Tag Archives: fun

World’s Worst Jobs: Part 3

Standard

This is a continuation in a series I began a while back, where I analyze jobs I am thankful I don’t have. Check out part one and part two.

Circus Performer: Who actually does this, in our modern era? Pretty much only those born into it, or who are freakishly flexible and whose prospect for fame was greatly exaggerated, possibly due to being a member of The Abby Lee Dance Company. Please note that, while I romanticize running away with the circus, I realize they make peanuts (a suitable pun), have no job security or retirement plan, and are forced to wear sequins for, like, twelve hours a day. Do you know how itchy and uncomfortable that must be? Circus folk also take a lot of heat for abusing animals, shilling the rubes, and being hairy, more so than is decent for someone wearing such a skimpy v-neck. Truthfully, I thoroughly enjoy going to the circus when it comes to town (but have only attended sans child — now that he’s old enough to go I may rue the day we take him to the big top). However, I have a stable family, a mountain of debt, and no appropriate skill, which all prevent this dream of becoming a showman (showwoman?) a reality. Let’s break this category down a little further, with two especially unattractive options.

Acrobat: Vomit-inducing motion sickness unfortunately prevents me from considering participating in so many potentially life-threatening activities, that I’m assuming that walking the line (slang term for acrobat that I think I just made up) would be no different. How disappointing. Honestly, though, these people are literally one step, sneeze, or strong breeze away from meeting their maker. I cannot fathom the desire to follow in the family’s footsteps (another pun, but accurate, since we all know every acrobat does it as part of the family business — I’m looking at you, Flying Wallendas), when it is a career steeped in danger, as a quick google search will immediately reveal. These performers clearly have a lot of guts.

Clown: In fact, there is no safe circus job other than clown, right? Sad clown, happy clown, clown-car-extra clown, short clown, fat clown, clever clown, clumsy clown, hobo clown — there is no end to the types of clown someone could choose to portray in the circus. And yet, who wants to be a clown? When they aren’t giving the actual kinkers a break, they are probably the grunt workers, cleaning animal dung and kenneling the big cats. They have to wear so much makeup — there is a very good chance they all suffer from enlarged pores. Most distressingly, they make a living by terrifying children and 37-year-old female teachers in rural North Dakota…who live in my house…so me.

More to come.

Peace and love.

Light Reading for an Impending Apocalypse

Standard

I sit on my couch, cradling my aching head while trying — all at once — every known homeopathic remedy to fight my way through a sinus infection sans antibiotics, when my thoughts wander to a headline I recall scrolling past: Stephen King Insists the Coronavirus Is Not Like The Stand. 

First, let’s all take a moment to give thanks that Coronavirus is not the nonfiction counterpart of Captain Trips. Now, let’s pretend for a minute that it is. In that case, the people who are well-read will rule whatever is left of the world.

Follow me down this rabbit hole for a moment. Disease strikes. Mankind fights for its survival. With a decrease in available workers, plumbing, electricity, all modern technological advances (luxuries and ‘necessities’) eventually fail, including the internet. Doctors  will try desperately to heal the ailing with inadequate treatments. Farmers will have to shovel the land by hand. Politicians, repudiated for their weak understanding of science and poor preparation for global catastrophe, will be banished. Athletes will be relegated to the physical labor of repairing crumbling buildings and sidewalks (since, apparently, looters will destroy the towns and/or some natural disaster strikes everywhere civilization still exists), for their unmatched strength and nimble limbs will have been honed for just such a task. Who will be left to take control — to organize and plan, to seek answers to new, yet ancient, problems, to lead the populous into an era of peace and compassion, humility and togetherness? 

Nerds, it is us. Unite (even though we are mainly introverts who would come out this weekend but unfortunately we’ve already made plans…)! We’ve prepared for this exact scenario. We’ve read the books — like, all of them — every single one. We’ve studied the rhetorical devices, appreciated the wordplay, memorized the figurative language. We’ve stayed in the bathroom during breaks in hopes that our coworkers won’t try to talk to us. Now is the time we claim our power and use the knowledge of ages and the wisdom of the greats stored in our giant brains to recreate the remaining people into a happier, more loving, and gentler society, already properly envisioned in our overactive imaginations. 

As I consider the question of what to read to adequately prepare for the catastrophe the Doomsday Preppers believe is rapidly approaching, I think about the books I’ve read over my lifetime. If I was truly worried about an apocalypse, I think my final reading list would look a little something like this:

1.The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson

This is a series of ten adult fantasy books, and from the first time I read the books in college to the last series read-through when the final book was released, it has remained one of my all-time favorite stories. The premise is a very ill man finds himself, after an accident, waking up in an unfamiliar environment, which he suspects he is imagining. As it turns out, saving the Land becomes, for our protagonist, intrinsically linked to saving himself — what he believes is good, and worth fighting for, and worth making sacrifices to obtain — whether the Land is real or not. I can’t express how much joy I have derived from these books, nor relate to you how many tears I have shed over this series.

