Thursday, September 29, 2011

a word on spelling bees

there are some things you should know before your first spelling bee.

one, attire.  ("attire: A-T-T-I-R-E.  attire.") attire can make or break the event.  too many would-bee-spellers think they can show up in their sneakers and polos.  people, this is not a frivolous endeavor, to set out to correctly spell the lexical bricks of our every communication.  to strut your orthographic merit, you must first show you can wear it.  it, of course, being the accoutrements fitting for this mental station for which you aim by entering yourself in a spelling bee.  this is, as one might say, the reverse of sweet katerina's speech:

Why are our bodies soft, and weak, and smooth
. . .
But that our soft conditions and our hearts
Should well agree with our external parts?
(Taming of the Shrew, V.ii.169-172)

in the case of the spelling bee, our external parts must be made to well agree with our internal parts, orthographical skills being chief, of course, among such.

some apparel you might consider:

  • sperry top-siders (for boys)
  • oxford shoes (for boys or girls)
  • pleated skirts (for girls.  scottish boys excepted.)
  • yellow- or navy-themed ensembles (see parenthetical note A)
  • tortoise-shell glasses (fake or prescription.  only you will know the difference.)
  • a tie or a bow-tie (for the boys)
  • avoid overly gaudy jewelry (both sexes), as no self-respecting lexical aesthete will take seriously a person draped in, as they say, "bling."
parenthetical note A:  color-themed ensembles can be a precarious arena through which to navigate.  if your escort is using the same color scheme, you may consider each appropriating slightly different tinctures so as to increase the monochromatic range (and therefore interest) of the ensemble's ultimate delivery.

now when you find yourself onstage, microphone in hand, beckon the etymological powers of the universe to you.  listen to them.  take your time.  use your stopwatch if you need to, but take every blessed second.  because sometimes the idea that perhaps "klomp" is spelled with a "k" instead of a "c" won't come to you until second 57.  that 57th second might mean the difference between a shameful walk off stage and that coveted trophy.

cheer for fellow spellers when they forget the first "u" in "chauffeur."

always doubt the moderator's ability to pronounce words correctly.  he or she might mistake "raucous" for "ruckus", or "piquancy" for "pickansee" (which isn't even a word), so be sure to ask for a definition and the part of speech where appropriate.

and most important of all, when you're sitting there on stage, front and center, spell-write every word the moderator gives your opponents on the palm of your hand with the forefinger of your other.  do this with an air of unparalleled intensity.  your competition will get a little more fidgety as you knowingly nod to yourself, "yes, i DO know how to spell 'autobahn' despite it being a different language."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

sweet parie!, my favorite day of all

i hear this song and i am carried to paris, rue du renard, the city rainy and sparkling,
and floating through the mirror sidewalks
to an art museum
and a man behind a crepe stove
to a bubble man
and a bicycle crowd
and shimmering my way through the three-fourths melody
sweet like the streets
and the crepes,
winding the melody
and this morning
and this day
into my dreams.

Monday, September 26, 2011

{saturday morning adventure}: crepes & cards

any chance to dress up and we're happy.
and this saturday morning it was sailboat regatta attire
crepes sweet & savoury
and such such a beautiful morning for playing french card games
on a big quilt
under a bigger tree
with friends.



a book a day...

a brief history of my weekend's literary mailbox delights:

friday: grace notes by brian doyle
saturday: TIME
monday: cabin fever by tom montgomery fate

and there is something so pregnant-with-promise in knowing i have three more books (and a lifetime of TIME magazines) on the way.

ah, the sweet joy of being an english major.  litera(ri)ly the best weekend ever.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

is this what we've come to?

last night a boy asked me why i never text him.
he was rather upset by this fact.

he then said that he usually only asks girls on dates that text him.
to which i responded that i usually only text boys who have asked me on dates.

to which, of course, he said that he would take me on a date so i would finally text him.

which is such a beautifully horrid and backwards idea that my roommates and i laughed for an entire evening about it.

and here we are, twenty-first century, connecting personally so we can finally connect virtually.
which is all we really want, isn't it?
a little virtual connection?

