30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 7-9

So I am apparently bad at remembering to do these day of, but I figure at least they are getting done.

Day 7: List 10 Songs You are Loving Right Now

  • Ed Sheeran Shape of You – Current fav song
  • Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland – Promiscuous – throwback to undergrad days
  • B’52s – Love Shack – fav song growing up, even karoake’ed this song in undergrad once
  • Usher Yeah! – another throwback to undergrad
  • MC Solaar Bling Bling – no idea what he is saying, just love the song and it always cheers me up when I listen to it
  • The Raveonettes – Love in a Trash Can – fav song ever of theirs, on my happy mix for a reason
  • The Chainsmokers and Coldplay – Something Just Like This – just discovered this one
  • Ariana Grande – Focus 
  • Flo Rida – My House – this one both me and my 5 yr old love for different reasons
  • DNCE – Cake By the Ocean – crank this one every time it comes on the radio
  • Aerosmith – Cryin’  – throwback to my youth, loved that song then and now – has kind of become one of my theme songs lately

Day 8: Share Something You Struggle With

Self-Confidence/Self-Love: Truthfully I have struggled with this forever. I had it the first two years of high school, then I moved the middle of high school to a completely different school in a different state and I went from being somewhat cool to the new awkward kid who according to a friend that I got to know better in college “the obsessive loner”. I’ve always been self-conscious about my body ever since I got snubbed because of it in middle school by the person I thought was my best friend (who I was also in love with), and it has been a very love-hate relationship based on the atmosphere around me. And yes, I know I need to love myself before anything but it has taken me a long time to learn that. It got better in undergraduate and very good the first year of graduate school when I finally came into my own. It kind of took a nose dive the first time I got dumped by my ass**** of an ex-boyfriend who I later learned was pretty much using me in undergrad. So I decided to have as much fun as possible when I was in Scotland in grad school, when I got my first sassy short haircut. There were a lot of gorgeous smart guys that year and I had a good time getting to know them, even if not all of us saw eye to eye as well as I would’ve liked. 

When I first met John, I felt on top of the world and on top of my game. Even more so when we got married, had Liam, and for awhile things were amazing. Then I started to lose sight of myself. It wasn’t him and me separately anymore, but us as a couple, and I really lost sight of myself. I am just starting to gain myself back and practice some self-discovery to see who I really am and what I want. I realized in the beginning of the last eight months that I need a lot of work and I’m working through it one day at a time. It’s funny because I know friends and acquaintances have said “What are you talking about? You are so full of confidence I’m jealous sometimes,” and all I can say is that “Yes, I can be an exuberant person, but that doesn’t always equal self-confidence.” I’ve always described myself as an extroverted introvert, meaning I have moments of both depending on mood and what else is going on in my life. 

Day 9: Post some words of wisdom that speak to me

I adore quotes and have been collecting them since I was little. I found this one recently and it really applies to my life right now: 

Plot Twist

This one from Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu says it all about God and his views (sorry folks, I believe in a benevolent God not a vengeful one): 

Desmond Tutu quote

Had to include one from Neil Gaiman, my favorite author. He always has some brilliant quotes as well, including this one: 

Mistakes - Neil Gaiman quote

And what librarian would I be without a book quote, lol. I love this one from Lyndon B. Johnson that I found recently that I’ve added as my tag line on my personal email: 

Most Effective Weapon

 

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 4-6

These are late because I couldn’t really think of someone for Day four and then was off yesterday and forgot to post, so here’s Thursday, Friday and Saturday’s posts together. Here is the original post so you know what I’m talking about. 

Day 4: Write About Someone Who Inspires You

I honestly can’t think of someone who inspires me, per se, but rather someone I admire. That person is one of my closest friends here in Phoenix, Joanna. She has been through a lot of personal drama, but still manages to be one of the nicest, most generous, hard-working, and selfless people that I know. She believes in social justice and change and is one hell of a macro social worker, even now when her job is in libraries and not in her chosen profession. She does a lot of good work and I hope she will open the hearts and minds of the people she works for at her branch library, as well as the community. 

Day 5: List 5 places you want to visit

I am going to assume they mean five places you’ve not visited yet that you want to, and I’m going to list why. So I know some of them are countries versus individual cities, but they were hard to encapsulate in a single city. 

Graben, Vienna Austria

Graben (street) in Vienna, Austria

  • Vienna, Austria – I have technically been here for 2 hrs, but couldn’t stray far from the train station as it was a stop on the way to Prague. The food, culture, opera, and history has always been fascinating, so it seems like a cool place to go to.
  • Brandenburg Gate, Berlin
  • Brandenburg Gate – Berlin, Germany
  • Berlin, Germany – I’ve never been much to eastern Germany (I was born in the western US-occupied part), but Berlin is the capital and center of history and art – mostly it’s because of the awesome art museums
  • Temple of Hatshepsut, Deir el Bahri, Egypt
  • Temple of Hatshepsut, Deir El Bahri, Egypt
  • Egypt – I love studying about Egyptian history and art, so naturally I would love to visit the real stuff. 
  • tokyo-meiji-jingu_l
  • Meiji Jengu, Tokyo, Japan
  • Japan – Always been fascinated by Japanese food, art, culture, and history and always fascinated with the juxtaposition of ancient and modern culture in the same setting, even more so with all the parks/temples in modern citiesknossos_02
  • Knossos recreation – Crete, Greece
  • Greece – My parents have been talking for years about how much they loved going there, especially my dad. Again with the food/culture/art/history fascination, but also because I have friends that live there or have family there, so I would at least have a place to stay. 

Day 6: Five Ways to Win My Heart

This is some interesting timing as things in my personal life have recently made me re-evaluate topics like this. 

  • Emotional Maturity – By this, I mean the ability to express their feelings and emotions, and can say “I love you” without prompts b/c they mean it not because they feel they have to because I am. 
  • Good with Kids – This is kind of a given as I have a five year old son, but I also work with kids, so it’s important.
  • Good Sense of Humor – laughter really is the best medicine, esp if I’m having a rough week or things feel out of control
  • Educated (at least a Bachelor’s Degree or interested in personal learning on their own) with Ambitions/Goals
  • Nerdy/Geek – I am a giant nerd/geek so would be nice to find someone either with similar interests, preferably someone who liked to read, and would be cool nerding out with me (ex. Star Wars, Dragon Age, video gaming, or whatever) 

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 3

Day 3: What are your top 3 pet peeves?

  1. People who can’t use their turn signal. Literally it takes so little effort to do this and be considerate of other drivers. If you can talk on your phone or text and drive, you can signal to indicate whether you will turn left or right before your turn. And not the second before you do it either.  See this video which encapsulates this peeve of mine (warning: cussing).
  2. Parents that dump their children in the library [or rec center], especially during the summer. I love my job. I love working with kids and their parents, even teens at times. However, I hate parents that completely disappear and leave their kids in the Children’s Area like we’re a free babysitting service. While I don’t mind watching out for your kids, they are not my responsibility. Be a parent. Act like you give a damn. Jul6th_2015_quote_good_manners_will_open_doors_featured.jpg
  3. People with no manners or common sense. This kind of ties in with number 1, but I will expand upon it. Nowadays it seems like no adults, or children for that manner, have either of these. For help on common sense with kids, check out here and here. Maybe I’m extra sensitive because I was raised in the Southeast and we were brought up with both, especially manners, but c’mon people! There is nothing wrong parents with teaching your kids manners and believe me, people will thank you for it. Esp teachers and librarians. Breaking News about Common Sense

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 2

Day 2 of Writing Challenge: Write Something that Someone Told You About Yourself That You Will Never Forget

This story is in About Me section of my blog, but it has always stuck with me as both a celebrity story and one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me. When I was in a freshman in college, the real Patch Adams came to visit my church. He was friends with the priest at my church St. James Episcopal Church, Richmond, Virginia who invited him to come give a sermon there.

St. James Richmond

Ok a preface to this conversation would be a brief history on Episcopal Churches on the East Coast. They tend to be full of old white families that are stinking rich, especially in the South East. The rich and powerful have been going to them since the start of the US, i.e. St. John’s Lafayette Square in DC  where all the presidents since James Madison have gone at least once, and politicians still do this in Virginia (or at least did when I was in school there). St James is one of the oldest ones in the city and I adored going there because it was right across the street from my apartment, the community was awesome (great Young Adult meetings and they were nice to everyone even college students – not every Episcopal Church in the area was, it was my 2nd or 3rd one that I tried in the city) and I got to be in the choir, and we always sang amazing music. So St. James was full of these bowtie-wearing old established families, sitting in their historical church with the Tiffany stained glass windows (which really were lovely), and then Patch Adams does the sermon. I’ve never laughed so hard during one and I have been to many sermons as a PK (priest kid). People got up and left during the sermon, especially after he stood on top of the stool inside the pulpit and got completely inside of these clown pants he was wearing, it was brilliant. 

