I woke up for work yesterday to the news that a member of my extended family had passed away suddenly in the early hours of the morning. Far disparate from the long battle with illness, sudden death has a curious effect on those who encounter it: not only is the situation surreal, but it subtly disengages you from your routine. I started going through the morning motions, but stopped immediately and got back into bed. When I eventually went into work, I only managed to stay for three hours. After taking care of all pressing issues, I went to the Galleria and walked around with my headphones on. I bought two pairs of earrings and a new umbrella. I kept running into an old man who seemed slightly unhinged who complimented my hat over and over again. When I got back to my apartment, I climbed back into bed and slept some more.
The loss was personal, as we are relatives, but it wasn't so personal that I could claim it as my own. There are people hurting more than I am. There are other who need comfort more than me. So I forced myself to find a distraction. I watched a tiny open mic that was half comedy and half poetry. Uncharacteristically, I felt closer to the comedy half of things. I laughed so loudly that everyone stared at me. One of the comics asked if I was a comic, and I almost lied and said yes. Laughter was the opposite of how my day had started, but it righted the ship. After the show, I went out for drinks with a few stragglers and had a lively discussion that kept us all up into the wee hours. The evening was glorious and unexpected. I collapse into bed after the cab home, happily this time.
A friend told me that people should pay me to go to see comedy because of how clear it is that I'm enjoying myself. It was an odd, but satisfying, thing to hear about myself. My laugh has been made fun of on more than one occasion--I have a full-force cackle that will incriminate me for better or worse in any crowd-- and I am severely critical of comedy as a genre (shock value humor--meh; "classic" comedy films--mehhh; comedians in general--less schtick plz), but I do love to laugh. In my weakened state, it's entirely possible everything landed as funny because anything would've seemed funny. Regardless, I'm grateful for the gift of laughter at the end of a tough day. Sometimes, the world is bad. But it can also be hilarious.
I had a conversation with a far-flung friend recently where we lamented being twenty-somethings. A compelling conversation, I know, but just walk with me here for a minute. After the "I hate my boring job" gripes and the "there's not enough time to make art" train of thought, we came back around to a happy place. "Just sleep less," he said. "You have a voice that needs to be heard." I can't begin to explain how much I need our talk to end that way.
In the past few weeks, my writing here has been overwhelmingly negative. I won't apologize for that so much as offer a bit of background. When I go a long time without a serious outpouring of internal monologue, things can get a bit overwrought. But, in service of being truthful, my life is fantastic right now. My job may be a bit mind-numbing, but it gives me eight hours of auto-pilot where I can be chasing down ideas for the next poem, essay, or painting, so that when i get home after work, I am primed and ready to produce. I have a cozy apartment where there is more than enough space for all of my projects. I have a partner in crime whom I can bounce drafts off of at all hours. My best friend lives a ten minute bus ride away. I paint and write every evening until I fall into bed. It is glorious to be so tired from so many good things.
I'm pretty sure the reason that I worked shitty customer service jobs for so long is the toll it would take on my body. Even if I hated the workplace I was in, it was easy to feel like I'd actually accomplished something at the end of a shift because I could feel the strain in my body. I would be sore from standing at a register, taking Christmas ornaments for eight hours. My feet would ache due to the fact that I'd been running entrees non-stop through dinner service. There were measurable, physical responses to how I'd spent my time in a given day. While the exhaustion was intellectually satisfying, it was also defeating my ability to create. How can a person come home from working a job that requires you to be on your feet and on the move, only to expend more physical and mental energy on what actually matters? When I worked this more physically demanding jobs, I was terrible at staying awake an hour past arriving home for the night, and an hour is not nearly enough time to make real progress on a creative progress.
Trading my standing shifts for a cubicle and endlessly ringing phone has been a rocky transition. I get restless staring at computer screen for eight straight hours. But there are serious benefits to work that does not drain finite energy reserves. I do not have to be creative at work. I have to be personable and repetitive. My time on the phone is essentially scripted. I write emails on auto-pilot. I know what is expected of me, and I accomplish my daily to-do lists. It is a very simple existence. Initially, this black and white environment had me thrashing around like a shark in the shallow. I felt like I couldn't breathe. Did they really think I was enjoying my work? But art crept in around the edges of the day. Writing on my luxurious hour-long lunches (having designated break time is still something I am giddy about); reading submissions for Side B in between answering email inqueries; writing to far-flung friends when the phones are silent. I found so many small moments in my day where it was not only okay to do what I wanted to, but encouraged, that I still consistently feel like I'm getting away with something when I get up to take a stroll around the office.
Since changing workplaces (and moving to Somerville in general), I've had a lot more brain space to accomplish all the things I've planned out for years and never been able to find the structure in my day to facilitate. I have a routine, and it is glorious. I sleep less, and it doesn't affect my job performance; in fact, being tired enforces my auto-pilot at work. The less I think about what is going on, the easier it is to lose myself in the repetition of my job, and then before I know it, it's five o'clock and I'm on my way back up the hill to my apartment. I've put together a manuscript, painted a series to show publicly next month, built a soon-to-launch personal website, started writing non-fiction again. Even though I spend more hours per day at my job, I feel like I have more time to do what I want.
There's an episode of Wilfred where (SPOILER ALERT) everyone's favorite Australian man in a dog suit loses his sense of smell, thus losing his sense of purpose. At my minimum wage jobs, I had lost my sense of smell. (I've not been unemployed since I was 14.) I worked so much, and so consistently, alongside my actual life, that it became easiest to hide behind my exhaustion in lieu of making the strides towards things I actually wanted to achieve. Sure, I finished college a semester early while working full time, but I also didn't try nearly as hard as I could have. I may have muddled through last years tumultuous time in Providence, but I was angry and lonely all the time; I did very little writing and almost no painting, even though I had more free time than I knew what to do with. I panicked when I started my current job because it was so unlike anything I've ever done for work before, but it really has been the best thing for me. My nose is back. I can sniff out opportunities to push myself a little further along like a motherfucker; I am surefooted, burning the midnight oil, experiencing more excitement and success than I knew I was allowed to. The tedium is glorious for all the hours it affords me to do exactly what it is I love, and do it full force.
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.
Things have been happening. Or. I am caught in the perfect storm of my own making. Since returning home from tour, I've been on a steady diet of highway driving, Boston, New Jersey, motivational speech, and wearing heels out to spite the snow. It's been working well.
Last Saturday night, I was in Montclair, NJ with my little sister, Button, and a few friends to see Girl Talk's final installment of the All Day tour. We danced for two straight hours and, man, was it a gorgeous evening. I realized that the amount of dancing in my life is directly proportionate to my resting happiness rate (RHR, to speak in faux-medical terminology). Back in the fall, I went dancing at least once a week, resulting in a very high RHR, glowy skin, sore-but-content leg muscles, and the envy of all my dance-inclined friends. However, since the onset of the snowpocalypse, dance nights seem not only impractical, but downright silly to attend. Who wants to booty shake in rubber boots? Certainly not me. Cambridge, my home base for most dancing endeavors, is jagged with snow drifts and rife with icy patches of sidewalk. The last thing I need to finish out the winter with is a sprained ankle. Cos the only thing harder than crutches is crutches in the New England winter when you live in a third story walk-up. So, until spring, I'll have to get my dancing fix where I can. The Wellmont wasn't a bad spot for it, in spite of the Bieber squad (in their neon atrocity) gumming up the bathrooms and somehow managing to drink with X's on the back of their hands. A word of advice to the high school set: your sweat band does not make you cool, no does your homemade Girl Talk t-shirt with glaring grammar errors. Stay home and study hard! Your little brains clearly need it. Leave the partying to those of us who've earned the right after a hellish work week. When I was your age, I was at home watching the Lizzie McGuire movie and...well, maybe I should cut them some slack.
In other news, tour has legitimized my writing and performing life to my family in a way that chapbooks had failed to and now I'm getting all kinds of odd requests. My favorite one comes with a bit of backstory. My father's younger sister Casey has always been adamant about not getting married. She's had a handful of serious boyfriends that made into inside the fortress of family gatherings, but none of them ever stuck more than a handful of years. However, I am proud to announce that she's found the man she's going to marry (fanfare and all that jazz). Which means I've been invited to me first wedding. My grandmother is practically spamming all of our email inboxes with questions about ceremony and reception details, etc. My favorite inquiry thus far has been along the lines of, "Will you be bringing an escort?" The bride has been wisely absent from all of this insanity, probably off somewhere riding horse, practicing law, or actually living her life. The one interjection she did make my way is that she'd like me to read at the wedding. I'm not sure if that means Bible passages or what, but I am flattered to be the first name she thought of. Look! My first non-poetry gig gotten by being a poet! Now all I need is a desk job that doesn't frown on visible tattoos. Go, liberal arts degree, go!
In closing, my car started last night on the first try. I take this as a surefire sign of spring. And George Watsky made a new video. Kid's now been a Def Jam poet, a guest on the Ellen show and viral video phenom. Show him some love.
I wish I could make a collage of all the happy feelings I've had here in Pittsburgh. I've had the chance to talk, to listen, to walk, to rest, to cook, and be taken care of. To be honest, all us were dreading the amount of downtime we had here. But now that the last show has arrived, it's clear none of us really want to leave for DC tomorrow afternoon. Our time here was longer than we planned, but too short for my taste. Thankfully, I've acquired a rather magical sweater, a book of daily devotionals, and a serious appreciation for Western Pennsylvania. Like Western Mass, it is highly underrated.
Get it in Pittsburgh! We'll see you tonight at the Shadow Lounge!
P.S. Keep your eyes peeled for the recordings we've been making the whole time we've been here (AKA the No More Ribcage Pittsburgh Sessions) with our friends Justin and Drayton from In The Wake of Giants. They're make their way onto the interwebs in the near future, and we promise sounds and such the likes of which you've never heard.
"I've been livin' the dream Joe. Whatever that dream may be."
I wouldn't exactly call myself a Scrooge, but this December has been a rough one. Tour's been creeping up in a semi-insidious way (read about the shows so far here), I've spent more time on the road to various cities or just plain in Boston than I have in my own apartment, and when I do remain stationary, work has been sapping me of my lifeblood. Being that it is my very first retail Christmas, a lot is off-kilter, which mostly means my stress levels are much higher than they should be.
In addition to my regular schedule, the past few weeks I've picked up an extra shift for the cash, meaning I work six days a week instead of the usual five. And five out of those six shifts have been closing shifts. On my day off, I've had shows or some massive errand that takes far too much energy. I have not written much of anything since finishing my undergraduate degree a few weeks ago. I haven't even properly celebrated that milestone. (Cass and I did go out for a beer with our men that night, which counts to a certain extent, but I am more than a little itchy for an epic night of dancing to sweat away all those lingering college woes.) In all, I've been a bit divorced from the whole Christmas spirit this year, quietly acquiring my gifts and stashing them in a Rubbermaid box in the hall closet, avoiding the fact that I get one day off from my life as a cash register jockey/glorified stock girl for family during a time when I am used to at least a week of non-stop family shenanigans. It's hard. The only time I've felt the proper amount of holiday cheer is when it's been snowing. And thus far, at least in my little corner of the world, that's only happened when I've been in Beantown.
Kait and I met up in Jamaica Plain over a week ago for an epic feast and a few cocktails at Canary Square on Tuesday. Now, most people who know me know I am a huge proponent of the mid-week weekend. (Maybe it's because I work for the entire real one, but I'll call that beside the point.) I am rather fond of treating Tuesday nights like Friday nights. So a whiskey sour with a sisterly gabfest and a heaping helping of food is just my speed for such an evening. Our meal was full of cheese and laughter. The burger we had killed me with delicious. The french fries were epic. The beef jerky popcorn was odd, but I ate plenty. And I gave a chapbook to our waitress. Afterwards, I took her through the freezing cold to Deep Ellum in Allston to be the first of our family to meet my man. It was snowing. And freezing. The cold was like magic. We all did a lot of wild gesticulating and emphatic explaining ourselves, had great drinks and a great time. The night rounded out with me singing along to Ryan Adams as we ventured out into the flurry again for the night.
And then there was the snow in Somerville the other day. I ran away to the Bean again (and Charlie's Kitchen in Harvard Square) after a particularly rough Sunday shift (open to close during Consumer Christmas is much more brutal for those working it than I'd been mentally prepared for that day) and spent the night, waking to a morning full of the white stuff. I walked to Trina's Starlight Lounge for brunch the next noon and gleefully let the cold bite my fingers. Snow caught in my eyelashes, it finally felt like Christmas. We had what can only be inadequately described as a homemade pop tart, followed by the works, all washed down with lots of coffee. I kept straining to see the snow out the frosted window. And when I walked back to my car and drove home to NoHo for work, I was so disappointed that the snow globe effect didn't reach past Worcester. The city of my home address has yet to get more than a dusting, and for that matter, I've yet to be out in the snow in my current hometown.
I spent Wednesday watching the white stuff accumulate on my car while I baked my Grandma's Christmas butter cookies in a kitchen that isn't mine. My show in Portland got canceled because of the weather, so I had a bedroom Bloc 11 sandwich picnic and fell asleep watching Die Hard instead of performing.
Anyway, I guess the point of all this rambling is to say that I haven't exactly felt connected to the time of year. Until last night. Work was a frenzied mess, everyone in town out and shopping for last minute gifts. I left my wrapping paper in the employee closet, I've yet to pack, and I was kept up half the night by yelling from the thirsty Thursday bar crowd. However. Even though I'm not in Boston or its outliers, and even though I'm not nearly prepared for the big day tomorrow, I could hardly sleep last night for the excitement of stockings and ornaments and all of my family jammed into my gram's living room. So what if that means I'll have to brave midnight mass in a mohawk. This holiday season has been rough for me and for a lot of my friends, but it showed me that we all work hard, play hard, and have huge hearts. I wish it was possible for me to be with everyone I consider family tomorrow--the friends scattered across New England and the Midwest, I toast you! Here's to us and our crazy year!
Speaking of hearts, Jericha's been making me some goodies lately. My birthday present sheds just the right amount of nighttime light when I'm fumbling through the dark for a glass of water, and my Christmas gift took my breath away in our Christmas-lit kitchen.
The back of the necklace says, "home is where the heart is, for the heart is a house you can hold in your hands." Amen.
In closing, I think Dickensian Kermit says it best.
Happy Holidays everyone, and a Merry Christmas if that's how you're spending tomorrow. If not, go make a snow angel at Harvard for me.
In honor of driving home for Thanksgiving this afternoon, I thought I'd spread a little holiday cheer, courtesy of Christian Alexander:
And a holiday haiku, courtesy of my dearest SPC (and my exhaustive journals, circa three years ago):
Get your head out of
the oven. Somebody needs
it for the turkey.
Don't get me wrong, I'm excited for the family time that's about to take place. I just know that it all comes with its fair share of strife. I'll see you on the other side of the weekend, hopefully less scarred (charred) than I'm expecting to be.
The other night at dinner with the family, I made some comment regarding the fact that novelty of drinking in public had still not worn off. My cousin kindly reminded me of its illegality. I told him I did not care.
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:
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?
For the first time in my life, I am the eye of the storm. Every romance or relationship or partnership or arrangement between two people that is happening in close proximity to me has a wrench thrown in the gears; I am watching these massive, reliable machines grind to halt and shudder at each other for lack of any better form of understanding. We all stay up late into the night discussing emotional politics. We follow each other from one room of the house to another, from bar to bar to bar, from Northampton to Boston and back trying to properly articulate what it is that's broken. And I keep saying we, as if I am involved in any of this. I am background noise today. My problems are small and self-contained: I own too many shoes, I don't know whether or not I will be moving in the next few months, there is never enough money to make me feel successful. Everyone else is questioning the nature of their commitments. I am happy to just be left alone. I have never been consistently single for this long a period of time, and I'm beginning to accept that it's my natural state. I am more than okay with this. Not only is it easier to be background noise in the dramatic lives of others, it is more acceptable to me to be a sounding board for all of the relationship insanity that my friends are going through. I told one of them last night that I hate the existence of empathy; I truly ache for any friend I have who is hurting, to the point that it affects my quality of life. I get physically ill in a room full of people who do not know what to do with themselves. But this is different--machines breaking down seems not only inevitable, but necessary for moving forward. In a lot of ways, I feel very zen about all of the destruction and turmoil. I think that I might be mentally well=prepared for any sort of apocalypse. I'm pretty positive that the only person I would ultimately concern myself with is me, and that's something I've never been able to say with confidence.
Line breaks. Dechlorinated water. Fish food. Antique clocks for the new New Jersey kitchen. Shoplifting only from corporate stores. Leopard print. Loving my legs as long as they continue to be good to me. Taking naps. Not sleeping for three or more days. BEER. Playboy and pretzel sticks and tattoo placement. There is the omnipresent possibility of liquor for lunch now--how very odd a prospect. I had only four drinks at the bar last night, but I will venture a guess that they were all four much stronger than they seemed. The only way to know what force there is that may knock you on your ass when you try to stand is to drink everything straight. But I let myself get a little more than silly. A little more than sloppy. Everyone kept saying I had license to, which I did. However, this new club I've joined is an interesting one. I do not feel any different. Birthdays have never changed much for me. Yesterday, I bought a phone charger, had beers at the mall, performed a poem, was referred to by many near and dears as the "belle of the ball" and, for certain, it made me smile. I also told several people I love very much how happy I am for our friendship. They may attribute these revelations to my level of drunk. However, I am not in the habit of saying things I do not mean, drunk or otherwise. If I gushed at you last night about how awesome you are, I meant it with all of my heart, and I would mean it sober too. Forgive me my loud mouth and stumbling. Family are the people for whom unconditional love is not something that is ever discussed, but simply present. Cambridge will always be Thanksgiving, every single Wednesday. And for family dinner with words where the food should be, I suppose it makes sense I was cranberry saucy and dressed as tart as I'm sure I must've tasted.
First, some cell phone camera remnants from the tri-county fair:
And second, there are so many exciting nights coming up this month that I can hardly contain myself. (No, really, I've quite literally been skipping through the streets and singing to myself at the top of my lungs with such abandon that everyone in Northampton must think I'm either crazy or endlessly obnoxious.) Next week, I get to go back to my homeland for a brief stint, during which I will buy a bed frame, introduce one of my new roommates to my family for the first time, and perform my first poetry feature for a college at Sarah Lawrence (details here). The following Wednesday is my long-anticipated 21st birthday--at long last, I will drink in public without fearing legal action, and it will be at the bar where my heart lives, the Cantab. As if those two wonderfuls weren't overwhelming enough, my sister is throwing me a fantastic birthday celebration at CGH followed by drinks and a coat of red paint for the streets of Providence. Then all of my near and dears will sleep in a giant bed with me at the Marriott. And maybe, if I play my cards right, that weekend will also include my favorite falafel joint ever.
September has long been my favorite month, but this one will most definitely be the best yet. And don't worry. I'm sure there will be whiskey. And pictures. Lots of embarrassing pictures.
So we thought's we'd never told you about how we ended up friends and roommates, but apparently that story got told (in eerily similar fashion) during the Lost Un-Valentine's Day Vlog, filmed February 15th, but never before viewable by mass audience (unless you happen to hang out in the general vicinity of my laptop). In honor of our final nights in the summer tree house, we are proud to present Parts 1 & 2 of the now-infamous lost episode.
There was a ladies dinner picnic at the Smith pond last night, a bottle of wine and a discussion of future love, life, and general excitement. I've been soupy in the head lately, the world swimming towards me, but seeing ducks and eating cheese with no knife helped still me and give me back my breath. The view from my new bedroom windows is of the mountains. I have a view of the Berkshires that is too gorgeous to properly speak of, a bed nook that will be cozy and wonderful. I have an apartment with two magic people, a space to finish my novel. I cannot get over the beauty of that, the way this place found me when everything seemed to be falling apart. There's so much packing and laundry and logistical bullshit that needs to happen between now and next Wednesday, but that does't even bother me. For the first time, moving hasn't crippled my sense of what must happen. I can see the building flowering out of its brick, the way our living room will grow around us. We have a purple kitchen table and a reading window and granite floors that will be perfectly cold on November mornings when I am not awake enough to remember how happy I am. White wine and hummus are good company for comfort. I am standing on solid ground again. I cannot drown atop a mountain.
"Do you hear that Grössby? That's the sound of summer ending."
1. I haven't been here, really been present, in awhile. All of my avenues of self-reflection have been silent, and I feel that silence in a way that is terrifying. My journals go unwritten in, poems (until very recently) get brainstormed and lost to some dark corner of the forgetful half of my brain. And this poor, poor blog looks like a ghost town. For all the internet knows, I am bored and have nothing to say. The truth is, I am overwhelmed and have absolutely everything to talk about. There is just too much of it to wade through. But I'm going to try.
2. Regret seems to be the buzzword of the summer. Which sucks, considering I am that asshat who says things like, "Pssh, who regrets anything? I am always proud of everything I do." Which is not an outright lie. In the case of the past few months, I know that my doubts come from how I've spent my time. Too much whiskey (if that's possible), not enough writing. Bottom line, I'm feeling the pressure when it come to turning in a "completed" novel come December. I am well known for taking on projects bigger than the moon and pulling them off at the last possible moment, but this one seems bigger, Jupiter sized. I speak in lines from other people's poems lately, work at least six days a week, and have not sat down and finished a book since early July. I am worried about getting lost in all different kinds of shuffles. On bad days, it feels as though I already have. People are rearranging as friends leave for school again, while other return for the same reason. I know I am not standing still, but there is stasis in my bones now, where before there was entropy. I need to feel like I am moving forward. Some days I wish I was a runner, a real one, so that I could at least move myself physically out of this space.
3. I am moving out of this apartment in about a week, which is a loss of both the treehouse and my roommate. I'll be moving downtown to be closer to work, and in that way it is both exciting and practical. In another, it is completely disorienting. I cannot imagine how to make it less so, because as soon asI get settled again, I will be uprooting myself. At work today, I spent the majority of my time doing mindless organizational tasks and thinking hard about all of the things that are wrapped up in moving back to New York. Yes, I said it. I am moving back to New York. Or Jersey. City-side living. I kept having visions of goldfish and cooking dinner for my father and late night painting sessions with Maggie. I know it will be good, as well as necessary. I need to give myself permission to be excited about this. Everyone is talking about relocating to Boston post graduation, and it feels like last summer all over again, a party I am vaguely invited to but have too many reasons not to attend. I know they are all good reasons, but it's still awful to know that all of my friends will be living somewhere I am not. I suppose there are always the Chinatown buses.
4. In spite of all the gray weather and beige headspace, there is silver lining to this day. I gave a few of my chapbooks to a coworker, something I have never done before, and she came in today raving about my writing, telling me she had passed the books on to her friends. I wanted to hug her, but it seemed a somewhat inappropriate act, considering that we were standing in the middle of racks of American Apparel and she and I have never so much as gotten coffee outside of work. But still, the hug bubbled up, and stifling it almost hurt me physically.
5. Also, there was that thing that happened a few weeks ago in St. Paul. Lots of poems. Lots of crazy times. I am still trying to process all of it. The poetic essay is helping a bit, but mostly I just feel lost when looking for meaning in a hotel full of stranger who all seemed to know my name, and if not that, at least my face.
I have been lazy in terms of writing lately. I am going to continue to be. My novel is due, completed (at least in some sense), this December. I am still kicking unborn scenes around. I need to buckle down. Instead, I'll show you what we looked like in St. Paul.
Breakfast at Mickey's our first morning in St. Paul.
Tackling Sam through a storefront window.
Updating the exhaustive minute-by-minute travelog at dinner before our first bout.
Anddddd I found a carrot flower in my soup. No joke. We sang.
Sammy T and Mike McGee listening intently, probably to that story about Grace Jones and the bicentennial.
My new nickname is Missouri, and my chest lets me breathe easier after a weekend of real talk and quite a bit of honesty. Sam rescued me from the boonies so that I could get my head on straight before leaving for nationals. We did lots of silly activities, including (but not limited to) poetry readings, basement discussions about cream of salad soup, consumption of cheesecake without plates, Buffalo Exchange dressing room fashion shows, and late night long walks for conversations that just can't happen in daylight.
Incidentally, if I ever get knuckle tattoos, my fingers will spell out "REAL TALK". The past week has been stressful--lots of packing, practice, running around like a headless chicken attempting to fly, etc. However, having a place I can run away to in the midst of all of this insanity has been invaluable. Thank you to the Poets' Asylum reading for welcoming me back after several years away, and to all who laughed, cried, and carried on with Sam and I. I am now reminded of how much fun this living thing can be, and that was exactly what I needed.
To awkwardly quote one of my teammates, you are the most of what I know of God, and most of you don't even believe in him.
P.S. Expect to see some updates about tour when I get back from St. Paul. Sam and I have been scheming. There is a press packet and a Facebook page now. Get at me if you have an East Coast arts venue that would want to hear from us during January, or a living room or garage or kitchen we could commandeer for an evening. The show we are planning will rock your socks so hard, they'll be laundered, starched and folded by the time you get them back. Just sayin'.
So many many many good things this past week, even through all of the tough stuff. I'll give you the run down quick right now, but there will be longer stories once pictures are uploaded, dates are finalized, and changes have taken place. I'm being vague. Bear with me.
+ Team practice is in full swing, and I'm not sure I've ever had a more rewarding space to grow artistically. My lady poets have given me endless happy surprises, and we've only really been at this whole process together for less than a month. Every evening we spend working together leaves me with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. This is why I love collaboration. Besides a regular case of the sillies that infects every meeting, there is so much to look forward to for the summer because of all the poetry that's happening. We have two regional slams this month (one in Boston on the 7th, details here, and one in Providence on the 18th) and, if all goes according to plan, two team features to get us all amped and ready for St. Paul. Not that we need any help getting amped. Every time we get together to work on our poems, I am lucky enough to get goosebumps from absolutely everybody's writing on the page, as well as their performance choices. It's good to know that I will be going to my first nationals with no doubts about how proud I am. I am putting together our team chapbook, literally beaming from ear to ear.
+ I took a brief trip to New Jersey this week to see my family and was blessed to be with all of my siblings at once for the first time in months. I also had the pleasure of introducing on of my dear friends and teammates to my whole family, and the talks that ensued were so special and important for me. Going home provides a fair amount of stress in most situations, but this time I made sure to love the trip for what it was, not fault it for the hiccups. Things are not perfect with anything family-related right now, but I'm confident we'll get through this rough time. My father inspires me more and more every day with how strong he's been through this whole scary process. I just keep believing in the resilience of the heart, both his and my own, that this is just a test and a testament to how strong we will always be.
+ When in Jersey, a Manhattan/Brooklyn visit is always in order, and this trip (though only two days long) was no exception. Christina and I had quite the adventure, not arriving home until about 6 AM after much traipsing around in tiny dresses and sweating in the unbearable heat. That sounds gross. I'm sorry. It's no comfort to say there are pictures, but there are. Also, lots of stories of strange encounters with men on the sidewalk. But more about that later.
+ I have a new job. I start July 12th. I'll be working in retail, which, in pretty much any other case, I would be dubious about. However. Faces is the kind of place I'm going to fall in love with and never want to leave. Aside from the fact that waitressing has been draining my lifeblood without providing fair (or livable) compensation, my restaurant isn't exactly geared toward mohawked, rainbow-haired twenty-somethings with ambitious tattoo plans and a great deal of financial woe. In short, I'm not really the look they're going for. No matter how much I bust my ass, this will always be true. I will always be the "alternative" one. If the money was better, I'd be able to deal with this, but the money just hasn't been there because of this damned recession. So, I decided to take my love of customer service elsewhere. This elsewhere happened to be only up the block. And chock-full of rainbow-haired, tattooed twenty-somethings with big smiles, along with all kinds of quirky awesome for sale (and the best return policy I have ever heard of in my life--any time, for any reason, with or without a receipt). As my time in the restaurant winds down, I am getting really sad, but at the same time, I know that this change is definitely for the better.
+ In closing, last night was Star Trek drinking game night at Kevin's, and we had quite the time. We watched the belly dance episode from the second season, which was really a murder mystery, which somehow ended up being about metaphysics and time traveling non-humans, which is why I love Star Trek. But what I love even better is a combination of Star Trek and Ke$ha, courtesy of Christina: