Welcome To My Bed

The Bibliography of Loss

I haven't written here in eight months. For everything, there is a reason and season, if not a proper rhyme. My father died in July. Simple as that tiny sentence; bigger than anything I can (or will) ever write here or anywhere else.

Following this, I threw myself into many things. I worked two jobs, spent endless driving hours bouncing between Providence and Boston. It felt best to move more than was comfortable. In stillness, people approach you. Hang at the fringe of a party and someone will ask how you're doing. It's rude not to answer. They're only concerned, and rightfully so. The conversations that accompany losing a parent are unlike any others. Such an experience becomes public no matter what you do or say surrounding it. Everyone finds out. Sympathy becomes oppressive. Pity, pervasive. The faces of friends are suddenly gutted of kindness, deeply hollow, wanting only to drink in as much of your sadness as possible. They can't help it; tasting your loss could make their own future losses somehow easier. You are a walking premonition. A how-not-to guide for grieving.

My best friends have always been books. Like many children, imagining was the greatest escape. It continued to be into the final stretch of my father's battle with innumerable chronic illnesses. I read The Autograph Man; the first scene, I reread three times and cried on the commuter train. Big, wet sobs in front of strangers too horrified to ask. And then I read White Teeth and decided that along with The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, I had the start of a syllabus for a lit class on the immigrant humor-histories of diaspora. To finish out my comprehensive tour of Zadie Smith, I sat a long weekend with her essay collection Changing My Mind, which had me bawling even more than the novels. Her piece about off-color humor and its place in her family life hit particularly close to home.

I started The Brothers Karamazov and in the middle of it, the end. I haven't been able to push forward more than a hundred pages since. (I blame most of this on having come to the first person interjection of the elder Zosima's call to faith, which should probably just be dramatically staged in my living room with funny accents and stick-on mustaches to expedite the process so that I can say I've made it through.) Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World broke my heart by presenting itself as the first book post-death that I would've bought for my father. Our phone calls where we talked about recent reads are the thing I miss the most. He was an expert on the hierarchies of Herbert's Dune, favored speculative fiction above most things. I feel closest to him now when I find something madcap and unapologetic. I also have my greatest troubles with the future, because he can't bodily be in it. I cry about weddings of complete strangers. The thing I am most proud of is that the first piece of writing anyone's paid me for publishing came out 2 days before he went. That I got to see him smile at our triumph.

He made me a storyteller and storylover. Which made this next one a particularly difficult time, given the elusive presence of the brilliant storyteller dead dad. I picked up Infinite Jest at the end of the summer as a challenge to myself. I hadn't been writing. I hadn't been able to read more than a few pages of poems a week, where my appetite usually went through two or three hundred times as much in the same time. Before. Such an ugly word to think of when talking about a person's life. Foster Wallace wrote the guilt of remembering a better before and the guilt of searching for a better after, and the numbness required to run from both, and the ways we are all bred to expect some escape, and a lot of nonsense about puppet shows and trash and radio engineers and Canada that wasn't even close to nonsense because it kept me from thinking of the hospice and the ashes and the eulogy I wrote mostly about a seagull feather (weeping nearly enough to short out my computer). The power of words lies in their ability to imagine ourselves different. Reading asks us to go somewhere unfamiliar, to trust that the unknown can be good again. I can think of no other conversation I wish someone had started with me in person.

I am (un)fortunate enough to know a handful of people who have done this dance. The I-wish-wouldn't-say-you're-sorry-for-my-loss dance. The please-shut-up-about-it-and-take-me-to-a-stupid-movie dance. All of us are heavy readers. I can think of no other effective coping mechanism. If someone asks about "how I'm doing" in that eyebrows raised kind of way, I tell them what I'm reading. Most seem deeply thwarted by this, but I much prefer sharing something truly useful to harping on a wound that is unlikely the scab over, perhaps ever. Luckily, there are enough titles on my must-read list to keep me distracted for at least six lifetimes.

I guess what I'm saying is I needed a long, deep breath, voices unreasonable and irreverent to talk me out of taking loss so seriously. I come from the future. The thoughts here are hard-nosed, but happy.

Today is.

Photobucket


Morning with a favorite. Still under the blankets. All I can think of are birds. Petah Coyne's dead, still birds. The giant hanging masses of ash. Chandeliers of dead things. Flowers made of wax. Sol LeWitt's math, all of his chalk and crayon on the walls. Grids of planning. Now, take away the grid. Peel back the mask. What do you see? What will be left when the lines that propped up your words are stripped away? Can you stand on your own?

I am digging through the manuscript of the first, the only, year I did 365. So many new poems will come of this. Mass MoCA is still stewing in my head. Even frozen feathers make me think of movement. I've seen dead birds in the gutter and expected them to dust off the grit and maggots, take flight like nothing was ever wrong.

I always said, Chicken Little goes big or goes home.

