April 18, 2021

Lonnie Listonsmith

Experienced Health Expert

Laura Donnelly’s Week: ‘Dora the Explorer’ and a Poetry Prescription

3 min read

I had a rare lie in, and I read a quick chapter of Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography. That man’s life was something else. I put less pressure on myself to fully consume something. Biographies I find good for that. I tend to have several books on the bedside, and I go in and out of whatever I feel like that day. Joan Didion always works. I don’t tend to read a lot of modern fiction. The only exception recently was “Shuggie Bain” by Douglas Stuart. It’s just the most beautiful, beautiful piece of fiction and so tenderly written.

With the girls, we listened to a playlist of The Faces and Bert Jansch. Ninety-eight percent of the music that I listen to is from the last century, mostly from before I was born. We made a pact that as much as we could, we’d introduce the girls to our music from the start. We just didn’t want to be listening to the Little Mermaid on a loop for four hours. So we decided really early that they weren’t going to know what kids’ music was.

At lunchtime, we watched “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” They’re still too young to really move on to the next one. I had never watched them [the “Harry Potter” movies]. It’s genuinely a world I know so little about, so it we’ll be discovering it together.

In the evening, we watched “The Innocent Man” on Netflix. I will watch anything about either a true crime or a cult. I’ve watched “The Jinx” about six times. I’m just constantly looking for somebody else to watch “The Jinx” with. I love a documentary, my favorite one of late was Fran Lebowitz’s “Pretend It’s a City.” I don’t think I’m alone in wishing she and I were best friends. And “In and of Itself” on Hulu. Oh my goodness, I was thinking about it for weeks afterwards.

I had a long car ride by myself, precious time, despite going to get my mouth prised open by the dentist. I have been long avoiding the dentist. I listened to a friend of mine’s podcast. It’s called “Persistent and Nasty.” The women presenting it are actresses, and so they have very intelligent and bold and powerful conversations with other women in the arts.

The dentist was really amazing. He has cured me of my aversion. On the way home I listened to Catherine Gray’s “The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober.” Toward the start of lockdown, I decided to stop drinking alcohol. And that was just based around a desire to feel more present in my life. I like listening to books like this, and hers is particularly lovely, because it’s not a deep and dark dive into someone’s terrible addiction. It’s a celebration of everything that she has gained from not drinking.

In the afternoon, I dipped into The Poetry Pharmacy” by William Sieghart. God, it’s a lovely book. It has a list of what do you want from a poem and then it gives you a poem. The condition I read on was failure to live in the moment. So I read “Golden Retrievals” by Mark Doty: “A Zen master’s bronzy gong, calls you here,/ entirely, now: bow-wow, bow-wow, bow-wow.”

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