Category Archives: Books

Let Us Read, And Let Us Dance

Hey kids!

I want to hear from YOU this time.  C’mon down to Polldaddy and take part in this survey on one of my favourite topics:  READING!

Follow the link here, or go to my Facebook or Twitter pages.

Survey closes June 21, 2013 at 23:30.

Can’t wait to hear from you!

http://leemcbride2020.polldaddy.com/s/let-us-read-let-us-dance

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Goodbye From My 10-Year-Old Self

starring_sally_j_friedman

Esther Williams never got water up her nose, or had to spit when she swam, like Sally, who didn’t like to get her face wet in the first place.  And Esther Williams never splashed, either.  Not even when she dove off  the high board.
You’d never know you had to kick to stay afloat from watching Esther Williams.  And when she swam in the movies there was always beautiful music in the background and handsome men standing around, waiting.
It would be great fun to be Esther Williams!

The year was 1980.  The book was Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself.
If you were never a girl, you may be unfamiliar with this gem in Judy Blume’s bibliography.

Sally was ten years old,  just like me, and SSJFAH taught me many things.  Set in 1947, it taught me about the horror of the Holocaust, and the beauty of hibiscus flowers.  It showed me the importance of family history and personal stories.  It helped me know what it was like to be the new kid, and about how one always eventually finds their people.  It was a very significant book for me.

It also drew my attention to someone with whom I would have otherwise never become familiar -Esther Williams – and for that I will always be grateful.

Because back in the day, when I saw how much Sally loved her, I did, too.
And so now my 10-year-old self will mourn her, too.

Goodbye, Esther. You’ll be missed.
August 8, 1921 – June 6, 2013

esther-williams

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Filed under Books, Film, Nostalgia

Suburban Soul Fillin’

Envy

“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.”
― Harold G. Coffin

Recently I have been exploring the differences between envy and jealousy.  I was always pretty clear on the latter, but have found more than one meaning of the former.

One says that envy consists of “a feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by and in conjunction with desire for the possessions or qualities of another.”  Okay.  Got it.  However, the second maintains that envy is “best defined as a resentful emotion that “occurs when a person lacks another’s (perceived) superior quality, achievement or possession and wishes that the other lacked it.”

Now, see, all this time, I’ve avoided using the word jealousy,  because it alludes to a fear of personal loss.  I used envy instead, because in most cases, I simply coveted some thing or quality possessed by someone else.  That said, I don’t recall ever crossing the line and wishing the other person didn’t have it…just that I wanted it, too.

This is all blather until I put it in some kind of context.  I should do that, now.

In this past year and a half, my self-esteem has taken a severe beating, for the most part self-inflicted.  Due to a back injury, I was unable to work out and had to abandon a career path with a strong physical component.  That was the one part I wasn’t responsible for.  Then I got depressed.  I mean, really depressed.  The kind of depression that allows you to only be productive enough to piggle your toenails all day, drink too much and slop together a meagre meal for the fam.  I stopped writing.  My hair got stringy.  Yoga pants became an essential part of the uniform.  And thus began a vicious cycle.

In the meanwhile, though, life was toodling merrily along without my input or presence.  Solipsistic Erin was first amazed, then quickly crestfallen.  How can  So-And-So still write so well?  How can So-And-So be so clean all the time?  How can  So-And-So avoid drinking for a whole month?  How can So-And-So be going on vacay?  How can  So-And-So go jogging, eat Paleo, talk professionally, meet cool people, get a job, be out in the world so confidently?

I really got envious of So-And-So, lemme tellya.

Thing is, I never wanted  So-And-So to lose what she or he had to start with, I just found myself fantasizing about how lovely it would be to have those things/qualities, too.  Lord knows I had intentions toward getting ’em, but I’ve been hearing bad things about intentions and now avoid them when at all possible…like corn oil or Nestlé products.

One of the only rays of sunshine in being a directionless, unemployable SAHM is that you’re available to yak to other like-situationed pals during they day, because hey, no job.  One friend of mine in particular has been trying to find his groove for years.   Our circumstances are quite different, however our mutual feelings about the whole mess bear a striking resemblance.  Generally we commiserate and hate on the world for a bit, however this morning we really got into the guts of it.  After indulging each others’ need to rant, he sent me this:

I for one have learned something about myself since 2002:

Number one:  you must be honest with yourself.  Life altering self-initiated changes don’t make a lot of sense when you know deep down that you’re denying yourself the opportunity be happy;  it almost always ends in tears and regret.

Number two: position yourself to include all the things that you really enjoy.  Denying yourself these opportunities will leave you unhappy and second-guessing your decisions.  Surround yourself with what fills your soul.

