Welcome To My Bed

Scaffolding.

I just finished a paper (I had been working on it since about 10 this morning) about the role of the reader in the actualization of the novel and coined a phrase - the scaffolding of reference. I always feel so ridiculous using academic language. Hopefully my professor doesn't laugh in my face.

Things have been incredibly crazy lately, and I just recently found out that all the hard work of this year has paid off in me being able to graduate a full year early. Essentially, with the assistance of how flexible and awesome my college is, I have skipped a grade. This idea is ludicrous to me. In light of the fact that I'll be graduating about a year from now, it's time to start thinking about post-collegiate plans. Teaching English abroad? Traveling the country with nothing but my chapbooks and a heart of gold? Who knows what the future will bring. For now I will continue to write very serious academic papers on a couch in the library, thinking about post-colonialism in conjunction with how New England is seriously devoid of good diners. And just for good measure, here's a video of our Slam Collective feature for this week, Maxwell Kessler, performing a poem at nationals in Philly.

Adventures in form.

So I wrote my first ever sestina today. I wake up most mornings during the working week around seven so that I don't waste the day (and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays I shelve books and sort newspapers at the library from eight to ten), and to make the best possible use of such a jump start, I decided it was time I revisited form. Other than the occassional haiku, I haven't written in form since at least the middle of high school, but most likely as far back as middle school English class when we were attempting to write sonnets in order to better understand Shakespeare. (It didn't help much.)

I had been looking over a poetry anthology from my class on Black Mountain College from last spring and stumbled across my favorite thing that I read that whole semester, a poem by Denise Levertov called "The Sharks", which inspired some thinking on how overwhlemed I've been lately. And thus, my first sestina was born in the very early hours of this morning.

And just so you can judge my first foray in form in god-knows-how-long, here it is.


I am out of my depth,
sand bar dropping from under me,
yawning mouth lacking the teeth
I need for traction; toes
drag along the floor
and I want steady.

The breakers keep even pace, steady
as I tread and they carve more sand away, the depth
of sound swallowed doplar of a marble rolling across the floor.
It seems the sea will swallow me,
head first, ending with the toes,
never remembering to gnash its teeth.

But it isn't just the empty gums, the absence of teeth
that is worrisome; the danger is comfort, steady,
like familiar sand scratch between toes.
I wish I had remembered my height, the depth
I could dive, how my lungs would press me
towards surface, when all I want is floor.

Treading water, I can't help missing the kitchen floor,
grateful constancy that received my baby teeth.
Like the sand at the water line, it likely holds no memory of me,
but its forgetfulness is steady,
unfathomable as the precise depth
of these trenches gargling salt just below my toes.

The puckering of the skin of my toes
has caused them to forget even sea floor,
all salt instead of depth
of purpose. Only watery teeth
repeat themselves like footsteps, steady
pace that's only lulling me.

The tide will soon enfold me,
all but the buoy tips of my toes,
and only then will I feel steady
in its belly of a floor
wreathed in grainy teeth
at some unknown league or depth.

It worries me, the sudden increase in depth of panic -
I am reduced to just teeth and dangling toes for anything to devour
and only the fins gliding across the floor give me pause, steady me at all.

Ending this.

I'm getting a little frustrated, and I promised myself I wouldn't, but I am posting something I wrote the other day, even though apparently I'm not even allowed to post my own writing on a blog that I created and maintain. Anyway, we all know what this is about.

To the Anonymous Blog Commenter -

This morning
I took a butter knife
to my thigh at the breakfast table
and cut out a sizable chunk
for you.
It's in the mail.
Dividing myself
among cardboard boxes and tight white envelopes -
but the pieces don't just find their way
to mailboxes I have had hands in
before. That is why I am sending one to you.

I got a postcard from Spain
today, apologizing for mistaking
my left lung for salted pork; at least someone can use it.
Got a tin can phonecall from down the road
asking to borrow my eyes for the afternoon and said yes.
My skin is an archive
holding in piles of letterbomb
that will not reveal themselves
when shaken. They will not detonate
until you hold them in your own hands
and know that you are
the same brand of homemade explosive.

