Welcome To My Bed

How I Fell Out of Love With Manhattan




Some days, I envy the kind of people who are born, go to school, raise a family, grow old and die all in the same metro area.  I used to think I'd be one of these people.  My family is from a tiny one traffic light town a stone's throw from Manhattan.  When you start out that close to what many people claim is the greatest city in the world, it doesn't seem like much improvement could be made to your location.  I came of age on NJ Transit: every weekend of early high school meant days-long sleepovers with my best friend at her family's place in Weehawken and PATH trips from Hoboken to Lower Manhattan; later, another friend and I would stash his car in the lot behind an Asian restuarant in Fort Lee and walk across the GWB, or take the tiny privately run buses from one side of the river to the other.

When I was a teenager, the world was a vast, uncharted place that I could do just fine without.  I had my future laid out right in front of me.  I want to go to Cooper Union, live in Alphabet City, take the bus home to visit my little brother with spoils from street fairs and flea markets on alternating weekends.  All of my closest friends planned to move to New York after graduation.  We spent nights in friend-of-friends apartment watching FLCL, using up endless rolls of film taking pictures of ourselves, playing a game called 'brackets' where we pitted pairs random nouns against each other head-to-head until we were only left with two options to defend.  Analog versus digital.  Britney versus Christina.  Diesel versus unleaded.  As the list narrowed, things became much more bizarre.  Hair cuts versus spare tires.  Whiskey versus toothpaste.  The Lakers versus table salt.  But never once did we pit New York against anything.  There was no contest.

When applying to colleges, I went through several rounds of rigorous extracurricular art classes trying to get my portfolio up to snuff for the review process inherent to applying to straight-up art schools.  Whenever a rep from one of the big schools came through, I would give them my work to look at, hoping to get early feedback and keep honing until I was unstoppable.  I got accepted to several school based on these reviews my junior year of high school, but I wasn't ready to accept, because none of them were in Manhattan.  (I apologize for the ill-disguised humblebrag.)  But even though I didn't take any of the offers, it woke me up to the possibility of other cities.  Baltimore.  San Franciso.  Boston.  It had never occurred to me that there were other places I might want to cut my teeth.

My last year of high school, Meredith Lippman told me she would hunt me down and kill me if I ever stopped making art.  She also told me to apply to Hampshire, a now-infamous nudge that resulted in me moving the middle of Western Massachusetts dairy farmland and finding the room I needed to breathe.  Hampshire got me hooked on slam poetry, introducing me to poets from everywhere.  I housed roughly half the people who came through for features on my living room couch.  And barely any of them were from New York.  They loved their cities as fiercely as I thought I loved Manhattan and defended them as such.  When I cycled through Gotham on my way home for holiday breaks, I realized that some of the glow was gone.  It didn't seem so special when compared to the way my new friends talked about Chicago or Denver or Madison or Portland or Vancouver.

While at Hampshire, I made near-weekly pilgrimages to Cambridge for readings at the Cantab.  The magic of a single bar basement (that admittedly spells like rat piss) overtook any remaining love I had for New York and replaced it with a deep-seated fondness of the two-hour slog down I-90, the endless open mic, and the alley behind the bar where I have had more exquisite, hysterical, illicit moments than I dare to recount to the internet.  Many more memorable nights than Manhattan had ponied up during our time together.

I moved into the living room of my sister's one bedroom Providence apartment for a summer between semesters and had more free time than I knew what to do with.  I befriended a gang of singer-songwriters and spent my evenings hanging out windows of the 3rd floor at AS 220 with a cigarette, wandering the tiny downtown laughing loud enough to wake the dead.  One of these new friends gave me knife when he heard where my apartment was.  Another introduced me to the loop pedal.  I had met the city with a severely broken heart and when I went back to my cow field the following fall, I was good as new.  The city wasn't what I was used to--a bit unfinished, busted up and dneglected anywhere beyond the mall or College Hill--but that rough charm made me feel charming too.  I hadn't even seen the change happen, but I was assertive, convinced of my worth.  Where in Manhattan I had always defered to some near-stranger to tell me what I was worth, Providence taught me that your value as a person is only what you believe it to be.  If you can sell yourself as a success story, anyone listening will nod their head in agreement.

With school winding down, the decision about where to lay down roots was present, but suddenly unanswerable.  So many places had my heart.  I stayed close to school for six months, unwilling to go back to any city at all.  As a teenager, I'd been convinced rural living would be the end of me.  But more and more, abandonning New England became the thing I feared.  Manhattan was a foreign country.  Rhinestone and neon and teeming with so much I could no longer call familiar.  I had a friend nagging me to move back so we could get some tiny space in Brooklyn and "live the dream".  After a lot of excuses, I finally just said no outright.  It was bizarre to hear the words leave my mouth.  I don't want to move to New York.  I'd outgrown the fairytale.

I always took for granted that my twenties belonged to the fat glut of light across the river from my family's house.  I spent so many years praying to the shine there.  Make me special, make me interesting, make me one of your hum.  I remember a morning when I woke up at 6 AM on the floor of a dorm at the New School and thought, yes, this, every single day--this!  Certainly, I could've been happy there.  But I also know how grounded I feel here, in Boston.  And how affectionate I feel towards Providence, and Portsmouth, and Pittsburgh, and a handful of other underrated cities that all live in my heart.  Manhattan is supposed to be the best, but for me, it hasn't be in contention for quite some time.

