The Blonde Bobby | A Short Story by Jay Jasinski

My First Short Story: The Blonde Bobby

jay-jasinski-short-storyI finished my Short Story writing class at UCLA in March. I’ve finally gotten around to editing it and publishing it on my blog. This is the first short story I’ve ever written, so please be gentle. Enjoy!

The Blonde Bobby

What if, like a soulmate, you have a soulcraft: one avocation, sport, art, hobby, at which you are exceptional. Something you were meant to do. And, like a soulmate, some people find their soulcraft with ease and others have to search and search.

This is what Charlie had pondered as he lay in bed. It bothered him greatly to think he might be the best at something he has yet to try. Would Mozart have been Mozart if his father were a banker instead of a composer? A clank from the kitchen jolted him from his thoughts. He tried to get up but was held down by the tautness of tucked sheets. His wife Luanne had made the bed with him in it, a punishment for oversleeping.

Charlie slid his reedy body out from under the cotton sheets. He stood still on the white oak floor. He lifted his arms over his head as he drew in a deep breath – he learned to be mindful of his breathing after taking three yoga classes at a studio that smelled like vinegar.

Charlie dressed. On his way out of the bedroom, he grabbed a pine green pair of binoculars from atop his dresser. The binoculars were guaranteed fog-proof, a must for the serious birdwatcher.

Charlie walked into the kitchen to the crackle of butter and minced garlic. He saw Luanne facing the stove; her wavy brown hair hung down the back of her dandelion yellow bathrobe. Her hips wide and her legs pale. He could smell fresh dill.

Luanne was beating eggs in a glass mixing bowl. She reminded him of his old jazz instructor, an eccentric teacher of his, who instructed him to scramble the eggs, baby when using wire brushes on the snare drum.

“I thought birdwatchers got up at the break of dawn,” Luanne said.

“They do.”

“It’s 9:30 AM.”

“I slept in.”

She let out a frank HA as she handed him a plate of scrambled eggs with fresh herbs and cream cheese. Charlie ate quickly. He wiped the butter and egg grease from his lips. Luanne eyed him suspiciously as he stood up from the table, binoculars dangling from his neck like space-age jewelry.

“I hope this hobby lasts longer than the last hobby. Watercolors, wood burning, cross-country skiing, the mellophone. I have a hard time keeping track,” she said.

“Wood burning was the last hobby. I bought the wrong wood and the fumes made me so dizzy I threw up,” Charlie replied.

“You’re becoming a dilettante. I’m not sure who you’re trying to impress. Is it me? If so, you don’t have to be good at bird watching to do that. Hell, you could take out the trash and I’d be swooning.”

Birdwatching at Shiawassee Park

Charlie had prepared the weekend before for what would be his first birdwatching jaunt. He had spent an overcast afternoon at the Plymouth Library reading birdwatching books such as, Beyond Binoculars: A Neophyte’s Guide to Birding, Birding Solo, and Birding with Others. He learned that every respectable birder should own a pair of field glasses over $200, a copy of Sheraton’s Guide of Birds, and a large bill khaki flap hat.

He learned the lingo. Dipped: a verb meaning to miss a high-priority bird. Pish: the call birders make to attract songbirds. Spark Bird: the bird that triggers your passion. Twitcher: a hardcore birder, one not afraid to risk it all to spot a lifer. Lifer: first time seeing a particular bird.

Feeling prepared, Charlie gathered his gear from his car. He walked from the concrete parking lot, past the freshly cut grass – purgatory between society and nature –  ending at a wall of trees. He found a narrow path that cut through the woods.

On a park map covered in lichens, trails were marked in windy lines of red, yellow, purple, and green; crossed and tangled, like a plate of rainbow linguini. He chose the purple route for hikers, a three-mile loop that zig-zagged from the Walnut Picnic Area down to the pond.

Charlie walked past maple, birch, and oak trees that appeared to go on forever. Leaves crunched beneath his feet. As he approached the pond, faint calls of wood frogs started to well up like a chorus of drunks singing doo-wop. He heard chirps and chips and coo-coo-coos but did not see any birds. He worried that bird watching would become another hobby on Luanne’s list of his failures. She was right, after all, who was he trying to impress?

The pond smelled musty and sweet, like wet towels left in the washer too long. Panicky amphibians made tiny splashes along the water’s edge. He made his way down the short wooden pier on the pond. The water was smooth and still. So far, not so good, he thought. What he would give to spot a duck or a pigeon.