You are too scared to name yourself
so I will call you "Peter" because the last Peter I knew
defined himself by dead men
who cannot ask him questions,
because Peter was a rock to build the Church on
and denied his brother three times,
because Peter is meant as stone wall and you
are unmoving.

I know each piece
I excise from my body -
muscle-tumor ripped from skin and wrapped
in paper like a butcher's kiss.
I am sure they'll be carried to places
I have never met
and I can't be held responsible
for whose hands are bloodied in the process;
just remember that I am scattered shrapnel,
know that you'll recognize
what I have given you
when it comes through your mail slot,
a stone through the highest window
of the church you built over someone else's corpse.

Go ahead, deny me.
We are made from the same things.
So don't tell me you can't recognize
human flesh.

Lazy Sunday, sort of.

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That dress is barely cold (I haven't even attached the pockets yet), and already I'm knitting something new. I don't know where the space in the day comes from, but I'm making headway. It is in what I have lovingly referred to as a mac 'n cheese type yarn, and I'll post pictures when it's finished, or close to being finished, because we all know how impatient I am.

As CUPSI gets closer, I feel an eerie calm falling over me, and I'm not sure if I should be alarmed about it or not. Kat has lost her voice for the time being; we haven't finished working out our group piece yet; I need to get a new poem off page that Charlie is convinced will score well. Everything seems to be stacking up against us, but I am convinced we'll pull through and make a good showing when we end up in Philly in a few weeks time. And as an addendum to that note about future travels, I am very excited to be making my way back home for some serious basement cleaning, Spring break will most likely be me knitting, reading, sleeping, and purging my house of all the things I have pack-ratted away since middle school. Taking the train home from Philadelphia costs $12.50...something about that seems old-world romantic to me, and I don't know why. I have a feeling I'm going to do a lot of writing on the train, both to CUPSI from here in Amherst and from 30th Street home. I can't wait.

The Oscars are tonight. James and I are reprising our pool from last year, making it our first real annual tradition. I feel kind of old saying that, but I like it. I hope we do it again next year, even if we can't watch together. I am sure the night will precipitate a rant of some sort, so stay tuned for some movie talk (which I haven't had the time or energy to accomplish in too long). Until then, I am entrenched in literary theory.

In post-script, James has my copy of High Fidelity, but every time I suggest we watch it, he makes some disgusted comment about John Cusack. I just don't get it. That man is a god to me...

Audience, for the commenter on my last poem post.

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Thinking about audience is undoubtedly important. I think about audience probably a lot more than the average page poet, because I also participate in spoken word communities. That poem came from a project I'm currently working on that entails writing a poem every day for a year. When the year is up, I am going to edit and refine all of the rough drafts I produce and bind them into a book for myself. Right now, a lot of them are very personal and I would probably never try to have them published - the one you guys read recently is one of those, hence why I put it up on my blog. There are quite a few more accessible/universal pieces in my 365 work, but that particular one was really just for me. I hope that answers your question friend!

Audience is starting to be a really big concern, not just in what I write (since more and more of it has been seeing the light of day lately, however reluctantly), but in how I perform what I write. In rehearsing for the movie, I am taking a lot of what I've learned in slam and applying it to acting, and vice versa. Team practice tonight was completely performance-based, and after I get out of work tonight, Sean wants to get together to work some more on delivery and audience manipulation. It's not enough to have passable writing anymore. This is why CUPSI has me freaked out.

On the other side of things, I got to be an audience member at the Nothampton Arts Council poetry event this past Sunday afternoon. Richard Wilbur, Iyeoke Okoawo, and Taylor Mali read; Sean, Charlie and Sophia each did a couple poems as respresentation of the under 30 crowd; the Northampton poet laureate made me want to tear my face off. The poets who have done slam connected with the crowd, as is to be expected. Whereas Richard Wilbur, though a great writer, read as if he was an ent. Tree people aside, I think that more writers should be aware of their reading voices, because getting your work out into the world is not just about getting published. Audience is both page and stage oriented, and I will be trying to strike a balance between the two until I give up on tightrope-walking.

Taking a breather.

