You Like Me. You Really Like Me!

Photo courtesy of 101fundraising.org

Photo courtesy of 101fundraising.org

So back in 2011 and 2012, I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by two bloggers. I responded to both of them, saying that I was honored they thought to give me this award. That’s the good part. The bad part is that it’s taken me the better part of two years to actually getting around to what the award entails.

First off, thank you PoeticJourney and Write, Wrong, and Everything In Between for nominating me for this!

Second, I’m supposed to list 15 blogs I like/regularly follow. I don’t know that I regularly follow that many, but here are a few I really like and regularly comment on:

Don Miller’s Storyline Blog

Tara Anderson’s The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shh!

Sarah Clare’s Behind on Books

Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half

Dave Williams’s Zooky World

(5 out of 15 ain’t bad, right?)

Lastly, I need to list 7 things about myself:

1. I think I overuse the word “anyhoo” when I write. I know I overuse the word “awesome” when I talk AND write.

2. When I was little, I wanted to be a mermaid when I grew up. I still do….

3. I think proper grammar is sexy (this includes the serial comma).

4. I’m a big sci fi nerd. Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, Farscape, Supernatural. Love it! (Haven’t gotten to Stargate yet, but I will.)

5. I hadn’t seen the movie The Goonies until last year (Stop judging me! I feel those stares…)

6. I love ice cream and milkshakes.

7. After some years of denial, I must admit that red is my favorite color, followed closely by midnight blue and black.

Thanks again for the award! Now ends my acceptance speech.

Kicking the Bucket: Things I’d Like to Do Before I Die

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this is the second article on the theme of bucket lists.  I  found my list a little overwhelming, so I broke it up into age categories to make it a little more manageable (at least in my mind!).  Here are a list of things I would love to do before I hit certain ages.
Hot Air Balloon

Hot Air Balloon (Photo credit: Eric Lim Photography)

Before 30
  • Act in an off-Broadway play
  • Build my own study/studio (I love books and art and wide open spaces.  For more of an idea of what I mean, check out the Pinterest photo album I’ve dedicated to this dream.)
  • Get my first tattoo
  • Get my motorcycle license
  • Get tattooed with my mom (We’ve had a sort of pact that we’d both get tattooed on her 50th birthday, which is fast approaching.  I guess I should think up a design…)
  • Go rock climbing
  • Go skinny dipping
  • Have a picnic in Central park (basket, wine, the works!)
  • Have coffee (or hot chocolate) with Don Miller (I know the saying goes, “Never meet your heroes.”  I’m willing to take the hit on this one.)
  • Learn to play guitar proficiently (I define this as being able to read the music and pick up the tune easily.  I’ve started taking guitar classes, so I’m on my way!)
  • Learn to use a sewing machine
  • Make Cheetara costume (as you’ll see in tomorrow’s post, I’ve dressed up for conventions a few times.  I want to go with a few people to a convention as the Thundercats at some point.)
  • Ride a zip line
  • Run a successful Etsy shop (I define this as 5 or more sales per month in both Roaring Out and Lady Velociraptor)
  • See a Broadway musical (My mom took me to one when I was a baby, so that doesn’t really count)
  • Take a dance class
  • Take a hot air balloon ride
  • Take a road trip where the only parameter is to get back home before I run out of money
  • Take part in a writing residency
  • Try frisbee golf
  • Visit Portland, Oregon
  • Visit Spain
  • Write a fan letter to Jason Statham and see if he responds
flamer

flamer (Photo credit: olaerik)

Before 35

  • Adopt a chimp
  • Fly an airplane
  • Get married
  • Go on a missions trip
  • Gut a fish
  • Have my photography published in a magazine or book
  • Have one or two kids
  • Have publication credits from at least 10 different lit mags
  • Make my own beer
  • Publish my first book
  • Raise $5,000 to drill a well with LiquidWater.com
  • Swing from a chandelier
  • Take a hot air balloon ride
  • Travel to Israel
  • Try blowing glass or working with hot glass
  • Visit Montreal
  • Visit the Globe Theatre in London
  • Walk away from an explosion in slow motion (like the movies!  or Gangnam style)
Flamenco culture is native to Andalusia.

