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.

Today is a threshold.

The world has been a wily place lately, but as the dust settles, I can share a string of fabulous news.

Last week's poetry day was a massive success.  I've already been invited back to do another next year during poetry month.  The kids asked some tough questions, which I wasn't properly expecting, but I think we carried off the discussions well and got them to think about poems in a very different light.  A lot of the talking after our presentations centered around music--how songs are the way poetry lives in our world and touches us on a daily basis.  This obviously led to discussions of various hip hop artists and corresponding poets that might help bridge the gap for a music appreciator who's curious about where poems fit into their life.  Two girls stayed after one of the sessions to grill me about what I do to keep from deleting my first drafts and how I keep from getting discouraged when sending out submissions.  I lauded the power of the page break when making revisions (and using long-hand as a stand-by, since you can't delete when it's paper and ink), as well as sites like Duotrope, which are invaluable when it comes to finding out where your work might fit and keeping track of submissions.

All said and done, I surprised myself with how well I managed a day of teaching.  I often forget that all my performance experience translates to other kinds of speaking engagements.  Even my interviews have gotten infinitely better.  Speaking of which, I interviewed for a new job on Wednesday.  A real one this time.  It's too early to say for sure, but according to some insider info from my office spies, I did fabulously and have nothing to worry about.  Cheers to an impending change of industry!

Finally, I found an apartment.  At long last, I'm moving to Somerville on May 1st.  We found a cozy two-bedroom with massive closets and plenty of space for our epic collection of books.  Less than three weeks until the big day.  I've been shopping for the perfect dishes all morning and daydreaming about long evenings painting and writing in our workroom.  Jamie showed me an excellently curated furniture store just down the block from where we'll be moving, and knowing it's there is only adding to my frenzy over rattan lampshades and red lacquer bookcases and finding the perfect record player and a host of gems I've got coming my way from my uncle's storage unit that he needs help emptying.

There is nothing more exciting that an avalanche of positive change.  Except keeping up with writing a poem a day for National Poetry Month, and possibly winning Madonna tickets from Spotify...

"Baby, there's a shark in the water."

The last time I posted was a little over a month ago. A little over a month from now, I will be moving into a new apartment--back to the city of my heart--for a new start.

This condition makes for a strange progression of days. Since we last spoke, I've set foot on the ground in Maine, been to a casino for the first time to see the middleweight champ defend his title, gotten my first-ever acceptance letter from a poetry journal, and chosen a new place to rest my head.

I imagine that when my sister Kaitlin and I move in together again, there will be a lot of the following:



Which is to say, shenanigans, song-and-dance, Peter Pan-related merriment.

And we'll probably belt this out together at the top of our lungs while waltzing through the pocket doors between our two living rooms, the windows swollen with afternoon sun and a view of that fat dome on Federal Hill:



I wrote a poem about my mother riding a stuffed horse in her dreams first thing this morning. I wear my happy teeth every day now.

What I think about when I am a month late on resolutions.

I am safely back from tour, getting buried in snow (again) but nestled into my beloved, frigid New England. This a quiet, Ryan Adams b-side kind of day. The sky and the snow are the same shade of nothing. I have spent most of this day reading a novel in verse about Los Angeles werewolves and answering emails. It feels good to stop spinning my wheels for a few days. The engine was beginning to smoke. When the year changed over weeks ago, I was too busy smiling to make any resolutions. I've never found them very useful, though I've always been vigilant about keeping a little list for myself. I leafed back through my journal this morning and that yearly list was nowhere to be found. So here's the short version: submit to journals (no matter how quickly my heart thwacks into my tonsils at the prospect), settle back into the city of my heart, fine tune the novella and let it loose on the world, never fall asleep without reading at least ten pages. Small steps lead to the largest movements. This year is a big one already. I have seen so many cities I never dreamed of seeing, loved so many people I never thought I would hold so close to me. I am full, if struggling. That must be what it's like to be alive.

Perpetual motion machines.

Hello from our last morning in DC! Our time here has been both relaxing and exciting. Sam, Mckendy and I went to see the slam at Graffiti DC and got a feature by Rudy Francisco (this year's Individual World Poetry Slam champ) thrown in, all for the price of FREE.

