What was I thinking?

It was Friday evening, the 5th of July. Frustrated by a house that was a little too humid and clothes that were a little too sticky, I decided to go for a walk down to Boswell Book Company and the adjoining Starbucks and see if I couldn’t get some writing done there. I had high hopes. Surely a change of venue would jump-start my pen.

I load up my purse with a pen and notepad, and the magazine I’m currently reading, Taproot. The great writing in it had inspired me already, and just in case I couldn’t get anything written, there was no reason I couldn’t just sit and read. I walked due east and ordered a Cool Lime Refresher. I get out my pen and just sit. Here’s what happens.

***

StarbucksSitting here at the Starbucks on the corner of Downer and Webster. This may not be the most pretentious place on a street full of pretentious little shops, but it’s close. The weather’s nice enough that hardly anyone is here, and with three baristas, there’s literally one for every two patrons. I wonder what type of manager made this scheduling decision? I also wonder what makes the staff here think there’s nothing to do, despite the lack of patrons? But I’m not here to do a review.

I’m here to write. Or so I thought. The music is just loud enough to be distracting and the lack of customers makes every whir and grind, every tap and clatter wincingly loud. I know I’m being unfair. It’s a coffee shop, not my home office. But the house seemed stifling this afternoon; too humid to be comfortable. There are outdoor tables, also mostly empty, that I could go sit at. But, somehow, noticing the regular passage of cars, I know it won’t be any better.

There’s a man at a long table in front of me. From my perch on a high stool by a wall, I can easily watch him studying. His pencils and highlighters threaten to roll off the edge, though he’s careful to keep them corralled by his cell phone and wallet. Several sets of loose papers make up the outbuildings of this intellectual ranch. Another man is at the counter overlooking the street. He, too, is elbow deep in the tools of academia.Boswell 1

For the life of me, I don’t know how they do it. I certainly can’t. I pick up my drink and head back to the bookstore.

There’s a thousand reasons why I can’t write in a bookstore. Maybe ten thousand, or even more. They call out to me from the shelves, from the tables, from the racks. Cover art or only spines, it doesn’t matter. Moleskine black books and pads of artsy-fartsy Post-It notes. Pens, stationery, bookmarks, tote bags. An old man chuckles over greeting cards while two women compare notes on short story writers. The in-store stereo plays jazz and the low moans from a subdued saxophone and the subtle buzz of brushes on a snare tickle my eardrums just enough.

There are no tables here, and I’m forced to balance my notebook on my lap. The scuffed leather sofas are empty, and except for the one I’m sitting in, all the cloth chairs are too. You’d think it would be easy to write in an atmosphere so congenial to the written word, but it’s not.

I pick up my things yet again, and go outdoors. I guess I’ll just head back to the house.

***

Marybelle AptsHeading West down Bellevue I passed Henry’s. Already noisy, though it was still light out, one table of elderly German-speaking men were laughing uproariously over some joke and nearly spilling their pilsners in the process of back-slapping each other. They were viewed disdainfully by a nearby table of young women who were clearly pondering whether to move to a different area.

I continued to the next block where a large, multi-apartment home sported three young man lounging on a balcony. Their music was loud enough that I’m sure the other residents had neither need nor ability to play their own stereos. It’s a good thing I was walking, because there was no way I could get any writing done in that environment.

Just before crossing Maryland, I noticed a young couple kissing on the stoop of the Marybelle apartments. I can’t remember the last time I was that oblivious to anything but…uh…the matter at hand. Or at lips, as the case may be.

Stopping at Maryland for a police cruiser, sirens screaming, I wondered what on earth could be the matter. Despite its being a Friday night, the streets were oddly empty. Everyone is probably at Summerfest, I remembered.

I continued back to the house, and while I unlocked the door, I laughed to myself. It was a beautiful night. I had the house to myself and I could put the air conditioning on if I wanted to. Maybe I’d play around on the internet.

I don’t know what made me think I’d get any writing done.

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Five Favorites: Part Deux

Five Favorites Moxie Wife Joining up with some other ladies to exchange a diet of delights as we share the five favorite things that’ve recently caught our attention. Low key fun all around, and a great way to discover some interesting things.