Flamenco culture is native to Andalusia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before 40

  • Be in a band
  • Be in at least one episode of a favorite TV show of mine (preferably Dr Who, but I’d be cool with Supernatural, too)
  • Flamenco dance in Spain
  • Maintain a regular exercise routine (not necessarily go to the gym, but maybe still spar and such)
  • Make my own wine in Napa Valley
  • Read a book a week and write a review for each (I finished a 25 @ 25 photo challenge earlier in the year.  Perhaps I can do a 40 @ 40 book review challenge…)
  • Read at a Poetry reading where I am the headliner
  • Ride a gondola in Italy
  • Swim with dolphins
  • Visit all 50 states (alternately, have sex in all 50 states. A friend of mine mentioned that she had done this and it sounded like a fun, unique challenge 😉 )
Laurel wreath

Laurel wreath (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before 50
  • Become Poet Laureate of the state I’m currently living in
  • Make a habit of traveling abroad each year

I must give credit where credit is due.  I would not have written out a bucket list were it not for the blogs of these two lovely ladies: Lesley Carter and Julie

Check out their blogs.  They do some pretty incredible stuff 🙂

What is one item on your bucket list?

Shiny Things! or, 10 Songs I’ve Recently Discovered

Back in November, I wrote an article about songs I was listening to.  I said I would write a post about the new music I discovered on Pandora.  Nine months later, I’m finally getting around to writing that post!  The songs listed here are part what I found on Pandora, part new music I’ve discovered other ways.  Either way, I hope you like what you hear!

1. Propehcy by Carter Burwell – The movie “Howl” stars James Franco as a very good Allen Ginsberg (I will admit, I was surprised.  Playing Ginsberg in all his mania and even simply reading the epic that is the poem “Howl,” I imagine, is difficult to portray). Very appropriately, the soundtrack of this movie has become my new writing music, particularly this song.  It ebbs and flows, dramatic and serene, love it!

Prophecy

2. Ballad of the Sad Young Men by Roberta Flack – I heard this song in the beginning of a lecture by Patrick Rosal.  It stuck with me and I got the album, “First Take,” for my birthday. Rumor has it that the album this song is on was, as suggested by the title, recorded in one take.  I have a lot of respect for Flack’s undeniable singing chops.

Ballad Of The Sad Young Men

3. Acknowledgement by John Coltrane – If you read my Blue Like Jazz post, you’ll know I’ve been listening to Coltrane for a while.  About a year ago, a friend of mine gave me four gigs of new music.  I’m still discovering new tunes from the cache he gave me.  A discovery within the last three months or so has been Coltrane.  I am most definitely falling in love with jazz music.  Something about its inherent creativity and improvisation speaks to me.

Acknowledgement

4. Girl with One Eye by Florence + the Machine – Ok, I know Florence been around for a little while, and I’m late to the bandwagon. I’m just now discovering her awesomeness. It was love at first listen for this particular song and I.  It’s sassy and, yes, I do belt it out in the car…terribly.

Girl With One Eye

5. The Cave by Mumford and Sons – I have my roommate to blame for this one.  It’s his favorite song of the Mumford and Sons collection he has.  Maybe about six months ago he kept playing this particular tune incessantly.  I’d be lying if I said it had to grow on me.  This song starts out kind of slow, but quickly picks up pace.  I can’t help but bop my head whenever it comes on.

6. Sky by Joshua Radin, featuring Ingrid Michaelson – Here’s another song I discovered because of a friend.  She randomly said there was a song she thought I’d enjoy and sent it to me.  She was definitely right.  I feel like this tune is unique in that it acknowledges the fact that people in a relationship fear that the other person will leave them, but, many times, these fears only manifest themselves in dreams.  The song ultimately renews the singers’ love for the beloved.

