Poem for September: Coming soon.

The poem for September is actually the poem for September and October, so tune in for the October 31 post to find out what the poem is. In the meantime, let’s chat about how I keep all these poems in my head.

Or at least that was what this post was supposed to be about as I was going to have the plan in place by the time I got to this post. Alas, here I am with no plan. So we shall create one.
When I started the project, the plan was that I would work on the current month’s poem daily and Sunday would be my review day. I knew the key to remembering all the poems would be to keep them fresh in my mind so I would recite all the poems in order from beginning to end weekly. This worked pretty well until I got about a year and a half in. Then there were too many poems to whip through on a Sunday. And Sunday turned out to not be such a good day for review anyway, as it doesn’t usually involve a lot of biking or walking.
I find that I can usually remember the previous year’s poems, the poem I’m working on and the previous month’s poem, but have trouble remembering the previous six months poems. There seems to be a gap where the poem has to sit forgotten in the brain for a bit before it emerges into consciousness again.
So here’s the new plan. I’ve typed a list of all the poems I’ve memorized. At this point, it’s 31 poems. I’ve also got them listed quarterly by year. For instance: January, (2010–Invictus, 2011 The Pool Players) February (2010–February, 2011–Oranges) March (2009–Incident, 2010–Otherwise, 2011–Wild Geese) These are both in Excel so I can add to them as I add more poems. The plan will be that the current review is the current quarter we are in. September is the last month in the July/August/September quarter. Beginning in October I will review the poems in the October/November/December Quarter. I will also go back over the previous six months of poems.
I won’t have to do this for each poem every day. In fact, that would be a bit of overkill. Instead, I can review one poem per day while I am dressing in the morning. I’ve started a hard copy poem book that contains each poem I’ve memorized. I will also make an extra copy of this book for my bag. A lot of my poem reciting happens when I’m walking or riding the bike. Having a secondary poem book to refer to will be handy for when the exact words don’t come immediately in my head. Right now I get to a point like that and think, “damn it. Something, da dah, da dah da dah something.” Then I have to remember to look it up when I get home which never happens.
The other thing I’m going to do is let the poems I don’t really like go. Such is the case for ‘Praise Song for the Day.” (October 2010) It was a complex poem that I really didn’t like by the end of last October when it was all stuck in my head. Looking at it now, I remember almost nothing of it. I’m a bit overwhelmed by the current month’s poem and don’t have the energy to shove it back in. I may come back to it someday, but not right now.
The September/October selection may bleed over into November. We shall see what October’s memorization brings.

Books read in September

Not an outstanding fiction month, but good enough.

Mexican White Boy
Matt de la Pena
Recommended by Fabulous Librarian Deborah, I initially had to put down this YA novel because it was a bit too gritty for me. I get excited when I read YA literature that tells stories of other classes and cultures, yet the characters reminded me of the students I volunteered with at a middle school. Were they doing some of the things these characters were? Also, after all these years, I still feel uncomfortable with teenagers drinking. It throws me right back to my high school awkwardness around the issue. I didn’t drink and I just wished that everyone else wouldn’t either.
After a few weeks of separation, I nosed back into the pages and found that I couldn’t let go of the characters. The main character’s struggle–and his various ways of dealing with–not fitting into either world was gripping and I was incorrect in my prediction of what was up with his dad. There was one rather loose end left untied which I would have appreciated some clarity about, but otherwise, after my first reaction, I greatly enjoyed this book.
Silver Sparrow
Tayari Jones
I thought the shift in narrators mid-book was a particularly brilliant strategy. Up until the shift the book is interesting. How does it work when your dad has an entirely different “real” family and you are the secret family? But once we shift to the legitimate daughter’s point of view the tension mounts as we explore the realities of her life.
I will be investigating this author’s other work.
Fiona, Stolen Child
Gemma Whelan
Read for Kenton Library Book Club
Oh dear, this book was a steamin’ heap of first novel cliches! Dead sister inspiring guilt? Check! Sexual abuse of main character? Check! Inability to deal with various aspects of life because of it? Check! Strained relationship with remaining sibling? Check! I sighed through every page and if it wasn’t a book club book, I would have put it down. Interestingly, the author came to book group and chatted with us about the book. I enjoyed hearing about how she came to write this book. Talking with her, I could see how attached she was to her character and the novel itself, which she wrote over a period of ten years. I enjoyed her chatting, much more than I did the book. Based on this chatting when her next book appears, I’ll dip into it and see if the second novel is more to my liking.
Spooky Little Girl
Laurie Notaro
There were clunky parts to this story and details that didn’t quite match up. For instance my drug counselor boyfriend pointed out that drug tests are not like pregenancy tests. They come about in a different manner. However, I greatly enjoy reading people’s imaginings of the afterlife and Notaro’s was sparkly and interesting. It’s a fun book that one shouldn’t think too deeply about.
The Pot and How to Use It
Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert is a funny man. Aside from the fact that he clearly loves movies, his writing style and general giddiness is one reason I love to read him. In this, he makes an argument for cooking with “the pot” by which he means a rice cooker. Apparently it’s a one-pot cooking wonder. There’s a line about men who cook in the introduction that slayed me and his argument was enough to convince me to buy a rice cooker, although I haven’t done so at this juncture. Perhaps when I do get one, it won’t die early on like the last one did.
Anne of the Island
L.M. Montgomery
Anne becomes a B.A. and we follow her through her college years. They go by fairly quickly in many very short chapters of three pages or so. As I was reading a chapter per day, it took forever to finish this book. Future chapter-per-day readers take note: combining several chapters together will help this seem to be shorter than four years. Though this was an enjoyable tale, I feel like Montgomery only has enough juice in her to develop one character per book. In this book it was Priscilla Grant, the somewhat spoiled, full-of-fun housemate of Anne. Everyone else remains shadows who flit through, including Roy Gardiner, whom Anne almost becomes engaged to. If there is any character I should have a good picture of it is him.
Aside from that (rather major) failing, it was still an enjoyable, entertaining book, and much more fun to read on a daily basis than Fiona, Stolen Child.
Partly Cloudy
Gary Soto
Half the poems are from teenaged girl’s points of view and half are from their teenage boy counterpart. Only one poem did I find “keepable” so this book was not for me, but I’m not really the demographic.
Started and did not finish
You Learn by Living
Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt has a very chatty writing style that I found enjoyable to read. However, I wasn’t so much into self improvement when I was reading the book, and did not make much progress. I was not able to renew it, so back it went. I might pick it up again later when improvement to self is a more interesting idea.