At the Ref desk (my home away from home), halfway through a chunk of Faulkner that took me two sections to actually get into. I'm reading The Bear for class this week, a section of Go Down, Moses, and the only Faulkner I've read before this was a short story that turned up multiple times in high school: my freshman ear when my college freshman sister needed somebody to bounce ideas off of for a paper, my sophomore year when we read the story for class, and my junior year (?) after I had transfered. Which makes me an expert on that one particular story. But I forgot how epic his sentences were - I sometimes get the overwhelming sensation that I am drowning in words. But anyway, I kind of don't want to stop now that I've picked up momentum, which is bad, because I have mountains of other work to do. Hence the blogging - it helps to reset my brain, so bear with me.

Tonight marks the first truly productive meeting of the still-nameless Hampshire slam team, which isn't exactly saying much, because we still got very little done and I am nearing the point of intensive frustration. Last practice we timed poems. This practice we discussed possible names for far too long (getting inexplicably side-tracked by the wiki page for McCarthyism) and made photocopies of poems that need editing. Because I have sooo much free time to be editing. I'm going to give it my best shot though, in spite of the constant time crunch I have orchestrated for myself that has only been mushrooming since Jan Term. As of this practice, I have been informed that my entire Thursday post 5 pm has been sacrificed to the slam gods so that we can both practice and go to Kevin slam/dance party that night. I had propsed that we use the slam as an excuse to get our poems off page, but somehow that was translated into "I have nothing more pressing to do with my time than spend it getting sick of my own writing". I am endlessly amped for nationals, I can't wait to be in Philly bringing my A-game, but I can't help hearing the little voice in me that was much louder last year that keeps whispering that I am not a slam poet. And I know that it's right. I am decidedly page-y. Paper-dependent. And I'm okay with that; I never claimed to be a performer. I guess hearing everybody say that the poems that do well in national competition are typically more performance heavy than page-worthy made me slightly more nervous that I already was. And then there's the business of poems with names like "Titanium Pussy" (I kid you not) being honored with accolades. When I'm sure something like that sounds...as bad as it sounds.

But there are sunny sides. No pressure being one of the more tangible of those happy things. I don't expect to do fantastically, I expect to enjoy myself and hopefully learn. Probably get red wine drunk on the train with Charlie just like when we were neighbors. Other than that, there isn't too much happiness riding on such an experience. Maybe I'll sell a few chapbooks, which would be really cool. But mostly I'm trying to think small at this point, because baby steps eventually get you where you're going. Tonight after work, Georgie and I are going to write a group piece. Possible topics that I have brainstormed during breaks from William include a conversation between an alcoholic and his/her drink, or the ways we drunkenly talk ourselves into one-night stands. I am not loving either of those, but maybe they'd be fun free-writes.

As for right now, there is plenty more where that last bit of work came from. It's early yet and I already feel a headache of the over-tired variety coming on.

Underground art movements.

Slam Collective is a fairly visible organization on campus, and we get people from all over the place at our open mics, including this gentleman

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Kevin Devaney, who has recently started this terribly bohemian monthly meeting of minds known as "The First Thursday Reading" (until he can come up with a better name). Typically there's some kind of musical act, followed by two local poets, all things accompanied by decent helpings of alcohol and a great bit of whooping and hollering. And, as I stupidly forgot to mention, this isn't at any normal kind of venue - it all takes place on a stage made of wooden pallets in a basement. It's a great forum for new and developing voices in the valley, and though the featured artists don't get any kind of compensation, the audience is really into it and we all have a really fantastic time.

Last night Northampton band Salut Ananas played the opener, followed by my dear friend Sophia Holtz (member of the 2008 Hampshire County National Poetry Slam Team that competed in Madison, Wisconsin; possessor of one metric ton of awesomeness) and Kerry O'Keefe (Northampton area poet with some really amazing pieces; also, a former blues singer and fluent in French). I'm not sure I have any way to link to any of Sophia's work - sadly - but I did manage to Google up some of Kerry's from a couple years ago when she was one of the Northampton Drive By Poets, a piece called "Late Mass in August".

