RIP Gabriel García Márquez

“On a day like today, my master William Faulkner said, “I decline to accept the end of man.” I would fall unworthy of standing in this place that was his, if I were not fully aware that the colossal tragedy he refused to recognize thirty-two years ago is now, for the first time since the beginning of humanity, nothing more than a simple scientific possibility. Faced with this awesome reality that must have seemed a mere utopia through all of human time, we, the inventors of tales, who will believe anything, feel entitled to believe that it is not yet too late to engage in the creation of the opposite utopia. A new and sweeping utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will prove true and happiness be possible, and where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second opportunity on earth.” ~ Gabriel García Márquez

Rest in peace Gabriel García Márquez. Thank you for magical realism, and thank you for magical reading.

 

 

 

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National Library Week

When I got my library card, that’s when my life began.  ~Rita Mae Brown

Apparently, this week is National Library Week, described on the American Library Association’s website as “a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use.”

The theme for this year is “Lives change @ your library”. Anyone who believes that books change lives, like I do, has to believe that libraries change lives too. After all, libraries are where you find books. It’s difficult for me to imagine how different a person I would be if I hadn’t had access to libraries as a child. I’ve been blessed by many libraries, from my mother’s home library to having access to millions of books through my local library and Interlibrary Loan. My mother had a sizeable book collection and what I loved about it was that it was fluid. New books were always coming in. My primary school library used to open just twice a week, during lunchtime. I would always be first in line, 10 minutes before opening time, waiting patiently for the wooden doors to open and let me in. When I finished working my way through the entire collection, I pestered my sister to get me books from the library at her high school.

There was a local library near our house, but I didn’t go there much. It was a rather depressing place. Fortunately, my high school has a great library that I still rate as one of my favourite places in the world. That place was like a second home especially in the last two years of high school. I spent any time I was not in class in the library, stocking up on classics and reading magazines that I couldn’t find anywhere else. And when I got tired of reading, I would walk along the shelves until I got to M in the fiction section. There, I would look to see where my book would fit in when I finally got my first novel published.

Emily Fowler Central LIbrary. Denton, TX

Emily Fowler Central Library. Denton, TX

What do you think of when you hear the word library? Old? Stuffy? A place filled with books? To believe that libraries are simply a place that houses books is to misunderstand the modern library. Like many things, the library has undergone vast changes in the last decade or two due to the internet and rapid technological advances. You don’t just go to the library to get books. You go there to get dvds, cds, books on cd and audiobooks. You can download eBooks for your Kindle, Nook, Android phone or whatever device it is you do your reading on. You can access the internet, print documents, scan to PDF or fax. You can take computer classes, learn to knit, or join a foreign language conversation club. Our local library even has a 3-D printer! Libraries not only provide you with information, but the tools to find even more things.

When I think libraries, I think of a place filled with infinite worlds where dreams are created. I think equality. In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about the growing inequality in this country and around the world as the gulf between the rich and the poor continues to grow. I believe one of the things that fuels this gap is computer access and lack of. One child grows up with a laptop, a smartphone, a tablet and an e-reader. The other lives just above the poverty line and their parent can only afford the absolute necessities. How can that poor child ever catch up? The library is how.

In a great speech on the importance of reading and libraries, Neil Gaiman said:

“I worry that here in the 21st century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to miss the point fundamentally…A library is a place that is a repository of information and gives every citizen equal access to it. That includes health information. And mental health information. It’s a community space. It’s a place of safety, a haven from the world. It’s a place with librarians in it. What the libraries of the future will be like is something we should be imagining now…Libraries really are the gates to the future. So it is unfortunate that, round the world, we observe local authorities seizing the opportunity to close libraries as an easy way to save money, without realising that they are stealing from the future to pay for today. They are closing the gates that should be open.”

Keep the gates to the future open. Support your local library.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Bookish Things (That Aren’t Books) That I’d Like To Own

I just discovered a fun writing prompt called Top Ten Tuesday. Top Ten Tuesday is “an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish.” Each week, they post a new top ten list and any blogger is welcome to post their own list on the same topic. So here is my first!

Top Ten Bookish Things That Aren’t Books That I’d Like to Own

1. William Wordsworth Mug

I’m sure you’ve noticed I love me some Wordsworth. He is my absolute favourite poet and this cup would an excellent addition to my Wordsworth collection.

Wordsworth Quote Mug

2. A “Not all who wander are lost” compass necklace.

3. My favourite Victor Hugo quote framed and hung above my writing desk

Hugo Diamonds

4. Elephant BookendsElephant Bookends5. A Kindle Case that looks like a book cover, preferably the cover to The Thousand and One Tales

6. “So many books. So little time.” cushion covers

Books cushionI found this on Etsy and it’s how I feel every night when i have to close my book and go to bed. Sometimes when I’m standing in the library I feel like crying at the thought of all the good books in the world that I’ll never get to read because there just is not enough time.

7. 4D Cityscape Game of Thrones: Westeros Puzzle

8. Lord of the Rings Birthday Cake

My Birthday is coming up soon…

9. This shirt for when I’m reading and people keep interrupting me.

10. A Window seat

Window seat

 

 

 

My Wall of Inspiration

I’m having another lazy day. I’ve started three different blog posts, all which look promising, but all which require a lot more concentration than I’m willing to give at this particular moment. It was a long day at work today. I actually did some work for a change, and my brain is fried. So I’ve spent the last hour staring at my wall waiting for inspiration.

This isn’t just any old wall. It’s my wonderful wall of inspiration.

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On this wall, is many a reminder to get back to work when my mind starts to wander, like it has the last hour. The center-piece of this collection is my “Creative Process” Poster.

