Thursday, April 24, 2014


Friday Night Lights is every bit as good on a second viewing--and Season 2 is every bit as annoying. I love FNL's perfect Texas mix of sarcasm and condescension; I love the wide-eyed surprise in every character's eyes all the time. I love Coach and Mrs. Taylor's relationship--the honest conflict, the fact that they are unshakably committed to their relationship, their passion for their work, their support for each other's work. I love Saracen and Riggins and Saracen's grandmother. And the whole thing is quite a picture into life in a place with drastically different values and passions and obsessions than the places in which I've lived. One complaint: they should have gotten a cuter baby to play Gracie.

(Friday Night Lights previously here.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Random Assortment

This video is spot on in making fun of Sorkin.

~ I am loving the little smocked baby outfits that Prince George is wearing (and that Prince William evidently once wore). The only reason I want a girl over a boy is because I want to put her in a smocked dress every single day. Can boys really get away with smocked dresses? Or only if you're royalty and everyone already knows your sex and doesn't awkwardly identify you as a girl?

~Pennsylvania hunting cabins photo project (via Ilana). This brings up many good memories of staying in hunting cabins (and hunting trailers) as a kid.

~ On conference etiquette and being a generous scholar (via Jacob Levy).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Reaching for the Moon

We finally watched the Elizabeth Bishop biopic (thanks to Dillard's heads up that it's streaming on Netflix) that I've been wanting to see since it came out last year. It has all the elements of a great story--poetry and love and politics and travel (although I think it actually downplayed how much Bishop traveled when living in Brazil).

It turns out I knew almost nothing about Bishop's life: I'm not sure how accurate the film is in its portrayal of the awkward menage a trois that Bishop was part of, but wow: Bishop visits her friend, Mary, in Brazil for a couple of days as part of a South American cruise. Mary's partner Lota convinces Bishop to stay, as well as Mary. She bribes Mary to get her consent for the arrangement by buying her a baby. (This arrangement provides a pretty good excuse for Bishop's alcoholism and Lota's suicide, although I'm sure that things were more complicated in real life than they were portrayed.)

It was interesting to view Reaching for the Moon just after Dear Elizabeth, the play about Bishop's friendship with/attraction to Robert Lowell. Reaching for the Moon tells the story of a whole other part of her romantic and personal life. The stories, although they overlap at points, couldn't be more different--from Robert Lowell and New York and poetry to Lota and Brazil and travel and architecture. It's fascinating to see the way that Bishop reacts, at first gratefully, and later with some hesitation, to living in a country with very different manners and politics than the ones of the countries she left.

It's curious that both the film and the play have a recurring motif of reaching for lighted things high in the sky (I think it was floating lanterns in the play). I'm not really sure where that comes from in her work.

Also: It turns out that "One Art" is everyone's favorite poem of Bishop's. How annoying--I thought it just spoke to me.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Francisco bought me an orchid to help me make it through the end of the horrible winter.

I meant to post some pictures weeks ago, so that you, too, could enjoy it at the end of a long winter. But, here we are (thankfully!) at the beginning of spring.

Now there's one (!) daffodil, some hyacinths (which I had to bring inside after yesterday's wind and rain), and some tulips blooming in our yard. And some flowering trees out back.

But here, have some late-winter orchids, too.

Random Thesis

T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets is a poetic rewriting of Book XI, "Time and Eternity" of Augustine's Confessions. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Random Assortment

~ A fascinating, nostalgic look at a mental institution in Wichita Falls. Much of the push in recent decades is toward deinstitutionalization, but this piece explores its potential downsides and the problems with states cutting funding for mental institutions.

~ Have I told you that I'm obsessed with Moby? (I caught part of this old interview with Moby on World Cafe [our independent radio station in Philly, which, incidentally, I'm also obsessed with].) He mentioned inspirations like Flannery O'Connor, Nick Drack, and Joy Division. On twitter, he said he feels like he's Walker Percy's best friend.

~ An excellent call to pray for Christian unity.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

(Harmless) Rant

Some people (ahem...Francisco) don't like the fact that we get Sundays off from fasting during lent. PLUS, and even better, Sundays start on Saturday evening and go all the way till Monday morning.

I am a firm believer in the long Sunday and in using it to feast. We are not Puritans here, people--the day in which we most especially remember Christ dying and rising again is definitely a feast, even if it's in the middle of a long fast. And really, how can you get fasting right if you don't get feasting right?

Anyway, I'm not really one to talk since I'm under no lent-induced food restrictions. But I'd say that I'm in enough pregnancy-induced food restrictions that if I had the possibility of taking a day off and having a glass of wine and some sliced deli meet, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Guys! Dressing my pregnant body is hard. I feel like at 30, I'm just now making progress in learning how to dress my normal-old body, and now I've got one that's changing/growing everyday. At 19 weeks, some of my old clothes are a bit tight, but most of my maternity clothes are gigantic and reach nearly to my knees. What to wear? To reveal or conceal the bump? Revealing seems ostentatious and overblown and concealing makes me feel just slightly fatter than normal.