Charlie swung his binoculars to his eyes like a jail yard warden. He struggled to make sense of a world brought closer. The slightest movement of his hand resulted in quick and jerky images. The motions reminded him of sitting in the front row at the movies, which made him nauseous. He let the binoculars fall to his chest. A breeze gently lifted and set his thinning brown hair. He wondered if Luanne had noticed that he took the trash out this morning.

Two painted turtles warmed their blood on the corner of a park bench half submerged in the pond. He pulled a black field notebook and a pen from the pocket of his vest. In his notebook, he wrote two turtles under the Other column next to the Birds column.

Suddenly, two songbirds, each the size of a golf ball, landed on the wood rail about a foot away from his arm. He had a hard time distinguishing anything about them other than that they were tiny and coffee-colored. They chirped and chirped at each other; a heated argument. Charlie stood motionless, pen and notebook in hand. He made a phisshhh phissssh. The chirping stopped. Four beady eyes looked at him as if he had just interrupted something important. They chirped in agreement and soared off to somewhere private. He jotted in his notebook under the Birds column: Two-brown songbirds. To identify later.

Charlie decided to walk off the path into the thick of the woods. He stopped about two hundred meters off the trail. A shadow rippled through the patches of light on the ground. He looked up a tall birch tree. A branch swayed up and down like a jump rope. A bird about the size of a work boot perched on the bough. The bird looked down at him. Charlie quickly scribbled notes: A slate black crown, metallic gray feathers along back and wings. White breast. White rump, or is it blonde? I can hardly see. Short conical bill. Legs long and yellow as sweet corn in the summer.

The bird opened its beak and out came a bizarre song. The call started with a muffled clanking, like two nickels being struck together in someone’s fist, followed by a Day-Day, then what sounded like a robot saying the word See. Tang-Tang-Day-Day-Tseee. Tang-Tang-Day-Day-Tseee.

The bird was gone before he could lift his binoculars. Charlie paused for a moment to contemplate what had transpired. Was that a rare bird? Maybe he was a natural. Either that or he was a fool for writing such a detailed description of a gray bird. Tang-Tang-Day-Day-Tseee rang in his head like an alarm clock.

Back on the trail, he crossed paths with two women walking side by side. The first thing he noticed was the binoculars hanging from their necks. The second thing he noticed was their hair; two flipped bob hairdos, one yellow and the other peach. The women stopped when they saw his binoculars.

Charlie decided to skip the pleasantries and get right to the birder talk: “Good morning, ladies. I just saw a good one. I pishhedddd, and suddenly a stunning lifer appeared. Being the twitcher that I am, I climbed a tree and, sure enough, a new spark bird.”

The women stared at him blankly for a moment before introducing themselves. Peach hair was named Linda and the one with yellow hair was named Dawn. He thought Peach Linda and Yellow Dawn sounded like bird names.

“We saw two Peter’s Pikers, a Blue Olly, and a dozen or so Chattanooga Towhees. What did you see?” Peach Linda Asked.

The question he had been dreading. Charlie realized that he didn’t know the names of any birds. He scanned his memory for fowl he studied the weekend before. Just one name, any name to prove to these women that he meant business. Suddenly, the flash of a stately bird appeared in his mind. One that got a full-page photo near the end of the book. His eyebrows raised when he remembered that the bird was blonde and gray. He couldn’t recall the bird’s name. The women stood still, arms crossed, poker-faced. He remembered. “I saw a Blonde Bobby.”

Yellow Dawn’s knees gave. She fell forward like a Baptist overcome by the Holy Ghost. Her friend saved her before she hit the ground. Peach Linda looked at him with interrogating eyes. She asked him if the bird had yellow legs. He assured them that it did.

Peach Linda’s knees buckled. The women comforted each other, then turned to Charlie. In unison, they said, “You saw a…Blonde Bobby.”

The women grabbed Charlie by the arms. Like two ushers at a play, they lead him down the path. Neither said a word. He could hear deep breathing and feel hearts beating.

They led him to the nature center next to the parking lot. A dusty payphone hung on the shadowed wall next to the women’s restroom. Yellow Dawn pulled a quarter from her pocket and slid it into the coin slot. She dialed a number that, to Charlie, seemed to be thirty units long. All three waited in silence as the phone rang.

In a low, hushed voice, Yellow Dawn said, “We have a code Bobby.” She nodded a few times, as if the person she was talking to were standing right there. She replied, “I understand.” She hung up the phone. After a pause, Yellow Dawn looked Charlie in the eyes and said, “We’d like you to come to our Birders of Wayne County Spring Chapter meeting this weekend. Word that you saw a Blonde Bobby will spread like wildfire. We are expecting record attendance.”