Anyways, after church, Patch was going to speak at VCU. My Young Adult group was helping set it up so we all went over there early. Before his talk, he was going to sign copies of his new book. I, being a broke college student, didn’t have any money but I still wanted his autograph so I stood in line for about half an hour waiting for his signature. Once I finally got up to the front of the line, he asked me for my book and I explained that I couldn’t afford one. He told me to go get one, so I did and went to stand in the back of the line. I knew how long it had taken me to get to the front but I didn’t think it was fair to cut in front of all the other people who were waiting, so I stood in the back. After about ten minutes, there was a commotion at the front of the line and the guy who was standing behind me originally in line, came back to say “He wants you to come to the front.” So I followed him up and Patch said “You were going to wait back there?” and I said “Yes.” So he says “You know, if there were more people like you, there wouldn’t be any wars.” This made me grin like an idiot, and he signed my book and I got to hear him speak again. 

30 Day Writing Challenge

30 day writing challenge

I haven’t done anything like this, so I thought it might be fun to try. 

Day 1: List Ten Things That Make You Really Happy

In no particular order:

  1. My son (he really makes my day brighter)
  2. Playing Dragon Age games (Origins, Awakening, DA2, or DA: Inquisition)
  3. Writing – blog posts, poetry, and Dragon Age fanfiction
  4. Reading during any spare minutes I have – esp if they’re ARCs (Advanced Readers Copy so I get to read and review them before anyone else)
  5. Talking to anyone who will listen about art and sharing my knowledge and appreciation of it – doubly so if I get to teach an art program like Art Explorers or the ones I used to do for Kids Cafe
  6. Having intellectual conversations with cute educated guys
  7. Nerding out/Fangirling while watching Star Wars/LOTR/Miraculous Ladybug/anything vaguely Anglophile (see my Pinterest page for more of what Nerdy/Geeky things I mean)
  8. Going to Comic-con in Phx – maybe one day I can do the big one in San Diego
  9. Traveling – last trip was to Alabama to visit my family so not sure that really counts but last trip before that was to Prescott/Sedona/Northern Arizona area which I hadn’t really explored since before I moved here to AZ so that counts. I haven’t been on a good trip since college, esp a “dropping me in the middle of a country where I don’t speak the language but still manage to have fun”, but here’s hoping for more in the future. 
  10. As corny as this sounds, doing my job at work. I got a Masters Degree in Youth Services in a Public Library and I really do love helping kids and their families, so anywhere I get to do that is awesome, i.e. during Preschool STEM storytime, during Baby Storytime, Kids Cafe, Reference Desk, Readers Advisory, or helping out with other programs. 

Paul Pletka

Paul Pletka painting in his home studio in Santa Fe, NM

It’s been ages since I wrote a proper blog post (about 3 months) and even longer since I did a proper art post. I’ve been wanting to talk about the Our Lord, The One Who Is Flayed painting for ages, ever since I first saw it a year or so ago in the Phoenix Art Museum. I had never heard of the artist until I saw the three-paneled work below. Paul Pletka was born in 1946 in San Diego, California and has made his name painting Native Americans, especially those from the American Southwest.  His style is neo-surrealistic and has been described as “both realistic and deeply spiritual, being highly sensitive to the inner thoughts of Native Americans.” Paul has a local connection to Phoenix by going to nearby AZ State University. “Interestingly enough, Pletka has never taken a painting course. His focus in college was printmaking. Through an extensive process of experimentation, his heroic-sized visions of Indian mysticism are distinguished by exacting details that can only be achieved when technique is coupled with dedicated research.” He currently lives in New Mexico. 

I am always curious when someone outside of one cultural group decides to concentrate on something different (like Children’s author/illustrator Ezra Jack Keats being a white Jewish guy creating amazing books about African American and Hispanic children in the 1960-80s) , as I want to know why they have chosen to do this and is his work accepted by the group he is trying to interpret. The artist himself said this about his decision to paint predominantly Native Americans: “When I was a youngster and first became enchanted with Indian costume, lore and artifacts, I would sometimes pretend I was an Indian. I soon realized that was not intellectually reasonable. I am not an Indian. I am simply an interpreter.” He is considered one of the best painters on the subject and his work has been in exhibitions since 1964.