“There’s only one way to hurt a man who’s lost everything. Give him back something broken.”

2.The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien 

In a similar vein to the Thomas Covenant series, I have read and reread these books numerous times. The overarching theme is that even in the darkest, saddest, worst, most fearful times, there is still hope and love and friendship and happiness to be found. We observe the courage and perseverance of our main characters even in what appears to be certain defeat (and, for some of them, unfortunately is). These stories can show us what dedication and loyalty truly are. They demonstrate how to overcome overwhelming odds, crushing temptation, and painful despair. They inspire me to be more optimistic and to recognize that, while I may not “win them all” I may “lose” with pride, and cling to my belief that the good in the world will defeat the bad.

“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

3.Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

This lighthearted classic tale is purported to be an allegory, both of drug use and of politics of the time. As a card-carrying conspiracy theorist, I can attest that the allegations are one-hundred percent accurate, but also very probably not real. Even if it is true that the Queen of Hearts represents the Queen of England during Victorian times, that knowledge wouldn’t lessen my appreciation for the work as a silly, amusing story entertaining for both children and adults. It is cautionary in nature: Alice finds herself recklessly tumbling into a world in which she gets pulled deeper and deeper due to her insatiable curiosity and sincere appreciation for free food. The strangers she meets are crazy, unpredictable, treacherous, but, also, occasionally helpful and well-meaning. Basically, it’s life in a college dorm.

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

4.The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

This is a memoir that spent over 440 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list, and with good reason. Jeannette describes her early life as one with many obstacles she worked to overcome: being homeless, living in poverty, and being neglected and abused. Her writing style is elegant and compelling. Her story is heartbreaking and uplifting. She begins by describing how she set herself on fire. Her tragic early life has propelled her into a successful, strong, college-educated career woman. I haven’t often read a book as moving and inspiring, yet relatable, which simultaneously made me feel guilty about the life I’ve enjoyed. It’s a rare gem.

“Pick out your favorite star,” Dad said.
“I like that one!” I said.
Dad grinned. “That’s Venus,” he said. He explained to me that planets glowed because reflected light was constant and stars twinkled because their light pulsed.
“I like it anyway,” I said.
“What the hell,” Dad said. “It’s Christmas. You can have a planet if you want.”
And he gave me Venus.

5.The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

A unicorn is led to believe she is the last in existence, and thus goes to search out what has happened to all the others. It is a tale of having courage, and forging unlikely friendships, and finding or recognizing purpose and meaning in life, and accepting our innate nature, and defying the greed of our leaders for the betterment of the public. It is also about a unicorn, so….

“What use is wizardry if it cannot save a unicorn?” He gripped the magician’s shoulder hard, to keep from falling.
Schmendrick did not turn his head. With a touch of sad mockery in his voice, he said, “That’s what heroes are for.”

6. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

In the unlikely event of a civilization-altering calamity, it might be worth reading a story set in the midst of the “Roaring 20’s,” when people cared for little else but living in the moment and partying wildly on bootlegged hooch, recklessly squandering wealth in the expectation that their prosperity would continue unchecked indefinitely, in the time just before the stock market crash and Great Depression led many of these same players to suicide. Each time I read this book, I discover more to love. The tale of Gatsby and Daisy is timeless, and tragic, and unforgettable.

“I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him.”

7.The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

I have lost count of the number of times I have read this novel but the story has remained near the top of my favorite books list (which doesn’t actually exist, but if it did I would never forgive myself if I laminated it because I’m too indecisive to make that type of commitment). I have taught it to my students seven years in a row and every time it was genuinely enjoyed by a majority of the class, a feat so rare it only happens as often as a double rainbow after a Blood Rain in Kottayam. Albom’s powerful imagery, simple prose, poignant lessons, and memorable characters combine to create a novel which was on the New York Times Best Seller list for almost two years. As a bonus, this book is short and a fast read — perfect for a snowy afternoon snuggled on the couch with some hot chocolate.

“All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.”

8. The Stand by Stephen King.

Because, well, it can’t hurt to prepare.

 

“Whatever lay ahead, he was glad to be alive.”

 

Peace and love.

Music You Aren’t Listening To But Should Be: Halestorm

Standard

This is part of a continuing series. The first was on Billy Joel, and the second on Matchbox 20. I last posted about The Dixie Chicks.

Let me continue by showing love to a loud, edgy rock group with an intimidatingly beautiful, insanely talented, and terrifyingly angry lead singer to match. I’m referring to Halestorm, led by Lzzy Hale.

In this list, I’m going to be sticking to their original songs, but I also highly recommend their covers of Bad Romance and All I Wanna Do (Is Make Love To You) — they are phenomenal.