Next month my CUPSI teammate George Delgado is one of the featured poets, along with another Slam Collective member Adam Gottlieb. And the month after that, I'm featuring. With Shira Erlichman. Needless to say, I'm already freaking the fuck out about what to read, and how not to look like a complete tool next to someone who is currently on tour, has been on NPS teams, blah blah blah. Kevin drunkenly told me last night that my work has never not impressed him, but I couldn't tell if it was just the Jack Daniels talking. Next week there will be a slam/dance party, which should be raucous, but I have slam team practice and I don't think that Charlie would be very happy with me if I canceled again. Unless our slam practicing were to take place in front of the basement audience, in which case I think I found a loophole. Please excuse me while I go pen devious emails.

In closing, support your local art movements. Read things and make noise in basements, you will not regret it.

Resuming.

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So I've finally written a resume. Now all I have to do is send it out. I wonder if I should have put "fastidious fingernail-biter" under special skills.

A proper post.

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Back in my natural habitat, the library reference desk after regular business hours.

I have been neglecting this, and I apologize for the half-assed presentation. Screen shots of the movies I've watched recently do not count as updates, but I've been overwhelmed. Now that my schedule is more or less pinned down, I feel more confident in assessing the state of my brain and its many contents. So. We'll start with the most basic and work our way towards the more complicated aspects of things.

Courses for the semester: The Idea of Europe - The Contemporary European Novel; The Personal Essay; Faulkner & Morrison; and, finger-still-crossed, Nell's Wednesday night Point of View Workshop. Twelve-ish hours of work a week, divided between different library departments. Slam team practice three times a week (Monday, Thursday, Saturday). All of this on too-little sleep and zero caffeine. I may have to un-quit coffee until I find a better way to continue functioning that doesn't involve various illegal substances. For now, my Tension Tamer tea is just not cutting it.

Anyway, moving into the realm of the larger and more possible world. I have been reading The Bluest Eye at every opportunity over the past couple of days, and I remembered that reading Toni Morrison my senior year of high school is what got me interested in writing poetry again. Odd, sort of, because she is a prose writer. Totally logical because her prose has this fantastic quality to it that begs you to read out loud, even though it will take more time/annoy your roommate/get you kicked out of the library. I mutter bits of the sentences under my breath just to hear them, and it is delicious, exactly as I remember from Song of Solomon. All of this musing belongs on Edible Words, but I'll indulge my digression because I haven't had the freedom to indulge much of anything recently. So, reading Morrison convinced my 17-year-old self to give poetry another chance. That's a statement that needs some explaining.

When I was in third grade, I wrote the first poem I can remember, about caterpillars and watermelon. I have no idea what it even looks like anymore, don't even think I still possess the notebook it was written in, but I do remember reading it at circle time, and my teacher telling me that I had done a good job. This is probably why I ended up in slam - simply because the first poetic experience I can recall being affected by was of such a public nature. I continued writing poetry on and off through early high school (delighting in the realization that all poetry did not have to rhyme, probably around age 10 or so), a practice that consumed so many notebooks I'm surprised it didn't start an environmental lobby against me. My freshman and sophomore years I wrote at least two or three poems a day and was twice published in my high school's literary journal (looking back now, the poems were awful, but I was still proud). And then I transfered, lost my footing, and decided it was time to reinvent myself. The poetry notebook got buried under staple guns and tubes of acrylic paint, and I was convinced I'd go to college for art. Then, I read Song of Solomon and the whole world came crashing down.

Returning to Toni Morrison for me has been a lot like my decision to start slamming again: I'm feeling tentative, trying to take baby steps, ending up splashing through all of my old puddles anyway (and in the most delightful of ways). When I read a good piece of writing, I am reminded of how much I have always loved words. I am really enjoying being reminded of that right now. I can only hope Faulkner will be as kind to me, because the last memory I have of him is falling asleep in my 10th grade English class while everyone talked in circles around two sentences of "A Rose For Emily". But I slept through everything in that class, good and bad.

Beyond reading, which I have been doing more than my fair share of lately, I have been doing a lot of work looking for internships for the summer. Living just outside of Manhattan when I am home from college is a convenience I don't take lightly; I plan to heavily exploit my geographical advantages and hopefully land a (paid) internship in publishing for the summer. Because if a bartender is a poet who drinks for free (I couldn't help myself), I will end up an alcoholic if I keep devoting my summers to bars. No more of such things. As an editorial intern, I would learn insider secrets about how to sell myself to agencies and publishers. This is just the kind of spy-like job I need if I ever expect to get something produced that will make it to a bookshelf. And thus, I have reached a strange impasse: I never learned how to write a resume. Weird, I know. I can compose a perfect business letter. But I have no idea how to present myself on paper. This a serious problem, because the deadlines are looming. On top of all the homework and rehearsal and attempting to remain sane taht must go on between now and May. I am praying not to drop the ball.