+ Finished Jenna Jameson's autobiography laying in the Friday lawn sun. It was my first day off in two weeks, so I thought it would be best to spend it with a 600 page book called How to Make Love Like a Porn Star. I was not disappointed. In fact, it was probably one of the most enjoyable things I've read all semester.

+ Daddy's having surgery tomorrow. I wonder what a ribcage looks like completely cracked open. So many poems talk about ribcage this and that, but for me, it's a very hard part of the body to picture as separate from the body itself, even if I did paint it probably hundreds of times for my high school AP studio art concentration (anatomy, in case you were curious). In fact, here's an example right now of seventeen-year-old me as melodrama queen with a silkscreen:

Photobucket


Yes, that is a t-shirt. And yes, I do still have the screen. I've been strongly considering resurrecting it from my grandma's basement and mass-producing the shirts to just hand out at slams. But anyway. My dad's cracked chest. I am avoiding thinking about the risks, because this is his last hope. I filed out his living will with him on Tuesday instead of my usual weekly dose of poetry. There was all this language that made me really uncomfortable, like "in case of __________ circumstances, please allow me to die". I spent a lot of the time laughing to keep from getting overwhelmed and bursting into tears. My father wants his body to go to the hospital as research material after he dies, and when it's released back to us, he wants us to take a ferry across the Hudson and clandestinely dump his ashes over the side of the boat. Even though that's completely illegal, I am sure lots of people do it.

But that's a bridge we'll cross after all others have burned sufficiently. My daddy is not going to die from a little ol' crack in his chest, nor a swollen, blocked heart. He's already died seven times, and he doesn't like it, which is why he keeps coming back. Also, he clearly has unfinished business. Like being the first legless champion of Dancing With the Stars. Or finally finishing that book he claims he's been writing since last year.

+ The job search has started up again. But not to worry--I am still very much in love with table-waiting. I'm just trying to explore my options (and make more money). Yesterday afternoon, while Cass and I gave each other pep talks about our marketability on our now-decrepit living room couch, I applied for two new jobs. The first is a part time gig as a spa receptionist, which I am sure I'll at least get an interview for because I have so many years of experience in customer service. And the other is a second waiting job. However, this one is at a swankier restaurant, one where they train you to bartend! If I get this gig, I will finally have the skills I have desired for so long, and will be hurtling on into adulthood with the chops to support myself for the rest of my life. Not that waiting isn't a job that supports me. I just feel I'd like bartending even more. Fingers crossed. Then there is always the vague possibility of the night shift at a laundromat. A shift from 2-8 AM four times a week sounds almost heavenly. No one will bother me; I can read on the job; I can write on the job; I get to guard people's laundry. Sounds ideal for someone who can never sleep in the first place. Maybe I should email about that ad too...

+ Speaking of jobs, I have been tinkering with my five year plan. Though I have been doing what I said I wouldn't (looking at graduate programs), my real dream has remained consistent. Ever since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to be a flight attendant. Back then, it probably had a lot to do with the fact that I'd never been on a plane. In fact, I did not fly anywhere until the summer before my senior year of high school. Making that trip to California, and the subsequent one several years later, planted a seed in my head about being an air hostess. I was reading all of the requirements for flight attendants on some website the other day, and most of it comes back to extensive experience in customer service and a drive to make people absolutely comfortable. Me, and also, me! When rewriting my resume for my most recent round of job applications, I realized that I have over five years of experience in customer service. People my age cannot often say that. I need to translate those skills into a semi-lucrative and enjoyable job--flying for a living seems the way to go. Especially cos you can do it PART TIME and still get free flights to anywhere your airline travels. Perfect job for a touring poet? I think yes. New possibility for the five year plan: move to a city with a flight training center (most of them are apparently in California), become a part time flight attendant, bartend for the rest of that time, make enough to live on, write poems, visit all of my far-flung friends with vouchers and a big fat smile on my well-traveled face. Yes. I can picture it in perfect focus.

+ I received communion for the first time since Christmas in the hospital on Tuesday. I'm not sure how I felt about it. Lately, I've felt compelled to pray, then stopped myself because I know that's not really what I believe. God brings such comfort to so many people I love, but for me, the comfort troubles more than it assures me. My own way of praying is to write, and that seems to helping more than anything else. A nun I trust (a comical image, to be sure, the mohawked rabble rouser conversing with a trusted nun) once told me that singing is twice praying. Is that why I've been singing so loud since all of this happened? Is that the only praying I am equipped to do? In that case, here is something I've been belting alone in the car recently.



Lollipop rock is comfort food.

+ Okay, back to hiding in my cave and waiting for the world to end (or work to start, whichever comes first).

Photobucket


Look up, the sky is falling.

Magic morsels #13 & 14 (my lady poet head is exploding).

A quote on writing from this interview, because what would I do without a bathtub full of words every day to take a good long soak in?

Often I think it’s brutal—the blank page and my lame brain against endless looping Law and Order: SVU episodes on TV or the temptation of posting on a blog...


It's good to know there are poets as easily distracted as I am.

