What I'm Into {a snapshot of December 2014}

What I'm Into {a snapshot of December 2014}

The Lonely Season

The Lonely Season December was a month of high highs, and significant lows. I spent a great deal of time pondering the events of last year at this time, and what I want the upcoming year to look like. I did my best to Advent well (yes, I just used Advent as a verb).

I like to think that amidst some challenging, chaotic things, I found a few corners of sacred space.

I hope you enjoy this look into my everyday life, and I'd love to hear what you've been into this month.

Reading

Reading

Every Dress a Decision by Elizabeth Austen

I met Ms. Austen, the Washington State poet laureate, this year at a fundraising event and immediately liked her. As I read through her poems, I was at turns elated and unsettled (which is, perhaps, the point of poetry). One of my favorites is the luminous “The Girl Who Goes Alone.”

Women In Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton and 639 others

This was one of two clothing focused books I read this month. This was by far the longer and more comprehensive work, revolving around questionnaires sent out to women about how they dress and why. It was punctuated with essays about the mundane, and sometimes even the tragic (one particularly moving piece was an interview with several garment factory workers). This is an ambitious book, and though I enjoyed reading about people and their relationships with clothes, I found it rather long, and somewhat boring in places. I would have done more editing.

Worn Stories edited by Emily Spivack

This book is like a very short version of Women In Clothes. There are small essays each about one piece of clothing. I would have liked to have had essays by more normal people (less of the famous variety) but I really enjoyed the concept and some of the essays were really touching.

Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella

After a long wait, this is the latest in the Shopaholic series. This character and series were my introduction to Sophie Kinsella, who writes delightful British chick-lit (just the thing after some heavy reading, or living). This one left me on a bit of a cliff-hanger, so I know that there must be another in the works.

The Culinary Imagination: From Myth To Modernity by Sandra M. Gilbert

This was one of the most fascinating books about food (or anything) I’ve read in a long time. It’s one part memoir, one part history, one part cultural exploration. The result is a sometimes charming, always evocative look at food. It made me hungry, and it made me want to write.

The Pleasures of Cooking For One by Judith Jones

I didn’t read this cover to cover (because it’s a cook book) but I’ve been meaning to pick this up for some time. Judith Jones, better known as the editor who discovered Julia Child (among others) wrote it in the wake of her struggles to cook for one after her husband died. I found a lot of inspiration, and some good ways of thinking here. This was also my last library book for a while. I’ve found that those deadlines, innocuous as they are keep me from reading books I own (but haven’t read). I’m planning to make a large dent in those before I go back to the library. Wish me luck.

The Defining Decade by Dr. Meg Jay

I borrowed this book from a friend an embarrassingly long time ago after enjoying the related TED talk, and just took the time to read it. It’s a book written by a therapist about the 20-something years, and I found it hopeful, encouraging, and sobering.

I haven’t yet jumped into Rachel Held Evan’s newest book (which came in the mail in the form of an advanced review copy this month) but I was so excited I just had to share. It’s called Searching For Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church, and I can’t wait to share my review with you.

Watching

I always want to watch my (not so iconic) Christmas movies during December. Here are a few of them that I got a chance to curl up with this month.

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Christmas in Connecticut

I purchased this movie at a grocery store during the holiday season a few years ago. It’s a funny story about a writer who pretends to be a wife and mother on a farm in Connecticut, and writes a column about it, but is really a single New Yorker. She’s put in a jam when a young serviceman asks for nothing more for Christmas but to come to her farm for the holiday. It stars Barbara Stanwyck, and it is light, but awfully fun.

Four Christmases 

My mom and I saw this movie in theaters, and we always say that we like it because it’s a little too real. It’s a story about a couple (Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn) who visit all four households of their divorced families on Christmas day. It is exactly as bad as it sounds.

The Holiday

I loved the concept of this movie when it came out, and after years of watching, I still like this charming little movie about four people who find heartbreak and healing over the holiday. It’s tightly written and effortlessly quotable, and while I enjoy watching it at other times of the year, there is something needful about watching it during the Christmas season.