Good news!

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A collage from about 8 billion journals ago - I think most of the added stuff was from a college brochure from Pratt Institute, all the way back when I was being inundated with such things the summer before my senior year. I thought it was apropos for this entry.

Since I got to school, I've been pretty heavily involved in Slam Collective. Last year I missed only one open mic that we had, on top of going to Cambridge almost weekly to read at the Cantab. On special Fridays I would even make the drive to Manchester, New Hampshire to read. So many hours spent in cars for this. And for about six months, even though I was going to readings and enjoying myself and writing more than I ever have in my life, I didn't want to slam. At the beginning of the year it wasn't an issue for me - I did it every chance I had and even did fairly well for someone so new to it. And then something changed for me and I decided to sit in the background for a bit. I think that background time has really paid off.

Last night we had the slam to decide the team we'll send to CUPSI at U Penn in March, and it is the first time I've slammed since god-knows-when. And I am happy and proud to say that I made the team. But even more flabbergasting (is that a word?) is that I won the slam. I haven't won a slam in over a year, and never one that mattered for more than bragging rights. And it felt so good to be back in action, performing better than I ever have. I credit all the acting I've been roped into by the guys over at Black 29 and their constituents for that.

So now I'm in for an even more rigorous schedule than I had planned on for the spring semester. Four classes, 12 hours of work study, movie shoots on the weekends, slam team rehearsals three times a week, a possible editor's position on a campus publication, the list just keeps piling up. But I can handle it, I hope. There's nothing I'm willing to cross off the list, so I'm pretty sure this is the way it's going to stay.

And just for the record, I cannot stop smiling.

Lots of words.

So I'm participating in this crazy thing, and I'm not even sure I'm going to accomplish it fully because it's early yet, but I wanted to share it with you guys anyway. So now that I made it sound all serious...ehem. Along with a bunch of poets I know (and some I don't) who frequent the Cantab Lounge on Wednesday nights, I am part of a blog that's goal is for each of the participants to post a new poem every day. I've done this for solid months before, so if I don't give the time frame you could end that sentence however you want. But I'm going to end it for you and blow all of our minds. 365 poems in as many days. Yes, a full year of poetry. This is the latest torture device I have invented for myself. Although so far, it hasn't been all that torturous. Maybe inspiring even? Getting to read what everybody else is thinking, along with what everyone is thinking when they read my work is a really helpful thing for me. But anyway, to get around to what I was going to say initially, I don't typically post my poetry to this blog. I don't know why, I guess I'm a little self-conscious about my work. But with the good news about my first feature at a venue (more about that later) and the looming CUPSI qualifier tomorrow night, I have decided it's more than time to get over this fear of people being exposed to things that I write. So without further ado, I'm going to post a poem I wrote last night for 365/365. It's called "Aspirations". I hope you like it.

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Where do you go
to find a broken piano?
Do you buy one
and break it yourself,
or is there a graveyard somewhere
to scavenge at?

I want to age backwards,
put things on fast forward
until I reach five
then pause -
remember everything I know now -
and grow up different,
into a pile of levers
and strings, hammers
and gap teeth.

I want to be a broken piano
when I grow up
so that people will say
that I made beautiful noise
once.
But I need to figure out
my return address
before I enact any plan
that would mean committing
to the holes in my smile
and only humming
the feeling from someone else's fingertips.



* * *



So anyway, about my first feature. It's a long way off, but I will be performing in Northampton at the First Thursday reading series that takes place on Union Street once a month. Someone is giving me a chunk of time to wow people, and I'm worried about living up to it all. I have until April 2nd to prepare, but still. The other person featuring is Shira Erlichman. Member of the Spilljoy Ensemble, which if you can recall, I was speaking very highly of the other day. I am nervous. I haven't been doing this thing for very long. Well, that's not entirely true. I've been writing all my life. I've only been performing a little over a year, maybe two if we were to stretch the numbers. We'll see if the offers continue. Maybe if I make CUPSI, we'll have a spotlight feature somewhere and I can practice falling flat on my face in a room of my peers. If not, my bedroom is going to be subjected to a lot of reading aloud for the next few months. And regardless of anything else, I'm going to be posting a lot more poetry on Edible Words, so you're welcome to come check it out if you're into the bits and pieces you're reading here.