I got on the Halestorm bus right away, with some of their earliest songs. I remember the first time I heard “Miss the Misery.” I was driving to work and hadn’t caught the band or title, but I was so enamored that as soon as I pulled into the parking lot I used my phone to search the lyrics to find it again. I couldn’t get it out of my head. Her voice was so powerful and unique and, again, angry.

 

A song that always makes me smile — mainly because it’s a phrase I’ve heard my sister-in-law use countless times — is “You Call Me a Bitch Like It’s a Bad Thing.” It’s a catchy song, fun to sing along to, and very empowering.

 

Another popular crowd-pleaser, “Here’s to Us” was featured on the television show Glee. I appreciate the strength this band portrays — showing their listeners that it is not only good but our right to stand up for ourselves. It’s a message that cannot be overstated.

 

Admittedly, the loud yelling is not for everyone. But before you try to pigeonhole this group, I challenge you to listen to some of their more beautiful, touching, and meaningful songs. Take, for instance, “Familiar Taste of Poison.” Likely, the most specifically relatable lyrics are “I tell myself that you’re no good for me. I wish you well, but desire never leaves. I can fight this to the end, but maybe I don’t wanna win.” More impressively, this is a song off their debut album.

 

One that has a bit of an 80’s influence (I’m looking at you, Skid Row’s “18 and Life”) is off their third album. “What Sober Couldn’t Say” is a genuinely touching love song/ballad. Vocally, it’s clearly highly inspired by Pink and Lady Gaga. Lyrically, it’s a tragic story of what can happen when you are trapped in a relationship you can’t admit is long over and, thus, bad for you.

 

“Break In” is about the speaker letting someone in after (metaphorically) building a wall around themselves. She sings, “You are the only one — the only that sees me, that trusts me and believes me. You are the only one the only one that knows me.”

 

A top favorite of mine is “Innocence.” The speaker is telling someone she likes not to get too close to her because she will destroy him — that she has no interest other than the thrill of the chase. It’s haunting. I love it. Love. It.

 

Did I miss one of your favorites by Halestorm? Let me know — I love the group and would like to catch all their best ones.

Peace and love.

 

Nonfiction November Reading Challenge

Standard

Since nonfiction is one of my favorite reading genres, I have decided to participate in a reading challenge I discovered on YouTube for the month of November. The challenge has become very popular among the YouTube community as well as among Goodreads members. I have picked my four novels for the month based on the challenge categories of the creators, Gemma (whose YouTube channel is Non Fic Books) and Olive (who is known on YouTube as abookolive). They are using #NonfictionNovember2016 as the hashtag to find the tbr of everyone who is participating.

 

14939475_10210033765176490_5069105871442953000_o.jpg

The categories of the challenges, along with my selections for each, are as follows.

1.New: A book on a subject about which you know very little or one that is new to your collection or interest level. For this choice I picked The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of Homer’s Iliad and the Trojan War by Caroline Alexander. I teach part of Homer’s Iliad to my seniors every year, and it has always been one of my favorites, so when I found this recently I bought it immediately and without hesitation. It is brand new to my collection, though it was published in 2009, and finding out more about the actual history surrounding the Trojan War is an exciting prospect for me.

2.Fascinating: A book on a subject in which you are highly interested — one you can’t wait to read on a topic that you love. For this category, I have chosen, and already started reading, The Boston Strangler by Gerold Frank. I am a huge fan of true crime novels, and this is an in-depth look at the evidence and police action during the investigation of a serial killer who, until only recently, had completely mystified the Boston police department since the middle of the last century.

3.Controversial: A book on a topic about which people might have opposing views. For this category, I have chosen A First-Rate MadnessUncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness by Nassir Ghaemi. I have been incredibly excited to read this book since I purchased it a few years ago, but somehow it just kept getting shoved to the back of my tbr time after time. I knew that adding it to this reading challenge would finally push me to get around to this controversial little number, which discusses how some of our most famous and infamous world leaders have all had similar qualities, personality traits, and characteristics verging, unfortunately, on the brink of insanity. Considering the premise, I think this novel would start a number of excellent debates among historians as well as mental health experts.

4.Important: A book you think an educated person should read, which helps people understand the world or others around them. For this choice I selected History’s Worst Crimes and the People Who Investigated Them by Bill Price. This is one in a collection of similar books by the same author, and, as previously noted, I am a true crime fan, so this one in particular is right up my alley. I thought that if I check this off the list, it might encourage me to read the others like it in our personal library. It also seems like it will be a very quick read. It fits the category because it shows that, unfortunately, terrible, baffling crimes occur during all times and all over the world; it is a reality we must face if we hope to prevent them in the future.

Join me in this challenge! I would love to hear your thoughts on the books you choose.

Peace and love.