Hermit Style

I think it’s safe to say that Ryan and I have developed an uncanny ability to stay in for the large majority of (dare I say the entire) weekend. I can make a couple of solid excuses for this because where in our culture is it truly “ok” to do this without feeling slightly sloth-like in those sweatpants that are oh-so-comfortable on this here couch?! Onward with the excuses:

• One, we are officially many moons past the dawn of our thirties. We now tire early. We enjoy the comforts of making dinner at home and watching the finale of Friday Night Lights (for the second time if you’re like me). The thought of heading out to socialize at an hour like 10pm now shocks me more than anything else, as much as my neighbors do when they invite people over to socialize at an hour like 10pm! Oh dear, are thirties the new eighties? 😉

• Two, our dearest friends are no longer our nearest. They are celebrating birthdays and wedding festivities and weekend BBQs all the way back home. And while I am making the effort and saying “Yes!” and joining the best of ’em during the week, there is something about the weekends that I’m cherishing in a way I never really allowed myself to do guilt-free when I lived in New York or San Francisco.

Because of course I want to see my friends! I don’t want to miss out! But 6,000 miles have put such a strain on the parameters of my FOMO Syndrome, that I can’t really claim it as a fear at all. I have to fess up to genuine, denial-free awareness that at this distance we are indeed missing out. Thanks to an equal spike in my social networking prowess, I can at least see the pics of friends’ brand new babies (Congratulations, Honora and Whitney and Suzie!!), track the path of Irene as she barrels her way up the eastern seaboard and over the heads of dozens of dear cousins and friends (love and miss you, Massoni’s!), and comment on the darling pictures of darling friends doing darling things, pictures I know I might even be in if I weren’t so far away (Katie and Laura and Patrick’s surf sessions come to mind!)

But there’s something delicious about staying in all weekend without commitments to this city I’m still getting to know. I can start and barrel through, Irene-style, no less than half of The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, finally reading it because I want to read Freedom. As for Franzen’s 10-year-old tome, yes, I carried the hard cover all the way down to Chile, determined that after taking it from my mom’s bookshelf many years ago and then from one apartment to another in San Francisco and finding it again at the top of a dear friend’s recommended reading list, it was time for it to go into the circulation of the pile of “Books to Read Next” I have going at any given time:

While I brought my all-time favorite-favorites to Chile, I also brought the books I’ve accumulated or been gifted but haven’t yet read (two years of grad school really pumped up the volume in that regard). I mean if you can’t get around to reading them down in Chile, where can you?! And this time around, all 568 pages of The Corrections floated straight to the top and won the pick-and-choose party I love throwing for one when it’s time for a new book. I literally spread them out, all within reach, and start each one to test their respective temperatures for the next week or two they will go everywhere with me, migrating to the bedside, the backpack, and right back to this couch on a Sunday afternoon.

I guess I now completely understand all the hype about Franzen… his perfect-vision eye on detail, his omniscient ability to take you down into the sour depths and up to the fantastical highs of each character, and the fact that I now believe these people exist, and recognize their anxieties and challenges and decisions in my very own and in ways that make it no longer a mystery why I didn’t pick this book up earlier, least of all ten years ago when it was published. It wasn’t until right now, chilling at the bottom of the world with my husband, that it could make perfect sense and crack me up with something completely mundane about domestic life that rings so true that my husband hears my howl from the other room. Case in point:

“The problem then was to find ripe avocados. He found ripe avocados that were the size of limes and cost $3.89 apiece. He stood holding five of them and considered what to do. He put them down and picked them up and put them down and couldn’t pull the trigger” (93).

I mean it wouldn’t be so funny if I hadn’t likely done exactly the same thing at some point in my adult life. I don’t even do this scene justice to excerpt here, so ridiculous and scrumptious is the full picture Franzen paints, of the over-priced Manhattan market, of the fired-professor-turned-aspiring screenwriter’s shame at this point in time, of the fact that he ends up with a two-pound salmon filet wilting in his pants! Take my word, you’ll just have to read it.

In the meantime, I know we have many more weekends in Santiago to explore, meet up with new friends, finally go skiing. I’m sure you’ll likely find posts about those adventures far more interesting than the ones I churn up hermit style over 48 hours indoors. For now, I’ve got half a book to go finish without apology… (and don’t worry, we’re leaving the house for dinner. I promise 🙂


  1. Hi 🙂

    I like reading posts like this,where everything is not necessarily exciting and fantastic all the time.
    Because this is what life is like,sometimes we need to curl up in the corner of our sofa, closing the world out for a while.
    And I ordered that book, Franzen,even I never heard of him before, (I`m Norwegian),
    you made me curious:)
    Thanks for sharing!


  2. Hi Christine!

    Glad you can relate. I also just finished Freedom, Franzen's latest, which came out last year. I really enjoyed it, though I think I'm partial to The Corrections 🙂 I hope you like it, too!

    And thanks so much for reading the blog.

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