Stuff I’m Reading: Three Authors on Belonging

Melody WarnickReading and writing, Stuff I love, Uncategorized0 Comments

We Are Not Ourselves, Euphoria, Station Eleven

My lazy summer is abruptly coming to an end, with revision deadlines and intense back-to-school shopping with my daughters. Here’s your back-to-school assignment: Go to Musing, the blog of Parnassus Books, in Nashville. Put it in your RSS feed. Wait with baited breath till a post by Ann Patchett pops up. Enjoy.

I’ve never been to this bookstore physically—never even been to Nashville—but reading about books is my fave, and Musing provides much delight in this arena. Some of it even has to do with This Is Where You Belong. A couple months ago, a post featured interviews with three authors, Emily St. John Mandel, Matthew Thomas, and Lily King, who were asked whether they felt like they belonged anywhere. Their answers were fascinating. As King responded, “After traveling and living in different parts of this country and abroad for several years, I have returned to New England, where I grew up, to raise my own family in a small town not all that unlike the one I left when I was eighteen. So I do have a sense of belonging and of home here. And I like it. But I also feel that itch to uproot and plunk down someplace unfamiliar for a while. It’s essential to me.”

Is uprooting essential to you? Where do you feel like you belong? Or do you? Go read what the other authors had to say about it.

P.S.: I read Station Eleven last year. Loved it.

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Stuff I Love: Stately Type t-shirts

Melody WarnickStuff I love0 Comments

I’ve been following Stately Type on Instagram for a while now, because it’s awesome. Every week or so, husband-and-wife team David and Holly Lesué pick a place, usually a city or a state, but sometimes a country or a destination, and debut designs for three different t-shirts for it. Their fans, all 13,000 of them, get to vote for their fave, and the winner gets printed and sold online.

Stately Type

First off, it’s just good design. The Lake Powell t-shirt , an homage to vintage Patagonia, kills me, and for months Quinn’s been lusting after the 801 Beehive sweatshirt, whose antecedents only true Utahns understand. But the most interesting part is watching this become a crowdsourced social media phenomenon, as followers throw out ideas, tag local friends, and work themselves into a frenzy on behalf of places they love.

I’ve blogged before about the rising popularity of place-centric art, which I think is a manifestation of how devoted people are to where they live, or where they’re from. Smart creative companies like Stately Type know how to cash in on that.

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What makes you feel at home

Melody WarnickUncategorized0 Comments


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Stuff I’m Reading: Where Do Millennials Really Want to Live?

Melody WarnickPlace love, Placemaking0 Comments

Everyone wants to figure out where Millennials are going to settle down, and the major theory is that they’re completely enamored of cities. But is that really true? Gizmodo’s Alissa Walker points out that about half of Millenials live in cities, but only 13 percent in downtown neighborhoods. The rest, like Americans in general, have wound up somewhere in a suburb, a small town, or a rural area.

Gizmodo chart--where Millennials live

No worries, says Walker: They can still get their urban vibe on in suburbs that are trying really hard to look like big cities, with dense, mixed-use developments, walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, and good restaurants and bars. Or they can pick door #2: small cities. Places like Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh offer the best of cities, with the added bonus that they’re much more affordable than New York or San Francisco (where a Millennial would have to make $60,000 more than average to afford a mortgage).

Plus, as a Milwaukee Millennial points out, “There is an energy of millennials who are coming together and galvanizing and they want to be the creators. Not to take away from what they are doing in places like Austin and Brooklyn, but do you want to participate in their culture, or do you want to be like San Antonio or Milwaukee and be the creator of the culture? A lot of us want to be the creators—we want to be the ones making the change.”

Read the whole article at Gizmodo.

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I Would Live There: Asheville, North Carolina, Edition

Melody WarnickGreat towns, I would live there2 Comments

In sixteen years of married life, Quinn and I have managed to get away without our children maybe four times. When it happens, it’s through the enormous good graces and generosity of some family member or friend or other, and always, we’re left wide-eyed and grinning at our good luck. We’re free! Can you believe it? (Disclaimer: This doesn’t mean we don’t love our kids. It just means that sometimes they drive us absolutely insane, and a 48-hour separation is the best possible outcome for everyone’s mental health.)

This time, our friend Lucynthia mentioned in passing that she and her husband, Nate, would be happy to watch our kids so we could go on a mini-vacation. “Ah, that’s really nice and delusional of her,” I thought to myself. But then she pressed the issue in an email a few weeks later. “When are we going to watch your kids?” she asked. Like she actually meant it. Before she could come to her senses, we booked a two-night vacation to Asheville, North Carolina, for my birthday.

Why Asheville? Because it’s three hours away, close enough for just-in-case but far enough to make us untouchable in all but dire emergencies, and because a few friends, as well as Southern Living magazine and the the New York Times, rave about its indie shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Asheville’s biggest (literally) tourist attraction is Biltmore, George Vanderbilt’s 8,000-acre, 35-bedroom estate, but when we realized tickets cost $60 we abandoned our plans to go and focused on the city itself.

And it was utterly delightful. Here’s why.

The food.

Oh my gosh, the food. Quinn hates it when I go nuts with hours and hours of advance research before travel, so this time I was trying my darndest to just be like, “I don’t care where we go, whatever.” But then my instincts took over and I ended up Yelping the heck out of Asheville. I couldn’t help it. This place, Biscuit Head, was one of the restaurants where we ended up. (Named, apparently, for biscuits the size of a cat’s head.) It’s in some sort of doctor’s office complex — not where you’d ever expect to see a hip restaurant — and yet this is what the line looked like on Saturday morning, all of us queueing up for various biscuit sandwiches with toppings like pulled pork, fried green tomatoes, and Cherry Coke-flavored bacon. Folks know what’s good for them.

Biscuit Head line

I ordered an egg, cheese, and country ham biscuit, which I had to eat with a fork because the biscuit was so tender. Plus, there was a jam and butter bar, with homemade strawberry and blackberry jams, a bananas foster topping that tasted like an unholy apple butter, and a sweet tomato jelly, among other deliciousness. I get the sweats just thinking about it. (Asheville biscuit consumption tally: 4.5 in 3 days.)

Biscuit Head biscuit sandwich

Every meal we ate in Asheville—at Tupelo Honey, Sunny Point Cafe (fried avocado tacos and key lime pie!), and All Souls Pizza—made us want to never leave.

There were other delightful things, as well, including the marvelous arboretum, the Blue Ridge Parkway, loads of art galleries, and indie bookstores like Malaprop’s. We hit up a drum circle on Friday night, sat in Pack Square as the sun went down, and watched these guys do their country busking schtick a few times.

Asheville buskers

On the downtown streets, tourists and locals jostled for space among drummers, guitarists, opera singers, keyboardists, and five-piece bands doing renditions of Sufjan Stevens. (With so many, we wondered if the city was considering permitting street performers. They are.)

And of course I looked at real estate magazines and imagined what life would be like living in Asheville. Maybe next time we visit (I’m really hoping there will be a next time), we’ll take our kids.

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