Three sentence movie reviews: Mad Men Season II

A friend commented that she couldn’t watch this show because she always felt uncomfortable. And I have that feeling too when I watch–always unsure where the narrative will take me. But Don Draper is an enigma, especially for a television character and Peggy Olson I simply adore, making this some darn good TV.

Three sentence movie reviews: Pearl Jam 20

I’m not a fan of Pearl Jam’s music and never have been, but I am a fan of Cameron Crowe and my friend Kelly is a fan of Pearl Jam and this documentary appeared on my radar somewhat near her birthday so off we went. With all that said, I LOVED this movie. It might have been the huge nostalgia factor–there is a ton of early footage–that reminded me of my youth spent having crushes on boys whose style looked an awful lot like early 90s Pearl Jam, or it might have been that everyone interviewed came off as nice and their story compelling and so I couldn’t stop thinking about this movie for days.*

*Please note that I’ve read now two scathing reviews of the movie and the Rotten Tomato meter is at this date at 68% for critics. So clearly I’m not the best judge. But note that the Audience Review on Rotten Tomatoes is 97%. So if you want to see this film, you are probably going to like it. As far as I’m concerned, Cameron Crowe could just make music documentaries from now on.

Three sentence movie reviews: Contagion

Not a film to take your germ phobic friend to, it was fun to see the many famous and talented actors (including, as I realized three days later: “That was Lizzie! From the Pride and Prejudice Miniseries) wander through this film. But what I enjoyed the most was the exploration of the societal aspects of the epidemic: the closing of state borders, the rioting, the looting. One slight criticism: if the mortality rate was 40%, why did we never see anyone get sick and then recover?

Also, was this a movie that passed the Bechdel test? There were a goodly number of women it it not talking about a man, but did they ever talk to each other? Readers, weigh in.

A bag of books for $5.00

The Title Wave Bookstore, had a screaming deal: a bag of books (or other media) for $10.00. As I had a $5.00 gift certificate from volunteering for the Summer Reading program, I followed Kelly’s lead and we made our way to the bookstore on a cold and rainy day. What I discovered? A lot of cookbooks! A lot of cookbooks that cost tons of money in the stores. I brought home a bunch and I will harvest the 3-5 recepies that appeal to me and then donate the books. What a deal!

Three sentence movie reviews: Horrible Bosses

Matt and I thought we were seeing Bridesmaids, but apparently the truck stop movie theater switches its movies on Saturday, not Friday. So when it started, there was a moment of cognitive dissonance and confused discussion before we accepted our fate and settled in to this movie. However, as Matt pointed out, this was free of most of the usual “boy movie” fare (projectile vomiting, fart noises, diarrhea, overtly disgusting sex) and was rather witty, which made it a pretty enjoyable movie.

