Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Freedom




I am reading Freedom without having ever read The Corrections. There, I am admitting it now. I pretty much adore Franzen's essay collections, which I have read, so when I read all of the reviews about the new book out today, I couldn't say no. It just seems appropriate to read presently, the same way The Suburbs by The Arcade Fire seems appropriate to listen to.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Updates

Apparently, the people of Arizona (or more accurately, 23% of the Republican Primary voters in Arizona) are even dumber than I thought. Even with that ridiculously poorly written, hysteria inducing commercial, somehow Ben Quayle pulled out the win in Arizona last night. Crazy people, who lack the ability to write a cogent 30 second campaign spot, rejoice!

Second, unrelated update: A while ago, I mentioned that the article Amanda and I wrote was accepted for publication. It finally has been published, and it was reviewed today on the Law Librarian Blog. Since the review wasn't humiliatingly terrible, but instead was rather positive, I thought I would mention this.

Danish, please











I love the Danes. I have never been there, but right off of the bat, Denmark immediately invokes images of things that I love - Isak Dinesen stories and cheese Danishes. You can add another thing to that list - great clothes. One of the best parts about shopping in the EU is the availability of stores carrying Danish designers. Fortunately, the first day in Madrid we found a boutique called Yube that carried both Bruuns Bazaar and by Malene Birger. Unfortunately, I had to limit myself to just one item, because it was late in the trip and we had already spent too much money. I really wanted a dress, and as it turns out, the one that I thought was more appropriate for Spain wasn't by either of these designers. I am slightly regretting that decision. Both both brands are very hard to find in the States. And it really is a shame, because both designers have great stuff at fairly reasonable prices in Euros and British Pounds. Bruuns Bazaar even has a lower price point line called, BZR from which I just ordered this dress online -
I wish someone would sell these designers in boutiques here. In the meantime, I guess I need to start planning a return trip to the EU (or maybe even Denmark itself?) so that I can satisfy my Danish fashion desire.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Because 2010 will be a bloodbath of biblical proportions..."

When you are faced with economic news as grim as what we heard today, I think that the only sane reaction is to laugh. Who wants to cry at a funeral, after all, and every day it seems like every economic indicator points to the fact that the U.S. economy is on life support right now.

Maybe it just feels particularly grim to me, because we are one of the five people in America who actually bought a house in July. Now, I am all stressed out thinking that we did a horrible job with bargaining with the sellers, and I wish that I would have had this sort of information going into the bargaining process because I certainly would not have let those sellers get away with not wanting to bargain at all. Nope, we would have just walked away and bought another house and those obstinate sellers could have sat on their house like every other person in America trying to sell. Don't get me wrong, I love our house, but man, we should have held out for a better price and at the very least, pointed out that the tax credits expired so they should be offering us more incentives to buy. I am the worst negotiator ever.

Don't say that we haven't done anything to help the economy.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cultivating a New Appreciation for Pork, Thanks to North Carolina

Last night I went to my first cooking class at my new favorite store in Chapel Hill, A Southern Season. For $45 I watched the chefs from Carolina Crossroads, the restaurant at the Carolina Inn, make and serve a delicious three course meal. Everything about it was wonderful. I loved learning about how they pick ingredients and who their local suppliers are. All three courses were wonderful, but the one that I appreciated the most, was the main course which used pork loin for its protein.

I will be honest. Pork has frightened me in the past. Aside from varieties of bacon and maybe some Carolina-style pulled pork bbq, I have done precious little with pork. The old campaign for pork as "the other white meat" only made me more skeptical of pork, and with good reason. According to the chefs at Carolina Crossroads, "the other white meat" campaign almost ruined pork by insisting on removing all of the fat and leaving it bland and tough. Fortunately, today's pork not only is full-flavored, but when purchased from a free-range pork farm (which happen to be found in abundance in North Carolina) is best eaten like a steak, at medium rare. Heavenly. Many new experiments with pork in my kitchen are in my future.

Interestingly enough, I just checked over at the current menu at Carolina Crossroads, and don't see pork on their summer entree menu. What's up with that? After they got me sold on their delicious locally-raised pork last night, why is it missing from their menu? Am I missing something? Is pork not a summer food?

Luckily, tonight we are trying out Four Square in Durham, that does appear to have local pork on their July/August menu.

