Welcome To My Bed

Furry friend.

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Introducing Theodore T. Cat, AKA the kitten living in Clinton Hill with James and Evan. I am so jealous. I need something to distract me from doing my poetry theory readings that is warm and fuzzy and will fall asleep in my lap without thinking twice. Pets are pretty much the only creatures capable of genuine unconditional love, as humanity has proven time and again in the weeks I've been back in the wilds of Western Mass. But there have been more than a fair share of good times here at the Lady Poet house. Updates to follow, including (but not limited to) stories of my first attempt at beer pong in five years, a praise chorus for my Doc Martens, and lots of poetry business. I'm reading selections from Mary Oliver's A Poetry Handbook and I feel like my brain is melting out of my ear because of how dry and boring it is. Maybe I'm not cut out for this writing business?

Keeping warm.

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The South Hadley Salvation Army is rarely good to me, but today was definitely an exception. I am so ready for winters in Western Mass.

This week's activities have included scheming with my advisor, nearly winning a slam, starting my first poetry class, and settling into the apartment. Also, Peter and I baked a raspberry pie. I had a slice for breakfast this morning with a big cup of tea. It was an almost-perfect way to start the day.

VLOG # 1



Cassandra and I have started video blogging. Now we are publicly and officially the best roommates of all time. Here we are, having snacks, recounting poor choices, and generally having a fantastic time.

The first weekend of the year.

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Myself, Danica and Georgie getting silly after large liquor doses and lots of story-telling.


Things are already flying off the handle bat shit insane here in terms of all the running around, getting forms signed, making appointments, figuring out schedules, having mini heart attacks, buying books, reading said books, seeing people I haven't seen in months, seeing people I didn't think went here anymore, remembering my post office box combination, settling into my room, finding a place in the world that feels right now that I am such a different kind of puzzle piece. But in spite of things being hectic, we've still managed to have some seriously good times in between all the flurries of semester-starting.

Tuesday night was the first meeting of the Hampshire Slam Collective, and even though it was technically unofficial, we were blown out of the water by the sheer size of the audience that night. Our NPS team did a feature that had everyone in the room roaring with applause and nearly jumping off the edges of their seats. I had a new friend visiting to see what slam was all about, and the show was so strong that she told me she's coming back every week before leaving for France because she was so epically blown away by what went on that night. And after the feature was our first slam of the season, something I've been jonesing for since the last time I slammed way back in June. Apparently this jonesing has made me a slam superhero, because I was one of the final two performers left, going up against my dear friend Sean and losing by a slim margin. This seems insignificant, and in most cases it would be, except that he is our venue's IWPS rep and I nearly beat him in a slam. He asked me when I was planning on touring, and even though I greeted that with a nervous laugh, I told him I had ben thinking about setting out on the open road a year from now when I'm done with school and attempting to find my bearings in the world. Stay tuned for further developments on this front. After all the poetry, we retired to the Lady Poet living room with a gaggle of near-and-dears and shot the shit into the wee morning hours.

Wednesday night we made our first pilgrimage to the Cantab of the semester, a journey that had fantastically funny car rides to and from the city, a whole pile of free sandwiches, and most importantly, it contained the realization that I am actually starting to have a real career as a poet. It's been happening over the past few months - people, usually writers and performers I really respect from afar and sometimes even the poet who's featuring at the venue that night, will come up to me and ask me for my book or for a copy of the piece I read that night in the midst of praising me with high compliments and asking about what I do and where I come from. It's gotten to the point where I now have a collection of email addresses spanning several countries and most of the United States, all from people wanting to remain updated on my movements as a poet. So I gave birth to a new blog dedicated solely to my work as a poet and performer; it's called Fiction Pays The Bills and it went live yesterday. It's still a 90 lb weakling right now, but soon (fingers crossed) there will be things to update you about. Maybe a new chapbook is in the works? I'm not sure yet what's in store, but I'll be sure to let you know when new things are happening.

And then there was last night. All I'm going to say is that my living room was full of bourbon and forties and lots of laughter, and I am so happy to feel at home. Cass is making coffee and bacon and I'm about to pour myself a big bowl of cereal and start getting it al together for the day. Cheers to all of you - I hope your days are as full and bright and shiny as mine have been this week!

Getting comfortable.

