Looking

The Future you hold out to me:

Pantyhose, desks and insincerity,

It’s not who, what, how I want to be.

Not looking to leverage my connection.

Refusing to present a case for another profit margin,

You think I’m drif-ting

but I’m Looking

for the Poetry,

in Life.

A 99 Cup Review

When I find a good thing, I like to to share it.

Maria Popova, through her website, BrainPickings.com, has achieved exactly the result most of us set out for in our own writing work. The difference is, most of us don’t get there.

At first blush, it appears to be little more than an extended blog, but there is so much more to appreciate about Brain Pickings. Few sites offer so much value in such a simple package.

Pleasingly compact in it’s design, it offers useful, thoughtful information, thought provoking imagery, and an academic connection for those of us feeling slightly alienated from our alma maters. It is like being able to walk into the classroom of a favourite professor and soak it all in, all the exposure to interesting sources, challenging perceptions and contrasting ideas.

To me, that’s exciting.

I often wonder where this Maria-person finds the time, what staff she might have at her disposal – graphic designer, web master, researcher, copyright lawyer, accountant, marketing department? It would seem to me, in order to achieve this quality, one would need the full complement of staff.

Lately, I’ve been seeing these Facebook advertisements for so and so’s Masterclass wherein best selling authors and other types of experts give online instruction on their given field. Margaret Atwood, Judy Bloom and Dan Brown caught my eye but if Maria Popova offered a Master Class, sign me up.

With over ten years in the biz, there is a lot of content to explore. A person could read only Brain Pickings for days and never get to the end of the literary and historical references. It elevates the online experience to something more.

As it should be.

From my humble little, largely ignored blog, I give BrainPickings.com 99 cups out of 100.

Glass of Life

Life is like a glass of water, you get out what you put in,

But…

From day one,

Some glasses are cracked or gritty,

Grey.

Easier to empty than to fill.

Life offers extra challenges, an eternal trip up hill.

Still, someone notices the cracks, cupping hands around,

Teacher, lover or friend,

Cradling the good, the You they’ve found,

For those most fortunate it’s done right from the start.

… but sometimes not.

This glass of life is art,

in which Miss Chievous Luck still plays a part.

mistrust

 

He hurt me. She hurt someone I love. With intent.

So mistrust I them.

He mistrusts those smarter,

Their degrees and research, squiggly lies in his bitter little brain,

Diminishing with hammer fists, a name,

I would rather call the smarter sort a Friend.

Thank goodness we don’t all think the same.

 

Prickly and thin

Fighting all my demons whoever they may be,

They’re pointing out from in, the quills inside of me,

Wearing out my honour, in a way that you can see,

Several sneer of guilt, others cough, “You can’t!” One gave me a stiff neck, rumpled up my mat.

Broke up my priorities betwixt way more than two – tossed them on the carpet,

Farket! The stain – brown hue,

circling round and down the drain,

What a mess – me –  do you think that I should sue?

Flatten the mat. Move slow. You can. Do just one thing:

Breath – In.

Then,

Out.

In.

Out.

Breath.

Isn’t that better?

 

thecoffeeslopcafe

the waiter

In the morning I wait quietly for inspiration to dawn

pink and orange and yellow across my thought

coffee, a blank page

I’ll wait

a dog’s long stretch

the fridge stops making it’s quiet constant sound

husband wakes

and I guess that’s it for today.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll find sibilance and danger, friends with strangers, the worst taste ever, get fired, lose my mind, discover the secret to life, fall in love with an opium addiction, and die long and slow but today, the page is blank – save for all these words – I’ll feel soft lips on my forehead, worry about the kids, have a shower, work all day, comfort in supper, wallow in the news, soft lips again, sleep and wake early again, eager.

I’ll wait.

 

 

Rights and Wrongs

My respect for Haitians and Anderson Cooper just grew, however, I no longer blame the President for his behaviour. It’s clear to me now, he is incapable of sensitive, humane, considerate behaviour, such as that displayed by Cooper, Haitians and on some level, every single US President before now. Expecting more from him at this point, just doesn’t make sense.

This thought has been a while formulating in my mind, coagulating uncomfortably with this other thought: how can a whole people, who claim to value democratic/fairness, continue to look the other way as their leader – a man they supposedly elected, who represents them on a world stage – continues to dehumanize, degrade and otherwise dismiss basic human decency?

