Read, Listen, Watch

Because it’s rainy and cold and has been for what feels like 17 years. If you’re looking for some good distractions, here’s what I’ve got.

Read

For fun: Where the Crawdads Sing. This book was such a pleasant escape. The storyline—a man is found murdered and the town blames a girl who lives in the marsh—didn’t sound especially appealing to me when I first came across it. But it kept lingering at the top of the New York Times bestsellers and so I caved. I’m so glad I did. I loved the characters and the gorgeous descriptions of the place and time, and I was lured into every one of the story’s twists and turns.

For your brain: Call Me American. I have to imagine that if every American read this memoir by a Somalian refugee we wouldn’t have a president who is slashing the number of refugees we admit each year. And we wouldn’t do things like put countries whose citizens desperately need a refuge—like Somalia—on banned lists. It’s a heartbreaking story of a man growing up amidst violence and famine, and always dreaming of a better life in America. Read it.

Listen

For fun: I’m so hooked on Over My Dead Body. From the same guys that produced Dirty John, this podcast is designed for binging. It’s the story of the murder of an attorney in Florida—how it happened, who did it, and why. It’s well done and I really wish they’d hurry up and put the rest of the episodes out because they’ve left me on a cliffhanger.

For your brain: I’ve long loved Donald Miller’s Building a Story Brand podcast. But I recently listened to an episode that might be my favorite. In it, Don (I can call him Don, right?) is interviewed by Andy Stanley about being a better leader. So, two incredible leaders just chit chatting about leadership. It’s amazing. It’s called How Story Can Make You a Better Leader.

Watch

For fun: Well, I’ve made a smooth transition to a 75-year-old woman this winter as I’m now a paying subscriber for PBS Masterpiece Theater. I have no regrets. I have become a Poldark fan on level with like Harry Potter fans. If there was a Poldark World, I’d visit. I keep making other people who have watched the show talk to me about it. I have a problem.

For your brain: Ok, honestly, my TV watching has been pretty much all for pleasure lately. I don’t think I can count watching the Fyre Festival documentary as educational. Although it did teach me a lot more about Ja Rule than I ever anticipated needing to know. So, I’ll try to watch something semi-intelligent soon to have a better answer here next time.

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Here’s a fun story.

About a decade ago I was spending a weekend with friends in Asheville and met another group of friends—including a guy named Doug. Through a series of events and conversations, Doug realized that his sister, Gret, who lived in Charleston and whom I’d never met, followed my blog.

It felt like a very small world moment.

Since then, I’ve kept up with Gret, who has become a successful artist—and who is definitely worth a follow on Instagram. Her paintings are beautiful, and she specializes in animal portraits. A few years ago she sketched this sweet photo of Rosie and Pawley and posted it on her page.

I loved it, but I’d forgotten about it until last week when Gret saw the news about Rosie and reached out, asking if she could send me the sketch. The package arrived over the weekend, and it might be my favorite thing other than Pawley in my house right now.

I like this story for two reasons. First, because there are seven billion people on earth. It’s fun when you connect with one of them in a totally unexpected way. Second, because humans can be really kind. And it’s nice to have reminders of that from time to time.

Sometimes it feels like I need weekends to recover from my weekends. This should be a thing.

Charleston was just as glorious as I’d imagined. We celebrated Erin with a lot of laughing, some incredible food (loved my first trip to Butcher & Bee), and frosé because sometimes things that are basic are also delicious (check out Skinny Dip‘s upstairs wine bar). My favorite moments of the weekend though were just being under the warm sun.

This winter has felt dark. Both physically and metaphorically. We’ve had crazy amounts of rain here in NC, which have made for colder, grayer days than those of us who live in the South signed up for. And my winter has had many sad days that feel dark. Sometimes I can’t tell the difference between the days that feel dark and the days that are dark.

So there’s something so good about just sitting in sunlight surrounded by friends. We grabbed a lot of those moments. On a rooftop porch. On a street side patio. In a park by the river. The kind of moments that make even your soul feel warm. It was that kind of weekend.

Charleston

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“Come quickly, have found heaven.” – Artist Alfred Hutty’s wire message to his wife after his first visit to Charleston. 

I’m headed to Charleston for the weekend with friends to celebrate my friend Erin’s upcoming wedding. Plans include multiple brunches, fresh seafood, champagne toasts, an afternoon at the spa, and a reservation for bottle service at a club that actually starts after my bedtime. (Related: What happens if you fall asleep in a nightclub?)

Just kidding. Kind of. I’m actually just really excited for a weekend with friends in one of my favorite cities. Happy Friday, folks!

Love Stories

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When I was growing up, every Valentines Day my mom would leave heart-shaped boxes of Dove chocolates on the kitchen table for my brother and I to find when we came down for breakfast.

She would instruct us not to eat it all at once. I would immediately eat it all at once.

My brother, who has more self-control than most monks, would put his heart-shaped box on the kitchen counter and go about his day like a normal human who hadn’t ingested enough sugar for a month. And then my mom would take his box and hide it—from me.

When I was 15 and we moved out of the house I grew up in, I remember finding boxes of chocolate hidden around the kitchen from years past. My mom and brother had forgotten about them and their excellent hiding skills had prevented me from finding them, despite what I’m certain was some serious searching.

I’ve had years with Valentines and years without. And, honestly, my years without have always been better than my years with—which, I suppose makes sense as all those Valentines have come and gone. But I think that it’s also because the years without have been their own love stories in a way.

Last February 14th I sat around a big table filled with friends, cheese, and chocolate, and drank too much wine while my little dog sat in my lap and we all laughed at our funny flawed dating lives. This year I have guaranteed happiness because I’m spending my evening with friends watching Dave Chappelle, and then going home to a large dog who has taken to sleeping next to me while snoring absurdly loudly.

These are my kind of love stories. Not the buy-me-red-roses and take-me-to-dinner kind. But rather the mom who always had chocolate boxes, the friends who gather around my table, and the funny dog who likes to rests her snout on my shoulder.