by the shiny, gleaming sun.

She closed her eyes to the sun; she did not want to see it anymore, so high, so perfect, so in control of millions and billions of lives, even and including her own.

A circle glowed red against the black. The sun had succeeded in burning away some part of her.

She pushed all the air out of her lungs, trying to entirely deflate herself, imagining herself as a rag doll—no, that’s not right, she thought. Rag dolls do not have breath and air. She wasn’t being precise in Thought, and when you aren’t precise in Thought, it leads to imprecision in Word and Deed and so in order to stay in order, in line, you must be precise in Thought, Word, and Deed. All. The. Time. Everyone. Knew. That.

It was written on the balloons.

She pushed all the air out of her lungs again, trying again to entirely deflate herself, imagining herself as a balloon.

Yes, a balloon. That is very precise.

She remembered the day she had asked her mother why everyone had to wear the balloons.

22 March 2011

running in the rain

On Sunday, the first official day of spring, I went on a run in the early morning before church.

And precisely 7 minutes and 37 seconds into it, it started to rain. I wasn't even a mile from home, and I wanted to give up. The sky was falling on me, and I thought, 'What does this run matter?'

But I had another 52 minutes and 23 seconds to go.

Three things kept me from quitting at that moment:
  1. I had a praise chorus stuck in my head, back from the church I grew up in—the Church of the Open Bible {so much better than the Church of the Closed Bible in terms of friendly churchy names}. It was a very clap-happy, bouncy, call and response kind of praise chorus that other people might hear and then think—my goodness, Christians are happy, exceedingly happy, people all the time. {But we aren't, of course.}

    This is the day {this is the day}
    That the Lord has made {that the Lord has made}
    I will rejoice {I will rejoice}
    And be glad in it! {and be glad in it!}

    With a song like that clipping me along, it was difficult to remain upset at the rain.

    Sure, I wanted it to be sunny like it had been on Saturday, the last official day of winter. But it wasn't. And that's all right. Spring is also about rain, so welcome spring. Welcome rain.

    Obvious Lesson #1: The sky will fall on you at some point. The sky will, in fact, fall on you just when you want it to be sunny. That's how it works sometimes. But you have to keep going, and maybe then along the way—as you keep moving forward—you'll find that you're okay with the change in the circumstances.
  2. My friend Sara. We lived together for a year in college, and she made me my first mocha. We used to quote You've Got Mail to each other, and it was with her that I had some of those long, figuring-out-who-you-are conversations that you're supposed to have in college.

    And now Sara is a serious runner. Sara is running the Boston Marathon soon—for the second time—and I knew that she was probably running 20 miles on Sunday. 20 miles as I aimed for however far an hour would take me.

    I thought of her running through the winter, through ice, through blizzards, and I was inspired by my dear friend. I kept going.

    Obvious Lesson #2: Surround yourself with good people. They'll motivate you when you least expect it.
  3. I knew I looked like a really committed runner as I pushed on through the rain. This one is selfish, I know. I don't need to show off my running to other people, but as I leapt over puddles and thought about how I probably had mascara running down my cheeks {it's not that I put on make-up for a run, oh no. I'd been too tired the night before to properly remove my make-up.}, I felt good.

    I felt healthy. I felt happy. I waved at every other runner I passed. Sometimes, I even did the double hand wave, for reasons I don't understand. Extra joy at seeing other committed runners?

    Obvious Lesson #3: Apparently focusing on the outside—on the way you appear to others—can be motivational at times.

The rain eventually stopped, but I didn't. I kept running.

18 March 2011

everything is new in the spring

Continuing my spring countdown, I turn today to my Anne. Anne of Green Gables, of course, the girl who never disappoints when you want effusions on a season.

{Given my recent rapture on spring—and earlier raptures on fall glories and winter pleasures—I may be the girl who never stops effusing about the seasons. God knew what he was doing when he made me from the Midwest.}

This excerpt isn't actually from Anne of Green Gables. It's Anne of the Island, where Anne is a bit older, a bit more grown-up. But Anne never outgrew those over-dramatic bursts on weather and flowers and the breeze and the smell of every moment.

She was enamoured of the world we find ourselves in, and when I start to get too humdrum, I think of my Anne. I call on the part of me that still wants to be Anne of Green Gables and then I wonder that I could've ever found any day humdrum.

