Rebecca over at Rose Coloured has really started something. A feel-good something.
Actually, she began it 10 years ago, and now she’s building on it. She’s asking for help in creating a bigger-and-better-than-ever list, “1,000 Things We Like, 2012.” Here she explains how it works, and how you can participate:
“As I said in the previous retro post, I started listing things I like and exhorting my friends to do the same in Fall 2002. It was so much fun making that community list (boy does it take a village if you want to get to 1000) that it happened again 5 years later. And, now, to celebrate the decade anniversary of 1000 things, dare we go for 3000?
“I’m in. Fred, one of the best likers I know, is in. Are you in? If so, feel free to add to the list — either in the comments section or on your on own blog, with the link in the comments. If the numbering gets screwed up (it always does) I’ll fix and repost — promise! Your list contributions can be as personal or as general as you like, but do make ’em specific as possible — name the band you like, don’t just say “music” — we’ll need a lot of specificity to get to three grand! It’s ok if your likes disagree with someone else who previously contributed to the list — if for example you write summer and someone else already wrote winter! We don’t have to *all* like *everything* — just submit it as a thing that one *can* like!”
So, here are some of mine, in no particular order:
- endings to books that make me want to cry because they’re so perfect
- Leonard Cohen’s voice, no matter how husky it gets
- fresh mangoes, and don’t ask me to share
- freckles across the bridge of the nose (anyone’s but mine)
- driving alone with the radio turned up
- driving barefoot in summer (a no-no, I realize)
- the view of the lake from Loeb Boathouse in Central Park
- actually, everything about New York City
- writer friends, published or not
- taking photos, when no one’s telling me to hurry
- buying a new bracelet
- creating something yummy for dinner when there’s virtually nothing in the fridge
- ghostly tales
- sunlight on water, so sparkly I have to squint
- talking to others who love books and movies as much as I do
- Saturday morning coffee (fresh ground) in my pj’s
- planning a trip, or a writers’ retreat
- dry wit
- browsing bookstores, with nowhere else to be
- my husband’s laugh when he’s watching Seinfeld re-runs, no matter how many times he’s seen the episode
- jazz festivals
- the feel of a sailboat heeling over
- Elvis Presley
- colourful anythings
- messages from old friends
- messages from new friends
- crazy coincidences (life is full of them)
- the first bite of a cone when you’ve licked down to it
- the things I learn from my book club that have nothing to do with books
- a new bar of soap in the shower
- my Morkie’s little head-tilt when he’s listening
- memoirs that go deep
- a field of cosmos
- terra cotta
- swimming a long way under water
- a foot massage when I’m least expecting one
- creative people and the way they think
- old limestone houses
- roller coaster rides
- just-washed hair
- teaching people who really want to learn
- dolphins in the wild
- friends who don’t check their cell phones while they’re with me
- Kingston’s waterfront
- Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl”
- my kids accomplishing something I didn’t realize they could do
- me accomplishing something I didn’t realize I could do
- finding something that was lost
- The Great Gatsby
- chardonnay, oaked or un-oaked
- Facebook and Twitter (god help me)
- the Rideau Canal
- feeling giggly
- listening to my husband playing guitar
- roast lamb with garlic and rosemary
- a luscious teal on my toenails
- both “our” Ryans (Reynolds and Gosling)
- realizing I don’t have to go grocery shopping after all
- having my hair brushed and brushed, like my niece used to do when she was little
- the scent of snow
- strangers who smile (or smile back) at me
- cobbled streets
- being introduced to new music
- country music (don’t ask me why)
- dappled sunlight through leaves
- films that really make me feel
- hot, buttery toast
- the way a friend of mine signs off messages to me with “Zigzags” — there’s a story there
- Main Street in Unionville, day or evening, any season
- editing a wonderful manuscript
- remembering things my mother said, and knowing she was right
- sushi (and just writing that makes me crave some)
- houseboat holidays in the Thousand Islands
- having someone else clean my house — and that fresh smell after they do
- words I have to look up in the dictionary
- finding out my kids remember something about their early years that I thought they’d forgotten
- drinks on a patio in summer
- hiking in the autumn
- the way my husband’s eyes turn bluer when he wears a blue shirt
- enthusiastic people, whatever their passion
- singing “O Holy Night” at Christmas
- singing, period
- also dancing
- that weird connection that redheads have
- Greek food on the Danforth
- the scent of a wood fire
- wearing sandals with a bit of a heel
- fresh cilantro
- horseback riding
- memories of my brother’s chuckle, so clear in my mind though he’s gone
- a new DVD arriving in the mail from Zip.ca
- spending time with a friend who’s known me forever
- disposable contact lenses
- the smell of banana loaf baking
- gentle (but strong) men
- strong (but gentle) women
- the light after a rain