With all of the hobbies, sports, arts, and crafts Charlie had tried over the years, this was the reaction he was after. Visceral and physical. Mozart’s father Leopold wept the first time his young son wrote a melody. That’s what Charlie had been after his whole life. He wanted people to know of his talent; not learn about it over time, not be persuaded, but know. The sudden taste of celebrity quickly erased any doubts he had about actually seeing such a rare bird. He wanted instant recognition, like a viral video on Youtube. Was the bird’s bottom white or blonde? Who cares? Charlie was a natural and couldn’t be wrong.

Charlie looked at the wrinkled faces before him, both smiling with the adoration of a teen fan club. He replied, “It would be my pleasure. I can’t seem to recall, when was the last time someone spotted a Blonde Bobby?”

“Not since 1936,” Peach Linda replied.

***

Back at home, Charlie played the actions of the day off nonchalantly. He was confident. Why wouldn’t he be? He had seen one of rarest birds in North America on his first outing.

Luanne was proud of Charlie, yet she had seen this movie before. She fell asleep worrying about the fate of her husband.

Birders of Wayne County Spring Chapter Meeting

 Charlie got to the All Saint Episcopal Church’s meeting room at 7:20 PM, ten minutes early. Plastic trays of sweaty cheeses, brownies, and pale celery greeted him at the sign-in table. Ten or so birders drifted around the room with paper plates in hand.  Four rows of black folding chairs faced a wooden podium. From across the room, Peach Linda and Yellow Dawn pointed Charlie out to a short woman with gray hair. The mystery woman walked earnestly towards him.

“Our VIP has arrived. My name is Sue, Chairwoman of the Birding Board. We have record attendance tonight. I hope we don’t run out of chairs,” she said.

Charlie, now rosy from adoration, replied, “I can stand in the back.”

“Stand in the back? You’re tonight’s keynote speaker. We have a chair with your name on it.”

Charlie rocked nervously. He took a bite of celery. The doubts were creeping back into his mind. Even the crunching of crudité couldn’t drown them out.

The meeting moved along slowly. Sue talked about the newsletter, announced the date of the summer meeting, and reminded everyone to check for ticks after walking in tall grass. She then introduced Charlie as the night’s keynote.

Cheers filled the room as Charlie took the podium. A handful of attendees gave him a standing ovation. He calmed his admirers. He was feeling confident again. The roomed filled with smiles and starry eyes as he explained how this wasn’t the first time he’d seen such a rare bird. He went on and on about how every natural birder has a sixth sense. He didn’t just hear a rare bird; he felt its presence. Part of Charlie knew he was speaking nonsense, yet he couldn’t seem to stop himself.

Suddenly, a haunting sound reverberated from outside. It was an angry and agitated sound, like Frankenstein’s monster caught in a brushfire.

Rawarghhhhhhhhh. Rawarghhhhhhhh.

A shadow crept across the windows. The sound grew in volume as it approached the entrance doors. Silence. Everyone in the room watched the doors nervously. With a boom, the doors busted open. An extended leg covered in beige khaki pointed forward like a hunting dog at a frightened fox.

The leg belonged to a short man with white hair. His face was red and moist. The interloper pointed towards the podium and said, “You son of a bitch.”

Charlie looked at Sue, but then realized the man was talking to him.

“Can we help you?” Asked Charlie. He gripped the podium tight to show authority.

“You’ve never seen a Blonde Bobby in your life. You’re a charlatan. You’re a phony, and you’re busted.” Said the man.

He trooped to the podium like a sailor marching to “In the Navy”. He moved Charlie to the side with a stern swing of his hip.

“My name is Connie, and I’m the Chairman of the Board for the Westlake charter of Birders Across America. Yes, that means I drove two hours to call this man what he is: a liar.”

Connie looked Charlie up and down. He shook his head in disgust. “I did some sleuthing and discovered, via this man’s Facebook page, that he got his first pair of binoculars no more than a week ago.” A collective gasp rang from the audience.

Connie continued, “no one with a week of birdwatching could correctly identify a bird that hasn’t been seen in 82 years.”

Charlie stepped forward and said, “Maybe I’m a natural.”

Every face in the crowd looked back at him with angry eyes. Yellow Dawn and Peach Linda shook their heads as if they’d found out he swindled them of their retirement. Charlie explained that he did see a peculiar bird that morning, and perhaps he got the name wrong.

“Well, go on and describe what you saw,” Connie said, eyes squinted with suspicion.

From the black cap to the corn stalk legs to the Tang-Tang-Day-Day-Tseee, Charlie made his case. He admitted that the rump may have been white, not blonde.