As a side note, I love how so many restaurants here in the Triangle have some statement on their websites about their local suppliers. I never knew how much I would love actually knowing about the origination of the ingredients for your meal.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Move to North Carolina!

I am sorry that I am about to sound like an advertisement from the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce. I apologize in advance, but since I assume that the only people who read this blog, are people to whom this advice applies (meaning, you are a person I like and would like for you to move to North Carolina), then I am telling you right now, move to North Carolina.

Why? Well, let me give you just a few reasons why I think you should consider it.

1. Big City Cultural Attractions, Small Town Prices! Just look at the lineup of artists coming to perform at Carolina and Duke this year. For dance we have the Alvin Ailey and Merce Cunningham dance companies performing. In terms of classical recitals, there are so many options. I already have tickets to hear the St. Petersburg Philharmonic and Alisa Weilerstein perform my FAVORITE (ever) Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1. In the fall, how about some Mahler with the Mariinsky Orchestra? Maybe you want some chamber music. Well, why not try an evening with the Kronos Quartet?

2. Going along with those great performances, North Carolina is the perfect locale for some non-annoying, real good country music and bluegrass, like Earl Scruggs and the Red Clay Ramblers. It is the perfect accompaniment for a place where you can really feel down home.

3. If you like bluegrass and feeling Southern in a Junior League sort of way, then, why not enjoy the Carolina Inn when they host Friday Nights on the Front Porch, all summer long (and even in the spring and fall)?

4. A Southern Season. This is quite possibly my new favorite store in the world. In addition to the wonderful culinary offerings ranging from a delicious in store bakery and deli to every possible cooking related gadget that you ever could need, they also offer cooking classes from great chefs near and far. I am going to a class tonight, for example (more on this in a different entry). What is on the menu? How about chili-lime shrimp, cucumber & jalapeno salsa, farmers' market yellow tomato gazpacho, hickory nut gap farms pork chop, mama's southern cornbread dressing, and many other things.

5. In case you aren't hungry yet, this area is renown for having great restaurants for its relative size. The New York Times recently profiled Durham for its delicious local foods movement.

6. Local Foods! I think North Carolina is ideally situated if you really want to be a part of that from farm to table movement. Carborro has one of the best farmer's markets in America. Just look at the number of local farmers that sell at its market! You can buy anything from fresh, grass-fed beef,to strawberries, to "heritage bred" pork, to dorper lambs from farmers who are given awards based on their efforts at soil conservation. I don't think it is possible to find better ingredients anywhere else.

6. The weather. One reason that we have such a great range of locally produced farm products is the ideal North Carolina climate. Sure, it is hot and humid here, but where is that not the case on the East Coast? I guarantee you, I speak from experience when I say heat and humidity is a lot more bearable here in North Carolina than it is in New York City or the District. We have beautiful trees, and blessed shade. Furthermore, my screened-in back porch is a great place to read and contemplate during the welcomed relief of the afternoon thunderstorm. Knightley and I love it.

7. I could go on and on about the lower cost of living, the good school districts, the civility of the people, the ability to see some great college athletic contests, the availability of tennis, swim, and even golf clubs, the proximity to the mountains and beautiful beaches, but do I really have to? Come on, just move here already.

I love North Carolina. It is great to be closer to family and there are some great people here, but the only thing missing from this place is you - the person reading this blog entry. It would be so much more fun with that addition!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Revisiting Rejection, Courtesy of Angela Chase

Last night I watched a couple of episodes of My So-Called Life with Sarah and a few of her friends. We of course, watched the "Boiler Room" episode, the perfect moment, of which I have spoken of in the past. Watching it this time, though, gave me a different impression. I realized that the happy hand-holding scene at the end didn't relate at all to any formative moment of my adolescence. Rather, this scene, earlier in the episode did:






Rejection. The pain and anger that Angela displays on her face after Jordan callously tells her, "You are kinda crowding me," that is what I remember from my prolonged adolescence.

