Welcome To My Bed

On The Quarter-Life Crisis, or, Why Liberal Art Schools Poison Your Expectations of Adult Life

Summer is more than half over and there's been little occassion to breathe.

I have an office job now.  It isn't the best situation on earth, but it also isn't the worst, and they've recently told me they're making me a full-time employee in the fall, which means my second raise since I started in April.  What comes with salary?  Finally beginning to chip away at my student loans, which have been languishing in deferment for the past year while I got my act together.  I, by no means, regret this deferment.  I am of the mind that working a minimum wage job for my first two years in the real world gave me a very concrete understanding of the bare minimum amount of money I need to be able to survive happily.  Now that I make almost double what I was making only a few months ago, I appreciate the wiggle room more.  I can afford to take a cab home some nights if I want.  I can buy my less-flush friends drinks.  I can go to a concert on a whim.  All luxuries I may not have seen as such had I gotten a "real" job right out of college.

I've come across a lot (or at least what seems liek a lot) of commentary on a phenomenon commonly refered to as a quarter-life crisis.  Up until this point, I'd only heard such bizarro terminology in a John Mayer song.  (No, seriously, he has a lyric where he tries to justify a non-commital attitude by saying he might be having a quarter-life crisis.)  But apparently this is a thing people my age are talking about.  Let me just say right now that this concept is UTTER BULLSHIT.  Dear twenty-somethings: you have yet to live; thusly, your life cannot be in crisis.  Just because your parents have stopped paying your bills and sending you care packages and generally holding your hand through all possible hardships does not mean that your existence is awful or oppressive.  It means that you are required to take responsibility.  You know what's excellent about being our age?  How simple it is to change direction.  Don't like your job?  Quit and start fresh.  It's not like you have a decade invested.  You can survive on less money than you think.  Wait tables.  You'll make a lot of money, feel no obligation to anybody you work for or with, and can leave at any time without ruffling anybody's feathers.  Don't like your friends?  There are a million new people waiting to be spoken to in all of the places you go on a daily basis.  Don't like your hobbies?  Stop participating in them, get new ones.

All of the problems discussed in these post-college crisis acrticles miss the point.  It's not that our lives lack meaning.  It's just that we are convinced that everything we do must be meaningful.  So that we can tweet about, make a Facebook event, compose a Kickstarter to fund out dreams, tumbl-blog pictures of our awesome life where everyone is gorgeous and nonchalant and still so impossibly talented and way more interesting than anybody else that has ever existed.  How boring have we become as a society that an exciting life is one that is defined by being able to boil down what we are most passionate about into 140 characters or less?  Dear twenty-somethings: if you think your life is over already, you are the only one who sees it that way.

I'm tired of reading about college-educated young people who are apathetic about circumstances that others might find desirable.  the problem is college.  The problem is a culture of exceptionalism.  You know those awesome jobs everyone promised you could get as long as you got your four year degree and worked an awful unpaid internship and busted your ass?  They are not handed out with the diplomas.  In the work world, you have to start at the bottom, build a skill set beyond writing papers synthesizing critical theories regarding your chosen field of study (be honest--did you really think this would be useful in any arena beyond academia?), and send out resumes whenever you see something that even remotely resembles your dream job.

Here are some true facts: working for a living sucks, being a person is too expensive, and emotional connectivity in our generation is becoming more and more impossible.  Want a remedy?  Me too.  So does everyone.  The best advice I can offer is this--if there's something about your life that is eating at you, change it now before that nagging feeling of defeat becomes the norm.  If you want to make art, make time to make art.  If you want to see friends, make time to see friends.  There may be a finite number of hours in the week, but how many of those do you spend complaining about having a pretty-okay life?

I am more than guilty of ranting and raving about everything I wish could be different, if only I had the means to make change.  But I do, and so do you.

Anyway.  Speaking of twenty-somethings working hard at being awesome instead of griping about how the scholarship for getting stoned and writing poetry ran out after four years, I'm showing my paintings in public for the first time ever at this event, the official Booze Époque launch party on September 15th, as well as reading a bit of booze-themed poetry.  If you're in the Somerville/Cambridge/Boston area, you can get on the guest list by donating $20 to the cause.  Beyond that, there are exciting prizes for your support--at the $150 dollar level, you get one of ten 8"x10" panels I've been toiling over.