1. Aussi Instant Freeze Spray

Aussi Instant Freeze Hairspray

My go-to hair spray–this stuff is amazing. They call it Instant Freeze, and they’re not kidding.
I really think it could suspend me off the ground. Just sayin’…

2. Knitting Socks

New socks for Sophia 001

I knit. All the time. I carry knitting in my purse. Socks are the most useful things, and they fit. Easily.
I made these for my daughter last year.

3. Papal Conclave

Papal Conclave

http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/live_player.asp

The waiting is the hardest part.

3. Rolling Stone Magazine

Rolling Stone Johnny Depp Cover

People sometimes ask me how I manage to stay abreast of pop culture without watching television. This is it.
Bonus picture of Johnny Depp!

4. Brocante Home

Brocante Home header

Cute and oh-so-very-British! Housekeeping superstars, unite!
Charming vintage pictures and tips, all served up by a lovely lady, Alison.

5. Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder

I saw the very first episodes of Little House on the Prairie on television, and then I found the books. Even better!
(Believe me, the TV series may be interesting, but it’s not for aficionados)
Always inspiring, never objectionable.

Five Favorites: Volume 1

Five Favorites Moxie Wife“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…” Those were certainly Maria’s favorites, and while I’m not saying they’re not adorable, I’ve got some other things in mind.

This week I’m linking up with a delightful blog called Moxie Wife for a little doo-dad she calls “Five Favorites.”

And away we go, though not necessarily in order of favoritism!

1. Antique holy cards.

Holy family Turgis 1040

I can’t get enough of them, and really, how can that be a sin?
The site for this card is here!

2. Best parody song video. Ever.

Russian Unicorn

Look, I love me some Michael Bublé, but this is a scream.
You know it’s great when Mr. Bublé himself loves it. Watch this!

3. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

Therese of Lisieux as Jeanne d'Arc

Oh, she’s just the best. If you don’t like her, it’s only because you don’t know her.
This picture shows her dressed as Jeanne d’Arc.

4. My utterly brilliant daughter, Sophia

gardening 008

Choosing her name was easy.
It had to have significant religious meaning,
and be suitable for a Supreme Court Justice.

5. Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book

Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book Updated Version

The only bread-making book you’ll really ever need.

Date a Guy Who Reads

Guy ReadingThis post is a response to A Girl You Should Date

Date a guy who reads. Date a guy who spends his money on books instead of video games, beer, or tickets to sporting events. He has problems with floor space because he has too many books. He doesn’t have end tables, but he does have stacks of books. Date a guy who has a list of books he wants to read, who has had a library card since he was in first grade.

Find a guy who reads. You’ll know that he does because he will always have an unread book with him, maybe in the back seat of his car, or just under his arm. He’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore (and not just the science fiction section, either), the one who quietly smiles when he finds the book he wants. You see the geek sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

He’s the guy reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at his mug, it’s already getting cool, because he’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. He might look astonished, as most guys who read are not likely to be interrupted, since most people don’t know what to do with a reader, especially if it’s a guy, and it’s not Sports Illustrated. Ask him if he likes the book.

Buy him another cup of coffee.
Let him know what you really think of Hemingway. See if he got through the first chapter of Atlas Shrugged. Understand that if he says he understood James Joyce’s Ulysses he’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask him if he loves Gandalf or he would like to be Gandalf.

It’s easy to date a guy who reads. Give him books for his birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give him the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give him Dante, Dickinson, Pound, Plath. Let him know that you understand that words are love. Understand that he knows the difference between books and reality but by god, he’s going to try to make his life a little like his favorite book. It will never be your fault if he does.

He has to give it a shot somehow.
Lie to him. (He already thinks you do, from the first moment that you seemed interested in him…) If he understands syntax, he will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail him. (He already thinks you will—most women have been disappointed in him already.) Because a guy who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because guys who understand know that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two. That while life is more than about rescuing the fair maiden, he’d really like to give it a try. He wants to be your hero. Let him.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Guys who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series. (Which, as a powerful girl who reads, you can admit to doing. It’s cool. You don’t have to like it.)

If you find a guy who reads, keep him close. When you find him up at 2 AM clutching a book to his chest and silently weeping, pull him close and kiss him. Make love. Talk about it. You may lose him for a couple of hours but he will always come back to you. He’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

He will propose at a historical re-enactment. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time you’re sick. Over Skype. He may be past comic books (or not), but he still likes the pictures, especially when they’re of you.

