Library Card! and What I’m Reading Now

Guess what? I am now in possession of my very own library card! I haven’t had one since moving to Illinois [unless you count my college ID, but we’re talking reading for pleasure here, so it doesn’t count.] So technically, this is the first library card I’ve had since I was in high school.
I know, I know. You’re thinking, Bethany “bookish” girl didn’t have a library card? What’s up with that? But the truth is, I’ve had this really bad habit, like all book addicts do, of buying most of the books that I wanted to read. [Tell me I’m not the only one that does this!] And then I realized I was broke. I’m sick of borrowing books or just going through dry spells of not reading, so I am now the proud owner of a library card, and I checked out The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.
Ever read it? Seems like everyone is raving about it right now. I’m 50 pages in [since starting last night!] and I understand why!
So what are you reading? And do you have a library card or do you buy or borrow all of your books?

book·ish : Kansas City Library

This giant bookshelf serves as the facade for Kansas City Library’s parking garage. I’m guessing it’s probably the only parking garage that is itself a tourist destination. I’d certainly love to visit!
kansas-library (3)[2] kansas-library (2)[2]
[Images found here.]
book·ish/ˈbo͝okiSH/Adjective
 
1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.

Inspired By.

flowers from jane flanagan
It’s Friday. [And the peasants rejoiced!] I’m feeling a little wilted, unlike the photo above. This week has been out of sorts with an undecided, in-transition, what’s-going-on, how-do-we-do-this office move at work, a bee infestation in my apartment bedroom window that forced my husband and I to set up camp in the middle of our living room so as not to find ourselves exterminated, and a car that’s on it’s last life and my last nerve. To add to it, my mom is still in the hospital [since Tuesday, August 16] and doctors are still trying to figure out the best way to, well… make it possible for her to be healthy outside of it? It’s hard and painful to explain.
Needless to say, I’m tired. I find life exhausting at the moment. Might explain the dream I had Wednesday night and the lack of personal writing and posting around here recently. My head [and my heart] can’t decide if now is the best time to write [time? what time?] or if I am understandably excused from adding that to my to-do list [if not now, then when?].
My soul is surviving on small increments of rest, grace and joy, wherever I can find them. Tomorrow, a group of my favorite girls and I are going to enjoy a day in Southern Michigan tasting wine at local vineyards, snatching up local produce, and surveying what promises to another beautiful sunset like this one.
I know that this is another week of the last several where I’ve complained about “my lot” in life. I’m well aware that I am blessed, that I am healthy, that I am capable, and that many many many other people in the world are not for a variety of reasons. But on the other hand, this space is not an escape for me. It’s a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings and opinions and experiences freely like I can’t anywhere else. So if you’re feeling a little wilted or trampled, or you have been but are now feeling rejuvenated, feel free to share your thoughts. The company is welcome.
Until then, here are a few delightful posts from around the interwebs:
Mandy wrote an encouraging post for me this week about the importance of traveling and finding a job you’re passionate about. That alone is inspiring, but she emailed me today to tell me: she got the job she mentioned in the post writing for a travel magazine! Congrats, Mandy!
Nothing could ruffle her, and that’s why we loved her.
How do you relate? Paintings versus photographs versus blogs versus life.
I really love this blog. Decadent photos and beautiful words.
Eight secrets writers won’t tell you.
Image found here. The flowers are gorgeous, but of course, I’m loving the bookshelves behind it, too.
And finally, this girl is going to share her snark, wit and good grammar with us next week. I’m excited! She started a new series this week, Fat Tuesday, that I’m already addicted to.
What are your plans for the weekend? I hope it’s a good one, friends.

Last Night’s Dream : Zoo Animals and A Book That Can Tell Me Everything.

There are a lot of things I don’t remember about last night’s dream, but I do remember that I was living in a beautiful apartment in the city with some people I don’t know. I was walking down the street to my apartment, which was full of taxis and pedestrians. One of the men I lived with was walking behind me, as if we were headed home together. We saw a man whiz past us on a bike, and immediately heard a crash once he was behind us. A car had hit him, and I knew instinctively that it had killed him. Not wanting to see the gore of the accident, I ran away.
 
Next, as I was running into the safety of my apartment to shut the door behind me, I saw a tiger and a black panther, presumably zoo animals on the loose, run at one another and begin to attack each other in the street. I watched for a few moments, and then found myself in my apartment living room, where I could see through the window that there were two giant phoenixes flying through the sky, and a lion pacing on the balcony of my apartment. I was worried that the animals would attack us, but they never did. The apartment separated us from them, but the separation felt fragile, like it could be broken at any moment and the animals would break through the glass to get us.
 
Then, an old Hispanic woman, also living in my apartment, gave me money to buy books at a bookstore. I could choose anything I wanted, but I couldn’t think of any titles to books I wanted to read, so I looked around the store. A huge book, as long as my arms with thick, brightly covered pages, stood out to me. As I flipped through it I realized it was a reference book that held answers and explanations to all the things that I don’t understand in the world: slang terms, differing cultural traditions, why terminal illnesses have killed so many people in the last century. I bought the book with the money I had and took it home. I remember thinking as I pulled it out to read more later that I wish I had chosen something smaller and simpler. One by one the titles of all the other books I’ve been wanting to read came back to me and I wished I had bought them instead, fictional stories that have a beginning and an end and characters I can relate to, but I didn’t have the energy to return the book to the store.