I say prolonged adolescence, because in high school, I didn't date or have boyfriends. I kissed an assortment of boys, but only one of them did I kiss on more than one occasion, and he was nothing approaching a boyfriend. So although, I experienced rejection in high school, it wasn't the heart-stopping, throat swelling, can't get out of bed the next morning kind until I went to college. I was a late bloomer, so it figures that "your kinda crowding me" moment came much later than Angela Chase's. But I did fall in love in an Angela loves Jordan kind of way in college and found myself behind the Morris Center, the same way Angela was in the boiler room, only, I didn't get my hand-holding, music swelling moment at the end of an episode. I just got dumped. Like Angela Chase, I was pretty sure, at the time that I could turn a makeout into a meaningful relationship (or that, even more hopefully, it was an indication that I already was in one). Angela was a victim of the high school repeat Non-Committal Make Out (NCMO), but she got her happy ending, one that made girls swoon even decades later. I got the make-outs and the Sunday night, that "made you want to kill yourself" inevitable emotional overreaction, when I ultimately realized that no such meaningful relationship was intended on the other party's end.

I think that is why all of us can derive such simple satisfaction from still seeing the happy ending. Because who in real life had that? Angela Chase conquered the beast that the rest of us failed to do - turning an obsession from a distance, into the non-committal make-out, into rejection, into hand-holding in the hallway. Sure, she got dumped in the next episode because she wouldn't have sex with Jordan and he later slept with her best friend, but she got the series finale happy ending. Or rather, she got the love-letter, written by her nerdy neighbor, Brian, who was tutoring her "rudimentary reader with low literacy skills" object of her affection, but signed by Jordan, which led to a hallway makeout, and the ambiguous drive-off at the end of the episode after she realized Brian wrote the letter in the first place. But she did get the Jordan loves Angela ending, that was pretty unambiguous. That is what made Angela Chase every girl's hero. She successfully took a situation where she was the one who thought non-stop about someone else, seemingly way out of her league, but turned it into a situation where he wanted to be with her more at the end of the day. I am sure, out there somewhere, there is still fan fiction devoted to the Angela/Jordan cause for that very reason.

However, what made her seem easy to relate wasn't her ultimate triumph, but rather, being rejected, again and again and again. Of course, that is also her greatest indictment; because Angela Chase made us all think that even after public humiliation and rejection, we still had another chance. We failed to move on, because we were quite sure that there was something more we could do, something more we could say to turn around the Jordan Catalanos of our lives. We thought that with dogged persistence, even when faced with continual rejection, we too could conquer. Some girls took it too far and stalkers were born. For the rest of us that didn't have underlying mental health issues, it nonetheless meant having to face down multiple rejections from the same person, without the realistic likelihood of Angela's eventual happy ending, long after we should have just moved on.

Thankfully, when I was done with law school, I finally graduated from my prolonged adolescent Angela Chase view of the world, and realized all previous rejections from presumed Jordan Catalanos were final, and instead I was finally able to take a more practical view of things.

One season of a well-written, perceptive show can just take awhile to forget.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Same Story

I hoped that after Mayor Bloomberg so beautifully defended our constitional principles regarding freedom of religion last week, that we would finally get some relief from the talking heads who spoke out against the Islamic community center and mosque that is to be built two blocks from Ground Zero in an old Burlington Coat Factory. I guess I was wrong. Today, to my dismay, Harry Reid came out against the mosque. I realize that he is facing a tough re-election battle with Sharron Angle, who quite possibly is one of the most loud-mouthed obnoxious people on the planet. Nonetheless, it makes me sad, because Harry Reid, of all people, should know better. I guess he feels like he has to pander, but I wish he would have some principle.



Instead of following Harry Reid's example, let's follow the example of this Christian ethicist, Dr. David P. Gushee, who explains clearly in this Huffington Post editorial why we should be opposing a religious group building a house of worship where they own property. I just am in shock that supposedly religious people could so easily ignore the rights of another religious group. As a member of a religious minority, I feel very strongly that I must stand for the religious rights of other religious minorities. I must defend their right to worship as valiantly as I would defend my own.



Furthermore, I am tired of hearing the justification of people who believe that it is okay to ask this religious group to move somewhere else, because other people, who purported to share the same faith committed an unthinkable crime against other human beings two blocks away. Why do the worst among them get to define the parameters of a faith? Most Muslims would like to distance themselves entirely against the terrorists who committed that atrocity. The members of this particular group have spoken out numerous times against those terrorists. I don't want to be identified with Mormons who have committed crimes in the supposed name of their religion. All religions have had violent acts perpetrated in their supposed name, and yet, all religions preach peace at their foundation. Perhaps, if we allowed people the freedom to worship and didn't turn everything into an "us against them" conflict, there would be fewer acts of terror committed in the name of religion. Standing in the way of people's rights to worship at places that they find meaningful does nothing to promote understanding and peace. Rather, it heightens others' fears that we don't view rights the same way for all people. That kind of distinction is from what I thought our Constitution was meant to protect.