Sky (featuring Ingrid Michaelson)

7. That Wasn’t Me by Brandi Carlile – Another song recommended by the same friend who introduced me to “Sky.”  About a month ago, I got a voucher for three free MP3 songs on Amazon.  I did a facebook poll asking which songs people recommended.  My friend recommended this one, and, once again, she was spot on with her choice.  This song won me over with the first few seconds of piano playing and kept me hooked with the soulful, honest lyrics.

That Wasn’t Me

8. Right as Rain by Adele – This was a Pandora recommendation. Damn, that girl can sang!  I realize people know this already, but it bears repeating.

9. I Will Not Bow by Breaking Benjamin – One of my favorite bands, RED, toured with Breaking Benjamin for a bit.  I wasn’t able to go to a show on that tour, but I heard that Breaking Benjamin has a music style very similar to RED.  Pandora played this song on the RED station I created.  Definitely one to head bang to!

10. The Last Fight by Bullet for My Valentine –  I heard this song during one of the Body Combat sessions at my gym.  There are few things I like more than punching along to a rock music riff.  Bullet for my Valentine has quickly become a favorite band of mine.  They’ve got a great mix of gritty lyrics and attitude that are right up my alley.

The Last Fight

Of Mitres and John Coltrane: My Thoughts on Blue Like Jazz

Blue Like Jazz: The Movie

I think Don Miller is pretty cool.  If you’ve spent any time around me, you already know this.  I’ve been reading his books for a couple of years now.  He seems like the kind of guy you could sit down with at a coffee shop and talk for hours, which might be why I keep reading.

The reason could also be that his work is real.  Don doesn’t sugar coat life or faith or the hard work it takes to get where you want to go.  So I was thrilled to learn his memoir, “Blue Like Jazz,” was going to be made into a movie.  And after this surge of anticipation came a wave of dread.  Books turned movies don’t always translate well (“The Lightning Thief” anyone?).

As a book, Blue Like Jazz is a beautiful fusion of faith and wrestling and life and interactions with people that seem really off-beat (in the best way.)  To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the film.  Many movies under the “Christian” label can be quite biased and unrealistic.  This movie could also swing in the opposite direction, creating a piece devoid of any deeper meaning.

After I saw the movie this past Friday, I was happy to find that Blue Like Jazz is delightfully balanced, showing both the reality of life (specifically college life) and all of its complexities when you throw in wrestling with faith.

Sure, there will be the people who may expect a sermon and will not be happy with the fact that the movie doesn’t end with Don’s character parading around the campus of Reed College handing out Bibles and yelling, “Repent!”  There will also be people who won’t like it because of all the God talk.  But, ultimately, this movie serves as a great discussion piece.  Not to say that the cinematography wasn’t good or that the dialogue felt forced.  But the movie is more than close-ups and funny one-liners.  Blue Like Jazz is a movie that isn’t afraid to wrestle with the larger life questions and refuses to present clear-cut answers simply because we all have our own experiences, which almost never produce a neat answer when we add them all together.  Life is art, not math.

There are certainly big differences between the book’s accounts and the movie’s portrayal.  But the film tells a good story (and, really, isn’t that what a movie should accomplish?).  There is one scene I keep coming back to where Don’s character is speaking with his father.  His dad is sitting on a lawn chair outside of his trailer, drinking a beer, and listening to Coltrane when he says two lines that have stuck with me: “Life is like Jazz music.  It doesn’t resolve.”  This is the main theme I took away from the movie.  It’s a theme that is nuanced, and certainly opens the floor to discussion.

A Love Supreme

All of the people Don interacts with along the way (Penny, Lauryn, “the Pope”) are three-dimensional.  They are not dismissed as heathens or God girls or merely intellectuals.  There’s depth to them, qualities that made them all human.  This is perhaps my favorite aspect of the movie, mostly because I can relate.  I have a friend who reminds me of Lauryn and a friend who is pretty much “the Pope” (minus the mitre).  And these friends have struggles and beauty and flaws.  And yet, I feel that some would box them in, then write in big, bold, Sharpie letters “THE LESBIAN” and “THE PAGAN.”  Blue Like Jazz shows that people are more than the sum of their labels without being preachy.  That in and of itself is quite a feat.  I hope movies (both Hollywood and “Christian”) will take a hint from this movie and create more films with complex characters.

