Friday, July 30, 2010

Short birthday post: list of things to do

I'm hoping that if I type out this list real quick, it will help me keep in mind what I've done today and what I still need to do. It's my birthday, and I took the day off work, which is great, but instead of just a relaxing day doing only what I want to do, I had several items on my to-do list ... plus the boys are home with me, and they're being really good (for them!), but they still need breakfast, lunch, internet help, etc., and they periodically want to climb on me and keep me from doing the next thing on my to-do list.

OK, as far as the list...

Laundry is DONE, or at least as much as I needed to do is done, the rest can wait till later or tomorrow.
I checked with Grandma about her home insurance and what she changed to get her rate back down, and then called the insurance agent. STILL TO DO: Go to his office between 130pm and 2pm and sign the updated policy.
Sorted through some old paperwork, put a bunch in recycling box, and have a small stack to shred. STILL TO DO: More sorting and/or shredding, though this is not critical.
STILL TO DO: Some housecleaning, as we have a birthday party/wiffle ball "tournament" tomorrow afternoon and evening, and will have lots of boys over here. Whatever cleaning I can do today, won't need to be done tomorrow morning (when I'm also getting a haircut).
STILL TO DO: Dub the family video from the camcorder over to DVD, and make sure camera is charged for tonight/tomorrow. AND, set DVD recorder for Friday Night Lights -- it's gonna be so great!!!

Maybe if I do this:
Clean first bathroom. Have lunch. Feed lunch to boys. Get myself ready to go out. Call Grandma about boys coming over. Bring boys with me to insurance agent's office (between 130pm and 2pm -- about two hours from now, give or take a few minutes), and sign paperwork. Then bring boys to Grandma's house, and come back home alone to finish as many more tasks from my list as I can.

OK ... on my mark, get set, GET GOING!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Another reason to love Friday Night Lights

Because season four of Friday Night Lights was broadcast on DirecTV before they began showing it on NBC, I'd already seen occasional comments in Entertainment Weekly last winter praising it: yes, some beloved characters are gone or only appear in a few episodes, but you'll soon love these new characters, too. I clearly remember a blurb in the TV Watch section about some powerful work by Zach Gilford, whose character, Matt Saracen, lost his father in the war in Iraq. When I finally saw the episode a few weeks ago, called simply "The Son," I saw for myself why people were buzzing that Gilford should get an Emmy nomination.

A couple weeks ago, the 2010 Primetime Emmy nominations were announced, and unfortunately, Zach Gilford was not nominated for Guest Actor for his performance in "The Son." However, as I found in this post over at Give Me My Remote, that episode did earn a nomination in the category "Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series." It was written by my old college and Crucible acquaintance, Rolin Jones. According to IMDB, he was nominated last year for both an Emmy award and a Writers Guild of America award for his work on the show Weeds, as both producer and writer, but it appears this is his first solo Emmy nomination. (He's been credited as a supervising producer on Friday Night Lights all season. Imagine my surprise when I saw THAT in the opening credits of the season premiere -- but I managed not to fall off the treadmill.) I have no idea what his chances are, or even which other shows are nominated in that category, but how cool would it be if he wins?!?!?

No, I've never met Kyle Chandler or Connie Britton, but I'm over the moon about their acting nominations as well, because they make me believe that I know them, when they're playing Coach Eric and Tami Taylor. They anchor this show, week in and week out, and they've made the Taylors so very real, with human faults, but a greater amount of human beauty and goodness.

Click here for a recap of "The Son" on from last winter, and here for a great piece on GMMR after the episode's NBC airing last month.

Watch NBC's 2-minute replay of "The Son":

And after the scene of Matt and the guys talking on the football field, Matt goes to the Taylors' house for dinner (very late), and his emotions take over:

And if the amazing acting and writing aren't enough to convince you to watch, then ladies, there's always Taylor Kitsch as Tim Riggins. ;-) There's nothing better than Friday Night.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

FreeVerse: The Walk -- a poem for Rolin

(FreeVerse is hosted by Cara at Ooh...Books! Unfortunately she's been on a blogging hiatus, but I wanted to put this one up anyway.)

