The very helpful toddler

  
We are packed and moved out. All of our stuff, except for a hearty month’s worth of June Gloom-appropriate clothes in luggage bound for San Diego after a few days with my in-laws in rural Connecticut, is in a storage unit in New Haven while we wait to move to our new adventure. 

Moving stinks. It just is the worst. I don’t even want to think about how we have to do this again 1) a month from now and 2) a year from now. We are exhausted and I didn’t even do much, if any, heavy lifting thanks to some chivalrous Saturday sacrifices from three of our manliest friends. 

I am exhausted, however, by trying to pack with a toddler. You know that video going around Facebook of the stay-at-home mom who gets nothing done because her baby immediately pulls clean clothes out of the dryer or sets fire to things or whatever? That was this week, but without the quirky music. In lieu of another wordy nostalgic post about our magical first apartment, I give you a photo set of Christopher, being helpful. 

Being helpful in the kitchen

  
Being helpful in the living room. Just getting the paper towels ready for cleaning. 

  
Being helpful in the dining room. Always prepared for the movers with seasonal allergies. 

  
Being helpful in the kitchen redux. 

  
Being most helpful of all: giving his parents an opportunity to throw all qualms about screen time to the wind for thirty minutes of Thomas-induced stupor. 

Shout out to Martha who was actually helpful in relieving us of Mr. Grump for a bit on Saturday morning. I’m so thankful for the friends around us. This weekend would have involved far more stress crying without them. 

I’m going to go pass out now. Godspeed to all you movers and shakers out there. 

Memorial Day in Niantic

IMG_5624
Chris and I wanted to do something fun (and cheap) for Memorial Day so we started brainstorming things to do in southern Connecticut. I recently came into some money (my mother-in-law slipped me a ten) and it was burning a hole in my pocket, smoldering in anticipation of some treats or books. I suggested Niantic, home of the charming and extensive used book store, the Book Barn. We had been once before in undergrad on a spring break trip to New Haven and I had been daydreaming about it ever since. (Those wild and crazy college years.)

Continue reading

Two Years

Karen Race Photography

Leaving our reception at Georgetown – Karen Race Photography

It’s our second anniversary today. I’m feeling a definite combination of “has it really been?” and “it has been only?”. We’ve done a lot in two years: moved cities, started jobs and degrees, had a baby, swam the Tiber.

There’s no one else with whom I’d rather

eat too many treats

watch the latest discovery from the Yale Film Study Center

attempt to do housework

clean barf off of our child

dream about the future

kneel before the Lord

Karen Race Photography

Karen Race Photography

Happy anniversary, my one and only love.

7QT: Let’s Talk about Mad Men

Linking up with Kelly for Seven Quick Takes this week. Spoilers for the Mad Men series finale follow.

Original Picture: Justina Mintz/AMC

Original Picture: Justina Mintz/AMC

1

I spent much of last week catching up on Mad Men so I could watch the series finale. I have no idea why I stopped watching the show when I did, which was around the middle of season five. My mom described every episode as a short story and it is so true. I love the intricacies of the story, the costumes, and the characters.

But I was so underwhelmed by the finale. Maybe it’s just that finales inevitably stink, giving resolution when part of enjoying a television show is the lack of it. (See: Lost)

Warning: many words ahead.
Continue reading

Mercy and prayer at Fare Forward today…

aramenI’m over at Fare Forward today with a review of Leah Libresco’s new book, Arriving at Amen: 

Her exposition of Peter’s bold failures and reliance on grace unifies the encouragement to pray she gives in each chapter into a rallying cry against perfectionism. I found it personally encouraging, especially in my current stage of life, which is marked by diaper changes interrupting the mysteries of the Rosary and a toddler roaming the aisles during Mass. “It should be reassuring to us that Christ chose a man who struggled in discipleship to lead his Church,” she writes. “A man who started at sainthood would be a strange model for the Church as a whole; the Body of Christ is certainly composed of sinners who follow Christ haltingly, with our hearts often divided.” And it is reassuring that God’s mercy extends even to our halting prayers in every stage of our movement toward Him.

Go read the rest!

Swift Potomac’s Lovely Daughter

From Instagram. Trip hashtag: #mrbuddygoestowashington

We took a road trip to DC last weekend to see two of our best friends graduate from Georgetown. I had the alma mater stuck in my head from the moment we came in on Canal Road and saw Healy Tower’s “spires and steeples gleaming.” And though we are loyal fellows up at Yale, we did minimal bragging and boasting about our Boola-Boola.

Road tripping with a thirteen month-old is an experience, to say the least. Somehow a five-hour drive became a nine-hour one on the way down. A Chick-Fil-A stop followed by a brief vomit-related catastrophe off the New Jersey Turnpike may have had something to do with it. There may have also been some friendly bickering about the proper name of Interstate 95. I maintain all freeways need the definitive article, “the.” Continue reading

movin’ on up

Relaxing (pre-baby) on the porch

Relaxing (pre-baby) on the porch

We signed our lease for our apartment sight unseen.

