Round-ups are so hot right now because I am sick and have been feeling especially lazy when it comes to writing. But here I am, in the bosom of the vortex, bundled up in bed, nursing myself back to health with intermittent naps, tea, and some light reading. I know that probably sounds rather pleasant, but I feel miserable. But writing about some of the things that have afforded me some joy as of late is cheering me up a bit. So here you have it:

This Article from The Believer on The Tonya Harding /Nancy Kerrigan Scandal
Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Nancy getting clubbed by a hit-man hired by Tonya’s husband. This article examines the media’s treatment of the two women before, during, and after the incident and sheds considerable light on Tonya’s tragic past. It’s a fascinating look the roles that classism, female athleticism, sexism, and “the spectacle of female pain” all played in this scandal. It’s definitely worth a read.

Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal
The hype is merited, y’all. It is quite short (a mere 37 pages!) but I savored every word written by O’Connor’s twenty-one year-old self. She is honest about her fears and doubts, and her unbridled adoration of God is inspiring.  Her writing here is humbly self-aware, vulnerable, and poetic: “Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way that I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and  my self the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon. The crescent is very beautiful and perhaps that is all one like I am should or could see; but what I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, and that I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing” (p. 3). What we see here is a young aspiring writer’s earnest inner desire to use her craft in a way that does not glorify herself, but instead, her Creator. Each entry seems to hold traces of St. John’s famous prayer, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

Lemon Honey Water
I’ve been battling an ugly virus that led to a voice loss and a perpetual burning sensation in my throat. It feels like someone scrubbed it down with a fresh sheet of sandpaper, nestled it with a bundle of dry kindling, and lit a match to it. It hurts. But there is a temporary solution that has brought me some relief: lemon honey water. Get a mug full of hot water, stir in 2-3 teaspoons of lemon juice and a spoonful of honey and everything is all right for a bit. It’s more soothing than if Kings of Convenience played while you were taking a luxuriously long bubble bath while watching the sun sink down over past an endless horizon. In your throat.

Yo La Tengo’s Fade 
Speaking of soothing… this is almost as good as Summer Sun. Almost. It’s definitely one of my favorite albums from 2013.

I’ve been buying the bulk of my groceries here for two years now, and man do I love this place. For one, I love that it has incredibly low prices. I can buy close to a month’s worth of groceries (for two adults) there for right around $100.  I kid you not.  Aldi cuts out the middle man almost entirely, thus cutting out all the extra overhead expenses. You definitely won’t find name-brand items here, nor are there wine tastings or free samples or artful displays– it has a warehouse-y type feel, but it’s clean and logically organized. Make sure you bring your own bags (yay, environment!) because they provide them for a cost, and also bring a quarter for the shopping carts; again, to avoid paying for a cart-runner staff member, they have a system where you put a quarter in to unlock a cart for use (you get it back when you return it).  I also love that Aldi’s has a great sense of community. There is not an ounce of pretension in that place. The staff members at the one near our house are super friendly, and not in that annoyingTrader-Joe’s I-am-obligated-to-strike-up-a-cutesy-convo-with-you (“Heyyy, buddy! I see you bought our salsa! Isn’t that stuff just super?!“) type of way. This is much more genuine. I also love that it attracts a diverse crowd. It’s not uncommon to hear multiple languages spoken in a given visit. Go find one near you and try it out.

Marie Howe
I just finished The Kingdom of Ordinary Time and Marie Howe is a master wordsmith. I especially love her poem “Prayer” from that same collection. You can listen to her read it aloud here.

Every day I want to speak with you. And every day something more important
calls for my attention—the drugstore, the beauty products, the luggage
I need to buy for the trip.
Even now I can hardly sit here
among the falling piles of paper and clothing, the garbage trucks outside
already screeching and banging.
The mystics say you are as close as my own breath.
Why do I flee from you?
My days and nights pour through me like complaints
and become a story I forgot to tell.
Help me. Even as I write these words I am planning
to rise from the chair as soon as I finish this sentence.

Source: The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, by Marie Howe, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2008.