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love is a mix tape

May 28, 2014


why i wanted to read it: this thing's been in the line of books atop my desk, guarding the windowsill for YEARS. i bought it because one of the gals who worked the music department at the bookstore for which i once was employed... she'd said she loved it. and i liked her tastes, so i bought it. and i maybe read a chapter of it. but then i put it down, never to return.

and then last night i decided to do this little challenge, and so i piled all the books i've bought but not read on my bed and made my list. for twenty-five points, i'm to read a biography, autobiography or memoir. and so i chose this.

what i liked: tonight, i feel like my whole body is made out of memories. i'm a mix tape, a cassette that's been rewound so many times you can hear the fingerprints smudged on the tape... i now get scared of forgetting anything about renee, even the tiniest detail, even the bands on this tape i can't stand--if she touched them, i want to hear her fingerprints (p. 12).

i was totally clueless about social interaction, and completely scared of girls. all i knew was that music was going to make girls fall in love with me.

so i approached my beatmaster duties with the same reverence i brought to my sundays as an altar boy serving mass. i approached my stereo sanctuary and genuflected. i lifted each vinyl wafer to the heavens. i unveiled the cassette ostentorium: "take this, all of you, and rock. this is the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. it will be shed for you, and for all who rock, so that rock may be worshiped and glorified" (pp. 29-30).

if i had my way, the story would end here. renee was always braver. she always wanted to know what happened next (p. 86).

the months leading up to the wedding had been a pageant of highly entertaining (for me) and traumatic (for her) dreams, which she confessed with shame every morning. they all had the same plot: renee trysts with a boy from her past, he begs her to run away with him, she thinks about it, and then she decides instead to move on to her future with me... my favorite was the volleyball player from roanoke. the last time she booty-called him, he said he was busy--he didn't want to miss the farewell episode of magnum, p.i. years after the fact, renee was still fuming. i wanted to shake his hand (pp. 87-88).

it's a pop cliche that the ideal band partnership is between the guy who lives it and the guy who writes songs about it... one is voice, celebrity, performance; the other is music (p. 137)

i knew i would have to relearn how to listen to music, and that some of the music we'd loved together i'd never be able to hear again (p. 149).

i loved the scene in the killers when ava walks up to the piano in her black dress and sings her little torch song: "the more i know of love, the less i know it/ the more i give to love, the more i owe it." ava gardner didn't lie (p. 156).

i had no voice to talk with because she was my whole language. without her to talk to, there was nothing to say... now, we had a whole different language to learn, a new grammar of loss to conjugate: i lose, you lose, we lose; i have lost, you have lost, we have lost. words i said out loud, every day, many times a day, for years and years--suddenly they were dust in my mouth (pp. 156-7).

the way i pictured it, all this grief would be like a winter night when you're standing outside. you'll warm up once you get used to the cold. except after you've been out there a while, you feel the warmth draining out of you, and you realize the opposite is happening... you get weaker the longer you endure it (p. 173).

some nights i would drive up route 29 to the all-night wal-mart. i'd push a cart around with some paper towels inside to look like a real shopper, just to spy on married people. i just wanted to be near them, to listen to them argue... people fight over some dumb shit when they think there aren't any widowers eavesdropping. and they never think there are any widowers eavedropping... i was so hungry for the company. i was scared i would be caught, that my wedding ring would be put under a scanner and exposed as a fraud, a widower trying to pass as a husband (pp. 173-174).

when my friends and family would ask how i was doing, i stalled or stuttered or lied. sometimes i could feel the glaciers shifting inside me, and i hoped they were melting, but they were just making themselves more comfortable (p. 178).

ralph waldo emerson knew the score: "i grieve that grief can teach me nothing" (pp. 189-90).

i marked a lot of other pages that weren't quite as poetic, but i enjoyed the sentiments expressed nonetheless. and i liked looking at these mix tapes of his and renee's and remembering the music.

what sucked: the author's a contributing editor at rolling stone. so there's some pretentiousness. i don't always agree with his definition of good music. there's a whole chapter dedicated to nirvana, which was a good band, sure, but i've never seen kurt cobain as a god. and sheffield so very clearly does (though i can understand and appreciate the comparisons he makes in some instances). and i don't always like the way he writes. it could've stood to be thirty pages or so shorter. maybe. the beauty of the above passages sometimes gets lost in the rest of it.

having said that: it's a good story. maybe i like mr. sheffield a little better for having read it. 

an author survey found at the back of a book (with some modifications)

May 18, 2014

where i was born: texas city.

where i live: the woodlands.

current weather conditions: seventy-two degrees. clear sky. no rain in the past twenty-four hours.

