Hold It All

Philosophy/Poetics/Politics

Category: Friends

How to Have Fun

Mev taught me something very important: She taught me that when you go to Ted Drewes you could mix all different kinds of frozen custard flavors together. I would never have dreamed of some of the possibilities she tried. Mev loved ice cream and she loved desserts – the richer the better, the more varied the better.

—Teka Childress, eulogy from 1996; quoted in The Book of Mev

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A Beautiful Kaddish by Andrew Wimmer

I was writing in my Naikan notebook this morning, reflecting on some of what I’ve received from Andrew Wimmer. I remembered his “review” of The Book of Mev, and am happy to share it here.

This book contains multitudes.

Among other things,
 some beautiful faces, a spear through the heart,
Chomsky transformed,
and a bunch of hearts and minds wrapped in a tumor.

This is a book about the untimely death
 of Mev Puleo, a promising photojournalist, 
theologian, and seeker of the truth.

“Blessed are those who mourn.”
And mourn they do.

If you want hagiography, the life of the smiling girl with the camera who goes to Latin America and
 saves everybody, forget it. Read the rest of this entry »

Saturday 7 October– Share the Wealth with Laura Lapinski: The Films of Wes Anderson

Laura Lapinski, a graduate student in psychology at SIUE, is doing her Share the Wealth on film director Wes Anderson this Saturday. For those interested in joining us, here’s some background from Laura…

Wes Anderson is an American film writer and director. I find him truly unique and remarkable. His individual style is exclusive for a few reasons. One main difference is the cinematography style Anderson uses. To move from scene to scene, he transitions by actually moving the camera directly into the next scene. Its a simple thing yet so original. Wes Anderson movies are aggressively quirky. This is my one of my favorite things about them. The aesthetic involved in each film is similar and unmistakable. The films somehow give off a vintage and modern vibe at the same time.

To me the absolute best thing about Wes Andersons films are the characters. All of the protagonists and most of the supporting characters in any given Wes film are a work of genius. Every one being a specifically strange yet endearing person. These characters are so special and you can’t help but wish they were real and you could track them down. I have been asked many times how to categorize a Wes Anderson film and the truth is I can’t. They are simply in a caliber all their own. In my book, each film could fall into at least two or more genres. Below I have included some suggestions with examples of themes for perusing. You could choose to check one or multiple out before October although I highly recommend watching them all at some point in your life. Read the rest of this entry »

What I’ve Learned from El Salvador by Maria Vazquez-Smith

since August 2011

1. I learned that life is unpredictable and cannot be controlled.

2. I learned that there is a wide, visible gap between life in the United States and life in the many developing countries around the world.

3. I learned that Spanish is easier to learn when trying to make friends, though still intimidating at times. I learned it is easier and dare I say, actually fun, to learn Spanish when talking sweetly to your life’s forever flame. I learned it is very frustrating to learn Spanish when trying to put the “right” words together to share something difficult, frustrating, deeply personal or confusing. It is equally as frustrating to learn Spanish when unable to understand someone’s deeply personal testimony or sharing of emotions, and also jokes. Man, I know I have missed some good jokes shared in Spanish.

4. I learned, just as Jim “Jaime” Lochhead told me before I left, that it really didn’t matter how bad my Spanish was. I still came back changed, re-arranged and broken in the best way.

5. I learned that lines can be blurred and borders are only imaginary. Deysi’s brother lives in Texas, probably not too far from my own family members. William has a family member in or around the DMV. Rosa’s daughter and I surely have walked the same streets in Baltimore.
Read the rest of this entry »

Dear “Hermana Ann”   by Maria Vazquez-Smith

Maria is taking a class with me based on The Book of Mev.  One of the weekly themes was Direct Address, and Maria wrote the following and gave me permission to share it.

Dear “Hermana Ann”                                                                                         September 12, 2017

Hello, my name is Maria Smith and I am a 2013 graduate of Saint Louis University. It has been a true honor getting to know you through The Book of Mev (as in your friend, Mev Puleo. Her husband,  Mark Chmiel, wrote a beautiful book that you’d enjoy. It includes people like you that make me proud to be a SLU alum). This afternoon, I read an excerpt that features you being interviewed by Mev. During the time of the interview, you were both in El Salvador, perhaps sitting outside somewhere. While I read the interview, I was sitting outside my office. I had just finished eating lunch and was taking a moment to breathe and sit in the sun before returning back to work. Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Carolina and Christina: A Glimpse into Two Cubana-Americana’s Stories

Carolina Dominguez from Miami and Christina Arrom from Chicago, are Cubana-Americanas who were influenced by the stories of their parents, but especially their grandparents’ lives in Cuba.

