There is a line to be straddled between thinking ahead strategically to the future and living as if you might be hit by a bus tomorrow. When it comes to our relationships with family and friends, we most likely live on the hit-by-the-bus side of the line. When it comes to career choices, however, we may — practically and rightly — stand on the strategic, conservative side. But could we be happier living our entire lives on the bus side? Or do we need to keep straddling the line to provide appropriate balance?
Answers are most welcome.
My legs are indeed a bit sore from yesterday’s self-imposed half-marathon, but I did have a lovely, nine-hour dead sleep. The Little Bug and I just dropped Tim off at the airport (“This is what it would be like if I were at home all day, all the time!” I happily told him), and I’m actually quite thrilled at having a whole day in front of us, just me and her — without class, visitors, babysitters. We’re going to meet some friends from “baby group” for a walk around the Jamaica Pond, and then hopefully see our long-lost neighbors and friends, Erin and Annie, later this afternoon. The Little Bug is no longer really interested in napping, nor in sitting in her stroller (or, worse, the carseat), nor even really in crawling — all she wants to do is pull herself up to standing on whatever is nearby: the crib, the chairs, me.
P.S.: the Times is on to me — although apparently the key to having a blog that can translate into a six-figure book deal is original (interesting, non first-person!) content, as opposed to merely linking to other sites.
The sky this weekend has been deceiving: brilliant and bright, you might think that spring is actually here. But poor Little Bug froze when we hauled her out to the playground yesterday to swing. Today, however, was a perfect day for a long run, the last before next weekend’s half marathon. The river was calm and a clear blue, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I set out to do 12 miles, but miscalculated the distance, and hit 12 miles with still more than a mile to go before home. By that point, I just wanted to get home as quickly as possible, so I pounded out one more, which was good for my confidence, if not my legs — as long as it is not sleeting in southern New Hampshire next weekend, I know I can do it.
The weather today helped, as did the wind at my back for the last four miles and, of course, a great running “mix” on my iPod, orchestrated as carefully as I used to make tapes for my friends in high school, with precision-placed fast and slow songs, some cheesy dance tunes, some classics. I need up-tempo songs until I hit 45 minutes, then I can zone out for awhile, but the last half-hour needs to be songs I’d want to dance to. This list is for Ellen and Nell and Emily: may it give you inspiration as we count down to next Sunday!
“12 Mile Run”:
Free Bird — Lynyrd Skynyrd
Be Happy — Mary J. Blige
Someone to Love — Fountains of Wayne
Rock DJ — Robbie Williams
I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ — Scissor Sisters
Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It — Will Smith
Yeah! — Usher
That’s the Way it Is — Celine Dion
I’m Outta Love — Anastasia
Grey Street — Dave Matthews Band
Seasons of Love — Rent
Pride (in the Name of Love) — U2
Ja Sha Taan — Fun-Da-Mental
Family Affair — Mary J. Blige
You Know I’m No Good — Amy Winehouse
You Get What You Give — New Radicals
Little Heaven — Toad the Wet Sprocket
Move Along — The All-American Rejects
Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy) — Big & Rich
Every Day is a Winding Road — Sheryl Crow
Rockstar — Nickleback
Superstition — Stevie Wonder
Starlight — the Supermen Lovers
Stronger — Kanye West
Say You’ll Be There — Spice Girls
I Hope You’ll Dance — Lee Ann Womack (cool-down/walking song)
I have a recent obsession with interior design. By obsession I mean virtual obsession — I’m not actually redecorating my apartment. But I fall asleep at night imagining perfectly decorated rooms, and I have even started making lists (I love lists, remember?) of what I want for each room in this apartment, in the Milton condo (should I ever end up living there), and in some future home.
I’m not really all that artsy, either applied or academic (I am the one person who somehow graduated from college without taking Art History 101). But when I was younger, I used to keep spiral notebooks full of floor plans that I’d drawn for my dream homes. I couldn’t wait for the Sunday Times Magazine simply because of the ad section with the floor plans of Fifth Avenue penthouses. And I do sort of believe in feng shui (I’m know there’s a book about it shoved amidst all my dozens and dozens of yoga books that currently live in an old 1-800-diapers.com box in the closet). I appreciate the serenity and loveliness of a well-decorated home — it is applied, functional art.