Hometown.


I've been in New Jersey less than 24 hours and I've seen a ska show, danced so hard to dubstep that an on-duty cop came up to my sister and I to compliment us, drove the length of Manhattan as the sky was graying with morning, and indulged in the greasy highway diner fare that simply does not properly exist in New England.  But the highlight has been the dirt.  I pulled hundreds of tiny maple seedlings from my gram's front garden.  Kneeling on ground not made of concrete.  It's been too long since I've touched growing things, though a lot of the garden has been chewed over by deer.  They ate all but three of the tulips and none of the daffodils (daffodils are poisonous).  My uncle buys special seed for the birds and squirrels.  The yard is overrun with fat red wing blackbirds, crows, cow birds, starlings, cardinals, mourning doves, blue jays.  So many things that I love I could never have in a city.  Except house music.  That new love is highly portable.


New news.

1.  I finally did all the legwork I'm capable of squeezing out for the poetry day.  They're paying me to read things to teenagers.  Somehow, I managed to dig up enough material that isn't either profane or somehow illicit (at least as far as high school administrators are concerned).  As a companion to a presentation that will probably only interest a small fraction of my listeners, I put together a zine with a list of ten quick, painless writing prompts and three alt-poems.  The first is a Mad Libs version of "Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening"; the second is a collage poem about the point of poetry, made with material from John Cage's lecture on nothing and bits of Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons (revived and revised from a college class on Black Mountain College//yes, I am a painfully serious nerd who should probably be buried in a graduate program somewhere); and finally, a bizarre word cloud thing I wrote the other day called "Quicksilver" that doesn't know what it's doing but seemed like an apt end note for the hand-out.  I'm going to top off the zany antics with a fur hat and a denim vest and maybe some rhinestone glasses so the kids all feel like they have permission to think I'm crazy, thereby getting that conversation out of the way up front.

2.  I am now the poetry editor at Side B Magazine.  I felt pretty dandy when I found out--the kind of blush til you're purple and not respond in conversation when somebody says congrats dandy feeling that often accompanies such things.  Anyway.  We like words and arts and cultural phenomena and under-represented voices.  Among many other fabulous things.  We'd most likely like you.  Submit things (anything, really--there are lots of categories and each has its own handler) and I will love you for your efforts as a pen pal.

3.  I worked a ten hour day on my feet in those awful Dansko clogs that are supposed to be so comfortable and am now certain that clogs of any type should never be stood in for so long.

4.  I have a loyal following of regulars who routinely say my coffees are the best they've ever had.  In spite of my wild barista successes, I have an interview for a real job on Wednesday.  Fingers crossed that the company falls in love with me.  They've already made it known that pink mohawk and face metal are not at all frowned upon.

5.  If all goes according to the fast and loose plan, I'll be a resident of Massachusetts again May 1st.  Giddy at the prospect of living in the same neighborhood as my best friend for the first time since the summer of boat-in-yard, nacho fail, and the curious incident of the disembodied pants haunting our stairwell.

Blast from the past.

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When you have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of yourself caught in some unspectacular already-over moment, take it. Especially if you can't quite remember where you were or what you were doing.

I'm pretty sure this one is from the summer of garage sales. I know Button and I did a lot of rooting through other people's cast-offs in the warm months before I moved away to New England. There is nothing I miss quite like a New Jersey summer. Even if my hair was terrible.

Magic morsel #46, or, post-hardcore on Paper Street.



Remember when Fight Club was a cultural phenomenon and you watched it twice a night in your best friend's basement, quoting the lines with one of you as Tyler and the other as Cornelius? Kind of like how you used to divide up the singing parts in TBS songs into "Adam" and "John" and each sing one set of lyrics? No?!

...I mean, I guess growing up in Jersey, I assumed everybody listened to the Long Island bands and wanted to beat the crap out of their imaginary friends. My bad.

Cock-a-doodle-dee.

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Today's episode is brought to you by the feathered friends that both inspired this morning's haircut and live on my current shirt. Regardless of the fact that it snowed today, I still can't stop myself from succumbing to my intensive need for changes to my physical appearance. Too broke for new piercing or tattoos, but those clippers under my bathroom sink are always around, offering a free alternative to racing down to the drugstore for more hair dye. So I brought back the hawk in full force, just in time for the early onset of winter.

The bouncer at one of the bars my sister took me to while we visited Jersey for the holiday insisted I looked like La Roux. This is a photograph from that night:

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My hair isn't nearly as architectural, but I must admit, I am insanely jealous of the amber tidal wave that lives on her head. I mean, look at her.

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I'm going to learn how to sound mostly disaffected over a dance beat, grow my hair out a bit more, and then promptly steal her identity.

Maybe this is only something I want because it is a Saturday, and I just got out of work, and I am mostly delirious from lack of truly restful sleep.

Good things come in all packages.

So many many many good things this past week, even through all of the tough stuff. I'll give you the run down quick right now, but there will be longer stories once pictures are uploaded, dates are finalized, and changes have taken place. I'm being vague. Bear with me.