Take this excerpt, for instance. Anne's friend Priscilla talks about that fashion transition from winter to spring.

{So okay, it isn't Anne talking about it, but it's one of her very good friends, and you can tell a lot about a person by who they choose to surround themselves with, can't you?}

I felt that transition yesterday when I wore my flowered shoes and a kicky skirt—and most importantly, no tights. Pale legged but with a skip in my step: this is how I face spring.

If you learn to find joy in small changes, it's easier to find joy in big changes. I am a firm believer in this, and I think I learned it from Anne.

And in this passage, too, she talks about how every spring is new. Doesn't it feel like that? When you see the first bud on a tree, doesn't it always feel like you've never seen that before?

You have, of course, but one of the delights of spring is the surprise of the known.

That's what Anne is talking about here. That's what I'm feeling now, three days before official spring.

She says, "No spring is ever just like any other spring."

And that makes me wonder: what will be special about this spring? What do I hope for this spring {because of all the seasons, isn't spring the one most about hope}?


The fresh chill air was faintly charged with the aroma of pine balsam, and the sky above was crystal clear and blue—a great inverted cup of blessing.

"Spring is singing in my blood today, and the lure of April is abroad on the air. I'm seeing visions and dreaming dreams, Pris. That's because the wind is from the west. I do love the west wind. It sings of hope and gladness, doesn't it? When the east wind blows I always think of sorrowful rain on the eaves and sad waves on a gray shore. When I get old I shall have rheumatism when the wind is east."

"And isn't it jolly when you discard furs and winter garments for the first time and sally forth, like this, in spring attire?" laughed Priscilla. "Don't you feel as if you had been made over new?"

"Everything is new in the spring," said Anne. "Springs themselves are always so new, too. No spring is ever just like any other spring. It always has something of its own to be its own peculiar sweetness. See how green the grass is around that little pond, and how the willow buds are bursting."

17 March 2011

how i know spring is coming

I know spring is coming because:

I slept with the windows open last night.

A bird woke me up. Actually, several birds. Now I'm imaging how frightening it would be to actually be awoken by a bird and not just by birdsong. Like one that pecked its way through your screen and then perched on the foot of your bed, staring until you woke up. I think The Birds and "The Raven" have ruined me for enjoying birds. {My experience with the robins on my balcony last year didn't help, either, but that doesn't mean I wasn't still smiling when I woke up this morning to birdsong.}

When I took little pug on her morning walk, I didn't wear gloves, and what a beautiful moment it was. Miss Daisy didn't seem as thrilled by this, probably because she never has to wear gloves.

And I know it's almost spring because of these things:

Gentle, golden morning light through sparse trees

Fresh greens—and little petals of white

Flower shoes {aka, shoes that are more stylish than practical}

16 March 2011

the possibility of belonging

"Route 66 Museum—Exit Now"
and so we do.
Off the rainy interstate that was once
part of Route 66
{Get your kicks on}
but now
it has no rhyming slogan, no
jazzy tune and
looks like every other interstate in America:

a concrete slab
an industrialized yellow brick road
zipping us away from where we belong
at 65mph, cars and people
propelled so fast to the Next Place
hardly seeing where we are
right now,
I step from the car
into the rain.

For once in this almost-spring of March,
it's raining, not snowing.
Spring drops on my head
I drink spring by the gulpful as I
step into the truck stop,
which is full of people who do not belong.

We are all neither here nor there.
We are the In Betweens
but the flickering fluorescent light
gives us a flat pallor
of same togetherness.

For just a moment,
we all belong here:

to the restaurant serving country fried steak
with a side of being called sweetheart by a waitress we've never met
to the aisles of candy bars and saturated fat we know we shouldn't have
to the lottery tickets and to the oversweet coffee.

The Route 66 Museum turns out to be a hallway.
Pictures and maps, framed cheaply
and hung crookedly, some of them.

In one of them, a woman wears a pillbox hat
holds a Coke
leans on a car with fins and chrome
stares at the cars blurring past on the road.

I want to say to her,

"Isn't it something that you were once here
and now I am?
That once, for just a moment,
you belonged here, too?"

And when you get right down to it,
the possibility of belonging anywhere
for just a moment or
for a life
is something.

It sure is, sweetheart.

15 March 2011

springtime for...

Today, I begin my spring countdown.

While running this morning—on the indoor track {darn you time change and making it dark again at 6am}—I was thinking about songs that make me feel springy.