I want a Sheila. Sheila is my mother’s friend and decorator, and over the past 20 years (yes, it’s true, Mom!) her name has become part of casual household conversation, as in, “Oh, Sheila dropped this off,” or “I’m having lunch with Sheila,” or “Sheila thinks this shade of bone is not peachy enough.” We love Sheila because she encouraged the evolution of my mom’s style from a rust-colored velour sectional (bought in 1980, the year Erin was born, and despite its dated color, is the most comfortable couch ever and was only removed from daily use two years ago, and is still in storage — I don’t think anyone can bear to actually get rid of it. If I could have it in my house right now, I WOULD. In addition, I recently saw a post extolling the non-cream-colored couch and specifically featuring orange couches…) to what I’d call nouveau chintz: chintz everywhere and anywhere. I loved it! I still love it. In Mom’s latest home, the style has morphed a bit more: jute rugs instead of floral needlepoint carpets, lovely bone walls instead of bright yellow, a cream-and-white bathroom instead of green and floral, and a dining room of salmon walls (and my favorite thing in the whole house: matching bird-toile curtains) instead of wide yellow-striped wallpaper. I do think my mom has wonderful taste, no matter which house (and there have been many) and which decade, and I’ve learned a lot from her (and Sheila!).
My personal, and I must say acute, interest in interior design, however, has emerged in the past few months. Nesting instinct? More likely, I think, a settling in: our home is an amalgamation of whatever Tim and I each owned before we moved in together. The only thing we have bought as a couple is the crib — perhaps I just want our home to reflect more than simply who we each were before. (When he reads this he’s going to point out all of his stuff that I “made him” lose when we moved in together. Still.)
Anyway, up until now, my decorating inspiration was to find a few matching fabrics for throw pillows which picked up the colors in the Pottery Barn rug. Thanks to the rather incestuous world of decor blogs, however, I am enlightened: Kelly Wearstler wallpaper (see the third image — thanks to Absolutely Beautiful Things), foo dogs, Lucite, Jonathan Adler, Madeline Weinrib rugs, mirrors, Saarinen tulip tables and the more accessible knock-offs from Ikea. Kartell ghost chairs. Symmetry. Etsy. Asian Chippendale chairs (see the first two images — thanks again to Absolutely Beautiful Things). Zebra print. Most of the design blogs reference the same magazines features and items and reflect what I’ve learned is a “Hollywood Regency” approach to interior decor. Where is my mother’s chintz (as tasteful as it is)? The antiques that are the (gorgeous) focal point of the decor of so many of my friends? (Are they just too WASPY — the antiques, not the friends. OK, the friends too…) Is shabby chic out? Where are the blogs devoted to Provencal-country?
Regardless. I am obsessed with these dozen or so blogs that do take up the bulk of my RSS feed. And with Domino magazine. Forget the chinz. And the toile. I want lacquered furniture, antique wallpaper, and a ghost chair at my parsons desk. I want subway tiles and a banquet in my kitchen. I want a sunburst mirror, drum shades, and those lamps with stacked, clear, bulbous glass bases. I want a tufted headboard and a tufted zebra-print ottoman. I want to be friends with all these women in the blogosphere, who meet up in places like West Texas to go thrifting together and then repaint and reupholster cane furniture, stencil retro prints to sell on Etsy, and interview each other for their blogs. I am not mocking; truly, I am envious. And once again I must ask: can people really make a living doing this?
Behold! Another list. My daily design blogs:
Apartment Therapy (cannot be put on an RSS feed because they post about 100 times a day. Fortunately, they have just decided to include a Boston correspondent. Yay!)
I popped up to Christopher’s in Porter Square last night to meet Lindsey and Alison for a quick sauv blanc (since LMR was there, on the rocks, natch) after “work.” It was a warm and lively night at Porter, and it made me miss living in Cambridge. Our conversation was fun and fast, and during its course, Lindsey urged me to share a few lists on my blog. What a good idea because, as it turns out, I love lists! (See someone who has cornered this blog niche, here.) As Lindsey and I lamented the fact that we are too ADD these days to actually read real books (Alison apparently is far too erudite to subsist on magazines, as we do), the first such list is the ridiculous number of magazines I consume each month. Tim gives me a hard time for this, but considering my vices are pretty much limited to Starbucks and magazines (wine is an elixir, not a vice), I would counter that it could be worse.
US Weekly (yes, I do subscribe to both…)
The New Yorker
Sports Illustrated (Tim gets this, along with half-a-dozen golf publications—one of which, Women’s Golf, is inexplicably addressed to me—but I actually do read portions of SI from time to time. I have always thought that sports writing can be some of the most creative and fun to read journalism.)
O at Home
PAW (I do read it! Every week!)
And then, if the cover happens to be intriguing that month, I’ll pick up at the grocery store or drug store:
Boston Magazine (I like to see what Boston freelancers are in there, e.g., Jeff Klineman)
Marie Claire (have a friend who is an editor there)
Metropolitan Home (have a friend who is an editor there)
Bon Appetit (to see if any of Amy’s pieces have made it in)
Entertainment Weekly (though I buy this less now that Troy has left)
Runner’s World (it’s true: I buy it when I need to get inspired)
I can justify some of this because I used to be in the “business” – I like to look at the mastheads and see who is doing and writing what. But I could and should cut back on the subscriptions. Fitness, for example, is a total waste. I also rarely read through Parenting, but for some reason get it for free (I think it came with a 1-800-Diapers.com membership?). And it’s not like I’m pulling recipes out of Cooking Light these days. But when a big, fat In Style, Domino, or Vogue appears once a month, I look forward to climbing into bed that night. And the weekly People and US Weekly delivery is like a martini in the mailbox – utter Friday night brain candy.
