April 30, 2012 § 3 Comments
I’m not entirely sure what I mean by imperfect for my one-a-day photo project in April. Maybe broken. Or lacking, something to do with absence. Maybe it’s just as simple as unmatched or uneven. In need of practicing, fixing, untangling. Maybe I didn’t quite get last month’s theme of partial out of my system.
It started with someone giving me the word flawless, which, after brief contemplation, I felt was an impossible task – aren’t we all striving for perfection? And aren’t we striving because perfection is so rarely found or achieved?
To be honest, I’m not sure flawless would be as interesting either. The conflict, the tension, the hook of the story comes through imperfection. Our lack of uniformity is what makes us interesting. Our flaws make us human.
So yes, this month’s photos are a bit more ambiguous. Nonetheless, it’s added 30 more photos to my project. Here are a few favorites.
April 27, 2012 § 1 Comment
These new tunes have been on repeat and the melodies have lingered on my tongue all week.
Do listen to:
1. I heard this beautiful voice last weekend. Instantly, I fell in love with her words and melodies. Anaïs Mitchell gets you in the heart. I sat in the front row and spoke softly to myself, “Pakou, don’t cry. You are sitting in the front row. Don’t cry.” I just couldn’t cry while Anaïs looked at me. Instead, this week I shed tears in my car, because the speakers in my car is the best that I have. A good listening session = time in my car.
2. Kim Janssen. I first heard of him a few years ago at a friend’s Independence Day music bash. We shared an evening of music and breakfast together.
Really, what I want to say is that you should let the tears come whenever they do, share some breakfast with others, and cuddle with the ones you love.
April 25, 2012 § Leave a comment
The poet Li-Young Lee says that the exhale, the outgoing breath, is dying breath. It is also the breath of speech. When we inhale, we are full of ourselves and of silence. When we speak to another, we let go—both in breath and words; we give ourselves away.
Kalispell’s Westbound feels like a long-awaited exhale. Rooted in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Kalispell is the project of Shane Leonard, accompanied live and on recording by Ben Lester (A.A. Bondy, S. Carey), Kevin Rowe (The Barley Jacks), and others. Westbound, the first full-length album, has been six years in the making. In that time, Shane has traveled as a musician and a teacher, from Massachusetts to Wisconsin, partnered and single, rarely static, and so the songs too have changed and deepened with the retelling.
The result is a unique mix of clawhammer banjo and pedal steel guitar, of old-timey Appalachian traditions as in “Methodist Lift” and the ethereal, ambient music of songs like “Sepia Ghost.” And in each is the poet’s exhale, Shane giving himself away.
It’s like when good friends gather, perhaps around a fire in someone’s backyard as the night settles or on the front stoop of your house, cigarette in hand—the setting doesn’t matter. It’s about the moment after the laughter quiets and the tone shifts, when you venture to say what’s been heavy on the mind, so near the tongue, so hard to admit:
How you’ve grown impatient with the “state of summer’s same.”
How you feel alone with the person who should know you best.
How “there was no devotion / in our frozen poses.”
How you said yes when you meant no.
These are the small confessions that Shane offers in each song, moments of too-familiar discontent and a longing for something deeper, truer. In the intimacy of sharing is much hope. The piercing lyrics of “Lucky a Hundred Times” are matched by startling gratitude (“sighing at the cold bedside / ‘mother, won’t you tell me when it feels likes flying?'”) and the heartache of watching helplessly as a loved one struggles alone in “Marion, MT” is lifted with “swallow the stream you can’t swim.”
The lyrics and combination of old and contemporary sounds speak also to holding life loosely. There’s a cycle of inhaling and exhaling in our bodies, of silence and speaking in our lives. Six years changes a song, changes a person. You don’t know where you will go next or who you will be in the going. For now, Shane closes the album with the title song, “My heart is where I started / I am westbound.”
Westbound will be out May 17th, but if you pre-order it now, you’ll get a free download of the Last Year EP. Check it out here.
April 23, 2012 § 6 Comments
When someone asked me recently what I’d been reading, I realized the last four books included nonfiction, a volume of poetry, a fantasy epic, and some “high-falutin award-winning” literary type of literature. I felt so unusually well-rounded in my reading habits, I had to share with you, readers. Do take me down a peg and tell me what I’m missing.
1. Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? (and other concerns) by Mindy Kaling. Occasionally I suffer myself to read nonfiction, books like Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, Lies My Teacher Told Me, or anything by Malcolm Gladwell. These books make me feel smart and snooty.
But they take me months to get through, and that’s with lots of skimming. Not so with Mindy Kaling, whose memoir is only slightly less funnier than Tina Fey’s Bossypants but includes far more references to BFFs and irrational bawling.
Read an excerpt of “Best Friend’s Rights and Responsibilities.”
2. Jagged with Love by Susanna Childress. I fell in love with Susanna’s word-smithing in the first three pages. Her poems are breathtaking, tightly-crafted pieces. I got to meet Susanna this weekend, and her reading of poetry kept captive a roomful of listeners until she ended, when they scurried away to buy her latest book.
Listen to her read “This Day is in Love with Me.”
3. This was the second time I read the light-hearted and comic fantasy Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. In this book, there’s a young girl who imagines herself an old woman, a magician who gets into foul tempers due to his vanity, and a lot of heart, as the reader discovers.
4. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss is a beautifully told story of an elderly man and a teenage, list-making girl who spend the whole novel trying to discover the other. When they finally do meet, they are not what the other thought. The meeting is a sad letting go of expectations and a sweet sense of arriving.
What other genre would round out this book list? What are you reading this month?
April 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
Sometimes hope can be the only thing that keeps carrying us on.
Caine hoped for a customer and one day he came.
April 18, 2012 § Leave a comment
April 16, 2012 § Leave a comment
I just can’t get enough of Brene Brown’s talk, so I wrote a second blog post on what I learned about vulnerability, love, and life as found in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
Yeah, that’s right. Life lessons from a story that includes a playboy candelabra and a villian with a hairy chest.
My friend has been re-watching all the Disney animated films in chronological order and blogging about them at Disnerd Adventures. (I wrote a guest post awhile back about Peter Pan and the gift of stories.) After seeing Beauty and the Beast again (the first movie I watched – or remember watching – in theaters), I was drawn to the character of the Beast:
As I paid more attention to the Beast, the requirements of the spell in particular stood out. Not only did the Beast have to get past his own self-centeredness, someone had to love him back.
Think about that for a moment. How in the world—enchanted or not—do you get anyone to love you?
Change yourself? Difficult and challenging but put the pedal to the metal and you can probably do it by your 21st birthday. Get someone to love you? It’s too much to ask.
Read the rest of my post here.