One Second Every Day – January

Photo courtesy of 1secondeveryday.com

Photo courtesy of 1secondeveryday.com

When watching a documentary or reading a snippet about the life of someone famous or someone who’s done something noteworthy, I often wonder what happened in the life of that person during the silences. By silences, I mean when the announcer says, “This person got a job, and then six years later, they had their big break.” I always wonder what happened in those six years, months, days, minutes. What was their routine? What did they read? Who was their best friend? Who did they talk to when they cried?

The answers to the above questions are pieces of life that history doesn’t see fit to record. They are moments that history often forgets, and history shouldn’t. We shouldn’t because it is routine that is the lifeblood of, well, life, even if it’s not as exciting as our biggest victories or lowest valleys. Most of what happens to us is mundane, but in those routines, we have small variations that surprise us and, whether or not we like to admit it, we are delighted.

In that vein, I’ve embarked on this ironically app-inspired journey that I hope to continue throughout the year and beyond. I’m doing the 1 Second Every Day project (I found out about it via the Storyline blog). It entails recording a second of every single day with the intention of splicing those second together to make a sort of movie narrative.

I want to do this so that I have a record of how I spend my spare time and have a memory for each day that I live, no matter how small. Of course these days and months will be punctuated by excitement, but more than that, the reason I’m doing this is because I want to remember. I don’t want certain things to get old, like my finace kissing my hand, like my roommate doing something zazzy (a word of his own making). I don’t want to forget my drives to school or the work that I do (yes, that includes grading). I want to remember what I put my time towards. I think that’s important. I don’t know that I can articulate why, but I think it is.

I found out about this project a few days into January, so this month’s video is a bit abridged. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you’ll consider embarking on a similar journey of recording your seemingly mundane days. I think you’ll find there is always something noteworthy to record 🙂

(The song in the video is “Pictures of You” by The Last Goodnight.)

An Exercise in Observation

About two weeks ago, I was sans car.  It was in the shop for some lengthy repair work and I was bumming rides to and from my job.  One evening after work, I decided to do a little exploring.  So I took a walk to the library (I know, wild times, right?).  But the walk ended up being more than picking up some books and getting some fresh air.  I noticed so much more than I usually do when I’m driving down the familiar few blocks to the library.  As soon as I got home, I made a list of all that I had seen (well, what I could remember anyway).  I thought I’d share my journey with all of you:

– Paw prints in one block of sidewalk cement

– What looked likea discarded lotto ticket with “crossword” written across the back

– A new art studio named “Elements”

– A somewhat hidden street I never noticed while driving down the main drag

– A store I previously thought was a gallery.  It was actually an antique store which also happened to sell art.  I saw a huge record player on sale for $250.00.  Not gonna lie, I was tempted to buy it until I realized I have no vinyl (nor a spare few hundred bucks to splurge).  But it looked so cool!  The last time I played records I was a tiny tot living at my grandmother’s house.

– A house with these cool, cracked crystal ball walkway lights (Yay alliteration!).

– A group of older women sitting on the porch talking.  I know this may not sound all that fantastic, but as I walked past them, I was able to appreciate the sound of their language– Arabic, I think.  I could smell their decadent perfume.  It reminded me of my grandmother when she used to have friends over and they would chatter grown-up talk in Spanish for hours.  I’d play amongst them and let the slick, familiar syllables roll off me.

– Artwork outside a small, local music venue.  There was this piece that really struck me.  It looked like a screaming face and it was made out of bits of magazine pages.  It was such an impressive, cohesive piece….must’ve taken hours to make!

– A silk screen printing shop

– A large Italian Ristorante I never noticed before even though I drive down Main Street all the time and have lived in my town for two years.  Now I want to try it.

– The familiar, speckled, uneven pink brick wall that leads to my apartment complex.  I noticed how unique each brick was with its own grooves, its own specks of brown and silver.

– Tiny plants grew above the grass next to the wall.  The plants looked like baby’s breath, but one was a tiny daisy– a curious hint of spring at the end of summer.

