Musings + Essays

Dream Talks.

By: Jen Shoop

When we were younger, Mr. Magpie and I would have “dream talks” — his turn of phrase for meandering moonshot conversation about our futures. These talks, which usually dripped like honey into and past the midnight hour, were suffused with entrepreneurial ambition and warmed by visions of travel and the mirage of children.

It occurred to me at some point over the past few years that those conversations seem to have disappeared from our repertoire. For a time, I was seized with a kind of grief. Are our aspirations behind us? Abandoned somewhere between the burdens and blessings of these last twelve years of marriage together? Are we no longer on an upswing toward the unknown?

Maybe — but —

I want to stand against that fatalism. As with the observation that perhaps the distinction between “friend” and “best friend” is irrelevant — even futile, detrimental! — why must I orient myself around labels and markings in this way? As a writer, I find myself always grasping for the gridwork beneath the landscape. Where are the coordinates? What is sea level? How is the elevation? I feel at times like a surveyor with a laser level, in matters both literary and personal.

But — the future is still ahead of me. The arcs of my own movements may be more circumscribed, or — perhaps not. Perhaps I’ve not yet come to my own Part II. I could be living in the frontispiece for all I know.

Besides, perhaps we are less prone to dream talks because we are two tired parents just making our way to bedtime, all surfeit energy for such imaginings zapped. Or perhaps we are in a phase of contentment where wild gropings towards a different future feel unwelcome. Or perhaps we are settled, with less appetite for the new. Or — we are on our way to being settled now, and so focused on getting to that plane that anything beyond is, well, past the pale. (I write that pointedly, narrowly, as we are in the midst of making some investments in our home, and have been living in a state of mild displacement while we refinish the floors in our family room, with a tarp up and workmen in and out and all of our family room furniture bunched into the front living room in disarray. It is difficult to think of anything beyond getting from this point to the next.)

But then, there are these truths, which run over me like a wave, in senses both other-worldly and remonstrative:

We are running a business together. We have travel plans in our diary. And in the beautiful bedrooms just outside of our own lay two perfect children with full bellies and untroubled slumber.

So maybe we have made our way to the moon.


+Invisible strings.

+Loosening expectations.

+On difficult ages with children. (Is there such a thing?)

Shopping Break.

+We are heading to the beach soon and I did some research into the best beach chairs. Basically every single resource (and the majority of Magpies I polled online) recommend Tommy Bahamas’ Backpack Chair as the most comfortable, functional, durable option. My in laws have these, too. My only gripe is that the colors and patterns are not great. However, there was a big drawback to nearly every other attractive option I contemplated — no straps/backpack straps for easy carry; no cup holder; no pouch on the side. A couple of people recommended Sunflow, which has a lot of the same functionality as TB but is far more attractive IMO — BUT, it’s like three or four times the price of a TB and for something we will probably only use a week of the year…? Like maybe if I lived at the beach I could get down with the higher price tag? There were also a sprinkling of upvotes for Telescope — simple styling and the key selling point is that each chair weighs less than 3 lbs! Still, seems to lack a lot of what TB offers. I was briefly tempted by SunnyLife’s chair, which seems like a more aesthetically pleasing version of TB but I couldn’t find any strong reviews to corroborate! We ended up going TB!

+One of my absolute favorite highlighters. This comes in second behind Westman Atelier’s lit stick, which is almost 2x the price.

+Love this pintuck blouse — such a pretty color and pattern.

+The chicest shorts I’ve ever seen.

+Target marked down a bunch of its activity sets, including this color chemistry set you all have been loving this month, and Scribble Scrubbie sets (my children love these too).

+Adore this dress.

+These heels have a great 70s vibe. They remind me of the LR mules that have dominated every wedding for the past few years, but with a bit more funk. Would look great with one of those trending column crochet dresses!

+My fav tees are around $10 in select colors.

+Target has THE CUTEST rain coats for littles right now — this cherry one reminds me of Jacadi, and these unisex ones come in great color combos. Both under $20!

+Target also has some super cute silicone children’s plates out in great colors/animal shapes that remind me of brands much more expensive.

+Frame’s palazzo jeans feel very “right now.” ESP with anything La Ligne (<<this sweater is 60% off!)

+ALERT: this Celia B dress is 50% off.

+Cute Vilbrequin swim trunks for boys, on sale.

+Van Cleef inspired earrings.

+These bone china to go coffee cups would be such a chic gift.

+Koosh balls are still fun for little hands – my children found some at the pool last week and were obsessed. Retro!

+I think micro needs one of these East Coast tees.

+These chunky enamel hoops are fun and different.

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