Back in 2006, there were three plays nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. One of them was The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow by a man named Rolin Jones. I was pretty freaked out by this, because I knew Rolin Jones. Not well, of course -- we were really just acquaintances. I don't know if he'd remember me, even...but maybe, maybe he would.

I was attending Smith College, and needed to make up a credit. I think it was the fall semester of 1993. (I transferred to Smith, in Northampton, Mass., from Community College of Rhode Island. I was there for five semesters, fall 1992 through fall 1994, and officially graduated in May 1995.) I'd helped out backstage on a high school play once and loved it, so I signed up to work on a play at Smith to get my one credit. It was The Crucible by Arthur Miller, and it was amazing.

Rolin wasn't the lead; I think he played Judge Hathorne, maybe. He wore glasses, and he just looked so smart, and of course drama folk are really creative -- and he wasn't turn-your-head-to-look-again gorgeous or anything, but he was certainly nice-looking. He caught my attention early on, maybe it was even the first day I was in the theater, when I overheard him talking to someone about irony in Edith Wharton. Yup, I had my eye on him.

At the end of the run, after the cast party, I ended up hanging around with a guy named Tom (I think), upstairs in the house he rented in downtown NoHo. Rolin was downstairs with the girl who played Tituba in the play. If there were any possible way I could have switched places with her, no question, I would have done it. But then in the spring, the poet John Ashbery was doing a reading at Smith, and I was thrilled to see Rolin in the audience. I went up to him, he seemed happy to see me, I grasped his hand, and we made plans to meet the next day at the Japanese Tea Hut, near Paradise Pond.

This is what happened after we met.

       The Walk
                              (for Rolin)

  It's April. Winter
  grips the woods.

  The forest path cries
  under ice.

  We stroll near
  a stream, feet slipping

  in old snow. I hear
  the chilly day

  in our breath,
  and an echo of highway

  by another water body
  one hundred miles away.

  I forget the year I'm in,
  think of Providence, a park

  on a dock, filthy water
  slapping stones

  along the land's edge,
  a power plant across the lake.

  His voice stops me; we pause
  where the walk bends.

  He sings a birdcall, listens
  to cooing replies. A motor

  squawks far off, and he tells
  me the world is ending.

  I kick a broken branch
  off the footpath, but he

  smiles, moves it back,
  teases, then leaves me.

  The water sways my head,
  clouds darken the afternoon,

  my hands pray for
  something warmer than rivers.

  A bird repeats my scream.
  Day waits. I'm under.

I don't know if I'd remember Rolin Jones as well if I hadn't written the poem, but I did, and so I do. I'm impressed by what he's accomplished so far, and excited to see what else he'll do. I'm proud to say "I knew him when..." He didn't win the Pulitzer; they decided not to award one that year, which just seems wrong to me. But now, Rolin's just been nominated for an EMMY award. Hopefully that story will be my next post. ;-)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Short notes on reading, mid-July

I finally just finished my last LibraryThing Early Reviewer book, a short biography of E. M. Forster. It was quite good, and with a block of free time and in the right frame of mind, I could easily have finished it in only one or two days. Instead, it took eleven days. I'm sure it isn't the fault of the book, but all a reflection on me.

I feel not quite ready to write my review, even though I expect it'll be a short one. I procrastinated about starting the book, took more time to read it than I should have -- I think I must wait a day or two before writing the review, keep the pattern consistent! But also, I'm thinking ahead to what's next. I'd like to start reading The Passage, but starting right in tonight isn't a good idea; I need to get ready for bed soon, back to work tomorrow. Perhaps I'll have to grab a book of poetry, and just read a few pages before turning in.

There's one other book I purchased recently that I might have to start on fairly soon. I bought a few books at the library's booktique this past week, and when I entered them into my LibraryThing catalog, that activity was cross-posted to Facebook. A couple of my college friends both commented on that post, specifically about The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, which they'd both read. A couple of days later, I picked up the book and read the synopsis and review blurbs while I ate breakfast. Honestly, I'd bought it based upon the fact that it had been widely praised, mentioned on a Books on the Nightstand podcast, I had the sense it was "literary fiction" of the type I'd probably enjoy ... and because it was in great condition and had a bargain price. I really didn't know what the story was about (she said sheepishly). Once I looked at the book flap and back cover, I wanted to start reading it ASAP. But I had the Forster bio on the front burner, and also wondered whether Hedgehog would be too "literary," too complex for the current state of my scattered mind. Oh, but it does sound wonderful!