opinion of the current weather conditions: it's nice out. in another month i won't be able to say that. and we could use some rain. i mean, we just got some the other day. but we could use some more.

first real book i remember reading: that wasn't assigned by my teachers? and i'm guessing romance novels don't count as real books. the silence of the lambs by thomas harris.

last book i read before writing this: thirteen little blue envelopes by maureen johnson (i filched this here survey from the back of said book).

books read in the swedish language: uh... none.

where i write: pappadeaux's seafood house in shenandoah. at the bar, on the service end, near the to-go stand and the budweiser tap. not that i drink budweiser.

what i use: tops docket gold writing tablets--letter-sized, legal ruled, canary paper. tul retractable gel pens--seven millimeter, medium point, blue ink. or, occasionally, my laptop, an apple macbook pro, which is, the geniuses would probably say, limping along on an outdated version of os x and an intel core two duo processor. i've tried updating it, by the way; it keeps failing, and i'm too lazy to take it in.

how many beverages i have while i work: a lot.

current beverage count: i don't count.

do any elements of let it be [title changed to make it relevant to this here picky post] come from your own life experience? let's take isabel since she's the main gal in this story. yes. and no. the little things... she's fairly antisocial, incredibly anxious, moody, brash, a little tomboyish... a lot of personality traits are similar, and so the way she handles things, the way she responds to questions and whatnot, is similar to how i would. but the circumstances of her life are VERY different. so the little things... i use some of those because that's how you make a story feel real. you write what you know. but i also make a lot of them up. and whatever i've borrowed from my own life ALWAYS gets distorted somehow to make it more hers than mine. the origin of the story, the path it takes? that's all her.

what's the first thing you put in your suitcase before a trip? an aggie sweatshirt.

why did you decide to read a story about a girl who travels through europe? because i've traveled through europe, though not nearly as much as i would like. and i miss it.

have you been to all the places [england, scotland, italy, france, the netherlands, denmark and greece (and hopefully i've gotten them all)] in thirteen little blue envelopes? nope.

did let it be change at all as you wrote it? yes. it got a LOT better as i got better at telling the story. i CRINGE when i read old copies of the manuscript, especially ones from my twenties (i keep thinking i've set fire to them all, and then i'll find one hiding out in my desk or closet or something). and no. the premise of the thing is the same. the stories that will come after it, though, they've changed quite a bit. in writing this particular tale, in getting to know the minor characters better, i've seen their stories' premises change drastically.

what's your favorite travel destination and why? london, england. because it's magnificent. i love the architecture, the history, the tube system. the life. it's fantastic. i'd live there if i could. but only in the summer.

so there is that. and now that i have finished reading this particular novel, i'm happy to pass it on to someone else. if you'd like a little light reading, let me know. 

friday favorites

May 16, 2014


one. the texans got that beast there instead of that bastard manziel. now, don't get me wrong, i think johnny football's one of the best things that happened to a&m. and he's pretty awesome. as a football player. in college. but he's not consistent. he's not ready for the nfl. they'll kill him. and i don't think much of him as man. he needs to learn some humility. 

this guy, though, this jadeveon clowney. him and j.j. watt... together they should do some pretty great things. i'm eager to see what happens.

a week ago, i was dreading that the texans would draft manziel. every day i'm grateful they didn't.


two. outback steakhouse's chocolate handmade mini milkshake. this is one of those guilty pleasure things. i damned well know i shouldn't drink it. that the next day, consequences will be painful in my brain. but yall... it's so yummy. so, so yummy. (and i took two benadryl before i went to bed. that seemed to help.)


three. panera bread's blueberry muffins. really just anything blueberry. but every day before work, it's one of these and a large iced tea. and i don't care if i'm late. i gotta have it.


four. days i don't have to set the alarm clock. once upon a time and not so very long ago (okay, two years, but... to me, it still feels like months when i think of it), i had to set it EVERY SINGLE DAY for one a.m. and that happened for a hell of a lot longer than it should have. i relish the days i don't have to set it at all. because that blasted thing is LOUD. i can hear it downstairs in the kitchen... on the other side of the house.


five. cupcake cowgirls' chocolate raspberry. or the lemon raspberry one. or the italian cream. or the carrot cake. or the irish chocolate...


six. the airborne toxic event. and the house of blues houston. and september can't get here fast enough. who wants to go with me?


seven. these four stories. 


Meet At The Barre

the actors... and the writers....