I found Courtney Queeney's book as an uncorrected advance proof in a used bookstore in Dover, NH yesterday afternoon (there is an extensive photo post from Spring Break: Floodwater Edition on its way). I am not kidding when I say that it is the best book of poetry I've run across in a hot minute, but then again, how could it not be with a title like "Filibuster for a Kiss"??? To crib a compliment I got a few months ago for a more appropriate context, this woman is killing me with awesome. On the jacket for the actual book, the writing is described as having "erotic dissonance", which, regardless of whether the phrase ACTUALLY means anything or not, is such a good combination of words that I yelled about it earlier.

Also, this picture is odd and delightful:

Photobucket


If I hadn't already stayed up too late, it would make me want to watch Eyes Wide Shut, though on second thought, that is hardly the best chamomile tea movie to send myself off to sleep with.

Magic morsel #12: "It's Sputnik, sweetheart!"

Photobucket


I had a lot of chatty customers today at lunch (despite it being one of the slowest shifts I've work yet), among them an 81-year-old man who needed someone to tell stories to. I got an earful about UMass's institutional history, the difference between majoring in engineering and business, a breakdown of Cold War dating practices in the Pioneer Valley. The hierarchy was as follows: Mount Holyoke girls were pretty, but "daddy paid for everything" so those dates were expensive; Smith girls we equally spoiled, but not much to look at (his words, not mine); truly, keeping your "biology station" (his brilliantly witty term for "car") on home turf and trying your luck with the "university special" was most likely your best bet.

What a piece of work. Every pub-type job I've had (and they've been numerous) produces curmudgeons like this one who want everything done just so and expect a hearty laugh at every slightly inappropriate joke. Typically I just play dumb. Customers tend to like you better when they think they're smarter than you are. I take very little of what they say, beyond making sure they feel attended to.

But this man's non sequiturs. He blew me away with the strange language he used for everything he spoke about. The most important thing he said to me was, "Sputnik changed the game! Changed everything forever!" He kept repeating the inventor's name throughout his rambling story like a magician's incantation. I know that he meant things were changed forever for him, because it opened up the field of engineering at a former agro-only college. But it was pretty wonderful to think of Sputnik floating in orbit, each blip transforming a life below into something entirely different with it's big shiny face.

Without even thinking, I picked up the book I had to read for next week and then promptly smacked myself in the forehead with it, because the universe basically sent me a telegram to remind me to do my homework:

Photobucket


It's nice when the world jumps out at you from behind a tree and hands you a bit of gravity's sureness for your trivial day to day activities, like somebody's speaking through a headset into your ear saying, "This is exactly what you need right now!" I could use similar signs in all other arenas.

Got that universe? Drop some knowledge over this way please!


P.S. Happy 500th post everybody. Cheers for reading along all this time.

Magic morsels #10 and 11.

Oh Maggie Atwood, you are such a gem. I think I may be partial to Maggies. I think that may be why some masochistic part of me enjoys Los Angeles.

Momentary digression where I insert a poem video that may or may not apply to the above claim:



Isn't it weird to be so lucky that when you wish people you know were around more often that you can look them up on youtube and watch them talk about things they care enough to write about? Isn't the internet weird??

Phew! Digression complete. Back to Maggie Atwood and being a gem:

"An interview is also a performance, and although a performance can reveal much, its revelations are selective, and its omissions and concealments are often as instructive as its grand pronouncements.... Sometimes a writer doesn't want to tell; sometimes a writer has forgotten.... Writers are human beings; they too inhabit bodies, had childhoods, get through the day somehow, experience joy and fear and boredom, confront death. The rabbits they produce are only common rabbits, after all; it's the hat that's magic. And yet it is only a hat. This is what fuels our curiosity: the mix of the familiar, even the banal, and the radically inexplicable."

From the new introduction to Paris Review collection Women Writers at Work.

On a semi-related note, I am starting the outlining process for a series of personal essays on what different kinds of writing mean to me. On another, also semi-related, note, I was offered a feature today. And there was lots of sun. And both of my sisters made me laugh. Other than that, my current brain is up for grabs here.

Shortlisted.

+ I spent the better part of today flexing my secretarial muscles. My former advisor has hired me as something of an administrative assistant. It surprises me how much delight I take in hunting down and organizing alumni contact information. The list, now divided by decade of graduation and then alphabetized, is for possible panel members for a discussion entitled "Beyond the Disciplines: The Continuing Value of A (Hampshire) Humanities Education". (I am such a nerd.)

+ One of my co-workers called earlier, asking to pick up a shift, so for the first time since acquiring my new job, I decided it was time to give myself a three-day chunk of time off. Things have been a bit hellish lately (that flu, my car battery acting wonky, paperwork mis-filing and whatnot), and I am thoroughly looking forward to a day in bed with my mountain of books.