+ Team practice is in full swing, and I'm not sure I've ever had a more rewarding space to grow artistically. My lady poets have given me endless happy surprises, and we've only really been at this whole process together for less than a month. Every evening we spend working together leaves me with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. This is why I love collaboration. Besides a regular case of the sillies that infects every meeting, there is so much to look forward to for the summer because of all the poetry that's happening. We have two regional slams this month (one in Boston on the 7th, details here, and one in Providence on the 18th) and, if all goes according to plan, two team features to get us all amped and ready for St. Paul. Not that we need any help getting amped. Every time we get together to work on our poems, I am lucky enough to get goosebumps from absolutely everybody's writing on the page, as well as their performance choices. It's good to know that I will be going to my first nationals with no doubts about how proud I am. I am putting together our team chapbook, literally beaming from ear to ear.

+ I took a brief trip to New Jersey this week to see my family and was blessed to be with all of my siblings at once for the first time in months. I also had the pleasure of introducing on of my dear friends and teammates to my whole family, and the talks that ensued were so special and important for me. Going home provides a fair amount of stress in most situations, but this time I made sure to love the trip for what it was, not fault it for the hiccups. Things are not perfect with anything family-related right now, but I'm confident we'll get through this rough time. My father inspires me more and more every day with how strong he's been through this whole scary process. I just keep believing in the resilience of the heart, both his and my own, that this is just a test and a testament to how strong we will always be.

+ When in Jersey, a Manhattan/Brooklyn visit is always in order, and this trip (though only two days long) was no exception. Christina and I had quite the adventure, not arriving home until about 6 AM after much traipsing around in tiny dresses and sweating in the unbearable heat. That sounds gross. I'm sorry. It's no comfort to say there are pictures, but there are. Also, lots of stories of strange encounters with men on the sidewalk. But more about that later.

+ I have a new job. I start July 12th. I'll be working in retail, which, in pretty much any other case, I would be dubious about. However. Faces is the kind of place I'm going to fall in love with and never want to leave. Aside from the fact that waitressing has been draining my lifeblood without providing fair (or livable) compensation, my restaurant isn't exactly geared toward mohawked, rainbow-haired twenty-somethings with ambitious tattoo plans and a great deal of financial woe. In short, I'm not really the look they're going for. No matter how much I bust my ass, this will always be true. I will always be the "alternative" one. If the money was better, I'd be able to deal with this, but the money just hasn't been there because of this damned recession. So, I decided to take my love of customer service elsewhere. This elsewhere happened to be only up the block. And chock-full of rainbow-haired, tattooed twenty-somethings with big smiles, along with all kinds of quirky awesome for sale (and the best return policy I have ever heard of in my life--any time, for any reason, with or without a receipt). As my time in the restaurant winds down, I am getting really sad, but at the same time, I know that this change is definitely for the better.

+ In closing, last night was Star Trek drinking game night at Kevin's, and we had quite the time. We watched the belly dance episode from the second season, which was really a murder mystery, which somehow ended up being about metaphysics and time traveling non-humans, which is why I love Star Trek. But what I love even better is a combination of Star Trek and Ke$ha, courtesy of Christina:

Where the quiet part of my heart lives.

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The leaves in the suburbs put farm country to shame. Hadley asparagus may be delicious this time of year, but I will take rhubarb any day of the week, if only because it means I get to play with knives in the backyard, all while donning my peacock-print Tina Turner dress. And since I can't have her fabulous, giant hair at the moment, I suppose I will settle for wearing the old denim jacket I unearthed in the basement this afternoon, to be rocked a la 1984:



And just because I found this somewhat disturbing, here she is dancing seductively with a giant shoe?



If I have time to be watching all of this, it is thoroughly summer. I am in the midst of my only real vacation for the next string of months and I've already managed a close encounter with a deer on the Palisades Parkway, locking my keys in my car outside Sean's new apartment, getting lost off the BQE, a brief layover in Clinton Hill to visit the men of Black 29 Productions, the "recession special" at Gray's Papaya, a dentist appointment, and two massive loads of laundry.

Also, mostly so that my sister knows what I'm talking about when I say "those cats that wave at you in Chinese restaurants", I bought this:

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I think that I may have a super power that allows me to turn pictures the color of my hair?

I haven't named him yet. (Suggestions welcome.) He will match perfectly with all of the old furniture my grandmother has nearly been carrying to my car herself--since I've been here, I've been offered all manner of dressers, shelves, end tables, lamps, etc. from the vast stores in the basement, attic, and garage. It would seem that my family has enough furniture for three families. I can be almost certain that none of it is new. Curb shopping coupled with pack rat tendencies makes for interesting after dark navigations of the living and dining rooms. And every visit I've made for the past year, I forget they moved the location of the kitchen garbage.

And because I haven't written any solid lists in the past few weeks, here are all the things that would be in my dream apartment: a fire pole, an iron spiral staircase, floor to ceiling bookshelves, talking candlesticks/flatware/appliances that sang with me so the chores went by quicker, an endless supply of avocado salad (avocados, orange peppers, red onion), and that stained glass fake Tiffany lamp that used to hang over my Gram's kitchen table.

I love New Jersey. I refuse to speak ill of it. Cos when I'm here, even on the days when it's hotter than Tina's legs in any given mini skirt, I get grass naps and New York as my great big humid backyard.

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Ink, other ink, and moving (shuffle-style).

+ Got tattoo #4 Thursday after work. Thrilled with the results.

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However, my artist is moving back to AZ come August, which bums me out. My first color piece, I love it, everything goes great, and then I remember he won't be here past the end of the summer. When I go on tour (I say this as if I have one planned or something), I'm going to have to go to the desert and find him. In the meantime, I'll be back under the needle again some time in July to get my ribs finished (FINALLY!). I thought this was an itch I'd eventually get out of my system, but I'm starting to think it does not work that way.

