(BELATED) MONDAY MIX TAPE – 11/21/17

A few years ago, I attended a conference presentation during which audience members were asked to construct a metaphor to represent our experiences as students.  No one had ever asked me to do this, so I was intrigued, but pretty stumped.  Then I remembered my old boom box, with its radio and dual cassette deck–I always kept a blank tape handy, ready to press “record” whenever something caught my ear.  I realized that I did the same in the classroom, gathering bits and pieces from various sources, often without an idea of how–or even if!–those pieces would fit together. That was the joy of making and sharing mix tapes; when crafted thoughtfully, they were greater than the sum of their parts.  

In that same spirit, I share a weekly “mix” of articles, recipes, book recommendations, and ideas in the hopes that something I share might fit into your own personal, ever-evolving collage. 

Have something you think I might be interested in?  I’d love to hear about it.  Share it here.

 

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-I have long been a fan of the On Being podcast, and the newest episode with Ta-Nehisi Coates is a must-listen.  Really, I could quote the whole thing, but here’s one that is especially resonant for me as we approach Thanksgiving, a holiday whose history is perpetually white-washed & misrepresented:

“I don’t know how you do this, but can you get to a place where citizens are encouraged to see themselves critically, encouraged to see their history critically? I don’t know, but that strikes me as what’s necessary.”

 

-Speaking of podcasts and of Thanksgiving, my mom and I were lucky enough to be asked to contribute to this week’s episode of The Mash-Up Americans podcast.  We talked about the origin of our family’s traditions and why I’m so iconoclastic about Thanksgiving food; the podcast also features food writer Francis Lam on his family’s distinctly Chinese Thanksgivings.  Listen here!

 

-If you’re a music person and/or a Southerner, you’ll enjoy this piece penned by Patterson Hood of the band Drive-By Truckers, “Into the Perilous Night.”  In the wake of the Ferguson protests, Hood, who is white, wrote a song called “What It Means,” which alludes to the shooting of Michael Brown and draws on Hood’s personal memory of another, lesser-known shooting, that of Edward Wright, who struggled with mental illness and lived, with his mother, across the street from Hood in Athens, Georgia.

Hood’s piece is honest and self-aware, and a damn fine read.  Sorry, but the ending is too good not to spoil it for you:

“I have never believed a song could change the world. But perhaps a song can provide an outlet for emotion, a tonic for the troops. Maybe a song can be a platform to launch our dreams from, a source of a little light to warm up our darkest nights. One more reason to raise our fists into the air and quote Patti Smith: ‘Love each other, motherfuckers!'”

 

-I posted some Thanksgiving recipes last week, but today I have one that’s actually perfect pre-or post-Thanksgiving, especially if you a) have extra fresh cranberries on hand and you don’t know what you do with them and b) you have extra people in your house.  Might I recommend these cranberry-orange breakfast buns from Smitten Kitchen?  They rise overnight, so you don’t have to wake up early to make them, and I guarantee they’ll make your houseguests happy.

MONDAY MIXTAPE – 11/13/17

A few years ago, I attended a conference presentation during which audience members were asked to construct a metaphor to represent our experiences as students.  No one had ever asked me to do this, so I was intrigued, but pretty stumped.  Then I remembered my old boom box, with its radio and dual cassette deck–I always kept a blank tape handy, ready to press “record” whenever something caught my ear.  I realized that I did the same in the classroom, gathering bits and pieces from various sources, often without an idea of how–or even if!–those pieces would fit together. That was the joy of making and sharing mix tapes; when crafted thoughtfully, they were greater than the sum of their parts.  

In that same spirit, I share a weekly “mix” of articles, recipes, book recommendations, and ideas in the hopes that something I share might fit into your own personal, ever-evolving collage. 

Have something you think I might be interested in?  I’d love to hear about it.  Share it here.

 

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-My friend Amy wrote this beautiful piece, addressed to her daughter, about becoming one’s own hero.  It’s a testament to the strength and resilience of women of all ages, and it might just make you tear up at the end.