Things learned in 2008.

I promised this post a long while ago and never made good on it, so I'm going to now since I haven't done a list post in a long long long time. Anyway, getting on with it.

Things I Learned in 2008


1 - Sleep is over-rated: 2008 marked my first all-nighter (the eve of the drive down to NC in July), and my second (the production of three chapbooks in one sleepless night, why yes I am completely insane). I had forgotten how much I got done without sleep; back in high school I used to survive on about three hours a night and no naps. Then college happened and for awhile it seemed I had returned to sleep habits of a toddler. I still struggle with that sometimes. But I'm getting better at not sleeping. I promise.

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2 - Robots can emote: WALL-E. Obviously. I didn't think it was possible to feel sympathy for a robot. Pixar gets me every time I guess.

3 - A good performance does not a movie make: I've argued this many times this past year, and it seems to be holding true. James Franco could not save Pineapple Express. But following the same logic, there were a lot of great performances this year, and I'm happy I was at the movies for a lot of them.

4 - Reading as much as I do will end in glass: Hey, I don't make the rules.

5 - Good hamburgers come from California: Actually, that's a lie. Most hamburgers in California absolutely suck. But if you are eating at In & Out, you're doing something right. They must open franchises on the East Coast immediately. I demand it.

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6 - Tom Cruise is best when playing crazy: he's settled down since the whole couch-jumping incident, but crazy isn't a bad look for him. He should just reserve it for movies. Then we get things like Eyes Wide Shut and Vanilla Sky. Which I refuse to complain about.


There are more practical things, like how to edit a beloved manuscript without blowing a gasket, but where would the fun be in that? Plus, I'm really not sure I have that one down yet.

I'll tell you why.

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Why are Shark and I so deliriously happy? Well, it could be one of many reasons. Last night was the first night of principal shooting for Go Ask Alex, for which I am both prop girl (I would demand to be called prop master on any other occasion, but for some reason "prop girl" just seems right for this) and a minor character. I wasn't shooting my scene last night, but I was on set anyway cos I am just that dedicated to my friends' successes. Even if it does mean that they will successfully graduate once the project is completed and leave me behind in this frozen tundra. Another possible reason: this is my acting debut, or at least the first time I have taken acting seriously on film. And Shark and I are amped about that. There's also the fact that I haven't had any migraines in the past few days, or the pride I take in being able to choke down nearly a whole protein shake this afternoon. I am taking my vitamins. Kaitlin is coming to visit me on MLK Day, and we are going to eat peanut noodles and play Game Cube and watch movies - since Christmas break was not nearly enough time for sisterly bonding.

So yes, there are lots of things to be deliriously happy about. I will check back in sooner rather than later with the Week in Movies (it was quite an interesting one), wacky stories from the set I am sure, and hopefully a report of a full recovery from my mysterious illness that is slowly but surely disappearing in spite of my totally fucked sleep schedule and too-packed-for-words schedule of things I need to get done. I haven't touched my book in nearly a month, although that's apparently a good thing according to this fascinating interview with four up-and-coming literary agents in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers Magazine. They all said that if a manuscript is worth it, you'll be able to leave it alone for awhile and come back to it with fresh eyes many times over before it's even ready to be shopped around, and also that you should never try to get something published that isn't your absolute best work. A lot of pressure, but I guess the time off not thinking about it is the easiest part of that method. We'll see how easy or hard it will be to get back into the swing of things.

Anyway, my laundry is calling, and I have to get my ass on a bus in a little while. For. My. Shoot. !!!!

Recapping.

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I am in the midst of doing a paper journal retrospective about the things I learned in 2008 (see above half-finished pages), and when it's done I'll post the list here. Current major topics include robots being capable of emotion, pleasant surprises, and the short-comings of the human eye. But they will probably get more weird as my brain has more time to sit with the theme.

