the monday inspiration.

I love a game of Would You Rather. If you had to choose, would you pick smelling terrible for the rest of your life or having both your legs amputated? Would you rather have the main character in every movie replaced by Nicholas Cage or every song sung by Nickelback? Would you rather have 12 kids or zero? Would you rather have the ugliest house in a fancy neighborhood or the most beautiful one in an average one? Would you rather a year of travel or a $100,000 check?

One of the fallback prompts that I’ve found to be a telling insight into a person is the following: Would you rather live an average life, die, and be largely forgotten, or would you rather be Van Gogh’d– ridiculed and impoverished during your earthly days and then remembered as a genius forever forward? I think I’d go with the tame and average life (and look at how dutifully I’m walking that talk, ha), but the idea of having people refer to others who have been influenced by HRCK the Herald and its lasting legacy is pretty tempting.

I was reminded of that would you rather when I came across this post– 11 Early Scathing Reviews of Works Now Considered Masterpieces. Here are a few from the list:

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1813)

Early Reaction: …Charlotte Brontë (of Jane Eyre fame) wasn’t buying the hype: “Anything like warmth or enthusiasm, anything energetic, poignant, heartfelt, is utterly out of place in commending these works: all such demonstrations the authoress would have met with a well-bred sneer, would have calmly scorned as outré or extravagant…”

Fred Astaire (1899 – 1987)

Early Reaction: “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.” –MGM Testing Director’s response to Astaire’s first screen test

Ulysses, by James Joyce (1918)

Early Reaction: “In Ireland they try to make a cat clean by rubbing its nose in its own filth. Mr. Joyce has tried the same treatment on the human subject” –George Bernard Shaw

Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman (first pub. 1855)

Early Reaction: Upon reading the newly published Leaves, Whitman’s boss at the Department of the Interior took offense—and gave his underling the axe.

*Fellow poet John Greenleaf Whittier supposedly hurled his 1855 edition into the fire.
*“A mass of stupid filth” -Rufus Wilmot Griswold, The Criterion, November 10, 1855
*“It is no discredit to Walt Whitman that he wrote Leaves of Grass, only that he did not burn it afterwards.” –Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The Atlantic, “Literature as an Art,” 1867
*“… the book cannot attain to any very wide influence.” –The Atlantic, January 1882

So, to reduce all this to a nice little message,

Go do your thang.

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the happy heart day.

Whether you’re like this:

Or feeling more like this:

I hope you have a happy day and enjoy celebrating all kinds of love.

—–

(if you care to read a little rant…)

For the past couple of weeks, my gym has had a sign up that says something like “Whether as a Valentine’s Gift for your sweetie or a treat for yourself on Single Awareness Day, a massage appointment is the perfect present!”  Then, my roommate and I had a girls Valentine’s Day shindig on Sunday night, and my lovely friend Casey said she had been asked if the party, due to its all-girl nature, was an Anti-Valentine’s one,  complete with the burning of nostalgic/romantic momentos and gloomy black decor. These two instances and all the other V-Day dread seem 1) so dated (heh) to me, 2) negligent of the fact that the day’s not all about romantic love, and 3) kind of insulting. Who has said “Single Awareness Day” since middle school? And who, even if not boyfriended or girlfriended, has no relationships about which they can be happy (if that actually applies to you, I apologize, and you have free reign to be full of angst today)? And even if many single people are grumpy about it, why is it AUTOMATICALLY lumped with angry? Bitter isn’t a good look on anyone– pink is much better.

And when will HRCK the Herald stop pretending she’s Carrie Bradshaw? Right now.

(1,2, 3, 4)

the heartfelt.

This letter has made the blog/facebook status/tweet circuit, but in case it slipped through the cracks for you, I’m posting it again. I think it’s so very touching, and little parts of it have stuck with me since reading.

John Steinbeck wrote this letter to his oldest son Thom after the boy wrote to tell his parents he was in love with a girl named Susan from his school. Steinbeck replied to his son that very same day with this beautiful letter. If only Grapes of Wrath/Of Mice and Men/East of Eden were as pleasant to read…

“New York
November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First—if you are in love—that’s a good thing—that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second—There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you—of kindness and consideration and respect—not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply—of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it—and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone—there is no possible harm in saying so—only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another—but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

Love,

Fa”

This adjective grosses me out a bit, but the letter is so tender that it makes me teary. Apart from that last section, I think I most love his admiring references to his wife Elaine. He seems like the right kind of guy from whom to take love advice.