More of the same story - how much I love Mayor Bloomberg as a politician.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Shrugging my Shoulders

Article in the Salt Lake Tribune about the "resurgence" of Mormon feminism. The article was prompted, at least in part, by this column from the Guardian newspaper, written by Tresa Edmunds, one of the bloggers over at Feminist Mormon Housewives.



I have been reflective lately of why it is that my sisters and I turned out the way that we did. Last night, while at a friend's house, Sarah was recounting her elementary school days, when laughing at the absurdity of a test question written about a balloon resulted in a trip to the Principal's office for some old fashioned corporal punishment. After being paddled, a friend of hers saw Sarah crying and asked, "Why are you crying Sarah? It didn't hurt that bad."



Sarah replied, "I know. I am crying because this is going on my permanent record." For Sarah, who in her free time drew up plans with two friends for their future law office they planned to open after attending Harvard Law School, the worst possible stain on childhood was a negative mark on the "permanent record" that would follow her all through her life.



At precisely the same time in my life, I was writing plays about saving manatees or dreaming about becoming a seismologist, after yet another viewing of National Geographic's Born of Fire. Over the next few years, those career ambitions would take one bizarre turn after another - ballerina, astronaut, writer, meteorologist, economist and one day chair of the federal reserve (after sometime in middle school I learned from watching Peter Jennings that some considered Alan Greenspan the most powerful man in Washington) geneticist, virologist, diplomat, before ultimately becoming what Sarah had envisioned for herself when she was in the fourth grade, lawyer (although, without the Harvard law degree).



The only hint, in my childhood, that becoming whatever I wanted to be when I grew up might be seen negatively within my faith came when I was in Primary about the time I was in fourth grade. I was in my very specific goal phase in that at that time my career ambition was to one day be a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. That was exactly my reply when I was asked one Sunday in Primary what I wanted to be when I grew up. "Don't you want to be a mother?" was my teacher's gentle reply.



"No," I answered emphatically. "Ballet dancers cannot have children during their career otherwise they will get fat." I will never forget the look of disappointment and failure that crossed my Primary teacher's face. (If my Primary teacher could see me now, I am sure she would have the last laugh because as it turns out, I didn't become a ballet dancer, still got fat, and did it without having any children.)



In my household, I never felt like my ambitions or my sister's ambitions were expected to be more modest because we happened to lack a Y chromosome. In middle school, sometimes the other kids who didn't like me (who were many, if not most, of my peers) would tease me and call me a "feminist" meaning something very naughty and undesirable, but it didn't affect me. It wasn't until I became a student at BYU that I felt like I had to claim the term for myself, while at the same time remaining somewhat ambivalent about it. I went to the VOICE meetings once or twice (I have no idea what that acronym stood for), but those meetings just mostly caused me to shrug my shoulders about how affected everyone was acting.



It was the same reaction that I had last week as I attended the Relief Society in my new ward here and the first question anyone asked me, when I was supposed to be introducing myself was, "How many children do you have?" I shrugged my shoulders. In my new Relief Society, full of the wives of graduate students who are busy reproducing, I probably will just be shrugging my shoulders a lot, because I just don't get it and I know that more likely than not, they won't get me. But, that isn't the point.



When I read these articles, and when I look at the Feminist Mormon Housewives blog, it starts to become more clear what I don't get. I don't understand, why everyone is so obsessed with this whole gender business as it relates to the church. In the political world at large, I am completely supportive of feminist causes. I believe in gender equality at work, paid maternity leave policies, and even am probably more pro choice in a political sense than most of my Mormon peers. But at church, I just don't get it. I don't understand why we have to put labels on something when it comes to women and religion. I just long for the simplicity of childhood perhaps, when Sarah could obsess about her permanent record and I could blissfully study earthquakes and feel like those choices didn't signify anything in a religious context. We could just do what made us happy without concern for what those choices would mean to others in our religious community. The more people put labels or make these grand statements about what the proper role of "women in the church" should be, the more I feel like this obsession with gender will ensure that we never really are equal one way or another.