When I got home after the walk, I noticed that I got a big bug bite.  For the record, it was totally worth it.  I’m hoping to take a photo walk down Main Street soon when the weather gets a bit cooler.

What about you?  What are some cool things you have observed on walks or hikes?

5 Little Things That Are Simply Splendid

As I got ready to leave work yesterday, I was quite excited with the thought of the maple sweet mashed potatoes I would be making as my dinner side dish.  I thought of how awesome this simple food dish is, which got me thinking of all the little things I love.  So as an exercise in gratitude, I made a list of five “small things” I absolutely love and make my life that much easier/enjoyable (I didn’t include family, friends, or God because I think those are implied.  They are also not little ;-)).

1. New Book Smell – I know the world is moving to e-books and, to be honest, I may go that way someday myself.  But nothing can replace the awesome smell of pages fresh from the press.  As a kid, I loved smelling books.  To this day, I still smell the pages when I get an order in from Amazon.  I know, I’m weird.

2. Baby Laughter – Seriously, how can you not hear them laugh and keep a straight face?  I don’t have a kid and don’t want kids for quite some time.  But when I’m out and see a little munchkin in her stroller, I always smile.  The heartiness of a baby’s laugh provides a bright spot on even the most crap-worthy day.  Case in point:

See?  You couldn’t keep yourself from smiling could you?

3. Tabbed Internet Browsing – I’m really ADD when I surf the web.  The ease of pressing CTRL + T to get the information I want is such a fabulous convenience.  Every now and then, I’m on a computer that isn’t mine and isn’t equipped with tabbed browsing.  The clutter of all those windows brings about my sad panda face 😦

My Wikipedia-famous Posh Spice picture

4. Bobby Pins – For most of my life, I had super long hair (mid-back length).  I cut it short when I graduated college in 2008 and haven’t looked back since.  For a while I looked like Posh Spice with the short back and longer bangs.  Then I cut it even shorter.  Now I have a pixie cut with long-ish bangs.  This is when I became fond of bobby pins.  I can’t put my hair in a pony tail, but I don’t like having bangs in my face most of the time.  Bobby pins are a simple wonder that I am infinitely grateful for.  Eating my bangs doesn’t sound pleasant.

5. Maple Sweet Mashed Potatoes – While the thought of eating my bangs is unpleasant, I could eat sweet mashed potatoes every day!  And they are so simple to make.  I use the recipe found in Jae Steele’s book “Get It Ripe.”  She adds a bit of maple syrup to her mashed ‘taters and I have to say it’s a delicious addition!  Here is the batch that I made last night:

Om nom nom!

What’s one “small thing” you would add to this list?

Doing Nothing is the Most Productive Thing To Do

Most weeks, my life consists of work, laundry, volunteering, and sometimes cooking.  My weekends can get even more hectic with family parties, dinner with friends, weekend events, and catching up on errands thrown in.  It’s all good stuff, but it can get overwhelming.

This past weekend was the first in a while where I could just sit back and enjoy the luxury of doing nothing.  Sure, there are things I could have been doing, like cleaning or writing a book review.  But I often forget that sometimes doing nothing can boost productivity later.  Monday is coming to a close and I felt rested for most of the day, which is a plus of rest!

Well, I did do a couple of things this weekend.  I finally finished a book I borrowed from a friend over six months ago (The Book Thief by Markus Zusak…good stuff!).   I even made some yummy Black Bean and Brown Rice chili (I added ground beef later):

Speaking of food, my boyfriend and I also gorged on junk food while watching the Jason Statham/Jet Li gem “War.”  Also (perhaps more importantly), my boyfriend and I completely obliterated a score I held in Geometry Wars 2.

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2

For those of you not familiar with the game, Geometry Wars 2 allows those of you despise Math to do what you’ve always dreamed of: shoot shapes!  There are several shape-shooting modes, but my favorite is called “King.”  In King mode, you fly from circle to circle trying to shoot the multicolored shapes and snakes while avoiding contact with them.  Shapes cannot get to you while you are in a circle.  The catch?  The circles start to shrink and disappear about 5 seconds after you enter one and you can only shoot while in a circle.