Connie was silent. He lifted his hand to his heart, as if he were going to drop dead then and there.

Throughout the room, whispers turned to a chorus. At first, it sounded like gibberish, until three words broke through from every mouth: The Gray Bobby.

Connie smiled like a man that had gone mad. A speck of spit shot out of his mouth as he spoke. “If what you say is true, then we have entered a new era of birdwatching. Yes, a Blonde Bobby is rare, but a Gray Bobby, one with a white rump, is legendary. You must take us to where you saw this bird.”

“What are the odds it will be in the same spot? You know, with wings and all it has a lot of options,” Charlie said.

Connie was stumped. Then, a tall man wearing glasses in the back row addressed the crowd.

“The Gray Bobby always returns to its favorite tree after breakfast. It’s a bird of habit. A real homebody. Or at least that’s what I read. No one has seen the bird since 1911.”

Connie wiped sweat from his brow with a yellowed handkerchief. “Tomorrow, we all see the Gray Bobby.”

***

Between flossing her teeth and rinsing with tea tree oil, Luanne asked Charlie how the meeting went.

She gave him her trademark “are you sure” look, the one that instantly made him doubt himself. He reassured her that the rump and the call matched that of a Gray Bobby. She could sense how much this meant to him.

That night, Luanne worried herself to sleep. What if he was wrong?

The Gray Bobby: A Homebody

 Though Charlie had spotted the bird around 10:30 AM, the group insisted they get to the spot no later than 10. Charlie stood facing the tree with his back to the twenty or so birders that had congregated in various circles. He could hear faint whispers. There were doubts. Charlie doubted himself. The tree was bare, and the bough he had spotted the bird on now looked tenuous. He looked down at his watch and thought, “Thirty seconds until show time… or no-show time.”

Like ice water over his head, the cold sensation of feeling trapped seized Charlie. What if he didn’t have a soulcraft? A life destined for mediocrity. He could feel the crowd watching him instead of the tree. He closed his eyes.

With his world now dark, Charlie relied on his ears. The birders were silent. In the silence, Charlie planned his inevitable escape to the parking lot. Suddenly, fluttering wings sounded above his head. He opened his eyes. Two yellow bird legs like sweet corn in the summer perched on the branch. The Gray Bobby. At first, Charlie was expressionless, then a smile grew on his face. He really was a natural, he thought.

Connie pushed Charlie to the side. He slid to the base of the tree on his knees like a baseball player stealing third. The manic birder raised his arms in praise; his white chest hair broke from top of his shirt like a geriatric werewolf’s. Others followed Connie’s lead. The Gray Bobby looked on with dumb eyes.

Forty hands lifted binoculars. Oohhs and aahhs; the sign of the cross. It was as if they were watching the Pope bowl a perfect game. The rare bird cozied up in its nest and watched the revelers below. It must be a homebody to put up with these shenanigans, Charlie thought.

From out of sight, a forceful “Wait!” hushed the birders. The bespectacled man from the meeting cut through the crowd.

“Does that bird have a brown speck below its beak?” He asked, to no one in particular.

Connie examined with his binoculars and said, “Sure does.”

“I’m sorry to disappoint, but that’s no Gray Bobby. That’s an Akron Angie. Still a homebody, but not rare at all,” the man with glasses said.

Many of the birders scribbled out the words Gray Bobby from their field notes. With shaky hands, they begrudgingly wrote Akron Angie. Dispirited, they walked back to the trail, heads hanging as low as their binoculars.

Connie patted Charlie on the back and said, “maybe birding is not for you. Have you tried any other hobbies?”

Charlie stood alone in the shadow of the birch tree. Tang-Tang-Day-Day-Tsee. Tang-Tang-Day-Day-Tsee.

            On his drive home, he thought of Luanne, his soulmate.

 

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Concrete River Blues | By Jay Jasinski

My First Short Story: Concrete River Blues

As mentioned in my prior post, I am going to start sharing the short stories I write each week for my class. As we work on our final short story, which can be up to 20 pages long, we are encouraged to write a two-page story each week. Concrete River Blues is not the first story; it is the second. I was not too happy with my first story, but maybe I will share it at a different time.

Concrete River Blues

No one walks in the riverbed.

On days of incessant boredom, Kyle and I drop items from the bridge into the concrete riverbed. The river is often dry. When there is water, which is rare and far between, it creeps through, amber and filled with junk, looking like a basement flooded with ginger ale. I picture the river this way; it is the city’s digestive system; consolidating the waste people want out of sight, from beer cans used only once to people never used at all.

