Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts


  1. We are getting a weekly veg box. Yes. Truly. I am now an official member of the unbearable young urban professional elite, and I’m not even sorry. I am only excited at what I will be able to cook over the next week with today’s delivery of butterhead lettuce, chestnut mushrooms, purple sprouting broccoli, red peppers, onions, and swiss chard.
  2. I made panettone bread and butter pudding (not the panettone bit, we bought that from the Italian caff downstairs) on Sunday night. The custard split, slightly, because I took my eye off it for LIKE ONE SECOND. But it was still pretty good, and apparently just as good cold.
  3. Last week I used Facebook to do a Very Scientific Survey of my employed friends: I asked them whether they’d rather be bored but peaceful at work, or busy and stressed. Most of them said busy and stressed, which is fascinating: the debilitating long-term effect of stress is (hilariously enough) one of the things that worries me the most about modern living. It’s also interesting because I think lots of people don’t work as well as they could: they don’t have enough to do, or they have too much to do, or they feel they need to be seen working without actually doing anything effective. Basically, work culture seems really skewed and weird to me and I’m trying to figure it out. My ideal, as I said on that thread, is “happily and consistently occupied”, but it seems very difficult to find a formal, full-time, salaried position that provides such a level of work. Feast or famine seem far more common.
  4. Media Diversified has been retweeting and promoting this for an age (an Internet age, mind you, which is, like, two weeks), and yet a petition to save a Soho art-house cinema STILL has more signatures. I’m 100% behind the salvation of Soho art-house cinemas, but for the love of God, can we start taking rape perpetrated by UN peacekeeping forces seriously? That would be great. Really, really great.
  5. There’s a wedding in August that I’m going to, and I haven’t been to a wedding for over a decade, and I have no fucking clue what to wear. I’m probably going to have to buy something new. Any advice? I’ve been lurking on Torrid’s Instagram feed and there are some really nice sundresses with contrasting jackets, but I’m short so I’d probably need to get wedge sandals, too.
  6. A guy wiped out his entire company (and some other peoples’ companies, too) with one line of bad code. edit: Actually, he didn’t. It was a marketing hoax. But a weirdly prescient once, since a website hosting company then “deleted part of the Internet” not seven days later. Moral: BACK YOUR SHIT UP, YOU LOT.
  7. Has any composer ever set Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy” to music? I was reading her Selected Poems last week, and it just seemed like the sort of poem that Kurt Weill, for instance, could have made a really chilling, incredible song out of.
  8. My brother was crowned Prom King (and his girlfriend, Prom Queen) last weekend. This is simultaneously hilarious and mind-blowing. I did high school so incredibly poorly (I barely spoke to anyone for three and a half years) that it seems particularly miraculous that I should actually be related, in any way, to a Prom King. The kicker is that he’s not even a football jock; he’s a smart, hilarious theatre kid with a talent for music and drawing and mountain biking. He’s also about 7,000 times nicer than I am.

19 thoughts on “Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts

  1. Elle, you cracked me up about your brother. Aren’t weekly veg boxes great? I did that for quite a few years from a local csa until I started growing a bunch of stuff myself. And if you find that “happily and consistently occupied” job, let me know what it is so I can find one too!

  2. I got a veg box for years and really enjoyed it. I learned to cook and enjoy lots of things I’d never tried. Most of the ones convenient to me are a lot of food for one person, so I eventually gave it up. And there are enough vegetables that I just can’t stand to make it feel wasteful.

    I like to be busy at work, but not frantic. But it’s hard to find that. Boredom can really tear at your soul after a while, especially if there’s an unspoken rule that you can’t say you don’t have much to do. People seem to think it means you’re slacking when it could mean you’re efficient. It’s a problem I’ve had to some degree at most of my jobs. People value time spent at the office over the amount of work done, which seems weird to me.