The painting below, While the Ravens Laughed, is one of his earlier works. It depicts the human form of the Hopi Crow Bride/Mother Kachina, aka Angwushahai-i. “Dolls and dancers representing the Crow Mother generally wear masks with ears of huge crow wings.” She is connected to the renewal/growth of corn crops in the spring. 

Paul Pletka - While the Ravens Laughed, 1976

While the Ravens Laughed, 1976

The piece below (here is the larger version) is probably one of my favorite ones from Phx Art Museum. It just draws your eye with the bright reds, oranges, blues and greens and makes you want to study it to find out what all the little details mean. The painting depicts a re-enactment of the Passion of Christ, which is done by Mexicans during Lent (the liturgical season leading up to Easter in the Catholic and Protestant calendars). The Passion of Jesus refers to the suffering enduring by Jesus starting at his entrance to Jerusalem, the Last Supper, the trial in front of Pilate and finishing with his crucifixion The difference here between traditional representations is the mixing of Catholic and pre-Hispanic elements, i.e.the inclusion of the Olmec/Toltec/Aztec god of fertility, seeds, metalsmith/goldworkers, maize and spring. Xipe Totec was typically depicted wearing the flayed skin of his enemy’s and you can see that on the face of Christ on the cross and possibly the rest of the skin showing on his body. The flayed skin was supposed to renew or grow crops, which goes in well with the idea that Christ on the cross is there to give us salvation/renewal. The title refers to both the flayed body of Jesus and the flayed skin of Xipe Totec’s mask is scene on the far right panel underneath the banner of Jesus/John the Baptist. 

Xipe Totec

Xipe Totec – The Flayed God

The altar in the back of the painting is taken directly from the artist’s studio, as seen in the first picture above. Complementary colors play an important part in moving your eyes around the picture. The greens complement the red (ex.the dark green of the cross vs the bright red of the drapes), as well as the blues and oranges (ex. the turquoise of the ladder with the orange of the woman’s shawl in the center of the painting). The red symbolizes the blood of martyrs, in this case the ultimate martyr – Jesus. It is also specifically used on Palm Sunday in anticipation of the death of Jesus. As the author of the post on Yo So Art has commented on her blog post, in the center of the painting is one of the most interesting juxtaposition of images. The priest standing on the ladder has purple vestments which “depict missionaries preaching to the Native [Mexicans]  from a book in front of a giant cross, on top of a scene of some conquistadors on horseback stabbing [these same Aztecs].” 

Paul Pletka - Our Lord, The One Who is Flayed - 2004

Nuestro Senor el Desollado (Our Lord, The One Who is Flayed), 2004

Resources: 

Bratcher, Deborah. CRI, 2013: http://www.crivoice.org/symbols/colorsmeaning.html   

askArt, 2000-2017. http://www.askart.com/artist_bio/Paul_Pletka/82216/Paul_Pletka.aspx

The Eddie Basha Collection, Paul Pletka, taken from Art Fortune, 2016: http://eddiebashacollection.com/collection/paul-pletka 

Yo Soy Art, Dec 2012.Paul Pletka, Our Lord, The One Who is Flayed, 2004: http://yosoyart.blogspot.com/2012/12/blog-post.html 

Norse Mythology

norsemythology_hardback_1473940163

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Published: February 7, 2017

Taken from Goodreads.com: In Norse Mythology, Gaiman fashions primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds; delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants; and culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and the rebirth of a new time and people. Gaiman stays true to the myths while vividly reincarnating Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, the son of giants, a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. From Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerges the gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to dupe others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

I’ve never had the opportunity to advance read one of Mr. Gaiman’s books, so I jumped at the chance when I saw it on Netgalley. Plus it’s about one of my favorite subjects that I have loved since a child, and I could identify with Mr. Gaiman’s similar experience, in regards to the introduction of Norse mythology into his life, in the foreword. His writing is beautiful as it always is and I discovered stories I had never heard before, but I guess I just thought it would be different and a better interpretation because of his past work involving Norse mythology (Odd and the Frost Giants and American Gods). 3-1/2 stars. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publishers, WW. Norton & Company on Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review.