Monday, May 26, 2014

Strawberries: Not a Patch on Hue and Other Memorial Day Musings

Dress: Jessica Simpson, Marshalls
Shoes: Payless
Bag: Princess Vera, Kohl's
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's

Top: Aeropostale
Skirt: Target
Shoes: J. C. Penney's
Bag: Candie's, Kohl's
Sunglasses: Rampage, Boscov's

Dress: Kohl's
Shoes: Payless
Bag: Loop, Marshalls
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's

This week's post celebrates that most transient of warm-weather berries, the strawberry.  Indeed, the Strawberry Patch, Strawberry Cheesecake, and Bavarian Berry necklaces (the last so named for my green, red, and yellow-sporting childhood Gretel doll) are the perfect way to say hello to summer, especially the Strawberry Patch, which owes its existence to a frozen fruit bar box.

Memorial Day weekend or not, I chose to spend a chunk of my weekend engaged in the decidedly unseasonable activity of indoor reading.  My muse came in the unlikely form of a scholarly tome entitled A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me about Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter, by (according to the back cover) "self-styled intellectual rebel" William Deresiewicz.  I say unlikely because the book was all about how Jane Austen's novels had transformed the author's life, and of all the classic novels I'd been forced to read (or had forced myself to read) over the years, Jane Austen's had been my least favorite, on account that I found them boring.  Interestingly, Deresiewicz formed the same opinion upon his first Austen reading, an attitude he uses as a springboard for his book, setting the kind of I-couldn't-have-been-more-wrong challenge that results in him uncovering the many merits of Austen's storytelling style.  Deresiewicz does this by weaving his own coming-of-age experiences with his reading of the novels, illuminating Austen's genius for decoding social mores and manners by describing how growing up allowed him to appreciate them and apply them to his own life.  Deresiewicz's prose is so beautifully written, sprinkled with just the right ratio of self-deprecation and humor, that I ended up finishing the book within twenty-four hours, if not transfixed by Austen's writing (the excerpts that appeared were as hard to swallow as they had been in Intro to British Literature twelve years ago), then by Deresiewicz's writing about her writing.  This too reminded me of being in college, when I routinely read classics I hated only to enjoy writing about them in the papers that followed.  Books that I thought to be the literary equivalent of Brussels sprouts suddenly exploded with flavor -- did I detect a hint of cheddar in Lady Audley's Secret, and hey, was that bacon lurking in Dracula? -- revealing messages about things I cared about and the way that I looked at the world.  Reading Deresiewicz was no different, and although it didn't make me an Austen convert, it did make me more appreciative of Austen's craft and even understand just why I disliked her (something to do with me being more of a feeler than a thinker and valuing the self over community, both apparently qualities that made me more of a Bronte kind of broad).  I was surprised to find that I enjoyed reading Deresiewicz's book even more than the last few novels I'd read, a realization that made me wonder if I'd been foolhardy to abandon my old plan of becoming an academic.  Or, at least it did until I remembered that such a career would have meant a lifetime of reading classics, cross-country moves in search of tenure, and significantly less free time for trivial pursuits such as blogging and crafting.

Anyway, by the time I was done reading, I felt the old holiday weekend pressure to go play outside.  It was a beautiful weekend, and I knew that if I didn't soak in at least a little sunshine, then I'd be kicking myself come Tuesday. So late Sunday afternoon, the husband and I set off on a beach-bound stroll.  Although things started off with an-almost-too-cool breeze, the sun made its reappearance right about the time we were negotiating the uneven sand in our flip flops, a feat that felt curiously like doing step aerobics (or at least what I imaged step aerobics would feel like based on all the Jane Fonda workout videos I'd seen as a kid).  It was about that time that I began to lament my lack of sunscreen and finally decided that it would be better to return to true terra firma, a decision readily seconded by the husband.  

I have a confession to make (although something tells me that this is a confession I've made on this blog before).  I'm not really a beach person, and neither is the husband.  I like the idea of the beach.  I like the salt air, the tranquility, the feeling of crossing the bridge on my way home from work, even the sound of the seagulls.  But if given the choice, I'd much rather read on my couch than in a beach chair.  For one thing, being on the beach requires a lot of vigilance.  You have to make sure that you've applied enough sunscreen and that you keep reapplying it.  You have to remember your beach tag. You have to swat the flies and smile "that's okay" to kids who inevitably hit you with their Frisbees.  If you have to go to the bathroom, then you have to hold it -- unless you're one of those jerks who goes in the ocean.  And this is all before the tide comes in and you begin the tedious dance of inching back your beach chair lest it be claimed by the foamy surf (as my flip flops once were).  I know this sounds weird because most people find the beach relaxing.  Don't get me wrong  -- it definitely has its moments (especially in the off-season).  But I think you have to be born with a kind of beach bum/beach bunny gene to be truly at one with the waves. 

Still, the time outdoors made me more appreciative of the time I get to spend indoors, a phenomenon best expressed by that oh-so-wise Seinfeld shtick: when we're home, we want to be out; then we go out, and we want to go home.  So that's something.           

1 comment:

Jewel Divas Style said...

I love the beach but haven't seen it in so long!