Women within the church are guilty of judging the lives of others, things that are by choice, by accident, by necessity, or by misfortune. I shrug my shoulders, because frankly, I just don't want any part of that, and where these days it seems like everything is politicized, I just feel like a policy of non-participation is best.

What I mean is this, I long ago realized that I don't go to church to prove anything to anyone else. I go, because I feel like that is where I am supposed to be on Sunday. I go, because in my faith, I recognize that Sunday worship is a commandment. If, when I am at church, I learn anything new or meet anyone fascinating, then that is just a bonus. In other words, I have long ago reconciled myself in my faith to know that most matters of a spiritual nature are personal and internal to me, and what I get from other people is just a bonus. Therefore, I no longer get offended when someone says something overtly political at church with which I don't agree. I don't get offended when someone, out of ignorance of the larger world or the lives of others, says something offensive. I just shrug my shoulders. And, if I hear a fantastic talk or meet someone wonderful, like I did on many occasions in the Capitol Hill Ward in D.C., then all of that is just gravy on top of the fact that I am there because I need to be there.



So what does that have to do with the whole idea that Mormon feminism is coming back into vogue? Well, it has to do with this - I don't get why we as Latter-day Saint women have to seek out all of these affirmations of our self-worth. I feel like that in seeking it out, that is another way we are telling ourselves that something must be wrong with ourselves from the start. I know the times in my life when I felt like I had to hear reassurance from others, whether it be from the pulpit on Sunday or from a guy I was dating on a Friday night, it was because I felt lacking in myself. I don't view it as a coincidence, that in my life, when I was looking for those kinds of reassurances, both types of reassurances were what I needed at the same time.



I realize, some people aren't like me. Some people like have communities in the blogging world, like Feminist Mormon Housewives, where the feel like they can go for support and seek comfort in like-mindedness. I don't mind just working things out on my own, and then maybe having a face to face discussion with a few select people with whom I trust. Thankfully, I have never been popular, so I have never known the distinct misfortune of having to seek wider approval for what I think and who I am. I have always been fortunate enough to be able to be polite and pleasant to the larger world, while sharing my thoughts with relatively few people who mean a lot to me at a particular time and place. Even for those people who may not always be in my present life, but with whom I felt a kinship at a time and place, they always will be beloved by me for that reason. But all of that is just gravy, too. It doesn't change the fact that even in the absence of people with whom I may speak aloud my thoughts, it doesn't means that I am not validated as a person. I just shrug my shoulders. Those are phases of life.



Don't get me wrong, I don't think that all of this is just a shrug inducing waste of time. I think it is quite worthwhile for Mormon historians to tell us great stories of Mormon women. I think it is important that Mormon scriptural experts try to illuminate stories of women in the standard works, because those are painfully absent. It would be nice for little girls to have some scriptural role models so that those songs like Book of Mormon stories might not be so devoid of female characters. Unfortunately, we don't have a lot of material to work from with the Book of Mormon (I know, I tried to write my freshman honors Book of Mormon paper on Women in the Book of Mormon and really had to stretch for material). So, I am all for rendering visible women within our religious community. I am in favor of celebrating all kinds of diversity within our religious community, do not mistake me on that point.



However, in addition to those things, wouldn't it be nicer if we didn't constantly needed to be told that we are okay? Wouldn't it be nice if we could just really believe that all of us are capable of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and working out our own salvation?

I am all for religious community as my favorite church memories all revolve around feeling a part of something larger than myself. But sometimes, I feel like that we mistake the larger point. Yes, it is great to be a part of a body of something larger than ourselves, but at the end of the day, these labels that we put on ourselves and each other do not matter one whit. At the end of the day, what matters is what are view of ourselves is and whether we can stand before God and be satisfied with our efforts. That is why it shouldn't matter at all if I am a virologist, seismologist, librarian, mother, or nothing at all. If my path makes me happy, then it is good. We can be whatever we want to be because at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the personal relationships that we have with Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father, and the people around us. What matters at the end of the day is if we have been anxiously engaged in trying to serve others without regard to status, nationality, political view, or pretty much any of those other temporary, human-made distinctions.

