Me Before You: A page-turning sweet romance and tear-jerker that really makes you think. I just found out that this is going to be made into a movie as well. Three cheers! I said this in a previous post, but I'll say it again -- my favorite scene from this book will probably be one of my favorite scenes ever from any book: Lou and Will dancing together at a wedding, all eyes on them, almost like normal lovers. Almost.
What Alice Forgot: it's a light and funny read, but actually deeply touches serious themes like infertility, estrangement, losing best friends, and re-building a family. Another page-turner, too.
Divergent: I know, I know. I am way late to the Divergent bandwagon, but I'm glad I finally read book #1 of the 3-part series. I already looked up the DVD release date for the movie adaptation (it's August 5th, if you care) and have planned a movie night with my fraands. I'm pretty much in love with Four and his love for Tris. Gosh. I really only like the book because of their romance. So that's that.
Disclaimer: I haven't read the following (yet).
The Vacationers - Basically, the "it" read of the summer. There are 74 holds on it at the DC public library, so I'll guess I'll read it never. It's about an American's family two-week vacation in Mallorca and how their stuff* hits the fan. Who's up for a good family drama?
Longbourn - a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice from the servants perspective! Downton Abbey fans unite.
The Engagements - A Diamond is Forever and a story following 4 couples. I don't know much more than that except that everyone I know who has read it, liked it.
Eleanor and Park - Remember your first high school love? That's what this book is about -- first love and how to navigate it. And it's set in 1986. It's another young adult book that's going to be made into a movie.
If I Stay - I saw the preview for this when I went to see The Fault in Our Stars. I think I'll pass on the movie (yes, again another YA book-turned-movie.... I'm seeing a trend) but the book could be good. The main character is in a coma and has to decide to come out of it or not. And of course, there is a boy waiting for her if she does. Choices, choices.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail - another book being made into a movie. This time with Reese Witherspoon -- what's not to love? I get the feeling this is a book like Eat, Pray, Love which I think I liked. A lot of people have already read Wild, I know. I'm so behind.
The Interestings - everyone's reading it. I feel like I've seen this book in every coffee shop window I've passed. It's about talented kids who grow up -- some achieving their dreams and some not -- and the ties that bind.
The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini - the two most cherished novels from Pat Conroy, my new favorite author. All of his writing is haunting, beautiful, a love song to the low country of South Carolina, and will stick with you always.
That's about all I've got. Well, for now. That's the good thing about books -- there's always more to read. What have you been reading?? I'd love to know!
*A lady never curses.
(Here was the summer reading list from 2013, in case you are curious. I didn't really love MWF Seeking BFF and I couldn't get through The Paris Wife, although I think most everyone I know liked it.)
I went to Charleston two weekends ago for a friend's bachelorette party. Allie and I have been friends since first grade, and it's such a huge honor to be a part of her wedding in July. She was THE BEST bachelorette --- dancing with anyone who asked her to dance, running into the Charleston fire department and throwing on a helmet and jacket and jumping on a firetruck without thinking twice about it, going along with all our little games we planned for her, and not once being sad about the fact that it rained for two days of the trip. In fact, I think I was the only one who was sad about the rain. But I mean, I sort of have a sun addiction so it was probably for the best that the weather wasn't cooperating. Gotta protect the skin... I'm learning this slowly. Here are a few pictures:
The bride-to-be and me. We used to roll ourselves up in foam bed pads and secure them around our bodies with bungee cords, and then climb trees and stare at people. Glory days.
Some of my high school (and life) besties. #HighlandPark4ever
We had matching tanks, of course.
Below, I'm wearing genie pants. My friend Courtney is a high school counselor and says that this style is all the rage for the 14-18 year-old crowd. Cool. I'm 10 years older. Same thing?
This is all of us on the porch at Cru Cafe where we had dinner one night. I've been reading Pat Conroy novels in anticipation for this Charleston trip and if you've ever read a Pat Conroy novel, you know that food, and the preparation of it, is a central and defining element to his writing. In fact, my dad was here last weekend and we were discussing Pat Conroy. I just finished Beach Music and when I mentioned this to my dad, he said that he will never forget a scene from that book that describes in beautiful detail a meal shared in Rome near the Pantheon: the peeling of an orange, olive oil, and truffles. I knew exactly what scene he was thinking of. I'm tempted to post the text from it, but it's not really the point of this post so I will refrain. (Wow! I'm showing restraint!) In Conroy's South of Broad, which takes place in Charleston, he often mentions the cuisine of the south in mouth-watering detail, and it was with this in mind that I was crazy excited about my first low country meal in Charleston at Cru Cafe: local swordfish with wild mushroom Anson Mills grits, taso gravy, truffle arugula, and tobacco onions. I so wish I could describe the meal in typical Conroy fashion. I won't even try. But it's worth writing home about. It was perfect.