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I am currently stuck in the yard of indolence. My brain seems to have already checked out for the summer even though I still have a whole month of work to go.

Anyway, also on the wall is my favourite T.E. Lawrence quote about the dreamers of the day, probably dearer to me because it’s AB de Villiers’ favourite quote. There is a picture of Jesus with the words “Jesus, I Trust in You.” Pretty self-explanatory that one. The nun who gave me communion lessons gave that to each one of us on the day of our first communion as our congratulatory gift.

I think of another nun when I read the quote, “The pain of discipline is miniscule compare to the pain of regret.” My high school piano teacher was a German nun in her nineties. Her motto was simple: Discipline, diligence and dedication, of which the first is the most important. That is probably the most important lesson I learnt at the Convent. Last summer, I wrote a blog post about my piano teacher, and reading it now, the part that sticks out is “The most important lesson I learnt in those piano lessons when Sr. Loyola would hit my fingers with a stick was that nothing can be achieved without discipline. Whatever you’re doing in your life, you’ll never excel if you don’t have the discipline to do the work every day.”

And that’s why I’m showing up today, stringing together a couple hundred words, putting myself through these 30 days of blogging even though all I feel like doing is watching Netflix with a pint of Half-baked. You have to show up everyday if you’re going to make progress.

 

PS: What do you think of the recent photo heavy posts? One of my resolutions for this challenge was to experiment with the blog and photos was something I’d never done before.

My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold A Rainbow in the Sky

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;Rainbow_02
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

William Wordsworth

 

 

 

We’ve been pretty lucky lately in Denton. I think I’ve seen four rainbows in the last 3 weeks. And each time I see one, my heart does leap up. For a second, I’m seven years old again, sitting on the kitchen steps looking the rainbow, marvelling at God’s creation. I have to agree with Wordsworth. If there ever comes a day when I no longer see the beauty of the rainbow, or it doesn’t bring a smile  to my face, let me die.

A Zimbabwean ABC

As I’m packing my books for the move, I’ve split them into 3 piles: those I will leave in Zimbabwe, those I will have sent to me in Wyoming and the precious ones that travel in my hand luggage for fear of losing them. The very first book in the hand luggage was my “An African ABC” by Jacqui Taylor. I think my dad must have gotten it for me when I was 6 or 7. I remember being spell-bound by it. As you’ve probably guessed, it goes through the alphabet listing things in Zimbabwe that start with each letter. It is magnificently illustrated. As I was thumbing through it today, I was trying to remember which of the illustrations was my favourite. Each page I opened, I thought “This is the one. I always loved this one!”, but then I’d turn to the next one and think “No. This one is the one!” So I’ll post a few here, but the pictures really don’t do the book justice.

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I remember looking at the book when I was 7 wishing I could visit all the places it mentioned. Now I realise that I’ve gotten to see most of them. I’ve seen the majestic elephants. I’ve gone fishing in Kariba. I’ve seen the hippos and I am here to tell Jacqui Taylor that they’re more likely to bare their teeth menacingly rather than wallow with glee! I’ve sat around the fire at night listening to the sounds of the bush wondering what lurks in the darkness. I’ve watched the kapenta boats, eaten roasted mealies by the side of the road, and gotten sick from eating mangoes straight out of the tree. I’ve ridden a boat down the Zambezi, and watched the mighty river tumble over Victoria Falls. My gosh, Zimbabwe is a beautiful country.

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I am definitely going to get my niece this book for her next  birthday. Hopefully, she’ll fall in love with the pictures, look at her dad and say to him, like I said to my dad, “When can we go see these places?” You haven’t lived until you’ve been to Zimbabwe.

Lessons Learnt on the Job

It just hit me that I have just one month left at my job. I’ve been working as a supplemental instruction leader for almost 3 years, and the thought of not seeing the people I work with all the time makes me very sad.I was so terrified of this job when I started, but now I count it as the best decision I made in my college career. Without it I might have never had the courage to apply to an MFA program. I’ve learnt so much and I want to share a few of the lessons with you.

1. Fear means Go

I used to be terrified of public speaking. I still am, but I’m also in love with it! My job forces me to give presentation regularly and I’ve realised that I love the entire process of coming up with ideas, using them to create a coherent narrative and presenting it to an audience in a manner that will keep them engaged. This translates to most parts of my jobs. The things that terrified me in the beginning are now the parts of my job I love most. They are the experiences I learnt the most from. Fear does not mean hide. It means prepare to grow.

2.Do whatever makes your eyes light up

This one I learnt from my students. I work in sophomore world literature classes and the course is a core class so a lot of people in the classes are not english majors and have absolutely no interest whatsoever in literature. When you talk to them about literature, their eyes glaze over. But when you ask them about biology, or accounting or whatever it is they do, their eyes light up and all of a sudden you can’t stop the deluge of information tumbling out of their mouths. I watched my students do this for 2 years, and each time I saw their eyes light up, I thought “I want that.” I knew what lit my soul on fire, but I didn’t have the courage to say it. I watched them and I envied until i realised the only thing standing in my way was me.

3. Perhaps love does come softly

For too long, I subscribed to Oprah’s “Aha moments”. I thought that when something is meant to be, there would be sparks the second I encountered it and it would be a perfect relationship from that point. If I had stuck to that theory, I would have quit my job after a week. But I pushed through the struggles as the beginning and eventually fell in love with the job. I’m glad I was patient enough to see it through.

One month! The last four months have gone by so fast. I guess time flies by when you’re having fun and I’ve really been having fun bingeing on Netflix and library books and occasionally going to work. Too bad that at the end of it all is a long string of goodbyes.