January 12, 2013 § 7 Comments
The trouble with organizing stuff is that once it’s all in a nice tidy stack, on a shelf or in a drawer, so much thought and exertion went into achieving that cleaning-and-tidying that you feel finished with it and may not return to any of the now-organized matter…whereas a lovely old desk piled with tasks and treasures in a more casual manner, off to one side in such a manner if it’s a very large desk therefore leaving workspace, offers up treats, surprises and reminders as you muck through it, all the while aware of and ready to tackle whatever is the major task at hand.
This is how far I’ve gotten…all the stuff that was on this desk is now covering a quarter of the office floor. (Yes, the desk is dusty. Yes, I like pencils though I don’t write stories with them. I use them for making lists.)
And this is not even one of those heirloom desks with drawers, cubbies, pigeon holes and open-out space. It’s a little black build-it-yourself Swedish design though I’m sure that if you examined it closely, there could be a made in china allusion.
Ah, the other issue with organizing (no, it’s not a new year’s resolution) is that it’s procrastination, keeping one away from the blank page that needs filling.
TIP: Get something on that first page, whether it’s a zentangle, one word written in large letters, a postcard pasted there or an arrow pointing you to the next pages! Then you can begin on the second page. (this tip, paraphrased, comes from the book RAW ART JOURNALING by Quinn MacDonald. Art and writing – so intertwined.)
January 1, 2013 § 6 Comments
It appears that Writers like a cornucopia of things that start with “c,” though be assured the following are not in any particular order nor is the list by any measure complete:
coffee (the “think drink”)
cats (I don’t have one and am concerned that this signifies something in terms of writing success)
consideration of others (of our writing time)
crowds (to get lost in and for observeation)
corks (from wine, really good wine)
calm (in which to write)
carbon paper (yes, it still exists) (zen spot)
A favorite on the above list is Coffee, which does indeed pertain to my resolution list:
- Drink it slowly (no pre-work drink-on-the-run)
- Treat it as a luxury ( it is)
- Have it in lieu of junk food, stress snacks, or sugar bombs of any sort
- Enjoy with a friend as a catalyst to whatever else is going on and as a focal point, something to stare at thoughtfully while listening and formulationg thoughts and maybe even for toasting!
September 9, 2012 § 15 Comments
My Dad used to drink coffee even in the heat of the upstate New York summer (temperatures then and there averaged around 73 degrees farenheit).
“Why?”I once asked him, thinking that classic Coke was the only thirst quencher during the heat of an Adirondack summer.
He explained that though it might make him sweat, any resultant sweat would actually cool him down, especially when a foothills breeze kicked up.
He might have answered my young-pup self, stating that he just plain loved coffee.
Becuase he did.
Also, in the ’60s, it was promorted as “think drink.” I liked that idea and years later, while at college, I found coffee-and-a-cigarette to be just the morning eye-opener. (OK, not for long on the cigarettes…sometime after studying in France, I gave them up, not enjoying the feeling of an army walking across my chest when waking.)
I did not give up coffee. It’s like I inherited the coffee gene from my Dad (impossible, he was my step-dad) and I consider it a luxury, as dessert, as a meal (sometimes at work, yeah, I know what you’re going to say) and as a date with HM, whether we’re cafe-ing or sitting in the living room, talking, reading and sipping.
Here’s a favorite place in St. Louis that you just might want to try out. They serve free trade coffee and somehow brew it strong without that miserable burned acid kick that so many places proudly brew. When in town, give it a whirl. It’s Shaw’s. Shaw’s Coffee LTD is privately owned, publicly popular!
May 3, 2012 § 9 Comments
On the last day of our Gulf vacay, this sign was just outside a lunch cafe.
Funny how even a grey weather day on a vacay stint just doesn’t matter.
You have, by now, relearned livingwithin Nature, embraced by it, wrapped up in the balm of walking around in the air, have learned how to be beyond the office walls, and you’ve rediscovered the relativity of time without a clock, including all the things you can do or not do within a day that doesn’t involve desks, meetings or email.
In fact, you’re likely to tilt your head skyward, close your eyes, open your mouth and taste the rain.
Books read on vacay:
Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani. I like her books (see her THE SHOEMAKER’S WIFE on the bestseller list!) for their mix of Italian language, growing up Italian in NYC and the occasional inclusion of fictional relatives in Italy. It recalls hours and hours at my mother-in-law’s kitchen table in Brooklyn.
The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell is a decent read with inspirational value, some strong recommendations and one or two esoteric exercises. Yes, read it. Even if you’re not a writer. But if you’re reading this, you probably are.
And then there are the magazines but much reading time was replaced by “friend” time because we holidayed with best friends and I cannot tell you how luxurious it is to drop in (a few floors down) for coffee with a BFF at the beginning of a day.
Do we not have something of the same luxury wtih our blog friends? Indeed!
March 24, 2012 § 24 Comments
It was the best of days. It was the worst of days.
And then that same evening, despite several “sandwich generation” phone calls of things gone afoul and amiss and staring down several hours of work to create a compelling PPT (an oxymoron, non?), I found myself sitting in Journaling class, pen poised, journal open to blank page (there are a lot of them) and listening.
I listened to the class leader share books on journaling and read excerpts from several of them. I listened to fellow journalers (normally an introverted lot) talk about what they were writing and why. I listened to one of them discuss healing through writing and another talk about presenting personal stories in wraps and scraps and books that would make others want to pick them up and read them.
I did a lot of listening and it was a balm. To be a good listener is as rich as to be a good teller.
Then I went home and wrote four pages. Four pages of nothing. But the stress dripped away and answers to some questions emerged. I know I can’t blog AND journal AND freelance. Well, I could, but in the interest of our family, my job and keeping the house clean and livable, um, it’s a stretch.
Nevertheless, maybe, just maybe, I’m back in the writing game.
March 23, 2012 § 6 Comments
I sent this “tear-out” to Smoo (aka “Nor”), our daughter. Why? Cuz we both love dogs and fashion, tho’ not necessarily doggie fashion. This picture was snapped by photographerLandon Nordeman at the Pre-Westminster Fashion Show, at the Hotel Pennyslvania and was featured in the February 13 & 20, 2012 The New Yorker magazine.
I like to send the kids nail mail.
Smoo will receive this and laugh.
At least I don’t send her news clippings. I leave the “why” to the photos that tell their own stories.
Makes me recall what I heard at a conference about the old publishing convention tagged “Lincoln’s doctor’s dog” wherein it was thought that the mention of any of the three in a story would guarantee a bestseller. Humph. Skip the president and the doctor. Just put a dog in it and I’ll read it. Andprobably cry, too.
March 3, 2012 § 12 Comments
It’s been full tilt around here since then, either with planning and studying work stuff, getting around the country for meetings, getting the household on track and on schedule, doing taxes!, having excellent time with HM (who is also incredibly busy) and time with the kids when they visit, helping our lovely Nor plan her wedding, meeting up with friends, catching the occasional show on the telly, catching a few winks and reading. (None of the activities listed in the prior sentence have been prioritized in any way. In fact this whole blog entry is a melting pot meant solely to say I’m here and haven’t completely given up on blogging.)
Oh, you’d be shocked and appalled at my reading choices but when you’re on a plane or in a taxi or just waiting in line for something, you’ll read just about whatever is at hand, or that fits into your purse.
I have returned to Franzen’s FREEDOM, though, intending to finish it because I stopped halfway through it months ago. He’s just so darn real but the book hums with a disturbing undercurrent. Can’t put my finger on it.
I’ve barely picked up my camera, either, not to mention the pencils and yarn that show up in my prior blog entry. Harumph. That’s about to change. Like the weather. This morning had that very subliminal hint of spring in it, with that moment, that color, that says “spring is not far off!” And my journal waits patiently on the desk. Have not done anything but cram pictures, tickets and other ephemera into it. I missed journal class for good reason – HM’s band had their premier gig at a local pub and tho’ it was a Thursday night, the place was packed. A far cry from journaling, it was great – yes, dancing!
I will now stop treating this like a wandering entry in my handwritten journal and will go for a walk with my camera.
And think of something to actually say, to share and tell you.
signed, Oh, the new road warrior
I gotta go find those pencils and some paper.
January 29, 2012 § 7 Comments
January 21, 2012 § 25 Comments
Because it’s still January, and also because I told Arti that I would do it(!), herein a quick reflective write up on (only certain) categories of “tops in 2011.” Of course this is entirely subjective and duly note that some of “things” mentioned herein may not have occurred/premiered/published within 2011 after all. I tend to arrive late at “what’s hot” selections yearly.
Top Books (a very subjective view)…
A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson ….I, too, am surprised to see this book at the top of my list. But there are two (subjective) reasons: 1) He writes about the Adirondack Trail, a great part of which includes my old stomping ground on the East Coast; and 2) he made me laugh out loud. And furthermore, it’s a book I wouldn’t normally pick up but it was a gift and it turned out to be a perfect gift.
The Help – Kathryn Stockett… and I don’t usually fall for “mass” bestsellers but there you go, I loved this book (as mentioned several times).
A Roomful of Hovings and The Pines – John McPhee…just happened to discover McPhee’s writing. The way he can write about the length of grass on a tennis court or what Pine natives think of outsiders will stop you in your tracks and have you reading every detail. He’s an essayist, a storyteller, a writer who puts a variety of things under a writer’s microscope and just goes and you can’t help but follow.
Truth is, when I look at the list of books I read last year, I am pressed to tell you that most were read for sheer entertainment, like page turners, easy stuff OR books on art and journaling!
PS And I did love Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. I really liked the Major. He seemed to have the right moves at the right time. And all was well.
The New Yorker – still holding its (personal) top position on my magazine list but that’s because of its local, its pace, its ads, its embrace of cartoons and fiction along with Talk of the Town. The magazine, its covers, its staff are all stories in themselves.
Fast Company – this one rose quickly to the top of my list because it scratches a “professional reading” itch but moves and jumps and flashes around so that I don’t get bored with any pedantic pages.
GRANTA – love it. Introduces me to new authors. Makes me read stuff I normally wouldn’t. And the photo section is full of stories in itself.
VOGUE – ah, my beloved VOGUE. Still hangs in there but is slipping. It’s look/layout is heavy-footed; some photo stories are annoying rather than breathtaking and overall, other than some (Euro) fashion pages, it’s not taking any chances with its articles or photos. ELLE magazine may surpass the big V in terms of presentation. Still, thank goodness Grace Coddington is still chez VOGUE or the wind would definitely be out of the sails on this great old schooner.
Poets&Writers – This one is for writers who don’t need to be told every issue how to do something. This one goes deep, is thought provoking with its essays on “Why we write,” its updates on the lit mag world, its spotlight on authors you might have heard of but then again, ah, maybe not and its complete section on contests and awards. This magazine feels good; the paper is excellent, the layout is fresh and readable with decent visuals/graphics. I carry this one around for a couple weeks before I even start to read it. And then I save them all, dogeared and annotated.
The Descendants – Absolutely not a comedy though certain previews might lead you to think so and yet it was not without its comic moments, just as life would have it. I was surprised in after dicussion of the film how much I did really like it after all. We love to look at families and see what they’re doing, how they’re doing and how they interact. Clooney was good and quite good at knowing when to be silent in this film; the elder daughter had uncanny strength while her younger sister showed the certain delightful guilelessness. All due to the script. Well written, I say. And the setting, Hawaii, was a wonderful treat though not intrusive. (It could have been). Yes, you’ll get into money and greed and the big machine and the play of family politics and although you’ll guess the end, you will be satisfied for having been there for it and will be glad you met this little family.
Midnight in Paris – Nope, did NOT like this film at first. Thought at first glance it was kitschy. Then, it grew on me. After all, it throws every literary and artistic character from the Lost Gen (expats) at you and then unravels further back and you guess who’s who before they do some clicheed identifier (Hemingway wanting to fight, Dali being weird, weird, weird, etc) but I liked it after all. And will seek to watch it again. Thank goodness Woody Allen believes in a little magic; we need it. His version, a bit lighter than time travel (as in the Time Traveler’s Wife) is fun and we have some laughs while witnessing the truth of the movie: we all are prone to believe that the century/time period prior to our own was “better.” Watch it and enjoy. This one is worth owning, to play in the background during a party or even while you’re dusting and vacuuming.
The Help – I read the book first. Thankfully. I’m sure I’d think otherwise of the film if I hadn’t. But I was terribly judgmental as I watched it unfold on the screen before me, comparing it unwittingly to the book all along the way. Still I enjoyed it. I might have cast it differently, especially Skeeter’s part (Emma Stone), but they did it “right” after all, they did it correctly and they did a good job. I cried where I cried in the book (no, I’m not telling you where or why) and I laughed where the book also made me laugh. The audience in the theater that night was participatory, too, which is always fun – when there’s laughter or clapping and then a collective sigh at the end. The biggest difference between the screen and the page for this one? The movie ended and we left whereas when the book ended, I didn’t to leave/stop reading. The movie was thin; the book was not.
Cowboys and Aliens – omg, this movie was awful I loved it. So silly, such a mixture of excellent talent (Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig) and sci fi and westerns!!!!!! It derives from a graphic novel, if that helps understand its mongrel self. I loved it. Ridiculous, it was. And corny. But Ford and Craig saved it and yes, cowboys have a certain appeal. No one sits a horse better. Anyway, this was pure entertainment (with a touch of “impatience” because everyone works together against the aliens of course which is the way it should be but it’s so darn in-your-face.) Tra lala. This one still wins anyway: horses, dogs and children survive blissfully and our heroes come through for us.
Harry Potter 7/8
Pirates of the Carribean Part #4
Top Events – not “global” events (there would be so many)
Game #6, World Series
Game #7, World Series, and was there!
Roger Daltry presenting “Tommy” at the Peabody Opera House, STL
The wedding of Will and Kate
New Year’s Eve in NYC
New Year’s Eve in Nashville (both via TV; glad for the latter since it’s in our time zone – at last, a ball (or guitar) that drops according to our central time zone.)
Top food trends
Seaside cheddar cheese at Whole Food
Hmmm….so many more categories could be contrived here but that’s for another time.
Care to share your favorite (recent) book-of-the-moment with me? I’m all ears!!!!!!!!!!!!!