Tag Archives: Sue Monk Kidd

Friday Links: Commencement Addresses by Authors

28 Jun

Quindlen

June seems to have come and gone ever so quickly this year. I suppose that’s the nature of life. The older we get, the faster the days, months, and years seem to pass. I think even Einstein would agree. June always has thirty days in it—it’s not like sneaky February with its leap year—and yet those thirty days seem to go by so much faster than they did when I was a kid. I remember being in grade school just waiting for school to let out for summer break. The winter months seemed to drag on and on, and that last month til graduation felt like for-ev-errrrr.

The funny thing is, as much as I looked forward to graduating and summer vacation and all the excitement that June brought, it also felt like a sad time. It was a time to say good-bye to teachers who had great impact on my love of reading and writing as well as a time to throw out old notebooks filled with a year’s worth of thoughts and doodles.

It was also a time of change and uncertainty. What would the next school year bring? What would college be like? What kind of job would I find after college? What would it be like to go back to grad school after so many years out of college and in the workforce? Did I take advantage enough of grad school and will I now make good use of my MFA?

I wasn’t in any sort of academic program this year, and yet once again I’ve found June to be a time of exciting and positive change but also uncertainty about what the future holds. I recently made what felt like a pretty big decision that will (hopefully) bring me a bit more stability and permanence in my life, however the decision was made at a time when I found out a family member was making the opposite decision. I guess even as adults, we encounter times when we graduate from one phase of our life into the next.

Years ago, my mother gave me Anna Quindlen’s A Short Guide to a Happy Life. I’ve had to get rid of a lot of books over the years with all my various moves, but I’ve held onto this small volume, inspired by a commencement speech she once gave. I think no matter where we are in life, June is a good midpoint in the year to celebrate the accomplishments we’ve made so far this year and plan for the rest of the year. Commencement addresses like the ones by famous authors below are a great inspiration. I also like Warren Buffett’s recent advice to the Millennial Generation to “stop holding yourself back.”

Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451) at Columbia College

Max Brooks (World War Z) at Pitzer College

Louise Erdrich (Love Medicine) at Dartmouth University

Neil Gaiman (The Sandman, Coraline) at University of the Arts

Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life of Bees) at Scripps College (woot!)

Anne Lammott (Traveling Mercies, Bird by Bird) at U.C. Berkeley

Michael Lewis (The Blindside, Moneyball) at Princeton University

Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible) at Duke University

David McCullough (1776) at Wellesley High School

Anna Quindlen (Black and Blue) at Villanova University

J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter) at Harvard University

David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest) at Kenyon College

Elie Wiesel (Night) at Washington University

And for those of you who dropped out of college: Jack Kerouac did too, but he kept on studying and you too can keep on learning and growing.

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Gift Guide for the Greek Lover

6 Dec

Whether you’re giving a Greek American a taste of their homeland when they can’t make it back for the holidays or satiating a Hellenophile’s interest in Greek culture, there are countless foods, books, beauty products, and jewelry that will suit your needs.  Plus, select a gift made in Greece and you’ll also be supporting the struggling Greek economy.  Here’s just a small selection of Greek gift ideas, some made in the States, some in Greece, and others elsewhere, but all unique and lovely.

Gifts for the Greek food lover:::

 

Kokkari: Contemporary Greek Flavors by Janet Fletcher

 

How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking by Michael Psilakis

A selection of delicious dressings and marinades from Sophia’s Gourmet Foods

A selection of three different flavors of honey from Odysea Shop

Traditional Greek preserves (rose petal and pergamot) by Monastiri

Kalamata olive oil

Ouzo candies

Pavlidis Dark Chocolate

Pastelli with honey

Bonus tip! – Gifts appear so much nicer when they come as a set.  You may want to give a cookbook with some Greek spices.  A duo or trio of a certain type of product (such as honey or olive oil) is a great way for the recipient to try out a few flavors.  Or, you may want to give a gift basket of assorted Greek candies.