You will start to cry, and laugh, all at the same time. You will wonder why your heart never before realized that there’s enough love in it for every single person in the universe. You will write the story of your lives, have kids (and cats) with strange names and even stranger tastes. He will introduce your children to Beatrix Potter and Guy Reading with Babythe Hobbit, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and he will recite Keats under his breath while you adjust his hat and make sure he has his gloves.

Date a guy who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a guy who can give you the most colorful life imaginable, and not just things from the Victoria Secret catalog. If you can only give him monotony, and stale hours and gossip about Jersey Shore, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a guy who reads.

Don’t get me started about the guys who write. Don’t go there.

Thank you, Rosemarie Urquico, for your original essay.

Stuff Catholics Like: Sunday Mass

 

Cover of

Cover of Stuff Christians Like

Lately, I’ve been amused by a blog called Stuff Christians Like, (now a book, pictured at right) which is written by a guy, one Jonathan Acuff, who is just completely unashamed in his criticism of all things Christian, while still remaining a good Christian. I have to respect this guy. It’s easy to poke fun at things you don’t like. But it’s even easier, not to mention more fun, to poke fun at things you really love! So, believing imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, I present to you the first installment of Stuff Catholics Like! (Yes, yes, I know. If you look around, there’s actually a blog that’s already entitled that. But it’s not mine, and I’m not pretending it is. Maybe it will be someday. Maybe not. Maybe I can guest write for them…Who knows.

 

There are many reasons why it’s totally great to be a Catholic, but I’m not getting into apologetics here. This is not the venue for complex theology and discussions thereof. And lest you think I don’t know what I’m talking about when I make some these comparisons, I’ve done the Protestant thingy, so I know. I was a church musician for the Missionary Church for eight years, and have played and sung with various other denominations. (I’ve done a lot of things, religious and otherwise…so, believe me when I say, “I know.”)

Onward and upward!

Probably one of the greatest things that Catholics like is Sunday Mass. You go to Mass on Sunday for basically one hour, and you don’t have to do anything else. It’s a one shot deal. Period. There’s no Morning service, with an Evening service thrown in. (I went to a church once where you could tell the “holiness quotient” by whether the people at the Sunday evening service had already been there for the Sunday morning service. (All these places will remain nameless, for their own protection.)

Catholic Cathedral in Tbilisi during the visit...

Image via Wikipedia

 

So you go once! Yay! In fact, even though you’re allowed to go to Communion more than once on Sunday, you have to go within the context of a Sunday Mass. Generally speaking, the priest who does more than one Sunday Mass repeats his sermon at each one, so it’s not like going more than once in a day is getting you additional “content.”  (I am a pianist for a Spanish Mass and often attend more than once on any given Sunday. One Mass in English and then the one I play for in Spanish. There are some cultural adaptations, but it’s basically the same homily.) So there’s none of this Sunday morning service, then the Sunday night service, and then if you’re good, the Wednesday night service! That’s a whole other kettle of fish, and not fish you’re going to have to eat on Friday, either. (That’s another blog entry there…it sure is.) Of course, you can go to Mass every day if you’re good and holy, and that’s a very good and admirable thing to do, but it’s not a requirement by any means. So there’s very little of this, “Well, he’s/she’s here every time the doors open,” mentality. Even if you were, hardly anyone else would notice, because they’re probably only there on Sundays!

Or maybe they showed up Saturday night. Let’s not forget Saturday night. ‘Cause that rocks! You can get in an early Saturday night Mass (which totally covers you for Sunday) let’s say around 5:00 p.m., and still hit all the clubs without the bother of having to go to church hung over on Sunday morning! Oh, yeah!

Sunday Mass–what’s not to love?!

Library Overload

LibraryThing ten million books contest entry

Image by eclecticlibrarian via Flickr

The book situation in the apartment has finally reached critical mass. Roger and Sophia told me that I shouldn’t bring any more home, and so I’ve declared a moratorium on new book acquisition until the end of the year. Of course, it’s not a complete moratorium, because there’s been a couple that I’ve slipped in under the radar, or for Sophia or Roger themselves (surely that’s okay, right?).

I haven’t seriously updated my LibraryThing account in ages. But I did get a CueCat, and that makes entering books a snap. I was amazed.

Now that my panic attacks have subsided (seemingly completely—I haven’t had one in weeks), I’m eager to get back to work on organizing and volunteering.

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