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Vol. 3 | March 2016
Good morning! If you and I were chatting on my front porch this month, I would first of all apologize for the mounds of pollen hiding not-so-subtly in every nook and cranny. We would talk about Claire Underwood, and I'd share all the fascinating facts I've been learning from this new book I love. We would talk about community and place-finding and the hope of Easter, and maybe we'd convince each other to take a vacation. 

But since we're not sharing a porch swing today, here's this month's newsletter. As always, hit reply if you'd like to chat -- I love hearing from you!

trying.

Several years ago, when I read the memoir MWF Seeking BFF for the first time, I was struck by just how dang hard the author tried. This woman surely must have been an extrovert, because she accepted every invitation and tried every new thing, all in the name of friendship-finding and community-building. I have no idea how she did it, and yet somehow, I've now embarked on an accidental MWF Seeking BFF exercise of my own, and the result, of course, is exhaustion, because I am not an extrovert, and I rather hate trying new things. 

But back in January, I told myself I needed to make more of an effort to create a home in Thomasville. We have a home, of course, that we love, but we all know home is more than where you lay your head or binge watch Jane the Virgin. It's about who your people are. It's who will bring you dinner when you're sick or check your mail while you're on vacation or attend your baby shower even though everyone knows most baby shower games are dumb. It's who will sit on your porch and say nothing and who will join you when you walk your dog. 

And so I am trying to find my people.

I've never felt more akin to Goldilocks, trying all the things to see who and which feel "just right." Garden Club? Too exclusive. Junior League? Too expensive. A gym? Maybe a good idea for my health, but for friendship building, probably not. (Who can talk about The Bachelor while sweating profusely?) In the past month, I have set up lunch dates and tried to score double dates, because everyone knows Jordan is better at all this anyway. 

You know what I've discovered? My life is kind of weird. I have bizarre, random hours of freedom, and for better or for worse, the store often has to take priority over dinner dates and weekend get-togethers. It's like having a child, except it's most definitely not. (Just ask any mother you know.) 

So last Saturday, I left The Bookshelf at four, and despite sore feet and an aching back and a couch calling my name, I picked up my knitting needles and went to the knit shop. I bought some new yarn and learned a new technique and visited with the shop's owner and her husband. Turns out, these are my people, because sure, they're a little older than I am, but they're Thomasville transplants, and they own their own business, and guess what? Their life looks kind of weird, too. 

My people, I'm learning, are already there. They're walking around the outskirts of my life, and it's up to me to let them in. There's the sweet woman from the downtown office who always puts a smile on my face, the couple at church we've been meaning to take to lunch. There's the woman who brings her kids to story time, the girls I gather with every month for book club, the new couple who just moved to town.

I think the potential is there, I really do, and I wonder if I just need to take deep breaths and keep trying. My people are here, but it's going to take a little digging. I will use the hours I have, the people I have, and slowly, I will find my place, my people, and my home. I firmly believe this to be true.

And in the meantime, I will make lunch dates and visit the knit shop and text old friends and relish when our faraway people come to town. I will remind myself that I am known and loved, and home is really so many things: our funny dog and our comfy couch and our creaky porch swing and maybe a vegetable garden. It's dinner around the table and my mom's records playing and that feeling when Jordan walks through the front door. Home is your people, but it's also who you love and where you live, and I think I've got those parts down. I'll keep trying for the rest. 

spring.

A friend of mine claims that every March, he falls in love. Spring fever, I think he calls it. Some people feel mushy and more romantically-inclined during the holidays, but for my friend, there's something about spring. He becomes a little lonelier than usual, a little more inclined to finding someone to spend his life -- or at least the rest of the month -- with. 

I get it. Every spring, I, too, suffer a bout of spring fever, only mine is less about romance and more about wanderlust. I feel the sudden urge to get out of town, to get near the water. And the irony, of course, is that spring is when our calendar starts to fill, when airfare becomes more expensive, and when traveling seems less possible for our little family. Both of us work pretty long hours, and vacation seems less and less likely the more the year progresses. 