Here, Leen and I are making carrot cake. This has been a tradition since our freshmen year of high school. We'd all gather at one of our houses to watch the Bachelor, and if we were at Leighton's house, her mom would always bake us her famous carrot cake. She'd hide a quarter in the batter, and if you received the slice that had the quarter, then you won a prize. Ever since then, we've nearly always made this cake when we all get together. It's one of my favorite traditions.
Allie and the fire truck. She's basically a model.
Speaking of South of Broad, here it is. The white church in the background, St. Michael's Church, boasts the oldest bell tower clock in America. History is cool, man.
After reading Conroy's novel about growing up in Charleston, I couldn't believe I was actually walking through the streets of this historic neighborhood south of Broad Street. I loved it. While the girls were shopping on King Street, I fast-walked down King to Tradd Street and over to Meeting then to East Battery, and then back up Legare Street. As I drooled over the homes, I realized (with glee) that Charleston feels pretty similar to Georgetown. Except Charleston has palm trees, and the waves from the Cooper River hitting the sea wall splashed my legs as I walked along East Battery. And at one point, I saw porpoises. Oh, and, for the first time in what feels like forever, I saw families dressed in their Sunday best leaving church together on Sunday morning. Be still my heart! It was then that I realized I've been away from the south for too long. Georgetown is charming, but it most certainly isn't the south.
Charleston rolled out the red carpet for us as we celebrated our dear friend. I can't wait to see her married in just a few more weeks!
Two spots in my neighborhood bring me GREAT joy. Actually, there are way more than two spots, but for the theme of this post [FLOWERS], there are two spots that bring me great joy.
One is a home on Q and 32nd Street, and one is the Georgetown Lutheran Church on Wisconsin and Volta. Both of these places are lovingly and painstakingly cared for by a master gardener, and the result is simple and glorious. Both places are on prominent Georgetown thoroughfares, and I'm pretty sure that both gardeners find a lot of joy in their flowers because they know that those flowers bring a lot of joy to those who pass by. There is a lesson in this: he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. (That's a Proverb -- hey o!)
I've actually been dying to know who owns the house and tends to the beautiful flowers at the corner of Q and 32nd for nearly three years. Turns out, it was the terrible winter that we had this year that gave me the opportunity to meet this mystery woman as she and I were the only two soles out in an early morning blizzard. She was walking her dog, and I was walking to let the dogs out that I was dogsitting. She is a beautiful woman named Laura who has a big, white Golden Retriever named Cody Dakota. The dog has two names because she couldn't decide which name she liked better, so she gave him both. It's the first dog I've ever met with a double name, but I don't really know why more people don't do that. Maybe I'll do that when we get a dog one day.
Speaking of that, (and this is a tangent that I didn't mean to write about, but that is what's fun about writing,) I always tell Michael how much I want a dog. One of my favorite things to ask him is what kind of dog he would want, just to see what he will say. We will be out taking a walk and see a cute dog and I'll go all googly-eyed and swooney, but getting a dog has never really been a reality. Then, last week, Michael randomly blurts out to me that we should get a dog. He definitely thinks we should get a dog. He's sure of it, and we should go to the rescue places or find a breeder and get a dog.
Now, you know when you say things a lot because you know it's not really going to happen? That's sort of what I was doing when I kept saying how much I wanted a dog. Then, when Michael randomly started to agree with me about wanting a dog too, I'm like "What the heck!? You're not supposed to say that!" Michael's supposed to be the rational one. The one who always brings my dream world back to earth. But now that he is saying that we should get a dog, I'm the one who is bringing the reality check:
Honey, our apartment is the size of a church pew.
Sweet pea, doesn't our lease say we can't have a dog?
Sugar buns, we don't really have that thing called MONEY. And owning a dog requires some of that.
Hurrrumph. I think Michael has me figured out. He has realized that if he plays along with my petty schemes and complaints and needs, then I'll actually be the one to freak out and turn into Ms. Practical. Dang it! I hate it when he figures me out! There is also a lesson in this: put your money where your mouth is.
Laura, the flower and double-name dog lady, keeps her garden so pretty. I run past her corner house almost every day and it never ceases to amaze me. I've learned quite a bit about flowers this year through a bit of study and because I've been doing more "girly" things of late with my free time, and I can't wait to have a real garden one day. Michael is the one with the green thumb in the family, but I'm the opinionated one, so we've hatched a plan that combines our strengths. Wherever we end up next, we want to have a garden. Herbs and vegetables, but most importantly, flowers. I will get to pick my favorites, and Michael will do all the hard work of planting. It's a wonderful life!
