the beach at Arbroath, Scotland

17 January 2004
survival kit

there's this one show on NPR called Survival Kit, and the premise is simple: a famous and/or notable person talks with the host about the eight (or so) cultural items that they would bring with them if marooned alone (with a choice of a remote, snowed-in cabin or a desert island. i would choose the former).

1. the album Hejira, by Joni Mitchell.
really a no brainer, and first one that came to mind. unlike a lot of cds i own, i often save this one. wait and wait and wait until i'm sure i've almost forgotten it, and then i bring it out again, and everything on it sounds new and beautiful. it reminds me that the questions i'm always asking are not so unusual, and that if i never find the asnwers to them, it's probably okay.

2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.
my favorite book ever. like almost every child in America, i was forced to read this in 8th grade. a wasted exercise, in my opinion, because although it's told from the point of view of a child, most of its themes went right over my head until a few years ago. one of the few cases where the movie equals or perhaps even surpasses the book.

3. a ton of yarn and a variety of knitting needles.
preferably an unending supply of Lamb's Pride Bulky weight, in many different colors.

4. a lemon tree.
because i have always loved lemons and loved the color yellow. the only way i can get myself to drink water is to put a squeeze of lemon in it.

5. an extremely comfortable bed.
there was a period two years ago that i did not have a bed for about six weeks. i slept on a pile of blankets on the floor. this only cemented my addiction to a good bed. there are some days queen size is too small. it must have massive amounts of pillows (it is a travesty to have any less than four), fine sheets and matching duvet cover. it must be high off the ground.

6. a subscription to The New Yorker.
i have a long and storied history with this magazine. i first got a subscription when i was 12, because my friend Alexis had one. needless to say, 95% of the content was far over my head, and so i spent $30 a year (at that time) to read the cartoons and the theater listings every week. and so i would, and dream of living in New York City and curse my parents for settling in Lebanon, PA. later on, i subscribed to it again, and now i mostly read John's copy, when i can get hold of it. it's still The New Yorker, and still occasionally has its head up its ass, but it's consistently good, interesting, writing.

7. Hedwig and the Angry Inch on dvd.
sometimes i wish i was a gay man. this movie is so great, and John Cameron Mitchell is so hot it really makes me wish i was a gay man. anyway, it's a rock and roll musical in the grand tradition of Rocky Horror, except the music is far more amazing and costumes more ostentatious. and the extras on the dvd alone are worth the price.

8. my laptop.
because i'm finding it increasingly hard to write the way i want to longhand (i can't believe the writers who can churn out whole novels that way). also a good way to keep in touch, in my little cabin hideaway.

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Hejira v.6.0, blue celadon edition
all content, 1998-2004 (c) Bethany