It was so cold here in Redding last night that a can of diet Coke exploded on the floor mat of James' car. I found it this afternoon when we were on our way out to lunch, and then to the movies where we saw The Reader. Expect a review in the next couple days. Until then, stay warm if it's cold where you are, and if it's not, then I wish we could trade places, because New England means the heat is on high. And it's causing nose bleeds. I'd really rather not deal with such things, especially at the opening of a new year.

Back in class on Monday, and I can hardly wait!

Finals, in a manner of speaking.

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Oh look at me, woke up before noon on a Saturday, just so I could catch up on my reading. It is something of a finals week here, but we don't have exams. It's a strange system. Instead of grades of exams, we hand in a final portfolio for each of our classes, full of the work we've done over the course of the semester and a self-evaluation. And then the professors goes over our work and writes us each an evaluation. It's stressful in a way, because it makes the curriculum very writing-heavy, but writing has always been preferable to filling in little bubbles to prove that I read something. So I am finishing up the lit bits and pieces I need to get done for my portfolios, which are due a week from this Wednesday.

I have been writing up a storm in my personal endeavors as well, and my book has finally reached 100 pages. I am so ecstatic. Hopefully I'll be able to keep it up into next semester, when I will be doing twice as much reading and writing as I am now. That's what I get for concentrating in creative writing and literature I suppose.

Turn, return.

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An early return from Jersey (I almost couldn't take it anymore), and after a night of Newcastle and Brosnan Bond, I am trying to recover some of what I've lost. I brought back a bunch of my old journals to try and reconstruct all the poetry that disappeared when my hard drive died. And then there's the work I should be doing; reading The Tempest, editing workshop pieces, putting together final portfolios, doing rewrites on Ether. There's so much clutter in this room. I want it all the be positive clutter. There is so much that needs getting rid of. I'll make it happen this week, I must promise myself this much.

Everywhere there are books I want to pick up and dive into, but it feels like there is never enough time. James warned me that soon he'll need to isolate himself and really rework his script. I'll probably be reading every free moment once that happens, seeing him when we cook dinner, and then returning to my room afterward, staying up late with the The Annotated Dracula. Or Joyce. Or re-reading Virginia. My brain aches to be full of more words. Probably one day, I will be a hermit, and I will have to be okay with that, because I will read and write more than anybody in the whole world. Maybe an exaggeration. I have to get to the typewriter store before Christmastime. I want to do so much writing in the basement, noisy writing, clack clack return type writing.

So much to accomplish. So much paper everywhere. I kind of want to just light it all on fire. But I will not. I will just listen to Menomena, like I've been doing, finish the Tempest, do all my homework at once and make sure that it's done right.

There will be a real update later, with real things in it. For right now, my head is just in a strange space.

Shakespeare & Woolf.

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Putting my thinking face on, trying to get all of this stuff out of the way in time for class. I have to finish writing a paper that has to be at least seven pages. Thankfully, it is already seven pages; now it just needs polishing, maybe a dash of coherence. Maybe I'd be able to think more clearly if I had some food in my belly. As it stands now, at least the only thing in my head is everything I've read by Virginia Woolf this semester. Four novels. It's good to have a brain full of books. But tugging at the other end of my consciousness is The Tempest, nagging at me to be read. I like it most out of any of the Shakespeare we've read over the past few months, and I'm only an act in. I hope Kenneth Branagh has done a rendition of this one too. I think he should probably just put out a boxed set of the complete Shakespeare. I'd even listen to him recite the sonnets.

And after class this afternoon, I get to crochet for fifty billion hours straight. If only we hadn't watched the last of Evening With Kevin Smith last night. I need something that would be good in the background, something to keep me laughing so that I don't get frustrated. We shall see.

Tomorrow it's back to Jersey by way of Redding. I will probably be freaking out the whole time. I miss my family so much. And Maggie. Plus, I have Georgie's book to read.

On fire.

Before a dinner of turkey meatballs, egg noodles, and gravy (mmmmm), I assembled and bound the first copy of my third chapbook in so many days. I know, this is non-sensical. No one will ever buy such things. No one wants to read me. I guess I can make excuses and say that I have at least 5 chapbooks worth of material on my hard drive and at least another 3 floating around in journals that are either sitting on the shelf in my room here or my room in New Jersey. But really, this was just a long time coming.