+ Half of my life is packed and stacked in my living room. My mom is coming up this afternoon to steal it while I'm at work. I most likely won't even see her. It has been strange, sorting through what I need for the next week and what can go into basement storage until I get a more permanent place. The apartment that's mine on June 1st is only mine through August, so I should probably be looking for a place to hang my hat come September. I hate moving more than anything. I just want to curl up in my car with one suitcase and my shark and have that be it. However, I have one suitcase that is entirely full of shoes and that's only the stiletto portion of my collection, meaning that I will never lead a simple life. Or rather, I won't be doing it anytime soon.

+ I am itching to dye my hair again, but I've been holding out in favor of giving it a little break. The orange has been washing out slowly, and now I look more off-kilter blonde than anything else. I think I might play towards that and work my way up to platinum by the end of the summer. Or else I'll get restless and make some drastic change. There's a box of blue-black dye sitting on the bathroom shelf in case of emergencies.

+ I have a show coming up (June 8th in Newmarket, NH) that I am trying to pull together a chapbook for/rehearse for/feel confident about. I'll be honest--I haven't had a show in a year. I hope I'm not too rusty. I should probably not put my full length mirror in the pile of things for my mom to take back to Jersey, because it's clear that a lot of practicing must go on. If only so I can get a feel for what my set needs to be. Time to tape a sheet of legal paper to the wall and start making lists.

Stranded in New England, in need of sing-alongs.

This is why I cannot wait tables for the rest of my life. Holidays are difficult (if not impossible) to get coverage for, so you end up biting the bullet and being the awful daughter who calls from far away and tries to mask her crying while she's on the phone with her mother but fails miserably and no one knows what to say so you hang up and cry some more and then feel like a mess for sitting in you living room cry so early in the morning. Whew. Or something like that.

So. Happy Mother's Day internet. I hope you are spending it well, hugging and drinking mimosas somewhere sunny, with family or at least thinking of them. Maybe not so down in the dumps as I am.

I sang this song in the car with Kaitlin on of the last times I was home, and it made me feel better. I am singing it now, and it's helping a little bit.



And this one I used to sing in the stairwell at AS 220 this summer, and it is like peanut butter crackers and a spiked mug of hot chocolate for me, which is to say, comfort food to curl into the couch with. Erick, who would noodle through it on his guitar, is all the way far away in Greensboro, NC indefinitely. Sometimes I wish America was smaller so that the people I love didn't have to be so off in the distance all the time.

A black eye on Easter Sunday.

I have an epic string of adventure photos to show from Spring Break New Hampshire 2010 (otherwise known as my two-day vacation to Cassandra's parents' house in Durham), but I am only going to give you a preview of the kinds of wonderful to be had when you poke around the junk shops adjacent to the train tracks, the used bookstores with bigger poetry sections than Barnes and Noble (sadly, it's less difficult than you might imagine), and a city whose past is heavily tinted by the glare from its red light district (Portsmouth, not Durham).

I found this poster for a movie based on the book Spinster Dinner. I've been thinking a lot about black eyes lately. The intersection of factors proved too serendipitous.

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Jaws here is a little concerned for Carole Lombard, but I assured him it was only stage make-up.

In other news, I memorized a poem while at work today and scared my co-workers half to death by mumbling under my breath for most of the day about shiners and seizures and all manner of strange conditions of the body. It has a line in it about Easter, and I kept dropping the poem when I got to that line, a stutter I'll attribute to the fact that this will be the first Easter I won't be able to spend with my family in my entire life. I hadn't thought about that until right now--"my entire life" is an inordinately huge thing. My little sister is angry because she wanted to reinstitute the egg hunt this year. (She is nineteen.) I am angry because although I do not see the point in dragging myself to mass over it, as I always must when I drive down to Jersey, I miss meals with my extended family. I want to have a couple glasses of champagne with all those aunts and uncles and cousins, get down to that real talk that worms its way in among the jokes and old stories. Maybe the real talk is just the jokes and stories. I'm just rambling now. I sent my mother an Easter present in the mail today, which I guess came from rehearsing the poem but ended up being a little too emotional for a trip to the post office. I keep ascribing giant meanings to very small envelopes. There aren't enough stamps for these things.

Speaking of mail, I ran into my former roommate at that same 24 hour post office (I KNOW, I had no idea they existed either) and she didn't even recognize me. I had completely forgotten that since we last spoke, I've died my hair three times and essentially dropped off the planet where people with social lives congregate.

So much gets lost, but when I take deep breaths, I find that it all comes back to me in its own way without so much as a complaint. It's the remembering my lungs that's the problem.

Amanda Palmer's voice is mildly disagreeable to The Buns.

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In lieu of chilling with this adorable guy all day (and we all know what a cutefest THAT would be), I am doing something I have not done since high school. I am going to a Starbucks to write. I know, I know, terrible. But there are only chain coffee shops in suburbia. Today I must

+ deposit this week's spoils at the bank
+ restock the house with grilled cheese supplies
+ write a seven page Serenity story with a secret
+ collect my yoga mat, my husband pillow, and various books
+ drive back to the cave/treehouse

Did I mention that I made a cave within what Cass and I refer to as our treehouse? It is made of furniture, so it's not a proper cave, but it is the perfect enclosed space to crawl into and cook up wacky ideas for my thesis. I will get around to posting about it soon, most likely sometime after I post about dinner in Worcester, which at this point took place over a week ago. But I promise you, it was wonderful. And you will know all about it as soon as I see fit to tell you. As a preview, there were plush rhinos, five courses, and sore abs from laughing. My kind of night.