oh for the days of formal courtship, letter-writing, and house-calls.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

TIME, a love letter

well it's official.  i am a TIME magazine subscriber!  i got my first installment last week, but i just couldn't know if it was a sure thing until the second came, and came it did!  i squealed when i saw it at the mailbox (then immediately felt stupid), but then carried it with me to the library in case i have any down between writing my thesis and reading two books for class.

i like how skinny TIME is.  it's so unintimidating, like, "hey you can read me in a week.  you can read a page during breakfast, or as you wind down after school, or for a ten minute study break."  and plus, TIME has pictures and graphics and color and cool fonts--all of which are more or less critical to my overall enjoyment of a piece of reading.  this is most likely why i loved extremely loud and incredibly close so much.  also, there's joel stein's column ("the awesome column", as it is called) which always gets a good chuckle out of me.

all in all, TIME, i think i shall keep, love, and faithfully read you.
i will not let the guilt of not having finished last week's edition get in the way of my childlike joy at finding a new one in the mail, nor will i restrain myself from reading the new one because of backlogged unread articles in last week's copy.
i will affectionately display you on my corner coffee table.
i will bring up your little tidbits of information at every appropriate conversational opportunity.
and when i budget my month's necessaries, the $3.99 i spend to have your sweet, sweet pages in my life will always be an expense i count myself lucky to pay.

because i mean really.
isn't it about

(chuckle chuckle chuckle, partially out of entertainment at my own joke, and partially out of the glee associated with knowing i have a copy in my backpack at this very moment.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

morning wishes

and so i think to myself, why can't my town have a little bakery on the corner that sells pan au chocolat and sfogliatelle?

(avignon, france)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

particular joy & kindred spirits

i think it a touching of two distant people when i am, say, looking at the next book i want to read on amazon:

MANHOOD FOR AMATEURS (by michael chabon)

and i take a look at the "customers who bought this item also bought" list and find:

BON IVER (bon iver)

i like knowing that people who read & love the same books i love also love the same music i love, the same photographic hobbies i love, and drinking water with ice in it.  which i, also, happen to love.

so now i have a new technique for finding cool stuff: enter something i think is cool into amazon, then see what other people who bought that thing also bought.

trial run:
holga cameras?  no, too kitschy in a hipster kind of way.  (although i do love pretty much everything hipsters love.)

well how bout a tropical bromeliad garden??

perrrrfect.  alright, here we go:

customers who bought this item also bought:

yep.  there it is.  i already have the 1-inch flat iron.  taking weight loss pills scares me.  but a visit from the goon squad?  listen, any author who uses both the words "goon" and "squad" in not only the same sentence, but in the TITLE of her book has my attention.  and for that, miss egan, i shall read your book.

oh and just for the record, i base most, nay all, of my book-buying decisions off the aesthetics of the cover.  which is the second reason why i will be adding "goon squad" to my goodreads list.

Monday, September 19, 2011

WORD (the invention edition)

in case you were wondering, today is the "all random thoughts make it onto blog!" day.  my friend averill informed me today that all people who audition for the lindy hop team at byu make it.  today's blog posts are kinda like that.

so annnnyways, i just told courtney (my tonight-library-buddy) that i am going to judge her from afar as i read her creative nonfiction essay.

great genre title, by the way.  "let's try to make the genre a little more palatable by adding "creative," because seriously guys, NO ONE wants to read 'nonfiction'."

and also palatable is the word i am currently fixated with--think about it daily and such.  delightful really.  
i mean, what. a. lovely.  it can describe so many things.

holy cow i AM all over the place.

so i'm telling courtney how i'm going to be judging her from afar whilst i read her palatable creative nonfiction essay.  to which she replies, "yeahbut i'm sitting two feet away from you.  that isn't really afar."

and then we invent the word aclose.

aclose:  (adverb)  at, from, or to a short distance.

use it in a convo tomorrow and i shall award you three "likes" on facebook.

