By Jaxpix, Flickr Creative Commons

For the past few weeks I’ve been staying with my aunt while in transition from my old apartment to my new house. Having lived alone for so long, being around people in a domestic situation has made one thing very clear: I do things slowly.

My grandmother’s cousin, Bette, always makes fun of “us Americans” (she’s English) for our out-of-date tea kettles. She has one of those fancy electric contraptions that boils your water in what seems like seconds, while we continue to insist on using old fashioned kettles on the stove. I can’t imagine ever using one of those new-fangled contraptions for my tea.

It’s not just my tea, though. If there’s the option to heat something up on the stove, or in the oven, I always forego the microwave. I actually like doing dishes by hand (though I know it’s not as green as a dishwasher and therefore will give it up when I finally get into the new house).

Perhaps this is why I never quite understand what people are talking about when they go on and on about the northeast being too fast-paced. I am forever wondering why, if they don’t like the pace of something, they don’t just slow down.

Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose. (or Rigglets!)

I am emotionally spent this morning. I just finished watching the final episode of Friday Night Lights and I cried through 2/3 of it.

We all know this was a fantastic show. I won’t go into that (again), but for a while now I’ve been thinking about the Billy and Mindy characters. They’re kind of the Anti-Taylors. Billy is a disaster. Mindy is a stripper. What counts, in the FNL universe, is how much they love each other.

In most shows, these two would have been the butt of the joke. On FNL, they certainly provide plenty of comic relief — Billy’s “Rigglets” line nearly killed me — but their little family unit gets the same respect as the Taylors’. Mindy’s character really snuck up on me this year. She went from being kind of annoying, to being…well…not quite maternal, but sisterly.

I’ll miss this show. It’s what America is about…or is supposed to be about. It’s egalitarian, community-oriented, and about loving your neighbor. In the age of the Tea Party, it’s no wonder the show never caught on the way it should have. On that note, I’ll leave you the same way FNL did.

Grammarians & Pedants

I’m usually as annoyed by bad grammar and poor spelling as the next editor, but lately I’ve started to find myself more annoyed by the pedants of the social networks who feel the need to point out their basic grasp of grammar. For instance:

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It’s no secret that I love Friday Night Lights, but one of my favorite things about the show is Slate’s TV Club coverage of it. Funnily enough, I often find myself disagreeing with the writers, wishing they’d let me into the club to voice my take on it.

For instance, they’re often talking about how bad they feel for poor Tim Riggins and his inability to get out of Dillon. I want to call them up and point out that Tim loves Dillon. Not everyone is looking to get away from the place they grew up, nor should they. Tim knows what kind of life he wants, he just doesn’t know how to get it. I want to shake them for not realizing this.

But an episode or two ago, the writers started discussing the “politics” of FNL and they decided it’s “communitarian.” This seems kind of obvious. After all, it’s a show about families, teams, and the community they all exist in. The characters that don’t think about other people often find themselves cast out. Today, though, as I was watching one of my other favorite shows on DVD, I realized that I just might be a “communitarian” — not to be confused with communist. Continue reading

Lions, and Bobcats, and Bears, Oh My!

When I’m not obsessing over my decorating plans for the new house, I’m obsessing over mountain lions because…well…we got ’em. In case you haven’t heard the exciting/depressing news out of Connecticut, here’s a little synopsis: People in Greenwich reported seeing a Mountain Lion and eventually managed to get pictures and a big kitty stool sample to prove they weren’t mistaking bobcats or the neighbor’s golden retriever for a Cougar. Then, a few days after it was confirmed that there was, in fact, a mountain lion stalking the wealthy people of Greenwich, one was hit by a car on the Wilbur Cross Parkway in Milford (really pretty far from Greenwich).

Can you imagine looking out your window and seeing this?

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Green Design = Cheap Design

I haven’t been a good blogger lately. I am completely and utterly preoccupied. This house buying thing has completely taken over my brain. More accurately, decorating the house has taken over my brain…even though I’ve got another month before I can even move in. Part of the problem is that I’ve decided to use as much secondhand stuff as possible.