Yesterday we went on a sight-seeing adventure on the National Mall, which involved hot pretzels, atrocious coffee, bitter wind, and a chill sesh with honest Abe. Sam got a proof of his first-ever book with a spine. I got my final evaluation for college. We have a workshop/interview/show in Richmond tonight, leaving only two more future cities for us on the road trip leg of this tour. But fear not! There are still a handful of shows in New England that will commence upon our return (one of them in Providence, the city of my heart, the day after the big ol' V-Day). The month of February will be far from a return to normalcy. I'll most likely make some drastic change to my hair--it's getting overdue for one at this point--and the Ribcage Kids will tear it up.

Speaking of which. Below, you can view the first video of me performing since the Providence Grand Slam in '09. I'm pretty proud of this one. It sold books and all that good stuff.

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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Pomp (& circumstance).

I can't sleep. I haven't had to say that aloud in a long time.

So I started thinking about my hair again. It's been an obsession lately (and always). I've dyed it twice in the past two weeks, once lighter, once darker. I am satisfied with the color now, but the length is driving me nuts. Having an inch and a half of hair is difficult. With my styling options close to zero, it seems my collection of hats is growing exponentially. Not because I want to cover my hair by any means, but because I just want something interesting to be happening on my head. Oh, how I rue the day that I shaved off my mohawk! Well, not really. I've quite enjoyed this crop. But I am ready for some different extreme. These two ladies and their fabulous coifs have been spinning through my head as of late:

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Now, Rihanna is someone that can essentially do no wrong by me. Argue her talent all you want; I'm not going to tell you what opinion to have as far as pop music goes. But for the past few years, basically ever since she cut it short, her hair has been fierce as a tiger let lose on Las Vegas. If I could have even half the pompadour she's rocking at the right of that pair of pictures, I would be beyond pleased with myself.

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If you have not heard of Janelle Monae, you have been living under a boulder of epic un-coolness. This woman can sing and dance like I have not seen in years, not to mention carry a sci-fi story of Frank Herbert-proportions on her shoulders rocking wing-tips and the freshest white shirts. I love me some Gaga, but I have half a mind to smack the entertainment industry hard in the mouth for being so moony-eyed over that New York love child of Madonna and Marilyn Manson when Janelle is leaps and bounds beyond. If we wanted to have a no-holds-barred battle between high-concept pop divas, I know Monae would win, hands down. That being said, her hair, while defying all gravity, has absolutely captured my heart.

I suppose what all of this means is that I'm currently sitting at my kitchen table in the dark, meditating on ways to make my hair grow faster. After dinner tonight, I had a brief modeling session where I showed my roommate Jericha this fantastic vintage dress I picked up mid-July. In talking about how to style it, I went off on a tangent about the plans for my future hair. She told me I was only allowed to dress pin-up if my hair got larger than life. I am inclined to agree. There is nothing that makes me happier than the idea of winged eyeliner, sky-high pumps, and even higher hair.

Except maybe this last picture:

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In other, perhaps more important, news, the website for my winter tour is up and running. I have been smiling too much and doing impromptu happy dances in the crosswalk on my way to work because of it. It was designed by the badd-ass and talented William James, a man I admire for many reasons, the least of which is that his typewriter collection rivals his pearl snap shirt collection. RESPECT!

If you're in the New York area this weekend, you should come out to the inaugural tour date, my show at Sarah Lawrence's Teahaus, sponsored by their Spoken Word Collective. I will have limited edition books and lots of words and hugs and dance magic to share. Word on the street is there's going to be an epic after-party, as it's their first feature of the semester. I am honored, and absolutely beyond excited to rock New York hard. Details here. I'd love to see your smiling face in the audience!

Last, and perhaps most importantly, today is my sister's twenty-fifth birthday. Well, more like yesterday at this advanced stage of morning. I am sending her a unicorn for good luck in the coming year, her silver anniversary of living. What a wonderful lady!

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Here we are at the Flying Rhino last fall, our favorite restaurant in Worcester. I can't wait resume our tradition of monthly dinners, this time with wine.

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Did I mention it's now nine days until my 21st birthday?! SHA-ZAMMM.

Ok. I really need to go to bed now...

From here, the stars look like flashbulbs.

First, some cell phone camera remnants from the tri-county fair:

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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.

What I think about when things are finally falling into place.

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.

"Teach me how to run hard and far from who I used to be."