+ Speaking of books, I just devoured Karen Finneyfrock's Ceremony for the Choking Ghost. Even though I am failing miserably at my resolution to read a book every two weeks, I have been taking more initiative with my reading life. I'm probably not helping matters by reading at least six or seven books at one time, but I like it when they overlap. Some of the references in Karen's poetry collection are calling up images from Nights at the Circus, and just this afternoon bell hooks literally shouted out a passage from Bitch. I want to high-five someone at every instance of intertexuality. (Again, I am such a nerd.)

+ Involving the internet in my thesis was the best choice I could have made. Blogging counts as homework now? Hell yes.

Honeysuckle, she's full of poison.

Photobucket
all I wanna do is play rock n roll house with you


My Amazon order list includes the complete Patti Smith from 1975-2006, and Courtney Love's diaries (found in hardcover for $0.51). My library order list is a minefield of Russian history (especially the Romanovs and the seige of Leningrad...don't ask at the moment, it will make sense later) and new feminism, with a dash of modern novel and image-heavy poems for good measure. My thesis is in absolute full swing. I cannot sleep past eight in the morning lately, and while I'd like to blame the nightmares, I know that it is more because I want to be awake and reading every second. Case in point: I bring you a nice chunky sentence from Elizabeth Wurtzel's Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women.


"I think, quite frankly, that the world does not care for the complicated girls, the ones who seem too dark, too deep, too vibrant, too opinionated, the ones who are so intriguing that new men fall in love with them every day, at every meal where there's a waiter, in every taxi and on every train they board, in any instance where someone can get to know them just a little bit, just enough to get completely gone. But most men in the end don't quite have the stomach for that much person."


AMEN, Lizzy. Amen. Now, I may have serious problems with how this book is defending itself, but that passage there just about sums up my existence with a neat and tidy plastic barrette bow. I could blame just about any of my relationship failings on being "too much" for my significant other, and I would absolutely not be wrong.

I have half a mind to send this quote to Sean as proof towards his theory about me being the crazy girl you date to learn things from, the girl you dump for some bland other person who you'll be happy with because of all that you've learned from my being difficult to handle.

I don't know how much I agree with EW or SPC, but there is definitely an argument to be made.

Digging in for the long haul.

Remember how I had New Years resolutions? They've been nagging at me like hungry puppies because I've basically been ignoring them. Especially the one where I said I'd read a book every two weeks. That's not been happening quite the way I'd planned it. But I did happen to finish I Am Not Myself These Days (in tears) last night. The need to rescue someone. I know that impulse well. I'd say the last fifty pages of the book would have destroyed me for the next few days had I not read them at a ridiculously late hour and thus dulled my sense of anxiety at seeing shades of my own behavior in a memoir about someone else's life. I wrote the title on my calendar, just like I did Maragaret Atwood's The Penelopiad when I finished it back in January. And now I'm not quite sure where to begin with the rest of my stack.

For my thesis, I have been compiling a bibliography of all of the things that may of may not end up influencing what i write and how I write it over the course of the next year. It's daunting to make a list so bid and broad and general, but I'm trying to be thorough. There are mix CDs for each of the characters and locations in the novella, poems of invented sexual histories, every used page from the notebook I take orders in at work, and then this giant stack of books that will only get larger as this project rolls along, slowly getting larger than me.

Photobucket

Sorry for the crazy eyes. It's early yet.


Thus far the list of the texts most immediately next to me is as follows-- Communion: The Female Search for Love by bell hooks, A Brief Stay With the Living by Marie Darrieussecq, How We Are Hungry by Dave Eggers, Moments of Being by Virginia Woolf, The Path to the Spiders' Nest by Italo Calvino, Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose (great name, right?), Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter, and An Actor Prepares by Constantin Stanislavski. Don't ask me what feminist perspectives on love have to do with method acting. These are books I still have to sit with, so give me some time for the connections between them to materialize.

Also, it's funny (and frustrating), but lately I haven't been able to write without some kind of order to do so. I had to use a Rachel McKibbens prompt to get myself going for a class assignment yesterday afternoon, and though I really liked what I got out of the effort, I was pretty miffed at myself for needed the assistance. But then again, I suppose these things happen to the best of us. Someone told me once that writer's block is just a fear of telling your truth. I'm desperately trying to get over that fear.

But I shouldn't worry too much. In my final committee meeting at breakfast yesterday morning, my advisors both told me outright that they really respect and admire my work over the past year and a half. It felt really good to hear that after all of this toiling.

Magic morsel #3.

I'm trying to do a bit of research on sex work, mostly on the performance field of business, for my thesis (it will all make sense once its finished, but for now, its a bit hard to explain). A while ago, my cousin suggested I pick up a copy of I Am Not Myself These Days, which is a memoir by Josh Kilmer-Purcell, a drag queen who gets romantically entangled with a male escort. Besides the author being both snarky and incisive about absolutely everything, Kilmer-Purcell really has a way with pacing. In one of my favorite scenes thus far, he describes the process of sobering up in the middle of an afternoon advertising meeting and grasping around the corners of his formerly blacked out mind for what he was supposed to be pitching to the execs--every excruciating half-detail and hazy movement from the night before is spot on.