- first time out with a new handbag
- goofy pratfalls in comedy
- pretty much anything chocolate with a glass of milk
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s crinkly-eyed smile
- achy-bright mornings
- rainy mornings as long as I don’t have to go anywhere
- my home office when it’s organized
- juicy peaches
- my kids making me laugh when I’m trying to be mad at them (sometimes)
- tropical breezes
- browsing celebrity mags at the hair stylist’s, guilt-free
- having a dog, because I never really thought I would
- the red rocks of Sedona
- a surprise invitation
- the chlorine smell of a swimming pool
- ticking something off my to-do list
- blue cheese
- Latin guitar
- that when we’re out, my husband notices cute babies before I do
- pretty journals with nothing yet written in them
- pretty journals with stuff written in them
- waking up to an adventure somewhere other than home
- wearing sunglasses
- Architectural Digest
- photos of my kids when they were wee and didn’t know how cute they were
- Indian food with raita
- Thai coconut curry
- wearing my hair up on a hot, hot day
- strolling the boardwalk in Toronto’s Beach neighbourhood, where I used to live
- the smell of fresh paint
- shavasna at the end of yoga practice
- good science fiction
- my dog nuzzling my toes
- riding a bike
- a short lineup at a checkout (or better yet, no lineup)
- Japanese pottery
- idea people, like Rebecca
Have some likes of your own? Of course you do.
Leave a comment below, or post on your own blog and add a link after the original post at Rose Coloured. I guarantee creating your own list will make you smile. And who knows – it may even inspire a story.
Friday, September 7th, 2012
Introduction to this series.
Rebecca Rosenblum’s fiction has been short-listed for the Journey Prize, the National Magazine Award, and the Danuta Gleed Award. Her collection Once won the Metcalf-Rooke Award and was one of Quill and Quire‘s 15 Books That Mattered in 2008. Her first chapbook, Road Trips, was published by Frogs Hollow Press in 2010. Her second collection, The Big Dream, was released from Biblioasis in 2011 and was recently long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize. Her blog is Rebecca Rosenblum: Rose Coloured at www.rebeccarosenblum.com
These are my seven treasures:
A tiny florist’s card that says “You are awesome.” When my partner and I were first getting serious, I asked very tentatively if I could keep a small basket full of my toiletries in his bathroom. He said fine, and one weekend I left it there. A week later I opened the basket and there was the card on top of my deodorant. It made me feel so welcomed, and I still have it.
A print of Mark Rothko’s Orange into Yellow. Yes, it’s just a print that I bought in an art shop, but it was a little expensive and I paid to have it mounted professionally, and then I carried this sizable and heavy piece home on the subway and from there on foot. It’s beautiful to look at, but the reason I love this specific print is that for a long time before I bought it I didn’t have money to spend on such indulgences, nor a home to put them in. When I finally did, I bought myself this wonderful present.
A small double frame containing photographs of my mother and father as babies. I am very close to my parents but I still have a hard time imagining their existence before I knew them. And yet, those babies are so obviously them. It’s fun and funny to stare at them and realize they knew nothing about what was to come. Also, they are adorable.
All my diaries — I’ve kept them on and off since I was about ten. I haven’t reread them, but I think I will want to someday. Honestly, right now I sort of squirm whenever I open them, but they feel like a resource waiting for a time when I’ll be ready for a little self-examination.
The books I use for my public readings. Whenever I do readings, I ask the other readers at the event to sign the endpapers of my reading copies, so these become like yearbooks reminding me of acquaintances made and friendships renewed while promoting each book. Also, the reading copies go a lot of places with me in the bottom of my bag, get dropped and spilled on and generally well-loved — they look like they’ve lived a life. They are the best evidence I have that I’m an actual author, which still feels kind of fantastic to me.
My spider plant. In grade 7, a friend of mine did a science-fair project that involved plants, and at the end she gave her subjects away. I got one, and twenty-one years later I still have it. I have carried it from apartment to apartment in three cities, and though it has had its bad times (including recently, when it’s been losing fights with the cat) it has always survived. I am proud I’ve been able to keep it alive so long, and it also feels a bit like a friend.
My engagement ring. I know, I know — most jewellery store advertisements would say the same. But there is no tradition of engagement rings in my family; my mom didn’t have one and nor did my grandmothers or any other relative I knew. So I certainly wasn’t thinking about getting one — until I did. It’s much more wonderful to be engaged than to have a ring, obviously, but it’s pretty amazing to have a physical reminder on my person that symbolizes that fact. I love to look down and see it and remember that I’m going to have this ring and my husband for the rest of my life.
