Monthly Archives: March 2014

Detours

I had a overly full week of work, a huge and delicious lunch date with one of my best friends in from out of town, a failed road trip, and lots of books to occupy my time this past week. How was everyone’s week?

I am all swoon-y over this article on Yes and Yes – This is What Personal Growth Feels Like. I know this feeling well from getting stuck in a city I still don’t know the name of, taking chilly half-showers in a grimy tub, and hoping my squat wouldn’t burn down while watching flames periodically peek out from one of the outlets in my kitchen. Oh, life abroad.

“Those challenges? Once you make it through alive (which, if you’re reading this, you have) that’s what adventure feels like. This is where you become a smarter, stronger, kinder person. Those experiences are what ‘Tell me again!’ stories are made of.  These are the spaces where we grow.”

The Economist has a nifty little article on urban explorers who climb some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers illegally and without any safety ropes or harnesses. I doubt I would ever try anything like this, but the resulting photos are gorgeous and dizzying.

“Beyond the adrenaline rush that accompanies dodging security and the real physical danger involved, urban explorers describe a feeling of supreme freedom during walks. In urban centres, where governments track the online activities of citizens and CCTV cameras survey streets, theirs are acts of defiance.”

Representing some Ohio love, Kerry Ann over at Welcome to Ladyville wrote a great post about how to slowly, gradually, un-sexily get a writing day job. As someone still in this process myself, it was so refreshing and heartening to read about people who have had the same struggles and found a way to make it work.

“I knew I wanted a writing job, but I didn’t know how I could do that or what I should be looking for. I hadn’t been in college for a few years and I had no connections and no one around to give me any advice.

So I just started writing. I decided I would get writing credits in any way possible. I would say yes to EVERY writing opportunity, even the ones that sounded dumb.”

This is a great and heartbreaking piece of writing.

In case all of that isn’t enough to read, here’s another excellent piece of reporting from The New York Times on workers with disabilities being exploited and neglected: The Boys in the Bunkhouse.

February 2014 Books

February was a slow reading month for me. I barely managed to get through three books, but the ones I did read were well worth it.

1. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie – Ayana Mathis. This book had the Oprah’s Book Club sticker on it, and I’d seen it hanging around at the library so I picked it up one day. It’s really good, in a subtle yet substantial way. The story revolves around Hattie and her life as an African American, mother, and woman, and is told from the perspectives of her children at different times throughout her life. The stories are so well written I found myself wishing I could read how each of her children’s full lives unfold.

2. The Invention of Wings – Sue Monk Kidd. I loved this book. It takes places in the 1800s and flip flops between Sarah Grimké, a well to do white woman, and Handful/Hetty, one of the slaves in the Grimké’s household, from their childhoods to their adult lives. The story is a fictionalized account based on Sarah Grimké’s real life as a abolitionist and feminist – two radical ideas at the time.

“He assumed I’d outgrown my rebellions and become like the rest of them – a guardian of slavery. I couldn’t fault him for it. When was the last time any of them had heard me speak out against the peculiar institution? I’d been wandering about in the enchantments of romance, afflicted with the worst female curse on earth, the need to mold myself to expectations.”

3. How Writer’s Work – Ralph Fletcher. This one is short and easy to read because it was written for kids and young adults, but the advice Fletcher offers is still relevant to writers of any age. The part that really connected for me was finding your own habit of writing – what type of environment works, what time of day, pencil vs. computer, etc.

“Walk into a restaurant and your stomach starts to growl. Walk into a gym and your body prepares to sweat while you exercise. Our brains are conditioned to know what to expect in particular spaces.

The same thing is true about writing.”

I also made it partway through J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy this month before I decided to give it up and move onto something else. If I wasn’t engaged by the 180th page, I really couldn’t see the point in continuing until the 400th.

What books have you been reading?

Ted Talk #2

I’m not sure what exactly Sir Ken Robinson does as a Creativity Expert but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s also a part-time stand-up comedian. His talk How Schools Kill Creativity is hilarious and insightful, and has resulted in one of my new favorite quotes, “If [children] don’t know, they’ll have a go.”

“All kids have tremendous talents ⎯ and we squander them pretty ruthlessly.” -Sir Ken Robinson

TED Talk of the Day

While I’m waiting impatiently for the Midwest to thaw out and welcome warmer weather back, I’ve decided to declare March TED Talk Month. I’m going to watch one TED Talk a day in hopes of expanding my mind, pondering new topics, and educating myself a little every day, in under 20 minutes. The distraction from my inability to frolic outside is merely an added bonus.

“Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do, especially in the inner city.” -Ron Finley