 

I’ve become captivated by the work of Chani Nicholas, astrologer and total bad-ass.  This is not the astrology of your youth, to be found in the same newspaper section of the comics; this woman is the real deal.  I don’t understand how it works, but I don’t have to—her horoscopes have become, for me, true tools for which I am grateful.

 

-The USPS released stamps featuring artwork from Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day, and this quote in the LA Times about the book’s impact when originally published is why I went out to buy multiple packs immediately:

            “There was a teacher [who] wrote in to Ezra, saying, ‘The kids in my class, for the first time, are using brown crayons to draw themselves,’” she said. “These are African American children. Before this, they drew themselves with pink crayons. But now, they can see themselves.”

 

-It’s almost Thanksgiving and I cannot wait to eat ALL OF THE THINGS.  If you’re thinking about recipes, here are a couple of family’s favorites: stuffed mushrooms, homemade cranberry sauce, stir-fried sweet potatoes with sage, bourbon pecan pie.

MONDAY MIXTAPE – 11/6/17

A few years ago, I attended a conference presentation during which audience members were asked to construct a metaphor to represent our experiences as students.  No one had ever asked me to do this, so I was intrigued, but pretty stumped.  Then I remembered my old boom box, with its radio and dual cassette deck–I always kept a blank tape handy, ready to press “record” whenever something caught my ear.  I realized that I did the same in the classroom, gathering bits and pieces from various sources, often without an idea of how–or even if!–those pieces would fit together. That was the joy of making and sharing mix tapes; when crafted thoughtfully, they were greater than the sum of their parts.  

In that same spirit, I share a weekly “mix” of articles, recipes, book recommendations, and ideas in the hopes that something I share might fit into your own personal, ever-evolving collage. 

Have something you think I might be interested in?  I’d love to hear about it.  Share it here.

I feel that it’s incumbent upon me to comment on yesterday’s horrific shooting, but I am honestly at a loss for what to say that hasn’t already been said before, and to no avail.  I’ll be thrilled if my cynicism turns out to be unwarranted, but I’ve read enough dystopian fiction to feel like I know bleak prospects when I see them.   Still, I believe that there is power in calling things like you see them–This is not acceptable, I do not accept this–especially when it comes to fighting against the creeping normalization of things that not-so-long-ago seemed impossible to even fathom.

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-Poet Donald Hall, who was married to the late poet Jane Kenyon, writes with wonderful clarity about the points of connection between their lives and their work, the surprise of her death when they had long assumed their age different meant she would lose him first, the way that he lost and then found his poetic voice when he found, then lost, her.  A longer read, but worth setting aside the time for.

“In the months and years after her death, Jane’s voice and mine rose as one, spiralling together the images and diphthongs of the dead who were once the living, our necropoetics of grief and love in the singular absence of flesh.”

Brains On! is a podcast for kids about science, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.  With topics ranging from how volcanoes erupt to why humans cry, each episode is funny, informative, and engaging—clearly crafted with kids in mind (and a different kid co-host for each episode), but enjoyable for adults to listen to as well.  it’s a wonderful way to pass the time in the car, and I promise you’ll learn stuff!

This Buzzfeed article about a Sikh Motorcycle Club (yep, you read that right) in New Jersey is a wonderful examination of what it can look like to proudly claim one’s identity inside the tension of being both an individual and a member of a faith tradition, and the pictures are a delight.

“On the road, there are no group prayers, no scriptures to follow. But there is a clear, calm, quiet focus. There is the wind and a line of unyielding gray. There is this brotherhood. It is the ordinary things that we make holy.”

-In Battle Pancake v. Waffle, my kid is firmly on Team Waffle; I often spend Saturday mornings making a giant batch, then freezing the leftovers for easy weekday morning meals.  These have become our family gold-standard and they’re totally worth the effort.  I’ve even made gluten-free versions, and they always turn out beautifully.  Do you need some waffles in your week?  You might.