*from now on, anytime I refer to Serenity, I am talking about the story cycle that is the main part of my thesis project
**I may abhor Starbucks enough to go to the one indie coffee shop I know of around here, known as Cool Beans, and thus abhorrent in an entirely different set of ways.
***I can't believe my little sister texted me from class at Ramapo to make sure we had sufficient cheese for her purposes. I mean, it's not like she's ME or something.

Awash.

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The drive to New Jersey after work took too long because I made a detour for gas near White Plains and then let myself dawdle about finding new ways the highways connect to one another. I like the idea that all roads cross if you keep driving long enough, though I know it cannot possibly be true, not even half true. I've lost all the mojo I had for good timing, and every other light turns amber just as I get to the line. I fly through anyway and kiss my hand, then press it to the visor. I never used to do this. It's something I saw for the first time driving with two girls I took portfolio development class with at Old Church when I was a junior in high school. Michelle drove a Honda, or maybe it was the other girl who went to Westwood High. I don't remember. They both had what I thought were much cooler clothes than mine. When we sped through a yellow light one or both of them kissed their palm and pressed it to the visor, saying, "You have to do that, otherwise you're doomed to terrible sex." We then got coffees with our teacher at Rohrs' before I ever even dreamed of working there. A few months later I was counting out the register, always estimating the nickels because adding by fives didn't mix well with the rest of me. Someone found a stack of old Playboys in the trash at the school down the street once and brought them in while I was on shift. We spent a lot of time on the back couch turning the pages sideways and cutting out body parts for collages we tacked up over the sink.

When I am here, this is how it comes back. All of it. All at once. A handful of voices yelling from every party I left early. "I haven't seen you in so long! Where do you go to school again?"

You're so high//why can't you fly?

1. It feels good to be solidly back in action the Western Mass way. My head is still spinning from all the pinball-bouncing around I do on a regular basis. However, now that I am standing in the same state for longer than a few hours at a time, there has been an avalanche of responsibility. (Agh! Who wants that?!)

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Clarabelle and I have been slaving away for the better part of today on my retrospective essay (the first three typewritten pages of which can be found above; please excuse excessive typos). It should be easy. For the most part, it is easy. Think about my courses in chronological order. Check. Write about what I learned in said courses. Check. Write about real world experiences and their relevance to class learning, also vice versa. Check. Maintain a plausible through-line pertaining to the learning contract I wrote with myself last fall. Check. The tedious part of this whole process is that it's going to end up being about twenty pages of wind-baggery about my "becoming a writer". Is there some bar mitzvah-type ceremony for this coming-of-age process?? Any way I can get fat checks from distant relatives? No? Cos it seems to me like I am doing an awful lot of "entering a new phase of my life" in this essay. I don't want to get carried away and new-agey with the narrative, but it keeps wandering away from me into touchy-feely territory. I'm not sure if I should just go with it or not.

2. Being a restless spirit, but really because I left my journal in Providence and as a result had no place to record the deep dark secrets rattling around my head, I decided late last night that I was going to move all my furniture before going to sleep. It has worked out quite well. My new desk nook is nothing if not conducive to writing this essay. Except the moment my fingers got tired of typewriter keys, I hopped in bed with my lap top and ended up here. Kind of like how the last time I attempted real work (in this particular case, it was cleaning out the unfinished half of the basement), I ended up on my computer. Although in this case it was a little different, because there were odd costume-type items lying about.

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introducing Owen to the Beastie Boys




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I had a near-overwhelming inclination to play dress-up last night instead of changing my sheets and organizing my desk after the move, but I restrained myself by mentally arguing that I had nothing interesting to wear. Yeah, right. However, as I told Cassandra when she noted that she had dressed more outrageously than I had the past two days running, I am still recovering from pretending to be normal while in New Jersey. It is going to take at least another week for me to fully retire the real-world-uniform of t-shirts and jeans.

3. I've been taking a chill pill as of late in terms of music. Not that I'm completely divorced from pop radio land as of yet(though I'm not sure I can even call it that, being as I have no access to any radio), but I've been giving my spandex and sequins daydream dance sequences a rest in favor of a heavy dose of mellow-me-out.

Current favorites:





Still looking for a rock album that will knock my socks off. I don't know how much longer I can hide in the recesses of my pre-existing iTunes library before going Completely mad, although I'm fairly certain it is analogous to the length of time I can spend continuously typing out this essay until my head spins off into the stratosphere.

The briefest of briefs.

Today: got a somewhat inconsequential piercing, watched Star Trek, threw out all the old cheese in the fridge.

Tomorrow: hawk my soul (and middle school CD collection) at the mall for gas money, coffee with Crystal, last hurrah with Button.

Tuesday: high-tail it back to Hampshire, give roommates late holiday gifts, pray for spring.

I got such a kick out of this the other day. Betcha can't guess why.

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I'll give you a hint: my life is consumed by poetry, and now the internet knows about it.

Buried in AWESOME.