It’s been a busy few days in the Back Bay: family in town for Easter (which we celebrated on Saturday, just because…), the endless writing of papers (or, more accurately, not writing them, which is the problem), and the morphing of my placid, happy baby into a teething monster. Actually, I feel terribly sorry for her, as it must be awful to have sharp teeth smashing their way through your sore baby gums. Anyway, some of my six or so loyal readers have been wondering what has happened to my posts, so I’ll throw up a few quick things:
First, this story by Times wine columist (is there abetter job?) Eric Asimov asking whether or not he should introduce his teenage boys to wine at their dinner table. My friends who are European or who were partly raised in Europe have a much better approach to drinking (i.e., I rarely see them overserved) than most people. I plan on mixing wine and water in the Little Bug’s sippy cup as soon as possible (kidding!). (That being said, when Tim checked in from South Carolina last night, he reported that his colleagues were extolling the benefits of hard liquor on the gums. First of all, is this 1880? Second of all, you are taking teething advice on a “business golf” trip? I’ll stick to Infant Tylenol, thanks…)
Second, did the Sunday Styles really have a piece on a cappella last week? Or was I hungover? Oh wait, no, I wasn’t hungover. Behold this wonder (quoting the actor Ed Helms was a brilliant piece of journalistic sourcing, no?), on which I can’t even bring myself to comment, except to note that (a) I have sung with all of the groups appearing in the article and (b) they didn’t mention one women’s group. Both observations, of course, only serve to suggest that such a piece was not as wasted as I’d like to think (and, perhaps, that this merely was the millionth example of an “I should have pitched that/I could’ve written it better”-story).
Finally, if you have HBO, you should be DVR’ing the original series, “John Adams.” I love historical fiction, David McCullough (though my professor brother-in-law and his historian friends apparently pooh-pooh McCullough as a sell-out…), Tom Wilkinson, and Laura Linney. Paul Giamatti as John Adams is a bit confusing, but I’m overlooking that.
Again, other bloggers and pundits will write much more insightfully about yesterday’s Obama speech on race than I. But I have to write because I believe it was the most eloquent and important political speech I have heard in my lifetime.
Though I think I am utterly unbiased on a practical, day-to-day level, am I guilty of making a joke based on race? Of perhaps having the same thoughts as Obama’s grandmother? It is painful to admit, but who isn’t? This country has never truly confronted the gestalt of even the most innocuous of slights, but we act totally shocked that a black man might go to a church with a passionate pastor who speaks truthfully and forcefully about true racial injustice: years and years and years of slights, from innocent to the insidious.
Some idiot talking head on Hardball (not Chris Matthews, whom I am coming to appreciate!) said that Obama is going to look bad no matter what because he should have confronted his pastor – told his pastor that such words were appalling; instead, he just “sat in the pews.” Bullshit. Obama rightfully is a participant in a community which no outsider has the right to judge, especially since what we are seeing on the news is taken out of context – out of the huge context that is racial relations in this country. Instead, Obama behaved with absolute honor, explaining his relationship with the pastor, his church, the black community, the white community.
This mastery of context and subsequent display of honor was the most important part of the speech. What would Hillary have done in that situation? She would have distanced herself from that pastor so fast your head would spin. I want to vote for Hillary because of all that she is: intelligent, knowledgeable, and utterly presidential. I want to vote for her to show that someone who is all these things – and is a woman – can and should be president.
However, after yesterday, I’m not sure if I can. Obama showed us that he is capable of tackling the major problems of this country with clarity, tact, passion, honor, and above all, honesty. His speech might be one of the most honest things a politician has ever done. Unfortunately, I fear that many people don’t want to hear the truth and instead will focus on the anger and ugliness that, however justifiably, has come from that truth. Hatred—from insecurity, religion, greed, whatever—could be the downfall of our planet. We can only counter that by recognizing its source, by acknowledging the injustices felt by all parties, but, most important, in the end, by speaking about it.
The Times, of course, says this all much more persuasively, here, capturing best the enormity and importance of the moment.
