This week, I spent a lot of time reading (and listening to — I’m currently trying a new mode in which I listen to a few chapters via audiobook and then pick it up on paper to continue reading) Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. She is wonderfully funny and passionate in winning ways. I find her words — ostensibly pointed at the subject of writing, but with lessons that arc over into other realms — deeply encouraging both as a writer and a human. Worth a read whether or not you are trying to give writing a go.
(And P.S., if you are trying to write, I did share some thoughts on how to get started here, with some practical tips, to which I would add/underscore that having good, designated paper to receive your thoughts is a great starting point. I open my little Appointed notebook and immediately find myself in a different, more curious headspace. It is low-stakes and inviting. I am also absolutely loving this task notebook from the brand, which I use more for lists, including quick writing prompt inspo to return to on a later day.)
The vignettes above represents a personal Mount Helicon. I was alone on our back porch on a warm, sunny spring afternoon haloed by birds and bees, enjoying an iced coffee and a thought provoking book, and taking sporadic notes by hand. I used to be a big marginalia girl, but I’ve forfeited that habit because I also often lend my books to people and am then gripped with worry over what I annotated, since a lot of it is half-baked gibberish. Of course, that underdevelopment is very much part of the reading process, and I find jotting my way through provisionally formed observations useful. But I do not need my brother’s friend wondering why I was drawing a butterfly here or spitballing: “Kant?” there. Most of them prove to be red herrings.
At the same time, I love inheriting books that are underlined, asterisked, and notated to high hell: a second discursive layer to the text itself. Did you know that the central narrative in Nabokov’s novel Ada, or Ardor, takes place in the fictional marginalia? He was challenging narrative conventions, and making enormous, stampeding claims about the relationship between text, author, and audience, but the rhetorical emphasis stuck with me. More often than not, those notes in the margins are windows into the inner lives of a reader. I suppose I feel a tad exposed leaving mine out there.
How do you read? Pen in hand? In complete silence? Via audiobook? Some sporadic thoughts on these matters:
+A different way to read the Iliad.
+My favorite audiobooks. (Please, please, listen to Tom Hanks narrate The Dutch House! You are in for such a wild treat.)
That beautiful session on the patio was a strong peak of the week, but a few other things that caught my attention:
+I wrote an essay on motherhood and the myth of balance for childrenswear brand Danrie’s burgeoning blog. I shared a bit about this new children’s boutique earlier this month, but I am completely enamored with the curation and the team. I was ecstatic to lend my pen to them, and it gave me the space I needed to round out some of my meandering thoughts and insights on the subject of balance that sprouted here.
+Related, my daughter has been living in this sweet reversible jacket Danrie sent over. She has gotten into a pickier phase when it comes to dressing (one of the only things we regularly agree on are these TBBC play dresses) but she loves this little coat. A perfect weight for the season and the pattern seems to go with everything. Despite the thumbs down below, she was having the time of her life hunting for Easter eggs and eating cupcakes with her cousins on Easter.
+My daughter was on spring break last ten days and we kept her very busy with trips to the museum, zoo, White House, and two days of ballet camp. On Wednesday, though, I took the morning off to ferry her to her annual physical, then to pick out soccer cleats, and then to lunch with my parents. It was so incredibly special to have that one-on-one time with her, to see her dancing to Taylor Swift in the back seat, and linger over pairs of Adidas sport slides (!) in the shoe store, and skip all the way up and down the mall corridor. Six is such a fabulous age. She is still tender-hearted and sweet and in dramatic need of my ministrations, but she is conversational and funny and observant. I just love her company. When we returned home from these errands, my husband had placed the entire box set of Jack and Annie books on the counter (her favorite – she’s obsessed!) with a note that said: “We love you, Emory. Never stop reading!” She was beaming, and then she immediately got to work selecting a book to dig into. The next morning, she’d left a note under our door that said: “Thank you so much for my Jack and Annie books. I think I’m already on chapter 8 or 9. I love you.”
+Talbots invited me to style some of their new collection, and I’m wearing their easy pants (run a tad generous) in the head photo of this post. I plan on wearing them all summer long in clear homage to Nancy Meyers.
+Easter was lovely but a tiny bit odd this year because my husband was battling a virus and felt unwell for most of the weekend, but did rally in time for our small Easter dinner — just the four of us — for which he prepared a rack of lamb. In the past, we’ve always gone big on Easter, inviting friends and family over, baking elaborate desserts, etc. Of course, despite his invalid status, he still managed to pull off a culinary feast, but it was a much quieter and less fussy affair than usual. I honestly did not even plan our Easter tablescape until 3 p.m. because he’d been feeling so badly, I didn’t know it would happen. (I’d even had to fill the easter baskets and scatter the easter eggs alone the night prior!) I ended up using this beautiful bird of paradise tablecloth that my friend over at Sweetgrass Home sent my way. I paired with simple woven chargers and moss bunnies and poured myself a tall glass of champagne. I always get questions about the coupes — one of my most prized possessions! They were sold out for awhile but you can now find them here.
+I can’t get enough of my son’s little look over Easter weekend. Below, he’s running to board an Easter train way out in Maryland. Something about those tiny loafers just kill me. He’s wearing with Gap jeans, which are my favorite fit for him — slim but not skinny — and his beloved “teddy bear jacket” (a Patagonia Retro-X Fleece). Those Patagonia coats are worth every penny. They wear so well and barely show any signs of use. I have kept or passed down every one I’ve purchased, and I usually make them stretch to at least two seasons by sizing up.
Now onto some lighter fare: the items that I cannot wait to style and share with you…
THESE LILAC SANDALS (20% OFF WITH CODE MAGPIE)
CANDLES FROM LINNEA (THANKS TO A READER FOR THE TIP)
THIS GORGEOUS JULIET DUNN DRESS
Onward, friends. Hope you have a great week!
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2 thoughts on “The Magpie Edit: Edition 34.”
Though in theory, I love notes of previous readers in books… I find it so distracting and honestly get resentful?! Which, I think is just my frustration with my self. I feel I’m not smart enough…. Disciplined enough… focused enough, to still have my own thoughts and feelings foremost, without influence. So many layers! What an interesting topic Jen! Xo
So interesting — I’m sorry notes like that make you feel that way! I understand completely how someone else’s notes can predispose/color my thinking about a text!!