I don't know. I shrug my shoulders. It isn't apathy, though. It is a shrug of the shoulders because I don't think that these things shouldn't matter in an eternal, religious perspective.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Most Embarrassing Confession EVER

A long time ago, in a land far, far away, I used to have a crush on this dude:








Yes, that is right. When I was in high school, I had a crush on Dan Quayle's son, Benjamin Quayle (after, now this is even MORE embarrassing, reading and studying the photographs in Dan Quayle's book Standing Firm: A Vice Presidential Memoir). It is probably the most humiliating thing I could ever reveal about myself, considering that guy is running for Congress in Arizona of all places, and as it turns out, is probably one of the biggest d-bags of all time. I didn't keep up with Dan Quayle's kids much after high school as my politics took a turn in a different direction, but had I known that this kid went to Duke as an undergrad, it probably would have put an abrupt end to the crush right then and there (he also went to the high school in DC that David and I always joked that we would send our adult sons). Ben went on to marry a "Tiffany" which, most assuredly, makes much more sense in a Quayle universe. From the sound of things, if elected, he might be one sex scandal away from having to resign in disgrace before even elected. So, he is probably perfectly poised for victory in the most logical of states, Arizona.

(After all, that nonsensical commercial with a script of one short sentence after another, each that bears no relationship to the prior sentence, must only make sense in a state that elects officials who pass similarly nonsensical immigration laws. "Drug cartels in Mexico, tax cartels in DC, what's happened to America?" I'll tell you what has happened, Ben. People are so stupid that they could be persuaded by a commercial that links drug cartels in a different country with taxes in our country and then uses those two things as evidence of concern over what has happened to America. Bad writing in campaign commercials, Ben, that is what has happened. However, I am interested to see what your definition of "knocking the hell out of" Washington is. Does it involve physical violence? Do you make a grand display of punching the Capitol Building or maybe knocking Nancy Pelosi down while she is walking into the House chamber one day? How does a young Quayle go about "knocking the hell" out of something? Also according to Ben's logic, I guess that I must have been raised wrong, because I don't love Arizona. I would like to "knock the hell out" of it; only I don't think I could manage to punch that sheriff of Maricopa County, without getting arrested.)

Please don't judge me for my past indiscretion too harshly. I was fifteen years old, and I am the one that will have to live with the permanency of the various messages people wrote in my yearbook mocking my crush. Thankfully, my other high school crush, Dante Calabria, the North Carolina basketball player with the famed luscious locks of hair envied by Dick Vitale, is somewhat less humiliating.

The Relief of the Adagio

I read an interview from July 2009 with my old Congressional Representative from when I lived in New York, Carolyn Maloney, where she said this, "If I ever have stressful days, I'll close the door and I'll dance...The discipline of dance is very centered. The problem with a lot of these Republican leaders is that they have never done an adagio." It is no wonder that, for a long time now, Carolyn Maloney has been one of my favorite Washington politicians. That sentence said it all.** I try to avoid books written by politicians these days, but I agree with that sentence to such an extent that it might cause me to purchase her 2008 book, Rumors of Our Progress Have Been Greatly Exaggerated: Women's Lives Aren't Getting Any Easier -- And How We Can Make Real Progress for Ourselves and our Daughters. I might consider reading it even though I ordinarily object to ridiculously long titles, also.

Back to the dancing, I love Maloney's statement because it is the exact same reaction that I have to stressful situations. David keeps making fun of the fact that I keep telling him that we need to get window treatments for the first floor of the house because I would like to dance in relative privacy. Stress-relieving dancing is ONLY meant to be done in private. Dancing where others can see you immediately brings it back into the fold of stress-inducing activities.




**On an tangentially related point, Carolyn Maloney is one reason why my team is dominating my fantasy Congress league right now. With just a few weeks to go, the team Mr. Knightley's Neighbors is poised for a huge victory.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

For the Love of a Lamp


I have been so materialistic lately in these blog posts, that I am almost embarrassed to read these things. I promise, this will be the last post focusing on some object that I want to consume for some time (I am putting a gag order on myself from posting about consumer goods for at least a few weeks).
But this lamp, I want to possess! In order to get it, on Friday night, I am taking a trip to Mebane, NC to attend a gold old fashioned, small town auction. I am not an auction person. The last auction that I attended was a livestock auction in Mississippi with my Pa-Paw when I was nine years old. We convinced Pa-Paw to buy a couple of calves that we thought were pretty cute, and he bought us some boiled peanuts. It was great fun. I am not sure how a non-livestock auction actually works. Will there be boiled peanuts?
Auctions here are a really big deal. Apparently, the old timers don't like the young'uns, because they just ratchet up the price and then sell what they bought on E-Bay for an even higher price. In other words, those cute little lamps that you formerly could buy for a couple of bucks are now overpriced at auction because people buy them for a national, not a local audience. Damn Internet.
I want this lamp because it would look perfect in the girly guest room that I am designing inside of my head. I love its Art Nouveau swirls that brings me back to my Maxim's loving Gigi days. I want this lamp. I only hope that rural North Carolinians might not have the same affection that I do for all things resembling Parisian Metropolitan signs.