And the cover has a goldfish.

Photobucket


But most importantly, Booklist says, "Again and again in this rich, adventure-filled book, Kilmer-Purcell illustrates the truth of Blake's proverb, 'The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.'"

Who knew a Harper Perennial paperback was the kind of place they throw around proverbs and weighty names? "Not I," said the frog.

Anyway, I'm loving this book. And I'm definitely including it in my thesis research bibliography. Contempt of the academy be damned!

Magic morsel #1.

I'm starting a new thing here, a kind of shorthand for the things that make me smile. They will turn up whenever I think that a smile is particularly worth sharing. This featured moment will from here on be referred to as a "magic morsel", "magic" because at work there is an appetizer labeled "magic" that is made with some kind of sorcery-related jalapeno bacon (INSANITY), and "morsel" because I never see that word in print except on bags of Toll House chocolate chips. And even though jalapeno bacon and chocolate chips seems disparate, they are both very important. Anyway. Moving on.

Photobucket

late night at Chinatown Pizza, eons ago


It may be the icy wind chill that feels akin to a large, deadly sharp knife being dragged through the gaps between buildings, but the cause matters not--I have been missing New York. I could not tell you why. Or rather, I would not attempt to pin it down to a single reason. But it is there, shaking inside my chest like a rabbit afraid of freezing. Every time the wind hit my face today while Cass and I braved the cold to run errands, it felt like stepping up out of a subway tunnel to street level and getting blasted by a nasty gust. Whether that is to blame or not for my pining, what I can tell you is that serendipity brought me today's magic morsel, a passage from Kundera (again, I know).

Franz said, "Beauty in the European sense has always had a premeditated quality to it. We've always had an aesthetic intention and a long-range plan. That's what's enabled Western man to spend decades building a Gothic cathedral or a Renaissance piazza. The beauty of New York rests on a completely different base. It's unintentional. It arose independent of human design, like a stalagmitic cavern. Forms which are in themselves quite ugly turn up fortuitously, without design, in such incredible surroundings that they sparkle with a sudden wondrous poetry."

Of course the "p" word shows up, just to mock me for having not written. Reading this on the ouch during dinner made me think of taking Owen to that flea market while I was home for the holidays, how we walked slowly, arm in arm, making sure to look up the whole time we were on the sidewalk so that we'd take in absolutely every detail we could get. And the details one of us neglected, the other would point out. It reminded me of doing drawings in high school and having Meredith scold me for laboring obsessively over one area where all my favorite lines intersected, how she would smile even when giving criticism because she knew how much I loved the mess of it. It's been a long time since I've had a hand blackened with graphite, or been that in awe of a world that's gotten quite a bit smaller as I've gotten older. But a small mess is still a delight. I am holding my breath for the next road trip.

This week is the bomb (like "tick, tick").

1. I'm ill (not sick, says Weezy), sinus pressure, no-sleep-til-Brooklyn ill. I forget why I hate campus Januaries, and now it's all coming back to me with a surge of phlegm and a few too many cartoon sneezes. Maybe I'd feel better if I grew my hair out a bit and died it brown again?

Photobucket

no, that can't be right...


However, I have been making the most of things in spite of this minor speed bump. Exhibit A:

Photobucket

note the importance of wearing a particularly girly hair clip into battle


On last week's Providence visit (this is becoming an almost-regular occurrence), Kait and I went out for a night of substance-free fun (read: nostalgic reclamation of childhood followed by hot cocoa with schnapps and heaping helping of General Hospital) and ended up at an elementary school-turned-arcade that boasted indoor paintball and airsoft, along with a convoluted laser tag course that had my legs sore for too many days afterwards. We lost three rounds of laser tag to a group of fifteen-year-olds who had been there every night that week, played as many rounds of House of the Dead as we could justify, traded in our skee ball tickets for monkey tattoos that didn't stay on for more than a half hour, and were generally pleasantly surprised by the whole thing. From the road, the place definitely didn't look like much. But then again, we were in Attleboro, where a weeklong stay at the Pineapple Inn clocks in around $150. Don't ask me why I know that.

2. Exhibit B: last night at the Cantab was one of the best Cambridge nights I've had in awhile. The open mic was a stacked deck of awesome with a surprise visit from vintage heckler Eric Darby reading a persona poem involving a Yankee's fan on Sox Talk, day 2 of J W Baz's brief Hampshire-guided adventure in Massachusetts (we've nearly convinced the man to enroll), Melissa ranted about breast monsters and catcalls, DJ Muse played me on with an electronic track that made me feel like a super villian, and then there was this whopping moment where Tom Daly lumped me in with Brian and April as one of the venue's exciting voices (I promptly crawled into my scarf and/or melted into a puddle of my own blushing under the table where I remained for quite some time). Will Evans featured and blew me out of the water. Erin Jackson won a highly entertaining slam, the final pairing of which was against Sam Teitel. Oh Hampshire, look at you, making me proud. And then, we said, "Let there be IHOP!" And there were pancakes, and endless coffee, and so much shouting of stories down the line that I suggested we all play telephone. It felt like the best kind of family dinner, the kind you eat with the family you've chosen. And all 20-something of us (yes, we did break their seating limit something awful) said it was good. Cos it was.

