I’ve finished marking 98 final papers, and 96 final exams. If you’re thinking that doesn’t add up, you’re right. I have two exams left. They’re sitting on the coffee table right in front of me as I type. Waiting. Reading them is exactly what I should be doing right now. But I’ve been honing my procrastination techniques over the past few weeks and I’m getting pretty good. So I thought I’d share some of my favorite non-exam reading of late, the short-and-sweet things (the love-story-ish things, to be consistent) that I’ve enjoyed between stacks of papers. My philosophy is, if you must procrastinate (and sometimes I must, for everyone’s benefit), procrastinate well.
So, some reading for you all.
1-I’ll open with the best, which is Kent Shaw’s “How to Fall in Love for Real” from the most recent issue of Brevity. It opens:
At twenty-two, I fell in love with the sales clerk who helped me pick out clothes at the mall. I was in love with my best friend’s wife. I was in love with everything. The sales clerk’s name was Cricket. She was six months pregnant.
It’s beautiful, especially his declarative sentences. It makes me grateful to no longer be twenty-two. If you haven’t read Brevity, and you are disciplined enough to do some short-form procrastinating, it’s fantastic. And each micro-essay is under 750 words.
2-This New York Times wedding piece reads like a parody of New York Times Weddings, but it is 100% sincere. It’s a perfect artifact of the unironic hilarity possible within the genre of public love narrative. And I love it more than I could love any piece of satire. For example, there is a real woman, the bride’s sister in fact, named Elisabeth van Lawick van Pabst-Koch. And Ms. van Lawick van Pabst-Koch describes her sister as the kind of person who just “loves to travel and will hop on a plane to Bahrain or wherever just to visit somebody.” Bahrain! You know, for a visit! I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that the piece involves a sabre, millinery, a dog named Sir William Sugarplum, and a trip to the Waffle House. Read it.
3-Because I’ve been a little down on Vancouver of late, here’s a pretty great thing my city did: public mistletoe. After a trip to Paris a couple years ago, I can certify that Vancouver can handle a little more PDA. Hilariously, someone posted this link in the comments. So safety-first, guys.
Also, I’m excited to have piece up on Essay Daily‘s Advent Calendar. Mine is an essay about an essay about love. I know that sounds really meta, and my piece is a little geeky, so read it if you’re psyched about close reading. But if you’re not (and you really should be–as an English instructor I think it’s in my contract to champion it) you should definitely read Brian Doyle’s essay “Joyas Voladores” on The American Scholar. Like some of my favorite essays, it’s surprising and delightful and tightly crafted. From what I can tell, Doyle is a virtuoso of tight craft. (Something I’m always admiring from the neighboring vicinity of wordy, loose, overly-parenthetical craft.)
And that’s all I’m linking. Because you probably need to get back to work. I’m going turn on Songza’s Christmas Oldies station and read two exams. Then do some push-ups. Then crack open a beer. Because it’ll finally, officially be the end of term.
Also, if you have your own procrastination reading, please include it in the comments. (Please. I still have a syllabus to write.)
I’m reading (for the thirtieth or fortieth time) Ian Frazier’s “Coyote v. Acme.” A collection of humor essays that approaches sublime art in its subtley and strangeness.
just found an excerpt in an old New Yorker!
I was reading your Essay Daily essay on Doyle, and following the bread crumbs to your essays here, and the link to Doyle’s hummingbird essay, and who knows where that will take me next. It’s cold in Calgary. Procrastinating (sorry, close reading) is keeping me warm. Thanks!
Thanks, Shaun! I’m glad I could keep you from your work 🙂
If it leads you anywhere good, I hope you will report back!
stuck at work today, so thanks for the links! x