*That boss there on the right? That’s Colin Farrell! I watched the entire movie and had no idea. None!

Mail mystery

I received a mysterious package in the mail on Saturday. It consisted of a DFTBA* sticker and five of the postcards pictured below. Where did it come from? The return address gave no clue, and I had no idea who would send me Nerdfighter material.

Nerdfighters are, of course the awesome fans of John and Hank Green, known as the Vlogbrothers. They fight to decrease world suck and increase awesome. I’ve spoken of them before in this post. This random package had certainly increased my awesome, but where did it come from?

I set it aside, pondering it now and then over a few days. Then the answer came. It was Shawn from Pike Schemes, knowing my fandom of Nerdfiteria, had randomly sent me some postcards.

Thanks Shawn. You must be a Nerdfighter too!

*Don’t Forget To Be Awesome! Which is a Nerdfighter’s slogan.

Photos and Compliance.

I’m a member of the Religious Education (RE) Committee at church. At my church Religious Educators were called Sunday School teachers when I was growing up. The RE Committee has many duties, one of which is to assist during trainings. Last night was the first night of the two-day teacher training before the start of the church school year and I and two of my fellow committee members were tasked with creating a sandwich dinner. One person did the “big shop” for supplies, and we all unloaded the food, chopped things, plated things, gathered enough plates, glasses and silverware for everyone and arranged everything buffet style.

As the teachers were going through the line, we observed, taking care of needs here and there; refilling water pitchers, chopping more tomato, picking up dropped items and exposing them, what have you. After everyone had been served, we served ourselves.

I was standing with my fellow committee members near the buffet table eating a rice cake sandwich and had just taken a rather large bite when a woman approached with a camera. She held it up, the now universal command of “arrange yourself for a portrait!” and my fellow committee members moved in on both sides of me. I don’t mind impromptu portraits, but was not really thrilled to be captured with a large amount of food in my mouth. Still, I made the best of the situation, shifting the food to the middle of my mouth, dropping the plate to waist level in anticipation that the photograph would be from the chest up and giving a great big closed mouth smile.

At that point, another woman noticed that I was holding the plate at waist level. “Patricia!” she said in a scolding voice, and held out her hands to me to take the plate. I handed it over, attempted to move some more food in my mouth with my hand and straightened back up for the picture that I was at this point not at all interested in being a part of.

“Are you done and ready for the photo?” The photographer asked in a rather dismissive tone, as if I was being the troublesome one.”

“Just take the picture.” My lack of enthusiasm came through despite the food in my mouth, I reassumed my closed mouth smile the picture was taken and we all moved on.

The incident was over, but sticks with me. Who was the rude one here? From the scolding tones of both the bystander woman and the photographer I am left with the impression that I was. But having a camera in one’s hand does not guarantee cooperative subjects. In fact, with the ubiquitous of cameras, we seem to have lost the ability to ask permission to take a photo, grandly assuming that everyone is ready to smile for the camera. The same photographer took many photos earlier when I was setting the food out. I was busy and concentrating on my work and so ignored her efforts and went about mine, but felt a twinge of annoyance and would have preferred not be photographed at that particular moment. Later, if she had asked to take my fellow committee members photo in appreciation of our efforts, I would have been able to say, “can you wait a minute, so I can finish chewing?” and posed in the grand style my women’s college social education has prepared me for. But she just held up her camera and assumed compliant subjects.

When I was growing up and film was expensive photos were comparatively rare. A few years ago, looking at the photos my friend had amassed from high school, I marveled that the number of photos she had taken of our entire high school experience was equal to perhaps a month of our photos taken today as we’re both bloggers. But when film was expensive, there was much more of an opt-out clause. In fact, several of my friends didn’t like having their photos taken at all, going so far as to hide their faces in the nearest corner to avoid the camera. With the expense of film removed from the process, one can now snap photos of the reluctant subject until they comply with our wishes. But should we?

I see the effects of digital photography at school. It has become another means of teachers for teaching, for illustrating the passages in their classrooms. At the beginning of the school year, the teachers take close-up portraits of students, enlarge them and hang them on the wall with the students’ names. They tend to do this at recess, and I watch their progress as they work through their class list. Every student complies, standing at attention, smiling for the camera. None of today’s generation seems to be camera shy and I don’t think it occurs to them they could be, as the digital photography revolution happened before their birth.

Still, I think people with cameras in hand should keep in mind that the photograph they would like to capture isn’t necessarily a priority for the people in the photograph. A simple, “May I take your photo?” would be helpful to those who are not willing to be photographed, either in the moment, or ever. And when asking, photographers need to leave room for a gracious “No thank you.” For whatever reasons.