Recently I have begun to receive comments and emails from strangers who find my blog when they Google things like, “Can I be a mother and a first-year lawyer” or “feel like I failed the MPRE”. One woman wrote to ask if her son should attend B.C. Law next year (“a mother’s work is never done,” she explained). It would be nice if the trajectory of this blog could actually start to swing towards the helpful: recently I read a blog about how to write a successful blog and was counseled to never write anything that is not helpful. That doesn’t to be the m.o. for a lot of writers (see, e.g., Pax Arcana, a site which may be helpful only if you want to kill zombies). Nevertheless, now that I waste far too much time on my Google RSS feed every day, I’ve begun to notice that highly successful blogs, such as Decor8 or Zen Habits (who each have tens of thousands of hits a day) are far more journalistic than solipsistic, despite their use of the first person. I still can’t quite believe that people can make a living being “bloggers” (like these guys), but I suppose it’s just the changing nature of journalism.
Also: My patron saint of the blogosphere, Leslie Morgan Steiner, discusses in her “On Balance” column today whether or not there is a balance between love and marriage. The piece is reflective (sort of) of a post I wrote a few weeks ago, here.
Update: Since this post is about blogging, a query to any wordpress users out there: Why can’t I get my spacing and fonts consistent from post to post? See above post where I can’t get spaces in between the paragraphs and the font is Times New Roman.
Don’t pay any attention to the alleged posting time above. It’s really 12:57 a.m. And that Justice Breyer, he’s a sneaky little liberal. I even kind of appreciate his First Amendment jurisprudence, whatever that means. He has been my main man for the past 36 hours (though he has been accompanied by several Starbucks grande soy no water no foam chais, which, thankfully, are back in my diet after a full flu-free day…). That being said, I might be a little delusional too.
Oh, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day, which, happily, I won’t be celebrating with Justice Breyer (who has just been flung off into the ether to my professor, who, I should note, is pretty much my age but (a) was a Supreme Court clerk and (b) is a professor, for goodness sakes, and thanks to both of the above qualities, probably never has procrastinated on a paper for six months only to spend almost 36-straight hours cobbling one together for someone she’d actually like to impress).
Instead, I’ll be celebrating it, appropriately, with a bunch of Murphys, including one visiting nephew whose name is, most appropriately, Ryan Patrick Murphy, and, of course, one Little Bug Murphy.
Leaving the sordidness of national politics behind (except to remark that I am growing increasingly annoyed with the Clinton campaign’s attempt to count the Florida and Michigan delegates; as Barack Obama said yesterday morning on NPR, “Even my six-year-old could tell you that that’s not fair…”) a quick Saturday post-flu post: The Little Bug is, I think, finally teething — she was eight months yesterday and still is, as her babysitter calls her, a “gummy girl” — but at last I see a little white starting to poke through that bottom gum and, for the first time ever, she threw a true fit when I tried to put her down to nap this afternoon. Crying so hard she was shaking and snarfling. I couldn’t leave her in her crib in such a state, so we walked around the house and waved at the baby in all the mirrors and looked out the window. And she had a little grape infant Tylenol and went back down, but not without some more crying. Her personality has become a bit less placid as of late: when you take something away from her that she’s still interested in (my Blackberry being a prime example), she “whines,” and she is so fidgety on the changing table that I’m afraid she’s going to throw herself off! I brought her to seminar with me yesterday, which was a mistake: first, because, unbeknownst to me at the time, I was on the verge of a sudden, violent 24-hour stomach bug (I was feeling sort of shaky and achy in class), so wasn’t really focusing on her as much as I should have been (nor on the class for that matter); also, she no longer really likes to be held when she’d rather be crawling. And she wanted to crawl for most of class. We had to pack up and leave early when she started getting tired — a huge distraction for everyone. My professor loves babies and I know in general doesn’t mind me bringing her, but I think we were pretty disruptive. I could barely make it home from class, and as soon as I put her down for a nap, I collapsed. Fortunately, Tim knocked off a bit early and took over for me, and I spent the rest of the evening shaking and feverish and achy in bed. Feeling OK this morning, but still am afraid to eat anything except gatorade. Those who know me know that when I have no appetite, something is definitely wrong. My aunt lost eight pounds when she had this, and I heard that a golfer on the Tour lost 18 after a bout with the stomach flu. So maybe there will be an upside (ha).
Am about to start a 45-page paper, which is due on Monday. I was, of course, going to work on it all night last night, but clearly that was not going to happen. Tim’s nephew Ryan is in town from Texas doing a college tour on his spring break, so Tim is tied up roaming around Harvard, BC, Tufts, etc. (in the rain), and can’t watch the Bug. Fortunately, Jen and Davin are going to come over and play with the baby while I try to crank this thing out. I have had the topic of this paper since early October, which just goes to show that once a journalist, always a journalist — I need deadlines to motivate me. If anyone has any thoughts on Justice Breyer’s First Amendment jurisprudence as reflected in his decisions on campaign finance, please do let me know.
The other upside of the flu is that I do not feel compelled to do a 10-mile training run (in this yucky weather) and can put that off until perhaps Monday, when the paper is finished.