I finished The Art of Fielding (I committed!) a few nights ago and my mind has been lingering over it ever since. Harbach's rendering of college life reminded me a little of my own idyllic experience. And back-to-school time always makes me think of my first days at Mills.
|First day at Mills, so dorky.|
Coming from a place where it took 30 minutes just to get to school and I had to drive or be driven to see friends, I relished completely living so closely with all the other students, the "we're in this together" mentality, the complete immersion in academic life. I loved walking out my door and being steps away from class or my favorite study spot at the library or my friends.
In The Art of Fielding, Harbach writes about the feeling of never wanting to leave college, the cocoon where your requirement is to learn and think, to digest ideas and produce ideas, but also being faced with everything that comes after, an unknown future, on the very cusp of life.
Life speeds up after school, it just starts whistling by. Looking back, there's a delicate slowness to college and those years take on a mythic haze. It's over in a flash, but when you're in it, the repetition, the many books and pages, the hours reading, the endless tapping out of papers, all coalesce to create this heady block of time. There is so much at stake in the moment, and the future is both beautiful and unsure.
I like what Josh Wilker writes in the LA Review of Books:
Harbach's novel is saturated with baseball, though the sport is used not as an end in itself but as a way to measure American beauty. This might explain why a couple of friends of mine expressed qualms with the baseball in the novel, namely that there are some facets of the baseball action that are off-puttingly unrealistic. For instance, the shortstop who serves as the novel's fulcrum, Henry Skrimshander, is utterly flawless. This is just impossible, my friends said. Baseball players, especially shortstops (who handle more chances than any other player), are bound to make occasional errors. For my part, I went with the notion of Henry's diamond-pure life completely. Perhaps this is because I embraced from very early on a kind of quasi-mythic golden light that bathes the proceedings. Though The Art of Fielding is a baseball novel, it's not really a baseball novel. It's a college novel. It's about a feeling, a myth we help create for ourselves, of being right on the border of a life of boundless possibilities.
I can't wait to read Michael Chabon's newest book, Telegraph Avenue. I've been a fan of Chabon since high school when I read The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, and he used to come into Diesel, A Bookstore when I worked there years ago and buy books (some that I recommended!). His newest is set in Oakland/Berkeley and has a rockstar marketing campaign backing it, including a record store pop-up shop at Diesel.
The novel, planned for a Sept. 11 release, is set in Oakland, Calif., in 2004, and in it, main characters Nat and Archy run a used-records store called Brokeland Records that is threatened by plans for a new megastore nearby on Telegraph Avenue.
To launch the book, the Harper imprint's marketing team plans to convert Oakland bookstore Diesel into a pop-up store called Brokeland Records. From Sept. 7 to Sept. 14, the pop-up store will sell used jazz records provided by an independent record dealer named Berigan Taylor. - Barbara Chai, The Wall Street Journal
I'm going to admit right now that I didn't finish Wolf Hall. It had all the makings of a great read. I am just having some serious book commitment issues at the moment. And the thought of picking up that huge book every night before bed kind of crushed my reading spirit. Plus I got sidetracked reading this and this and, sigh, I got totally sucked into watching The Tudors (in truth, I only watched through half of season 3 because after Anne Boleyn got her head cut off I realized she was actually the most interesting part of the show so why keep at it). Don't tell anyone, ok?
So it's going to sound a little funny to also admit that I picked up Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding (another big book) a few nights ago and am already really loving it. Such great writing! Baseball! Academia! Here's a book I can't wait to get back to. I'm looking forward to bedtime... Let's hope I can commit.
Sometimes the stories we like telling about our travels are the horrible and/or difficult ones. Like the one when our rental car was broken into while we were on a beach in North Spain or when we were rear-ended in Barcelona by a German tourist and I had to be taken to the women's hospital in an ambulance because I was 6 months pregnant with Stella. Or the time when we were in Mexico a few years ago and ran out of money and were digging in the seats looking for loose change to pay the toll back to Mexico City. When we're in the moment and everything looks bleak Jordan usually says "this will make a great story!"
When we describe the quick weekend trip we just took down to Mexico City, no doubt the story we tell will the one about me getting food poisoning. I made the mistake of eating one bite of shrimp (after which Jordan said, "ohh I don't know that I would have eaten that." Thanks for the warning darlin'.) at the wedding party on Saturday night and I woke up Sunday not feeling quite right. By the time we got to the airport Sunday at noon I could barely walk I was so dizzy. I sat down on the ground in the airport and puked multiple times into a bag. I was shivering and so lightheaded that the airport doctor came to check me out. He told Jordan that my blood pressure was so dangerously low that unless we could get it to a normal place they wouldn't allow me on the plane. And that he was going to give me a shot of something to calm my stomach. He sent Jordan to the airport pharmacy to pick up some antibiotics and proceeded to wheel me through security and into his medical office. He hooked me up to the oxygen tank and gave me a shot in the side. My shivering subsided and I was able to stomach a whole bottle of Gatorade before walking down to the plane unassisted (which I had to do so they would let me on the flight). I took the antibiotics as soon as we sat down but started to feel nauseous again in minutes. As the plane taxied down the runway I puked two more times, much to the fascination of the two girls sitting across the aisle from us. Good times!
Thankfully, I am on the mend and off to bed early to snuggle with my girl and get some rest...
|Us in Mexico City, 2010|
I've written a little about our travels to Mexico City here and here. I love photographing Mexico City with all its colors. I love the tree-lined streets of La Condesa and the cafes and restaurants that spill out onto the sidewalks. I love the tacos and the tequila and the music. The city has such a big heart, it's no wonder we got engaged there. It's no wonder we return again and again.
Today we are headed to DF for friend's wedding. I'm up early, awake with the knowledge that we are embarking on a scary and exciting trip. We are leaving Stella for the first time in her life. She will be in the loving and amazing care of my parents (two of her biggest fans) so I am not worried about how she will do with the separation. I will miss her little wiggles and her new words and her cuddles and her squeals. I will relish sleeping through the night and sleeping-in two days in a row, and eating out without an arsenal of stickers and mid-meal walks. I will relish two days alone with my love.
Wish us luck!
|Jim Campbell's Exploded Views at SF Moma|
My friend Anne who owns Maribel (where I've bought many things including all my Lila Rice earrings) and I have been talking about taking our girls on a field trip to SFMOMA for months. Well we finally managed to make a date (Tuesdays are free admission!) and took the girls to see the Cindy Sherman exhibit this morning. After the exhibit we went upstairs to the roof deck and ate some snacks in the sunshine while Stells and G played amongst the sculptures. We had a blast.