Also: non-high end pregnancy pants are sold in small, medium and large (by non-high end, I mean both medium- and low-end pants). What?! So before I'm pregnant, I'm a 6, or an 8, or a 10, and magically, when I'm pregnant, I'm just a medium. Needless to say, I haven't bought any medium pants because they look like a sack on me.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Random Assortment

~ How is this even a newspaper article?: "City man content, praises natural gas development in area." Also, why does the newspaper have to be pro-natural gas? Somehow they try to make an article with only these numbers in it into something that's anti-taxing gas drilling in PA:
The report looked at 11 states and found that a Pennsylvania well that began producing in 2014 will be taxed at an effective tax rate of at most 1.6 percent. A similar well in West Virginia will be taxed at 7.2 percent, a Texas well at 4.6 percent, a Colorado well at about 5.6 percent and Ohio at 1.8 percent. 
~ I love Laurie Colwin. And oh my goodness--she used a mint green typewriter?! Also this, from a memorial service for her (this is how I feel about her):

Laurie Colwin was not a stranger to me, even if I was a stranger
to her.

~ I haven't ever watched it faithfully, but I have seen a lot of episodes back in the day, so I watched the series finale of HIMYM, and I have to admit, I found it satisfying. You think the whole time you're waiting to discover who Ted marries, when actually you're just observing the romance in front of your eyes.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Dear Elizabeth

Last night, Francisco and I went to see "Dear Elizabeth," the play cut from the correspondence of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. I'd been dying to see it since it premiered at Yale and Berkeley last year, but at the time I was living in St. Louis, which was close to neither. Francisco just happened to stumble on the fact that it is playing at People's Light Theater, a little theater only 30 minutes from our house. And of course, though I've been complaining that I'm busy and drowning in busyness, I booked tickets for the night after I found out the the play exists.

The play was delightful. There are no words in the play that are not in their letters--Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell meet, but their meetings are silent, unless they include lines from their letters. And the letters themselves are charming and witty and poetic; it is wonderful to hear them read out loud. And some of their poetry--especially the poems that they dedicate to each other--makes it into the play. The play is about intellectual friendship, about the sharing of their struggles with art and their struggles with their bodies (Lowell is in and out of mental hospitals; Bishop has asthma and drinking problems; both have happinesses and many difficulties in love). The play makes me want to run home and pick up letter writing again immediately (which I've been sadly neglecting). It's the celebration of a friendship that lasts over distance and over a lifetime.

Some bones to pick: The play is also about love. The playwright, Sarah Ruhl focuses on one letter in which Lowell writes to EB: "Asking you is the might have been for me, the one towering change, the other life that might have been had.” It's nice and delightful to add romance into a play, and some sort of moment seems to have been had between them, but I just don't see from Bishop's side if the attention was desired at all. Ruhl interprets this as her reserve and shyness (and the acting shows her pitching and moaning about him; I exaggerate, but still), but I think it's possible that she just wasn't that into him (plus, he didn't seem to be a great husband to any of his wives, from what you gather from the letters). Lowell is a bit macho--in real life, he's handsome and well respected and he moves through three wives, the last one quite a bit younger than he is. And then he acts as if there's some great and unexplored thing in between them and that clearly she wanted it and he just never made the move at the right time. I found it a bit condescending. (Maybe this is the right interpretation of the letters; maybe it comes out a bit more in the play, since the letters are cut down and this whole romance bit is played up--I see the romance as at most as one little piece of something that became very different and much greater over their lifetimes.) 

Also: In real life, Lowell was 6 years younger than Bishop. And a pretty cute guy, before he hairline starts to recede: 

In this performance, Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell seem to be the same age, and she's more attractive than he is. He is played as a paunchy and disheveled and slightly tipsy middle-aged man. Again, this sells the romance a bit more than a fit and well-groomed, rich, younger man does. But it's not quite as easy on the eyes, either. Plus, the Robert Lowell actor was always on the verge of forgetting his lines, which is anxiety-inducing in the audience. The woman who played Elizabeth Bishop, on the other hand, looked exactly like I imagine Elizabeth Bishop looked, and was quite good in the role.

(Elizabeth Bishop has been on this blog many times before: for her art, for her quotes, for her poems, for her friendship with Lowell.)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Diary of Pregnancy.8

18 weeks:

~ I've started to feel the baby move over the last week or so. (The midwives still use the word, "quickening"--what a great word.)

~ I think I'm finally starting to feel really good. Finally!

~ At this doctor's appointment, they could barely find the heartbeat, the baby moved away from the doppler each time. The midwife said that they can hear the doppler and sometimes do this. This makes me wonder, of course, whether they're frightening the baby and really if this doppler business is safe. (We did hear the baby's heartbeat finally, so don't worry--also we heard tons of movement.)

~ Also they said that they don't make you do the regular glucose test with them--they let you drink orange juice instead if you want. Which is super exciting, because what I've heard about that orange glucose drink doesn't make me eager to try some.

~ A midwife oversaw my visit this time, which means we met someone who could conceivably be there for the birth. She was super nice and effusive. And encouraging. They really make you feel like you are the healthiest person ever there. Also, I found out that there is a midwife there whose name is Gazelle.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


What is the baby doing in the womb all day when he's awake? Is he bored? Is he scared?

Also, why does the internet say you have to talk to your baby? I talk all the time--the baby can't possibly tell the difference between me talking to my students or mom on the phone or Francisco and talking to him, right?