-Last but not least, a reminder that I am offering a fifteen-day journal challenge class!  The course is called Be Here Now: Gratitude, Poetry, & Presence and will run from November 10-24th.  Each day, I’ll send an email message with a selection of poetry, plus a journal prompt for your consideration.  The cost is $15 and registration is open through Thursday at midnight.  Learn more and sign up here!

BE HERE NOW

For the past four years, I’ve had the deep joy of teaching Creative Writing to high school seniors; during that time, I’ve developed a poetry unit for the class that includes a journaling component.  Because poetry often seems mysterious & inaccessible, I approach the genre by having students read and consider poems in a safe, low-stakes way– via their personal journals.

Along the way, students apply the techniques of poets–keen observation, mental stillness, the search for beauty in the ordinary and every day.  The poetry/journal challenge has quickly become one of my students’ favorite parts of the class.  Over the years, friends and acquaintances have asked to “come along for the ride,” so to speak, submitting their emails to be included on my journal challenge distribution list.  I have loved hearing about their experiences with the prompts and poems, and am gratified to know that it had sparked many people’s memories and sense of creative play.

This year, because of the way Hurricane Harvey has impacted our school schedule, I’m not teaching my poetry unit until second semester.  Still, I wanted to offer a way for folks outside of my classroom to enjoy and appreciate poetry and personal writing this fall.  Hence, I am offering my first (hopefully of many!) journal challenge course, specifically tailored for folks outside my classroom.  It’s called Be Here Now: Gratitude, Poetry, & Presence, and it will run from November 10-24, 2017.  The cost is $15.00- you can learn more about the course and purchase it here.

I am really excited about developing and offering this course–it is designed specifically for people who want to fit some thoughtfulness and creativity into their busy days.  I hope you’ll join me!

MONDAY MIXTAPE – 10/30/17

A few years ago, I attended a conference presentation during which audience members were asked to construct a metaphor to represent our experiences as students.  No one had ever asked me to do this, so I was intrigued, but pretty stumped.  Then I remembered my old boom box, with its radio and dual cassette deck–I always kept a blank tape handy, ready to press “record” whenever something caught my ear.  I realized that I did the same in the classroom, gathering bits and pieces from various sources, often without an idea of how–or even if!–those pieces would fit together. That was the joy of making and sharing mix tapes; when crafted thoughtfully, they were greater than the sum of their parts.  

In that same spirit, I plan to share a weekly “mix” of articles, recipes, book recommendations, and ideas in the hopes that something I share might fit into your own personal, ever-evolving collage. 

Found something you think I might be interested in?  Submit your recommendations here.

Baseball & indictments notwithstanding, here are a few things that have been bouncing around in my brain of late:

-Artist Carrie Mae Weems speaks powerfully about Nazis, white supremacists, & grace in this interview:

“I think that grace is much bigger than — it’s not turning the other cheek. It’s really understanding that someone has lost their humanity and you’re trying to offer it back.”

-My friend & fellow University of Arizona MFA alum Aisha Sabatini Sloan is a brilliant writer with a new book out.  You should buy it!  Here’s what Maggie Nelson (yes, Maggie. Freaking. Nelson) has to say about Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit:

“Sloan roves, guided by a deliberate, intelligent, associative logic which feels somehow both loose and exact, at times exacting. The implicit and explicit argument of these essays is that there’s no way out but through—and maybe even no way out. So here we are, so lucky to have Sloan as our patient, wry, questing companion and guide.”

This short story, published in the New Yorker a few weeks back, is about a father trying to connect with his twelve-year-old daughter and it is beautiful.  (Big thanks to Noa for recommending it.)

-Last but not least, I made shepherd’s pie on Saturday night for dinner using this Alton Brown recipe and the whole thing was gone by lunch on Sunday.  Jill declared it to be one of her Top Five Favorite Things That I Make, and Shiv ate multiple servings – I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up making it again this coming weekend.  Give the people what they want!