Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

delancey molly wizenberg coverI’m back at Great New Books today, sharing my thoughts on Molly Wizenberg’s second food memoir, Delancey.

I adore Wizenberg’s first book, A Homemade Life (I’ve read it three times), so I snatched up Delancey soon after it came out. I loved it. Here’s an excerpt of my review:

When I picked up Delancey, I did look at the subtitle: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage. (It’s right there on the cover, after all.) But I had no idea how accurate it was, particularly the last phrase.

Delancey chronicles the process of opening and running the titular pizza restaurant in Seattle, which Wizenberg co-founded with her husband, Brandon Pettit. But while it is a book about food (and contains a handful of mouthwatering recipes), Delancey is fundamentally a book about marriage.

Early in their relationship, Molly knew her husband was a dreamer. Brandon was always chasing some big idea or other: a violin workshop, an ice cream shop, a career as a composer and music teacher. When he mentioned opening a pizza restaurant, Molly didn’t pay much attention: she thought it was simply another one of his crazy ideas. But when she finally realized Brandon was serious, Molly had to confront the truth: this restaurant would change the rhythm of their family life significantly, and she wasn’t sure she was ready for that.

Please click over to the GNB website to read the rest of my review. See you there! (And if you’ve read Delancey, I’d love to hear your thoughts.)

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Six years

k & j pei beach

Tomorrow we will have been married for six years.

We have been together nearly twice as long as that – we dated off and on (mostly on) through the majority of our college years. By the time I headed off to Oxford to earn a graduate degree, with J staying in west Texas to begin his own graduate program, we were engaged. We planned a wedding over nine months, across an ocean – a challenge I do not recommend, but somehow we made it to the wedding day itself, which was beautiful.

Lindsey recently noted on her blog that “marriage is about abiding. It is about remaining near.” I have thought of these words often over the last few weeks, as we circle around each other in the orbits of our workdays, then spend more sustained time together on the weekends and on our recent vacation. (The photo above is from our beach day on PEI.)

The challenge for me is in remaining near even when I am tired and frustrated. The work of marriage (and really, of all relationships) lies in being present, being thoughtful, being kind, when I’d really rather not make the effort. That is love, as surely as flowers and candlelight and elegantly wrapped gifts (though I do enjoy those gestures of romance).

Marriage is listening to my husband’s account of his days and checking in with him to share mine. It’s making plans and compromises, lists and dinner, balancing our priorities and needs and bank accounts. It is taking care of one another in a thousand small ways. It is a process I’m constantly relearning, and I expect to keep learning it for many years to come.

Six years in, we are still toward the beginning (I hope) of several decades together. But they have been good years, and I’m thankful for them – and thankful for the man who’s walked every step beside me.

j blue mussel lighthouse

Happy anniversary, love. Here’s to the next six, and many more.

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porter square books cambridge ma

The Divorce Papers, Susan Rieger
Criminal lawyer Sophie Diehl gets roped into working a high-profile divorce case. Told entirely through letters, emails, case law and other court documents, this is a wickedly funny, entertaining story of love, divorce and coming to terms with your past. (I’m no lawyer, but I enjoyed it.)

Delicious!, Ruth Reichl
Billie Breslin has landed a job at her dream workplace, the NYC food magazine Delicious!. When the magazine folds, Billie stays on to answer the phones and finds a cache of letters written to James Beard by Lulu Swan, a plucky young cook from Ohio, during WWII. A big-hearted, beautiful story of family, food, love, New York, and finding your way home. (Packed with mouthwatering food descriptions, as one might expect from Reichl.)

Landline, Rainbow Rowell
I loved Rowell’s Attachments and also enjoyed Fangirl. Landline is much more bittersweet: the story of Georgie and Neal, struggling to save their marriage. By some time-space fluke, Georgie discovers she can call Neal’s parents’ house on her mom’s landline and talk to his former self, giving her a fresh perspective on their relationship. Compelling, but somehow unsatisfying. (I received an ARC; this book comes out July 8.)

The Geography of You and Me, Jennifer E. Smith
I love Smith’s YA novels about unlikely love. This one was charming, but lacked the depth of her previous ones. Lucy and Owen get stuck in an elevator during a blackout in NYC, spend a wonderful evening together, then both abruptly move away. They stay in touch through postcards, while adjusting to big life changes. Whimsical and poignant.

Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage, Molly Wizenberg
Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life is one of my favorite food memoirs ever. This book tells the story of how Wizenberg and her husband came to open the titular pizza restaurant in Seattle. A slow start, but it has some great insights on marriage and workplace culture. (Also some delicious-looking recipes.)

Buzz Kill, Beth Fantaskey
When her school’s unpopular football coach is murdered, Millie Ostermeyer is determined to find out who did it – especially since her assistant-coach dad is a suspect. The (handsome) new kid helps her investigate. Cute and funny – scatterbrained, blunt Millie is the anti-Nancy Drew.

The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver
Kingsolver’s debut novel follows Taylor Greer, a smart-mouthed Kentucky girl who heads west and finds herself building a new life in Arizona. Full of eccentric characters; warmhearted, funny and moving.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, Barbara Kingsolver
After years in Arizona, Kingsolver and her family move to Virginia and decide to try eating entirely local for a year. This involves lots of gardening, farmer’s markets, raising poultry, and longing for off-limits luxuries. Occasionally preachy, but highly informative and passionate. Includes mouthwatering recipes. A re-read and well worth it.