I could play this game all day.  In about a half hour, my boyfriend and I completely obliterated my previous high score of about 1,300,000 with the ridiculous score of 11,749,880. When we completed this feat, we must have had the perfect combination of salty ridge chips, Reese’s peanut butter ice cream, and Jason Statham badassery running through our veins.  I guess I did accomplish something this weekend.

 

How about you?  What are some things you like to do (or not do!) on lazy weekends?

Poetry Monday – Rainer Maria Rilke

Thanks for joining me for Poetry Monday once again!  I’m trying something a bit different.  I will be reading a prose excerpt from Rainer Maria Rilke’s collection “Letters to a Young Poet.”  The excerpt is from letter four.  I hope you enjoy it 🙂

The Link Between Grief and Song

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the connection between grief and singing.  I know these can be thought of as pretty disparate concepts; one is filled with anguish and the other is (usually) associated with beauty.  And yet I can’t help but think they are inextricably linked.

I’m reminded of a poem by Jane Hirshfield called “If the Rise of the Fish”.  In this poem she writes, “If the leaves.  If the singing fell upward.  If grief./For a moment if singing and grief.”  I love these lines.  What would happen if singing and grief existed together in the same space for a moment?  What would that look like?  Would it be a mixture of light and dark?  Would it look gray and muddled or luminous?  I’m not quite sure but I love the fact that Hirshfield plays with this concept.

As far as my own creative process is concerned, I tend to write when going through a hardship.  Tension, living in the gray and unknown is what moves me to write.  And this creative process is helped along by music.  Most of my process has been influenced by the belief that tragedy is not necessarily found in the process of enduring a rough time; the real loss would be doing nothing to turn hardship into something beautiful.

There is a song by RED that I find myself going back to.  It’s called “Hymn for the Missing.”  Although these guys are pretty hard rockers, they compose some beautiful instrumentals.  And I think this song illustrates the concept of melding grief and beauty really well.  The lyrics clearly convey loss: “Where are you now?  Are you lost?  Will I find you again?  Are you alone?  Are you afraid?  Are you searching for me?  Why did you go?  I had to stay.  Now I’m reaching for you.  Will you wait?  Will you wait?  Will I see you again?”  So many questions.  I can’t help but think of this verse as depicting the bargaining stage of grief.  The uncertainty leads to questions, but questions don’t always lead to answers.  And still, we put them out there.  In the backdrop of this song is a beautiful piano arrangement that crescendos into an absolutely gorgeous, full instrumental – a reminder that grief and song can complement each other in the most heart-breaking, stunning way.  Listen to “Hymn for the Missing” here:

Hymn For The Missing

 

As I mentioned before, Red is a rock band so I wanted to showcase what they can do.  Check out their face-melting performance on Conan back in February:

Wild Love

“Ooh,” said Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about opposite concepts lately.  The most recent is the title of this post: “Wild Love.”  Stereotypically, love is thought to be as mushy as melted Valentine’s Day chocolate.  It is sappy.  It is safe.

But then I think of the excerpt at the top of this page.  The four children find out that the one they are looking for in Narnia, the one they call “Aslan”, is a lion.  The prospect of meeting a lion is scary and the two girls vocalize their concern.  Then there is that final line: “‘Course he isn’t safe.  But he’s good.”  This moment always gives me pause.  Isn’t that which is good also safe?  No, not always.  Goodness should have a certain ferocity to it.

And this makes me think of God.  He is not the God of two hour Sunday mornings with neat lines and inspirational sound bytes.  He is not tame.  He is fierce, frightening, challenging and ultimately good…but not safe.

Which brings me back to love.  Why settle for its watered-down, marketable version?  Perhaps because we think that is all there is.  Maybe because safe love is simply easier.  Perhaps the prospect of an uncontrollable force is far too scary.  But wouldn’t that love, the one that is alive and uncontained, be worth the risk?

Let’s search for the love that gets our knees knocking, sets our bellies fluttering, this rambunctious love, wild and untamable.

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 🙂