I was in something of a discouraged mood when this post from Soulseeds came across my twitter feed. I decided to follow this advice and put together a list of ten things I love– big and small. (It’s not all inclusive, so if you’re a person and I didn’t list you– you know I still love you!) It has cheered me up quite a bit, perhaps not quite to the point that I want to dance around my room like Julie Andrews singing about whiskers on kittens, but quite a bit.* I hope you will join me and make a list of five or ten things you love on your own blog. Spread the love, man!
1. Valery Lantratov
Valery is the real deal. When I first saw him on stage, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He has that thing. We met for the first time in 2002 and have been partners for about ten years touring America teaching teaching ballet. When we were first on tour together, with another company, he didn’t have much English but whenever a problem arose he would say, “Don’t worry, easy.” He has much more English now, but he continues to help me not to worry. When he is here and we’re touring we are together 24 hours a day and we only occasionally (when very tired) get on one another’s nerves. I can’t imagine wanting to spend that much time with pretty much anyone else.
2. Being on the Road
Yes, touring is exhausting. I don’t think we could hold up for more than the three months we do in the summer (and two in the winter) without taking a break. It’s a new city each day most of the time, lots of travel, lots of logistics, too much time in the car but sometimes you get to see crazy things like this storm out west that arched over the highway like a door. We get to meet people everywhere we go. Few people have the chance to experience so much of America, and even though we don’t do much sight seeing, we really do get a feel for the country. I feel most myself when we’re on the road. I don’t know what day of the week it is, I am focused on the thing in front of me, and time passes at a different pace. You measure time in unique experiences, and when we look back at our time on the road, one week is so packed with novelty that it feels like one month. I think being on the road means we experience a longer life.
3. Writing in Flow
I don’t have a picture of this. When you write in flow, the world falls away and you’re focused entirely on what you are doing. You’re not over-thinking it or worrying about it, you’re just doing it. Most writers lives are divided into two kinds of time, writing in flow (not a lot of time) and fretting over not being in a state of flow (most of the time). Another one of these experiences is when you have been working on a novel or proposal and you’ve given up on it and then suddenly, two years later, your subconscious delivers up the solution to your writing dilemma and you finish the thing in a mad dash and wonder where that came from. That’s how my novel Angel got made (except it was ten years).
4. John K King Books in Detroit
John K. King Books is one of my favorite places in the world. Four floors of shelves like this, and book smell and the joy of discovery. Heavenly. I used to go with my late father, and we would leave with armloads. So not only do I love the shop, it has memories of love inside. My favorite spot used to be the third floor reference shelf where I’d look for trivia books. Now I would haunt different floors. Tastes change over time.
5. Will Hoppey
If you haven’t heard him, you should. Full disclosure: He’s a friend, and I used to help him with some bookings years ago, but that is because I am a fan. So press play and see what you think.
6. Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh is the most beautiful city I have lived in. With all of the news lately about Scotland, I have been nostalgic for it. I lived in a shared flat above a bakery on West Maitland Street and worked in a Wimpy (fast food restaurant.) I was young and at my most beautiful. I had international friends who I met my first days there in the youth hostel. I was open for adventure. I remember it very fondly although in truth I think I was miserable a lot of the time, as I was often miserable in the “best years of my life.” Edinburgh is home to some really wonderful, warm people.
7. Birmingham Unitarian Church Rummage Sales
You will notice a trend– I love places where you can find treasures. I also like hard work. I love coming in on Monday and seeing piles and piles of unsorted stuff, feeling like it can’t be done, and knowing that it will. I like having a particular task to accomplish. I love the camaraderie. It is amazing how much can be done with teamwork. It’s a great thing. This year’s sale is October 2-4.
8. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Tunnels
I especially like the double tunnels of Blue and Kittatinny Mountains. When I was a girl, we used to drive from Michigan to my grandparent’s house in New Jersey on the turnpike, stopping at Howard Johnson’s at the rest stops to get pistachio ice cream on the way. I have a certain fascination for the bypassed tunnels of the turnpike. At one time I did some digging into newspaper archives to read about the accident at the now bypassed Laurel Hill Tunnel. Eleven men gave their lives to complete the marvel of modern engineering, but it outlived its usefulness after only 24 years. I wanted to know who the men were.
9. The Michigan Hand Map
If you ask someone from Michigan where he lives he will instinctively raise his right hand, hold it as if it were in a mitten and point to a spot on the palm. This amuses people from outside the state, but it is actually useful. The other day, I was watching Orange is the New Black with my mother and a character was supposed to be from Michigan. “Where are you from?” “Muskegon.” “Where is that?” She did the hand thing, pointing to the center of the hand. My mother and I both turned to each other and said, “That’s not Muskegon.” Michiganders know where they live on the hand. They also know where other cities are on the hand. You can’t just point at random. It’s a real map. If you dig the mittens pictured to the left, by the way, they’re from a company called Michigan Mittens.
Mel is the Michigan Electronic Library and Mel Cat is their online catalog where you can order books from a network of all of the libraries in Michigan. Thanks to Mel, there is rarely a book that I want to read, no matter how obscure, that I can not have in my hands in a few days. I think it’s amazing.
So there you go. I have promoted some things I love. What’s your list?
*The Sound of Music is a thing I love. Julie Andrews is cool.