One time I went to the river during torrential rainfall. The water flowed higher and faster than I had ever seen before. In the two minutes I was there, I spotted four couches, one television, an orange wig, and hundreds of plastic bags flowing with the water. I thought Mother Nature knows we never learn from our mistakes; when the water comes and washes away our shame, she’s not cleaning up, she’s collecting evidence.

When Kyle and I go to the bridge, we bring an eclectic array of items to drop, mostly from the Council Thrift store at the end of our street. We bring Items that fracture, shatter, explode, and sometimes splash. The easier it breaks and the more pieces it breaks into, the better. One time, Kyle dropped his Grandpa’s phonograph, and the record inside rolled down the riverbed like the wheel of a phantom car.

Nobody walks in the riverbed.

With a struggle, Kyle lifted the black desktop computer above his head. His shoes scratched the pavement as he skidded to find stable footing. For a moment I thought he would drop it backward. The case was massive, and Kyle has thin arms. It wasn’t until the computer left Kyle’s pale hands that we saw the bill of a man’s hounds-tooth driver’s cap peak out like a rare bird from under the bridge. “God Christ,” said Kyle. The case fell at such a speed that we had no time to yell a warning. The walker looked up at the last moment, and the case struck his face, snapping his neck back like a Pez dispenser. I heard the crack clearer than I had heard anything else in my young life. The sound of my life cracking. My face and brain felt fuzzy like it does when I get the laughing gas at the dentist. I hesitated, then looked down. I saw three fingers on the man’s left-hand curl and straighten, curl and straighten as if he were scratching the neck of a cat; then the fingers stopped moving.

Kyle started to run. “Where are you going? You can’t leave.” I said. He looked at me with tears in his eyes, then turned and continued running. I took one more glance at the man, which made me feel as though my body had become void of blood. I ran away.

That night there was no word of it on the news, only the Weatherman talking about the rainstorm that would be starting in the early morning hours. I thought of the man’s hand, among the debris, breaking through the gray water that so rarely flowed; as lifeless as the plastic grocery bags and tree branches that joined him on his journey to the ocean. I didn’t sleep that night. I didn’t eat breakfast the next morning.

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I Am Writing Again

I’m Taking a Short Story Writing Class

Theodor Kittelsen

Time to hold myself accountable for claiming to be a writer. That is, a creative writer. I write a lot for work, but that is no excuse for not writing for myself. When I do get some time to write, I pull the old “my favorite authors, according to themselves, have read anywhere from a million to a billion books, so I should do the same before I start writing.” No disrespect to my favorite authors, but I don’t believe they have read as much as they claim to have read. Kurt Vonnegut said something about letting people think you are writing a lot more than you are, perhaps writers do that about reading, too.

What I am getting at is work and reading can no longer be an excuse for my lack of writing.

With hopes that it will add a little structure to my writing habits, I have enrolled in a Short Story writing class at UCLA. I am going to share every story I write so you can follow my progress – let’s hope there is progress.

Here are a few short stories I enjoy:

“The Potato Elf” Vladimir Nabokov

“A Diamond as Big as the Ritz” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

“The Ballad of the Sad Cafe” – Carson McCullers

“The Shell Collector” – Anthony Doerr

“The Laughing Man” – J.D. Salinger

“Harrison Bergeron”- Kurt Vonnegut

“The Pearl” – John Steinbeck

“The Bulgarian Poetess” – John Updike

“Darling Loraine” – Paul Simon (it’s a song, but the lyrics tell a story)

 

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Photo Journal: Memorial Day in The San Fernando Valley

Memorial Day in the San Fernando Valley: A Photo Journal

This morning I decided to honor the fallen at Canoga Park’s Memorial Day Parade, an event described by the Canoga Park West Hills Chamber of Commerce as “Pure Fun.” I went to pay my respects to the brave men and women of the United States military who sacrificed their lives for my freedom. I also went to practice photography.

About a month ago I purchased a used Nikon D3300 on Amazon. While I progress from neophyte to average, I thought I would journal a few of the more interesting photos.

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A Rainy Day in L.A.

It’s raining in Los Angeles. Quite a lot of rain is falling from the sky. It’s a straightforward, earnest rainfall. As if the rain were saying, “Okay it’s supposed to rain today so here it all is before that 1:30 lunch I have.”

I’m happy it’s raining. Not just because we are in a drought, but because I’m going on a six-mile hike this weekend and one of the reviews read, “great hike to do after a lot of rain. Very fragrant.” During a recent visit, my Dad and I took a hike in Franklin Canyon Park after a big rain, and it was indeed fragrant. I’m not native California plant specialist, but I believe it was the various sage bushes and possibly lemonade berry.

