Tag Archives: Bruce Springsteen

Sunday Salon/Currently … Thankfully Reading, Christmas Music, and #turnonthelight

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We’re back from a quick (less than 48 hours!) trip to Philadelphia, where we spent Thanksgiving with both sides of our family. If you read yesterday’s post recapping that visit, you know this holiday had special meaning this year.

It’s also been an extended break from work for me; I’m off from work through Tuesday, thanks to an abundance of vacation days needing to be used before year’s end with still more time off at the end of the year. Nothing is planned for today except church and grocery shopping. Tomorrow’s fun includes a follow up visit to the vet — our cat had dental surgery two weeks ago and all of her teeth needed to be removed, except for two.  She’s made a remarkable recovery and is doing well so hopefully this will be an uneventful check up.

Thankfully Reading
ThankfullyReading2014Because of the Philly trip, I didn’t have a chance to participate as much in Jenn’s Bookshelves annual Thankfully Reading Weekend event as I would have liked. This is one of my favorite bookish happenings because it’s a no-rules, whatever works for you kind of thing. Since I’m jumping in late (officially signing up with this post as Thankfully Reading concludes) I’m extending my participation into Monday.

Here’s what I read this week:

born-to-runspringtime-a-ghost-storyhouse-of-silence

As a Springsteen fan, I was pretty sure I would like Born to Run — and oh my, did I ever. At its conclusion, Bruce (I feel I can call him Bruce) writes that he hasn’t revealed everything about himself in this memoir, but you definitely come away from this feeling like you know him and his music in a whole new way. A must-read for Bruce fans and one that will be on my Best of 2016 list (in just a few short weeks!).

Springtime: A Ghost Story is a bit of an odd novella by Michelle de Kretser, an Australian novelist who was born in Sri Lanka. Frances is a 28 year old woman living in Sydney with her partner Charlie. She sees a ghost while walking her dog and … that’s about it. I liked the concept of a ghost story in springtime, but this felt more like an unfinished short story.

Last night I finished House of Silence, a debut historical fiction/mystery/romance novel by Sarah Barthels. This is a review book, so I can’t say much more until after its December 27 publication date.

I’m not sure what I’ll read next. I have several books in progress and another review book on the docket so probably one of those.

One thing I’ve been reading more of is The New York Times. I decided that something I can do in this post-election world is to support quality journalism by subscribing to the NYT. (We also subscribe to our local paper.)  They had a deal last week where a subscription was $10 per month. For that price, I can forego a few breakfast bowls or afternoon coffees at work.

Need a Little Christmas Now … 
Every year, on the day after Thanksgiving, The Husband puts on Christmas music and listens to nothing else until January 2. (The two exceptions are November 29 and December 8 when he plays George Harrison and John Lennon nonstop, respectively, in honor of those two greats.) The Christmas music, though, usually drives me crazy. I can handle it in small doses.  Not this year. I’ve downloaded a bunch of new tunes from Spotify and am cranking up the holly right along with him.

#turnonthelight …
Our friends Jason and Rachel have launched The Holiday Lights Project  #turnonthelight to bring more kindness and joy into the lives of those around us.  They’re doing this in a big but quiet way, as is their style. They’re the folks who, while having breakfast at IHOP, pick up the tab for everyone in THE WHOLE RESTAURANT, not just the table next to them.  They load up gift cards with hundreds of dollars and hand it to a cashier, instructing them to pay for everyone’s coffee until it runs out. And they do this year-round.  (I know, because we’ve been the recipients of Jason and Rachel’s generosity many times.)

Obviously, we all don’t have the financial means to do this.  We certainly don’t. But we can all do what we can, even in a small way. (For example: since we weren’t going to be home for Thanksgiving, I donated some pumpkin pie filling and canned vegetables I’d purchased to the food pantry at church.) Jason’s post gives some inspiration for how we can all fight darkness with a little light, regardless of our status and station in life.

