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Wiki says: A southern belle (derived from the French word belle, ‘beautiful’) is an archetype for a young woman of the AmericanOld South’s upper class.

RoadTrip Success!

Well maybe the definition of a Southern Belle is a little archaic and superficial, but I plan to become more intimately acquainted with those states who once made up a Confederacy.

For better or worse, Michigan has always been my home.  Although I often detested and felt limited by the small town I was raised in, heading back to MI from college, Chicago, and then NYC was always a trip that I looked forward to.  There’s a feeling of calm when you’re heading back to a world so recognizable – knowing every street, where the creaky floor board is, how to sneakily turn up the heat on the pool just enough that your dad won’t notice, and being able to walk to the bathroom in the dark without tripping and no fumbling for lightswitches, since hell, you’ve been in the same house you entire life (well, except for the first eight months but who’s counting).

Well as of last week, the life I knew has changed by… 692.77 miles and an 11 hour drive (Mapquest).

That’s right, folks, my parents, Northerner’s born and bred, have relocated to Tunica, Mississippi!  You may be familiar with the city (no judgments here) because it is the third most popular gambling destination in the United States, behind Vegas and Atlantic City!  My Dad is not a professional poker player and I doubt my mom will ever wear the costume of a cocktail waitress, but they will live a mere ten minutes from the lights of the casinos.

My mom and I road-tripped down to Tunica last week for the final move – the two of us, Skippy the dog, and a load of my mom’s favorite plants (the “greenhouse” had much more room than poor Skippy and I who had to share the front seat!).  Tunica is a very cute little town overflowing with nice, friendly southerners.  I got my hair done (note to self: always get hair done in South; much better pricing than NYC extravagance!) and in that two hours, was given a brief lesson in Southern etiquette and history.

Dad in front of the Tunica Times newspaper

But I need to know more.  The South truly is a different world. Not only do people have accents  (which is #1 on my Southern Belle list – I hope to pick mine up over the Christmas holidays) but a different history than what I grew up with.  So while I’m searching for all the light switches in our new house next time I visit (when I left after my stay, there were outdoor lights on that we had no idea how they came on, or how to turn off!), I plan to be educating myself on the life from my perch in NYC.

My Southern Book List:

Mom & Skippy in the MS living room pre-moving truck arrival

I wouldn’t even know where to begin to make this a Southern Belle Challenge, but I would love to hear if anyone wanted to dive in to the deep south with me!  Also, I’m sure I’m missing valuable southern literature so please y’all, feel free to make suggestions.


I know this is rather a cop-out, but since I like to think so many of you are worried about me in my blogging absence I didn’t want to be a total failure!

Week in recap


  • SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT by Beth Hoffman – very sweet novel of a young girl growing up surrounded by strong women.  Reminiscent of THE HELP, though not as epic.  Worth picking up – Beth Hoffman is an author to watch!
  • IMPERFECT BIRDS by Anne Lamott – My first experience with Anne Lamott, but I now understand why she has such a huge, devoted fan base.   A tough story to read about family struggles, mainly with a mom and her daughter doing drugs.  Will be sending to my own mom so she can better appreciate just how well-behaved I really was in high school! Will be available April 6, from Riverhead
  • THE BOOK THIEF by Marcus Zusak – I’ve read several WWII novels lately, and this title (told from the perspective of Death), may be my favorite.  I also highly suggest another recent read, CITY OF THIEVES (which my friend Max guest-blogged about last month).
  • Also worth noting, this coming Tuesday, 2/9, marks the release of the highly anticipated THE POSTMISTRESS by Sarah Blake – a novel based on three women with intersecting lives in the time of WWII.  This deserves a far better written review, but since I am incapable of doing such high-level things at the moment, I invite you to wander on over to Serendipitous Reading and KellyVision for their takes (if you’ve also written a review, I’d love for you to leave your link!)