Jordan works in election law, and although one primary has passed, more elections are on the way. I've got a book festival coming up in April, plus book signings and out-of-town weddings; the weekends are filling up, and yet the desire to leave for a few days has never been stronger. 

Our NYC vacation, the one prompted by our seven-year anniversary back in November, has been postponed for all of the aforementioned reasons; it's looking like we won't be able to head that far north until next winter. But don't think that's stopped me from scrolling through AirBNB for getaways within driving distance. I'm desperate, and I'd take Savannah or New Orleans or St. George Island in a heartbeat. 

What is it about a change in seasons that does this to me? I feel both motivated -- the sunshine helps -- and somehow also burnt out, and I just know a vacation would give my brain the creative juices it needs to keep going over the next few months. 

Until we can mark a weekend on the calendar, I know I have to be content right where we are. So I'll plant flowers and clean my house and binge House of Cards. I'll take walks, and we'll go out to dinner, and I'll pretend vacation isn't so far away. I refuse to let spring fever, in all its various forms, get me down. 
 

Got any spring fever remedies to share? Click reply to send me your ideas (or to help me plan my next getaway)!

Some readers avoid short story collections like the plague, but there's really nothing like them in terms of pick-up-ability. Not all collections are created equal, but this one, American Housewife by Helen Ellis, is laugh-out-loud funny (really), and -- unlike other collections I've read -- it's completely memorable.

I read the book a month ago, but I'm still laughing at a few of the stories, including one about a nosy neighbor, and another about a has-been writer who goes on the new television hit, Dumpster Diving with the Stars. Ellis takes the various stereotypes of and myths about the American housewife -- things like book club memberships and casserole dishes -- and turns them on their head, giving the stories an edge and a bite you can't help but find hilarious. 

For fans of Single, Carefree, and Mellow and Southern author Joshilyn Jackson.
Speaking of short stories, I read Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Olive Kitteridge when it debuted years ago, and you know what? I didn't love it. In fact, as I recall, our whole book club just felt kind of "meh" about the whole thing, a truth I'm hesitant to share now that I'm a bookseller.

My ambivalence toward Olive Kitteridge didn't keep me, though, from buying Strout's new novel, My Name Is Lucy Barton, a beautifully executed mother-daughter story I couldn't put down. The book is short (almost a novella, really), but its brevity adds to the story's accessibility and charm, deceiving the reader into thinking there's not much going on when so much familial tension bubbles beneath the surface. 

For fans of My Brilliant Friend and author Anna Quindlen. 
Friends and fellow readers often tease me about my penchant for recommending books that haven't released yet, so here's a compromise: I've read these two novels in the last couple of weeks, but they're not being released until May. Go ahead and mark your calendars; call your libraries; preorder from your various sources. I loved these books and suspect you will, too. (And if you haven't read Anton DiSclafani's debut novel, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, please change that ASAP.)
+ How do you cry reading about someone else's life moments? I don't know, but Elise made it possible.

+ I admit I'm a little envious of this fantastic podcast premise, but I'm loving hearing someone else recommend books (and I love yelling out my own recommendations from wherever I'm listening).

+ Has anyone else seen Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? It's not a film that lends itself to a ton of opinions (it's just not that good), but this article does a good job of explaining why the movie left me feeling slightly icky.

+ I'm shockingly 75% Lorelai Gilmore (I could have sworn much, much lower). What are you?

+ Quick! Someone tell me if these shoes are comfortable, because I can only buy comfortable shoes, and I really want these.

+ This video. Why do I like Ellen so much? 

+ The stories we hear about evangelical Christianity are less-than-stellar (often rightfully so), so this story was refreshing while staying honest, too. 
Spoken in the Shop

"Too bad books aren't running for president."

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Manager: "Hi, I was just calling to let you know that The Lady and The Unicorn came in for you today."

Older Gentleman: "Well, I'll take the lady today and the unicorn tomorrow."  
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Contact Annie:
anniesbutterworth@gmail.com

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