Why are there not massive, peaceful marches demanding his impeachment? I find it ironic that Americans who become, abject in the face of anyone questioning their amended rights – like free speech – somehow, remain speechless, actionless, careless to the point of not exercising that right to speech,  to demand better representation.

Those same people sit tolerantly by while some rich white dude pees on all of the values that supposedly make their country great. I no longer blame the President but his people should absolutely be ashamed, not for letting it happen but for allowing it to continue. 

 

This is not a food blog

 

‘Been finding I have a lot to say lately that shouldn’t be said on Facebook or Twitter, at least not in the form of long, rambling manifestos against injustice – that’s what blogs are for, right?

Sort of.

Seriously though, my social media buddies are not interested in anything deeper than the previously allotted 140-some-odd character joke or happy status about amazing lives and accomplishments, sprinkled pet and kid pictures. Like me, they certainly don’t want to be troubled by someone else’s drama.

For most of my contacts, except the university professors and Journalism buddies, the American political situation equates to someone else’s drama. It is no more relevant to their own lives than the food planning pics. Innumerable pics of carefully aligned blurry containers of bean dip and carrots.

Not being much of a cook, nor much of an eater, your bean dip is lost on me.

To my mind, the law, politics, a mid century modern couch, flat-bum jeans, round-abouts, annoying advertisements or my hard to clean food processor, all boil down to design problems.  To get my attention you need something that might somehow be improved by human innovation, collaboration, or understanding or …

…a great pot of coffee.

Please note: For those of you who saw coffee and thought, Food Blog! 🙂 ❤ ❤ ❤ It’s not a food blog –  it is a blog about problems and what we might be able to do about them.

Don’t cry over spilled coffee. Ask why it spilled. Take a picture of the mess.Write a blog about it…maybe even laugh about it.

So, let’s chat over coffee, mmmm-kay?

~J

 

A good start for Michelle Gable

The last few pages of Michelle Gables’ A Paris Apartment have led me, on this particular morning, to find an interesting collection of images on Matthew’s Island of Misfit Toys [https://mattsko.wordpress.com/]… I haven’t looked through “Matthew’s” whole site – that’s gonna take some time – but it is Rated “R” so I’m going to assume the images get a little more risque than the amazing posters for the Paris World’s Fair of 1900 for which I had originally searched and found on his blog.

As for the book… Hmmm.

The genre is important when considering whether or not A Paris Apartment is worth the read, because I want to be clear, we’re not reviewing a classic here – a lot more work would have to be done in order to move it into a genre as… self-sufficient as that. That said if I had to place Gables first novel in a particular genre, I’d have to say it’s chic-lit historical fiction.

A 19th century high-end prostitute with social status locks the door to her Paris apartment 70 years ago and somehow all of her treasures remain in tact until, in the 21st century, her inheritors decide to auction it all off.

I’ll quickly plow through what made me uncomfortable about the book there so I can end with the good stuff.

Introduction is a bit boring as if she didn’t know where to begin so she began in the most boring place. The only reason I read-on is that I had paid full price for the book and I had already been hooked by the plot concept.  Dialogue sometimes drags on in a pedantic, repetitive way that doesn’t always propel the plot forward. There’s a huge dump of information in the denouement, as if there was research she really wanted to use but didn’t know where to put it. Sometimes it feels a bit too much like a romance novel (not my favourite genre) where the character’s obsession with the men in her life often overrides her intellectual pursuits.

Ultimately, I would love to read a revised version of this in five to ten years, once Gable has a bit more experience and maturity under her belt. If I could ask Gable one question about the book, I would like her to explain how on earth her main character manages to afford multiple flights between New York and California on top of being a struggling student? How is her education being paid for?

What I loved about A Paris Apartment was enough, though.

Likeable characters with twenty first century problems and relate-able flaws.

The hook: It’s a fictionalized account of something that actually – incredibly, wonderfully – happened!

It’s a light read despite all of the interesting historical tidbits so the reader walks away feeling they know so much more about la belle epoque than they did before without feeling like they sat through a five hour snore-fest history lesson. That is to say, Gable makes it interesting for a pop culture audience, breathing life into the glamour of the era. She makes you want to learn more.

While I don’t feel like this book was actually finished before it went to the publishers, I still enjoyed it.  It’s as though we (the reader) got it on the second draft. Was there a time crunch?

As many of my teachers over the years have insisted: Please, keep writing, Gable! You’ve piqued my interest.

2 1/2 coffee cups out of 5.

~J