hobbies like a grandma

so recently i've picked up knitting.  i know, i know, just one of my many hidden and grandma-like talents.  i'm currently working on a mustard-colored scarf.  (look out january!  i'm coming with my mustard scarf and it is NOT gunna be pretty!  (it being your fate, january, but most likely the scarf will not be pretty either.))

anyways, all i have to say about knitting can be said in two sentences:

it is a great excuse to watch episodes of "life" until you know everything about the planet.

as soon as i get this scarf finished and my knitting needles freed up, i'm going to town on THIS baby:

this moment in the hall of knitting wonder brought to you by (who else), the man of mystical sweaters, mr. bill cosby!

riddle me this

last night i dreamt i fell asleep on a large and porous rock in an underwater cove.  thirty tiny tiny snails attached themselves to my right thigh and started burrowing themselves into my skin.  the only way to detach them was to get out of the water and wait for them to push their way back out.  it hurt so badly, i screamed every time one would fall off my leg.

the temptation to just rub them all off was nearly more than i could bear.

when i woke up, i still had seven attached.

it took me several minutes laying there in the dark to get up the guts to rub my leg, afraid that maybe there really were snails and maybe they really would just burrow deeper if i tried to rub them off.  those little scales, knots, growths, attached to my leg like they were part of me.

so, joseph, can i get a little interpretation?


1)  early this morning, knowing i have an 8am class, a certain gentleman offered to take me to school.  gentlemen make you feel like they're watching out for you.  like they want to make your life easier for you.
2)  later, i got off the elevator and walked to the hallway.  a certain gentleman in front of me opened the door for himself, then waited for me to go through as well.  when i said "thank you!" he said, "my pleasure."  it made me feel like a lady worth holding doors open for.  like i was doing him a favor for allowing him to hold the door for me.  gentlemen make you feel like being a lady is beautiful and valuable.

dear justin vernon (letter 3),

at 7:39 this morning, i received a phone call from mount clemens, michigan.  it was an unrecognized number.  i of course didn't answer, because it was 7:39 in the morning, and because it was an unrecognized number, and i figured if it was someone professional, they wouldn't want to hear my "just woke up what can i do for you?" voice, and if it was a friend, they would leave a message.  and then i realized--oh my gosh YOU are from michigan.  i dream about you calling to tell me you would like to make a soundtrack for my life.  then, of course, i remembered you're actually from wisconsin, not michigan.  all those central states.  alas.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

saturday morning adventure: fly fishing

the flirtatious tugs
perhaps just
the hook dragging the riverbottom rocks
the late summer glacier's final run down the mountain before a new snowcap
pull pull pull against the line

parabola-curved (whisk whisk)
mach's-number-straight (click click click)

one little baby
meant for catch
& release

Thursday, September 15, 2011


the last few days i’ve felt a little shaky inside, a little queasy.  kinda like a watered-down version of how you feel when the person you’re in love with tells you it isn’t worth it to them anymore.  which hasn’t happened to me in a while, by the way.  thank goodness. 

so i'm thinking, "why am i so queasy-uneasy?"

things that have made me feel especially queasy today:
  • thinking about how i don’t exercise enough
  • the elastic waist on this skirt
  • waking up questioning the state of my heart
  • reading 12 people’s very kind but very extensive comments on my personal essay
  • a brownie from Good Earth
  • the 21 tabs i currently have open in my internet browser of choice (which happens to be Google Chrome, if you’re wondering.) 

things that make me gasp with happiness:
  • finding that my current favorite song that i’ve only been listening to on youtube because i’m cheap like that and very rarely buy music is already in my itunes from a free download!  ka-ching!  (in case you’re curious, youtube version here:

things that make me smile a little every time I see them:
  • this browser theme, which I get to see every time I open a new tab (which may or may not be a large contributor to my current endorsement of Google Chrome)

. . . . (mental pause) . . . .

things that make me smile a little every time i see them but that might be contributing to the queasy feeling:
  • i guess if i get happy every time i see the rainbow pony, then that might be lowering my resistance to opening new tabs—we’re talking Pavlov’s dog here—which increases the number of tabs.  shoot.  hoisted by my own petard.

won’t dinner group time just come already.

