A Few of My Favorite Things

Sometimes the breadth and depth of human creativity overwhelms me. The historian Paul Johnson says, “Creativity, I believe, is inherent in all of us,” but because we use it so frequently, we don’t often stop to marvel at the miracle of our imaginations. Today, I’m marveling and I wanted to share these favorite examples–including one of my own–from just the past few days:

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Here With You

1. The new CD “Here With You” by my incredibly talented little sister, Sara Huffman, whose smooth, crisp tone brings the Standards to sultry life.

2. Ray LaMontagne’s pitch-perfect Supernova show last night at Jones Hall. With the influence of The Black Keys’ producer Dan Auerbach and the multidimensional talent of his band mates Zachariah Hickman and Dave Depper, he’s stretched his soulful, cinnamony voice all the way back to the psychedelic earth rock of the early 60’s. Check out the trippy, wonderful “Lavender.”

3. This quote by Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson:

“The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”

4. The typewriter poems by Tyler Knott Gregson. His new book, CHASERS OF THE LIGHT is available for pre-order for $11.11. He doesn’t know it, but based on the gorgeous cloud photos on his website, I think we might have been separated at birth.

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Blueberry lava.

5. This delicious protein-packed blueberry muffin recipe from IFBB pro Barbara Bolotte that my kids devoured yesterday.

6. This photograph of a downtown Houston bridge tunnel by my multitalented friend Andrew. Also the short stories he recently posted (and then took down.)

7. Neuropsychologist Amy Serin’s help with my sometimes debilitating fear of public speaking. Those of you who have heard me and think I’m kidding weren’t holding my hair back while I was throwing up before each appearance. Dr. Serin is using the most interesting treatment you’ve never heard of—Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming (EMDR)—to wash my brain.

8. This chapter from the in-progress audio version of 11 STORIES, recorded by Jeff Magnus.

9. This medicinal bit of wisdom from my dear friend and THE WORD BURGLAR illustrator, Kat:

Worrying is like praying for shit you don’t want.”

Read this now.

Read this now.

10. These amazing books I recently finished, including ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Tony Doerr, SO LONG, SEE YOU TOMORROW by William Maxwell, THE ORENDA by Joseph Boyden, and the sweetly satisfying BEAUTIFUL RUINS by Jess Walter.

11. The sudden burst of fearless writing on my new book, THE WEIGHT OF A PIANO. Recently I’ve been listening too closely to the negative voice in my head, that frog-eyed critic who whispers, “You’re writing above your pay grade, Cander. Put the pen down and go do the dishes or something.” After much gnashing of teeth, I realized that I was dress-rehearsing disappointment, focusing far too much on the outcome (who’s going to want to read this crap?) rather than just enjoying the magical process of discovering the story. So in that spirit, here is an unedited, out-of-context excerpt from my shitty first draft.