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"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.

What I think about the morning I apply for another job.

I was standing at the bar yesterday, waiting for change for a hundred dollar bill, and I realized how utterly ridiculous money is as a concept. Trading paper for real things? Who decided this made sense? My mother is fretting at the kitchen table about how she is going to continue to afford to trade shit for other shit. I don't like it. I don't like writing checks. I don't like my money box, however practical it is, because it reminds me of how valueless my time is to some people. Here I am, blue hair and tattoos, trying to make ends meet. I rearrange my resume, trade one euphemism for a better, more vague, counterpart. I debate wearing the dress I bought yesterday afternoon at Uncle Margaret's. I want to crawl into a pile of vintage clothes and never come out, even if all of it smells like armpits. I've been reading Salinger's Franny and Zooey and wanting to go around chain smoking in well-structured dresses and gloves and little hats, though the book doesn't really have any one in it like that. I want something simpler. Not financial aid paperwork that still goes unfiled because I know nothing about my parents' Social Security numbers, not waiting tables for far less money than I hope to have at the end of each week. I don't want to be a slave to a paycheck. But problems keep barreling towards me, like I am in an ice field with no choice but to go down with the ship. I have a reoccurring dream that I have to put my little brother through college, and today, that possibility isn't too divorced from the truth.

VLOG # 9 (part 1), + plenty of news.

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+ One of the last visual memories of the old tree house AKA the first half of the move documented on video. Or really, Cass and I making a final procrastination push before jumping ship from campus housing and entering the real world. We're not going to have internet in the new tree house until at least a week from now, so the second half will either be slow in coming or posted to the internets via this coffee house internet connection. If I don't find it too disgusting to be posting video blogs while sipping rooiboos.



+ Moving is tough. My whole body feels like it's made of old tires. I have at least six bruises all up and down my thighs from carrying couches up stairs. I had a sad moment when I returned the U-Haul. I liked driving that monster a little bit too much. Maybe my true car love will end up being a pick-up truck (but shhhh, don't tell Wendeline). Over the past few days, I have driven at least 500 miles all over New England gathering my belongings, biting my lip, and hefting an endless parade of boxes into my room to be unpacked and sorted into their appropriate locations. Through all of that driving, I thought a lot about how disturbed I was every time a radio DJ mentioned that a song I'd just heard was by Justin Bieber, mostly because his voice hasn't changed yet and thus he sounds like he is Miley Cyrus's new competitor for Britney reincarnated. Speaking of which, Miley's new-ish single sounds a bit too much like Britney circa the album Britney for my taste. As a home remedy for the amount of top 40 pumped into my system, I have only been spinning Sage Francis's Human The Death Dance and a lot of French shoegaze. I know it doesn't make sense, and I have no well-thought out justification for why it should.

+ I built a five shelf bookcase last night after work and an afternoon of swimming. Being able to look at all my reading material in one place makes me feel slightly more organized, even when the floor is still covered in clothes because I have yet to pick up my dresser from Wayne's garage. Furniture is a general problem right now for me. I won't feel settled until I have all my things with me (I am far too attached to worldly possessions to have ever become a nun, as I had planned in the fifth grade).

+ I have a show coming up this Tuesday in Newmarket, NH (event info here), which is a literal stone's throw from my beloved Portsmouth. I think a late night visit to the Friendly Toast will probably end up happening, and I will finally buy that t-shirt with the squirrel on it. I am avoiding thinking, talking, or pressuring myself about this show which is definitely not okay because I have half of my set list left to memorize and polish, in addition to the new chapbooks that need to be printed. But I finally brought my printer into the house from the car this morning, so I suppose we can call those baby steps. I am so excited to be performing in front of audience for an extended period of time again--I haven't had a feature since last June at Got Poetry! Live. I'm looking forward to the quiver in my stomach just before the first poem, and the drop that will come just before the last poem, when I realize that it is almost time to quit speaking. Incidentally, I'll be performing again on Thursday for a BARCC speak out organized by the Phoenix Charter Academy in Chelsea. I've been talking art and the politics of speech with just about everybody who will engage the topic and these performances will be a satisfying space to work out the energy I've had on reserve for public displays of artistic enthusiasm.