dear justin vernon (letter 2),

you know how cat stevens did the whole album for "harold and maude"?  and how arcade fire did the same for "where the wild things are"?  well, justin vernon, here's the situation:  i don't have a movie, but i do have this thing called a life.  i submit that it would be better with an official soundtrack.
will you could you would you?
this is my official request.

in earnest,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


just bought lightroom, on the recommendation of mr. skoticus.  so of course it's what i've been doing instead of reading nonfiction essays/writing my own nonfiction essays/doing yoga/cleaning my bedroom up/doing laundry/grading student papers/ blogging about europe/you get the picture.

and thus i present, my first photo edited in lightroom:

(trumpet noises.)
expect more forthcoming.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

something i wish i was cool enough to write

by dallas clayton

Buy a falconer’s glove.
Approach the girl you like wearing the falconers glove.
Ask her “Excuse me, have you seen a falcon fly by here?”
Look up to the sky, hopeful/sad.
If she says “No,” look distraught and ask her if she wouldn’t mind helping you look for your falcon.
No human being would ever turn down an opportunity like this.
Use the time you spend together searching for the falcon to get to know her.
At the end of your search (10 minutes) you will probably need consoling re: the loss of your one true friend.
By this point her interest in you based on the fact that you were able to put so much love and time into the raising of a falcon will more than ensure a second date, and from there it’s just a hop skip and a jump to marriage.
Good luck!
*NOTE: If by chance a falcon does appear out of nowhere, simply say ” (falcon’s name) I’ve missed you so much! Don’t ever scare me like that again!” Then offer to take the girl to dinner for helping you find your lost falcon. Bonus: You just got a free falcon!

(note from Carolyn:  Read this guy.  Read his website.  It will change the way you write and change the way you think about the things you see every day.)

dear professors of the english language,

word on the street is that some of you read our blogs.  "our" meaning the grad students.  so here's what i have to say:

you have no idea what it does to a tired, theory-beaten, behind-schedule, enthusiastically curious but not so confident graduate student when you tell her with bright eyes and a sincere smile that you think her ideas will work well,
when you brush off her concerns about starting too late or being behind with a brush of your hand and an, "oh well," and then move on to more interesting topics like her ideas,
when you say that of all the grad students you'd like to work with, she'd be it,
when you say that her plans for the future sound marvelous and promising
(even though they don't necessarily entail a phd immediately),
when you say you also once had a love of photography. 

i left your office with a bounce in my step and a new energy for this whole thesis/life thing.

Monday, September 12, 2011

song of the day: i can't make you love me {bon iver}

"i can't make you love me" was written by mike reid when he heard about a guy who got drunk one night and shot up his ex-girlfriend's car.  during the trial, the judge asked the guy if he'd learned anything--his response: "i learned that you can't make a woman love you if she don't."

something about that is really beautiful to me.
beautiful the way all breakups are.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

sayonara summer (a party for friends)

beating the leaves to their insistence on turning colors is very important.
like a boyfriend you don't want to say goodbye to,
you have to say goodbye
before he does.
get to the punch line before he 
punches you in the kisser by saying goodbye.

and so we said goodbye to her,
to our beloved summer 2011--

for me it was london
peach gelato
& tented markets
tea parties in kensington gardens
& roman & giacomo & cammell
& trains trains trains.

but most of all the bunting.

so i made a cake to celebrate that part,

and mindy and nate made Oreo balls the size of golfballs to celebrate the hail in the east
andrea brought peanuts for all her international flights
holly pudding
amy crisps
and desi a tray of symbol-inscribed brownies.

daniel made the switzerland bread braided like i braid my hair
and i'm pretty sure amanda brought peachies?
katie guacamole from her ranch's avocados
nathan's herbed olives (with pits!) from marseilles
carolann some provo peaches 
(peaches that have my dinner group relocating monday dinner to allred orchards)

amber homemade bread from home with real apple butter
and mysterious seven layer bars that i'm not sure who brought but man were they delish.
(who am i forgetting?)

