Blog Archives

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair

I first saw Nina Sankovitch’s “Tolstoy and the Purple Chair” in a random bookstore in downtown Boise. I wasn’t looking for anything specific, just browsing.

I’ve loved memoirs ever since my senior year of high school when we focused on some great memoirs for an entire semester. I also took a course in college that focused on memoirs. I find them interesting in many ways. For one, you get to see a very personal side of someone’s life. You get to see their life through the lens of a specific theme which they’ve chosen as their backdrop. And then, after you’ve read it, you can analyze their version of events and speculate how other people in their lives may have told the story. The subjectiveness of truth has been the downfall of many memoirs’ reputations. It brings up the question: Is it how events happened that matter, or how we remember them, the message we take away from those events?

Anyway, I was going through the memoir section of this bookstore, and “Tolstoy and the Purple Chair” jumped out at me. I read the back, and found it interesting, but I didn’t really need more books (as if I ever do…) so I put it back. Read the rest of this entry

Car History Part 3: Freddie

Freddie

After the traumatic experience of watching my car burn to a crisp on the side of the road, it’s a wonder that I wanted to drive again at all. But I still needed to get places, and an automobile seemed a lot more convenient than a bike or just walking everywhere.
And so the search for an affordable vehicle began again.

This time less than a month passed before I heard from my mechanic. He was actually looking to sell one of his personal vehicles, since his wife was tired of having seven cars and trucks lying around the place. He had a nice little GMC truck, would I be interested? I went to check it out, and instantly fell in love. The truck was a beautiful light blue. He was perfect.

Dale warned me that the truck had a four-cylinder engine and was a bit wimpy, so I shouldn’t rush intersections while I had the air conditioning on. My friend Sydney took me to get my truck and get the appropriate paperwork filled out. We decided right then that my truck needed a name.

“He’s definitely a boy,” I said. “But he’s so pretty!”

“OMG He’s Gay!” Sydney exclaimed! “His name should be Lance! After Lance Bass, because he’s pretty AND gay! And Lancelot, cause knights are awesome!” It was decided.

Later, I told my mom, and she was skeptical. “Lance?” That doesn’t sound like a name you’d choose.”

“Well, I thought about Freddie for a second… but Lance is perfect. But Freddie could be after Freddie Mercury! and Freddie Prinze Jr! One is gay and the other pretty! hmm… Oh! I know, I’ll call him Frederick Lancelot the Third! Since he’s my third vehicle. He can be Freddie or Lance for short depending on my mood.”

A beautiful friendship has blossomed between Freddie and I since. In the past six years he had become dented, but they scars just add character to his beautiful blue exterior. He has transported me safely on many roadtrips, and in return I have tried to take care of him best as I can.

“Hopefully he doesn’t succumb to a fiery death like Thelma” I tell Beth and Katy one night at our favorite coffee shop.

“No, that’s been done. Freddie is doomed to drown! You better learn what to do when your car is submerged in water! or if you’re caught in an avalanche!”

And so I have.

Car History Part 2: Thelma

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One good thing about the period where I hadn’t had my car was that I made really good friends with my co-workers. School was closer to work than my house, so I would usually walk there straight from school if I worked, which put me there an hour early. So I hung out in the lobby and joked around with whoever was working. But on days when I worked later, or on weekends, I still had to walk. It was a cold winter. I ended up being sick almost all of January, and missing out on some shifts because of it. That was not helping my car fund.

Finally, in April, my mechanic called. He knew we were looking for a car, and one of his customers was looking to sell his. I was excited beyond belief. I was getting a car! It was another Oldsmobile, a white LSS. Dale, my mechanic, checked it out for me and made sure it was in good condition before we bought it. I had to make some payments, because the insurance money wasn’t enough to cover it, but it was the best deal we were going to get. Once again, I had a car.

I named her Thelma, because she was an old lady. I had not seen Thelma and Louise, but I had heard of it, and I thought Thelma was the perfect name for my car. Unfortunately, that gave her a horrible fate. Read the rest of this entry

Car History Part 1: The Crapsmobile

cutlass

One of my favorite stories to tell is my car history. My truck is very dear to me, and how I came to get him is quite an entertaining story. So, I’ve decided to relate the story in 3 parts, one for each car that I’ve owned. So I hope you have some popcorn and possibly a tissue box (ok, you probably won’t need one, but I did at the time.) Here’s part one; Come back the next two days for the rest of the story.

Like every teenager, I couldn’t wait to get my driver’s license and a car. Getting a car meant freedom. It also meant I had to get a job. But before I could even start to worry about that, I had to learn to drive. Read the rest of this entry

Childhood Nature Memory

During my last semester of college, I took a science writing class. Despite it’s name, and luckily for me, it was not about writing technical science jargon or lab reports. It mostly covered nature writing and bringing scientific issues to the general population by interweaving personal experiences with  scientific fact.

I loved the class, which was taught by Ceiridwen Terrill, author of Part Wild, a memoir about her experiences owning a part wolf.

In the class, we were told one day to write a childhood nature memory, using as much detail as possible. Here is the result.

Childhood Nature Memory

As I walk down the overgrown paths near my Grandma’s house, the sights overload my nine-year old brain. I’m visiting Grammy and her husband, Tom, in Yerington, Nevada, which is basically the middle of nowhere. The land is mostly desert, but not far from the house there’s a patch of trees. To my mind, I’m in an endless desert that in need of exploring. I run into the house every night rambling about the animal prints I see. “Maybe if you were quieter, you’d see some animals too.” Grandpa Tom quips. I don’t really pay attention to him though. The animals obviously just didn’t come out to play at the same hours I did.

One evening, Grammy decides that we are going for a walk. We walk along an animal beaten trail toward the trees. When we get near a clearing before the tree cluster, Grammy pulls me back, telling me to be quiet. Seconds later, the clearing is filled with almost fifty deer, heading toward the water that I can’t believe exists in this barren land. Not a hundred feet away from us are more deer than I’ve seen in my entire life.

Later at the house, I tell Grandpa Tom what we’ve seen. “See! I am quiet enough!” Grammy and Tom just looked at each other mischievously and let me continue my excited ramblings.

On Writing

I read Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing, years ago. It is the only thing I have ever read of King’s, as his books just don’t really sound like my style. Truthfully, even though I loved this book and thought it offered a lot of great advice to writers, I never actually finished it. I remember reading the majority of it on a plane. I marveled at the great advice and felt really inspired, and then never picked it up again. Eventually I returned it to the friend who had lent it to me.

This didn’t keep me from loving the concept of this book and recommending it to every writer I know. A professor of mine even added it to one of her class reading lists because of the suggestions of a few of us in the class.

Today, while scouring the web for resources for a work article, I stumbled upon this infographic. It sums up the most important parts of the book in a quick, easy-to-read format. All the motivation, none of the slog. I still recommend reading the book, as it gives you a lot of insight into King’s journey as a writer, and the sacrifices it takes to (possibly) make it big in the writing industry. If your “to-read” list is already quite long and daunting though, the infographic is enough for now. Read the rest of this entry