+ But the thing nagging at me the most these past few weeks isn't my apartment coming together or my show going well. It is my dad's health, as it has been for months now. Yesterday he checked back into the hospital (his language, as if it is now such a familiar action that it is on par with a hotel stay for him) because of an excess of fluid in the lung they collapse when they did his sextuple bypass. That "excess" ended up being 2.3 liters. When my sister told me, all I could see was a large bottle of RC Cola or some other such nonsense jammed up into his ribs. I have not been much for praying in my life over the past few years, but I have gotten very good at holding my breath over these things. When I was home last week and took him out to lunch for his birthday, he barely ate half of his seafood sandwich, couldn't even finish a pint of Harp. This is my father, more salt and pepper by the day, twenty pounds lighter than the last time I saw him, a network of scars, a cocktail of pills, and now all of this little bumps in the road that make recovery much slower going than anyone wants it to be. I wish there was something I could do.

Happenings involving tree houses, girl power, high fives, and pinky swears.

1. My dad finally had his surgery--six bypasses in total--this Tuesday morning, and he is strong and recovering well. He may be walking around right now, a crazy thought after everything he's been through this past few months. I could not be more grateful that he's going to be okay (knock on wood), that I get to keep my dad around. My little sister insisted that he needed to be here to see all of us married, and I laughed in spite of the seriousness of the situation. At this point, he'll be around to see me get my writing published, which is the only milestone I am concerned about sharing with him. His stories made me a storyteller more than anything else. High five to the cardiac unit at Hackensack Hospital for keeping him safe and giving us the best reward possible for all of the risk.

2. Cass and I finally found an apartment, after a lot of run-around from too many people. The place we are signing for is the second story of a house in Amherst with a private porch (which is all we had dreamed of when picking a place for the summer after the poet house in Allston's porch was so delicious). It'll only be until the end of August, which makes me less panicky than the mumbo jumbo fifteen month deathtrap lease a realtor was trying to talk us into. I hate realtors. It will be our summer writer's retreat, a continuation of the tree house tradition from the Lady Poet House. Cass wants to see it before we name it. I am souped on summer, 100%. This morning, I had no place to live. Tonight, I drink to my first place on my own.

3. That being said, this year has been estrogen saturated in every way--I have never spent this much time around women, thinking about women's issues, making strides towards understanding what I want to be like when I grow up. The Lady Poet House has been such a help in feeling happy with myself even when I have a bad or lonely day. I have never had such stable relationships with my women friends. We have our own forms of bonding that are probably very particular to our specific cultural subset ("so Plath" as Sean would put it, and did the other night). For example, Cass and I make rare trips to the movies together to see such plucky cinema gems as Whip It!, which I wish I'd had in high school, and most recently,
The Runaways. We like to pretend we were these kinds of people in high school, the ones who magically find their way to something that makes them powerful (roller derby, rock and roll, etc.), but in truth, our coming-of-age that Hollywood might consume and then refashion into an indie film would have a lot more to do with first year at Hampshire and some slam poetry growing pains. Personally, I'm much more comfortable seeing Dakota Fanning in a corset than thinking about Ellen Page playing me in a movie version of my life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Lollipop rock is comfort food.

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

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Look up, the sky is falling.

Magic morsel #20 (oh, how appropriate) and 21.

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My feet always forget that my wallet actually enjoys working doubles. Even if closing Sunday night is followed by opening Monday morning. I can do this. I really can. Promise.

Cass and I are finally signing for a summer apartment, hopefully sometime this week. Our living room theme, according to a post-it she left on my laptop last night, will be "gypsy camp". Also, I may or may not be getting a pet python? We'll discuss all this later. In the meantime, my current favorite remix:



Happy, happy manic Monday internet. Swallow some sun into that skin and blush for me baby. I am so tired I must've come out the other side of the feeling.

The briefest of briefs, late night delirium edition.

1. Yesterday was finals night at CUPSI. I yelled a lot. Hampshire won best writing, which, in my opinion, is more valuable than winning finals. I also drank a lot of rum. It was nice to run around a hotel and give lots of hugs and not worry about things for a hot minute. Also, observing people, especially poets, is one of my favorite pastimes, so I was sitting in the nosebleed seat at the Cutler Majestic and practically in heaven. I'll write real things about this later (maybe).

2. Papa Bear is out of the hospital now, which is a relief, but things are not what I wish they were. He has something like seven stents in the veins and arteries around his heart. The artery on the front of his heart is 98% blocked, which means that if anything changes for the worst, it's for the absolute worst. He needs robotic surgery, which is highly specialized, and most of the doctors capable of performing the surgery are either booked for several years, reluctant to take on such a risky case, or just plain disinterested in a first-time patient with such a complicated condition. I am beside myself on a daily basis. People ask me about it at work and I shut down and talk as matter-of-factly as I can to keep from absorbing what I am saying. People ask me about it at home and I end up crying. There is nothing to be done, at least not that I can do. I want to go home so badly, but I know I'd only be restless and not know how to spend my time there. I don't want to give this anxiety permission to rule my life, but it comes up in everything.

3. Cass and I are scrambling for apartments. Because of circumstances beyond my control, time has gotten away from me in the worst way. I want to find a place and get settled already. I am tired of my physical living space being on someone else's very rigid terms. I want John Lennon's bed-in-the-floor from Help! and bookcases that required climbing to reach the top. I'd be happy with a roof over my head for now.

Ooh-la-la, or, I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M GOING TO NPS 2010.

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This about sums up my shock and awe at the events of last night's slam as accurately as anything else, although I must say that I am not wearing a hat that fabulous. But the sentiment is definitely the same.

In the final bout for the Hampshire County Slam Collective's third ever NPS team, we came up with a first in the history of HCSC (at least as I know it): an all-lady team. Christina Beam, Anna Meister, Katie Frank, my lovely roommate/partner in committed friendship Cassandra de Alba, and yours truly will be storming St. Paul this August for some serious shenanigans, and also some serious poetry business. As a fundraising ploy, we are going to have a photo shoot as pin up girls and then make a calendar. I am very excited about this whole thing. The road trip, the estrogen, but especially the calendars.

In other, semi-related, poetry news, I submitted some poems to Write Bloody last night as part of their yearly call for new authors. I am also terribly excited about this, especially because of how soon I find out whether or not I've moved on to the next round. So many big steps to take in one week.

Papa bear is still in the hospital getting stronger (I told him we need to have a Rocky-style training montage replete with egg drinks and Philadelphian stone steps, etc.), and my sisters are working overtime looking for various heart surgeons to get second and third and fourth opinions from. Ever the glamorous one, Chrissie is going to get in touch with Oprah's very own Dr. Oz (she has more connects than any other working class 19-year-old I've ever met) and Kaitlin is inquiring with old friends who've had heart surgery who may be able to point us in more productive directions. I feel useless, as I know absolutely nobody who's had these types of problems, and thus cannot ask any doctors, famous or otherwise, for help. I just have to keep crossing my fingers. I hope they don't get stuck this way. But then again, even if they did, at least I'd have that extra luck.

Spots of random, on my mind.

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I miss ballet more and more every day. If I wasn't so broke all the time, I'd look for a studio in Western Mass and start taking classes again. Maybe I'll get a second job and do it anyway. I don't move enough.

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I have had various conversations about becoming a go-go dancer (mostly with SPC and Button) this week and am of the mind that a job where I get to live in a cage and listen to music the entire time might be ideal. Mostly, I relish the idea of legitimately sweating for my paycheck, as work should feel like work.

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This is Julie Becker, an artist and tattooed lady from LA, in a feature from Inked Magazine. I was leafing through the latest issue while at Button's yesterday and getting seriously jealous of nearly every person's skin. I am itching to get tattooed again. (That was a weird sentence.) I have a litany of ideas, the first of which is one I've been planning out of love for my dad for some time now, and since all of the health tumult, that piece is at the front of my mind. But there is still quite a list that follows it.

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Maybe it will be a button. My best friend and I call each other "button" as a term of endearment.

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Or a tiger. I really like tigers. But then again, I am thinking of designing a half sleeve with a circus theme, so maybe I should save that one.

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In my waking dreams, the superapartment of my near future has a SPACECAT, which is the best kind of cat, obviously. I am sure that Cass would agree with me here.

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Or an owl. Because they are so squat and adorable.

I dunno. At this point, I am just trying to keep busy, listening to Dum Dum Girls, wanting to write a poem about singing. There is nothing more to be done. My dad goes to the cath lab today, and I'll know better by tonight what needs to happen to fix his broken heart.

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

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

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

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


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