Archive for May, 2013

your voice

May 17, 2013

a writer friend once told me about a poem she teaches to her creative writing classes. i’m usually not much for poetry, but it stuck with me then and is still with me now.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

-Mary Oliver

“and there was a new voice/which you slowly/recognized as your own.” GAH. those words. so amazing.

i originally wanted this post to be about that because it is those words i am aiming for — to hear and recognize and utilize my own voice both while speaking and writing, but then i realized i’m in a self-imposed writing break as i try to figure myself out, so this post can’t be about that.

then, it hit me.

those words are also relevant for college grads (yay, mina!) who are now finished with their degrees and are headed out into the big, bad world. they’ve spent four (or five or six or two) years researching and reading and listening and watching and living and learning and doing all with the goal in mind of finding their voice.  some may have discovered it, but can’t hear it over the reverberations of expectations. some may have figured it out years ago and followed it to this exact point. some may be afraid of it. some may be proud of it. some may think it’s in another language. some may be.

some may need more time. some may find it in writing, some in mathematics, some in motherhood, some in underwater basket weaving, some in athletics, some in more school, some in cooking, some in teaching, some in whittling, some in engineering, some in music, some in luxury, some in combat, some in foreign lands, some at home.

some may call it a conscience. some may call it attitude. some may call it confidence. some may call it id or ego. whatever it’s called and whatever it is and wherever and whenever you find it, i hope you embrace it. we can’t wait to hear you.

books and beyond

May 14, 2013

to reiterate my last post, i love books. i was amazed by stories of people’s first library cards then and now, i’m amazed by what books can inspire others to do.

introducing: margot wood, fauxtographer extraordinaire.

i first learned of her where i learn about everything, the twitter. someone had retweeted one of her fauxtos, which is to say, one of the scenes from a YA book she recreated and then captured on film. even i, a photography dunce, could tell the picture was stunning. granted, i’ve read or heard of most of the books that inspire her photos which makes it even more fun for me, but you don’t have to have read the book to appreciate her genius because she gives a non-spoilery account of what scene the image came from, who her model/s is/are, why she chose that scene, and any other juicy tidbits from the photo shoot.

she also has a wicked sense of humor, as is evidence by our twitter exchange with mindy mcginnis, author of the (much touted) upcoming novel NOT A DROP TO DRINK.

funny convo 1

funny convo 2

yet another reason why i love the twitter. it introduces me to the most extraordinarily creative, not to mention, like-minded people.

since mindy’s book isn’t out yet, let’s all sit back and enjoy margot’s fauxtographs!

library cards

May 10, 2013

i love books. this is not a surprise if you’ve read any of my posts. i read books, i buy them, i borrow them, i work on them at my day job, and yet, i can’t help but be amazed by the stories others tell me about them.


this past weekend, i was at a friend’s baby shower and in lieu of a card, the hostesses had requested we bring a book to start the baby’s library. this idea charmed me, but also rattled me. there are SO MANY GREAT BOOKS out there, how could i ever decide on just one for this baby?

my automatic buy for babies is usually any book by sandra boynton. the board books are sturdy and bright, but most importantly, silly. the words and pictures are crisp and clean and hilarious. how can you not love a book that caters to both babies and parents? however, the countdown to the shower was closer than i realized and i had no time to run to the store. i turned to my own bookshelf.

(why do i have kids’ books on my shelf, you ask? i used to work for a large, corporate, trade publisher in the juvenile division and kept all the best books i (and my coworkers) worked on.)

i settled on THE POLAR EXPRESS.

for me, this book didn’t hold the weight it does for others. christmas books were/are abundant in my parents’ house, but i had zero memories of reading this particular book as a child and as such, my only memories of it were the struggles i incurred while working on the 25th anniversary edition which included the book, a slipcase, a cd, a sticker, and shrinkwrap. it was my first “kit” and there were a lot of moving parts when you were in the production department…

anyways, i realized my experience with this book was in the vast minority, so i tenderly pulled the book off my shelf and prepared it for the shower. when it was time for the mama-to-be to open my gift, she held it high so everyone could see. her mother in law immediately ran over to me with tears in her eyes.

“that’s the first book [my son] picked out when he got his first library card,” she whispered.


until recently, the library in sister J and BILT’s town was a tiny store at the local mall because the main building was under construction, but as soon as the newly renovated library re-opened, a family outing was planned.

it turns out you have to be four years old to get your own library card. baby mac is three. that didn’t stop her.

while sister J was registering for the cards, BILT, baby mac, and bubba mac perused the kids’ section. baby mac was overjoyed with the selection and in fact, would pull a book off the shelf, race over to sister J to show her the new option, and then return to BILT to pick out another one. she ended up selecting four books that day to take home.

first choices

four books may not seem like a lot but it’s a strong enough foundation to support a lifelong love of books.

do YOU have any book stories to add to my collection?

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conversations with strangers #58

May 7, 2013

i occasionally talk to strangers. here’s the story of why i do such a thing.

i was walking to work on a cloudy, cool spring morning.

man: there’s a blue sky to the west.

woman: i see it!

me: *thinks to self, they’re neighbors. how cute. i see the blue sky too, but they weren’t talking to me.*

i kept my eye on the sky and continued on my way.

boy: good morning.

me: *turns head* *realizes it’s not me he’s addressing*

girl: hi!

me: *another set of neighbors or, more likely, classmates, saying hi. i love the sense of community, but when’s it my turn?*

i clutched my coffee cup and kept shuffling towards work. i spotted my sidewalk regular and knew my turn had arrived. i couldn’t contain my grin.

her: hi.

me: good morning!

and it was, especially since my route to work kept me headed literally and figuratively towards that blue sky.

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northern lights

May 3, 2013

in a fit of procrastination, i typed “where can i go to see the northern lights” into (true story, brother G) and this was the result:

(1) Go to the extreme north of the globe, towards the North Pole, for ideal viewing. This is where the aurora borealis is magnetically drawn. The ideal locations for spotting the aurora are north Finland, Scandinavia, Siberia, Alaska and Greenland.

(2) Visit these locales from October through March. Since the rest of the year is dominated by day-round sunlight, seeing the aurora is more difficult during that time.

(3) Keep up with ongoing solar activity to find out the best times for viewing.

(4) Watch for reports of unusually high solar activity if you live farther south. When solar activity is unusually high, the lights can often be seen at much lower latitudes than usual. Chances for viewing would be especially good throughout Canada and mid- to northern regions of the U.S. and Europe. It even may be possible to see the aurora farther south.

(5) Put yourself in the best viewing position by heading to the country. Even if the aurora borealis does make it far enough south to be seen by those outside of the scientific community, it will probably be drowned out by city lights. Find a secluded, light-free locale.

(6) Practice the art of patience when waiting to see the lights. You may have to wait several hours before finally catching a glimpse, so be ready to put your skills of endurance to use when aurora hunting.

(7) Be ready to go as soon as the conditions are right for possibly spotting the Northern Lights. These brilliant displays generally only last 2 to 10 minutes, so you don’t want to miss it.

a list! i love lists! it’s like it knows me. and a list of how to see something that’s always been on my life TO DO list? color me excited.

in other news, what’s something on your life TO DO list?