Detour : St. Joseph, MI.

On our way home from a family wedding this weekend [yay Whitney and Jon!] my husband and I took a detour and stopped in St. Joseph, Michigan. We spent our  honeymoon there two years ago and wanted to revisit Silver Beach, which holds a lot of happy memories for us. Sunday was gorgeous : 78 degrees and sunny. The clouds rolled in as the sun was setting, giving us a spectacular lake view that we couldn’t help but capture with some snapshots. The first I took with my iPhone, the rest were taken by Matt with his Nikon D80.

matt in st joe's

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When I was young I didn’t appreciate the natural beauty of Michigan. Then again, most of what I new of the state was southwest Michigan, which really isn’t that spectacular away from the lake. Now though, I love that on our way home to Chicago we can stop and drink in a late summer evening, complete with Silver Beach Pizza and a GIANT waffle cone of Kilwin’s pistachio ice cream :

photo

Inspired By.

It’s the weekend friends, and I’m pretty darn happy about it since I feel like I haven’t really had one in weeks. I’m about to head out for dinner and a movie with one of my besties, and tomorrow I’m going to a 40′s in the 40′s Party complete with pearls, t-strap heels, fellas in fedoras and 40oz Mickey’s for all. Theme : Keep Calm and Carry On, which is exactly what I’m aiming for right now.
Here are some sweet links from around the web this week:
Inspired by Sam’s book arrangement plus these other clever shelves, I rearranged my own collection the other night, and I’ll be posting photos of it next week in my bookish series!
Another encouraging post for bloggers on common misconceptions and ways to deal with them. Note: the comments are as good as the post itself!
Margaret Atwood’s 10 Rules of Writing. My favorite is rule number 8 :

“You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a ­romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.”

After a post from Jess early in July, I joined her email intervention program and it has really helped scale back my stress during my down time. Now, she’s doing another one for August, and I highly recommend you join the ranks of those that are keeping the office at the office, and home at home.
I’m a firm believer in the Oxford Comma, which is why I absolutely loved this post.
A really interesting [and true to my life] post about Why Our Generation is Afraid to Commit.
Doubt and Devotion? Creativity and Life? It’s All About Balance.
It seems like everyone has their spinoffs of the poster above these days, but this rendition from my friend Kat is my favorite.
And finally, I found this post really interesting, and it has prompted me to ask: how can I serve you better? What would you like to see more of on She Writes and Rights? Guest posts from other writers? More or less of my personal experience? More or less of my poetry? Thoughts on the process of writing poetry? My bookish posts: do you find them interesting or fluffy? Your thoughts are welcome here.
P.S. Looking for a guest posts from fellow writers and creative for the upcoming weeks. I’d love to have you; email me at shewritesandwrites[at]gmail[dot]com.
So keep calm and have a good weekend, friends.

Poem: On Blossoms.

Picture 1-2
I’ve been posting a weekly poem for the last month or so, but one has yet to come to me this Tuesday. My poetry is spontaneous, born of a quiet moment or a thought that refuses to leave me alone.
Other poetry is like that for me, too. Sometimes the pieces I come across echo in my mind for days, weeks, months, years, forever. I read this poem in this book a few years ago, and then I memorized it for a recitation in my Oral Interpretation class my senior year in college. It’s been reverberating in my thoughts ever since. Fragments of it come to me in the shower, in the car, on a walk, over the stove, on my porch on sunny mornings, or in the chair next to my mom’s hospital bed, like this past weekend when I found myself wishing for a day like the one Lee describes here.

From Blossoms
BY LI-YOUNG LEE

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward   
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into   
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

Do you have any poems that do that for you? Please share.
P.S. Thanks for the well wishes and sweet comments on Thursday’s post; she was sent home today and is probably enjoying a bowl of chicken soup for the first time in a couple weeks as you read this. Much love, friends.
[Image found here.]

Inspired By.

Picture 2
Hello, dear readers. The weekend is coming to me a day early again, for some bittersweet reasons. I’m making a trip home to Michigan to visit my dear mama, who has been in the hospital since last Saturday. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated.
That being said, here is my weekly round-up a day early. [I’ve been trying to consistently post these on Fridays, this and last week not included.]
This lovely lady has been sweet enough to leave a comment or two on my little blog, which led me to find her blog, which put a huge smile on my face from the first click. Whether donating to Oceana on behalf of sharks everywhereleaving positive notes on random doorsteps, or giving away her clothes, her Days of Deeds Project is super inspiring.
Among the many things I’m trying to become more disciplined about, prayer journaling and making time for spiritual rest are my top priorities. I found this guest post from Mandy Thompson really encouraging.
My blog is an important part of my life and I want to see it grow, so I’m trying to be more intentional with my content, my social media and my interactions with my readers. Oh, you too? Glad I’m not alone. Some interesting, helpful advice for us bloggers from Vandelay Design: 17 Tips to Get More Exposure for Your Blog and 5 Common Blogging Problems and How to Solve Them.
On the other hand… blogging can be bad for your writing soul. It doesn’t mean I won’t be blogging, but it does mean I won’t write just for the sake of posting it on my blog.
An interesting post on how to talk with young girls.
‘You Look Great’ and Other Lies. I loved this NYT article about what to say to someone who is sick.
And finally, the lovely image above is borrowed from this heralding post for August, my favorite month. Question : what is your favorite month and why? Are you excited for the coming fall or are you sad to see summer go?
So hug a loved one, down an ice-cold drink, soak up some rays.
Most importantly, have a good weekend, friends.

