26 Letters and 14 Marks.

26 Letters and 14 Marks.

When are your most at ease and “in your element”?

Where are you and who are you with? Are you alone? Are you exercising? Are you cooking? Are you doing nothing at all?

There is a section from an essay by Natalia Ginzburg in which she writes:

“My vocation is to write and I have known this for a long time. I hope I won’t be misunderstood; I know nothing about the value of the things I am able to write. I know that writing is my vocation. When I sit down to write I feel extraordinarily at ease, and I move in an element which, it seems to me, I know extraordinarily well; I use tools that are familiar to me and they fit snuggly in my hands.”

I wrote recently that “for me, a good measure of the pleasure of living is putting it into words. It is as though I need to slip the amorphousness of an experience into a well-fitting suit.” Her variation on this theme rung so true to me I stopped in my tracks. When I am writing, I indeed feel as though I am using “tools that…fit snuggly in my hands.” I am comfortable, I am alive, I am moving with purpose. Everything as it should be.

In graduate school, I worked in The Writing Center in the bowels of Lauinger Library at Georgetown University. Students would come by for assistance and feedback on their essays, and would often tell me: “I’m not good at writing” or “I hate writing” or “I just can’t do it.” At the time, I was baffled by these protestations. I will admit to occasional bouts of ungenerous skepticism — was it just that they were being work-shy? In those exchanges, I had to lean on prefabricated lines from the “Introduction to Teaching Writing” course I’d taken earlier in my tenure as a grad student, which had emphasized that writing is process rather than product and presented various strategies for helping students unblock and embrace the messy experience of writing. Of course my assurances on this front felt alien, rehearsed, and disingenuous. The truth was I’d never even thought of writing as anything but natural, even pleasurable. I write to know what I think, I have said on many occasions. And it is true: for me, the actual experience of living is only half of life. The second measure lives in 26 letters and 14 marks. But teaching writing, and working in The Writing Center, made me realize that this is not a universal impulse, and that’s OK. Writing is, simply, my medium. I don’t know why, or how–likely, it is owing to some alchemy of patronage, parenting, practice, and personality. But like Ginzburg, “I know nothing about the value of the things I am able to write.” It is pure instinct to live here, on this page. I make no claims as to its merit, or usefulness. (I do, however, feel proud of the community that lives on the other side of this page. There is purpose and good among you women, and if I do nothing but cultivate a space for us to sit together, I feel well with the world.)

This morning, I write as though kneading dough. I am working my way through the intersections between “feeling at ease” and vocations and language and purpose and I don’t know that these concepts always lay neatly upon one another for everyone. Perhaps it is a rarity that, for me, ils se feuillettent.*

I’m curious this morning to hear from you on this front — when and how are you most yourself, most at ease? Does that experience overlap with a vocation or not?

*They fold on top of one another, like pastry sheets. There is no exact way to phrase this as visually in English, I don’t think.

Post-Scripts.

+Writing, fishing, and the Roaring Fork.

+My longtime experiment with language.

+Some of my thoughts today reminded me of the concept of “flow.”

+An ode to the em dash.

+Admiring a different medium.

+The first job each morning.

+Do you consider yourself creative?

Shopping Break.

+This sweater comes in great colors and looks far more expensive than it is. Reminds me of something by Nili Lotan (<

+This dress was inspired by Carey Mulligan. YES PLS. I find this label to be exquisitely well made. Their pieces tend to run small in the bust/chest area, FYI.

+Speaking of La Ligne, this gives me La Ligne vibes for under $200. Very Parisienne-chic.

+Just added a few of these $12 fitness tanks to my cart. Tons of great colors. I have been reaching for tops like these while using our fitness bike at home!

+A trick for getting your kids into the bath.

+Into the silhouette on these reasonably priced pants.

+Do you know about the brand Charlie Holliday? I am swooning over so many of their warm weather pieces, including this bikini (Marysia vibes), this fruit print skirt, and this fetching hot pink dress. The prices are reasonable, too!

+Lake Pajamas teamed up with Schumacher for a limited edition run of pajamas in a fun geometric print!

+Zimmermann has made this dress several seasons now and it is just so fetching — romantic but tailored. Would be perfect for a bride-to-be, for a wedding anniversary, or for a family portrait on a beach.

+Cute (!) $22 smocked top in the white floral or black. Hill House vibes!

+Diptyque has some fun new limited edition scents out. I love the packaging on this one!

+Speaking of candles, many of Hotel Lobby’s previously sold out candles are back in stock. I was so impressed with the winter scent I burned all holiday season long! Will be back for more soon.

+Attractive, zippered clothing storage boxes.

+Fun smocked mini. Neckline reminds me of Doen or Loretta Caponi, but only $128!

+You know I live in shirtdresses. This one in the delicate daisy print reminds me of Miu Miu or something? Love!

+Sleek porcelain canisters for a modern kitchen.

+OO. This dress! Looks so easy and comfortable to wear and SO chic. Could be worn with sandals or cute sneakers/Supergas.

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