What I've Been Into - Winter 2014

Hi everybody,

Hope this finds you some place warm, although that's unlikely, as so much of the U.S. has been plunged these last months deepdeep into unending Polar Vorti (plural for vortex?). So cold! So much snow! I haven't seen drifts like this since I was a young girl passing through the prairie town of Marshall, Minnesota, staring out the car window open-mouthed at snow blown as high as rooftops. We have been making lots of soup and drinking lots of tea, and I have given up on professional shoes and wear boots to work. This chill, though, does have its benefits, namely its insistence that one curl up under covers once the baby toddler has gone to sleep and read ones way through stacks of books. This is my story season. The outside world may be a white canvas, but the color these pages take me to. In this time of my life of no to Costa Rican road trips, words can be wheels and wings, both. 

  1. Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez --A perfect pairing with this season. Two things: I am in awe of Lopez's brain and I am in awe of Eskimos.
  2. On Looking: Eleven Walks With Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz -- Particular and quirky and truly eye-opening. This wasn't a page-turner for me, but it wasn't written to be. Instead it's a meditation, and especially lovely to open up if you want to be reminded of all the things we miss when we're too busy to slow down.
  3. The Iliad by Homer -- Andromache saying goodbye (forever) to Hector while holding their baby boy? Quite the emotional read for me this time through...
  4. When We Were On Fire by Addie Ziermann -- Ziermann is a local author and blogger, so I enjoyed reading about the transformation of both her faith and herself, specifically since it's steeped in a 90's culture I can easily recall.
  5. Everything Matters! by Ron Currie -- Didn't finish this one. I was interested in and respected what Currie was trying to do, but I'm just not quite at a point in my life where I want to think about a little boy who thinks too much  about the ultimate destruction of the world.
  6.  The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer -- Although I still found myself a little annoyed by yet another story line that takes place along the hallowed avenues of NYC (another reason why I need to write a book!), I was intrigued by Wolitzer's characters, and definitely appreciated the way they noticed things ("straw noise!").
  7. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie -- I always love what Adichie writes, and this story in particular pulled me in. She's writing about race, and the immigrant experience, but she's also writing about what it means to be young and forging ones way through early adult life. Mostly about race, though. And she poses important points for reflection and discussion.

TV and Movies:
  1. Game of Thrones, Season 3 -- First of all, Dire Wolves actually existed, and second of all, The Red Wedding?!?!?!?!
  2. Downton Abbey, Season 3 --  :(
  3. House of Cards -- We are Netflix people. And love Kevin Spacey.
  4. Dexter, The Final Season -- Nothing can quite match Breaking Bad for me.

  1. "The Act of Writing: Speak and Bear Witness" by Erik Reece -- A fascinating and heartbreaking piece about mountaintop removal in Kentucky. I don't know him, but I like Erik Reece. I've read several of his essays now that resonate with me.
  2. "The Inner Landscape of Beauty," Krista Tippett interviews John O'Donohue -- Yes, please. 
  3. "Soda vs. Pop vs. Coke: Mapping How Americans Talk" -- This reminded me of my essay from a few years ago.
  4. "Into The Woods" by Emily Bazelon -- Forest kindergarten? Sign Elliot up!

    1. Roads and Kingdoms -- "Journalism and travel, together at last."
    2. Brain Pickings -- a fabulous collection of eclectic trivia, literary connections and insights, and general cheer.
    3. Writing Minnesota -- Great project that brings together some fine Minnesota writer-minds.
    4. "The Wolves and the Ravens" by local band Rogue Valley -- beautiful, beautiful song.
    5. Mika Estaa and Saunas are Hot -- One of my dear college friends is on a Fulbright in Finland; the first blog is hers, the second is her husbands (which includes amusing videos of the both of them jumping into Finnish lakes in January in giant red wetsuits).
    6. Toblerone -- As in, I find it in my desk at work, pop a triangle in my mouth, and the stress...just...melts...
    7. SmartWool -- Seriously, somebody from this company send me a set of your socks, and I will write a moving, ardent essay about how much I love them. LOVE THEM! 
    So that's where my mind has been. You? What have you been reading, friends? What content online deserves some serious perusing? And any writers/readers/teachers with Twitter feed recommendations? I'm slowly s l o w l y s  l   o  w   l  y  figuring out  how that strange and sometimes sweet place works. A shout-out to Carly Gelsinger for welcoming me there with such kindness.

