Monday, February 3, 2020

I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These essays had a comfortable sense of familiarity to me. They made me laugh, nod my head in recognition, or mull over the truth that even when your world sounds pretty great in many respects (as the author's certainly does), you can still get sucker-punched by life and your own issues. Hell, even when you have some pretty significant problems, you can usually count the ways millions of people in the world have it worse – yet knowing that doesn't make your troubles melt away like a snowman in the sun.

Many passages reminded me of myself ... in small ways. The messed up ways rather than the "You're winning at life, pal!" ways. Her dire sense of direction, the need to plan things out, get things right, check off boxes, be responsible and reliable and expect others to behave similarly. Sometimes annoying the shit out of others with all of that. Taking up the slack at work or anywhere really; if others don't do what needs to be done, stepping up. And end up taking on too much. Swimming in anxiety at times. Yep, sounds familiar.
I relate especially hard to this passage:
I hate it when people give directions like, “Drive south for two miles,” or, “Go east on the highway.” How the hell do people know which way south and east are?
And also:

Of course, we're not exactly twins. Her level of success and absolutely adorable photos online prove she's crushing it in ways I'm definitely not. But while I can't say I related to everything from personal experience, here's the cool part – I didn't have to, to appreciate these essays. They're human, and smart, and funny, and real.

A little Easter egg I discovered while reading this book is that Mary Laura Philpott was the founding editor of Musing, an online magazine attached to Parnassus Books in Nashville. Which happens to sound like one of the coolest bookstores ever (Can you have a crush on a bookstore? 'Cause I definitely do!). I heard of it awhile back and would love to go. I've been to Nashville a few times, but didn't hear about Parnassus until afterward. If I ever return, that bookstore is right up there with The Bluebird Cafe on my must-do list. Not only is it owned by one of my favorite authors, Ann Patchett, and as such seems to celebrate the love of books and writing, but it has shop dogs! As in, dogs who accompany their humans to work and grace the shop with so much cuteness you can hardly stand it. Pups and books, it truly sounds divine.

Which leads to another Easter egg I found among these essays: the author has a dog named Eleanor Roosevelt, who appears to occasionally join the sweet shop dogs at Parnassus.

Oh dear, I've gotten a bit off track! Suffice it to say these warm, insightful essays were a great read. Highly recommended.

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