This one is called "Name Without a Place" and has mostly stuff I wrote recently (unlike the other two, which are essentially comprised of the oldies but goodies of my library), including pieces that have not yet seen the light of day, "Sleeping With Tyler Durden" & "Tug-o-War", along with freshly revised things that have only been heard by people on campus here. My friend Matchstick told me he wanted one, but that he only had a dollar. I told him we could work out a barter of some sort. I am up for that with anybody. I plan on trading books with my friends, for obvious reasons. (If it's not so obvious: we are all broke college students, most of us poets who don't get features just yet and if we do they are infrequent, and therefore hawking merch is slightly difficult.) But beyond that, a couple people in my fiction workshop told me that I better bring copies the next time we meet. I feel flattered. Excited. It's so official to be able to hold a book of my own work in my hands, even if it is only held together with staples.

That being said, I really need to give up this bookmaking to Duplications, because I think my printer might kill me in my sleep if I keep imposing my insanity upon it like this.

Be excited, be very excited.

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So since I am in a poetry mood as of late, here is something that poets everywhere should be excited about. That people in general life should be excited about. Cameron Crowe says, ""Infinity Blues is Ryan Adams at his personal, unforgettable best. Strong and beautiful and funny and pure. Like all his work, it's soul poetry of the highest order." I cannot wait. One month from now, and I will have it in my hands. Too wonderful. Just in time for holiday reading. I have a feeling that I will retreat to my cave and devour it in one sitting, and then reread it many times over.

How could you not want to be inside the brain of this man?

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I am endlessly fascinated and inspired by him.

Also, I printed out another chapbook, this one full of family poems. I wish my stapler didn't hate my life, or it would be completely finished without the aid of thumbtacks.

At last.

I procrastinate. It's just in me. But when I get going on something, it is difficult to stop me. Take tonight for instance. Caroline Harvey's feature blew my mind like it hasn't be blown since the first time I saw James Caroline perform. I wrote half a new poem during the feature, drove around with Sam after the diner for at least two hours, and then I came home with two other poems in my head. So I wrote them. And then a third. And then I decided it was time for a chapbook.

Now, I have been talking about such things since last fall when I first started writing poetry seriously. Maggie tells me that if I get famous one day, I will have a more heavily recorded life than Buckminster Fuller on the day that I die, and she's probably right. I journal every day without fail. Sam reminded me tonight that as the most prolific poet he knows, I had the material for a whole library of chapbooks, and that it would be best to get underway before it became too difficult to start. And so I did, because tonight (of all nights) I have adopted some of James' recent insomnia. My brain is too full for me to stop.

Here it is, in all its glory:

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It's called Welcome To My Bed, after this old blog, because Grace always used to tease me last year that if I ever had a chapbook, it would be called that. I adopted the insult and made it my own, which makes me proud. If you look closely, you can see that the cover photo is the header photo (a little different) from the top of this page. Oddly enough, I don't think I've ever posted any of the poems in it here. Anyway, table of contents:

Someone Else's Driveway
Crystal Methadone
Kentucky
Mermaid
Drive Me Home
Tight Jeans
Bali Shag
Quiet All Talk
Epilogue (or, Someone Else's Driveway Pt. II)

Most of the poems were slammed at various locations over the course of last year. I know for a fact that most people in New England have heard Someone Else's Driveway and got sick of hearing it, because it was the one piece I had that was almost guaranteed to score well no matter where I was competing. Epilogue is a bookend for it, a little closure for the thought I started in writing the first piece at all. And the rest have their own stories.

James always says that it's impossible for me to write anything that doesn't come from a place of love, and I think that this book contains the poems that made me realize that. Next project, making more than ten copies of this thing. I desktop published using Word and my now-sleepy Canon Pixma, so I had to limit myself. After I make more copies, I will assemble my next effort, which was actually in the works since before this one, entitled Name Without a Place, which is mostly comprised of pieces from last spring through this summer and early fall, although the mental line-up I have for it changes almost daily, especially with all the new stuff I wrote today.

I don't know how I'm ever going to get to bed. I cannot wind down from this day.