1. Happy Holidays everybody! The snow is melting in drizzle, so I'm pretty sure I can only be buried in intangible awesomeness today. I don't know if it has something to do with the fact that I'm getting older (and thus, hopefully, more grateful) or what, but this Christmas was definitely one of the best I've ever had. Maybe it's the shift in traditions--for the past few years now, my sisters and I have gone to midnight mass with my dad and then out to a huge diner breakfast afterwards to do some catching up (read: hysterical laughing) before the big day; introducing each other to our favorite beers; spoiling our brother with electronics and big squishy hugs. But even the things that stay the same every year made me extra-smiley this time around. (And I didn't even take my wisdom tooth Vicodin all day, so we can't blame the painkillers.) I got to give copies of my new book out to all my aunts and uncles; the cousins made (very) tentative plans to go on an all-inclusive cruise together in a few years when we're not so broke; and then there was cheesecake. Also, I got a parasol prototype that they'll be selling at the Seattle Museum in the near future:

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This lead to discussion of starting a traveling performance troupe as a family. We're all so loud and entertaining (at least among ourselves), that it seems the obvious choice. I think I'm going to learn to juggle, and when Chrissie gets out of business school, we can hit the road with balanced books and a whole lot of wacky fun.

2. Poetry found its way into everything yesterday--besides getting the collected works of Anne Sexton and some Plath, my sister bought me Anis Mojgani's Over The Anvil We Stretch and Sarah Morgan's Animal Ballistics. My brother made me a book of his poems (we must pause so I can yell about this for a second: MY BROTHER MADE HIS FIRST EVER CHAPBOOK!!! AT THE AGE OF 12!! IT'S HAPPENING!!!!!). I put several spoken word albums on my brother's Christmas iPod, his favorite of which is Connor and Ian's The Narwhal's Revenge Song. I made a spoken version of my new chapbook for my dad, as well a spoken anthology of poems for him that started out as a read-the-classics-aloud session and ended up peppered with words of friends I dug up on Facebook, Blogger and Youtube, as well as in my iTunes library. It seems that no matter how hard I try to ally myself with traditional page poetry, I find myself defining performance as an integral aspect of poetry.

As an aside, my great aunt shared an interesting quote last night that I think applies to lots of writers I know: something along the lines of "we all start out as poets and end up novelists because it is easier". I can't remember who said it, but it rings true in many ways. Novels are so much easier to sell--very few regular Joes go to the bookstore and spend their time there in the poetry section, and it's a shame. Virginia Woolf writes a lot about how poets are born with a gift, whereas novelists and essayists can be trained to a certain level of competency. It's an interesting tension to think about, especially in light of all the genre-blurring the Lady Poets have been discussing since moving in back in September. We seem to have reached a consensus that the differences between "fiction", "non-fiction", and "poetry" are chiefly in terms of form; in most cases, content crosses over with relatively few hiccups, and thus the concept of genre is something best left to the critics and ignored by the writers themselves.

3. Today, even though it's rainy, I am smiling extra-large, already starting in on new sets of mittens. I am ready to soak up this vacation as a completely immobile fun-sponge. Time to make a nest with all of my new books (among them a first edition of Who Killed Amanda Palmer? from my dad) and my knitting and my parasol. For now, as much as I miss the Lady Poets, and Boston, and Providence, there is nowhere else I'd rather be than curled up here, in New Jersey. It feels good to say that and mean it.

"We all go to schools for people who don't like colleges."

1.
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This is the face of general anesthetic. And suddenly missing teeth. If you look closely, you can see the gauze I have to keep tight in my jaw (hint: it is much whiter than my actual teeth). Also, if my face was turned the other way, you'd see the pillow marks on it from passing out as soon as I got back from the oral surgeon. I stayed up late last night showing Matty slam videos and making plans to start a band (for real, this is going to happen, I am finally going to sing in a band and it is going to be EPIC), and while I'd like to blame my nap on that late bedtime, I'm pretty sure it had more to do with the combined effects of the IV in my arm, the nitrous/oxygen mix strapped onto my nose, and whatever else it was they used to put me under and into a dream state I couldn't describe to you if I tried. I blame the strange dreams on the fact that Alanis Morissette was playing as I drifted off into what I imagine this inside of the Barney bag must look like.

2. On Monday, I spent the afternoon reuniting with Meg and Erick on Thayer (Meglet and I had a low-key soup night on Sunday that quickly turned giggle-fit/poetry reading and stayed that way, much to my delight; my favorite moment of the night came during an epic conversation about Amanda Palmer in which Meg stated, "I've definitely written a poem about Amanda Palmer's thighs..." and then trailed off wistfully) for extra-cripsy pizza at Nice Slice and then a long discussion of respect and art at Tealuxe.

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She's so magic, her scarf is invisible!


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The conversation was the kind of satisfying where you're all jumping in and chomping at the bit to make your points, but nobody ever feels cut off in a rude way (or at least I didn't). But there was more than a fair share of digressions as well, with everything from the traditional Santa foil the Krampus coming up, as well as the monetary value of mental labor, Jesus' status as radical Jew, someone wanting to Falcon punch a cat, and the terrible existential question of what one is meant tod in their early twenties. I left the tea bar hours later with so many ideas to write about and so much fire in me that I decided I needed to drive back to Jersey almost directly in order to make some art in the basement. I haven't had an itch to do some painting like that in years. So I hopped on the highway after saying my see-you-laters and looking hopefully forward to a good, productive holiday and my return to Providence to do some more triangle tea table discussions about how to create and maintain healthy communities without stepping on toes or stagnating. And sometimes you have to stand on chairs to be among the people again, simple as that.

