My Own Personal Sabbath #40

Almost every Sunday since mid-May 2020 with a few exceptions, I have been taking my own personal Sabbath, where I tune out of the news and social media and turn off my ringer and all notifications on my phone. Throughout the day, sometimes the day before, and/or sometimes the next day, I share what I am reading, listening to or watching during my Sabbath.

This is one of those times, I’m posting before my Sabbath.

Reading

The only book that I know for sure that I’ll be continuing to read tomorrow is What is Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life by Mark Doty. As it is split into four parts, I am reading it over the four Sundays in July. [Correction: It’s split into five parts, but the fourth part is short so I’ll read that and the fifth part on the final Sunday in July.] I started it last Sunday. Otherwise, I have a plethora of choices of what else to read, including, but not limited to, the following and obviously am enjoying it or I wouldn’t be continuing with it.

  • Mixed Plate: Chronicles of an All-American Combo by Jo Koy. I’ve had it on hold for a few months at the Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP) in ebook, and it finally came in this afternoon.
  • Treasure Hunt, the 16th in the Inspector Montalbano series, by Andrea Camilleri. I’ve been making my way slowly through the series this year and while this one is available at FLP, I bought it on Kindle, which had a deal on it. That way I can get to it at my own speed.
  • The Very Best of the Best: 35 Years of The Year’s Best Science Fiction, edited by Gardner Dozois. I don’t read much science fiction, but I want to. So I asked for a friend’s recommendation and he recommended that I read any of the collections of each year’sbest science fiction edited by Dozois for 35 years from 1984 to 2018 when Dozois died. I found this collection to borrow at FLP.
  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. I found it on the new book shelf at our library and grabbed it because I’ve heard the buzz around it is good and I enjoyed The Martian.
  • It’s All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Cataan by Tristan Donovan. I picked up this while shelf-reading at the library. A friend and I play board games online, and I tj

For tomorrow, I’ll probably choose Mixed Plate, since I know there are six people waiting to read it after me and I might dip into the science fiction collection of short stories.

Listening to

Since my wife Kim works 12-hour shifts from early Saturday night into Sunday morning and then early Sunday night into Sunday morning, 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. each night, we often watch a sitcom or two before she goes to work. Lately, though, we have been listening to podcasts or audiobooks, well, in particular one podcast Aack Cast by Jamie Loftus about “Cathy, the iconic and much-maligned comic strip by Cathy Guisewite,” in which Jamie Loftus “weaves between reporting and fiction, putting a cruelly treated cartoon everywoman in context.” We also have been listening in particular one audiobook, Broken (In the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson. Since we are caught up with Aack Cast, we probably will continue listening to Broken.

Watching

Last Sunday, I watched all three of the original Bourne movies with Matt Damon back-to-back-to-back ending at about 2:30 a.m. Monday morning since I didn’t have to go to work the next day. This Sunday, I’m not sure what I’ll be watching. I’ve been making my way through the last couple of seasons of Criminal Minds, so I might do that (I’m in Season 14 now, with only Season 15 to go).

So, what are you reading, watching, listening to, or doing this weekend? Hope whatever it is, it’s all good.

Pandemic Poetry & Quarantine Playlists

This weekend, I’m continuing to read poetry as I mentioned last Sunday.

This past week, I read Twisted Shapes of Light by William Jolliff, one of my professors in college and who ignited my own interest in writing poetry. I plan on sharing my own experiences with contemporary poetry, including a few poems from a reading I did about 20 years ago at a small venue in suburban Philadelphia where we lived at the time.

This past week, I also read Whale Days and Other Poems by Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States from 2000 to 2003. Both books were very good, but I enjoyed Dr. Jolliff’s book more, probably because of the fond memories it brought back of having him teach me poetry. It didn’t hurt that I found a concert of his online and a short lecture from him that was part of a series on suffering and faith at the university, where he now teaches.

This weekend, I plan on reading Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America’s Poets Respond to the Pandemic, edited by Alice Quinn. I’ll admit that I did have reservations about reading the collection edited and compiled by Alice Quinn, onetime New Yorker poetry editor and recent former director of the Poetry Society of America. Mainly, my reservations were internal in that this week has been a rough week personally with a couple of family and friend issues, and I didn’t think I wanted to read something probably depressing.

But yesterday, I decided to read a few poems from the collection and I changed my mind. The poems that I read were, and are, good. So I’ll continue to read the collection.

I’m pairing my reading with two playlists I found via an article from The New York Times.

I won’t be watching any pandemic-related TV shows or movies, although for those of you interested I saw a trailer for a new movie Songbird that might fit the bill. Or if you want to “escape” into “a world of outlandish emergencies” that “are oddly comforting in a terrifying time,” you might want to turn to these TV shows, according to Alexis Soloski in The New York Times.

For me, though, that will be a hard pass on all of that. I’ll be content just to read pandemic poetry and listen to quarantine playlists, thank you very much…

…and (adding this Saturday night) drinking wine and getting takeout. It’s sort of like last year but I went to the store to get the wine tonight instead of ordering wine by mail from the Finger Lakes of New York and, bonus, no existential dread.

