Monday, July 20, 2015

Books That Rocked My World

It is rare when literature makes the news the way it has been in the past week.  The "new" novel from Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman, was released to great anticipation controversy.  I like To Kill a Mockingbird, taught it, but it didn't change my life. On one hand,I'm a little surprised at how many people want to cling to Atticus as hero.  On the other hand, I believe that Chris Rock said something to the effect of, if racism in America is going to decrease, than it's up to white people to make the change.  In that context. I can see why many people want Atticus to remain that great orator of the courtroom.  For me, the story was always a little too pat and neat and Atticus too angelic.

For me the books that have made a huge difference in my life have been messier.  Either the main character is not particularly honorable or the information between the covers destroys the official story of history or society.

With that said, here are a few books that changed my life:

Catcher in the Rye - I know that Holden Caufield comes from incredible privilege and wealth. I know that he is a teenage boy.  I also know that he is mired in a depression that I recognize and have experienced.  I understand why he wants to know what happens to the ducks in the winter.

The Color Purple - Celie's story breaks my heart and mends it with her strength. I do wish she had cut Mr.'s throat.

Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television - This one is probably pretty obscure, but it helped my understand the technology behind television (which has changed greatly) and how that alone hooks us and changes our behavior and thought process.

The People's History of the United States - Our real history.  Not all of it, but episodes we need to know.

The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book - The greatest cartoon of my lifetime, if not of all time.  If I need a smile, or a philosophical thought, I go straight to this book.

This is just a partial list, but I would love to hear about a few books that have influenced you greatly. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Time to Finish Writing This List

I'm never going to finish sharing my list of 50 things I want to do before I turn 50 if I don't do it now, so here are remaining 25 items.

1. Allow a snail to crawl on my arm.  I promised Beamish that I would do this ages ago.  Time to just do it.

2.  Go zip lining because it looks like crazy fun. Though, I will be concerned that I could wet my panties.

3.  Have brunch at a nice restaurant on Mother's Day.  I don't care if it's a cliche, I would still like to do it before I have to use a walker and can't carry as much food.

4.  Attend a football game at the Big House.  I don't like football, but there is something about being in a crowd of 106,000 people that is intriguing.

5.  Attend at DCFC game.  I enjoyed the World Cup and, frankly, soccer players usually have great looking legs.  Yes, I am objectifying the players.  But, I have probably almost reached the age at which I am unfuckable, so why not watch a bunch of young, sweaty, athletic guys run around in shorts?

6. I want to go fowling while it is still hip.  Who wants to take me?

7. Time to pump up my tires and bike far more often than I do.  It's better for my health and the environment, a win-win.

8.  I live in Canada and have for a while now.  Yet, I have never been curling.  How have I not tried a sport during which I get to yell "harder" and not be called a trollop for doing so?

9. I have been saying this for five years.  But, as I said earlier, I have lost confidence in my book.  I still want to self-publish it.  I'll have to learn to love it again.

10. Another Canadian thing to try: attend a maple syrup festival and tapping for syrup.

11. If my 16 year old cat dies, I'm pretty sure that I want to rescue an older dog.

12.  Watch a movie a month, starting in May.  I watch one with Beamish every Saturday, but I thought I might add a non-kid movie to the routine, just for me.

13.  I need to walk the walk and use public transit once a month.

14.  I really want to see Madame Butterfly.  Hopefully it flutters into the Detroit Opera House before I turn 50.

15.  Again, walking the walk - I want to find a food bank and work there regularly. 

16.  Attend a performance of the DSO.

17.  Attend a performance of the WSO.

18. Audition for community theatre.  This idea has rumbled about in my head for many years now, so why not try it?

19.  Complete a NYT Sunday Crossword Puzzle.  It might take me a while and I'm not too proud to seek assistance on it.

20.  Meditate twice a day, everyday!  I'm off to a good start - 22 days straight so far.

21. I am about to write something incredibly vain and superficial.  I want to hide the visible veins that currently  decorate both of my knees. If that requires some sort of laser therapy, that's fine

22.  I'd like to learn at least rudimentary Spanish or Ukrainian.

23.  I'm always saying this, but music=happiness=life.  Time to really make sure I see live music at least once a month.

24.  Make a fall colors trip.

25.  Sleep outside, in the backyard.

That's it.  I think most of it is doable.  Any and all of it will be fun.  Who wants to join me as I skip toward the half-century mark?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Before I'm In A Nursing Home

At the rate I've been composing this list of 50 things I want to do before I turn 50, I'll be retired, on Chris Christie's timeline. I think I will offer up ten more items today.

1. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.  It's time to start shedding things I don't need or use.  For living on my own, I sure do have a bunch of crap.

2.  I have now lived in Windsor since 2002 and still know very little about my adopted home. One of my favorite sensory delights in the city is the smell of the distillery at Wisers (formerly Hiram Walker).  I have been meaning to take a tour.  This will be an easy one to check off the list.

3. Wine is my preferred adult beverage, so it would be nice to tour some wineries that are in located in Essex County.

4.  I have a bread machine.  It makes my life easy.  I want to make bread without the machine, which will overcome a slight fear I have.  This fear is less than the pie crust fear, it is still a fear.

