Friday miscellany: A different sort of spring break

In another universe, we would have been flying home from the Virgin Islands today. We canceled the trip a few weeks ago, but it turns out that the hotel closed and the flight was re-routed to involve two stops so…it was not going to happen anyway.

The kids have been remarkably calm about it, and about school being converted to distance learning for the rest of the term. I’m starting to feel like I need a vacation, but given that vacations would still involve five children, I’m not sure there is going to be a whole lot of relaxation for a while. Instead, I’m trying to seize little moments of calm. I like sitting with my coffee in the morning while everyone’s asleep (the baby tends to eat early and then go back down).

I spent some time this week looking at my time log from last spring break. We went to St. Lucia. The kids really enjoyed the resort’s kid’s club and my husband got to go diving twice (which he always loves). I can see on my logs my short runs up and down the steep hillside trails. I remember those early mornings amid the flowers, seeing the sparkling water. The time log shows everything — even our wait in the St. Lucia airport where I see that I took several kids to the bathroom in sequence. We flew in and out of JFK to fly direct, and I see the stop we made to grab sandwiches at a Subway in Coney Island on the way home. I definitely remember that now that I look at the log, but it’s not the sort of memory I would have consciously called up again. I remember that this was the week I sang the chorales from Bach’s St. Mark’s Passion on Good Friday with my chamber choir. Because these memories are recorded, they do not disappear into the past. I look at my notes and call them up.

Anyway, a year changes a lot. There were four kids then; there are five now. I won’t be singing for a Good Friday service because there is no live service, nor will there be one on Easter. I did record my voice part of the Hallelujah Chorus, which my choir director is piecing together with everyone else’s voice to make a virtual performance. I try to picture what life will be like next year at this time. Because the thing with time is that all time does pass. Eventually April will roll around again. And perhaps, then, I will be looking back at my logs from this time, seeing these weeks of coronavirus isolation, of scrubbing down the groceries and quarantining packages, and the occasional light moment. I have been managing to steal away to soak in the tub 1-2 times per week with a book and a glass of wine!

In other news: I read a few books in March; here’s my belated list.

Weather, by Jenny Offill

I liked the style of this novel: short scenes and thoughts. There isn’t much of a plot. An urban dwelling woman deals with her dysfunctional extended family, her more normal immediate one, and modern life in general. Some parts were annoying, some better. In any case, it’s a quick read and can be picked up and put down, which I’m appreciating these days.

Switched on Pop, by Charlie Harding and Nate Sloan

The hosts of the popular podcast describe exactly what makes pop music so exciting. They discuss syncopation, intervals, key changes, hooks, etc. through the lens of a dozen or so songs. You definitely need to listen to the songs as you read each chapter, and it’s occasionally technical but also — and this is crazy* — quite funny too.

Becoming, by Michelle Obama

The former First Lady’s memoir was one of the biggest publishing events of the last five years. I hadn’t read it yet, so I figured that quarantine was the time! As with most memoirs, my favorite part was learning about the author’s childhood — in this case in Chicago surrounded by her extended family. Her parents poured everything they could into those kids and…wow. I’m also always drawn to “life at Princeton” narratives (though I still can’t make it through This Side of Paradise; Michelle Robinson is a much more appealing character than Amory Blaine). The time after the Obamas landed in the White House is more known, but in general, the memoir was highly readable — a nice distraction from sitting in the house for days on end.

Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire, by Jen Hatmaker

This book will be out in late April. I interviewed Hatmaker for Best of Both Worlds, so I read an advance copy. Hatmaker challenges readers to be their authentic, best selves, even if those selves don’t fit into neat categories. I read a lot of self-help, so I’m familiar with these themes, but Hatmaker is very funny, and such a larger-than-life character. Few people’s careers have encompassed stints as church leaders and HGTV television personalities, and the humor made this an enjoyable read.

Homo Deus, by Yuval Noah Harari

I read Sapiens (about the history of humanity) a few years ago, but hadn’t picked up the sequel yet. So when I saw it was available through the Libby app, I borrowed it. Harari talks about how humanity will change in the future, upgrading our genetic code, but possibly being taken over by AI too. No one can really predict the future, but he raises plenty of thought-provoking ideas.

*Yep, Carly Rae Jepsen joke.

4 thoughts on “Friday miscellany: A different sort of spring break

  1. Great reading list! I read Becoming recently and really enjoyed it. I appreciated Michelle Obama’s willingness to share the imperfections in her journey, including her marriage to Barack Obama. She didn’t throw him under the bus, but she did illustrate how it can be really hard to be married to someone like him — idealistic, ambitious, hard-working, etc. I LOVED the parts about her childhood, too.

  2. I liked Homo Deus a lot, I also found it very thought-provoking. Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis was also very interesting if you enjoyed thinking about the future. Glad you are able to find bits of time to relax and read 🙂

    We were supposed to be in New Orleans right now but cancelled a weeks ago. Alas, this can be rescheduled.

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