Here they are in the early stages.  At the gallery, I'll also have several more small paintings for sale, as well as a few 18"x24" panels.  I am beyond excited to have people see my art somewhere other than at my apartment, where typically a canvas sits on my easel for upwards of six months without much changing.  September 15th in Central Square, Cambridge.  Save the date, donate twenty dollars, drink delicious boutique cocktails with locally-sourced ingredients, and see a bunch of music and poetry performed.  Sounds like a perfect Saturday to me.  I'd love to see you there.  So I can hug you and remind you that there is no such thing as having an easy time all the time.

3 Sorority Girls Walk Into My Cafe --or-- Rape Culture As Reported By Undeclared Feminists

I will start off by stating, unequivocally, that I am deeply prejudiced.  I immediately dislike people involved in Greek life on their campus of choice.  To me, frat-related social activities are about as appetizing (and as bland, and as devoid of value) as Kraft Mac&Cheez.  When someone within earshot mentions an affiliation with such activities, I shut off my ears so as to spare my gag reflex.  I'm not proud of this.  I'm sure plenty of nice people pledge.  It'd just not my cup of tea.

That being said, I was at work yesterday, and three preppy, willowy blondes wandered into the cafe for coffee.  They were perfectly harmless, discussing Jell-O shots and "the sloppy girls" and campus scandal. And then the campus scandal portion of the conversation took a turn from who's-hooking-up-with-whom towards the college's cover-up of a sports-team-related rape.

I didn't hear what school they went to.  Unfortunately, the details they discussed were generic enough to belong to any school that's had such a scandal.  And that's where my heart broke.  Right at the word 'generic'.  The fact that these types of situations are generic at a college level is disgusting and horrifying.  In this particular case, the rape allegations involve the basketball team.  The girls chatted about how predatory the players were when they saw them at bars near campus--how they'd sit back from everyone else and prey upon the freshman girls, specifically choosing those inexperienced and drunk enough to be manipulated.  Now, I obviously haven't seen this behavior firsthand (the closest thing my college had to sport or frat culture was an Ultimate Frisbee team called The Red Scare), but I felt like I knew what they were going to say before they even said it.  It's been in the news so much.  Promising college athlete accused of assault or rape, denies allegations or calls the girl a slut or blames her for being drunk or some combination of all of the above.  College stands by the player, not the victim.  The media twists everything.  Lives are ruined.  The end.

I expected their conversation to veer back towards the frivolous, but it remained in a place of outrage at their school.  According to one girl, their school went nine years without passing along charges of assault or rape handled by campus police to the proper officials in local law enforcement.  Even though it is their on-the-books policy to do so.  Even though it is their moral obligation to do so.  And after 9 years, somebody finally noticed this institutionalization of rape and reported it.  I wonder what kind of reprimand the school received for this transgression of human rights.  The girls spent a good deal of the following conversation making conjectures about how it might feel to be a young woman who reported her assault or rape and have the school officials take down her statement and promise to take action only to sweep the entire thing under the rug.

I had to do everything in my power not to jump into the conversation at several points.  But let me jump in now, after the fact, and say how all of this made me feel about the attitude that colleges routinely take when it comes to assault.  The horror of this, as I stated earlier, is how generic the girls' talk of a basketball team with a rape scandal is.  As woman move towards greater social equality (we've actually statistically surpassed men in terms of college enrollment), these all-too-routine exhibitions of rage, sexual aggression, and moral lapse followed by aggressive institutional cover-up appear in the discourse more and more.  And it isn't just assault of women.  Think about Joe Paterno's disgraceful actions.  Colleges are too afraid of PR nightmares to protect their communities properly.  I am sick over this.

Sexual violence is not about sex, but power.  This kind of behavior is not even invisible in this case, but rather seen, acknowledged, and actively made to disappear.  I wonder if those responsible for the nine years of non-report at this particular school have wives or daughters, or, even more chilling to think, are women themselves.  By doing nothing about assault and rape, the school is essentially condoning it.

Eavesdropping on the three girls was an essential slap in the face for me.  Women are women, regardless of who they associate with or how they choose to conduct themselves.  It is an ugly impulse to write off members of my gender for their social choices when we have the exact same concerns.  It an ugly standard that our chief concern must be rape.  Another of the girls told a story of walking across campus alone at night that contained all of the reasons why my mother hates that I walk home alone from work at night.  Who knows if these girls would call themselves feminists.  But clearly, you don't have to self-identify as a feminist the feel like a victim of rape culture.  And you certainly don't have to be a feminist to expect to feel like you are entitled to protection of your personal safety.