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Back at Hampshire for the final year of scrambling to be literary, and though my room is a mess and there are so many things left to accomplish before I'd even dream of calling myself settled in, I needed a breather. I thought I deserved one, simply for the fact that I've already accomplished half of my to do list for the day and it's barely mid-afternoon yet. I can already tell that this is going to be a very productive semester.

But fun is not lost on me either. Last night I went out, even though my room is nowhere near being set up, and had martinis with Peter. The whole day was jam=packed with hugs and hellos, and by the time I got home, Cass and I just lay around listening to music until we both passed out. A welcome collapse at the end of an exhausting day. This is going to be a week of exhausting days. I have so much to write about concerning the last bits of my summer, but for the time being it's probably more imperative for me to get organized and ready to face the glaring face of academia first thing tomorrow morning. Speaking of which,

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the book buying has begun. That beauty is for my class entitled "Woman and Poet", which all four of us living in the apartment are taking. One of the other core texts is A Room of One's Own, on of the few extraneous books I brought from home on a whim - I guess I just can't go anywhere without Virginia. Also, as an aside, it's very frustrating to me that most of John Fante's work is currently out of print or in the process of being printed because someone recommended him to me and I really want to read some NOW. I'm going to have to go dive into the stacks at work and see what I come up with. Which reminds me - I now have a carrel at the library. I feel like I really have a thesis project now. It's unnerving me.

Chore-charted waters & the nag of distant academia.

Whenever I have a day off from work, I always get very overwhelmed by the space of it. This usually results in me spending at least half of said day in bed, either asleep or pretending to be. But today I resolved to fill every free moment with something that needed to get done, and I'm pretty sure I succeeded. I did three loads of laundry, mailed the first check I've ever written, wrote three poems (much overdue - I was close to losing my lead on the 365 project!), washed a million dishes, cleaned out the refrigerator, changed my sheets, basically got serious about chore time. And I feel great because of it.

This man -

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- has been staring at me all day. I guess it's not a typical occurrence for anyone to be home with him all day long, so he must be at least slightly confused. I've been trying to catch him to snuggle for the better part of the night, but in spite of being fat, he is a lot faster than he seems.

Off in academia (yeah, I forgot I was a part of such blustering too...), my schedule for the semester keeps getting turned on its ear, and then its nose, and then its elbow, and so on. A few days ago, one of the professors I'm close with emailed me to invite me to TA a first-year tutorial on inclusive fiction (what a wonderful phrase), and I obviously got very excited. As a close second to writing, I love assisting others in their own writing above most other things. Besides bacon, long highway drives, and finishing novels of course. In corresponding with her about the course and what my responsibilities would be, she inquired about my intentions for scheduling, specifically if I was planning on taking the Div III creative writing research seminar in the fall. I immediately pulled up my iCal and made the according alterations. So much for this being a relaxing last year. Although I'm fairly certain that if I got back to Hampshire and suddenly wasn't busting my ass, I would become very disoriented, if not outright despondent. So I am mentally preparing myself for some serious juggling. I would be lying if I said I wasn't thrilled about this.

Tomorrow is "Day Off: Part 2", and I'm not entirely sure how to spend it after running all of my errands today. The summer is quickly winding down (soon the juggling will commence!), and I'm not sure where exactly it got to. Thankfully, I went swimming for the second time of the season (criminal!!) Wednesday night after Kait and I finished breaking down from a wine tasting we worked together. We bring bathing suits in the car with us always, so we decided that as a remedy to the unbearable humidity we were just going to jump in the ocean. Nevermind that we did not have towels. Such formality has never concerned us before. And that swim was one of the best choices I've ever made. I don't think I've ever felt more refreshed in my life. It was the perfect cap to an otherwise perfect day (I sat in the Gansett laundromat and wrote for hours before work, and one of the owners of the restaurant told me that I had a job there indefinitely if I wanted it). I am a happy camper, to say the least. Now all I need is a giant cup of White Electric coffee and some non-neurotic to snuggle with occasionally and I will be the happiest I could possibly be.

I leave you with the soundtrack to this happiness, my Last.fm Top Ten from the past week.

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Happy Friday!

Flash flood!

