Roundup 4 – Books, Theater, and other pleasures

Stuff I Read:

The Round House by Louise Erdich 
One of the finest novels I’ve read by this supremely talented writer.  The novel is both mystery and coming-of-age story told through the 13-year-old protagonist’s eyes, which elevates the observation. 

The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson
This novel takes you into the repressive dictatorship of North Korea and puts you in a reality of total physical domination and restraint where books and film are written by the leader and there are daily broadcasts of propaganda and food is scarce.  Still, there are mini-acts of rebellion, bravery and love even for an orphan.  This is brilliant for totally submerging the reader in another whole world.

Always Wear Joy: My Mother Bold and Beautiful by Susan Fales –Hill

A loving and straight-shooting memoir of Josephine Premise by an accomplished and loving daughter. Here are two quotes I enjoyed from this memoir:

“Mom, what do I put down on the school forms where it says ‘Mother’s Occupation’, when you’re not acting in a show?” (Enrico Fales, age8)  “Tell you teacher, ‘My mother’s an unemployed legend.’” – (Josephine, age 41).

“Your parents are united in their sophistication and their snobbism,” Diahann Carroll, my mother’s best friend and one of my several honorary aunts, joked during one of our many forensic forays into my family’s past.”

A Woman Like Me – Bettye Lavette with David Ritz
This is a straight-shooting memoir by a Detroit-based singer who had early success with the hit, Let Me Down Easy, but then wasn’t able to release an album for more than 20 years because of her “buzzard luck” and ‘ef-it attitude.  She is unabashedly candid about her love for drinking, sex and drugs and about the early days of the Detroit music scene where there were many pimps also producing. She shows herself as a willing participant in the game who could give as good as she got.  It is also clear that the combination of naiveté (there’s only so much you can know when you begin singing as a teen) and hot-temper are dangerous.  Her career has been resurrected because of British fans and finally finding managers who know how to push her music and a record label that didn’t just record her albums but released them. 

Stuff I Did:

Attended EMERGENCY – the one-man show by Daniel Beaty presented by Arts Emerson at the Cutler Majestic Theatre.  Mr. Beaty is a great singer/actor/writer/poet  with meaningful messages.  You should catch this show live if you can but it is available on DVD at his website linked above.  He is an artist-in-residence at Emerson College and is now working on an original work with students there.  .

Did a mini-presentation on networking to participants in the Young Men’s Success Series founded by Percy Hayles at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center.  They are awaiting their non-profit designation and when they do I will write about it here.  Meanwhile, they have engaged some incredible speakers and are organized to elevate and guide the teenagers who attend their programs.

 Attended a wonderful talk by  Junot Díaz Pulitzer Prize winning author, of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao at Mass College of Art & Design on March 27 in an auditorium filled with admirers including several groups of high school students.  He is a dynamic speaker who actively engages the audience, particularly students and Dominicans and peppers his talk frequently with his favorite expletive.  I haven’t read his latest, This Is How You Lose Her, but I plan to.

Here are some tidbits from his talk:

Writes from a “critical love perspective.”  Is “definitely interested in exploding silences and willing to have a conversation.”  This wasn’t the case when he started. He reads more than he writes.  The more organic something sounds, the more manufactured it is.  (It takes a lot of practice.)He’s not in a rush as a writer (It took him 11 years to complete one manuscript.)  “You can’t stage stuff if you’re in a rush.”

“Need story to use structure to create voice…voice is helpful to dramatize what matters most to your character but voice isn’t enough.”

“The challenge of being an artist can’t be worse than working in a steel mill.  What will get you through is your love for your art.  90% of you won’t get recognized as artist. “

“Art  is not obedient. For most of us, we do it because we believe it’s transformational.”

“The arts weren’t professionalized when he was growing up…Young people are being shaped to be artists (today) based on an occupational model (i.e. , college, bills, non-artistic schedule – if you haven’t done this by X date you’re fucked). Being aware of this will help you to strategize.  Ringing up a ton of debt is not the way.  Figure out how to keep your experience of the world.  Figure out ways to survive.  Don’t go into an MFA program right after your undergraduate degree.  Figure out how to maximize your contact with the world.  The more time you can stay away from institutions the better.  Live and then go back to school.”

“If you suck at something it dones’t mean you should stop it – keep working and you’ll suck less.”

Attended  Doing Business in Dudley on March 20.
David Dwiggins explored the findings of his enlightening research Control of the Caboose: Retail business and neighborhood change in Dudley Square, 1950-1975.Dwiggins is an archivist at Historic New England. He spoke a lot about how decline in population impacted the decline in numbers and variety of businesses in the area.  His talk and the panel are part of
The History Speaker Series, a program of the Roxbury Historical Society, and co-sponsored by Haley House Bakery Café and Discover Roxbury.

I’ll be moderating an upcoming panel for them:

What is the Notion? A History of A Nubian Notion Inc., Boston’s First Afrocentric Store

April 17 2013, 7PM at Haley House Bakery Café.  (Come early and have dinner beginning at 5.)

Applied for three part-time jobs – any of which I would enjoy doing, all of which I am qualified for. Had one first interview – it went well with smiles and recognition on both sides.  Another interview is scheduled for the end-of-the-week.  Two out of three ain’t  bad.   Crossing fingers, toes and praying for another job or to hit the lottery.  J

Stuff I learned:

  •  The importance of taking advice rather than just giving it.

  • That grace can come into your life from an unexpected source.  I received an offer for coaching through a  Kickstarter campaign from a woman who  I met as a stranger at a conference.  We had our first coaching session and I am doing my homework assignments.  She’s really good.

  • The conflicts that can arise when two people, whose different values around the importance of  truth and justice versus peace and quiet at all cost, collide.  Still working on this.

  • That a best friend won’t ask you what you need but will deliver it unbidden (because she knows you won’t ask.) 

Stuff I cooked:

An eggplant dip for the first time and it won’t be the last.  Not only was it wonderful with fresh vegetables but a mixed some of it with tomatoes and made a sauce for shrimp and rice.  Cut a small eggplant into cubes, chopped onions, garlic, tossed with olive oil and herbs roasted for 45 minutes, cooled, pureed, added a little more oil and salt.  Dynomite!

Baby Bok Choy – Minced garlic and grated ginger (on a microplane) – sautéed in  1 ½ T of canola oil.  Tossed cleaned and chopped BBC, then added ¼ cup of chicken stock, braised for 3 minutes.  Little salt and fresh ground pepper with a drizzle of sesame oil to finish.  Next time I will only use 3 T of stock (like the recipe said) and braise for 1-2 minutes.  BBC gets limp quickly.  Still, it was delicious and nutritious.

Enough already!

Be well, dear readers.

About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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