To read more  about the collection of Steinbeck letters, click here.

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the what not to do.

So there’s this:  (really, just watch. It’s 25 seconds, and I am NOT one to recommend many youtube videos, so I promise it’s not a bad use of your valuable time). (Side note, how sad was this movie? It and Homeward Bound made 8 year old me choke up every time).

And there’s this:

But still…there’s got to be a place for constructive criticism, right? Katie at Sweet Tater posted her list of 12 Blogger Bad Habits, and she’s got ’em down. Here are a few of my favorites:

“3. Calling your significant other anything but his/her given name. I’m serious with this. Just stop it.”

Yes, especially with a definite article in front of it. I find reading about “the boyfriend” or “the husband”  or “hubby” (seriously the worst) SO grating. If your significant other’s name is the one thing that you want to keep private on the space that you broadcast all the details about your life to the world, at least give him/her an initial.

4Instagramming everything on Earth. I realize the hip fade makes your skin look flawless and your pumpkin spice latte look like a work of fine art, but please just take it down one notch.”

Yes! Thank you! Especially cool it on the foamy milk on top of coffees. And stop talking about pumpkin spice lattes/Starbucks red cups all together. Not interesting anymore.

9. Calling yourself a writer. I’m sorry but… you’re just probably not. Eep. I said it. I’m ok with joggers calling themselves runners, but I’m not ok with casual gym goers calling themselves athletes. Do you see the difference? Someone who enjoys cooking is a cook, not a chef. Following? I’m ok with you calling yourself a blogger or even a freelancer or saying that you write as a verb, but you are not a writer. It’s a fine, blurry line, I realize. Respect it.”

Yes. I cringe when a blogger writes a touchy feel-y post about being a writer. I could list about 12 bloggers off the top of my head who do this with regularity, but I’m going to remember that they’re fighting a hard battle, and I”ll follow Thumper’s advice.

I’ll add to the list bloggers who use the world “amazeballs,” and any mention of losing one’s sanity in the blogging cause. Seriously, just typing that made me shiver.

Anything that grates on you?

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the music guide.

(this went up accidentally last week…sorry if it’s the second time around for you!)

Embarrassingly, I’m guilty of making playlists to prompt me into certain mindsets, i.e. “Eeeee so giddyhappy!!” or “So.Over.It.” That order is not significant.

I came across this chart the other day, and I thought it was pretty cool. As you can see, it gives you songs to suit your sentiment. I know it only lists one song, but if you use Pandora (am I holding on to the Stone Age by using that still? Has it become Spotify or bust?), you could type in the feeling’s song and then see if it properly populates afterwards.

The Ingrid Michaelson one is featured in Like Crazy, a movie that I was beside myself in anticipation to see. Like, excitement levels that have only been precedented by the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice (Catherine and I made it the carrot at the end of our college application essay stick for MONTHS, only to discover on the date that the date to which we had been counting down only referred to the New York and L.A. release. I remember it as one of the biggest letdowns of my life, though it was nowhere near as bad as when my mom promised me a Coke if I climbed to the top of the mountain on an EXTREMELY long hike with my family in Canada. When we reached the summit, the little snack shack only had unpasteurized goat’s milk. I think that really drilled in the “life’s not fair” message).

Anyway, I *know * that “the movie is never as good as the book” is a thing people say for good reason, but my feelings regarding Pride and Prejudice were like those of Mindy Kaling (girl crush supreme)’s:

“I’m the kind of person who would rather get my hopes up really high and watch them get dashed to pieces rather than wisely keep my expectations at bay and hope they are exceeded. This quality has made me a needy and theatrical friend, but it has given me a spectacularly dramatic emotional life.”

I don’t really think that applies to me in general (those who know me in real life, feel free to tell me I’m wrong and indeed a total rollercoaster of a friend :)), but it did for KK’s Pride and Prejudice and then for Like Crazy.  My high expectations proved misplaced, and both movies, for different reasons, left me disappointed. The best thing in Like Crazy is the Ingrid Michaelson song though, so from what I can tell from this emotional song guide, it shouldn’t be a letdown as well. 🙂

Happy Mood-Appropriate Listening!

(Image via Wit + Delight)