    Happy MARCH, everyone. May it be full of bright buds and birdsong. (Yeah, right.)



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    2. Thanks for sharing your list of such awesome finds, posts, etc. I've now got about 12 open tabs on my screen waiting for me to get to them! Love the song by your local band, too. And of course, Barry Lopez. Ahhh, in a way I hope winter continues a bit longer. Just kidding! It's been a brutal one for you folks in the midwest and back east. "Bright buds and birdsong" soon!

      1. Ohmygoodness, SPT, please: not even jokes about more snow. I keep on looking out the windows expecting to see green. Alas! It will come eventually.

        Glad to have you checking out some of the links! Although it's easy to get lost online, it can be full of some pretty great things.

    3. Emily:

      I can always count on you for an inviting piece of writing. I have read all of Barry Lopez, including Arctic Dreams the year it was published. You may also like Rick Bass. This winter I could walk across the Lake Michigan ice, through Wisconsin, and see you in Minnesota, but the snow's too deep to find you. Soon, we will both be writing about the glorious spring.


      1. Glorious spring, indeed! It was 45' here today and we hardly knew what to do with ourselves. Right now I can hear water melting and streaming off of the roof in thin fast lines, and it sounds like something from my dreams.

        Stay off the ice...at least until next year!

    4. I'm just now getting around to getting caught up with my favorite reads, and this is a wonderful collection of links. "Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes" appeals to me, as you might imagine. I'm going to check that one out. It reminds me of a piece in the NYTimes a few years ago, about a fellow who undertook a blockathon - walking around and around and around his residential block in Brooklyn (or the Bronx - can't remember) day after day.

      I read the soda/pop/coke piece - great fun. You might find it interesting that a friend who became deaf as an adult, and who learned to lip read, can pick out dialects. It's a slightly different issue, but related and fun.

      I've never eaten a piece of Toblerone. Ever. Perhaps I should remedy that? And as for Twitter links - two of the things I've eliminated from my life for Lent are Twitter and the Drudge Report, but I can tell you about Beyond Survival in a School Library, which is one of my favorites. Her posts are short and sweet, and they'll increasingly be of interest to you as your toddler (!!!) grows.

      As for wool - well, how about some buffalo socks? I had no idea that buffalo fur (apart from the hide) is useful, but it is. I just finished a two-part post about the creatures, and I'm unnecessarily proud of myself. I wasn't sure I could keep control of a narrative for nearly 4K words, but I did - and people stuck with me. Hooray for pushing the limits a bit. We all need to do it - which is why I love these gthering posts of yours so much.

      1. Linda, first of all: no Toblerone?! Yes, remedy that ASAP and get back to me in, oh, a few weeks after you've come down from the chocolate clouds of heaven. And although I won't do it justice with this comment, I loved your buffalo essays. I have many memories of the animal throughout my childhood, and imagine any socks made by them would be quite comforting. :)

        Thanks for your generous thoughts, here.I do hope you find "Eleven Walks." It seems like something you could have written!

    5. Naturally I'm a huge Arctic Dreams fan. The first authentic writing about the Inuit was by Farley Mowat. He wrote many books on these topics both fiction and nonfiction. Barry Lopes writes beautifully, does he not? Such great descriptions and heart felt observations. Loved your reading list. I'll have to try some of these.

      I'm rereading Louv's Last Child in the Wilderness. Should be a mandatory read for all parents. Have a great March Emily. I hope you and your family are doing wonderfully!

      1. Bill, I had a hunch that Barry was a friend of yours. I bet you two could pass the time on some lake ice together quite easily. And although I follow Louv on Twitter and have of course heard of his book, I haven't yet read it. On my list, though! Perhaps some good summer fare. Right now I am deep into continuous readings of "I love you, Stinky Face." :)

    6. I'm heading into winter here in Australia, so I need a list of good winter buddies and must haves, thank you!




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