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Pierre Alechinsky, Jour balte

I wanted to share this song because it’s great for a rainy day.

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Some Movies to Watch in 2017

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Happy New Year…

It’s been nearly a year since I last posted on here. It’s a shame, really. I am busy, but there are much busier people than myself who find the time to blog. No reason to beat myself up since it’s a New Year and with it comes a new Jay.

I recently made a list of movies for a friend to watch and thought I mine as well share it on here. They’re movies that I enjoy from different countries and different decades. They’re not in any particular order. I should note that this isn’t a list of my favorite movies, though many of them are, but rather a list of movies I think people should see.

If you want to get the full Jay movie watching experience, I suggest brewing up a cuppa’ hot tea instead of microwaving a bag of popcorn, since popcorn gives me headaches. I recommend a tea light on caffeine but not so soothing that you’ll fall asleep. Perhaps a Kukicha (twig tea) or Oolong. Enjoy.

Jay’s 2017 Movie Watching List (In no particular order)

The Red Shoes (1948)
Life is Sweet (1990)
The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)
Sonatine (1993)
The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
The Great McGinty (1940)
Lust for Life (1956)
My Man Godfrey (1936)
To Be Or Not To Be (1942)
Heaven Can Wait (1943)
The Conformist (1970)
La Cérémonie (1995)
Pauline at the Beach (1983)
Out 1 (1971)
A Fire Within (1963)
Bay of Angels (1963)
Blood Simple (1984)
Little Big Man (1970)
Straight Time (1978)
As Tears Go By (1988)
The Lady Vanishes (1938)
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Hud (1963)
Barton Fink (1991)
The Silence (1963)
The Last Detail (1973)
The Passenger (1975)
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
Amarcord (1973)
I Vitelloni (1953)
Floating Weeds (1959)
True Stories (1986)
À nos amours (1983)
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
The Roaring 20s (1939)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)
Fish Tank (2009)
A Very Long Engagement (2004)
Thirst (2009)

 

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January Playlist: RIP Starman

January Playlist

Goodbye, David Bowie. You’ll always be an inspiration to me.

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“You say we’re growing,
Growing heart and soul
In this age of grand illusion
You walked into my life
Out of my dreams
Sweet name, you’re born once again for me
Sweet name, you’re born once again for me
Oh sweet name, I call you again
You’re born once again for me
Just because I believe, don’t mean I don’t think as well
Don’t have to question everything
In heaven or hell
Lord, I kneel and offer you
My word on a wing
And I’m trying hard to fit among
Your scheme of things”
– David Bowie “Word On a Wing

 

Music

David Bowie – Who Can I be Now?

Iggy Pop – Turn Blue

Duke Ellington – Sunset and the Mockingbird

David Bowie – Word on a Wing

Jackie Wilson – Be My Girl

Carla Thomas – Yes, I’m Ready

Ike and Tina Turner – Get Back

John Coltrane – Lonnie’s Lament

David Bowie – Neukölln

Lou Reed – I’m So Free

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Books and Tea Guest Post: Henrik Saetre of Warm Leaves

Books and Tea by Henrik Saetre/Warm Leaves

It’s been months since I last posted on this blog, which is disappointing. I was on a roll for a while; then I convinced myself I was too busy to writing a few hundred words every couple of weeks. No one limits our potential more than ourselves.

Thankfully, a guest post appeared in my inbox, and I’m ready to shake the dust off this blog. Please enjoy Henrik’s thoughtful post and please expect more from me in the future. Hell, I might even make “write more” my New Year’s resolution.

Henrik Saetre/Warm Leaves

It is a special time for my fiancé and myself, because we have just launched our Kickstarter, after nine months of preparation. For me, this is my fourth entrepreneurial venture. So I asked Jay for the chance to share some of my thoughts in this crazy period, hoping that they may be of some value to you.

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All I ask in return is that you do your best to enjoy this day, and believe in yourself.

Please Support Henrik’s Kickstarter!

Book and Tea Pairings for The New Year

Book: The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris

This is a book that opens your eyes to what is possible in our day and age.
Enjoy it, and seek the motivation for making your own way in this world.
Because through it, you get a step by step guide on how to start.

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Tea: For this book, get your hands on a quality Nepalese black tea. Enjoy the unique fragrance and aromas from the Himalayas, and be inspired.