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There are Ganges-sized puddles outside right now - I feel like I just drove home from Gansett through straight water. 95 was like a fish tank, or a faucet turned up as high as it goes. All I want to do is go puddle jumping, but I've decided against it simply because I have no idea what kind of motor oil/city dirt/general grime I'd end up with all over my feet. But God knows, if I was at Hampshire, I'd be doing a rain dance and reveling in the rain about now.

Photographic time capsule.

I just woke up from the deepest sleep I could have imagined, following a double's worth of work down at the beach. And I have a lot less money to show for it than I should. Kait made more than me on one shift than I did on my two combined, which is unacceptable. But I guess I just have to take things as they happen. Speaking of which, I've been going through old photos and came upon a funny thing. There are pictures of me on the internet from around this time for the past few summers and looking back to the oldest one, I look like I have reverted back to that person. Maybe because the summer before I left for college was the summer I was most myself - no boyfriend, no overpowering friendships, nothing to prove except to myself. It's funny to look back on that time as one when I was most sure of myself, especially because I felt so indisputably unsure of everything else. But anyway, here is the timeline of the past few years.

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Sandy Hook, NJ July 06

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Emerald Isle, NC July 07

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Northampton, MA September 07

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Amherst, MA October 07


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Amherst, MA April 08

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Emerald Isle, NC July 08

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Amherst, MA September 08

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Amherst, MA December 08

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Philadelphia, PA March 09

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Providence, RI right now 09


The thing that gets me the most is how much the length of my hair has fluctuated in three years: shaved head twice, too many different kinds of bangs, neon wigs, more bobby pins and texturizer than I care to lay down here. I feel a lot like the girl in the second picture, sitting on the couch waiting for something of great magnitude to happen to me. But unlike that girl, who was very timid and scared, I am much more likely to get up off the couch and grab my important experiences before they pass me by. If that is the only thing that ever changes about me over time, I'll be more than happy living in this skin.

With limbs akimbo.

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There is a lot to talk about and I have been putting off doing any of it, but now that I have done four loads of laundry and read two chapters of a book (finally making a dent in the epic summer reading list, which will be discussed later), I feel it important to check in with the rest of the world. I have been living in relative isolation, and the solitude of it is doing wonderful (if sometime painful) things for my psyche. I get out of bed in the morning solely because I want to, which has to be both the most foreign and most fulfilling feeling I've had in a long time. I have been writing a lot as well, and taking care of the apartment as best I can without becoming overwhelmed by the small sink filled with many large dishes. So things are good, better than expected, and in spite of being somewhat lonely, I know already that it is going to be a good and productive summer.

Graduation was very strange, but mostly enjoyable. Maggie and I watched the whole thing with our mouths hanging half-open, and I would not have believed half of it if I hadn't been watching with a cup of coffee in hand, most definitely awake. Several people received diplomas with dog leashes in their free hands. And yes, there were dogs at the end of those leashes. All of the speeches were so casual, I was a little taken aback. No one was required to wear a cap or gown, but the people who did wear them looked like they were wearing said attire that was left over from when they left high school four (or however many) years ago. The ceremony opened with bagpipes and ended with live jazz, not a hint of Pomp and Circumstance to be heard of. And you can download the whole thing from the school website, at least eventually - right now it's only available for streaming. Bobcat Goldthwait and Ken Burns spoke, which is really all that you need to know about how unorthodox the whole thing was. It got me excited for next year, but it also made me nervous for how my family would respond. The only other college graduation I have attended was my sister's from Providence College (well actually I only went to the mass the day before, but that they had a mass really says something about how different our school are), and it was in the Dunkin Donuts center in Providence. Not exactly the outdoor, social change-oriented, barefoot hippie somewhat-lovefest I witnessed on Saturday. Next spring will be interesting for sure. Congratulations again to all my Div Free friends, may you experience the career-less life of following your passions wherever they take you. If that's what you're gunning for anyway.

In thinking of my own future, my ultimate goal lately has been to find a place to go to poetry readings around here. AS 220 is only a few blocks from my apartment, and on Thursday nights it is home to the Providence Poetry Slam, which is exciting, although I have yet to attend since things have been so strange and unsettled still. But there's another poetry venue in town (that I have yet to figure out the location of...silly me) run by one the regulars at the Cantab, Ryk McIntyre. Where rumor has it, I'm going to be featuring on June 23. I was told to expect a formal invitation when I drive out to Boston for the Cantab on Wednesday night. More news to follow as the date approaches.