Just kidding.... I will help, of course. I will serve lemonade and other refreshments and take lots of pics.
Ok Ok, I will help! I will pick up a hoe and do my part.
Enough of this small talk. Let me show you some flowers.
Hello, my pretties.
The window box that puts all other window boxes to shame:
These purdy little vines aren't actually from Laura's house or the church, but, I mean, I love them.
I know it's now mid-May and the Shortest Spring Ever due to the Longest Winter Ever has now skipped merrily into summer, but since we now have the AC on full blast in our teensy apartment, and since it was a monsoon outside, I went into the closet this morning hunting for my favorite fleece sweatshirt to curl up in while I drank my coffee.
The backstory on my favorite fleece sweatshirt:
My favorite clothing brand is Patagonia. I think it has to do with the fact that the name is taken from the mountainous and beautiful region in Argentina, that Argentina was a time of healing and happiness for me when I lived there in 2007, and that I have a thing about being warm and comfortable but also looking stylish. Not stylish in a preppy way, but more like in an outdoor adventure way. Don't be misled --- "outdoor adventure" are not words that I would say describe me too well. I think using a port-a-potty qualifies as an outdoor adventure.
Anyway, I've owned my cream Patagonia fleece sweatshirt since the summer of 2004 -- right before I went to college. As it turns out, Molly, my first year roommate and saving grace, had the same sweatshirt! (Well, in blue.)
Many memories were made in those sweatshirts:
It's like we've never seen leaves before. But this is how you just can't help feeling when it's fall and you're on the lawn at UVA. Why?? Because it's heaven on earth.
Turning 19 (oh, to be young!)
I wore the sweatshirt on the day that I killed two javelina with a single shot in south Texas. Pretty epic.
And I wore it when Tilly and I ran down Rugby Road with belts on our heads...
And when Sara turned 21.
And in Cabo (who does that?!?)
And when watching lacrosse with one of my oldest friends in the world!
And I guess Michael didn't mind the sweatshirt too much, or my whole outfit for that matter (???), when we started dating and I drove to Durham to visit him for the first time. Because we got marrrrrried about 8 months later.
So there you have it. Happiness is a fleece sweatshirt. And sweet memories.
That's a terrible combination if there ever was one.
So I found myself doing something that I don't like doing but that needs to happen -- cleaning, and clearing out my email inbox. The latter is far easier and of course, I can be sitting on the sofa while doing it. That begs the question --- "why, Carey Beth! Is something wrong with you that you must live a sedentary lifestyle??!" To which I reply --- "No, dear one, I am just lazy. And it's raining and it's Wednesday, in case you forgot."
While clearing my inbox, I've come across some jewels of articles that friends have sent me that I've failed to read until now. One of the articles my dad sent is this one from the New York Times columnist David Brooks. Basically, anything Brooks writes is incredibly worth reading. And basically, my dad usually sends me everything Brooks writes because he is nice like that (my dad, not Brooks, although I'm sure Brooks is nice, too.) So I read the article, and I also clicked on the YouTube link for a song by Audrey Assad that is referenced in it.
And then something shifted deep inside me as I listened to one of the best voices I have ever heard. That's a bold statement, but I really mean it. I'm not sure if Audrey Assad is a happening in the Christian music scene that I just totally missed, or maybe she is relatively unknown, but I can't believe I've never heard her music until today. It's probably me -- I tend to put Christian music in a little bubble off to the side that I'll only tap into if I'm feeling really desperate because the Hot Hits radio is failing to play anything except Katy Perry's "Dark Horse." If I hear that song one more time I will seriously break something. Ugh, to even mention Katy Perry in the same post as writing about Audrey Assad is like a criminal offense. (Side note: I have nothing against Christian music. Sometimes I just feel like the Christian radio stations don't play the best Christian music that they could... but this is probably my sour heart getting in the way. I hate it when that happens.)
Audrey Assad's voice, lyrics, piano... EVERYTHING about her music is a beautiful praise. If you are a music person, then you know that feeling when a song so gets to your heart. It's hard to explain -- but you just know it's right and it's what your soul wants and it makes you laugh or cry or dance or worship or maybe all of it at once. Music can do that like nothing else can. That is what I'm feeling right now as I listen to this music. It's soaringly beautiful, and it's made my rainy Wednesday infinitely better. I hope it does for you, too.