Life Spilled Over.

I came home last night motivated to get my life our apartment in working order – a clean kitchen, washed, dried and folded laundry, sorted mail, dinner on the table by the time my husband arrived home. Recently I’ve not been disciplined as often as I should be about these things, and it leaves me with a nagging, constant guilt that eventually becomes impossible to ignore.
So I was nearly done making dinner, a quick batch of carbonara pasta, when I realized at the worst possible moment that I had no parmesan. The pasta was cooked and waiting. The zucchini and bacon were already a little overdone. What to do? In a nerve-wracking attempt to salvage my hard work I took the only cheese I had, feta, and mixed it in before I could change my mind. The result? It was not only edible, but oddly delicious. [Note for you culinary nerds that might be wondering: no, thank God, I had not stirred in the egg yet. Not sure how that would’ve turned out. Anyone tried it?]
My dishwashing attempts were likewise thwarted. Aside from the obvious liquid versus dry granules, there are significant differences between dish soap and dishwasher soap. I swallowed my sneaking suspicions and used the liquid dish soap since we were out of the dishwasher soap to save myself an extra hour of washing by hand. Result? My dishwasher was foaming at the mouth, spilling suds all over the floor. You can imagine my surprise as I flipped on the light to grab a glass of water. Perhaps it would have been better if I hadn’t filled the entire dispenser with the liquid soap, but oh well. To my own surprise, instead of freaking out like I’ve been prone to do on several pithy, fleeting occasions lately, I laughed out loud, alone in my apartment. And why not make a slip-n-slide mop the floor while I’m at it? My kitchen floor is now nearly clean enough to eat off of.
There on my hands and knees in the suds and scrubbing away at long-neglected grime, I thought once again about how hard it’s been for me to stay motivated during the last few months. With my mom struggling harder than ever against the cancer and the subsequent treatments and surgeries, I’ve been worried, angry, depressed. I’ve allowed the what-ifs and the should-haves to keep me unsettled, insecure. I’ve let two dominant, separate and equally loud voices to split myself apart, one that tells me,
“Stop forcing the moment and admit your fear. Cry. You’ll feel better.”
and the other that argues back,
“Get up. Move on. Forge ahead. Don’t stop for anything.”
And as a writer, these two voices have left me unproductive and indecisive. One part of me says,
“Write when you want to. You can’t force yourself. Wait for the lightbulb.”
and the other chides my artsy immaturity,
 
“If you’d just make time for your writing on a daily basis, the words will come. Make your passion your priority.”
Which is right? Which is better for me? Which will help me keep going?
With no right answer unveiled, I’ve let my habits become dormant and my emotions ebb and flow unchecked. I’ve been quiet around here, afraid of being too vulnerable, afraid that admitting anything will mean that I’m asking for a pity-party, wary of all the awkward flubs that people make when they don’t know how to handle a person’s grief.
I haven’t wanted to see the silver lining in anything for awhile, far too exhausted and angry to think that good things can come from this, soul-growing things, eternal things. What I want is a healthy, happy, whole family that can think about the next few months, years, even decades without the elephant in the room to block our perspective. What I want is normal, in the here and now.
Maybe it seems silly that screwing up dinner and accidentally Ajax-ing the linoleum gave me some much-needed perspective on my inner battles. But there I was on the kitchen floor, up to my elbows in normal and the residue of everyday life, suddenly and strangely comforted by this awareness: I can’t control any of it. And for once it wasn’t a hopeless feeling, but an understanding that things can still turn out well even if they don’t go as planned. I can work hard, or I can take the time I need to let my emotions run their course. Either way, I’ll be okay.
It wasn’t a sickly sweet silver-lining that obscured the reality I’m facing, just a comfort to know that I can find motivation to do the simple things, be happy in the moment, and still find reasons to laugh about the mess that I am, inside and out.

Poem: A Prayer for the Balance.

I asked to know real Grace.
It is my namesake
and I have a feeling I need it.
Instead,
I fight.
I break things.
I break.

So I ask,
God, what can this mean?

Is it a name,
or a thing that lives and breathes?
Does it pardon me, or teach me that I’ve been wrong?

On Sunday mornings,
I believe that there is more to it than a church pew.

On other days, I am caught.

Between hospital beds
and the place where harsh words are said,
in that precarious, miraculous balance
between life 

and death,

I then feel it sustaining me.