Almost every Sunday since mid-May 2020 with a few exceptions, I have been taking my own personal Sabbath, where I tune out of the news and social media and turn off my ringer and all notifications on my phone. Throughout the day, sometimes the day before, and/or sometimes the next day, I share what I am reading, listening to or watching during my Sabbath. This is my 38th Sabbath and also is part of The Sunday Salon, hosted by Deb of the blog Readerbuzz.

Ah, poetry!

Almost every Sunday since mid-May 2020 with a few exceptions, I have been taking my own personal Sabbath, where I tune out of the news and social media and turn off my ringer and all notifications on my phone. Throughout the day and/or sometimes the next day, I share what I am reading, listening to or watching during my Sabbath. This is my 37th Sabbath and also part of The Sunday Salon, hosted by Deb of the blog Readerbuzz.

For tomorrow’s Sabbath, I’m taking a break from the Inspector Montalbano series by Andrea Camilleri, which I have been reading since the start of the year. Instead, I’m going to dip into a little poetry. The impetus to read poetry right now was buying a book of poetry by one of my former college professors this past week. One of my college roommates asked my wife about him during a phone conversation, and I Googled him, found the book, and immediately bought it on Kindle to read. The book is Twisted Shapes of Light by William Jolliff.

From there, I went to the Free Library of Philadelphia and filled my virtual bookshelf with poetry books. A few authors I had heard of, some I had read, others I’d never heard of or read. Here’s what I picked up:

  1. An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo, the 23rd and current Poet Laureate of the United States.
  2. Whale Days and Other Poems by Billy Collins, a former Poet Laureate of the United States (2000-2003).
  3. Citizen Illegal by José Olivarez.
  4. Hybrida by Tina Chang.
  5. Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America’s Poets Respond to the Pandemic, edited by Alice Quinn.

All of this poetry talk got me thinking about how I came to fall in love with poetry, especially contemporary poetry. Over the next couple of weeks, and coincidentally corresponding to April being National Poetry Month, I will explore that, including my own poetry that I wrote and even had a reading several years after college. But for now, I’ll leave you with a snippet of a poem by my former professor:

It may be as close as an old man in Michigan
comes to the sound of the sea. Call it thunder
if you want, but it’s not thunder, not at all.
It’s more like the rush of semis on a freeway

This is the start of his poem, “Rain on a Barn South of Tawas,” the rest of which can be found on The Poetry Foundation website.

This month is the 25th National Poetry Month started by the American Academy of Poets in 1996 so it is only apropos that I am reading poetry.

In one of those “in-between” times

Almost every Sunday since mid-May 2020 with a few exceptions, I have been taking my own personal Sabbath, where I tune out of the news and social media and turn off my ringer and all notifications on my phone. Throughout the day and/or sometimes the next day, I share what I am reading, listening to or watching during my Sabbath. As I have done other weekends, I am extending my Sabbath by one day, into Saturday. This will my 35th Sabbath since starting last year.

Photo by Matheus Bertelli on Pexels.com

This weekend, I’m in one of those “in-between” times as in between this and that or more accurately that and that. This past week, I was on vacation on a virtual trip around the world, ending in Ireland, and my next vacation is only next week, as I have off from Good Friday, April 2, through Easter Sunday and Monday and then Tuesday, April 6, which is my wife’s birthday…and finally Wednesday, April 7, just for good measure.  

I also am in between shots, as I got my first covid shot on March 11 and my second covid shot on April 1, right before my vacation.  

But at least, I’m not between a rock and a hard place. *rimshot*


So…my plan to read during my vacation last week didn’t happen. As a result, I still am reading The Wings of The Sphinx, the 11th in the Inspector Montalbano series, by Andrea Camilleri. After that, I have the 12th, 13th, and 14th in the series already checked out from the Free Library of Philadelphia, which are in order, The Track of Sand, The Potter’s Field, and The Age of Doubt 

When I finish The Wings of the Sphinx, it will be my sixth book of the year. So if I am a book blogger, it is in name only, with which I am okay. 


Photo by Grafixart_photo Samir BELHAMRA on Pexels.com

About that vacation last week: Over the first four nights, we went to northern England, Italy, Spain and Greece, using as our guide The Trip, the British TV/film series with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, that started in 2010 and ended last year with The Trip To Greece. I enjoyed the first two films, but I was wearying of the pair by the time we got to Spain and Greece, especially their repeated impressions of Michael Caine and other celebrities. Also, the last one ended on the death of Coogan’s father, which, although true to life, was a bit of a downer for the series. I think they also showed more of Italy than they did of Spain and Greece. Maybe it was just watching all four so close together. *insert shrugs emoji


Nothing else comes to mind that I need to share so I think I’ll leave it there for today. How are you doing this weekend? Any big plans? Any little plans? Reading, watching, listening to anything good? Share in the comments.