#81: Shoeless Joe Jackson Musuem

My friend Joanna has been volunteering at the Shoeless Joe Museum, right here in Greenville, for a long time now. And I’ve always said I would go, and had not yet made it. So I finally added it to the List (nothing like a little pressure to get something done), and today, I was actually free on a day when Jo was volunteering. So I headed downtown to the museum, right next to Fluor Field, where the Greenville Drive play, and Jo gave me a tour.

It’s a great little museum. The walls are covered with newspaper articles and photos from Shoeless Joe’s career with the mill team he played on in Greenville, as well as with the professional teams he played with. And, of course, there’s plenty of info on the infamous Black Sox scandal of 1919, in which he and 7 other players were accused of fixing a game in the World Series.

The museum also houses a pretty extensive library of books on baseball–Shoeless Joe and many others. I could have stayed in that room all day, probably. πŸ™‚ One really awesome thing they have, too, is a baseball signed by both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. It’s not Shoeless Joe memorabilia, exactly (though he certainly knew Babe Ruth), but it is vintage baseball, and it’s awesome.

And, of course, I took Bernard along with me, so he browsed the museum, too.

This is me holding the Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig-signed baseball.

This is Bernard, the roaming gnome, with a stadium chair and bricks from the old Comiskey Park in Chicago, where the White Sox (and Shoeless Joe Jackson) played.

This is a replica of one of Shoeless Joe’s Louisville Sluggers. And Bernard, of course.

Mumford and Sons

A few weeks ago, I downloaded a Bonnaroo mixtape created by SPIN magazine. I was super excited about it because it contained the Gaslight Anthem’s new single “American Slang” several weeks before the album was released. And while I certainly love The Gaslight Anthem, I found on that album a treasure: a live version of the song “White Blank Page” by London folk rock band Mumford and Sons.

I bought the full album on Monday, and it’s one of the best musical purchases I’ve made in a long time. The entire album–12 tracks long–is brilliant. Marcus Mumford’s voice is strong and deep, the instruments (including a mandolin and banjo) rock, and the songwriting is absolutely brilliant!

There are times when I listen to the album, and the music sounds like it should be played on the porch of a mountain cabin in Appalachia. And then there’s the song “Dust Bowl Dance,” and I imagine some film of violence and poverty in 1930s Oklahoma. These are definitely not the kind of voices I imagine coming out of London, but then again, what do I know about the London folk scene? πŸ™‚

I’ve been listening to the album all week. And hoping that eventually, they add tour dates in the US.

Here’s a video of “White Blank Page,” filmed in a bookstore in London. Excellent music + books everywhere = a beautiful video:

And one of my favorites, especially lyrically, is track 4, “Roll Away Your Stone”:

“It seems that all my bridges have been burned / But you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works / It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart / But the welcome I receive with every start”

#58: Go rock climbing.

A girl needs to do something pretty epic for her 25th birthday, right? Of course she does.

Enter Climb @ Blue Ridge, the indoor rock climbing center off of 290 between Greer and NGU.

Rock climbing is super hard. My first time up, I made it almost halfway up and then stopped, looked down, and panicked. I don’t trust very well, at least physically. And while Raquel, who was acting as my belayer, is one of my best friends, I wasn’t so sure I could trust the rope that connected our harnesses. So she lowered me down, I chilled out for a few minutes, and I tried again.

The last three times I climbed the wall were awesome, and I made it more than halfway up the 2nd and 3rd times. After that initial fear passed, it never returned. It’s actually pretty exhilarating to climb. Unfortunately, my weak little librarian arms are not strong, and while I could push off the footholds with my feet, lifting my arms to reach the next grip was difficult.

So…a new goal: build up upper body strength and actually reach the top of that wall. πŸ™‚

A Soundtrack for a Life

I am six days away from my 25th birthday; therefore, I will soon be celebrating my first quarter-century on this earth. With my penchant for any number that is a multiple of 5 and my tendency to extract some great meaning or lesson from every potentially important day, is it any wonder that I’m experiencing some sort of quarter-century crisis?

By crisis, I mean those lingering questions: am I the person I want to be? By now, my moral character and personality are pretty unchangeable, I think. Do I have fatal flaws that will doom me in the future? Have I accomplished enough? Am I reaching my potential?

These are ridiculous questions. The logical part of my mind (small though it may be) understands that I’m probably ahead of the curve compared to even my own expectations. After all, just this past year, I was hired to teach college freshmen just two months after I turned 24 years old. I’m well on my way to earning a Master’s degree in English. I’ve begun traveling much more often than usual. I’ve lived on my own and managed to pay rent, bills, and necessities for three years now.

Still, the questions remain. I have a List full of unaccomplished goals (but, as I keep adding to the List faster than I can accomplish those goals, I realize that the List will always be lengthy). I am single, and many former close friends are married and raising families, making me wonder if I’m missing out on that important aspect of life. (Don’t lecture me in the comments, folks. I love my life, and I’m not ready for a family just yet. But a girl wonders sometimes.)

In light of all these emerging questions and my impending 25th birthday, I’ve found myself listening to a certain playlist on my iPod recently. I’ve got dozens of fun playlists filled with great music, but this one is special, and it’s not one that I play for others often. It’s one that I just call “The List,” one that corresponds to The List of Things to Do Before I Die. I save this list for the moments when I let my mind wander through those questions, when I think about all I want to accomplish in the next quarter-century of my life, when I let myself reflect on those desires and goals that I truly have: not the ones others have for me, but those times when I ask myself what I truly want. It’s essentially a carpe diem playlist. And I thought I’d post it on here. Don’t be surprised by how often Switchfoot shows up.