3. I'm still waiting for my notebook to return to me via the mailroom (yes, I am forgetful enough to abandon my journal in another state), so I've been writing down things on a very long piece of paper towel, among various other places.

Photobucket

why yes, I do have the smallest of all handwriting; thanks for noticing


Most everything I write down is either for my retrospective, or a quote from The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which I picked up on a boring afternoon at work earlier this week on a whim and cannot put down. I read this passage last night right before the open mic and had to hug the book to my chest and not move for a solid five minutes to keep from being completely paralyzed by it.

She felt attracted by their weakness as by vertigo. She felt attracted by it because she felt weak herself. Again she began to feel jealous and again her hands shook. When Tomas noticed it, he did what he usually did: took her hands in his and tried to calm them by pressing hard. She tore them away from him.
"What's the matter?" he asked.
"Nothing."
"What do you want me to do for you?"
"I want you to be old. Ten years older. Twenty years older!"
What she meant was: I want you to be weak. As weak as I am.


It may not be as effective if you haven't read the book. The only thing I can say about that is that you should probably read the book. Lara Bozabalian has this poem called "Music Box" that references the novel, which is how I ended it grabbing it off a library shelf, and have not regretted a second of rapt reading.

Returning to roost in a new nest.

Photobucket


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.

Photobucket


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.

Photobucket


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.

Lazy unseasonably warm Sunday.

The weekends last so much longer here than the actual week. I feel as though I haven't been to class since last Monday (even though that is a bigger lie than saying I saw any respectable hour of today's morning). The days keep spilling into one another, which is probably symptomatic of the amount of writing (read: editing) I've been doing. If this is how much I get done while still taking a more-than-full course load, I'm not quite sure what exorbitant ridiculousness I'll manage once we are fully into December. Oh, Thesis Project, be afraid! Be very afraid!

Besides seeing George Watsky perform on campus, followed by a basement black light party, I spent last night sober and incredibly exhausted. Today I slept late and decided to do some housekeeping. I shifted my furniture around, grouped drafts for revision, made a burrito, took out the recycling, blah blah blah blah. Also, I picked up a book of poetry for a short breather.

Photobucket


I don't spend nearly enough time with all the bushy-bearded old men on my bookshelf. Virginia has scared them all into a corner by talking to her sparrows in Greek.

I'm taking a little road trip to New Jersey this weekend to trap the magic of these crazy-long weekends and harness their power-- I have a chapbook to pull together, a retrospective essay to write, and maybe twenty or thirty books to plow through for that pesky final paper (the last of its kind before we plunge headlong into Creative Writing Land). Everyone keeps asking me about graduate school. IDON'TWANTTOTALKABOUTEDUCATIONTHANKYOU. I am already overwhelmed enough by this leg of college, let's not jump the gun. I need to wait tables all night and write all day for at least three years solid before I think about subjecting myself to further lecture hall torture sessions.

Getting comfortable.

Photobucket


Back at Hampshire for the final year of scrambling to be literary, and though my room is a mess and there are so many things left to accomplish before I'd even dream of calling myself settled in, I needed a breather. I thought I deserved one, simply for the fact that I've already accomplished half of my to do list for the day and it's barely mid-afternoon yet. I can already tell that this is going to be a very productive semester.

But fun is not lost on me either. Last night I went out, even though my room is nowhere near being set up, and had martinis with Peter. The whole day was jam=packed with hugs and hellos, and by the time I got home, Cass and I just lay around listening to music until we both passed out. A welcome collapse at the end of an exhausting day. This is going to be a week of exhausting days. I have so much to write about concerning the last bits of my summer, but for the time being it's probably more imperative for me to get organized and ready to face the glaring face of academia first thing tomorrow morning. Speaking of which,

Photobucket


the book buying has begun. That beauty is for my class entitled "Woman and Poet", which all four of us living in the apartment are taking. One of the other core texts is A Room of One's Own, on of the few extraneous books I brought from home on a whim - I guess I just can't go anywhere without Virginia. Also, as an aside, it's very frustrating to me that most of John Fante's work is currently out of print or in the process of being printed because someone recommended him to me and I really want to read some NOW. I'm going to have to go dive into the stacks at work and see what I come up with. Which reminds me - I now have a carrel at the library. I feel like I really have a thesis project now. It's unnerving me.

Ticking off some check-boxes.

As my summer lover affair with Providence is winding down, I'm trying to get in all the little bits and pieces I've been dying to include since I arrived her back in May. Over the past few days, I've crossed a few things off my to-do list.

Wednesday night I let myself do a little exploring before Writers in the Round at Tazza. Walking around downtown aimlessly with no real destination was something I haven't let myself do nearly enough in my months here. And I got to see this -

Photobucket


Now, Federal Hill is always incredibly striking, but the pink sky made me smile so much, like raspberry lemonade on a dusky porch or something equally as wonderful and worthy of swizzle sticks.

I've also been reading a ton more than I was even a few weeks ago, probably because I've gotten into the groove of things. Just before I have to leave of course, but I guess I'm glad it happened at all. Current reading list:

Photobucket


Lit Riffs edited by Matthew Miele; The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks; Black Book Magazine's rebel issue (starring Evam Rachel Wood and Juliette Lewis); Infinity Blues by Ryan Adams; and Metro Pop Magazine. Not pictured (but almost always in my purse) are the latest issue of Nylon, Dave Eggers' How We Are Hungry, and Hampshire Slam Collective Fishes For Satellites. Black Book has one of the best fashion editorials I've seen in forever. It made me regret all of my high school prom dresses instantly and wish I had been just slightly more obsessed with Grease as an adolescent.

Photobucket


Photobucket


Metro Pop also had a great greaser-inspired spread that made me proud to have short hair. It also made me want to go out and buy a motorcycle, but the feeling has since passed.

Photobucket


But the one rebel impulse that I am powerless against is the compulsion to get tattooed. I've been itching for one all summer and kept making excuses, but today was completely free and Providence Tattoo on College Hill apparently takes walk-ins (and has the best collection of traditional-inspired flash I've seen yet). So I am now freshly inked and very happy.

Photobucket


82 is my house number in New Jersey, and since moving away, I've learned it's possible for me to feel at home wherever I am. Providence is home now, but I've had glimpses of home at Hampshire and on my visits to Allston (I figure those can be attributed to the poets, but who knows). The tattoo is a symbol of that new level of comfort. And it was test drive for the parlor, because I'm in the market for an artist for when I move here next spring. Judging by the bedside manner and the impressive portfolios at Providence Tattoo, I'm fairly certain I've found the place I'll be getting my graduation present to myself come next May.

And now it's time to go pick up some tortilla chips for the leftover bean dip I brewed up as part of a culinary adventure I had yesterday afternoon.

Reading Plath doesn't have to mean you're depressed.

I have woken up twice today. The first time was because the cats were jumping on me and the living room window was letting in way too much cold air for me to keep sleeping with only summer-weight blankets on. I ended up staying awake reading and writing for about three hours, then attempting sleep for a second time. The second time I woke up with a hangover I didn't have upon initial waking. I am not happy about this. The culprit:

Photobucket


My bar tab was $6.50, but this wonderous Rhode Island native is about as cheap as PBR and far better tasting. I ordered four and shared about the equivalent of one full beer with a friend over the course of the night, so I basically drank a 40 at Tazza last night. Forties used to be a cake-walk for me. I feel old.

In spite of the resultant headache etc. it caused, yesterday was probably the best day I've had in recent memory. I woke up around noon, listened to Florence almost a dozen times on repeat while trying to find appropriate going-out clothes that wouldn't make me seem ludicrous during the daytime excursions that were to lead into the nighttime ones. Then I took the bus downtown to White Electric, a spare and clean coffee shop on the West side that is my new love for wasting away afternoons, getting caught in the rain for the second time in so many days. On Tuesday night, I was so drenched that the man who runs the convenience store near my city line bus stop ran out with a plastic bag he had cut a hole in so that I would have some semblance of a raincoat, but I was already past helping. Yesterday I was better off, as the brunt of the flash flood took place while I was safely on the bus and I only had to walk two blocks in a drizzle to get to my caffeine. I camped out with a heavenly soup bowl-sized dark roast and The Bell Jar, reading for an hour and half at least. I haven't had that kind of uninterrupted quiet to myself in too long with all the craziness of running back and forth to South County for work and my sister's turbulent love life.

Afterwards Erick and I met up and went to Coffee Exchange on the East side, which was open much later and is one of his favorite spots. We talked for a solid two hours at least and had a wonderful time doing so. Just when I get concerned that maybe I'm not as well settled here as I want to be, I have a day like yesterday and everything makes me grin uncontrollably again.

The show at Tazza was wonderful, as I knew it would be. The place was more packed than I've seen it on a Wednesday before, which was exciting. It was so satisfying to have all of my friends in one place, doing what they do best and loving every minute of it. I keep saying that I need to get a guitar so that I'm not the only non-musician, and I say that because they all inspire me with how diverse their sounds are and how much joy they seem to get from what they do.

So here I am, many Gansetts later and under the weather but still basking in the afterglow.

"I am only a word slut."

It seems that I am in reading mode today (with Bob Dylan on repeat in the background). I finished that coffee table book about Edie Sedgewick a little while ago and now I've picked up Infinity Blues again. But it's making me too sad, reminding me of DRA's blog and that time in my life when I was listening to Love is Hell on loop for about six months even though I was in a relationship. If I'm not careful, I'm going to end up in a funk. I'd say that I'm going to go read some happy book, but I'm pretty sure I don't have anything of the sort. Except maybe the Julia Child book that my uncle's girlfriend mailed to me a few weeks ago. Yes, maybe I'll try that. Otherwise I'll just get to thinking about depressing things like losing the password to summer.

Thought collector, weighing in.

Photobucket


Safe among my books, arguably where I belong. Things have been whirlwind-exciting lately in terms of time spent exploring discussing experiencing writing doing shit. I have taken the past few nights off to recompose myself and absorb all of DC's guru teachings and the conversations I've been having with various people at various locations. Nothing has been finger-traced into cement yet, but on our way to work the other morning, Kait and I discussed moving in together next May after I graduate. I cannot see myself living anywhere but Providence. I haven't felt at home like this since New Jersey was the place that word was associated with. It would be silly for me to bypass something so right.

Work is still slow right now, but vacation season is right around the corner and I'm looking forward to reaping the benefits of that whole situation. Sometimes, I feel like the only person at my job with a positive attitude. Two girls have already quit, maybe ever three. And I see firings on the horizon. This bodes well for my wallet, but it makes me sad. Girls my age seem so unrealistic in their expectations for the restaurant industry. True, things can be difficult at times, but that's part of it. And no one's going to tip you any kind of spectacular with a perma-scowl on your face. It seems like common sense, or average logic at the very least, but apparently no one gets this. I constantly feel much older than my on-paper age because of little things like this.

I made my first Salvation Army trip since I've moved here and was not exactly overwhelmed by awesomeness. It wasn't awful. Maybe the rainy day killed my shopping buzz. I found a few things I was absolutely in love with, two of which I bought. The third was this fabulous arm chair I wish I could justify purchasing.

Photobucket


Sadly, I do not have sixty dollars at my disposal, nor do I have anywhere to put the thing. Even if we are in love, this chair and I, I'm just going to have to get over it. Even though it would be the perfect chair to have in bedroom to curl up with some Virginia and a fat cup of mint tea in the mid-morning. Agh. I must stop pining. There will always be this picture, I suppose.

Back at the apartment, I have been lazing on the bland, beige, decidedly un-funky faux-suede couch reading this coffee table book:

Photobucket


about Edie Sedgewick all afternoon. It's not very well written, but the bare bones information is interesting and the pictures are fun to examine. It's a very Andy Warhol attempt at a biography - all style and decidedly less substance, more of a reaction to Edie's stardom than a true assessment of it. But it's published by VH1, so I should have kept my expectations low in the first place.

Anyway, tonight is a night of community excitement - I'm heading over to AS 220 for an underground salon-type gathering of artists to exchange idea and enjoy one another. I am very excited. I'm thinking I'll debut a piece I just wrote this afternoon, some of the riskiest writing I've done in a very long time. And tomorrow night, DC is playing the Narrows in Fall River. Busy busy busy, and loving every second of it. We'll see how the week shapes up. I promise to keep you in the loop.

Out of sorts.

Photobucket


Some days, I feel as destroyed as Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson, but I'm definitely not addicted to cocaine, so I have to explain it away as emotional instability. Today I think it has a lot to do with how run down I get before a big slam. The Grand Slam for the last slot on the Providence nationals team is tonight, and I'm competing. I haven't been letting letting myself dwell on it, but it finally caught up to me yesterday when I was at Tazza with DC. Afterwards we went back to AS 220 and half passed out on his couch. I could have slept like that all night based on how exhausted I had been feeling for most of the day, but I woke up to him having a nose bleed and realized that it was after two - parking ticket time. I didn't want to go though. I have serious trouble leaving ailing people behind, even if it's just a good friend with his head tipped back looking a little pale. I don't like walking out of rooms uncertain of how the people left in them will continue on. It's probably a symptom of the fact that I worry too much.

I woke up well into the afternoon today and ran poems while making falafel for lunch, and though I have at least seven of them stored up and ready to fire at any given time, I feel unnerved. Not nervous really, just a little frayed and jittery. I'm hoping to make a good showing tonight. I don't want to think about it. Not in the slightest. My sister is coming to see me perform for the first time. I feel a little ridiculous.

In less stressful news, I finished the proof for my latest chapbook at about 3 AM today. It's a little bit of a hybrid with a zine because everything is handwritten and there are collage aspects to it. I'm going to take it to a copy shop in the next few days and get some printed up for my feature in a few weeks. Something to look forward to. I got invited to perform tonight after the slam at Snookers, and I got another invite to perform during Sound Session at Tazza in a few weeks. Networking in this city has been very good to me. I feel like such a part of the arts community. It's going to hurt to leave this place in September. I keep having a feeling that if I leave and come back, it won't be the same. I want to finish school and I only have one year left, but I getting very attached to a life independent of academia and the strife constantly caused by college students. But anyway, a preview of the chapbook:

Photobucket

I promise better pictures when it's printed, cut, stapled, and ready for business. They'll be for sale on the 23rd, but if you want one and you're not able to make it to Providence that night, just let me know and we can work something out.