Archive for March, 2007

Ann Lamott Graces Seattle

Friday night, author Ann Lamott was in town talking about her newest collection of essays, Grace Eventually (Thoughts on Faith). Her presentation was a part of the Seattle Spiritual Synthesis Series, put on by Elliott Bay Books and host Seattle First Baptist Church.

My lovely, wise sister Cheri and irrepressible blog queen Holy met me there, and we perched on the edge of our seats, eager to suck in all Ann might have to say. The venue – a beautiful, ancient, huge downtown church – was full to overflowing, including a good number of men. (Ann writes, among other things, about motherhood, menopause and body image, so the significant male fan base surprised me.)

Ann did not disappoint! Although she was speaking to perhaps 800 people, her demeanor was that of a wise, funny friend across the kitchen table, over coffee and illicit cookies. Her verbal voice was just like her written one – which speaks to her integrity – warm, humorous, rambling, insightful and loving.

Do I agree with everything Ann writes? No. She’s a very unconventional Christian and her views lean so far left she could fall over in a windstorm. It doesn’t stop me from enjoying her writing and learning from her faith.

She’s not shy about tackling highly controversial topics in surprising ways. One of the pieces she read during her talk was her short, loving, but surprisingly un-melodramatic account of a friend’s assisted suicide. She wove the fear, love, faith and pain she and the family of the dying man felt into the story, but completely sidestepped theology, politics and ethics. It made me cry when I read it because it was such a simple and honest story.

She dispensed advice on writing. “Whether or not the inspiration strikes, just do it. Be disciplined about it. Just like a diet, don’t start a first draft on a Thursday afternoon.” She told stories from her life, home and travels, and read pieces from her book. She closed with questions and answers, and was very willing to respond patiently to anything.

She signed books afterward, but none of us stuck around in that long queue. Having a book signed doesn’t mean much to me… making the 9pm ferry meant more.

I’m glad we went. Ann talked about the mid-70s ethic of working for the common good – it’s not much mentioned any more, and it’s one of the reasons she writes. I’m inspired to keep stringing words together as well for many of the same reasons.

Posted on Saturday, March 31st, 2007 by Jeri
Under: inspiration, reading, seattle, writing | 1 Comment »

Vacation Time?

Why is it that when I take vacation time at home, with the intention of using it as creative time, it completely disappears under a honey-do list avalanche?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that the love of my life is a slavedriver. He’s not, in fact, the majority of the items end up coming from me, not him.

I end up with a full slate of high priority or even urgent errands, cleaning, home projects, etc that take up as much or even more time than my day of work would have.

Why can’t I ever just set aside the creative time and pretend like I’m just not here? How would I ever make a life as a pure creative artist or writer work, with this pattern? Maybe it’s because creative work requires single focus, while I live most of my life in multitasking mode.

More likely, it’s just a pretty universal question of boundaries.

I need to fix it, though. This is the third time I’ve let vacation-at-home time get consumed.

Posted on Thursday, March 29th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: creativity | Comments Off

Soundtrack Shuffle

If your life were a film, what would the soundtrack be?

Holy tagged me with a blog meme. Like her, I’m not a bandwagon kind of gal, I’d much rather wax philosophical, technical, or just plain old rant… but this one looked like fun. Here’s how the soundtrack gig works:

1. Open your library. (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle and press play.
3. For every section, type the song that’s playing.
4. When you go to a new section, press the next button.
5. Don’t lie and try to pretend you’re cool.
6. When you’re finished, tag some other people to do it!

I tag… Michelle, Steph, and Brandy! And anyone else who’d like to play. Set your digital music players on stun.

And without further ado, here’s the shuffled soundtrack of my life.

Opening Credits

Starship, Set the Night to Music. It is so 80s, and so cheesy, wonderfully melodramatic. A major flashback song for me!

Waking Up

Sarah McLachlan, Fumbling Toward Ecstasy. Hmm, never thought of waking up as an ecstatic experience! “All the fear has left me now, I’m not frightened anymore… I won’t fear love.”

First Day at School

David Gray, Babylon. “Open up my heart to all that jealousy, that bitterness, that ridicule.” That about sums up my school experience!

Falling in Love

Sugarland, Enjoy the Ride. That’s always been my philosophy about love – it’s not a destination nor a formula romance. This one works.

Fight Song

James Taylor, Baby Buffalo. This song has nothing to do with fighting, but I enjoy the mood and, always, Taylor’s acoustic guitar.

Breaking Up

Peter Paul and Mary, Puff the Magic Dragon. This is a nontraditional breakup song about growing up and growing apart. I never did think of it as a drug anthem, but enjoyed it at face value.

Prom

Norah Jones, I’ve Got to See You Again. This is, ironically, the story of a stripper and a lap dance. I was not a big prom queen type.

Making Babies

U2, Love Rescue Me. In many ways, love did rescue me. I had to completely change my life. I could no longer be a completely self-centered spoiled brat, and instead had to learn to occasionally put others first.

Mental Breakdown

Sting, Ghost Story. This is a great mental breakdown song! “What could I do but run and run and run? Afraid to love, afraid to fail, a mast without a sail.” I’ve been there, usually at 3 am with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.

Driving

Andres Segovia, Partita for Solo Violin #3 in E Major. While I love Andres Segovia’s classical guitar work and can listen to it for hours, it’s not my choice for driving. I need something more energetic for the road, with energy and pep – I usually choose arena rock.

Flashback

Nickel Creek, Doubting Thomas. Nickel Creek can’t qualify as flashback music on any level, unless this song actually described a flashback – and it doesn’t. Can they even drink legally yet? Have they reached puberty? But their lyrics are quite poetic and their musicianship stellar.

Getting Back Together

Emmylou Harris, Strong Hand (For June). Stumbling Into Grace is a spectacular album. Get it and immerse yourself in it. “And l will see them. Someday they’ll walk again together. l believe, l believe.” Rereading the lyrics to this song, and the reunion it describes, made me cry.

Wedding

Whitesnake, Here I Go Again. Too funny! Not exactly marriage-minded music. In this vein, I could play J. Geils Band’s Love Stinks at the reception too.

Birth of Child

Alan Jackson, Nobody Said it Would Be Easy. No, nobody said childbirth would be easy, nor parenting, but I never knew it would be so gut-wrenchingly, soul-suckingly, mind-shatteringly tough either!

Final Battle

Fleetwood Mac, Silver Springs. “I follow you down ’till the sound of my voice will haunt you.” I just need shining armor and a big ol’ enchanted sword, and it works!

Death Scene

Allison Krauss, Forget About It. “Forget about it, when forever’s over, I won’t remember how much I loved you anymore.” Ouch!

Funeral Song

Peter Gabriel, In Your Eyes. Definitely one of the most beautiful songs ever, but not a funeral song. It celebrates the life and soul in a lover’s eyes. We played James Taylor’s Fire and Rain at my dad’s funeral. It was very perfect, and to this day it reduces me to tears whenever I hear it.

End Credits

Nanci Griffith, This Heart. “This heart knows when love comes. And when it goes.” Enough said.

Posted on Thursday, March 29th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: blog meme, music | 2 Comments »

Travelogue – Top Fifty

Yesterday’s blog on international cities made me think… I really want to spend time and energy on travel and seriously see the world.

I have since been brainstorming a list… it rapidly turned into a top 50. It’d be interesting to group this into trips and do some pricing — although I love arranging travel for myself and my family.

Here they are – Jeri’s top 50 places to see, do and be in the next 50 years. Pardon the lack of hyperlinks to place info, that would take an incredible amount of time!

Alaska – cruise the inside passage
Alaska – view midnight sun above Arctic circle
Arizona – river raft the Grand Canyon
Australia – scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef
Burma – retrace my family’s steps
Burma – The Shwedagon Pagoda
Cambodia – Angkor Wat temple ruins
Canada – Halifax and the Bay of Fundy
Chile – The Moai Statues on Easter Island
China – the Great Wall
China – Tienanmen Square
Denmark – Little Mermaid
Egypt – the pyramids and the Sphinx
England – walk the Yorkshire moors
England – Tate Museum and National Gallery, London
England – Tower of London and Tower Bridge
England, France – the Channel Tunnel
Europe – cruise the Rhine river
France – the Louvre in Paris
Georgia, Maine – walk the Appalachian trail
Germany – the Berlin Wall
Greece – the Parthenon in Athens
Hawaii – Kilauea volcano lava flow
Hawaii – swim the Ironman course
India – the Taj Mahal
Iran – the Throne Hall of Persepolis
Ireland – tour the castles
Israel – wailing wall and the hill of Golgotha
Italy – culinary tour of Tuscany
Italy – ruins at Pompeii
Italy – cruise the canals of Venice
Italy – the Colosseum in Rome
Jordan – Petra, the rock-carved city
Nepal – Mount Everest
New York – see a show on Broadway
New York – Statue of Liberty
New York – the Empire State Building
New York – the Museum of Modern Art
New Zealand – hiking, biking, kayaking
Norway – cruise the fjords
Panama – traverse the Panama Canal by boat
Peru – the Inca city of Machu Picchu
Russia – Red Square in Moscow
San Francisco – Swim Around the Rock
Scotland – Loch Ness and Urquhardt castle
South Dakota – Mount Rushmore Nat’l Memorial
Spain – La Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Barcelona
Switzerland – hike the Alps
Tahiti – charter a sailboat
Washington DC during cherry blossom season
Wyoming – Old Faithful/Yellowstone Nat’l Park
Yugoslavia – sunbathe on the Dalmatian coast
Zambia – Victoria Falls


Posted on Tuesday, March 27th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: travel | 2 Comments »

Virtual Travelogue

You Belong in London

You belong in London, but you belong in many cities… Hong Kong, San Francisco, Sidney. You fit in almost anywhere.
And London is diverse and international enough to satisfy many of your tastes. From curry to Shakespeare, London (almost) has it all!

Yup, the quiz got it right. Thanks to , Holy, who is Paris, for the tip!

My London result is a little disappointing. London is the the vanilla ice cream of international travel.

Don’t misunderstand; I’ve been there a few times and enjoyed it tremendously. It is on its surface a city of established history, culture, architecture and politics. It’s a tad set in its ways, not known for adventure, cuisine, or modern art.

If you look a little more closely, though, it’s a city of contrasts.

  • There are modern glass cube buildings wedged in patchwork among the ancient stone edifices throughout the city, courtesy of the German air raids of World War II.
  • Under the shadow of Lord Nelson, in Trafalgar square, you’ll find the usual assortment of urban goth-punks – pierced, tattooed, spiked, shaved and wearing self-conscious black.
  • On one street, you see the hyper-rich shopping at Selfridges. A few tube stops away, the bitterly poor and homeless line up for soup.
  • In the heart of London, you can get lost in the sprawling National Gallery, home to some of the most notable art and art history in Europe. Just a few blocks away, Tate Modern contains cutting edge experimental work, e.g. a large canvas covered with monochrome drippy taupe semigloss paint.

But yes, I’d have to agree, I’m London. A bit stodgy and stiff upper lip, focusing on duty, history, responsibility and sensible shoes.

And yet, there are days when I wish I could be Amsterdam! Why can’t I grow $10,000 tulips, cruise the canals in the springtime, drink schnapps, and be known for recreation, with experimental music, counterculture thought, legalized drugs and prostitution? (OK, maybe project management, with my PMP designation, is legalized prostitution.)

The closest I get to being an Amsterdam gal is when I…

Well, I sat here for ten minutes, and outside of great lingerie, I couldn’t think of anything. Sad! I probably need to figure out a way to add a bit of fun and adventure to my life.

Amsterdam. With maybe a dash of Marrakesh for good measure.

Posted on Monday, March 26th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: blog meme, travel | Comments Off