Welcome To My Bed

"The poets are coming."

The way things unravel never ceases to amaze me, but the way things come together is even more astonishing. I got a rejection letter today and was not devastated. My skin has gotten so thick about writing--four years ago, not even a handful of people had even seen my poems. I just talked my sister's ear off about Blind Huber and themed manuscripts (I'm working on two). I have yet to even complain about a 30/30 poem; I just wake up at 8 AM every day and write one.

Which reminds me--it's National Poetry Month. All of my friends are posting their work and tagging me in notes on the good book. Well, not all of them. The brave ones. The disciplined ones. The crazy ones. (Those words tend to be interchangeable when it comes to the people I love.) And then there's this thing happening in one of my adopted cities this summer that drawing closer every day. You should be as excited about it as we are. The National Poetry Slam is coming to Boston! I've known about this for awhile, but shit just got real the other day. April Ranger put together a great show of music and comedy that led up to a slam grudge match between Boston and New York City. Melissa gave me this postcard:

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...in which the NPS logo is both the moon AND the poetry Bat Signal. She's also curating a tumblr for the event, which is currently chock-full of performance poem videos worth watching.

To top all this word-love off, I have a show tomorrow night in Portland, ME with Sam and Mckendy. I haven't shared a stage with them in months. I anticipate sheningans of a tall order. Or, at least we'll perform some poems and yell "Get it in!" and "Only off jumps!" at one another for a good chunk of the evening. If you're going to be in the area, come give and receive hugs. I am very good at those.

In closing, this song makes me really really really happy.

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.

Good morning from Philadelphia.

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Philly slam mistress Jane Cassady has opened her lovely home to us: Mckendy is failing at tetris, Cass is in fat-cat-snuggling heaven, and Sam is awake before noon. Generally, we are out of our element, but loving the (frigid) adventure so far.

I plan on checking in at least every time we move cities. I want a picture in every kitchen we wake up to. This one has miniature cupids, a whole jar of them. And skylights. And a clock that ticks out loud. I'd like to come back here in spring sometime to sit on the terrace with sun tea and a good long novel.

Our tourist activities for the day are set to include a visit to the Mutter Museum (where Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is a writer in residence and has curated a cabinet--she warned us to watch out for the staggering number of rib cages on display) and then the obvious detour for those famous cheesesteaks.

If you're in town, come see us tonight for a forty minute set at Infusion on Germantown Ave. We have brand new TOUR EXCLUSIVE books, as well as plenty of shenanigans in store.

Road love!

When I wake in the night on the verge of a road trip, you get this.

There are many parts of me.

The biggest part is a sleepy mess, scared shitless. But she has faith. Faith that today will be okay, and that tomorrow will be something else, and the next day after another breed, and so on. She is trying to be open to all possibilities. Thus far, the shows have been going well. We've performed our best across several states already and made friends, sold merch, and the biggest part of me is hoping we make it through the rest of the month in similar fashion. If thigs could go the way they went in Manchester or Jersey consistently, the biggest part of me will also be the proudest part of me.

But the biggest part of me isn't the largest part of me. There's a sizable chunk that's scared shitless. She's the one who hasn't written anything substantial in who knows how long. She's the one making excuses. I did just finish the better part of a novella and complete a pretty decent manuscript of poems, she mutters when confronted.

The cynical piece of me lights a cigarette and blows smoke in her face.

The biggest part of me sighs.

The navigator is pouring over her maps. She woke me up at this ungodly hour with endless dreams of road, of digging the car out of the snow in a few hours and hitting the dusty trail. She's the one who put us to bed far too early last night and then shook us all good and hard just now with the urge to run to the window and press our communal nose to it in excitement. "It's stopped blizzarding!" she squeals.

The worrier is revising her lists. The insomniac is creeping back. The smoker is lighting another one.

We're all chewing our bottom lip, waiting for something to happen.

What I think about when the year has turned and the room is too cold.

It's warm in the sun but the wind bites hard. I forgot a scarf today, a pair of pants on the floor of someone else's apartment. I am full-to-bursting of so many good things, so much good news. Two shows this week, and the tour starts in earnest. There will be family in those seats.
There has been highway in my life every week as long as I've had my car. There are trips in the works--Nashville, North Carolina, New Hampshire. A wedding at the end of September, the first I've been invited to. I am eating. I am sleeping. I wrote two poems today, edited a third. I'm confident this will be a good year because of how it's started, all unseasonably warm and full of pillow talk. Telling stories in the haze of the wee hours clarifies the details somehow--the only words you can manage pushing past your lips are those attached to the most important things to be said.

Merry Happy Holiday Time!

I wouldn't exactly call myself a Scrooge, but this December has been a rough one. Tour's been creeping up in a semi-insidious way (read about the shows so far here), I've spent more time on the road to various cities or just plain in Boston than I have in my own apartment, and when I do remain stationary, work has been sapping me of my lifeblood. Being that it is my very first retail Christmas, a lot is off-kilter, which mostly means my stress levels are much higher than they should be.

In addition to my regular schedule, the past few weeks I've picked up an extra shift for the cash, meaning I work six days a week instead of the usual five. And five out of those six shifts have been closing shifts. On my day off, I've had shows or some massive errand that takes far too much energy. I have not written much of anything since finishing my undergraduate degree a few weeks ago. I haven't even properly celebrated that milestone. (Cass and I did go out for a beer with our men that night, which counts to a certain extent, but I am more than a little itchy for an epic night of dancing to sweat away all those lingering college woes.) In all, I've been a bit divorced from the whole Christmas spirit this year, quietly acquiring my gifts and stashing them in a Rubbermaid box in the hall closet, avoiding the fact that I get one day off from my life as a cash register jockey/glorified stock girl for family during a time when I am used to at least a week of non-stop family shenanigans. It's hard. The only time I've felt the proper amount of holiday cheer is when it's been snowing. And thus far, at least in my little corner of the world, that's only happened when I've been in Beantown.



Kait and I met up in Jamaica Plain over a week ago for an epic feast and a few cocktails at Canary Square on Tuesday. Now, most people who know me know I am a huge proponent of the mid-week weekend. (Maybe it's because I work for the entire real one, but I'll call that beside the point.) I am rather fond of treating Tuesday nights like Friday nights. So a whiskey sour with a sisterly gabfest and a heaping helping of food is just my speed for such an evening. Our meal was full of cheese and laughter. The burger we had killed me with delicious. The french fries were epic. The beef jerky popcorn was odd, but I ate plenty. And I gave a chapbook to our waitress. Afterwards, I took her through the freezing cold to Deep Ellum in Allston to be the first of our family to meet my man. It was snowing. And freezing. The cold was like magic. We all did a lot of wild gesticulating and emphatic explaining ourselves, had great drinks and a great time. The night rounded out with me singing along to Ryan Adams as we ventured out into the flurry again for the night.

And then there was the snow in Somerville the other day. I ran away to the Bean again (and Charlie's Kitchen in Harvard Square) after a particularly rough Sunday shift (open to close during Consumer Christmas is much more brutal for those working it than I'd been mentally prepared for that day) and spent the night, waking to a morning full of the white stuff. I walked to Trina's Starlight Lounge for brunch the next noon and gleefully let the cold bite my fingers. Snow caught in my eyelashes, it finally felt like Christmas. We had what can only be inadequately described as a homemade pop tart, followed by the works, all washed down with lots of coffee. I kept straining to see the snow out the frosted window. And when I walked back to my car and drove home to NoHo for work, I was so disappointed that the snow globe effect didn't reach past Worcester. The city of my home address has yet to get more than a dusting, and for that matter, I've yet to be out in the snow in my current hometown.

I spent Wednesday watching the white stuff accumulate on my car while I baked my Grandma's Christmas butter cookies in a kitchen that isn't mine. My show in Portland got canceled because of the weather, so I had a bedroom Bloc 11 sandwich picnic and fell asleep watching Die Hard instead of performing.

Anyway, I guess the point of all this rambling is to say that I haven't exactly felt connected to the time of year. Until last night. Work was a frenzied mess, everyone in town out and shopping for last minute gifts. I left my wrapping paper in the employee closet, I've yet to pack, and I was kept up half the night by yelling from the thirsty Thursday bar crowd. However. Even though I'm not in Boston or its outliers, and even though I'm not nearly prepared for the big day tomorrow, I could hardly sleep last night for the excitement of stockings and ornaments and all of my family jammed into my gram's living room. So what if that means I'll have to brave midnight mass in a mohawk. This holiday season has been rough for me and for a lot of my friends, but it showed me that we all work hard, play hard, and have huge hearts. I wish it was possible for me to be with everyone I consider family tomorrow--the friends scattered across New England and the Midwest, I toast you! Here's to us and our crazy year!

Speaking of hearts, Jericha's been making me some goodies lately. My birthday present sheds just the right amount of nighttime light when I'm fumbling through the dark for a glass of water, and my Christmas gift took my breath away in our Christmas-lit kitchen.

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The back of the necklace says, "home is where the heart is, for the heart is a house you can hold in your hands." Amen.

In closing, I think Dickensian Kermit says it best.



Happy Holidays everyone, and a Merry Christmas if that's how you're spending tomorrow. If not, go make a snow angel at Harvard for me.

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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VLOG # 13, & it's a family affair!



I did it! I hung out with my brother Owen all day long! He offered to push me around in a shopping cart, and told me things about animals and planets and weird religions. And it was awesome. Who cares if he's in eighth grade? When catching up with family is as great as filet of sole stuffed with crabmeat or avocado salad or candles shaped like onions, you know something is going your way.

And with that, I'm going to excuse myself. I have not one, but two gigs to prepare for. Sarah Lawrence for poems and such (I even made a new mini-chapbook and everything!), and then my first official turn as DJ Chickadee at Kevin Devaney's new place for the after-party. See you there, in your very best red dancing shoes.

And if you absolutely can't make it, I'll forgive you if you head over here and find a day you can.

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...

Worcester/Boston spiritual retreat weekend.

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Sammy T and Mike McGee listening intently, probably to that story about Grace Jones and the bicentennial.

My new nickname is Missouri, and my chest lets me breathe easier after a weekend of real talk and quite a bit of honesty. Sam rescued me from the boonies so that I could get my head on straight before leaving for nationals. We did lots of silly activities, including (but not limited to) poetry readings, basement discussions about cream of salad soup, consumption of cheesecake without plates, Buffalo Exchange dressing room fashion shows, and late night long walks for conversations that just can't happen in daylight.

Incidentally, if I ever get knuckle tattoos, my fingers will spell out "REAL TALK". The past week has been stressful--lots of packing, practice, running around like a headless chicken attempting to fly, etc. However, having a place I can run away to in the midst of all of this insanity has been invaluable. Thank you to the Poets' Asylum reading for welcoming me back after several years away, and to all who laughed, cried, and carried on with Sam and I. I am now reminded of how much fun this living thing can be, and that was exactly what I needed.

To awkwardly quote one of my teammates, you are the most of what I know of God, and most of you don't even believe in him.

P.S. Expect to see some updates about tour when I get back from St. Paul. Sam and I have been scheming. There is a press packet and a Facebook page now. Get at me if you have an East Coast arts venue that would want to hear from us during January, or a living room or garage or kitchen we could commandeer for an evening. The show we are planning will rock your socks so hard, they'll be laundered, starched and folded by the time you get them back. Just sayin'.