Though I had come to these conclusions myself at one time or another, I think I must have thrown them in a drawer somewhere, or on top of a bookshelf, because when I went looking for them, I found them all dusty and giving off a kind of mildewy smell.  Dusted them, sprayed them with Lysol, and now they’re looking – if not totally shiny and new – definitely passable.

So I’m back here, for better or worse, and have picked up an old W.P. Kinsella I haven’t read in a while.  Not a bad start.  In any case, today it fills my soul.

Matisse woman-reading

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Filed under Books, Ephemera, Health and Wellness, Rants

Book Review: F U Penguin

Went to Toronto last weekend to hang out.  As usual, saw and ate at some awesome places.  Might I suggest a visit to the TIFF Bell Lightbox at 350 King Street West if you haven’t been yet, and try the mushroom soup at The Town Crier pub at 115 John Street.

I never tend to visit book giant Chapters here at home, however the one at 142 John Street is pretty impressive.  While I was there I happened across a book that originated with a blog, à la Stuff White People Like.  The book is called F U Penguin.  I’ll let y’all extrapolate the name of the blog from that.

Without realizing it, I think I was waiting for this book to come out, and I’d wager that applies to a few of you, too.  This book rails against Cute Animals Everywhere.  E-mails, movies, websites – Matthew Gasteier has left no stone unturned, and nothing adorable is exempt from his wrath and derision.

A few excerpts:

Snow leopards:  rare, majestic, dickish

Did you know…?  Unlike many other large cats, snow leopards cannot roar.  This explains why instead of getting upset when you don’t do something they want you to do, they say something passive aggressive like “Oh, no, don’t worry about it, I’m sure it will just magically take care of itself.”

Thanks for ‘gracing’ us with your presence.

I get it, Whale, you’re busy.  I’ve only been on this FUCKING BOAT for three and a half hours waiting for you, and the only thing I’ve seen so far is my lunch from earlier.

Did you know…?  Orcas are commonly referred to as “killer whales,” a name they spread themselves so no one would find out that they cried at the end of Titanic.

Rare animals can be a real drag.

I was living my life long before I knew what you were, Long-Eared Jerboa, and I will go on living my life long after I have set you as my desktop picture.

Did you know…?  The long-eared jerboa is different from the regular jerboa in one major way, though researchers have yet to determine precisely what that is.

Happy reading!  Spread the word!

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Filed under Books, Wanderings

Really Effing Cool: Stuff I Wanna Do, #1

“I don’t know which is more discouraging, literature or chickens.”

~ E.B. White

This is not a Bucket List.  I’ve grown to despise that term, damn Jack and Morgan, they ruined everything.  So…what?  If I don’t make a tick mark beside everything on my List, I’ve FAILED life?  When my time comes to go toward the Light, I’ll not be allowed a feeling of contentment and a job well done? Some omniscient being will stamp a big ‘Incomplete’ on my celestial report card?      Fak off!

No, this is just entry #1 of some stuff I’d like to do at some point whilst my soul is still attached to my body.  There’s a difference.

My youngest (Thing 2) is currently in school Mondays, Wednesdays and alternate Fridays.  It’s a stupid schedule, I know.  Most Friday mornings last year were spent scrambling to find the calendar – is he going?  He’s staying home?  Dammit, I had a pedi booked!  This year I galvanized myself into action and marked every single week off, so a simple glance tells me if I can make any grownup plans.

In any case, Mondays and Wednesdays remain my sure-thing days of the week, unless of course Thing 1 or Thing 2 have colds, which means I’m on call.  Whatever.

At least one of these mornings usually includes a trip to Starbucks.  Funnily enough, I am seriously anti-Starbucks (I defiantly use terms other than they have written on their artfully done menu), but after watching the two daytime girls at my local Second Cup eating behind the counter, licking their fingers and then going off to prep a drive-up order without once washing their hands, I decided to make the ultimate sacrifice and head over to the west side of the street.  Here, I order my beverage:

Me: (scanning the boards distractedly) Uh, yeah, I’d like an espresso and steamed milk, please.  For here.  That size (points to mug on counter).

Snotty, 20-something barista: (with barely-disguised contempt) So, you want a grande latte?

Me: (looking perplexed) Uh, yeah, I guess.

Fuck ’em.  I’m never gonna say it.

I grab a newspaper from the rack, usually The Hamilton Spectator, though sometimes The Toronto Star if I’m lucky.  Find my window seat and set up shop for the next hour.

Late September, I’m happily browsing away and I come across this article in the Spec, “New York City’s spots for book lovers: a literary tour.”  OMG!  It’s like some New Yorkers got together to discuss a few of Erin’s Favourite Things, namely New York itself (which holds an almost mythical fascination for me, having never been there), books and booze.

One day, I muse to myself.  After Thing 2 starts first grade.  One day.

Who’s in?

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Filed under Books, Wanderings