Where shall you find me?

Of all of our furniture finds over the weekend, this little table is my most favorite. I didn't become a librarian for nothing. I am sure that somewhere in my library school application I wrote the so trite librarian sentence, "I love books." When someone asks for what my aesthetic is in designing my ideal room, the main word that comes to mind is books, which isn't particularly descriptive or interesting in a design sense. My ideal room is nothing more than a place where I can be very comfortable reading for hours on end. This side table will sit by the couch in our sitting room/library and provide the perfect place for me to store all of the books that I am currently reading. I love that it's v shaped top puts all of the books in easy reach and for once and for all, should stop that stack of books from forming on my nightstand (that Knightley would of course, inevitable knock over).

Monday, August 09, 2010

Vacation Plans?

In case you missed the news, apparently David and I are trendsetters for vacation destinations for the First Lady. Except for the lunch with the King and Queen of Spain at their summer palace on Majorca (for some reason, that wasn't on our itinerary), it looks like much of their Southern Spain itinerary is nearly identical to ours. Ronda and Granada? I think that Michelle must be reading my blog...

Furniture Heaven

In case you ever need any reason to visit North Carolina, let me give you just one today - the furniture shopping. We spent Saturday in Jamestown, NC at Furnitureland South, the largest furniture retailer in the world. The facility is over 1 million square feet of furniture showrooms. It is entirely overwhelming. But if you are like us, and need good furniture and like some good bargains (everything is 30-75% off the retail price, and they usually throw in free shipping), then it is exactly the place to go.

Our consultant worked with us the whole day, which made the immensity of the place more manageable. We were able to focus down on the the styles that we liked and also finding the best quality materials in our price range. Although this may also be the place where Saudi princes come when they need to furnish their palaces and Michael Jordan needs to stop in on a Saturday afternoon for a new bedroom set (our consultant told us both stories), one on one consultants are happy to spend the day with ordinary people like us who may not have one million dollar budgets.

We are thrilled with our selections, even though they probably won't be delivered for a couple of months. We found things for a guest bedroom, sitting room/library (my favorite room, of course), master bedroom and dining room (David's favorite finds). Since we won't have these things for at least a few months, I can offer a little preview here.

Our sitting room and dining room items are from Bernhardt, a family-owned manufacturer that is headquartered in North Carolina. I fell in love with the new sitting room/library furniture that we found. In particular this chair:
And this couch:
David is in love with the new dining room. It is his favorite purchases of the day, in particular the table and the buffet. The table is made with "ecologically friendly elements". According to David's fantasy, that translates to him saying that our new dining room table is made from a "reclaimed barn door."


I don't think it is a barn door, but I love the idea of what this room will be for future family meals.

Friday, August 06, 2010

More Triviality Brought to you by Hollywood





I blame Gwyneth Paltrow, again.

This is the evidence of my consumer-driven obsession. Aside from those two perfume bottles tat you see there, the rest of those bottles and jars are skin care products for my face. Yes, I am a woman obsessed behaving the same way as those crazy French ladies that I read about in the New York Times, a few week ago. Most of my skin care products come from the Clarins skin care line, which is French. One thing I already miss is my monthly facial at the Clarins Skin Spa. Hiding out in my bathroom vanity drawers, I have even more products. These are just the ones that I use on a regular basis.

