Hi. Hello there. Howdy. I'm back. Or I'm dropping in. Here's the thing: I've been releasing a book, working 30+ hours week, being a grad student, and taking care of two kids, plus or minus a few other things, and blogging has not been a priority. And probably won't be. But you know I always like to show up for Leigh's What I'm Into link-ups when I can, and today I can.
Here's what I've been into over the last few months:
Not much exciting in my television world right now. Jack and I have been working our way through season one of The Leftovers on DVD, but it gives me bad dreams, so. SO we started re-watching Friday Night Lights on DVD instead. When I'm folding laundry, I watch Jane the Virgin (RIP Michael - I was shocked) and Switched at Birth (RIP show). Together, Jack and I also have been into PBS's Victoria; the soapy teen Riverdale (Jughead 4-ever); Big LIttle Lies (Riverdale for adults?); and The Good Fight (The Good Wife spin-off).
Wait, that was actually a lot.
I finally read my friend Wesley's book Spiritual Friendship, and I dog-eared that puppy up. So much that rang true to my own experience of friendship and loneliness. So much goodness.
When I was on Whidbey Island earlier this month, I heard poet Mary Szybist read, and fell in love, so I immediately ordered her book Incarnadine and read it cover to cover (and I don't do that often with poetry). Szybist is Catholic, and this collection is inspired by the Annunciation. It is not for the faint of heart.
My airplane books for that trip to Whidbey were The Mothers, a novel by Brit Bennett and The Refugees, a collection of short stories by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Both were haunted by voices from the past.
On Whidlbey, we studied Annie Dillard's Holy the Firm. After reading it three times, I loved it, and to study it right near where it was written made the experience even richer.
My other favorite book of poetry this winter was Naomi Shihab Nye's 19 Varieties of Gazelle. I heard her on On Being with Krista Tippet, and then serendipitously found this book in a used bookstore in Fort Wayne. When we had poetry chapel at Taylor in March, I read this one from the stage.
I'm making a playlist of my current favorite songs to share with Mollie and Anna when we take our road trip to Memphis this June (PS: our 20th friendiversary is coming up! November 15), and you are in luck, because I am going to share it with you too. It is under construction (and probably NSFW).
If I were to highlight a few favorites, I'd probably say to check out the full albums from Julie Byrne and Michael Nau.
I'm loving Truth's Table, which is hosted by Ekemini Uwan, Michelle Higgins, and Christina Edmondson, who are "Midwives of culture for grace and truth." (In fact, I nominated in to be on the Christ and Pop Culture list of the 25 best things of 2017 - you can hear me defend it against video games and anime on the CAPC 25 here.)
I listened to all of S-Town, and mostly loved it, though my feelings are complicated. If you haven't heard of this one, which is like a nonfiction novel, here's the producer's description: "JOHN DESPISES HIS ALABAMA TOWN AND DECIDES TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. HE ASKS a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But then someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life."
If you did listen, check out this article by my friend Jessica for The Atlantic: Was the Art of S-Town Worth the Pain?
As for life this semester, I helped take a great group of first-year Honors students to the Bahamas for a course on small-island sustainability (this sounds ridiculously awesome, I know, but consider: we stayed in bunk beds, ate camp food, and toured waste management plants). I wrote about my favorite part of that experience for Elisa Morgan's blog, and I have a longer piece about it hopefully coming out elsewhere soon.
My buddy DL Mayfield came to speak in chapel, we took an epic writers' retreat with our sisters of holy mischief, and then I spoke in chapel. A little later I had my official book release party as part of Taylor's Making Lit Conference.
And then I went to Whidbey Island for an MFA residency, and it was quite nearly perfect.
Jack ran another marathon.
I helped build the new issue of Relief Journal, which will be coming out in the next month or so (and it's going to be amazing! Also check out the beautiful new website).
Easter reminded me of the beauty of what we have here in central Indiana.
And those are the highlights. Happy spring, friends.