Ultimately, I enjoyed the film not because it was made by a Christian author or marketed to a specific audience.  I enjoyed the movie because it is refreshing, because it is honest, because it celebrates the very human freedom to question and draw conclusions from our own messy and beautiful experiences.

It has been five days since I’ve seen this movie. For whatever reason, I can’t stop listening to John Coltrane.

Listen to a song by Coltrane here: Acknowledgement by John Coltrane from the album A Love Supreme

Poetry: A Spiritual Practice

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posed the question, “Is poetry a spiritual practice?”  I thought about this for a while, not because I wasn’t sure if writing was a spiritual practice, but because I couldn’t quite articulate why I believed it was.   Even though the question was posed via facebook status, I spent quite some time crafting an e-mail response…because I can’t say anything concisely.  And this is what I came up with:

Quill and ink

Image via Wikipedia

Poetry is a way for me to connect with people and nature, everything around me, which are all ways to connect with God.  I’m reminded of somethingone of my favorite authors, Don Miller, said: “We connect with God when we ask Him to defeat in us all the ways in which He cannot connect, all the untruth and games and manipulation and we come to Him finally saying, ‘Okay, I get it, you really are good, defeat in me the lack of faith, let your goodness rid me of the stuff that doesn’t connect with you or the world around me.'”

Poetry is a unique form of prayer.  It is a practice that allows me to cut through all of my cluttered thoughts and feelings so that I can get to what matters, what I need to hear and what I need to share with others. It is my way of getting on my knees and crying out, it is my way of talking with God, it is my way of asking forgiveness, it is my way of asking for fire.

I’m also reminded of something the poet Matthew Dickman said in an interview.  He was asked about what sparked him to write a poem.  He told about how he’s usually moved to write while musing about something he enjoys.  Matthew went on to say: “I suppose it’s the “like” that moves me to begin writing a poem—some sort of celebration in my chest wanting some words to understand itself, some sort of grief needing a body.”  There are these urges, these pushes to write that must be followed and, in the process, feel sacred.  There is so much that goes on in one life, sometimes these occurrences beg to be written down.

Thoughts?  Is writing a spiritual practice?  Can it even be considered a spiritual discipline?

Ripping Out the Hazard Lights

I recently read an interesting quote in the blog of one of my favorite authors.  Don Miller quotes the movie “True Grit” when he writes, “I do not entertain hypotheticals, the world as it is is vexing enough.”  Sometimes you’ve just got to stop worrying about what might happen and exercise some chutzpah.  I’ve done this recently by submitting a few of  my poems to a literary magazine I don’t think I’ll get into…but you never know.

 
My latest venture has been opening up an Etsy store.  I haven’t got much posted for sale, but it’s a good start on something I’ve wanted to do for a while.  If you’d like to check it out, go to: www.etsy.com/shop/roaringout or click on the “Etsy Store” tab on the menu bar of this blog </shameless plug>.  I’m a bit self-conscious about crafting, but there’s nothing to lose in putting yourself out there….actually, there can be quite a bit to lose.  If you invest in a business and it tanks, you lose money.  If you ask someone out, you risk rejection.  In any situation, there is always the possibility of failure.  And that possibility often casts a pretty long shadow.

 

But I prefer to think that despite success or lack thereof, I’m going to at least give it a shot; the effort and experience will be worth it in the end.  As Rob Bell, another fav author of mine, writes in his book Velvet Elvis: “Better to try and fail, because at least you were being true to yourself.  And the worst thing would be to live wondering, What if?”  This line of thinking has got me ripping out the hazard lights; I’ve stopped moving cautiously.  Speed or skid, I’m here for the ride.

 

And sometimes risk pays off.  Take this blog for example.  I’m so glad I ventured into starting it.  I’ve gotten a bunch of lovely notes saying how much people like what I’m doing here on “Roaring Out”.  Thanks so much if you’ve reached out to me!  Your support is much appreciated 🙂