I am sitting on the front porch with Carmen, listening to a Google Play radio station called “Back Porch Americana”. It is a beautiful Fall day here in Atlanta. There are more leaves on the ground than I can possibly rake up, but many of the trees still have green and splashes of yellow, waiting to be dropped for Winter. The sun is shining, and the sky is clear. We sat here last night, too, watching the light of day go out and the orange Halloween lights go on in the windows across the street, shivering against the progressive chill. I cannot resist the porch swing, the constant swaying lull and the enjoyable mental occupation of keeping it moving, pushing against the ground or the table in a steady, calming rhythm. This is why I moved here.
I used to post recommendations in my Facebook status updates, a motley mix of things I was enjoying and vague allusions to my chaotic college lifestyle. I have been thinking about doing so again here, as there are so many things I have enjoyed lately and want to share.
If you have not watched Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, you really ought to. It is a news-comedy show on HBO, with clips posted to YouTube. Every Sunday night, John Oliver picks a topic that was prevalent in the news that week and does a ten-to-twenty-minute segment dissecting the issue, utilizing a blend of humor and intensity to present the issue in its most viable form. What strikes me most about the show, however, is the true journalism represented as he takes on Edward Snowden, patent law, and the precipitation of Ferguson. If you are new to the show, I recommend beginning with “Surveillance”, “Scottish Independence”, and “Tobacco”. Then watch the rest of them.
Right now, we are reading White Oleander for book club (my pick). I have read this book twice before, and it is definitely my favorite contemporary novel. As I read it again, I am thrilled to find that it has lost none of its power. I feel that Janet Fitch uses words the way they were intended by whatever governing secret society determines the English canon. I cannot stop highlighting, as every sentence which is not thematically paramount is too beautifully articulated to overlook. But, most of all, I am excited about the many conversations that I know we will have when we meet to discuss it. My book club has been going for over a year now, and it has been one of the most rewarding gatherings in which I have partaken. Our choices tend to be intense books, from Blindness to The Passage to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks to Unbroken.
There are so many wonderful things to anticipate in this season. I have already started shopping for Christmas presents and checking ticket prices to fly home for Thanksgiving. But it is the little things about which I am most excited. I want to drive through rich neighborhoods and look at Christmas lights. I want to play seasonal music every time I am in the car. I want to carve pumpkins and make cranberry sauce and drive to church surrounded by flames of dying foliage. I want to sit, bundled, on the porch with spiked cocoa and think about what I have learned from this awful year as it draws to a close. Hey! I did that last night.
Happy Fall, dear Reader.