And this one came to mind: "Springtime for Hitler." I didn't want it to come to mind. And then get stuck there. I wanted something more about fields of flowers or the excitement of new growth in the spring.

I wanted something, you know, charming and appropriate for Disney.

But no, I get this song from The Producers. I know it's tongue-in-cheek. I know that's the point of it. But do you ever want to be asked, as you sprint around the track, "What is that you're humming? Such a fun tune!"

And then you have to answer, "Oh, it's 'Springtime for Hitler'. It's catchy, isn't it? The tune, I mean. I don't actually mean the concept of Nazism. No, that I'm against. Shall I sing some of it for you?"

Springtime for Hitler and Germany,
Winter for Poland and France...

Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Deutschland is happy and gay!
We're marching to a faster pace
Look out, here comes the master race!

I have tried all day to replace this song. But now, here I am about to go home to make tater tot casserole, and I'm still singing about Hitler. This is not a problem I ever thought I'd have.

For fun: a video! I've never put a video in here before, and it annoys me that whoever posted this video on YouTube made a typo in the title. That is not my doing. My doing is making you think about Hitler on a lovely almost-spring day.

You're welcome.

14 March 2011

dancing with the daffodils

He showed up at the precisely appointed hour. Right on the dot. If I had a chiming grandfather clock, it would've been chiming. Six o'clock.

I have come to expect this, but I did not expect daffodils.

In my mind, I quickly thought: Did I tell him that I love daffodils? That I rarely fight the urge to buy them every time I see them? That I once sat in a field of daffodils in Belgium at Easter time?

Did I tell him that daffodils make me happy, just by their yellowness? Did I mention the Wordsworth poem?

In my mind, I was smiling this huge, silly grin because I wasn't sure I had told him all that, but here he was, standing with a vase of daffodils on my doorstep. My spring flower. My happy flower. My dare-to-remember-that-it-can-be-warm-outside flower.

But apparently, my face did not smile.

Apparently, my face said: Oh dear Lord, what is that pitiful bouquet? Where are my two dozen roses, the overdone flower of affection?

But that is not it. That is not what I meant at all.

Face, get it together. Communicate what the rest of us is thinking and feeling. That's your job.

Now, looking at these daffodils on my dining room table—looking at them, my heart with pleasure fills / And dances with the daffodils.

That's from a poem, by the way. Which I'll just go ahead and put in here because I'm fairly rippling with excitement that spring is next week. Spring is less than a week away, actually. Spring is in six days. We should have a countdown.

And I have daffodils to remind me of this springtime goodness.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

08 March 2011

laissez les bons temps rouler

It's Mardi Gras, which means two things:
  1. {Technically, it means "fat Tuesday." I thought I should say that since I used the phrase "which means," as if I were going to give a definition, when in reality what I meant was "which is significant to me in these ways." What, should I not be so self-centered, to even talk about holidays (of sorts) as they relate to only me? This is my blog, after all. I can talk about whatever I want. I don't know why I'm arguing with you; you probably had no qualms with me to begin with but you may now. Now I've said I was going to tell you two things, but I've thrown in this parenthetical third thing.}
  2. Lent is coming! Lent is coming! Is it wrong to use exclamation points with Lent? That most somber time of the Christian year? {And are you thinking in your head, too, "The British are coming! The British are coming!"? Good. That's what I was going for.}
  3. I'm reflecting on my time in New Orleans around Mardi Gras a few years ago.

Yes. Me. In New Orleans during the Mardi Gras season. It wasn't the actual Mardi Gras day, but did you know that Mardi Gras is this multi-day event in New Orleans?

I didn't, but I learned it thanks to the US Air Force. I will explain.

My sister, who is in the Air Force, was told she had to move from Florida to California during a certain eight-day period in February 2009. I volunteered to drive across the country with Oesa and her husband and their little pug, and plotting out the driving days put us in New Orleans not on Mardi Gras, but in the week before.

Perfect, I thought. We'll miss the craziness. I was in charge of hotel reservations all the way across the country, and I learned of this Mardi Gras season on every phone call I made to a New Orleans hotel.