The quickest way to get me to spend too much money in a short period of time is to tell me about some great skin care product that I haven't tried. That is why last week's Goop newsletter drove me particularly crazy; because when Gwyneth Paltrow tells me that she swears by some anti-aging skincare product, then I think I have to have it. You know what? Gwyneth Paltrow does know better. Those Intelligent Nutrients Organic Anti-Aging Serum and Mist that she recommended are fantastic. They smell luxurious and make my skin feel soft. I don't really need them, because I still have two other kinds of serums that I am using, but that is the magic of Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop newsletter - She has the magical ability to make women with inferiority complexes spend unnecessary money under the illusion that they too can live like the wife of a rockstar.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

No Kids Here



Of all of the songs on The Arcade Fire's new album, this is the one that I cannot get out of my head. However, Half Light II (No Celebration) (you can listen to the album or selected songs at NPR ) is the one that I want to have stuck in my head. It isn't because that song is any more optimistic. Nope, it is just as sad. However, you can dance to it.



But let's just leave it at this, The Arcade Fire has now officially replaced Radiohead (which held this title since I was in the seventh grade, so it was overdue time to be dethroned), as the band who has the uncanny ability to release an album that absolutely sums up my life at that given moment in time. Take the song, "We Used to Wait," on the album, for example. It reminds me of the days when I used to write stacks of letters that I never had any intention of sending to people, just so I could get my thoughts out on paper. But now, I don't. It makes me think, like Win Butler articultates so perfectly, "Now our lives are changing fast/Hope that something pure can last." If only I could have expressed all of that in such a few, sparse words. Then, in Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) Regine so perfectly sings, "They heard me singing and they told me to stop/ Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock/These days my life, I feel it has no purpose/ But late at night the feelings swim to the surface." Who doesn't feel that way about being an adult on occasion, being forced to grow up and deal with the boredom that can sometimes accompany adult responsibilities?

Bravo.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

From Chaos to Order

Although, our dining room currently looks like this:


We are slowly making progress with getting settled. It just takes a little while, and recycling in Durham is only picked up every other week, making it difficult to get all of that wrapping paper that the movers used out of the house.
Knightley is enjoying familiarizing himself with the new digs. Here he is making sure that his scent is adequately permeating the new rug that Melissa and Jordan gave us for a house warming present.


We do have one room in the house that is basically organized - the screened in porch on the back. It is all thanks to Mom and Dad and their lovely housewarming gift to us of comfortable outdoor furniture. We have already enjoyed a meal or two outside, and when it isn't 100 degrees and August, we plan to spend a significant amount of time in this room.


It's Not All Ticks and Burglaries

In spite of the seeming negativity on the blog, I just want to emphasize that life in North Carolina isn't all crime and ticks (even though there was a deer tick crawling on my bathroom floor this morning...don't know how it got there). North Carolina is a beautiful place, and this is what I want to stress. If I don't stress that, then how will I convince people that they need to move here?

Look at how beautiful the roses are in our front yard, for example.


The best part is that these roses are ours, so we can clip them and bring all of their loveliness inside to display above the kitchen sink in the window.



A few little ticks are nothing at all when compared to such loveliness.

Know your Current Events

I haven't posted much on current events lately, but I did want to say something about the proposed mosque near the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. If you don't believe that the mosque should be built there, can I ask you to read two things? First, please read this column from the Atlantic Monthly about the Muslim group, The Cordoba Institute, that is building the community center and mosque in Lower Manhattan. Then read this Salon piece that reprints Mayor Bloomberg's beautiful speech about the fundamental right of religious freedom. If at the end of reading those two pieces, you still are against the mosque, then maybe you should do some reflecting about the glorious things that are the Constitution of the United States of America and the ability to live in a diverse, pluralistic society, where we all can hope to live our lives according to the dictates of our own conscience.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Ticks, Ticks, Boom

I am overly concerned because we found an enormous tick on Knightley this weekend. It was awful. I cannot get that image out of my head. North Carolina is a beautiful place, but the downside to all of those hardwood forests is that there is an insane number of ticks roaming around this place. These are ticks of all different breeds, many of which carry awful diseases like Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. After today, Knightley will be wearing a tick collar, because it is obvious that the flea and tick preventative that we are using just isn't strong enough. We will also be spraying the yard.

In other distressing, unrelated news, I read this article in the New York Times today about plagiarism and today's college students. I could go on and on about the many ways that the Internet has been both a blessing and the curse to research, but the easiness of cutting and pasting without attribution is certainly one curse. Of course, the question is whether it is the loosening of definitions of academic honesty that is the cause of this or whether the technology itself enables the disintegration of ethical standards. Either way, I once again have to shake my head and simply declare, "These kids today," in my most authoritative, elderly voice.