Bachelor-Mother

Bachelor Mother

If you know Ginger Rogers at all, you might know her for her dancing. This movie shows that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were far from being the first funny women to grace a screen. Ginger plays a woman hired seasonally and let go on Christmas Eve who manages to sort of inherit a baby. There were times when I laughed so hard that I cried.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

My mom got the first Harry Potter book for Christmas, finished it, and wanted to watch the movie. It was such fun to watch it with her. It was almost as if I was watching it for the first time again myself. (Plus, there’s Christmas in it, so it’s festive).

Chef

Earlier in the month, on a sick day, I watched this foodie comedy everyone seems to have a strong opinion about, one way, or another. I liked it. It was funny, and sad, made good use of social media, made me hungry and made me care. I especially appreciated the arc of the main character, who truly proves that pride goes before a fall, but that the story doesn’t have to end there.

Listening

Listening

I like to listen to something light and fun in my car on the way to and from work, and this month it was The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella (her again). It’s a story about a high powered lawyer who ends up taking a job as a housekeeper. It’s sort of a grown up Amelia Bedelia. While it was funny, and a little zany, I also found myself sorting through my own priorities as I listened. The reader’s lovely British accent didn’t hurt either.

All through December, I like to listen to Over the Rhine’s Christmas music (this year with a new addition Blood Oranges in the Snow). This year, perhaps for the first time, I discovered that I could use this as a Pandora station, and I’ve pretty much been listening to this all the time. I find that it has just the kind of low-key, occasionally sad Christmas songs I most want to hear.

Living 

Advent Calendar

This month, one of my favorite rituals was adding a print to my clothesline Advent calendar every day. I purchased the set from Naptime Diaries, on a whim, because Lindsay Letters had done some of the design, and I loved every moment. I can’t wait to get them out again next year and do it again.

christmas tree

My roommates and I put up a Christmas tree and it was my first that wasn’t in my parents house. I pulled out my ornament collection and festooned the tree with great delight.

church

Slowly, my church has been pulling me in, getting me involved almost imperceptibly. I love it. Early this month, I was drafted to help with communion at the last moment. On Christmas Eve, I got to read from the lectionary for the first time. It was late (our service was at 10pm) and the room was full of candles and light. It was a wonderful way to begin a reading career, and marvelous words from Isaiah to ponder. After my reading, I popped up in the sermon. I think I’m starting to belong to my church.

Boxing Day

I threw a grown-up party on the day after Christmas (a Boxing Day gathering). I made drinks, and darted between conversations and got to introduce my brother to my friends. Even after all this time in my house, it felt a little like a housewarming.

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This month played host to one of the most exciting things of my year. My brother and I met in Orlando and spent three delightful days in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was like stepping into the books. They had thought about all of the details. I was chosen by a wand, wandered around Hogwarts, bought Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans at Honeyduke’s and soaked up all of the atmosphere of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, all while sipping Butterbeer and Pumpkin juice. I’ll be living off this experience for years to come.

Me and my wand

Clicking 

My friend Morgan wrote about her experience at the IF:gathering, where we met for the first time, and her hopes for the future of that conference.

A new friend, Kelsey, wrote about her own mental illness, and being “halfway out of the dark” (partially, she tells me, because of my post about my own mental illness).

Writing

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I had the honor of writing about loneliness, Elizabeth, and Mary for Christie Purifoy's Advent series. I wrote about The Door of Hope (and one of my favorite scriptures) for The Hope Diaries, and I finally told the story of trying to move out last year at this time at You Are Here.

I sent off my first newsletter. It turned out to have a bit of a church year feel, with cocktails (you can sign up for it, and blog posts if you like, here).

I wrote about the mysterious simplicity of the Incarnation. I made two videos (my first) of Advent reflections I wrote last year. It was so fun to get to talk to you. One is about snow, Narnia and the White Witch, and the other is about Advent(ure). I wrote about good things, and the way those words stuck out when I heard them read this year. And lastly, I wrote about bread, and the way all different kinds nourish and connect us.

In the de(tales) series, I hosted Jane Halton writing about her 816 square feet, Emily Miller wrote about her apple pie, Kathryn Smith wrote about a small birthday cake and unexpected kindness, and my mom, Pamela Strickland, wrote about the Edenic origins of the Christmas Tree.


Once again, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer for What I’m Into (check out the rest over at her site).