Archive | August 2020

Spotlight On: Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen

liesLies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen was the first nonfiction, non memoir book I ever read of my own free will, in 2003 when I was twenty-two. It was the book that showed me I could enjoy reading a nonfiction book based on facts and research (as opposed to fiction and as opposed to nonfiction that’s story-based), especially when it wasn’t assigned. Many more books of this variety came after, but this book was my first.

Summary

Lies My Teacher Told Me explores the misinformation in American History textbooks by looking at it from several different angles. The most prominent of these is James W. Loewen’s thorough survey of twelve textbooks used in American History high school classes across the country and exploring where they fall short–omissions, some outright lies, reliance on secondary (and tertiary, etc.) sources instead of available primary sources–and how they leave us disconnected from our history. He also goes into the process for textbook approval for school systems, and how censorship can often play a role there.

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The Artist’s Way Reflections – The Basic Tools: The Artist Date

Artist DateIn The Artist’s Way, the seminal book on creativity, author Julia Cameron introduces two Basic Tools, after the introduction and before the week-by-week chapters. These two Basic Tools, she says, are the cornerstone to connecting with creativity.

The first is Morning Pages, discussed in last week’s Artist’s Way Reflections column, the practice of writing three handwritten pages of whatever comes to mind every morning. I’ve wrestled with these pages, but ultimately find them to be helpful, a way to connect to what I’m actually feeling, which isn’t always easy but is in its own way grounding. They’re also a good source of fresh ideas, a way to puzzle through problems and often a place to dump the mental waste before starting the day.

The second Basic Tool is the Artist Date. You’re supposed to go on a “date” with your artist self once a week. Do something fun for an hour and no one else is allowed to come along. Quality time with your creative side.

And I’m going to be real. I get the theory behind it, it all sounds great when Julia Cameron extols the values of an Artist Date. But in actuality, I hate it.

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Updating a Screenplay to Current-ish Day

screenplayAlmost two months ago, I finished revising a feature-length screenplay. It’s something that’s been on my back burner for a long time (six years) and I finally had the time to look at it again. One of the most interesting and challenging things about revising it was updating it to current day.

For a little background, I’ve been working on a lot of writing projects since early on in quarantine.

Even then, I often still feel like I’m not as consistent as I’d like to be–I don’t work on my writing every day, some weeks have more off than on days, and some have no on days at all–but even so, it’s the most consistent, longest stretch I’ve had of working on my writing in…at least a decade? Maybe more.

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Creativity Goals Check-In August 9, 2020

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Goals from Last Week – How Did I Do?

Writing

  • journal about Moonchild (memoir) project at least once – DONE.
  • collect all relevant old notebooks from storage and bring them up into my apartment – nope, didn’t do it, still want to.
  • start constructing Nick timeline (the timeline for a relationship that figures prominently in my memoir project, explained in the reflections section of last week’s check-in) – find all existing references in Moonchild – I did technically start this but barely worked on it, and think I need a more concrete goal for this going forward.
  • work on blog at least 5 days – DONE.
  • journal about blog at least once – DONE.

Music

  • seven guitar practice sessions – yeah no, I did four – I’ve been practicing every day, with very few exceptions, since early mid-April, so this drop-off is out of character for recent months
  • get up through song 83 of book one of my Hal Leonard Guitar Method Complete Edition book – DONE – even though I didn’t do the amount of practice sessions I thought I would, I still did go forward since the previous lesson was the Em chord, which I was very familiar with already.
  • seven keyboard practice sessions – yeah even more of a no here, I only did three (and two of those were today) – like with guitar I’ve been doing keyboard pretty much every day for months, so this does have a falling off the wagon type feeling.
  • get up through page 52 in my Keyboard Musician for the Adult Beginner book – also no, I’m up to page 50 and have some catching up to do.

Lifestyle

  • sleep without the phone (a struggle you can read about here) – this will put me at 140 nights, aka 20 weeks, in a row – DONE – 20 weeks, baby!
  • read through page 226 in All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – DONE – this book is sooooo good; not easy but good.
  • write Morning Pages every day – I wrote them 6 of the 7 days – I couldn’t exactly write a big post about them, and then not write them.

Reflections on the Week

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“So I’m Leaving Out the Side Door”

This morning, I did a thing. It has to do with what is for now still unsayable but which came up a lot in this anguished post earlier this week. This thing I did is a huge step towards being able to talk openly about it, which I’m dying to do.

This song was playing at the crucial moment of doing the thing, and that’s where the title for the post comes from. Even though my situation is so different from what Taylor Swift and Bon Iver are singing about, everything feels like it fits. It’s my current favorite off of folklore, and I don’t think that’s an accident.