I hope your Sunday and the week ahead is filled with more light and less darkness. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to take this opportunity to say how grateful I am for all my blog readers. Whether you’re a newcomer to the blog or someone who has been reading for the past eight years, I’m very appreciative for you and your friendship. Thanks for being here! 

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Sunday Salon/Currently …Halloween Eve Edition

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Friends, I’ve reached my limit with this election. Friday’s news put me over the edge — again — and I simply can’t take another week of this insanity. To make matters worse, I live in a state with a hotly contested Senate race AND I have a hateful, bigoted, racist asshole incumbent for way too many years as my State Representative. The latter has billboard-sized signs on roads I need to travel (plus on my neighbors’ lawns along with Trump/Pence signs).  I’m so done. I put myself on another election news blackout this weekend and it probably won’t be the last.

(Unfortunately, the election is one of The Boy’s favorite topics of discussion.  I mean, I love that the kid is engaged in his political future and is educating himself about the candidates and the issues, but he likes to talk about it A LOT. That’s another reason why I need to step back from the news coverage; I don’t have the energy to explain things to him if I’m already weary of the daily barrage of crap.)

Currently … Reading

born-to-run

Born to Run is proving to be a good election diversion. I’m a Bruce fan and have been looking forward to this memoir. It does not disappoint. It’s written much in the casual, poetic style of Bruce’s songs (“The bride and her hero are whisked away in their long black limousine, the one that drops you off at the beginning of your life.”) and nobody writes about place the way Bruce does.

“When it rains, the moisture in the humid air blankets our town with the smell of damp coffee grounds wafting in from the Nescafé factory at the town’s eastern edge. I don’t like coffee but I like that smell. It’s comforting; it unites the town in a common sensory experience; it’s good industry, like the roaring rug mill that fills our ears, brings work and signals our town’s vitality. There is a place here—you can hear it, smell it—where people make lives, suffer pain, enjoy small pleasures, play baseball, die, make love, have kids, drink themselves drunk on spring nights and do their best to hold off the demons that seek to destroy us, our homes, our families, our town.”

All this makes Born to Run a relatively fast read, which is good because it’s due back to the library on Wednesday.  love-warrior

This week I finished Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton, another memoir that I loved and which will be on my Best of 2016 list in a few short weeks. Such a honest and heartfelt memoir. You can feel Glennon’s pain and strength on every page. I’m recommending it to everyone.

Currently … Cooking:
I’m getting more strict about only making one meal. The kids will be 15 in a few weeks and are more than perfectly capable of preparing something else if they’re not pleased with the fare offered. I’ve resigned myself to being unable to accommodate everyone.  It’s one thing to make small changes for dietary preferences but it’s another thing to make a separate meal altogether and I’m just not doing it anymore. If that means people are eating cereal or sandwiches every night for dinner, that’s fine with me.

Currently … Watching:
At the moment, The Husband is switching between the Eagles-Dallas game and the World Series. Also, everyone’s talking about “This Is Us” and so far I’ve been resisting.  I’m thinking I’m going to cave soon and see what all the fuss is about.

Currently … Linking:
My friends Andrew and William have a great opportunity to make a significant investment in their current business, Allegory Gallery, which is a bead, art and jewelry store in Ligonier, PA. It’s a wonderful space where they nurture creativity and artists, and I have a special fondness for them and Allegory Gallery from when they generously hosted a reading I did. They’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign for this endeavor and I encourage you to check out Project: Next Step if you’re inclined to support their efforts.

More Links I Liked This Week …
Bookertalk shares a personal remembrance of the Aberfan disaster in South Wales, a tragedy which I’d never heard of until reading her post.

For the remaining days of this godforsaken election, Nancy of Mixtape Midlife is encouraging women to acknowledge and celebrate each other — to give a nod to the nasty, if you will.

Nine more days.