I remember visiting our new place the day I interviewed for my first real job. After an eleven hour Greyhound trip from Hell from DC to New York, I got into New Haven after sleeping at a friend’s apartment in Midtown Manhattan and catching the first  Metro North I could an hour before my interview the next morning, shedding exhausted tears. But after I did uncharacteristically well in front of my future bosses (I still think I somehow deceived them), our friend took me to this place we had only seen through her eyes and in terrible photos on Craigslist. I gave the realtor our security deposit and first month’s rent and asked if I could look at the apartment. It was being painted, she said, so no.

But the realtor left me to my new-lease-reverie and my friend, being bolder than I, marched right in and started taking pictures. I remember being somewhat unimpressed by the place. The carpet was schoolroom blue and the whole place needed a good paint job. I opened a set of doors looking for a bedroom only to find a closet. At least the bathroom was big. Continue reading

finals week

A typical view, messy dining room table and all.

A typical view, messy dining room table and all.

Grad student life has its perks, but finals week is not one of them. They come but twice a year and while I don’t have to write the papers (thank goodness), Chris has to work ’round the clock reading and writing. He had sixty pages to write this semester and, I gotta say, he handled it super well considering the walking baby trying to touch his computer every two to three minutes and the wife who has neglected to clean the kitchen for…a while.

At 5:00pm today, his second year at YDS will be over, not with a bang but a Kant paper.

We will dutifully celebrate with soul food this evening and then it is imperative we look forward to the summer.

(See what I did there?)

IMG_5315

An “astronaut training” break

In defense of the Kindle

kindledefense

I hear a lot of grumbling about the e-reader. “It’s Gnosticism.” “We’re consuming books now instead of savoring them.” And I am, in theory, sympathetic to those cries of woe. I love to read. I want others to love to read deeply too. Rather, by choosing not to condemn it as a harbinger of the downfall of Western literacy, the Kindle has revived my reading and, at least for me, has aided my quest to read well.

I absolutely loved Alan Jacobs’ book The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction (which, incidentally, I read as an ebook) and find myself returning to it often. His main advice is to “read at Whim” but also seek to elevate your taste or “read upwards.” You love Lord of the Rings? Try Beowulf, etc. He takes on the (often conservative) proponents of reading Great Books for the sake of having read them:

[F]or heaven’s sake, don’t turn reading into the intellectual equivalent of eating organic greens, or (shifting the metaphor slightly) some fearfully disciplined appointment with an elliptical trainer of the mind in which you count words or pages the way some people fix their attention on the ‘calories burned’ readout – some assiduous and taxing exercise that allows you to look back on your conquest of Middlemarch with grim satisfaction. How depressing. This kind of thing is not reading at all, but what C.S. Lewis once called ‘social and ethical hygiene.’

I take issue with his choice of Middlemarch as an example because that book is delightful but the point stands. Reading should be pleasurable, not kale for the mind. Many arguments for the exclusivity of tactile books take the same shape: Reading should be accompanied by the feeling of a book’s spine, the smell of the glue, the weight of it in your hand. Otherwise it’s not really reading.

Eh.

Let’s apply Jacobs’ warning to how we read and say we shouldn’t turn the act of reading into a moral issue. The way some essayists wax rhapsodical about their books make reading sound like a fussy, intricate oddity, not a pleasurable experience that we want everyone to have a part in. For example, William Giraldi in the new New Republic:

For many of us, our book collections are, in at least one major way, tantamount to our children—they are manifestations of our identity, embodiments of our selfhood; they are a dynamic interior heftily externalized, a sensibility, a worldview defined and objectified.

blrg

He goes on to write “Paradise Lost will not put up with rapidity and diversion, and that is exactly why, for some of us, a physical book will always be superior reading, because it allows you to be alone with yourself, to sit in solidarity with yourself, in silence, in solitude, in the necessary sensitivity that fosters development and imagination.”

Sure, that is ideal. I have had transcendent reading experiences too, but they were when I was single, in undergrad, and had oodles of time to sit under trees. I still read a lot, but now it’s in stolen moments: paragraphs while the baby is playing, listening to an audiobook while I fold laundry, and nursing in the middle of the night by the glow of my Kindle’s backlight. I savor those times when I can escape to the coffee shop, and sit in solidarity with a chocolate croissant, book open on the table in front of me. But this elite attitude about reading makes it totally inaccessible to most and rings false to many.

I’m not saying we should abolish the codex. If I read a fantastic ebook, I usually make a point to look for a copy at used book stores so we can have it on our shelves, hopefully ripe for smaller hands to pick up one day. I benefited greatly from choosing books at random from my parents’ library and hope to replicate that means of discovery for our children. But, as Jacobs writes in a recent blog post, let’s not misunderstand books as an end in themselves, but rather recognize them as means to information, knowledge, and yes, transcendent experiences by way of their content, not their binding.