Did this post remind you of some of your treasures? Please share your thoughts in the Comments.
And check out Seven Treasures, Part 1: guest post by Carin Makuz.
Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
Links to guest posts in this series appear below.
Memory fascinates me.
Why do people remember, and forget, what they do? What triggers their memories? If they focus on an object that uncovers a memory, using “involuntary memory” as a springboard to ”voluntary memory,” how deep can they go in recalling emotions and details?
What significant personal stories, unique and at the same time universal, can result from this process?
In Remembrance of Things Past, Marcel Proust writes famously about how a squat, plump little cake called a “petite madeleine,” when dipped in tea and tasted, evokes memories of his childhood in Combray. He describes the experience beautifully as it unfolds:
“And as soon as I had recognized the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me (although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy) immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set to attach itself to the little pavilion opening on to the garden which had been built out behind it for my parents (the isolated segment which until that moment had been all that I could see); and with the house the town, from morning to night and in all weathers, the Square where I used to be sent before lunch, the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was fine. And as in the game wherein the Japanese amuse themselves by filling a porcelain bowl with water and steeping in it little pieces of paper which until then are without character or form, but, the moment they become wet, stretch and twist and take on colour and distinctive shape, become flowers or houses or people, solid and recognizable, so in that moment all the flowers in our garden and in M. Swann’s park, and the water-lilies on the Vivonne and the good folk of the village and their little dwellings and the parish church and the whole of Combray and its surroundings, taking shape and solidity, sprang into being, town and gardens alike, from my cup of tea.” (Read more of the quote here.)
In memoir workshops I suggest that those seeking a way into their writing begin by looking around their homes, or cottages, at the belongings they keep close. Aside from basic utility items — that vegetable brush is unlikely to elicit emotions, though you never know! — many of the items we refuse to part with, whether used regularly, hanging on a wall, set out on a dresser, or tucked away in a drawer or cupboard, may be keys to memory. Each has the potential to remind us of the distant or not-so-distant past: a person, a place, an experience.
And if we look closely, each tells us something about who we were, and who we’ve become.
For “Seven Treasures: a memoir series,” I asked writer and editor colleagues, former students, and friends to share something about their most memory-imbued belongings. The results have been a pleasure to read, the writers’ choices and the reasons behind them unique, often surprising and always revealing.
I hope these writings help you see anew some of your own cherished items, and find your way to the underlying stories that make them special to you.
Click the contributor’s name to read about his or her Seven Treasures:
1. Carin Makuz, blogger and photographer (Matilda Magtree)
2. Rebecca Rosenblum, author and blogger (Rose Coloured)
3. Jeff Kamchor, television producer
4. Tobin Elliott, author of horror fiction (his website), blogger, and writing instructor
5. Amy Mattes, professional skateboarder and writer
6. Susan Johnson Cameron, retired teacher writing a family memoir
7. Adrian the Elder, photographer and blogger (Adrian the Elder)
8. Rick Brazeau, photographer (his photography Facebook page)
9. Elizabeth Yeoman, writer and professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland interested in language, culture, history, and memory
10. Thomas Pals, adjunct English professor at Ritsumeikan University, Japan
11. Kristen den Hartog, author of fiction and family memoir (her website), and blogger (Blog of Green Gables)
12. Meghan Latta, artist
13. Diane Schoemperlen, author (her author Facebook page) and artist
14. Frank Soriano, leadership development consultant
15. Catherine Graham, poet (her website)
16. Shivaun Hearne, Toronto-based editor for University of the West Indies Press in Jamaica
17. Morgan Holmes, freelance writer and editor (his website)
18. Suzanne Adam, memoirist
19. Natalie Shahinian, artist and writer
And read this thoughtful related post, “Define Treasure,” by my first contributor, Carin Makuz
Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
Tobin Elliott over at Left to Write has put a little grin on my face by honouring me with an Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award. I met Tobin at the Ontario Writers’ Conference where I was involved in a Roundtable on Self-Publishing. One of my students, Mary McIntyre, who had taken a course from Tobin years ago and thought highly of him, ended up seated beside him at the conference and introduced the two of us. It was easy to see why she’d raved about him. He’s enthusiastic about writing, his own and others’, friendly, and has a wide range of interests.
Tobin kindly wrote: “Besides being a great writer and editor, Allyson’s also just a very nice person (and a closet horror fan, which is aces in my book!). Interviews, guest bloggers, upcoming writing contests … this blog has something for everyone.”
Thursday, June 2nd, 2011