May 15, 2014

last night, while watching that awkward moment, i lay in bed (lie? i NEVER can remember... and i just looked that shit up the other day) skimming my bloglovin feed (which, i'll admit, girls, i'm SO bad about doing that... but i'll get better. i swear). sarah at venus trapped in mars wrote a post about how hard it is to make friends. she titled it dear match.com and implored them to develop a platform that made making friends just a little bit easier.

i thought of my friend katy who moved to tennessee not so long ago, a place she's longed to be... she loves the countryside there. LOVES it. and was so excited to go. and then she got there, and she's having a rough time making new friends. she's got two LITTLE boys who command much of her time. but she's lonely, i think. and she's shy, like me. and sensitive, too, like me.

i thought of katy. and i thought of myself, because sometimes that's what i do. and i left a comment about how hard it was for me to make friends. the first two decades of my life, i didn't speak that much.

when the secret life of walter mitty came out--i'd read the book in eighth grade english, i think, and it didn't really leave much of an impression. in fact, i thought it kind of ridiculous. but this movie... i identified quite a bit with walter.


he's either not seen. or he's the butt of the joke. and so he sort of shuts himself off, escapes into his imagination. and no one, no one takes the time to appreciate his talents. or so he thinks.

a LONG time ago, one of my facebook statuses was something about not all of us are supposed to be standing on a stage playing a part. that some of us are supposed to be sitting in a corner booth in some bar, writing the script.

now i don't presume to think i'm THAT talented. but... i am talented in that way...

this is why i love that movie. everyone reveres the photographer's work. and the photographer is in awe of one man's ability to treat that work well.

it's easy to forget this. that you don't have to impress hordes of people. that just because you don't doesn't mean you don't matter.

and the things i like the best about walter mitty... the man has one hell of an imagination... and he's a good person. a really good guy. and yeah. i know. it's just a movie. but there're people like walter mitty all around us.

the stories i've loved most

May 14, 2014

our mutual friend. charles dickens.
interpreter of maladies. jhumpa lahiri.
harry potter and the deathly hallows. j.k. rowling.
red dragon. thomas harris.
the silence of the lambs. thomas harris.
eleanor and park. rainbow rowell.
a separate peace. john knowles.
the fault in our stars. john green.
the language of flowers. vanessa diffenbaugh.
the time traveler's wife. audrey niffenegger.
right before your eyes. ellen shanman.
the rainmaker. john grisham.
honest illusions. nora roberts.
born in ice. nora roberts.
holding the dream. nora roberts.
the lovely bones. alice sebold.
love, rosie. cecelia ahern.
the perks of being a wallflower. stephen chbosky.
attachments. rainbow rowell.
where she went. gayle forman.
if i stay. gayle forman.
paradise. judith mcnaught.
the notebook. nicholas sparks.
a walk to remember. nicholas sparks.
one day. david nicholls.

what's your list look like?

dear kevin spacey, these didn't suck

May 5, 2014

yesterday, cbs sunday morning aired a really good interview with kevin spacey. in it, he said: every now and then, i remember, i would read things where people said my career was over and that, you know, i'd run away from hollywood. but i'll tell you this: i don't think i could've picked a better decade to go run a theater than the decade we just had in terms of what i missed.

today, i scoured imdb's lists of the most popular films released from two thousand three to thirteen. and i made a list of my own. twenty-five films that merit some attention.

incendies
lone survivor
memoirs of a geisha
cinderella man
seabiscuit
the help
the lord of the rings: the return of the king
star trek
pirates of the caribbean: the curse of the black pearl
the last samurai
the way way back
people like us
five hundred days of summer
serenity
the painted veil
love actually
the notebook
the secret life of walter mitty
crazy, stupid, love
mr. magorium's wonder emporium
eternal sunshine of the spotless mind
gangster squad
about time
dedication
the devil wears prada

and... the twenty-five best films of the eighties

May 2, 2014

star wars: episode v-the empire strikes back
full metal jacket
steel magnolias
the color purple
dead poets society
die hard
the princess bride
when harry met sally
the breakfast club
top gun
lethal weapon
ferris bueller's day off
dirty dancing
fast times at ridgemont high
turner and hooch
terms of endearment
labyrinth
the terminator
parenthood
field of dreams
big
can't buy me love
sixteen candles
young guns
real genius

rolling stone's list is here
what's your list look like?

my texan-aussie friend erin made up a list, too. go check it out!

because the readers of rolling stone are generally incompetent: the 25 best films of the 90s

May 1, 2014


saving private ryan
schindler's list
silence of the lambs
sleepers
donnie brasco
philadelphia
shawshank redemption
se7en
fight club
a time to kill
apollo thirteen
a few good men
tombstone
heat
robin hood: prince of thieves
fried green tomatoes
for love of the game
good will hunting
twelve monkeys
the usual suspects
murder in the first
my cousin vinny
boondock saints
playing by heart
one fine day

click here for rolling stone's list. if you must.
what's your list look like?

my texan-aussie friend erin made up a list, too. go check it out!