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Because I know the author, when I read Find Me by Laura van den Berg I pictured Laura as the protagonist. It’s not an autobiographical novel, and the character, Joy, is not especially like Laura in her physical description. Joy says: “My hair falls past my shoulders in dark waves, lush and healthy-looking. No bangs, center part.” Laura’s hair is light brown, usually shoulder-length, often with bangs. But my mind made the shortcut on its own, and it would have taken effort to correct it.

I read Howards End some 15 years after seeing the Merchant Ivory adaptation, and inevitably pictured Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter in the roles of the sisters. However, for the first third of the book, I mixed up the roles, and had Emma Thompson as Helen and Helena Bonham Carter as Margaret in my mental casting. When I realized I was picturing them wrong, I had to forcibly correct it. I now avoid reading a book when I’ve already seen the movie. More… “Seeing Things”

Elisa Gabbert is the author of L’Heure Bleue, or the Judy Poems (Black Ocean), The Self Unstable (Black Ocean) and The French Exit (Birds LLC). Follow her on Twitter at @egabbert.
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I recently purchased a kit called “Le Nez Du Vin” that professes to teach me how to identify various aromas in a glass of wine. The kit, which is imported from France, comes in a dictionary-sized case covered in red fabric so that it resembles an old book. Inside are a dozen tiny glass vials, each of which is redolent of a specific, essential red-wine scent when uncapped. These vials are cosseted in crushed velvet (or likely velour). It was purchased at Williams-Sonoma. It cost $130.

Go ahead: Roll your eyes; chuckle derisively; whatever you have to do. I’ll wait until you finish. OK, finished?

The “Le Nez Du Vin” kit contains two slim manuals both written by Jean Lenoir, a French wine critic who over 25 years ago developed this method of wine education by way… More…

 

Page one of my scrapbooking-weekend scrapbook would contain a cardstock minivan pasted onto a gray chalk outline of a Virginia highway. A photo of my face would be slipped into the driver’s window, and my hands would be cut out and pasted to a cardstock wheel at a sturdy 10 and two.

Renting a minivan to get to the Chantilly, Virginia, convention had been an inside joke with myself about going undercover as a scrapbooker for a story on the scrapbooking phenomenon. But the joke turned on me (as inside jokes with yourself usually do) when I ended up finding the van on the way to the convention to be a comfy and spacious drive with enough bass to make it sound like Jay-Z himself was carpooling with me to the convention. By the time I arrived at… More…

In defending Christmas I have nothing to say about Jesus Christ, a terrifying and influential historical figure who, I confess, has had little impact on my life. My Christmas, the Christmas I have known, revolves centrally around objects — most crucially around presents and then secondarily around things like Christmas trees, ornaments, decorations, advent calendars, etc., and people — the people I’ve known, the family members whose faces come most quickly to mind when I smell pine needles, as if their faces are the secret look of pine needles and the two are united forever in a correspondence that is prior to history, understanding, or even my own awareness.

Morgan Meis has a PhD in Philosophy and is a founding member of Flux Factory, an arts collective in New York. He has written for n+1, The Believer, Harper’s Magazine, and The… More…

I had to have my roof redone a few months ago. The man doing the roof was a man I had just begun dating, and he had his friends helping, doing my 100-year-old 20-pitch, two-and-a-half story house for about half of what my neighbors had paid.

 

So I cooked. I made hot lunches the six days they were there — barbecued beef on crusty rolls, chicken soup with spinach and tortellini, carved ham and cheese, buffalo wings and pepperoni bread. These meals were accompanied by side dishes like homemade cole slaw, carrot and raisin salad, tortilla chips with cheese. I timed desserts to come out of the oven just as the men were finishing their lunches — chocolate chip cookies, cherry dump cake, brownies, plum cobbler. Each morning I had donuts or coffeecake, muffins or Danish waiting on the kitchen table. All day, I made sure there was a… More…