Book: The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman
With this book you learn how businesses actually work.
The systems and concepts that have stood the test of time.
And with it, you can deconstruct any company, and create any enterprise.
Armed with this knowledge, you can prepare for the marvellous challenges ahead.

warm-leaves-oolong-books-and-tea

Tea: Sit down with a golden coloured Taiwanese Oolong, and marvel at its beautiful flavour. Because just like there are different ways to build a business, there are many ways of creating the perfect Oolong.

Book: Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins
Entrepreneurship is tough. It is a constant struggle, for little reward.
Akin to a marathon, the reward is at the end.
And to reach it you need to take care of yourself, stay motivated, and keep growing.

japanese-green-tea-books-and-tea

Tea: Enjoy this with a wonderful cup of Japanese green tea, and leverage that energy in moving towards your dream.

Book: Mastery by Robert Greene

Failure can be hard.

So understanding that failure is essential to success is not always easy.
Only by going through the tough trials will you become skilled enough to succeed.
In Mastery, Robert Greene lays out for us the requirement for success.
So take the time to sit down and enjoy this book. And ask yourself if you have got what it takes.

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Tea: Chinese Aged Pu-erh, because just like this tea is made better through time, so does your success demand determination and dedication.

Henrik and his fiancé are currently doing a Kickstarter campaign for Warm Leaves: An adventure through the world of loose leaf tea. This is a unique tea subscription box, because every month they explore tea from a different country. Check them out here, for special deals.

They would love your support, because this is an excellent opportunity to enrich your tea experience.

Just think, how often do you get to drink tea from Vietnam, Nepal, or Taiwan?

Have a book and tea pairing you’d like to share? Connect with me on Instagram and use #BooksAndTea or contact me at jayjasinski10@gmail.com

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Books & Tea | August, 2015

Books and Tea | August, 2015

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I Have an Awesome Vocabulary

Two weeks ago, I took over as community manager at the Environmental Media Association (EMA). It’s an exciting gig, one that merges my interests in the environmental and entertainment industries. One of the primary tasks of a community manager is to make daily posts on social media. What I post consists of our news, stories from our sponsors and celebrities, and timely environmental content (think lots of “breathtaking” nature photos). For most posts, I have to write a brief introduction or explanation, as well as give proper credit to authors, photographers, etc. While writing a description for an Instagram post, I realized I use the words amazing and awesome way too much. Now, many of these photos are awesome and amazing, but it cheapens the impact of these words if everything is awesome and amazing. I solved the dilemma by tossing in an occasional stunning and wonderful, but I was left shaken.

Am I not the savvy wordsmith I think I am? Am I doomed to a world where everything from meerkats to lunch is awesome? Okay, that doesn’t sound as grave as I intended, but you get the point.

The other day, I had an aha moment while watching a Taco Bell commercial. Naturally, the ad was promoting Taco Bell’s latest taco, one it described as awesome. There’s that dreaded word again. Only this time it’s not describing the awe-inspiring view of Yosemite’s Cathedral Lakes, but a soggy GMO-purse filled with 61% of your recommended daily sodium intake. In the Bell’s defense, awesome is slang for very impressive, so I doubt it was implying its taco “inspires an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, or fear” – though the idea of eating Taco Bell for breakfast, lunch, and dinner should inspire overwhelming fear. Taco Bell’s far from being the only company that overuses words like awesome and amazing, which is why I’ve come to the conclusion advertising is to blame for my consistent desire to describe everyone and everything as awesome.

Here are some amazing book and tea pairings for August. Enjoy.

Book and Tea Pairings for August

Books-and-tea-augustBook: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

This is a guest post by my friend Sanne Dekkers. She does an excellent job of documenting and sharing the books she reads via her Instagram account. Make sure to follow her: @sanneah_reads

Tea: Nilgiri Green

 

 

books-and-tea-august-jay-jasinskiBook: A collection of short stories by Various Authors

This is a dirty book, and I don’t mean that in a promiscuous way, I mean it’s literally dirty. I had to fight off the strange men and women buzzing around the free-book cart like flies around a dead squirrel to snag this one. It looks nice in this photo, but it’s a bit too musty to read.

Tea: Lapsang Souchong Tea from Mountain Rose Herbs

books-and-tea-august Book: Pomegranate Tree by Nazan Bekiroglu

My Instagram friend, @jellicle_kutuphanesi did me one better by thinking of books and a cat. But not just any cat. No, this is one heck of a pretty kitty. Thanks, Yoda Charlotte for posing for the photo. (That’s her photo in the cover image as well)

Tea: Melon Tea

 

books-and-tea-august-natalieBook: The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradburry

Another fantastic guest submission from my friend Natalie. The mug is from Macedonia. Way to go, Natalie!

Tea: Mountain Tea (not sure what that is, but it sounds yummy).