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National Poetry Month Blog Tour: Paragon Park (Turtle, Swan; Bethlehem in Broad Daylight; Early Poems), by Mark Doty

National Poetry Month Blog Tour

My friend Serena from Savvy Verse and Wit is The Poet Laureate of the Internet. Of all the thousands of book bloggers out there, Serena is poetry’s foremost champion. Her passion for the genre is contagious and her enthusiasm has introduced countless of readers (including me) to new-to-them poets and the wonder of poetry.  In celebration of National Poetry Month, Serena is hosting the “Reach for Horizon” blog tour.

As the blogger for today’s stop, I’ve chosen to highlight the poetry of Mark Doty and some of his exquisite work. Mark Doty is one of those writers who could write anything and I’m convinced I would love it. He’s among my very favorites.

Paragon Park

 Paragon Park (David R. Godine, Publisher, 2012, 179 pages) includes the complete texts of Mr. Doty’s collections Turtle, Swan and Bethlehem in Broad Daylight, as well as eight of Mr. Doty’s earliest poems. In an author’s note that precedes these poems, he writes about the process of self-discovery involved in re-reading them.

“That’s one thing I liked about doing this reading, seeing what have become familiar gestures or vocal strategies emerge – suddenly there I am, becoming me. This seems mysterious – wasn’t I always myself? Yes and no. Maybe the turn of voice was there, the habit of speech or the manner of thinking, but here it is in this poem or that appearing on the page, and thus in some way concretizing a self: a manner of speaking, a means of making meaning ….I can see a style emerging in them, but also ways of thinking, rehearsals for concerns and questions that will be given a larger form later on.” (pg. 158)

Honestly, the man even seems to speak in poetry, doesn’t he? If I’m ever lucky enough to get the chance, I’m pretty certain that I could listen to Mark Doty for hours.

It makes sense that these poems are included here with Turtle, Swan (the complete text of Mark Doty’s first book of poetry, published by Godine in 1987) as well as the full collection of Bethlehem in Broad Daylight, also published by Godine, in 1991. As I’ve come to expect from Mark Doty – have I mentioned that he is probably my favorite poet and one of my very favorite writers? – these are poems that are deeply personal, reflective of a childhood, of friends and lovers and places gone too soon.

Some of my favorite images and lines, then.  (I am not going to be able to go to the shore or the boardwalk again without this imagery from the poem “Paragon Park”):

“The music bounces from loudspeakers –
forties swing suggesting we might see our parents ,
freshly stepped from a snapshot, stepping
around the corner; unchanging fragrances
of sea wind, junk food, and the hot gears
of the ferris wheel.”

or this, from “A Row of Identical Cottages”:

“Traveling brings back every other summer
by the sea; our long, familiar conversations’s
all I remember …and Then …

Memory seems a kind of shoreline,
the edge between sleep and the world.
We’re never sure what we’ll wake to –

what form the past, which has no boundaries,
has chosen for its intrusion into today,
or how our random memories will match

or collide.”

My God, that’s gorgeous, isn’t it?

At times, Mark Doty’s verses seem to evoke Springsteen – or maybe it’s the reverse. Regardless, they both have that enviable ability to take what we think of a fun setting (“Playland”) and transform it into something fantastical, mythological and deeply spiritual.

“I’ve never seen anyone but us leave,
and I believe that everyone here
has been dead for years,
and that they not only don’t mind
but are truly happy, because here
there is no need to guard themselves,
no possibility of an aesthetic mistake,
and no one is too old, too poor
or mistaken.”

There were lines in these poems I loved and entire poems, too (“Tiara” and “A Box of Lilies”). From the latter:

“This is what I imagine it’s like,
Doug: once the mailman brought me
a box of lilies, by mistake
– shipping error, nursery packet’s
benevolent whim? –
twenty-eight pale and armored hearts,
spiky as artichokes.
Nothing was labeled
but I could guess their intentions
by their heft; some were twinned,
even two-fisted, and the instructions plain:
Dig deeper than you need to,
fertilize with a little bone,
allow to remain undisturbed for years.”

With each precise, perfect word, Mark Doty’s poetry has a way of doing that – digging deep, fertilizing those memories that may have been undisturbed for years. Quite simply, he’s a master.

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