Orchids, intertextuality, and doctoral programs.

Everywhere, orchids.  In the mystery man's house when Donna takes over the Meal-on-Wheels program on Twin Peaks; in The Orchid Thief (obviously), driving people mad with covetous desire; in poems I read by accident.  Everywhere I turn, these strange plant aliens have popped up.  For two weeks, all that I consume has been nothing but orchids.

I like to think of texts (a term a define broadly as anything that can be read, where read means consumed and interpreted, so books, film, TV, songs, etc. are all texts in one way or another) as creatures that speaks to each other if you let them.  This probably stems from any critical work I've ever done: I don't believe in writing on a text by itself.  There always has to be another text to let it talk to.  Blame this on my college experience.  Hampshire doesn't just read books.  Hampshire reads books in context of other books.  Change the context, and the entire experience of a novel shifts.  Typical assignment: read your assigned novel of the week and come up with an essay topic, then look for articles supporting your thesis; if there are articles supporting your thesis, pick a new topic.  This is how you keep critical work from stemming only from the hybridization of two formerly held notions about a text.

I got into a conversation recently about graduate school.  (I have a lot of these higher education talks while half-daydreaming at my minimum wage barista job.  Call it wishful thinking.)  My conversation partner seemed to believe that holding an advanced degree meant you were some kind of brilliant, original thinker.  If only.  I've met plenty of people with advanced degrees who aren't worth the paper their diploma was printed on.  And here's why: a PhD program can't teach you to be an original thinker; it can only teach you to organize your thoughts in an academically acceptable scaffolding.  No one needs to be brilliant to be called, "Doctor".  They only need to be observant enough to find where critical lines about any given topic intersect, then point out those intersections and move the conversations about the given topic a slight stumble forward.  Simple and plain, most dissertations do little to advance their fields other than repackage information.

But the fact remains, I get dizzy when I imagine completing a doctoral program.  Something about being not only allowed, but required, to spend that amount of time rooting around in a library looking for unarticulated truths reminds me of Indiana Jones.  In a much more musty, sedentary way.  But the adventure is still there.  Conversation between two texts assists in interpretation of both.  Conversation between more than two texts creates an exciting web of interconnected ideas that helps sift out new things from my brain, and also helps mine for images I didn't know I had in me.  Textual excavation is also a process of self-discovery.  Regardless of the acceptable critical perspective on literature or any text, my own favored method of interpretation has always been emotional.  How does a piece of art make me feel?  It is that gut tug that makes any piece of art resonate past the year it's written in.

Back to orchids.  They grow in the most strange ways, latched onto the sides of trees and the edges of cliffs, roots dangling in the air.  They don't bloom for their first seven years of life.  They have odd, ugly faces, wear funny hats, die easily when removed from their misanthropic swamps.  How like artists.  We know little about how or why they grow the way they do, but the more strange and rare they are, the more eagerly they're pursued.

Public projects and secret dreams.

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College is drawing to a close more rapidly than I was prepared for, so much so that I now have in my hands the rough draft of my novel with marginalia (read: my wonderful advisor's sometimes-illegible scribblings to push everything a little closer to literary greatness). I purposely took a picture where you could see none of the writing, not even the title, because the only person in the world besides myself who's read the thing in its entirety is the aforementioned advisor. If I am a public poet (which I am, let's be honest), then I am the most private of novelists. Since the story was re-imagined into its current incarnation, Nell has been the only one to read it. Before, I'd read bits and pieces to Cassandra, post others to the tumblr I made for the project as they moved out of my head and through their drafts. But the past month or so, this shit's been on absolute lockdown. It feels like I'm trying to harness nuclear power or take over the free world, which is silly, considering how small and generally quiet the story is. That pink binder is the last four years of my life. That blows my mind every time I think about it. I've been practically living in my Ouija board t-shirt because I like to put myself in the divination state of mind for all this jazz of writing about hungry ghosts and psychic energy. (I'll post an excerpt once things have moved through two or so more drafts when, perhaps, this will will all make more sense.)

ANYWAY. During our meeting yesterday afternoon, Nell made me cold coffee with cream and Lebanese sugar cubes and asked me about my plans post-December. There is obviously the tour to look forward to, but beyond that I've been nursing a bit of ambivalence about a very quiet, secret dream of mine. Lately, I've been telling it to a few just to test the waters, and the response has been puzzled, but generally positive. So I just came right out and told her. When I'm done with college, I want to go to cosmetology school. It may seem backwards to get a bachelor's in literature and creative writing and then jump ship from the academy to attend trade school, but as I told my advisor, I think that any more study of books and the like at this point in time might kill me. And, contrary to the response I imagined, she was overjoyed for me, even launched into a story about how she'd always wanted to be a plumber and often wondered what her life would be like if she was the caretaker of a house's innards. It is beyond comforting when your mentor not only validates your odd needs, but admits to a crop of the same feelings herself.

So it's settled. Finish the book, tour the coast, open the door for the next chapter of my life. One made of the cotton candy hair and silver rollers and diner songs of every middle school sleepover I ever had. I'm beginning to think that Grease has had a lot more to do with my development as a human being than anyone could have anticipated. But then, that's another post entirely.

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Sourcing shrapnel.

My favorite song of the past few days (to be sung along to, LOUDLY, while dancing in the shower, or the kitchen, or the car, or anywhere really):



I think that settles the fact that I need to own a fringe dress as soon as possible. For New Years this year. And then every day.

And then there's this gem, which I found while procrastinating the other day and then subsequently fell out of my chair laughing. I dedicate it to my sisters. And Cass. Cos she hates this song with a fiery passion.



Speaking of procrastination--I somehow managed to turn in both pieces of my final on time, despite going to Boston for Cantab and getting riotously sauced and sleeping maybe three hours in total. My advisor congratulated me this afternoon in our meeting, then asked me if everything was alright. I guess I looked a little drawn. Behind my eyes, there was a waking dream of the night before--so so much booze, Fame playing on the wall of one of the bars we went to, burlesque night hosted by a Nick Cave wannabe in a velvet suit, and my Thriller shoes getting their curse broken. Right now, after a seven hour nap, I feel a lot more like this:

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Or this:

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Or this:

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And as my own semi-private happy dance, I named the poetry manuscript after a line of Plath. I am just a big ol' nerd.

A big ol' nerd graduating college in a month. Shit is REAL. I feel really weird about it. But we can talk about all that later. For now, check the new tour dates! Soon I'll be on the road, my favorite of all places. This is apparently what it looks like to live the dream. Who's got the champagne?

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Magic morsel #43, Manic monday.

I have two manuscripts due this Thursday. Welcome to crunch time. My bed has turned into an odd headquarters of sorts--I sleep next to/under/spooning legal pads, six or seven fat stapled drafts of both poems and the novel, three or four jackets, a basket of my clean (and yet to be put away) laundry, my shark, various magazines, books, and at least seven hats. I ate ice cream for breakfast yesterday. I fell asleep at roughly nine PM and slept straight on and off until about seven this morning. My body and mind will not meet me halfway on this.



At least the Bangles know how I feel.

Brain food, and that other stuff that just tastes good.

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Good morning, sunshines. I got a solid ten hours of sleep last night and I am so ready to kick this day's butt! Too bad there's not much to do. While I wait for my laundry to finish drying, lemme sing another chorus of "Young and Healthy" from 42nd Street and then I'll tell you the tales of the past few weeks.

The past semester has contained more revision than any other period of my life to date. Til now, and as a writer I'm endlessly ashamed to admit this, revision was more of an afterthought than process. I see now that such an attitude was burying some of my best ideas in a whole lot of junk, and feel my words are better able to breathe now that I tend and prune them properly. It really is a lot like gardening; afterwards, my back tends to hurt and my hands can get ornery, but I always sit down to eat a helluva lot more satisfied than when I let things have their own way. And I'm going to cut that metaphor off right now before it gets away from me.

The preliminary final drafts of both my novel and my poetry manuscript are due next week. I have this. I can manage it. I am endlessly excited for the outcomes, as my projects have taken their time becoming what they are now. I have been peeling back layers for months and letting intuition do the bulk of the real work. It is both rewarding and excruciating to let your instincts write a book for you. If you only write when the mood strikes as it is, waiting for the mood to strike and your instincts to indicate where you must go next is like holding out both hands for lightning strikes. But it is getting there. I am getting there. In a month's time, I will be done with college and gearing up for tour. This all boggles my mind. I am still just a little girl playing house. Here, evidence of the playing--an experiment in soup turned genius fall meal. I literally just put things into pans and hoped for the best. Magically, that worked out with such success I had to record it. Jericha usually does the cooking at home, but I bested my roomie at her own game this time. She asked for the recipe, so I thought I'd write it down here for everybody. (And it's vegetarian.)

Accidental Onion Soup

5 medium-sized onions, chopped
1 bottle Opa Opa Light Lager
5 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 cups water
salt & pepper, to taste

Melt 1 tbsp butter in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and remaining butter in layers. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt. Allow to cook, unstirred for 25 minutes. Do not worry about burning (it won't happen). After 25 minutes, stir occasionally, continuing to cook onions until they are a deep mahogany, 15-20 minutes. Once a rich brown color is achieved, mix onions, beer, and water in a large stock pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium heat for 20-25 minutes. Serve with crusty bread and parmesan cheese on a brisk night when you want hearty comfort food.

Or, you could always stop by Nakedhaus and I'll cook you dinner while reciting for my latest project. No kidding. It happens at least three times a week now.

Trip or Treat 2010.

Like any diligent type-A crazy, I am working til close tonight and then running over to campus for my last Hampshire Halloween. This time of year makes me want to be witchy every chance I get, but besides wearing black boots at every opportunity and lace tablecloths as scarves on the colder days, I don't get much opportunity to be serious about it. Until today. I bought a whole host of deeply discounted Halloween make-up at CVS this morning and happily painted myself up with oily black and liquid glitter and nail polish that looks like swamp slime. "Happier than a pig in shit" is a start, but doesn't exactly touch on how many smiles I've flashed today. Mostly because I look like this:

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My costume isn't so complex which is a blessing for my wallet--I owned everything but the make-up and the wings before today--and I will reluctantly admit that it was inspired by a writing session I had recently where I was listening to my favorite album by the Books and realized I needed to dress up as the angel of death.



HIPSTER SCUM. I know, I know. But the effect of the costume is that I look nothing like a hipster. In fact, I look more like I'm larping, which is somewhat embarrassing. I decided not to get dressed twice today, so I've been wearing my costume on errands and got my wings stuck in the bank doors just a small while ago. The people in line seemed horrified at the sight of me. Good thing that's what I was going for.

If you paid the $20 ticket fee for non-students (or if you happen to be a student), I'll see you on the dance floor tonight. And hopefully not impale you with my feathers.

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.

Made the switch from a common thief to up close and personal with Robin Leach.

1. Huzzah for employment. My new(ish) job allows for a lot less sleep and writing time than I would like, but there are definite perks. First, the platform stiletto torture chambers of my wildest cheapskate dreams, purchased this morning:

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Note the mud smears--I could not wait to put them on, so I've been wearing them and trekking through the spring soft ground. Never have I been happier to feel my heels dragging through the dirt than today. On this particular day it means that I am roughly five inches taller and mentally channeling Rihanna a la "So Hard". I don't remember where I read this, but she was definitely in the Barabadian equivalent of ROTC before deciding to pursue pop stardom. Clearly, bad ass is something that runs through her regardless. For reference:



2. Cassandra just left for spring break and I am already going through a serious case of the lonelies. We have been singing Biggie together all day and gave the mall a good twice-over before saying goodbye for the next few days. I do not yell "wife" across crowded rooms at her for nothing--I am not sure I'd be so high functioning without her. Behind every success story is a strong woman, and she is mine. We keep saying things in unison lately. Our midday foray into the world of commercial fashion turned up some serious gems.

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Recyclable foil prom dress?

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Sartorial choices to match your patio furniture?

Ummm, hello? World? Who birthed these hideous things? Who do you expect to buy them?

Also, a little old lady on the escalator told me that she loved my style and that I looked very nice today. It made me especially giddy because I am wearing ripped tights, a zebra t-shirt, an extra long undershirt, and a beanie, topped off by a pair of maroon Vans and my army jacket. If an old lady can appreciate that, perhaps I do know how to dress myself well.

3. And then there was one. Alone in our room, I revert to old habits for killing free time: namely, youtube video trolling. I would like to thank last night's the E! channel special for alerting me to the potential of extra large Diet Coke cans as acceptable hair rollers. And also, for reminding me that Gaga is an entity one cannot solely listen to, but a perfect storm of high and low culture to be observed with as many senses as possible. Mostly because she does things like wrap herself in caution tape, escape from prison, poison mad randoms, and cop Brett Michaels' bandana style. Among other things. Like cigarette butt glasses and black eyebrows with platinum&yellow hair. I am not sure there is anything she can do to make me stop loving her. I bought an issue of Cosmo at the supermarket last night simply because she was on the cover, and I usually refer to Cosmo as "sexual empowerment for anti-feminist dummies" (or probably something much meaner, if I can help it). But this woman. She makes me do things. Just look at her. How can so much awesome fit into that tiny body?



4. Figures that the first time I sit down to legitimately blog in who knows how long, I end up posting Rihanna and Gaga videos, talking about how great my roommate is, and not every really accomplishing much of anything by way of serious thought. I drank coffee for the first time in at least six weeks today. "Jittery" does not even begin to cover it. I am going to blame that for this. VAGUENESS! I leave you with some food porn from Worcester dinner with Kaitbeast last night, pan-seared scallops in truffle sauce with Yukon gold mashed potatoes and julienned zucchini. I love my sister. I love the Flying Rhino. I love that I laugh so much harder with good food in my belly. Life is busy and satisfying, the two best things. And just so you're aware, satisfaction tastes extra-special-good when it looks like this:

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And if you don't know, now you know.

Blonde ambition.

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She's just too adorable. I had to try it out for myself.


I feel like I should be sitting under one of these things:

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Bathroom double process FTW.

UPDATE: Blonde got turned strawberry halfway through the dying process. I am debating keeping it or bleaching it further. Being a cartoon character might be fun for a little while...

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.

If hungry, proceed with caution.

So that long-awaited Worcester entry (yes, I know you're dying to hear all about it!) has grown--after discovering a strange backlog in my phone photos--into a monstrous beast of a food post. If you'd like to hear someone more refined discuss something like, say, appropriate food/book pairings, you should probably talk to Sophia. She does things like cooking, and not just the put-Ramen-in-the-microwave-and-hope-for-the-best cooking. She uses immersion blenders and roasts chickpeas and is generally food fabulous. As for me, I am a lowly take-out monger who sometimes feels well-bread enough to go out and try her hand at eating in public. What follows is a kind of food/people pairing guide from the past few weeks.


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1. Now, there isn't much food here. But that is important. Because the last time I ate at Sulley's we were ordering more food until we asked for the check, and absolutely everyone cleaned their plates completely, down to the last spots of syrup and butter and whipped cream. We don't have much by way of diners here (at least not compared to Jersey anyway), but this place cooks up a mean breakfast. Something I would have known sooner, had I not been a late sleeper until very recently, because they are only open until 2 PM. Back in the day when Sean was still the slam grand pooba around these parts, he brought every feature he could wrangle out of bed at a decent hour to breakfast at Sulley's. It's not exactly a regular hangout of ours, but, being that the sign says "home of Polish music", and the food puts a couple Jersey diners I know well to shame, I'm going to claim it as the go-to spot for a cup of coffee and fat plate of whatever your pre-noon poison is.

2. I met Kaitlin for dinner in Worcester forever ago and have not been able to adequately verbalize the food we ate. It's not that the words won't come--it's that I can't get at the right ones. I'll try to start small. We ate at The Flying Rhino Cafe & Watering Hole (why yes, I did Google "restaurants Worcester" and pick the one with best name/menu combo, but mostly it was the name). We decided we need to eat as many courses as possible so as to get the best feel for the menu. Also, we were celebrating an important advancement in my higher education (you all remember my pesky thesis, right?), so eating like royalty seemed necessary. We started with crab rangoons, which are an item we use to test many a restaurant's competency at old favorites. You can tell we've thought about this. After that, we had not one, but TWO salads, the first of which had Gorgonzola, cranberries, and candied walnuts served with chicken over spinach and red cabbage, all in a warm bacon vinaigrette. I think it should be probably be noted that at this point in the meal, I squealed with delight upon tasting my first bite of salad. Audibly squealed. Kait and I have this undying love for sweet and savory salads, and this may have been the best one I ever had, if only because of the dressing. Then we had a second salad of cucumbers, tomatoes and onions with feta cheese and balsamic, which came with the entree we had ordered. Which was a whole different, killer fish. Behold:

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The glory of rum creme ravioli is one my sister and I had never experienced before, and I wonder now if they exist anywhere but on this menu. Logically, they must be available somewhere other than this one place of Shrewsbury street, but I feel confident in saying that these are the best that will ever exist because there is no way anyone can do the dish pictured above in a way that would taste better. Absolutely. No. Way. The raviolis themselves are pumpkin (imagine a pumpkin pie pierogi, if you will) with more cranberries and walnuts, as well as asparagus in a rum creme cinnamon sauce. Also, more Gorgonzola. I guess we themed our foods based on their secondary ingredients? Anyway, my sister and I saw this on the menu and literally stopped looking. Our instincts were very, very right. Though a lot of talking and laughing (and making fun of the restaurant's bizarre ambient music choices) took place at that table, when we were eating our ravs, we were almost silent. And then, there was dessert.

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I wish I feel like any of my food pictures did this meal justice. Our final food experience of the night was two-fold; my philosophy when it comes to dessert is that too much is never enough, so we ordered both a slice of the raspberry white chocolate cheesecake and the cinnamon fried dough and then decimated them both. The lesson I learned from this dinner was that my sister and I should become food critics. We know so many random things about various "genres" of cooking because of all the restaurants we've worked at that we could probably start a food blog together and it wouldn't even be a stretch. Hmm. Now I'm going to have to go call her...

3. If Sulley's is the poet destination of the Pioneer Valley for breakfast, then the Route 9 Diner is the drain we always seem to end up circling when it comes time for a midnight snack. The food's not great, but they allow party of 10+ long after everyone else has turned off their grills for the night, and they make me black&white milkshakes, so I must love them for that, if nothing else. Also, there are lots of little adorable moments between my friends there, kind of like the one in the next picture, and I treasure those (even if they do make me kinda nauseous sometimes).

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4. In closing, I leave you with one of the brilliant musical selections from The Flying Rhino, the very special spot where my sister first learned that not only do I listen to Lil' Wayne but I can speak competently enough about him to school her on Young Money. This one's a hit the two of us were singing on the drive home sometime close to Christmas when I picked her up from karaoke night at the bar our friends' father own. I cannot wait to meet up for dinner again, if only in the hopes that they'll be playing a radio station where this gem is still in rotation:

VLOG # 7



The last episode will never be seen (unless you come to our house and demand it!!!), but this one's still breathing. Not easily, but it's breathing.

Magic morsels #5, 6, & 7.

Spent most of the day hiding in the tree house cave trying to kick a nasty mystery illness. Thankfully, Cass and I had Tegan & Sara DVDs and Seven Brides For Seven Brothers and the library book request system to make us feel in touch with the outside world. The following are my favorite scenes from the day.



We sang along at the top of our lungs so that everyone in the quad could hear us. And then we watched it a second time. And relived our massive crushes on them from middle school. And watched their tour documentary. And. And...



All that I have to say regarding this is that I would very much enjoy attending a barn raising.

Ten Rules For Writing Fiction


Writers ranging from Margaret Atwood to Neil Gaiman give their rules for writers, and more often than not, the advice offered is both hysterical and incisive. Because I cannot do anything without having at least a small part of my brain used up on the ways writers talk to other writers.

Magic morsel #4, and the bulleted play-by-play.

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start your day off the hippie way


I love you Internet. With all of my swollen lonelygirl waitress heart. You are who I came home to on Sunday after over eight hours on my feet and an extra table in my section, my pocket fat with other people's money. Cass mixed me up a triple-strong bourbon sour and we sat with you, Internet, and enjoyed the view out our treehouse window. It seems you end up being our companion on every-post work outing. I want you to know how much I appreciate the matching lengths of our attention spans. Granted, I have more of an excuse at that point in the day.

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We've been absentee blog parents, and Grössby and I have kisses in atonement for that.


Alright, now that I've done that bit, I can give you the rundown of how my time gets eaten by the world. In the past week I have:

+ dyed my hair again (maybe? I am losing track of days)
+ dined in Worcester with my sister on a pre-V-day reunion (post to follow later)
+ officially passed Div II (yay for starting my thesis!!)
+ found out that the other Emily at work and I are TOO SIMILAR
+ got an oil change, which ended up in my being informed of an "excessive oil leak"
+ epically failed at making the CUPSI team in spite of winning nearly every slam at Hampshire this year
+ made massive amounts of cash on Valentine's Day and have since renamed it "the best night of the year to be a single lady waiting tables"
+ got sad and lonely
+ got happy and rowdy with the poets
+ went on a V-day roommate date to the Holyoke mall for some single lady lingerie shopping
+ made a video blog that is now lost to time cos youtube deemed it "too long"
+ sat in my window staring at the snow that I don't want to clean off my car
+ bought new slippers for the end of all these long days; they looks like this--

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Cos if you're going to revert to childhood as soon as you get in the door from you taxable-income-and-adult-language-only restaurant job, you might as well cause a wild rumpus in the process. Am I right? Also, when things like this (novelties that I'm not really sure I need expressly) are on double and triple discount in the sale bin, I have a difficult time saying no.

Tonight is the erotic open mic, and I only have a short time before work to acquire a few supplies, if you will, so I need to venture out in the snow storm ASAP. False eyelashes and fishnets, for the win! And don't worry, I'll get Cass to finally bring her camera out this time.

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.

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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.

Bulleted and busy.

This week I

+ quit being a librarian (Katie exclaimed "But that's such a huge part of who you are!" and I agree, but I was getting ragged)
+ wrote a piece of prose fiction for the first time since December
+ wrote a poem I was scared to read in public for the first time since December
+ impressed the manager who's leaving us for a video game company with my knowledge of RPGs
+ met with my writing mentor, cried, got a list of books to read and an admonition about my tendency to sensor myself in the face of the academy
+ turned in my FINAL final portfolio, which entailed having tea with my advisor at her kitchen table and chatting about her hopes that I'd go to graduate school
+ saw Tara Hardy perform//got told I was killing her "with awesome"//melted into a puddle
+ embarrassed myself in front of Charley's dad at least three times
+ was described by a professor as intensely motivated and amazing (I wasn't even in the room for the compliment)
+ watched my friends rally around one of our own in the face of some sidewalk racism
+ locked my keys in my car for the billionth time (you'd think I'd have copied them by now)
+ ate a giant pretzel with honey mustard and smiled a lot

My schedule has shifted into a space I am not quite sure of. Working lunch shifts is a pretty big change of pace for someone used to being in an office in time to meet the newspapers. I'm more than happy to upset that routine.

Also, since discovering it, I've been saving half the image feed from DETHJUNKIE* in a folder entitled "marry me". I really just want to lie on the kitchen floor with a boge.

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Or brush my teeth with JD and hit the town on a low-rider in with my cowboy boots and yesterday's unwashed hair.



Kat calls her "Taylor Swift gone wrong", which I think is fairly accurate. The opposite of a Nashville-born crossover album is totally an auto-tuned dance pop one. She used to irk me, but this girl is ridiculous in the way 3OH!3 is ridiculous (which is probably why they guest on her next single)--she can't be serious right?? RIGHT?! "The dudes are lining up cos they hear we got swagger/but we kick em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger"??!!!

I'd like to remind our friend Ke$ha of this particular jaunt:



What types of moves are those, Mick? Clearly the right ones. The mullet! The silk shirt! The utter lack of concept! How existential of you, boys. As an aside, I want your jumpsuit Bowie. And your haircut. And your life, so I can have awkward dance parties with Mick Jagger.

Mish mash girl making that kish cash monay.

1. This picture of my coffee table speaks volumes about my current state.

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Too broke to buy cigarettes, so it's been Bugler since last week. Too beat down to make it to the Cantab this Wednesday, so we bought a bunch of wine instead. Too busy to straighten up, so the living room resembles a tornado victim. The start of a new semester. I am taking one writing workshop and waiting tables six days a week now. This pictures will most likely continue to represent the state of things.

2. Last Tuesday, because of logistical issues (and mostly because paperwork at Hampshire seems to boggle the administration a bit more than my taste), we had Slam Collective outside on the sidewalk. In late January. It looked like this.

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my roomie performing one of her hits with musical accompaniment


Though half frozen by the end of it, we were all in high spirits and had a huge crowd of good-natured observers willing to indulge our makeshift stage. I love being surprised by the poetry community on campus, because at times it feels like the core members care extra in the face of general ill-will on campus. It was really nice to know that people love what we do and would sit out in sub-zero weather just to get their weekly open mic fix.

3. It is difficult to even admit this, but I have not been a highway in nearly two weeks, and I haven't driven my own car on a highway in nearly three. I am a terrible nomad, living in a stationary house, working a job with a W-2 and a uniform. I have been reduced to getting my kicks from after-hours trips to McDonalds. Don't judge. The glowing interior of fast food restaurants after they have been closed to the public are oddly comforting.

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And for the time being at least, as long as I am among friends, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Brevity is a burden.

Today is:

twenty pages I must pare down to ten
no natural light strong enough
lazy hours in mountains of paper

an old professor suddenly psyched on my thesis

rereading critical papers from last year
wondering how much more I've forgotten

wanting to give up on physical proof

praying with closed fists to break something

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In short, all of it to wade through and no idea where to begin.