 

 

books-and-tea-august-alpine-berryBook: Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers

Since I’m all of the above, I figured I should buy this book. I read it one sitting. The book is not long, and I’m already appreciating the wabi-sabi in my life. For instance, our indoor plants that are starting to brown suddenly look beautiful.

Tea: Alpine Berry form Two Leaves Tea

 

books-and-tea-august-annBook: A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

This guest-submission from my friend Ann, features a bookmark with one of my favorite quotes.

Tea: Lavender bergamot tea

 

 

 

 

Have a book and tea pairing you’d like to share? Connect with me on Instagram and use #BooksAndTea or contact me at jayjasinski10@gmail.com

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Books & Tea | Guest Post by Hikari Loftus of Folded Pages Distillery

Books And Tea | Guest Post by Hikari Loftus of Folded Pages Distillery

To me, and I’m sure to many others, reading a book is much more than just taking in the words on the page. Reading a book requires all of our senses. For instance, the night I read the poem at the beginning of Nabokov’s Pale Fire, I was standing on my patio, just in time to benefit from the fading light of the sunset. Car honks and noisy dogs blended with the internal voice of my reading as I tried to make sense of the author’s erudite verse. I was drinking herbal tea, which burned my tongue. All of these sights, feelings, and smells will always be part of my experience with that particular book.

In my opinion, dedicated bibliophile Hikari Loftus gets this idea of reading as a trip for all the senses, and it shows in her photographs. For this reason, it only took me a brief look through her IG gallery to become a fan. Her photos make me excited to read and remind me of the books I’ve enjoyed over the years and all the complementary smells, tastes and sounds that went along with them.

That being said, it’s my pleasure to introduce Hikari as my latest guest author for Books and Tea. Enjoy, and remember to visit her website and follow her incredible social accounts. Thanks again, Hikari!

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Hikari Loftus of Folded Pages Distillery | Books and Tea

Listen, if we’re going to talk Books and Tea here, we’re going to have to get into some deeply rooted beliefs, founded on one of the truest desires of my heart.

You ready for this?

I would like to say that my love for tea comes from my Japanese heritage, or a sophisticated palate. But the truth is, my love affair with tea (which eventually led to me become a tea set hoarder by the age of 26, a condition that has only worsened in the five years since then) is a direct result from the fondest wish of my heart—to meet and become best friends with a faerie.

As a child I became enamored with the Fair Folk through books. My dad read us The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings at an early age, and from then on, I sought out any and all books that contained faeries or elves. And the truth is—they cast a deep spell over me, because it was only a few years ago that I awoke to the realization that there were books out there about other things.

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Whether you picture faeries of the Tinker Bell variety, or the cruel and cunning Fair Folk of the Seelie Courts, one thing remains the same. They are creatures of nature. They thrive on fruits or flowers, sugar and honey, and they have a taste for milk.

When I first drank herbal tea, some mix of chamomile, lavender and rose petals, I felt sure I was having a faerie experience. I was drinking flowers and herbs, mixed with a splash of milk and drops of honey. The thought was magic to me. It is still magic to me.

Since then, tea has been a big part of my reading and writing habits. It is a drink that is inseparably connected to the most vibrant part of my imagination. Even now, at the age of 31, my favorite teas— the ones I keep stocked next to the honey jar at home—are those that make me feel prepared and ready should a faerie happen by for tea to plan what colors our friendship bracelets should be.

Everyone always tells me that herbal tea is good for me. While actual studies on the benefits of herbal tea are inconclusive, drinking many herbal teas are said to help with various sicknesses and body discomforts or functions, fight off colds, shed weight, help you sleep, contain antioxidant properties, etc. etc. But for me, I seek out tea for other reasons

For me, tea is simple: Tea is magic. Tea is imagination. Tea is a faerie experience.

“Tinker Bell had been asleep on his shoulder, but now he wakened her and sent her on in front.

Some times he poised himself in the air, listening intently, with his hand to his hear, and again he would stare down with eyes so bright that they seemed to bore two holes to earth.

Having done these things, he went on again.
His courage was almost appalling. ‘Would you like an adventure now,’ he said casually to John, ‘or would you like to have your tea first?”

Chapter 4 “The Flight”
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

www.foldedpagesdistillery.blogspot.com/@foldedpagesdistillery on Instagram/@fpdistillery on Twitter

Hikari Loftus: Voracious reader, journalist, midnight writer, mama, food snob, tea enthusiast.

Have a book and tea pairing you’d like to share? Connect with me on Instagram and use #BooksAndTea or contact me at jayjasinski10@gmail.com

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