I’m doing this partly for budgetary reasons. When you’re going from a tiny apartment to a grown-up house, there are a lot of things to buy. When you’ve just ponied up a giant chunk of change for a down payment and closing costs, it’s hard to justify spending thousands more on new dining furniture or a guest bedroom set. So, it makes sense to put in the man hours to track down good deals on good used furniture. But I’ve also got green motivations. Continue reading

Books that Bug Me

By jamelah, Flickr Creative Commons

Last weekend I went to the Connecticut Forum Book Club and watched John Irving, Azar Nafisi, and Jonathan Franzen  talk about everything from the role of authors in our society to their favorite words. It was a fascinating evening that made me long for my college-days, when I spent so many hours of the day talking about books.

So my friend and I decided we were going to finally commit to tackling The Corrections, Franzen’s breakthrough novel. This is something I haven’t been able to do for years. I loathe just about every character in the book and just kind of wish they’d all get wiped out by chapter five courtesy of a plague. Oddly, I feel much the same way about this book as I do Eat, Pray, Love. The comparison seems a bit of stretch, I know. It’s not about the writing, it’s about the feelings the characters stir up in me: mainly, annoyance.  Continue reading


I am obsessed.

I’ve got a bookmark folder filled with links to couches, tables, lamps, curtains, paint colors, and so much more. I’ve been scouring Craigslist and getting annoyed when I find a great table, and realize I have no where to put it. Why am I doing this to myself? Well, because before I started this decorating safari, I was on a house hunt. I think I’ve found my house — but it happens to be under renovation by some family friends and is months away from being habitable. So, I wait…and torture myself. Continue reading

State Swap

I enjoyed Knoxville immensely. Not so sure it felt the same way about me.

Despite United Airlines best attempts to keep me in Washington D.C., I got back from a trip to Tennessee yesterday. My friend Melissa and I went to The Volunteer State with our usual intentions: to make friends with locals, and get outside of our liberal enclaves and see something different. People are almost always baffled by this desire to visit what you might call The Middle-of-Nowhere. People at home, and in the towns we visit, can’t understand why we would want to visit these places.

With all the TravelZoo deals in our inboxes, you’d think we’d be spending our precious vacation time in Jamaica. But the couple of days we spent in Los Banos, CA still stands as one of my favorite trips of all time. The people there were so kind and  gracious to us that we still send them postcards any time we head out on another trip — and at Christmas. Tennessee was an altogether different experience though. Continue reading

More on Elephants & Books

A few weeks back I tried to read Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint. I’m still working on it. In the meantime, I read Water for Elephants and I loved it.

The movie version will be out any moment — with some questionable casting — and what will, likely, be an even more predictable ending in cinematic form. But the cast of characters is worth every moment you spend reading (though it won’t take long at all). From Walter the drunk, dwarf clown to Camel the ancient, alcoholic roustabout they’re all fun and heartbreaking. This is the kind of book you have to put down from time to time because it’s just too much to take…and you’ll put off finishing it because you don’t want it to be over. Continue reading

“With Grace In Your Heart & Flowers in Your Hair”

I am not-so-patiently awaiting a new Mumford & Sons album. A couple weeks ago I event sent my cousin in England an email asking if she could smuggle me any Mumford stuff that hadn’t been released in America, but as it turns out there isn’t anything like that. So, my best b et has been to revisit the songs that didn’t necessarily stand out to me as favorites over the past Mumford-obsessed-year. This is one of them:

“I Know I Have Fickle Heart”

I joined the rest of America last week and downloaded Adele’s new album, 21. At first I thought I’d just be listening to a few songs on heavy rotation, which was sad because I’ve been looking for a new album to love as much as I loved Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More last year. However, I downloaded it right around the same time I picked up the new Dennis Lehane and since I couldn’t put it down I needed some reading music, which turned out to be Adele. Now, I’ve moved on to Portnoy’s Complaint and I’m still listening to Adele on heavy rotation (which would make me seriously depressed if it weren’t for the feisty “Rumour Has It”).

So I was happy to find this NPR Tiny Desk Concert with Adele. She’s one of those singers that, no matter how awesome the album is, every song is better live. I really love “Rumour Has It” but a song called “Don’t You Remember” really won me over with this live performance: