Welcome To My Bed

New news.

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Monday.

This song turns up on the playlist at work way too frequently for me not to mention it.



It makes me think of Maggie and Bookwood and the summer before I went away to college. There has been a lot of talk of moving somewhere new at the end of the road--I have no idea where I'll want to be once school's spat me out, but I'll keep you posted.

My favorite glasses are lost (luckily, I bought a new pair already, the same frames in red). There is not enough time to write (but I am getting things done anyway). The best living keeps happening in parentheses.

Last night, we drank a lot of what Wayne refers to as "bro beer of choice" and talked over and across and through each other until we were all too tired and tied up in knots to keep at it any longer. I got a lot of fist bumps. I guess that means my life is going alright.

We sort of/kind of have internet in the house now, except maybe the modem is broken, or maybe it's the cable jack. There are a lot of complicated things we could do to figure out which. I don't know what any of them are, but Jericha seems to be certain it will all turn out alright.

I have to turn in a stack of poems to my new advisor this morning. The old advisor has not gone anywhere, but her back-up is now a poet and poetry professor. I'm not sure how I completed half of my thesis with no feedback from the academy on my poetry. Now there are twenty or so pages queued up in my printer and I'm not even sure any of those poems belongs in my manuscript at all. I suppose this is what the whole advisory system is for.

What I think about when I am one year older.

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.

"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.

Observe.

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+ That picture has nothing to do with anything.

+ The writing in Rolling Stone has gotten so shitty that I am convinced they've given run of the magazine to twelve-year-olds. Or monkeys. Or sea horses. Or maybe glossy journalism is just on its way to dead.

Honestly. The interview with Lady Gaga was booooooooorrrrringgggg. Do we really care that she eats chicken fingers on her our bus post-concert?? Somebody seemed to think so. But the compelling information was all buried under "I don't want to talk about it"s, which the writer seemed perfectly okay accepting. Sweet tenacity, RS. I would have like to see the writer ask her some hard hitting questions, but s/he seemed content to let Gaga decide what was getting talked about, so much so that some of the questions weren't so much questions as they were--and I'm being quite literal here--a simple, encouraging "I understand". HELLO???!! I mean, I know that print media is losing readership, but maybe that's because print media is letting itself go worse than a housewife four kids deep with a lapsed gym membership and a husband who's stepping out on her with the dry cleaner's daughter. The music reviews were somehow better written than the featured articles.

Do people really get journalism degrees so that they can fuck around, make parallelism mistakes, overuse m-dashes, and get paid? If so, sign me up. I'd love to forget that proofreading exists.

NOT.

+ I haven't seen my roommate in nearly two days. I know where she is, but I find it difficult not to be concerned.

+ The reason that jobs make you give two weeks notice, the REAL reason, is so that you have to endure the gauntlet of co-workers giving you shit for leaving. In my current situation, every shift I work is drowned in pleas for me to stay. I know I work hard (I don't know how to do things any other way). What I did not know was that I was so deeply loved by everyone at my restaurant. It's making things really tough. I get choked up about it at least once a day, usually when someone new finds out when my last day is. I invariably have to go through the explanation of why I had to switch jobs, which puts all my anxiety to the front of my mind. And then they get sad. And then I get sad. And then I run away into the kitchen to sneak a handful of croutons so that I have something to do (eat) besides all of this sad stuff. I hate goodbyes. They always feel wrong. No one is dying here, at least not anyone directly involved with work. I try to remedy the whole affair with deep breaths. Some days it works. Other days, not so much.

+ Have spent the better part of this week talking myself out of spending my rent money on another tattoo. Don't worry though, no appointment has been made. And I am writing a check to my landlord as we speak so the temptation isn't there. Even though it is. I hate being so broke. June is the worst restaurant month ever. Good thing I'm done with restaurants for awhile.

Good things come in all packages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

All are welcome.

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Welcome to my bed. My new, giant (even a double is giant to a girl who has slept her whole life in a twin/on couches), comfy-cozy safe haven. Welcome to my apartment. I stewed tomatoes all afternoon while I bleached and re-dyed my hair, and now I am making a potato casserole that may or may not be similar to one from the Emerald Isle trailer park I was in about this time three summers ago. Welcome to my lonely. Cassandra has gone away for the weekend, like any truly dutiful daughter. I am stuck here in the tree house, alone, waiting for something exciting to happen. I have had a summer cold for at least a week. I have switched my daily dose of Law & Order from SVU over to Criminal Intent, and am still lamenting the fact that the original series is not available for instant play on Netflix.

Welcome to my pile of financial paperwork that goes unfilled out and un-filed. Welcome to my search for a new, steady source of income. Welcome to the world of adults, Emily. We won't let you in without the proper hazing.

Things I want: more time to read, more time to write, more furniture. Small requests, right? Where we will start--a resume on Wednesday morning, and hopefully a job interview to follow. If all goes according to plan, I will slowly phase out the waiting of tables in favor of a retail outlet where I can dye my hair as many rainbows as I want and ink my skin anywhere I see fit. It does exist, even out here in farm country.

Welcome to the beginning. I am always beginning.

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.

What I think about on the day I get my new bed.

I am tired of floors and couches, tired of the armrest of my car pressing into my face. I want furniture again. I like the idea of having all of my things in my car, moving around with me, but it's not a practical choice, especially when three trips isn't nearly enough to get me moved in. I got my keys at 2 o'clock in the morning, banged up and down the back stairs with two typewriters, a sleeping bag, the lucky cat for the kitchen, and a bunch of clothes I can't hang up yet because my hangers are sitting in Wayne's garage. I'm pretty sure the neighbors already want to murder me and it's not been 24 hours. This afternoon, Cass gets back, I pick up a U-Haul, and we get real serious about moving. I can't wait to cook my first meal in my lime green kitchen. I can't wait to buy a cookie jar that moos or some other garage sale nonsense, just because I can, just because I have my very own place to live now. This is a much bigger deal than I expected it to be. I have no internet, no TV, nothing in the place but boxes and bags just yet, but already it feels like mine. Pop Tarts on the counter, a cigarette clipped and left on the porch. Until September, this will be home. A claw-foot bath tub and every hole in the walls. I am in love. We have a porch. A PORCH. The magnitude of this overwhelms. I want to shout from our porch that tonight will be the first night of my life that I will sleep in a bed that I bought, in a house that I pay rent for. This is good, this adult stuff. Especially when I know I'm going to treat it all like summer camp. Those Pop Tarts are 'smores flavor, and I ate fro-yo for dinner last night. I want Cass to get here already so we can live like children, buy ice pops, have kitchen dance parties, make too much noise. Oh. And jump on my new bed. Cos y'all know that needs to take place.

What I think about when I am too tired to sleep.

Will inhaling the smoke of too many Citronella candles kill you in the long term? Mosquitos just have kids to feed, man. I want Maggie to get the massive crack in her cement pool fixed so that we can go skinny dipping any night of the week and not have to bother anybody else to do it. Or skateboarding. That would also work. I always forget that I like vodka tonics. I don't drink enough Slurpees. Every cashier at the Hillsdale 7-11 must think we are crazy. Especially the Arab Frank Sinatra. I haven't seen him there in awhile--I wonder if he quit. He had the best hair of any convenience store cashier I've seen in a long time. Cept that one who looked like Don King somewhere along 95 between NC and NJ. How much force does it take to split someone's lip? I wasn't paying proper attention last time. I am very bad at keeping my own secrets. Maggie bought me a new-to-me typewriter, and it is probably the most thoughtful gift anyone has ever given me. She remembered the brand and everything. I was almost crying in her kitchen, it was so beautiful. I read her the poem I wrote for her about my favorite words, the one that finishes off the new chapbook. There were lots of hugs afterwards. Maybe friend love is the only love worth working for, because it lasts longer. Maybe the only real commitment left in a post-divorce world is to the families we all construct for ourselves, the people we select from the crowded rooms and set apart, saying, "This is who I want to laugh and cry with. This is important enough to stay."

Where the quiet part of my heart lives.

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



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Little happiness.

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+ I am writing so many poems that I am overwhelmed with pride to read on stage. When people come up to me after an open mic, be they friends or strangers, I can take the compliment gracefully and start a conversation. Not so ugly duckling anymore. More of a goofy, blinking owl trying to turn my head all the way around so that I can see absolutely everything, hooting and hollering whenever there are words to be shout at and with. I am more than okay with that.

+ C Rudz told me last night that I have a delightfully unique laugh, and to never lose it.

+ C Rudz and April Ranger are going on a tour of the West Coast, bringing their sucker punch sunshine to the Sunshine State (no, not Florida) and its neighbors. If you can catch a show, you must. They will melt your faces with their talent and overwhelming goodness.

+ Speaking of face melting, Karen Finneyfrock featured at the Cantab last night. Not only is she a phenomenal poet and a charming lady, she will sell you socks. I kid you not. Ask her about it, cos she'll be in New England for a minute on tour.

+ I haven't even gotten to St. Paul and I'm already thinking about NPS 2011, which is coming to Boston. I am absolutely thrilled by this. NorthBEAST advantage? I think, yes. J*me quoted Mark Twain on the mic last night--"In New York they ask 'how much money does he have?' In Philadelphia, they ask, 'who were his parents?' In Boston they ask, 'how much does he know?'" I like to think the bit about Boston holds true. Regardless, that week of August will be nuts.

+ All my happies today are poetry related. I guess it makes sense, being that it's National Poetry Month.

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.

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

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

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



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

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Recyclable foil prom dress?

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Sartorial choices to match your patio furniture?

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

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

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



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

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

If hungry, proceed with caution.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Digging in for the long haul.

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

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

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


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

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

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

Bulleted and busy.

This week I

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

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

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

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



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

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



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