Imbibed (to be filed, eventually, in my “city-imbibing” page):

  • My roommate Liz and I have a couch-sleeper for a bit, and we went out to celebrate her return to NYC with our favorite sushi restaurant, Typhoon, which happens to conveniently be located two store fronts from our apartment.  During the week all sushi is 50% off and it is delicious.  I can’t recommend highly enough the green tea fried ice cream to top off the meal!
  • Drank: a delicious Red Rhone Wine, courtesy of my classy and cultured OUB & OAD.  I’ve been informed the grapes are from Italy – the wine was so tasty I would really like to go pick some of my own grapes from the countryside.
  • Nothing like some Spanish dancing to kick off Friday early (and by early, I mean late on  Thursday night).  I have no rhythm, but after several mojitos at the Meat Packing’s Son Cubana, even I could merengue!  The food was fabulous (the goat cheese croquettes were to die for) and the live band made it feel quite exotic.

Also, in my total nerdy, authors-as-celebrities mind, I got to meet Chang-rae Lee!!!!!!!!!!  If you’ve never experienced his writing, I highly suggest you pre-order his upcoming novel THE SURRENDERED and prepare yourself to become totally immersed.

I took this picture myself - one lucky photographer!

One of my many resolutions for 2010 is to be more consistent about updating my blog!!  It falls higher on the list than running the elusive 5k I’ve successfully avoided the last five years, but lower on the list than trying to maintain a budget, part of which is packing my lunch vs. eating out (benefits the waistline and the wallet!).

In mid December, it occurred to me that  a mere year had passed since my world was first turned upside down when I was laid off from my advertising gig in Chicago (pink slip rather a symbol of solidarity in the Recession of 2008/2009, yes?).  Was I passionate about the job – No. But it could have been worse and the people there were fabulous and are still my friends today.  After some indecision and stress over uncertainty, the event ultimately propelled me into my dream publishing job, for which I am undoubtedly grateful.

I look back on 2009 with fond memories, including the arrival of my nephew Alton, who has made me realize I may have more maternal feelings than I thought (which still isn’t saying much) and my move to NYC (a city that I’m really starting to appreciate the intoxication when here).

Looking back upon my, eh, totally nerdy book spreadsheet, I realize 2009 has also been a fabulous year for the written word.  I know there are innumerable year-end lists floating around by those far more qualified than me, but just in case anyone is interested in the books that stood out in my eclectic reading list (disclaimer- all were read in 2009, though may have been published in different years):

  • THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett: This book has appeared on many “best of” lists, including the Book of the Year (USA TODAY), #1 chosen by book bloggers (BBAW) and more.  I can’t recommend it highly enough and find it offers a unique ability to immerse the reader in the time and deilect of the courageous women in the story.
  • MY HORIZONTAL LIFE: A Collection of One-Night Stands by Chelsea Handler: No literary award winner here, but as I mentioned in my original review, this book had me laughing uncontrollably over Handler’s antics and story telling.  Not G-rated, but not completely smutty either.
  • THE MAN WHO LOVED BOOKS TOO MUCH: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Deception by Allison Hoover Bartlett: I love books about books.  While I tend to shy away from nonfiction, this “cat and mouse tale” set in the world of rare book collecting had me captivated (and seeking the elusive first edition of GONE WITH THE WIND).
  • ACCORDING TO JANE by Marilyn Brant: This novel really struck a chord within me and I found the characters compelling and utterly relatable (full review).  I’ve recently rediscovered my own Sam Blaine (read the book and you’ll understand!) and have found myself frequently thinking fondly of the story.
  • THE BEST OF EVERYTHING by Rona Jaffe: I have attempted to write a full review of this book so many times, but find it impossible to convey my thoughts and feelings.  I think a list of the irresistible attributes are appropriate: Publishing, NYC, girlfriends, relationships, trysts, ambition, books and intertwining lives.

Ok those are my top five in no particular order.  Surprisingly, all women authors (I swear I read men too – JULIET, NAKED, ROUGH COUNTRY and 13 REASONS WHY would all be in my top ten).  Does anyone else have any overlap on their top titles?

Now, back to drinking hot toddies with my roommate as I try to make my sore throat disappear, prepare myself to drift into a peaceful slumber and avoid the potentially bad news I learned today.  I wish you all the best in 2010 and hope to see more of you as I keep up with my resolution to be a better blogger!

Cheers & hugs-



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