I’ve been letting this little space fall by the wayside, but in typical summer fashion that just means life has been busy and full in (mostly) all the best ways. Since my last post, we’ve enjoyed two back-to-back weekends of camping (first at Wilderness State Park and then at Interlochen State Park), we visited some friends who moved to Ann Arbor, I’ve been reading like a fiend, and bike commuting on the reg. All of that has been great, amazing, and wonderful (if not a bit tiring). This weekend we had nothing scheduled. Zilch. Nada. What a gift to sleep, relax, read, nap, bike, and sip lavender lattes.
Within the last few weeks I’ve read Modern Lovers by Emma Straub and… I just didn’t like it! I follow Emma on instagram and find her to be charming and sweet. Her book left me wondering if I was supposed to connect to her story or her characters in any real, meaningful way. The book itself is very readable. It’s light and fluffy. But there was very little redeeming ANYTHING about the story for me. So…there’s that.
I also read Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith. This one was…interesting. I think I liked it? At the very least there were some aspects I liked and connected with? Still sort of scratching my head on this one, to be honest. I guess it’s sort of an environmental thriller. The story follows Lucie Bowen as she returns to the island home of her youth. After a devastating earthquake and explosion of the oil refinery, which took her father’s life, she and her mother left the island 20 years earlier. The island is thought to be uninhabitable and dangerous as a result of all the chemicals from the explosion. She finally returns to check out her family home and reconnect with her best friend, Katie. Katie and a community are working to revive the island and land hippie-commune style…but things feel a bit sinister and not on the up-and-up. Lucie, a journalist, follows her curiosity to uncover the truth about the island, Katie, and the group she’s a part of. There were a lot of elements to this book that I liked, but ultimately I was left wanting more. The characters and plot felt a little flat to me.
Next I read The Girls, which seems to be THE BOOK of the summer. Also, the author, Emma Cline is in her mid-twenties. I mean… wow. Anyway, the book follows Evie Boyd, an insecure and lonely 14 year old as she befriends Suzanne, a member of a fictional Manson-like cult. I really, really enjoyed this book. You’d think the focus of this book would be her activity and life within the cult, but I think Cline uses Evie’s role in the cult to flesh out the difficulty and frustration of being a teenage girl. I found myself identifying so much with Evie, as middle school and my early foray into high school was…just so, so hard. I didn’t know who I was or how to be a person and I was desperate for inclusion. Cline gets it. Want proof? Here’s some quotes:
“That was part of being a girl–you were resigned to whatever feedback you’d get. If you got mad, you were crazy, and if you didn’t react, you were a bitch. The only thing you could do was smile from the corner they’d backed you into. Implicate yourself in the joke even if the joke was always on you.”
“All that time I had spent readying myself, the articles that taught me life was really just a waiting room until someone noticed you—the boys had spent that time becoming themselves. —”
“It was an age when I’d immediately scan and rank other girls, keeping up a constant tally of how I fell short.”
Currently I’m reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I’m really loving it. The book focuses on the decedents of two half sisters, Effia and Esi, born in 18th century Ghana. Effia marries James, a well-to-do Englishman whose business centers on slave trade. Esi, meanwhile, is kidnapped, imprisoned, and sent to America to work on plantations as a slave. Chapter by chapter, I’m reading about a specific member of each sister’s family. It’s full and rich and devastating. Though only halfway through, I think this will be one of the books that really sticks with me long after I finish reading it.
In terms of biking, I’ve been commuting to work 2-3 days each week. Just this simple act of riding my bike 1.5(ish) miles to and from work each day has been so transformative. It’s the perfect, reflective way to start and end each day. I also love how my bike commute has helped me sort of reframe time. Though my ride to and from work isn’t long, it used to feel long, which made me dread riding. Now it just feels normal. It’s made me realize there are so many other areas of my life that feel a certain way, when really all I need to do is focus on reframing the reality — build different, better habits. Things like: Cleaning. And chores in general. Things you’d normally put off until you simply can’t ignore them any longer. Josh and I also went on a mega-ride yesterday to a brewery in Mason, MI. 17 miles there…17 miles back. I’m exhausted and my body just feels out of sorts today. This always happens when I do big rides. It’s a sign that I should do them more and train more! I think it’s also a sign that I might not do the best job of hydrating and eating the proper things before, during, and after my ride. Things to work on for the future!
To end this novel of a post… I can’t talk about all the good without also reflecting on the heaviness of this past week. Of Alton Sterling. Of Philando Castile. Of Dallas. Of Black Lives Matter. I feel like a lot of other white people: Speechless. Lost. Uncertain of what to do. My mantra for just about everything is Just Show Up. Show up feeling uncertain and speechless. Show up feeling lost. Just don’t hide. Don’t shift the focus away to something else. Don’t pretend that what’s happening isn’t happening. Show up. Acknowledge. Advocate. Be a friend. Be collaborative. Be ready to learn. And so that’s where I’m at.
Until next time…