Tag Archives: books

Like Stories about Collapsing Lungs and Crocodiles?

I consider myself an optimistic pessimist. Meaning, I hope for the best, even if my thoughts don’t naturally go in that direction.

But lately, I’ve been complaining A LOT.

Sleep is a big part of keeping me on an even keel. If I am short on sleep, I act like a bad version of myself. Reading a good story also turns my mood around.

I try to read every night, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. Or sometimes, I start a new book, and the story hasn’t captured my interest yet. And sometimes, I just forget to do the things that are good for me.

I have a favorite design blog, Design*Sponge. The site showcases people’s beautiful homes, but also explores art, traveling, recipes, and artists. It has also started to focus more on writing.

I ran across a post about writer Rahawa Haile yesterday. She created a site called Short Story of the Day. Her idea was to post a short story from a minority writer every day in 2015.

I enjoyed the freshness of these stories, the ability to startle. Sure there was a breakup story, but the main character also had a collapsing lung. There was another story about a girl whose mom brings home a crocodile.

These stories forced the reader to suspend belief for a moment. To live outside the realm of the every day. Reading these stories allowed me to escape myself and all my petty gripes.

Sometimes, disappearing into a world of crocodiles and collapsing lungs is just what you need.

Last night, I also attended that Dave Eggers and Marlon James book event which benefited the Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute. As I mentioned last week, MOI is an after school program that helps students aged 6-18 work on their homework, focusing particularly on creative writing.

Along with Eggers and James discussing their work, three students from the program read stories. The stories were written in letter format. One was addressed to an alien, one to a dragon, and one to the sun. Each was funny and charming.

Eggers and James were fantastic, but I think everyone who attended would agree the kids stole the show.

It was another reminder of the power of a good story. A good story allows you to lose yourself in the moment, to try to absorb all the joy and possibility in the weird, little world of that story.

This week’s video is “Only Happy When It Rains” by Garbage.

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Finding Peace in a Room Full of Stories

When I lived in NYC, I worked as a visual stylist at Saks Fifth Avenue. My days were spent up and down ladders, applying graphics, dressing and re-dressing mannequins, painting, moving furniture around the floor, and putting together chandeliers. You name it; we pretty much did it.

It was inspiring. It was thrilling. It was chaotic.

I usually left bone-tired. Some days, it was more than that. I was frustrated. I was annoyed. I had hit my bullshit limit. Those days, I needed an out, some sane, a little peace and quiet.

Anthropologie was across the street in the Rockefeller Center shopping area. I know. There are so many beautiful places around this area. But for me, Anthropologie was the peaceful space I needed.

The smell hit me first. The store always burned its signature candles, which smelled like autumn air and musk and spice. The space was huge, airy. All the clothing, accessories, and home goods were perfectly placed. Everything looked like it came from your most stylish friend’s house.

I would walk in and breathe the peace and quiet. Let it settle on my skin. Sometimes I would buy something, usually something small, like a candleholder. Anthropologie is not inexpensive.

After I felt restored, I would grab the train home.

Spaces affect your mood. There are some rooms and places that just breathe peace. For me, Anthopologie is one of the places.

But I can’t really afford to spend every day at Anthropologie, nor do I want to revisit my life in retail.

This brings me back to my writing room/library. I wrote about it a few weeks ago.

I have made progress since then. I painted the walls (and some of the carpet) grey. I bought a rug to hide the (some of the carpet) grey. My friend helped me move a bookshelf in. I found a great Craigslist wingback chair. We moved the desk in.

I broke my writing room/library in on Wednesday.


Bookshelf porn.

A space full of stories is a lovely space to be in, my friends. And it is working already. I started a new story on Wednesday.

This week’s video is actually a shout-out for my partner-in-crime, James Wilson. His band, The Paisley Fields, has a record out today. If listening to country music music is your idea of peaceful, check out my favorite song “Brooklyn Rodeo.” Support his awesome band, and buy the EP! https://itun.es/us/PYOd-

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Coming Together and Saying Those Unsayable Things

I lost my brother Karl to suicide a little over ten years ago. It is still hard for me to speak about, but I am slowly, getting better at saying those unsayable things.

This summer I started working with Canvas Health, a non-profit organization that helps children, adolescents, adults, and families who struggle with mental health, chemical health, and domestic and sexual abuse. Working with Canvas makes me feel like I am, in a small way, helping people like my brother.

This fall, I decided to coordinate an event for Canvas Health on International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. The recognition day takes place this year on November 21st.

According to survivorday.org, Survivors of Suicide Loss Day was created through the efforts of Senator Harry Reid, who lost his father to suicide in 1972. In 1999, Reid introduced a resolution to the US Senate requesting a day of recognition for suicide loss survivors. After it passed, “the US Congress designated the Saturday before Thanksgiving ‘National Survivors of Suicide Day,’ a day where friends and family of those who have died by suicide can join together for healing and support.”

Our event will feature local writers reading about suicide, loss, and survival. We are trying to bring together people who have survived suicide loss, in an effort to build community and foster support.

SubText Books has generously agreed to host the event on 2:00 pm on Saturday November 21st in St. Paul, MN. SubText will feature the books of the writers who read at event. Canvas Health will also have information about its programs and services available.

I have contacted several writers and received a “Yes!” which I am extremely excited about. The talented Matt Rasmussen has agreed to read from his deeply moving book of poetry, Black Aperture. He was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2013 and won the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2012.

This is where you come in.

I need more writers. The writers don’t need to have a book out to be included in the event. If your work has only been published online, that’s fine as well. I am looking for writers that are comfortable reading in front a group. Also I want writers whose work focuses on suicide and would contribute to the atmosphere of healing and support.

If you know any talented writers or are a talented writer located in Minnesota, please contact me. This event means a lot to me, and I think it will mean a lot to this community. You can email me at pameladewey4010@gmail.com or tweet at me @agnesofiowa. I appreciate any help you can direct my way.

This week’s video is “Come Together” by The Beatles.


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