But the most important thing to take away from the tea house symposium on the ins and outs of art and academics is this, in reference to Erick's always rosy cheeks-- "he not a player, he just blush a lot."

3.
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This is one of the many reasons I love my brother: when we get together, we do silly dances in front of the living room mirror, and sometimes he wears a ceramic duck on his head? It's better not to ask about such things, because they only really make sense at the time. For example, last night at dinner, he yelled at his own reflection in the window, saying, "SILENCE YOU, Doppleganger!" I wish I had his non sequiturs around all the time--I feel so at ease when we skulk around the house together making up stories and songs and having wild rumpuses. I need more wild rumpuses. They are becoming less and less acceptable for me as I get older, and I am clinging to them for dear life. Yesterday I was stomping around the house in gold tights, lace trim bike shorts, a David Bowie t-shirt, and a turban made from an orange beach sarong I wore to death in middle school--my mother made a face at me asked if I was going to change before I went to the supermarket, but I just told her that if people wanted to stare, that was their prerogative. I wish I had a picture to show for it, but since it was nothing particularly remarkable in comparison with my day-to-day outfits, I neglected to document it. People did stare, but I am happy in my skin, even if it's too shiny for some people to understand.

The fever pitch, and swing.

1. My thesis is a giant, diabolical machine sweeping all in its path up into its arms like children lifted into Santa's lap: it's terrifying, and there will be pictures, and many people will be involved. Or I guess that's just my imagining of it this week. They FINALLY posted the list of faculty assignments for the Creative Writing department, and now I know for absolute certain that Nell is going to be my committee chair. That is a sigh of relief, one tiny box checked off the list, and counting. The next order of business: find a committee member. I suppose these things happen in increments, hence the time-based nature of life? I am rambling and hungover and unprepared to be fully in the day, even though it is nearly two o'clock in the afternoon.

2. Last night Corrina Bain featured at Slam Collective, and as has become our colloquial phrase for such seriously awesome poetic experiences, she melted my face off. I catch myself using this colloquialism most frequently in reference to female poets, maybe because this is my year of epic feminism and woman love (I say this tongue in cheek, but also mostly serious), but also because it is most appropriate to the synesthesia that I have during the very best performed poems. And lately the very best have been by women. Then on the page, so much Sylvia, and right this very minute I'm having tea with Sexton. John Berryman's Dream Songs is buried next to Clarabelle on my desk. I borrowed it from Cass months ago and have yet to read more than one because of how many ladies have taken up residence in my big hollow head. I lent her my James Tate and she's done much better with it, but she always liked men writers better than I did. Like I've said in several recent posts, men just are not a large part of my reading life. Sorry boys, step your game up maybe?

3. But the boys are not to be forgotten about either. I've been spending lots of time listening to wordy records while I live fully immersed in my thirty or forty library books (my nest has grown quite massive and beyond its usual, already overflowing, bounds)--Adam Falkner's hip hop album Control the Circle, Sean's Pornography Diaries, the 2009 Cantab team's CD, and Connor and Ian's album The Narwhal's Revenge Song (beats and goldfish, mmm mmm mmm). It just so happens that most of the wordy tracks in my library are by men, which is acting as a nice balancing force while I've crawled into the life of Sylvia Plath and refuse to relocate until after the actual end of the semester. Even though my paper is due in rough form this Friday. And I should not be so fully amenable to living inside Plath. I am way too comfortable with the vocabulary of her existence. I need counterweights to keep me from disappearing into the abyss.

4. Continuing to put off the remaining New Jersey posts. Hopefully I'll get to them before I'm back in New Jersey again. In lieu of going to Puerto Rico for break, Georgie may or may not end up staying at 82 Columbus with me. If it happens, I expect extra debauchery, along with lots of angsty poems that will probably never see the light of day. When the two of us are in a room too long, shit gets deep. Or giggly. One of the two. Either way, break is beckoning with long bony winter fingers. I'm excited. I feel like I might be in my childhood house for the first serious snow of the year.

5. As an after-thought, my new book (Spindle, which is described in greater detail here) came back from the printer yesterday. It's $5. Ask me about it when you see me, if you want.

She's got a carburetor tied to the moon.

1. My teeth have finally been attended to. I have an oral surgery appointment for December 23rd to extract my left wisdom teeth, which means I get to spend the entire holiday season angry at my own mouth. However, this condition is not all bad. I got to watch a video at the oral surgery consultation about the risks and rewards of wisdom tooth removal. The acting was absolutely terrible. I felt as though I were watching a skit from a fourth grade D.A.R.E. class, except without the "drugs are bad!" slogans. Instead, they were extolling the virtues of general anesthetic and reminding patients how important dental health is.

2. I have set aside this afternoon to write my Div II retrospective. In all honesty, I doubt it's actually going to happen. But it's the thought that counts, right? I have to hand the thing in to my committee in a week or so. I'm not quite sure what to talk about. Reflexive essays have never been my strong suit. I feel silly talking about myself; the work in my portfolio should speak for what I've experienced, although I suppose that no one could possibly know what kind of an impact my involvement in slam has had on my college experience. It's a slippery fish to try to quantify, and even in a narrative space, I'm not sure I'll be able to capture it effectively. I'm not particularly worried about the writing I have to do about my actual courses, it's just this poetry thing. How can I make my professors see the weight of it? I often joke with Sean and say that he's the reason I'm still in college at all, and in a big way, that is the closest thing to the truth I can offer. I know for a fact that without Slam Collective, I would not have stayed at Hampshire, and in that case, I probably would never have graduated from college. Writing saved my academic life. It's so simple, but it's also difficult to make that statement seem justified. Ugh. I am probably over-thinking all of this. I should probably just do it already.