Lines that stick out for me at the moment, aside from the one used in my post title include:

“you’re not my homeland anymore”

“you were my town
now I’m in exile seeing you out”

“second third and hundredth chances
balancing on breaking branches”

and the one line I always want to scream along with the perfect bridge of this song

“I gave so many signs”

Spoiler alert: The sequel to this post, “You’re Not My Homeland Anymore” is now live and spills all the tea on this cryptic post.

Until next time,

-April

The Artist’s Way Reflections – The Basic Tools: Morning Pages

MPsIn The Artist’s Way, aka AW, a book I’m blogging about weekly, one of the first thing that the author, Julia Cameron, introduces is the practice of Morning Pages. As far as I know, this is also true for subsequent spin-offs and sequels. Morning Pages are the cornerstone of all her work on discovering, recovering, and reconnecting with creativity.

So, that raises (not begs) the question of what are they and why are they so important. Morning Pages are simple at face value. When you wake up, you’re supposed to write three pages of long-hand writing, about anything you damn well please. The keys are that they’re supposed to be in the morning, they’re supposed to be long-hand and they’re supposed to be private–even you yourself aren’t supposed to look at them for awhile.

The morning part of it is to clear your head, dump out all your little thoughts and worries and random tidbits floating in your head that otherwise could nag at you for the rest of the day. And morning because maybe when we’re still groggy, there’s less self-censorship. That’s part of the privacy aspect, that they’re never to be shown to anyone because once they are, the other person’s judgements come in, and so do your own.

To that point, though this is probably a story for another day, I did once have a boyfriend who told me, drunk off his ass when we were in a fight, that he’d read mine and then made fun of me for things I’d written. Fun freakin’ times.

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I Can’t Sleep With or Without You (My iPhone)

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The closest pic I could find to my own beloved phone and case

Sung to the tune of the U2 song “With or Without You.”

In some of my recent goals posts, I’ve mentioned a goal to sleep without my phone. This has been an ongoing struggle for me ever since I got an iPhone (and I was just telling a friend that I got one the day they became available to Verizon people), and in different iterations even before then. I thought it would make sense to give some background on this habit that I’ve struggled to break.

Because the thing is, I know all the things. I know that you’re supposed to get off electronics before going to bed. I know taking the phone into the bed with me, scrolling endlessly, listening to podcasts, having the blue light in my face (and I hold the phone much closer to my face than the average person, thanks legal blindness) is all bad. I know when I fall asleep with the phone, my sleep is worse. I don’t sleep as deeply. I wake up more often to pee or just to wake up, most likely because I’m still in the lighter stages of sleep. I probably miss out on a lot of deep sleep and all the goodies that it provides. I even read somewhere, years ago, that screens in bed has been linked to weight gain.

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Wait…WHAT?! The Most Shocking Bachelorette Bombshell News Ever

claretayshiaI often get annoyed by the hyperbolic declarations on the show like “most dramatic season ever” but this news lives up to the hype. It was a jaw-dropping revelation.

Some may consider this a spoiler, so if you don’t want to know anything about the upcoming season of The Bachelorette, you’ll want to skip this post. Though, I think this news is big enough it’s going to be hard to avoid. It’s truly unprecedented.

In fact, I was trying to avoid it at first. I saw that Reality Steve had leaked some major spoiler, but thought it was just the usual seasonal spoiler and I like to watch unspoiled (sometimes) so I skipped those tweets. Even with his recent podcast, I skipped ahead through the part that was discussing the spoiler, again figuring it was just the usual spoilers about the season.

Then I saw an episode of the Bachelor Party podcast appear in my feed and thought that’s odd for so early on a Monday and BAM, there was the news, which is…

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Creativity Goals Check-In August 2, 2020

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Goals from Last Week – How Did I Do?

Writing

  • read and take notes on the final chapter of my old version of Moonchild – DONE – this was a pretty easy, one-time thing that I did Monday morning.
  • journal every morning, contemplate what I want to do with Moonchild and where I want to go writing-wise, from here – Did 6 mornings (all except Monday, when I did the first goal) and it was more fruitful than I thought it might be. More below.
  • work on blog at least five days – this doesn’t mean I’m going to post five times, more just wanting to find chunks of time to work on this site – DONE

Music

  • practice guitar every day – DONE
  • get up through song 78 of book one of my guitar book – DONE but struggled with the new material a lot (alternate strumming)
  • practice piano every day – sorta done? I skipped one day but made up for it the next
  • get up through page 47 in my piano book – DONE

Lifestyle

  • sleep without my phone (this will put me at 133 nights in a row) – DONE but it was a struggle
  • read parts One and Two in All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which I’m reading for the NOAH (National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation)’s PWA Book Club – DONE and I’m really loving the book!
  • write Morning Pages every day – yeah no. I only wrote them 4 days, and two of those were were “evening pages” where I wrote something at night to say I’d written something, so technically only 2 days of true Morning Pages

Reflections on the Week

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