    • Even being able to say “I haven’t got anything to do” can be a bit grim in an environment where the response is to cast around wildly for something you can do, as opposed to an environment where the work just naturally arises. It feels a bit like school. I swear we don’t need to spend eight hours a day contributing to society, really. Or not like this, anyway.

    • Sometimes, I confess, I look at the security guard downstairs in the building where I work, and I think, “If I had that job, imagine how much reading I could do…”

  3. Ah, yes, high school…not my finest hours, either. But it had to be that way in order to get to where we were going, right?

    I have had boring jobs and stressful jobs…there is a downside to everything. I would prefer less stress without the boredom, a happy balance. Not happening, probably!


  4. We love our veg box! I think we’ve been getting it for about 7 years now, and it’s been part of our big shift away from meat eating — we let it determine what we will eat, and just buy staples to supplement it.

    My library assistant job in London was mind-numbingly boring and undemanding, apart from one golden summer I spent at Special Collections. I can’t deny I got a lot of reading done (like, almost as much as I do now as a freelance reviewer and blogger), but the London commuting for 5.5 years really took it out of me. I’m so much busier now that I work from home — so many projects on the go, endless to-do lists — but I’m happier and more purposeful. The irony is that it is a fierce struggle to make as much money as the full-time salary I earned for doing so little. The only thing I miss is the camaraderie of having colleagues. (Not Working by Lisa Owens actually does a fine job of summing up pretty much everything I loved and hated — Naomi’s just reviewed it on Writes of Woman.)

    How have you not been to a wedding in a decade?! I guess it was my conservative Christian upbringing and college years, but for a while there we went to 2-3 every summer. After the immediate post-university flurry of weddings (including my own), there was another wave about 5 years later, then a third closer to 10 years later. I’m sad to not have any on the calendar this year as I bought the cutest sundress on sale at Target over Christmas…

    • That’s the kicker: that you can often do so little during the working day but get a salary at the end of it. I think a lot about freelancing and the freedom it provides, but I’ve experienced financial instability related to unemployment and I never want to be back in that place. I’m close to phobic about it.

      I think I’m juuuust at the point of my life where weddings are going to start happening more often. I’m 23, and none of my friend group married straight out of university (partly I think because we had no money and were trying to find careers in a particularly vicious graduate jobs market). It’s now starting to swing, but I suspect there’ll be another year or two before it gets going in good earnest! This wedding is one of my partner’s colleagues. Oh gosh, Target!! Do they do UK delivery?

      • You’re even younger than I thought, you spring chicken! I definitely cannot recommend freelancing for financial stability! It helps that I had my husband’s support while I was starting out. Now, close to three years in, I’m finally feeling solvent. (I think technically Target do have a UK website now, but this was a clearance rack purchase while I was back visiting family in Maryland.)

      • Augh god so jealous of the clearance rack. Best jeans I’ve ever had were Target purchases, and now they’ve worn out and I don’t know where to go for ones as good 😦

  5. There is so much I want to respond to here . . . but:

    Eric, who you read about (and a friend) made a mix that set poets to totally unexpected music (crazy mixes)—Eric set “Daddy” with some rap song that I’ve now forgotten—but it totally worked.

    I’d take peaceful and bored.

    Weddings: totally depends on whether it’s day or night. I’ve attended about two weddings per year since our own (2010), and the best advice I can give is comfortable shoes. Not “comfortable for heels” shoes–comfortable shoes. I have a yellow silk dress (a Lands End anomaly) that’s been a big hit, and a matte jersey Ralph Lauren (the line you’d get at TJ Maxx, not like couture or anything) plum sleeveless number that’s been incredibly versatile (day/night, casual/formalish). Good luck!

    • Oh, that sounds like a genius combination. (I immediately thought of Read All About It, by Professor Green and Emeli Sande.)

      The ceremony is at 2:30 and the dancing/hog roast goes on til past 9:00, so more of an evening do, I think. Both those dresses sound brill—and I will definitely try to take your advice on comfortable shoes!

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