One more book in my TBR mountain that was recently recommended to me by a friend, is a short novel called The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. In addition to its length, one other note in its favor is that it would count for my Read Your Own Books (RYOB) Challenge, whereas the other two technically wouldn't, as they're recent purchases. I also need to decide on my next audiobook; I've been listening to podcasts in recent days rather than starting another audio. But soon, soon, I will.

Today was not great, of course, but I'd recovered enough from last evening to finish the Forster book, and had only a few teary moments at times during the day -- no explosions of sobbing, no crazy wishes to escape. I did escape, in a way, to the library, for about an hour, only because a book Kyle had requested was ready for pick-up. I browsed some of the poetry, and then spent more time in the booktique, but resisted the urge to check out or purchase anything, except the book for Kyle.

It was so good to spend some time thinking of Forster today, and his beautiful fictions. Thank God for those writers who speak to me across time, some from beyond death, who make me feel, think, and question, who bring me insight, excitement, and knowledge. Thank God for those writers and their books, that comfort me, almost always comfort me.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What the darkness is like

After an evening of dark thoughts and strong sobbing, some questions move through the front of my mind.

I definitely have too many books. If I got rid of bunches of books, would I feel liberated in some way? Could it help me to then lose bunches of weight, maybe? -- that sense of liberation, however limited it might be?

Am I trapped within the fences of my everyday life, as I so often feel I am? Or am I trapping myself, allowing the endless tangled skeins in my brain to overwhelm whatever clarity and determination might still exist in there?

Can I write my way out of the confusion, if not out of the depression? Even if the sentences I can pull out aren't any good, the act of writing is good in itself, and therapeutic, always. The writing can suck, yet still be "valuable," in that it helps me just to try to express what the darkness is like.

Why do I still have these moods when, for the most part, my anti-depressants seem to keep the worst feelings at bay? I don't want to think about changing medicines. Is there something else I can do to ease some of the pain, to stop myself from breaking, or being broken?

I realize living with a depressed person is not a walk in the park ... or maybe it's that walk through the park after your car died and there's a storm pouring down on you, and a rain-wrapped tornado not too far away. How can a relationship withstand that kind of stress, on-again and off-again, month after month, years upon years?

I'm tired now, and finally might try to go to sleep. I hope to wake feeling better (or even less bad would do), well enough to get some decent reading done tomorrow. To hell with everything else, if I can just steady my mind for a while and read.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Happy Anniversary to Scout, Atticus, Harper ... and Chris & Harry

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It is one of very few books that I would recommend to anyone, if they haven't read it yet. It's the only book that I recommend to people who don't read very often. During my husband's months of unemployment, I finally got so upset about his not having read it, that he listened to the audiobook. (Sissy Spacek's narration is, in my opinion, as close to perfect as it possibly could be. I love when she reads, as Scout, "'Ain't nobody gonna do Jem that way!'" I've listened to it twice.) There were events held all around the U.S. today, but there are a handful more coming up in the days and weeks ahead. To see the schedule, and find out more about Harper Lee and her truly beautiful book, visit the 50 anniversary website, by HarperCollins Publishers.

In other years, for me, July 11 has marked another anniversary: my parents' wedding. They were married in 1970, forty years ago today. I had a thought this weekend that might sound bizarre, but I found it comforting: that this year, Ma and Da are together for their anniversary for the first time since 2004. He died in May 2005, and she in October 2009. I imagine they are together in heaven today, perhaps dancing to an Elvis Presley song -- a ballad, as my mom was never one to "cut up a rug" to fast songs. (My dad had no shame and would dance to fast songs, to the horror and embarrassment of all the rest of us.) So Happy Anniversary thoughts for Christine and Harry, two damaged people who found one another, brought me into the world, and raised me to be strong enough to leave them.