The call inevitably went like this:
Me: Hi, I'd like to book a room for one night for this day in February that is so not Mardi Gras, so I'm sure it won't be a problem.
Hotel Reception Lady: Oh, honey. Honey, honey, honey. We're booked up. It's the season.
Me: Do you mean spring? Wow, up here in Chicago it's most definitely winter. Or do you mean "the season" like people in Jane Austen used to refer to that time that everyone had to spend in London? Because that just doesn't make sense.
Lady: No, darlin'. {I love Southern women, and I will let them use all their terms of endearment on me.} It's Mardi Gras, of course.
Me: Lady, I go to a liturgical church. I know when Ash Wednesday is. And I took French in high school, so I learned that Mardi Gras is the day before Ash Wednesday. We're not coming on those days. That'd be crazy.
Lady: {Sighing at my sheer Northerness and lack of understanding.} No, honey. In New Orleans, we celebrate Mardi Gras for days, darlin', days. You should've called months ago to get a hotel room. Bye now, sweetheart.
Me: Oh. I suppose this is an unhelpful time to mention that we also need a pug-friendly room. You don't have any rooms. Let alone ones that like pugs.

So. The Air Force, which sent my sister across the country from one warm climate to another, basically handed me this Mardi Gras lesson: make hotel reservations months in advance.

I was imagining us, baby pug included, sleeping on a Mardi Gras float, beads draped over us to hide us from the crazy party people and the police.

I thought of camping out on the Mississippi River, something my sister and I were experienced in, having grown up on the river, but this was a different part of the river and I didn't know where all the good sandbars were, let alone how we'd get there in our non-aquatic Hondas.

I called 23 hotels. And 23 kind Southern ladies reminded me in their gentle accents that I should've done a better job of planning.

But then I called Hotel Number 24 {not its real name}. And that lady said, "Well, of course we have a room for you and your little pug! And we're just a block away from the French Quarter, so convenient for you!"

And that's how I ended up in New Orleans during the Mardi Gras season of 2009.

Here's a picture of me with some beads I got during the parade we watched. I don't know why I'm covering my face like that. New Orleans makes you do out-of-character things.

Did you know that you don't have to flash anyone to get those beads? Turns out they just throw them from the floats.

This was both disappointing and reassuring to me. {Oh! Not because I wanted to flash anyone. Heavens, no. But because it made me think: what other stories do we all believe to be true but are really just told for the tourists?}

All you have to do to get beads in New Orleans during Mardi Gras is remember all the skills you learned as a kid at 4th of July parades. Elbows out, and don't forget to look on the ground when the other kids are busy jumping up to try to catch candy.

This is true, this non-flashing thing. I'm not saying it to cover up some sort of shameful, wild New Orleans night. In fact, you can read all about our night in New Orleans here, on the blog we kept on our way across the country.

07 March 2011

the dixie chicks, they speak to me

Yesterday, my iPod was on shuffle as I sat in the armchair I got at a garage sale and did the Sunday crossword.

I will let you think it was the New York Times Sunday crossword.

Mixed in with musicals and French music on my iPod is a lot of folk and a little country. The Dixie Chicks came on—and even though I have heard their songs hundreds of times and listening to them takes me back to high school and early college—I stopped the crossword and listened like it was the first time.

They sang:
We're afraid to be idle
So we fill up the days
Run on the treadmill
Keep slaving away

I was trying to be idle yesterday. Doing the crossword, taking time to cook a slightly fancy lunch, taking a long walk with my little pug. I was trying, but I still felt restless.

So I put down the crossword, hit repeat on the iPod, and sat. I just sat. I was idle.

04 March 2011

wick: the secret garden

This morning smelled like spring. And what does spring smell like but damp promise?

Not dampened promise, mind you.

But on a morning like this, I think of The Secret Garden and Dickon calling things wick as he showed Mary the green inside a branch in the garden.

Just thinking about that story makes me want to wear a dress with a pinafore and climb over a garden wall, but I bet the whole experience wouldn't be as charming without a Dickon of my own.

Also, there aren't really garden walls in Glen Ellyn.

I should also adapt an English accent in this scenario and sing-song, "Oh, it is wick!"


What a word {when not being used in association with candles}. I think we should bring it back, along with mayhaps and perchance.

Wick is twigs that bend but do not break. It's rain showers when it's in the low 40s, and it's the squishing sound when you step on the grass. Wick is also the feeling of muddy water getting into your shoe.

Wick is the smell of spring, and this morning I breathed deeply, even though it was pouring. I breathed in spring and its very wickness.


Related Posts with Thumbnails