1. “I Am,” Train, from their self-titled debut album.

This one is the opening track because the song seems to be about a list of unaccomplished goals:

“I never been on a railroad / So many times they pass me by / I never crashed in the desert or seen a rodeo / Don’t know much about the world wars or Vietnam / I’ve yet to read about Uncle Tom / Never climbed a real rock or seen Colorado / Am I the son I think I am? / Am I the friend I think I am? / Am I the man I think I want to be?”

2. “Let It Be,” The Beatles.

Because, really, who doesn’t need a reminder not to worry so much?

“When I find myself in times of trouble / Mother Mary comes to me / Speaking words of wisdom / Let it be”

3. “Burn Out Bright,” Switchfoot, from Oh! Gravity.

Sort of a cautionary tale against an average life:

“Does it have to start with a broken heart? / Broken dreams and bleeding parts / We were young, and the world was clear / But young ambition disappears / I swore it would never come to this / The average, the obvious / I’m still discontented down here / I’m still discontented / If we’ve only got one try / If we’ve only got one life / If time was never on our side / Then before I die, I want to burn out bright”

4. “Bullet Soul,” Switchfoot, from Hello Hurricane

“I wanna sing one for all the dreamers / I’m singing this one for the sparks / Here’s one for the friction makers / We are the bleeding hearts / Don’t care whoever you are / We rise and fall together / Our hearts still beat below / Oh, you can’t stand by forever / You’re a kid with a bullet soul / Are you ready to go?”

5. “Without Reason,” The Fray, from Reason EP.

Sometimes, a little spontaneity helps:

“I do it on a whim / It’s rhyme without reason / Whatever comes to mind, I’ll pull it from thin air / I’ve learned to improvise, to fill my time / I don’t want to live this life without reason”

6. “This is Your Life,” Switchfoot, from The Beautiful Letdown

Essentially, the most important song on the playlist…and one of my all-time faves.

“This is your life / Are you who you wanna be? / This is your life / Is it everything you dreamed that it would be / When the world was younger and you had everything to lose?”

7. “On the Bus,” Evan and Jaron, from Evan and Jaron.

Probably the first song I claimed as one that inspired me to simply live.

“Never say never / And don’t wait forever / It’s the perfect time to see that now is the time / To take a chance, take a shot, take control of the situation / I can’t stand around here telling you / About the things I’ve done and what I’ve gotta do / So are you on the bus or not? / ‘Cause we’re leaving the station.”

8. “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Journey.

Everyone’s favorite anthem. Plus, it’s about a small town girl. Also, do I really need to quote the lyrics? πŸ™‚

9. “Up Around the Bend,” Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Exciting things happen around the next bend in the road. Just ask CCR:

“There’s a place up ahead and I’m goin’ / Just as fast as my feet can fly / Come away, come away, if you’re goin’ / Leave the sinking ship behind / Come on the risin’ wind / We’re goin’ up around the bend”

10. “Butterflies & Hurricanes,” Muse, from Absolution.

Seriously, I should wake up to this song every morning. It’s an epic anthem:

“Best / You’ve got to be the best / You’ve got to change the world / And use this chance to be heard / Your time is now”

11. “The Journey,” Dolores O’Riordan.

I found this one a Paste sampler last summer, and it’s a perfect closing track for the playlist!

“When I was lost / I saw you pointing toward the sun / I know I am not the only one standing here / And in the darkness, I was walking through the night / I could see your guiding light very clear / This is your life / This is your moment”

May Books

I’m over halfway toward my goal of reading 100 books that I’d never read before this year. Yay!

42. The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan. Described as a “post-apocalyptic romance” by Scott Westerfeld, I was sure this would be one I adored. Nope. Not at all.

43. Perfect You, Elizabeth Scott.

44. The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity, Mike Carey & Peter Gross. The first five issues of a comic book series. It’s so good and literary and engrossing.

45. The Unwritten Rule, Elizabeth Scott.

46. Coraline, Neil Gaiman. This graphic novel was adapted from Gaiman’s book and illustrated by P. Craig Russell. I was creeped out by it…which was just about perfect. I want to see the film now.

47. Stealing Heaven, Elizabeth Scott. A young adult novel that went slightly against the formula. This one is about a 17-year-old whose mother steals silver from wealthy homes. They move around constantly, living a nomadic, clandestine life, until they arrive in a town called Heaven. While Dani’s mother is planning what house to strike, Dani makes friends in the town for the first time in her life. It’s a good coming-of-age story about how a girl decides her own future.

48. Superman: Red Son, Mark Millar. A graphic novel answering the question, “What if Superman had landed 12 hours later in Russia instead of Metropolis?” It’s really awesome.

49. Bloom, Elizabeth Scott

50. The Scent of Rain and Lightning, Nancy Pickard.

51. Double Fudge, Judy Blume. Published in 2002, this book was written years after the first four books featuring the Hatcher family and their neighbor Sheila Tubman–Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge, and Fudge-a-mania. It is just as delightful and funny as the previous tales.

52. Love You Hate You Miss You, Elizabeth Scott.

Grad school has begun, so I’m working on reading for that class, which means my other reading has slacked off a bit. Still, I’ll manage to get in a few first-time reads in June, I’m sure.