3. If all goes according to plan, I'm seeing my Button tonight!

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4. I have a stack of letters that I am never going to send next to me in bed. The temptation to stamp and address them is excruciating. There are so many things that I'd like to say to so many people, and I'm not sure if it's ever going to be the "right time". On Wednesday I wrote a friend from Providence a letter and immediately after mailing the first letter, I came home and wrote her another, this time saying exactly what I would have said if I wasn't afraid of the consequences. It was incredibly cathartic, but also frustrating, because I'm not sure I'll ever have the courage I need to send that second letter.

5. My brother is on a Queen kick, and I blame me. I gave him the greatest hits album months ago and I think he's just now realizing that he loves it. The other night after dropping our sister off for a night on the town, the two of us drove home to a Queen sing-along, and hearing him sing "Bohemian Rhapsody" at the top of his squeaky twelve-year-old lungs was so heart-warming. I think I hear him watching Dr. Horrible in the next room right now. Is it bad that I have more in common with him than anybody else in this house??

Returning to roost in a new nest.

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1. Over my shoulder, you will observe some odd decor choices. This is because, for some inexplicable reason (or really just because my dad is out of town for the holiday), I am staying in the "master bedroom" while visiting home for the weekend. Ever since my mom moved into my basement bedroom, where I sleep while visiting is a strange and delicate fish that is usually not handle well; I typically end up sleeping in the attic with my sisters. It feels like the orphanage dormitory a la Madeleine, minus the nun, although my G-ma would make a pretty convincing nun. That room has so many beds in it, and I guess it makes sense, being that the three of us (myself and my sisters) used to all live up there together at some point, although I can't remember exactly when because there has been so much room shuffling within this house. Everyone has lived in the room that is now my brother's for some period of time, however large or small, and with varying degrees of success. And now that only Chrissie lives at home, it becomes the location of the seasonal sister slumber party. This slumber party is not as much fun as it sounds. My sisters (and I love them dearly in spite of this) tend to gang up on me when the three of us are all in the same location for more than two days at a time, making my stays in the attic with them contentious. There is usually at least one major argument about this during a given stay, although the parties involved change every time. But hopefully there will be no arguments this time, since I get the BIG BED to myself! Yay!!! For the time being, I am building my weekend work nest in this Sleep Number bed (unbelievably comfy!). This means a trade off: quiet time and privacy for writing versus the added distraction of eight billion cable channels, but I think I can handle that.

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2. In my hands, you will observe my weekend reading list, or at least the best and most beloved parts of it. From top to bottom: Caits Meissner's "a vessel of love/(a glass of wine.): 40 Day Vigil"; Black Warrior Review Fall/Winter 2009; Rachel McKibbens' Pink Elephant; Jade Sylvan's The Spark Singer; and Plath's Ariel: The Restored Edition, for my final paper. I have chosen to spend this large chunk of time with only ladies because I am in my final push for the new chapbook and I need good female heads to get the wheels in my own female head turning. Also, all of the books aforementioned are amazing and inspiring, each containing a different facet of what I need to write honestly, and well. I am excited to have them here while I finish this journey. Additionally, they are each a kind of comfort food, which is necessary in light of the holiday, and in light of the fact that I can only chew with one side of my mouth.

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3. Speaking of this injured mouth situation, I apparently have a wisdom tooth that's trying to sneak out as if nobody's looking. Clearly it carries all of the leftover teenage rebellion I forgot to flush from my system before I turned twenty. I told the tooth it was not allowed out, that there were reasons for the rules of my mouth, but no, it had to have its way, and now I take 500 mg amoxicillin 3 times a day and 600 mg ibuprofen 3-4 times a day and a half tablet of Vicodin whenever the pain becomes absolutely unbearable (which lately has been always, but I really just needed the prescription to be able to sleep comfortably through the night). Before I went to the campus nurse practitioner on Monday after class, I had been sleepless and grouchy, and now I feel a dull ache, but that's about it. I am sure the drugs are helping, but it also may be a side effect of the Ravi Shankar. I'm trying to chill myself out through all possible mediums being that stress can only make pain worse. By taking my mind off of this rebellious, partially exposed wisdom tooth, I won't have to think about what kind of mockery I will have to make of Thanksgiving dinner in order to eat it tomorrow. The general consensus among my friends is that it will end up being some gravy shake abomination, and it's funny, because I never imagined the reason that would keep me from turkey on Thanksgiving would be a dental emergency. I was much more inclined to imagine sudden onset veganism. Or an alternative holiday where pie is the only food present (chicken pot pie, pumpkin pie, Eskimo pie, etc.). I'm not sure I'll even be able to eat any pie, which is a travesty, because this is the first holiday where I have not been a pie virgin. I abstained from pie for my entire life until last spring when Peter and I started baking together once a week, making this my first Thanksgiving on the other side of that silly abstinence. And to go without pie now, it seems a cruel joke. I suppose it is my own fault though. Or my silly teenage tooth. So spiteful.