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Posts Tagged ‘books’

I originally posted this in Reddit’s /r/Ravenclaw subreddit, but i wrote enough that I thought I should just turn this into a Facebook post.

Then I realised I haven’t written here in quite a long time, so it now serves as a blog post.

Do you need good books? Here are some good books.

1. The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar – Fantasy meets reality as a pair of drunken Scottish Fairies on a romp almost start World War 3 in modern day New York City while running around with a group of normal New York people. Seriously, it’s a riot and Neil Gaiman wrote an introduction for it.

2. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. When I was 14, I was given this book by my English teacher. This was my first all nighter. It changed my life, I started writing, and within the year I had been published in national magazines for poetry and I am still writing over 20 years later. I will graduate in 2-2.5 years with a triple Bachelor’s in Creative Writing and History Education and I attribute it to this book. I own it in two languages and I am reading it in Portuguese right now as that is my second language (the third being Spanish). I cannot tell anyone how much this book means to me, but how relevant this book is to even now in life.

3. A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury. Easily the best science fiction story I have ever read, the best short story I have ever read, this book overall is overlooked often and should never be overlooked. If you have heard of the Butterfly Effect, it originated here.

4. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. You are noticing a trend. Yes, I have classics on this list. Do not be scared; classics are here for a reason. They are not meant to scare you away, they are meant to draw you in. This book is an everyman book – this is real life. This still happens, in different areas, in different places, but this still happens nowadays. Don’t sit with a pen and paper, or feel like you have to because a teacher set you for a book report. Download it free on a kindle app, and read it a little bit at a time. Get into Jurgis’ story, put yourself in his shoes. Transport yourself into his time. You’ll find a newfound respect for anyone who has a job that they have to do to survive; a surprising empathy for anyone who has to keep fighting no matter what the world goes after them.

5. Any of the alternate fairy tales by Gregory Maguire. I especially adore the Wicked: A Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West and the ensuing Trilogy, and After Alice, as I am a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland.

6. The Alice series by Carroll. all of it. It is by far my favourite Fairy Tale series of all time. I don’t care if it is the Disney version, or what. You give me the option of Hogwarts, of Wonderland, of a TARDIS, of Narnia, of Tolkien, anywhere.. I will choose Wonderland. I will always choose Wonderland. (Oh, now I’m sobbing again…)

7. Watership Down series by Richard Adams. It helped me, when I was much younger, to understand the concept of death, to understand the concept of a possible afterlife, to understand that animals, that every living thing can have feelings, emotions; it does not matter what you are, or how you believe, you can feel, you can act, you are alive, even for a short time, you can influence the world.

8. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. I picked it up for $1 before a trip, and it was one of the first books where I had to read it at least half a dozen times before I could understand what was going on. Sometimes I will read it and I will understand it in a completely different way than I ever had before. It is a book written in a different frame of mind than any book I had ever read previously or since.

9. The Madness Vase by Andrea Gibson – Poetry is now and forever a part of my life, and this poet, for all the modern poets, has been the one to influence me to always want to keep writing. Or never want to keep writing. But I got to see them speak, and perform, and I realised that if I gave up now, I would not be able to do what I need to do, which is write. So I keep writing. And I keep dreaming. “You, you stay here with me.”

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Why am I still relying on the auto-posting thing? I have no idea, because it doesn’t work. I’m sure it’s something that if I sat here, I could figure out… I just am too flailing with other things in my head, it’s very far down the list.

The rest of this week is dedicated to getting rid of things. A giant load was picked up by my friends on Wednesday, bound for a local shelter as I said previously. As well, I’ve been going through some of my son’s things that he no longer plays with, or needs, and we’re paring down. Going to try to go to the consignment shop again today and see if I can get any more money for a few items I no longer need, and if not, I’ll just donate those as well.

It is a great feeling to get rid of… stuff. I just have too much stuff. I’m kind of dreading the holidays. With a kid, everyone wants to get them… stuff.

As a mostly single parent, I can tell you unequivocally that if you want to make my day, get my son gift cards for Target, grocery stores, book stores… even toy stores. That way, when he IS of the age that he can look through a toy store and want something, we can get it. Or, he can get books he’d like. The other things are just to keep diapers on his clean bum.

Not really sure why gift cards get a bad rap with people. They are actually pretty darned personal, seeing as you’re helping someone with money who may be too proud to ask for it, but really need the help.

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I started this story 2 days before my birthday – two days before your memorial service.

And we even made it in the Tribune, which still seems weird to me.

I think, ultimately, Kerouac said it best:

“I hope it is true that a man can die and yet not only live in others but give them life, and not only life, but that great consciousness of life.”

You definitely do that for me, Joe. You definitely do that for me.

I’m finishing it today – your birthday. It hit me really hard at work today. I realized it was your birthday and I picked up my phone to call you.

And I realized that I couldn’t do that anymore.

And for the first time in a very long time, I had to run out of my work space and hide in the bathroom and start crying. And I didn’t want to stop crying. But I did – in what you would say was “record time, for you” – and finished my day. And I don’t expect that it will be an uncommon occurrence over the next few days.

At lunch, two of my new friends came with me, and we all sat, had a beer, discussed D&D, poetry, and random things, and split food. And listened to you all the way to and from the restaurant. And I listened to you play a lot today, Joe. I had to. I probably will in the next few days. I still listen every week – it’s pretty much a habit, by now, an unconscious thought, a thing I do to complete every week I have.

I did on my birthday, too. I was driving to Dallas, and I put the first CD I ever got from you guys – hell, remember? You got me in the show and I promised to buy a CD, and I did. And that’s the CD I was listening to.

I still can’t believe that you’ve been gone this long. I feel bad I didn’t write this in time for your book.

You brought my life so much, and I don’t know that I told you enough.

If there’s one thing, just one thing, that I can do, in memory of you, it’s to make sure I treasure every moment – friends, family, work (oh man, you should see our Nerf fights) – and I do my best with what I can.

But I still remember seeing you, through the window of the coffee shop, reading a poetry book, and I said “I have to go in and talk to him, because he obviously likes poetry and has good taste.”

And I’ve never regretted it. You knew the shy me, the one a lot of people didn’t. And I remember everything… mostly everything. Including the stuff I’ll never tell anyone.

One day we’ll all laugh about this, together, again. I have faith. I have hope.

“And peruse manifold objects, no two alike, and every one good;
The earth good, and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good.”

Say hi to Walt for me, Joe. Ask him all the questions that we always wondered. Even if you can’t tell, at least you’ll know. And we can all fill it in someday.

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It’s just.. I’ve been a bit busy writing for other places! Like The Footy Blog, talking about Benfica 🙂

Also, I’ve been studying very very hard in school. So hard in fact, I got a 97% on my American Lit exam. I think I got a 70ish in American Lit last semester on my first exam. Funny, how that goes.

But, dear blog, after studying anywhere from 25-50 hours a week, I tend to forget enough words to go here. But I promise, I’ll do better.

After fall break and I lock myself in the library for a week. And next week, I’ll be heading to Austin.

But somehow, in there, we’ll write some more, together.

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This school year has started off well. My job is going okay. I don’t talk about it much due to privacy – I work 2 days a week at an elementary school with first and second graders in a public school district here. My voice is still adjusting to being able to.. i mean, (unfortunately) needing to… roar at kids now and then.

I could not do it 5 days a week, week in and week out. Two days a week is plenty for me. Teachers, yet again, I salute you.

I want to bottle their energy and sell it to college students.

Classes are going well, I think. I adore my history class and I’m actually enjoying British Literature. American Lit… well, I’ve deduced that this teacher and I just don’t gel well. I’m trying. Music Appreciation, the “easy A” that i needed to boost my GPA, is actually the worst class of them all. I have a solid C and I’m studying almost harder for it than any other class!

It is still early in the semester, though. At this time last month, I was still looking for a place to live and didn’t even have all my college books yet. So in a month I’ve completely moved (in the process had to separate my cats, which is really tearing at my heart more than I am letting on), gone through over 50% of my belongings and sorted trash, donate, sell and keep piles so far, started a new job and new classes.

is it any wonder I’m tired? Nah.

It will get better though. And I have a picture I look at at least once a day that reminds me why I am doing this now… for a better life. This few months will be long, but I will one day be able to look back at it and not only be glad I did it, I know how good it is for me, for my future, and for the future of others in my life.

And while I hate being cryptic, I will just state that there are a few things going on in my life, all positive, and all awesome, just not that I’m talking about here. (yet). 🙂

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I’m in the process of moving to a city that’s roughly 50 miles away for next semester. I’ll have a much smaller area, and therefore can’t bring/pack everything I’ve grown accustomed to having.

So I am forcing myself to finally start going through the mountains of containers and boxes I have in a storage area here. I have been finding a lot of random things, but the most exciting is a book I was given in 2002. It’s dark green, with the lyrics of a song that I absolutely adore, from someone in my life that still is a major influence (whether he knows it or not).

The cover has autographs of a lot of musicians that I have worked with and whose music has influenced me over the years. I have all 4 members of Vertical Horizon, Angie Aparo, Barry from Carbon Leaf, and Andy from VaCo (with an original saying <3). I have a space on the top of the cover of the book where eventually, hopefully, I will get Dave Matthews or Glen Hansard to sign it. Keep dreaming, I know….

But a long time ago I started writing poetry (as in, 1990 – I was published in 1992 the first time I believe) and I've kept track of a lot of the random poetry I used to scribble here and there in this book.

Then I misplaced it for YEARS. years. So I have poetry scattered half a mile across creation. Every time I open a box with papers I am COMPELLED to check every one of them to make sure I'm not throwing away half a novella I started when I was bored in class. I do find bits and pieces here and there.. originally I was going to keep them all in this book, then I lost the book. Now I found it again. I don’t have much of an excuse anymore, do I?

This is what takes me so long to go through storage and pack. I have a lot of memories, and a lot more written words than I'll ever admit. (at minimum 750 poems just from 2000-2005 alone, not to mention my completed play and the 2 novels I'm working on…)

So I'm constantly on a hunt to try to gather the bits and pieces together and solidify them into the myriads of journals I have lying about.

I should do this more often, but I don’t; I’ll post an original poem that, while I know and remember the particular situation, a lot of it still seems to ring true even almost 10 years later. It’s quite interesting to me to see how something I wrote then applies oh so well to now too.

“Departure”

Last few moments
before I lift away
back to everything familiar

yet not as familiar as
your scent as you
hold me close to your beating heart

I know what I have to do
and that’s let go and walk
on, turning the page

and starting another chapter
in the sketchbook of my life.
So I look in your eyes

one last time, squeeze your hand
and run away silently
turning around for one

last fleeting glimpse I find
you’ve run silently on
swiveling around

not opening my mouth lest
I start bawling.
No goodbyes said

though the chapter may be
done, there is no
“the end”.

~29.4.02

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Walt Whitman is my favorite poet. He wrote my favorite book, Leaves of Grass. The name of this site, many of the tabs, many of the jumps, are all taken from “Song of Myself”.

Walt Whitman is the reason I want to become a poet.

If people have never read him, they need to. I am such a fan that I can barely talk coherently about him without babbling incessantly.

So.. do yourself a favor. Follow this link and read him. Just do it with an open mind, when you have a moment.

If you don’t feel something… I will be surprised.

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