*  *  *

my favorite thing to watch at parties like this is how all my circles of friends end up knowing each other
how dinner group people 
know london people
know ward people
know cousin people.

it's a small and lovelily comfortable world i live in,
a small and lovelily comfortable sphere.

thanks for the wall of letters to summer,
thanks for cheering when we cut the cake,
thanks for being the kinds of friends that at parties everyone comments on what cool friends i have.

sayonara summer,
we loved you so.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

dinner group (the new chapter)

well, that time has come.  the day when i feel so guilty for being such a bad blogger and so desirous to become more consistent that i overcome the total lack of anything meaningful to write about and just start writing.

and the first topic to come to mind?
you guessed it:
dinner group.
the new chapter.

so dinner group is really important to me.
i've spent the last 3 years exploring various types of dinner groups:

there was the oversized group where there were more people than nights to cook, and every night felt like a new but old family that you loved.  i remember hallie's panini sandwiches from that dinner group, and katherine's ripped-out living room floor.

then there was the summer dinner group, with not enough people to cook, but lots of fresh veggies, and lots of corn on the cob, and lots of canceled dinners because errybody was gone barbecuing or bicycling or camping or road-tripping or other such summery delights.

then there was the one that my roommate was in where one night she was fed a plate of french fries with pepperoni and gravy on top.  sorry if anyone thinks this is an acceptable dinner-group dinner.  it isn't!  that's all i have to say about that one.

and there was of course the dinner group from last year, of only people who loved to cook.  my oh my how we celebrated dinner everyday!  ah.  when i daydream, it is only and always about this dinner group.  ran into tucktuck a few days ago on campus and it about made my life to get such a lovely blast from my dinner group past.  i could go on.  but i won't.

so in all these dinner group philanderings (not sure if i spelled or used that word correctally), i've learned a few things about dinner groups.  i shall coach you:

1) you must hand-pick who is in your dinner group.  must, must must.  upon this thing there is no equivocating.  the number one reason why dinner groups fail, why students have bad dinner group experiences, and why people between the ages of 18-25 get the flu is because of poor dinner-groupee choices.  a few tips:

a) choose people who can and will actually show up to dinner.  i would approximate that 72% of the joy of dinner group is in the company.  cute boys are favorable (if you're a girl).  cool girls are favorable (if you're a boy OR a girl.  i mean cool girls are just favorable no matter what you are).
b) choose people that aren't going to make kraft mac&cheese every time their turn rolls around.  don't get me wrong: i love me some good kraft mac&cheese (espesh the spiral kind).  but for dinner group?  no.  no no no.  once you've had lemon mushroom chicken or stuffed peppers or south american smoked rice pilaf, there is no going back to little caesar's five dollar pizzas and frozen burrito dinner groups.  so choose wisely.
c) choose people you might actually want to be friends with in the future.  because dinner group friendships are forever.

and now i have come to a screeching halt in what i have to say about dinner groups.  which means i'll be thinking a lot about them (philosophically, of course) over the next 36 hours, and will most likely have something to add sooner of later.

but for now, know that i'm currently part of a hand-picked dinner group.  tonight we had fajitas on corn tortillas (favorite.).  and i can tell that we are gonna be friends.

*mundane detail that will someday probably be more important to me that any of this other nonsense:  this week i have listened to nothing but bon iver's "towers" on my daily walks to and from campus.  and last night when i was walking home from my class that gets out at 9:40pm (i know, right?!), i sang while i listened and didn't care one bit who was mocking me in their head for being the girl who ipod-sings to herself, i love the song THAT much.*

Thursday, September 1, 2011


moxie: courage and determination
people i know with moxie: 

canoodle: kiss and cuddle amorously
canoodlers canoodling in rome (what better place to canoodle?!):

autumn: and a happy september to you too!

i love autumn for so many reasons.
it isn't here yet,
but looking through these pictures from last year makes me happy it's on its way.

i find a lot of delight in the last months of the year ending in 'ember'
like a fire dying
but a fire nonetheless

stoves and boiling water
cocoa you hold on to like a secret between your hands
mittens and scarves and thick knitted stockings

and cuddling
and hearths
and dinner parties with laughter warm in the rafters.


more pictures from last fall here