The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax, Dorothy Gilman
Mrs. Pollifax is off on another adventure, this time smuggling passports into Bulgaria and also managing to save a few lives. Full of wild coincidences, but really fun.

The Chapel Wars, Lindsey Leavitt
When Holly’s grandpa dies, she’s shocked to learn she’s inherited his Vegas wedding chapel, and that it’s in dire financial straits. Can she save the chapel, while possibly dating the grandson of the rival chapel owner next door? A smart, funny story of family, grief, first love and the wackiness that is Vegas (Leavitt’s hometown).

Links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

What are you reading?

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happy birthday love


Ten years together has only made me love him more.

k & j san diego bay

Happy 30th birthday, love. You’re my favorite.

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Five years of marriage

Two houses. Three cars. Two master’s degrees (one for each of us). Seven jobs and multiple freelance gigs (between the two of us). Two churches. One new nephew, followed closely by one new niece.


Two high school reunions. One cross-country move (totaling more than 2200 miles). Twenty or more weekend getaways. Countless dinner dates and bowls of guacamole, kisses and hugs and a few arguments, quiet evenings in the living room watching Friends or reading or doing the crossword.

k & j fenway

So many Sundays singing next to one another. Five Easters, five Thanksgivings, five Christmases. Hundreds of ordinary days, spent blissfully together.

Happy fifth anniversary, love. I can’t wait for the next five.

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Recently, J and I had lunch with another couple, who moved to Boston this summer. They also have roots in the South, so a discussion of holiday travel plans led to a discussion of road trips, and we began trading stories of our respective treks to Boston.

They recounted their drive from Memphis, how they managed it in a single, grueling 27-hour stretch. They laughed as they remembered navigating their moving truck down narrow Boston streets, with frequent “No Trucks” signs and no place to turn around, no choice but to go forward.

We laughed in sympathy, and shared highlights from our own four-day odyssey from Texas to Boston, two years ago.

road trip car highway sky moving boston

The long first day, the end of which found us still in Texas (albeit on the border). The moving truck trouble that kept us in Nashville an extra twelve hours, to our hostess’ delight and our mixed joy and chagrin. The desperate phone call to friends in southern Virginia, who let us stay at their house even though they were out of town, when it became clear we would never reach Maryland on the third day. (I will never forget that act of kindness.) The long fourth day (and the rain all through Pennsylvania); the fruitless search for a gas station bathroom in Connecticut. The sheer relief of pulling into a driveway west of Boston, well after dark, and Abi running down the sidewalk to meet me, her arms spread wide in welcome.

“These are the stories you tell,” I commented, as I listened to J recount parts of our story and jumped in to add context and details. Our move to Boston is already one of the turning points of our marriage, a jagged, exciting new chapter, and we have already told and retold the tale of how, exactly, we got here. Our friends will do it too: five and ten and thirty years down the line, they will remember the fresh, anxious adrenaline rush of driving that rental truck through Boston.

Some of the details of our moving saga will fade with time; others will make their way into family legend. Our children will know this story, the way I know the stories my dad tells and retells around the dinner table. There are anecdotes from his childhood on a Missouri farm, from when he worked on his uncle’s land in the summers, from his newlywed years with my mom. Stories from when my sister and I were little, many of which became the impetus for family jokes. (My husband and my brother-in-law have heard a lot of explanations over the years, as we four Noahs keep translating our family vernacular for them.)

Just like my dad, I reach for the same stories over and over again, to explain a trait or share a memory or make friends laugh. I often find myself saying to friends, “You’ve probably heard this story before.” But I keep telling them, the same anecdotes and jokes, because those stories make up the fabric of my life, my marriage, my family’s life together.

What stories do you tell over and over again?

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I mentioned recently that the dinner table is central to our liturgy of marriage – so central, in fact, that it has its own liturgy. Inspired by Kari’s thoughts on the liturgy of parenting.

table summer dinner

The Call to the Stove
Hi, love. I’m on my way home.
Great. I’ll start the water boiling, turn on the oven, begin chopping vegetables, and/or assemble the ingredients for a soup, pizza or enchiladas. See you soon.

The Kitchen Dance
Can you hand me that knife? Pass the cutting board.
Is there any more chili powder? We’re out of garlic again.
That looks/smells delicious. Stir the soup, will you? Hand me the spatula.

The Setting of the Table
Do we need forks? Knives? Are there any clean cloth napkins?
There should be. Look in the other drawer.

The Breaking of the Bread
Mmmm. This looks delicious. Lemonade or water?

The Communion
How was your day? Tell me about your clients, your co-workers, your sessions.
I did some writing. Ate lunch in the Public Garden. I’m reading this great book.

The Holy Embrace
Thanks for making dinner. It was delicious.
I’m glad you like it.
I’m glad you made it.

The Clearing
Did you get all the dishes from the table?
I’ll wash, if you dry.

The Amen
Want some ice cream?
Yes. Absolutely.


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