5.  Once Andrew learns to ride his bike, a simple desire I have is to bike around Belle Isle with him.

6. This (former) English teacher has read neither Moby Dick nor War and Peace.  I now have more time for reading, so it's time to figure out what the big deal is about at least one of them.

7.  In my continued efforts to give less of my money to the corporations that are ruling (and often ruining) our world, I want to make all of my own cleaning products.

8.  Another reading goal - this time The Communist Manifesto.  I am sure that many are surprised I haven't read this.  I also have not read The Wealth of Nations because, to be honest, economic theory gives me a headache.  I'll try to read both of them.

9.  This is likely a bad idea, given my various back troubles, but I want to try a skateboard.

10.  I'm not fond of touristy stuff (except the Eiffel Tour), but I really want to ride the London Eye this fall.  I'm sure the view is spectacular.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The List Keeps Growing

Boy, 50 is a big number, but I feel pretty confident about being able to do many of the things that I am rolling out on my list.  These five make the numbers I have shared 15.  Enjoy.

1. My body needs to lose 20 pounds and to have better muscle tone.  I truly believe that I will better be able to handle the health issues that aging throws my way if I eat healthier and exercise more.

2.  Apparently, there is Family Space Camp.  We are so doing that!

3.  Go to the Headlands International Dark Sky Park. I'm a city girl, but I know that all the city lights are not good for us. 

4.  If it was good enough for Edgar Allan Poe, I've got to try it.  Not opium, I'm saving that for my 70th birthday.  I mean absinthe.  I just want a sip.

5.  Learn a card game, any card game.  Currently, not counting solitaire, the only card game in my repertoire is Go Fish.  I can never remember the rules to card games. Perhaps that can be rectified.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Five More Before Fifty

I started this series the other day, but work has been crazy busy, so I haven't even had the energy to write.  Sleeping in today gave me the boost I needed, so here are five more things to do before 50.

1.  I'd like to get involved and stay involved with some sort of community garden project. The yard at my duplex is not conducive to gardening, too much shade.  I, however, want to grow some of my own food as my own little gesture of telling Monsanto and factory farming to f-off. Plus, I might finally make some friends in Windsor. 

2. Before I turn 50, I am going to read some of my poems at an open mic poetry night.  I've already been on stage for the MOTH Story Slam.  This makes me a bit more nervous, but not paralyzed with fear. 

3. I've lost a bit of confidence in my writing abilities of late.  I can't bear to look at the novel I've written because it now sounds trite and trivial to me.  That said, it would be nice to find a little mojo and get back to writing and enter a contest - just to prove to myself that someone might like my work.

4.  An area in which I have never lost any confidence in the area of photography.  I'm no Dorothea Lange , but I have always been happy with my ability to compose a shot.  That said, I have never entered any of my work into a contest. It's time to change that.

5. Who wants to explore an abandoned building with me?  There's something enticing and inviting about a building that has been left to Mother Nature.  I understand the risks; they don't dampen my curiosity, though.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Not a Bucket List

In three months, I will turn 48.  This is a bit mind-boggling to me. In my mind, I'm still in my 30s.  Last week at dinner with a high school, we marveled at the idea that we were really only a couple of years from turning 50.  I have no idea what that is supposed to feel like. When my dad turned 50, we threw an over-the-hill party for him.   I don't feel old. I exercise far more than my parents did.  I go to concerts. I travel.

I am realistic, though. I know that my body might indeed become more and more uncooperative.  Because of that, I've made a list of 50 things I'd like to accomplish before I hit the half-century milestone.  Most of the list consists of little things, many of which I have put off from my younger days. I'd like to roll these things out over the next few days.  Here are the first five items on my Not A Bucket List.

1.  Play Let It Be on the piano. This is probably my favorite song of all time. The lyric s and sentiment have a great deal of meaning to me.  I want to be able to play a passable version of it when I need it.

2.  I want to make a pie, with a non-graham cracker crust.  I cannot lie, pie crust frightens me.  I feel like I don't have the right touch when rolling out dough of any type. I WILL overcome this fear before I turn 50.

3.  I would like to attend a weekend long silent meditation retreat.  Meditation has been a vital key to my return to health and I would like to deepen my practice.

4.  I have visited 14 states.  Not bad.  I would like to visit at least one more new state before my 50th.  Preferably one where the theocrats have not taken over the government.

5.  I want to get arrested for an act of civil disobedience.  If you know me, this requires no explanation. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015


My job has been keeping me very busy for the last few weeks,and will continue to do so for the next two months.  In general, I get home between seven and eight, after a ten hour day.  This means I am not getting enough exercise or a balanced diet.

Because of that, I've noticed some slippage in the area of mental health.  I am noticing that my thoughts are more circular than they've been in a while.  I am noticing that I'm spending too much time on the couch.  I am noticing that my house is again becoming more cluttered than I would like.

The miracle is that I am noticing all of this and am able to form a plan of action to address my concerns. A year ago, a plan of action was far out of my reach.  I'm not going to say that it will be easy to take action, but it is possible to take steps to heal myself before tumbling to the depths I have previously experienced.

Baby steps. That's all I need to take.  I will only cause myself unnecessary stress if I try to tackle all the issues at once.   A little cleaning here, a little exercise there, and healthy food in the fridge are easy places to start.