“My Hero” by Billy Collins

It’s startling how Billy Collins pierces through the verbosity of prose to the core of an emotion. Since I discovered “The Lanyard,” poems like “Old Man Eating Alone in a Chinese Restaurant” and his new work “Cheerios” and “To My Favorite 17-Year-Old High School Girl” from Aimless Love have found their way into my scrapbook. “My Hero,” below, made me smile with its twist on perspective.

baby gopher tortoise

Just as the hare is zipping across the finish line,
the tortoise has stopped once again
by the roadside,
this time to stick out his neck
and nibble a bit of sweet grass,
unlike the previous time
when he was distracted
by a bee humming in the heart of a wildflower.

(photo via The Nature Conservancy)

The 7 Questions That Tell You Who You Are

Now that’s a list of questions tailor-made for deeply introspective types! I may have to use some of them as journal prompts.

Thought Catalog

Many of the answers we’re seeking are answers we already have. We just don’t know how to access them. Understanding who you are isn’t something you stumble upon one day. It’s embedded within you; you just have to be vulnerable long enough to uncover it. Your everyday actions are shouting what you may not be conscious of.

1. What would you do with your life if you didn’t have to pay the bills? If money weren’t an issue, what would you do with your days? Would you write? Read? Sing? Whatever it is, you have to do that thing. Money is an interesting phenomenon that completely controls our everyday lives without having any purpose other than sustainability in the form of purchasing from others what we could produce and create right in our own backyards. Consider that when you’re deciding between a soulless job that will make you rich versus…

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The Founding Fathers were young

The Founding Fathers were basically teenagers. That’s what Joanna Goddard wrote in her weekly roundup of fun reads, which included the intriguing kottke.org’s post “The surprising ages of the Founding Fathers on July 4, 1776.” At the thought of it Jason Kottke was like,

“This is kind of blowing my mind…because of the compression of history, I’d always assumed all these people were around the same age. But in thinking about it, all startups need young people…Hamilton, Lafayette, and Burr were perhaps the Gates, Jobs, and Zuckerberg of the War.”

That Aaron Burr was only 20 and Alexander Hamilton 21 at the time caught my eye immediately. At first I thought they could have both been ambitious, impetuous early-20-somethings who were possibly hot-headed enough to have engaged in that famous duel, but I then realized it didn’t take place until 28 years later, in 1804. Of course, in the ensuing time they came to despise each other anyway.

Just to show how my mind turns, at the mention of Aaron Burr I immediately thought of that famous original “Got Milk?” commercial, circa 1993.

Did you know that commercial was directed by Michael Bay? And the hapless history buff was played by Sean Whalen, who also played Drew Barrymore’s dorky assistant, Merkin, in the movie Never Been Kissed. (Doesn’t it drive you nuts when you know you’ve seen an actor elsewhere but can’t pin down where?)

Piano by the sea

There’s a guy—an artist, a pianist—by the fitting name of Mauro Ffortissimo who, with the help of some friends, recently rolled out an aging baby grand piano onto the bluffs of Half Moon Bay, California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, so that during the day passersby might plink away at the keys. But during the past few successive sundowns, he’s sat down to play a half-hour recital of Chopin, Debussy, and Schumann—partly for pure pleasure, but also to demo how exposure to sun, wind, and fog is rapidly changing the way the piano plays the same pieces.

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He has no permit, so city officials have told him the piano has to clear out by Thursday (Valentine’s Day). But what a cool moment, right? Imagine bundling up, mug of hot toddy in hand, and listening to this unexpected and yet wonderful bit of whimsy as the sun sets and waves roll ashore.

Read more at SFGate and UPI.

(photos by Jessica Olthof for the San Francisco Chronicle)

Heh, I can identify with this. I haven’t yet reached the one-year mark on my own blog, but I struggle too with striking the right balance between making my blog true to my voice and my interests and yet also have it be something other people might like to read. It’s a progress. :) Plus, for me, it’s also practice in finding my writing voice again, after mostly copy editing these past few years. Finally starting my own blog has likewise given me newfound respect for engaging bloggers and blogging; see Joanna Goddard, who recently told Elizabeth Street, “When it’s done right, blogging should look easy—just how magazine articles and books should look easy and fun. But it doesn’t mean that it is easy.” :)

Life on High

I’m a little embarrassed to discover and admit that I’m closing in on my one-year blogiversary. Sounds a little odd maybe, but it’s true. I’m embarrassed because in one whole year, I’ve only managed to complete a handful of posts, most of which weren’t even put up until recent months. You’d think that a whole year would be more than enough time to really make something good, but in my case, it’s only near the end that I’m starting to get the hang of this whole deal.

But moving past the embarrassment for a second (actually, let’s just leave it where it is and move on), this one-year mark is still rather a big deal. Not because I’ve managed to reach it but more because I’ve learned and experienced way more than I had bargained for. (Cliche alert! But it’s not, I promise. Or at least I’ll try to keep…

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