 

Gifts for someone who loves Greek literature:::

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Antigonick by Sophocles, translated by Anne Carson, illustrations by Bianca Stone

The Greek Poets: Homer to Present by Peter Constantine

 

The Odyssey: A Pop-up Book by Sam Ita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holidays on Ice by David Sederis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bossypants by Tina Fey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor

Subscription to Greek America Magazine

Bonus tip! – Trying pairing the book with a book light, a notebook and pen, a bookmark with a quote by a Greek philosopher, or a coffee mug (maybe even with a bag of Greek coffee).

 

Gifts to make someone feel like a beautiful and pampered Greek goddess:::

Beauty products from Korres.  I would especially recommend Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial. You can read my review here.

Olive oil body lotion by Olivia

Jewelry by Konstantino

Bonus tip! – Include a lovely handwritten letter.  A bottle of Greek wine (here’s my review of the Greek American wine Pindar) or some fine Greek chocolates (here’s my review of the Greek American chocolatier Chocolate Moderne) would also make someone feel loved and pampered.

 

As the Greek proverb says, “A gift, though small, is welcome.”

Writing Wednesday: Who Is the Patron Saint of Your Writing?

23 Mar

Detail of Turf One's painting "Holy Ghost."

“Who is the patron saint of your writing?” my lit instructor inquired.

I’m taking a class that looks at how classic works of literature inspire contemporary works.  We look, for example, at how Evan S. Connell’s Mrs. Bridge informed Meg Wolitzer’s The Wife.  It seems natural that great authors would inspire other great writers to write either in the same style or the same theme.  And yet, my instructor’s question has had me thinking for days.

I’ve never thought of my own writing as being inspired by another writer.  I don’t try to write like my favorite authors, though I’m sure I must’ve done it subconsciously many times.

In a way, this rejection of sameness is reflective of my life in general.  I was the English major in undergrad who hung out with all the premed students.  I was the Greek kid in middle school with all the Korean and Japanese friends.  It never occurred to me to hang out with people who had my identical interests and culture, and it never occurred to me to try to write like another writer.

Except maybe Gregory Corso.

When I was 22 I wrote an homage to Corso’s “I Am 25.” It was pretty much a rip off of Corso’s poem, but it was meant to be.  Corso writes about stealing the poems of Shelley, Chatterton, and Rimbaud, and I more or less swapped out the names of these “old poetmen” for those of Corso, Kerouac, and Ginsberg.

Along those Beat Generation lines, one of my favorite writers is Jack Kerouac.  Read these lines from On the Road:

“Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.”

“The one thing that we yearn for in our living days, that makes us sigh and groan and undergo sweet nauseas of all kinds, is the remembrance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced (though we hate to admit it) in death.”

It pains me how beautiful these words are.  While so much has been made of Kerouac’s subject matter and improvisational style, I find that it is his lyrical descriptions and, yes, the rhythm of his prose that captivate me the most.

I have zig-zagged across the country, visiting places Kerouac visited, and I’ve written short travel articles, but I don’t write road-trip novels.  I would like very much to write about America, though.  I’ve written about Kerouac, sure, but I haven’t (consciously) attempted to write in his style.  I love punctuation rules too much.

I would probably choose Jack Kerouac to be the patron saint of my writing, but in reality, my writing voice comes out more like Sue Monk Kidd or, as my mom has pointed out, Donald Miller and Anna Quindlen.

Others tell me to read David SedarisHe’s Greek!  He writes about his family! And indeed, I do see his humor sometimes creeping into my personal essays.  One time, right after reading David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster, I will confess I conjured up his style for an article I wrote, but I fear that was only similar to off-key humming of a song that just played on the radio.

Must I choose just one patron saint?

I admire great writers, and I love to reference them and turn other readers on to them, but I don’t think I could ever choose just one to be my patron saint.  I’m way too much of a schizophrenic writer for that.

Who is your patron saint of writing?