After Carolina served with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps for two years in Belize City she moved to Chicago to study social work and work at an all girls high school. “Growing up in Miami allowed me to taste their stories and almost feel like I was in La Havana. However, leaving Miami and living in Italy and Central America allowed me to see how other people viewed Fidel Castro and the new relations between the U.S and Cuba. Working at both a geriatric urology center in the pulse of Little Havana and a poetry organization once back from Belize allowed me to witness the stories of patients who lived the exile, the Mariel Exodus and the title ‘Peter Pan kid.’ In attempt to understand and document this close history of my family I began to write poetry to try and delve into what being Cuban meant to me. Writing poetry about the stories I heard opened me up to write about my own story.”

Christina served with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in San Antonio, Texas. She Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Rhodi Celaj and Kestrel Smoot: Fernweh!

Fernweh (Noun)
Wanderlust means the desire to travel. Fernweh elevates that urge to a need; The opposite of homesickness.

I was once told that one of the most valuable things people can do in life is travel to a place they are unfamiliar with and get lost. By doing so, one has the ability to explore and discover things for themselves that they would have never noticed if their eyes were glued to a map.

Today we will listen to Rhodi and Kestrel as they share stories of how they got “lost” during their study abroad experiences in order to delve deeper into the culture and country they were living in.

Rhodi Celaj is a third year Accounting and Financial Services major. In the Spring of 2017, she studied at the Richmond American International University in London. Rhodi likes to travel and try different foods from around the world. Rhodi plans to use her experience from learning about other cultures and promote and integrate the value of diversity in the workplace in her future career.

Kestrel Smoot is a junior Pre-Occupational Therapy (Psychology)/ International Studies double major at Maryville University. She studied abroad for a semester at Freie Universität in Berlin, Germany. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, eating pizza, going on walks and taking pictures.

Join us!
Sunday 17 September
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Kestrel and Rhodi begin sharing at 6:45
At the home of Lina, Sandra, Sarah, and Kine
Pine 15 (one of the Hilltop Apartments)
On the campus of Maryville University

Shoreditch, located in east London, is filled with culture in all aspects whether it’s street art or food. All you need when you are in Shoreditch is the desire to wander and explore.

Share the Wealth with Nicole McLaughlin: How Medical School Has Made Me Healthier – Wellness, Unity and Gratitude

Nicole is a second year medical student at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, a medical program well-known for its curricular changes and focus on wellness that serve to improve students’ mental health during their four years. Prior to beginning medical school, Nicole imagined the toughest years of her life, as many of us do before beginning a stressful, grueling challenge. She imagined sleeping minimally, overwhelming competitiveness with her fellow students, loss of human contact and a survival mentality. Instead, she is happy to share quite the opposite, and feels that she is the healthiest and happiest she has ever been.

In this Share the Wealth, we will explore the themes of wellness, unity and gratitude and while Nicole will explore these topics in her experiences with medicine and health, she hopes to lay the foundation for deeper reflection outside of the realm of medical education and health care professions. She is grateful for the muses, mantras, and inspirations that have served her in medical school thus far. They not only inform the type of physician she aspires to be, but more globally, the person she hopes to be. Read the rest of this entry »

Commonplace Books

From the Be in Love with Yr Life class, Annie Kratzmeyer was telling me about the commonplace ntoebooks she fills. Here’s a page of one of mine.

What Emerson kept, and what he recommended enthusiastically to others, were what used to be called commonplace books, blank bound volumes in which one writes down vivid images, great descriptions, striking turns of phrase, ideas, high points from one’s life and reading—things one wants to remember and hold on to. A commonplace book is not a diary, an appointment calendar, or a record of one’s feelings. If your journal consists of the best moments of your life and reading, then rereading it will be like walking a high mountain trail that goes from peak to peak without the intervening descent into the trough of routine. Just reading in such a journal of high points will tighten your strings and raise your pitch.

–Robert Richardson. Jr., author of First We Read, Then We Write: Emerson on the Creative Process

The Good News of Inspiration from Rereading Lindsey Trout Hughes’s Letters and Poems

 

In the last year and a half, I have benefited enormously from exchanges with Lindsey, who lives in Brooklyn.