For now, I shall return to my function as cat wrangler/kitchen lord/scholar of Virginia Woolf, a capacity that will continue virtually uninterrupted until Saturday, which is the next time I have work. I really don't know how I managed to finagle this sweet set-up. All that's missing are the Slam Collective regulars, but they'll all be within a safe distance by June 1st, and then everything will increase exponentially in awesome. Until then, I will continue to soldier on through this non-routine routine, eating mock krema and/or citrus fruits for most meals and shooing the cats off my futon.

I leave you with the recipe my uncle's girlfriend Sarah sent me in the mail this week with Julia Child's My Life in France for the aforementioned mock krema.

1 cup bulgar wheat (Goya sells it in 1 lb bags)
3 8 oz cans tomato sauce
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice (about the amount you get from one lemon)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let stand for three hours. Then enjoy with pita, pita chips, in breakfast burritos, with scrambled eggs, etc. Or just eat it by itself, which I have been doing for many lunches and late night snacks.

Unnecessary hysteria.

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I really don't understand what the big deal is. 125 people die every flu season from the regular flu. I'm pretty sure we all know that washing our hands and covering our coughing is important. Sometimes I really loathe being on a college campus. But the plus-side of my location is that I can eat noodles with gravy for breakfast and no one will frown upon me for it. Which is really important at the moment.

Finding places to hide.

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Lately, I've been getting the feeling that I cannot do work in the same space twice. On Saturday, it was the library. Or maybe that was Friday. Fairly frequently, it has been taking place in some form at Cass and Sophia's house (we call these gatherings study parties and drinking the ever multiplying cans of PBR that hide behind jelly jars in their fridge; we don't know how there can still be beer after all this time). And today, the location is Emily Dickinson Hall. I figured that since I was attempting to write a literature paper, I should go a place named after a writer. But really, my room is too much of a mess to study in, my living room in constantly serenaded by the dulcet tones of VH1 voice-over, and no one is ever awake as early as I am, so going over to 40 is still out of the question. I guess this couch will have to do.

Last night was the screening for Evan and James' final films, and I just want to say that they made me so proud. All the time and effort that went in showed in the best possible way. There was a huge audience too, which I was thrilled about, and not just because so many people came up to me afterwards to tell me that I did a great job acting (I guess it's easy when you're friends with both directors?), but because the guys deserved it. I even got to see James' parents again, which was not the boatload of awkward I was expecting it to be. They are such sweet people.

And then there was the after-party. We drank champagne from the heaviest bottle known to man - the thing literally had metal embellishments - and sang a decent amount of Queen, which is just the way I wanted it. There were fireworks. We watched Spaced, as any group of cinema nerds would after the first real premiere. Not counting Upstaged of course.

As for right now, I'm attempting to write a paper on the articulation of identity in reaction to familial handling of the past in Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon and Beloved. I found some great articles on Project Muse, so now I'm actually writing instead of just brainstorming, but I can't trust myself with academic resources: I got side-tracked by the search bar and ended up downloading about twenty articles about Virginia Woolf. Why yes, I do plan on nerding out hardcore all summer. And yes, that plan does include reading a serious amount of scholarly literature for no reason other than that I thoroughly enjoy it. Why am I not going to grad school for literature again? Oh right, I have no capacity for focusing on the task at hand. Hence why my entire paper is still in scatter-brained legal pad form. Time for some restructuring. I'll let you know when I move on to my discussion of the failure of love in Michel Houellebecq's The Elementary Particles using that bell hooks book on love that April gave to me and Diane Ackerman's A Natural History of Love (which has the most poetic introduction of any sociology book I have ever seen). Somuchreadingtodo.

Countdown to (Rhode) Island living: t-minus 1 week and counting.

The busiest of bees.

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This is the face of someone overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work she has left to do, even with only two more papers left to write before the transition into her final phase of higher education begins. I woke up at ten this morning and plowed straight into my work. I was working on that same fiction workshop revision from yesterday and I realized something a little bit ridiculous. It was initially an eight page piece. It has since grown to be eighteen pages. Yes. I know. Eighteen. I wrote my professor a note at the top that apologizes. I hope that will be enough of an explanation. I just could not stop myself. Im afraid to reread it too many time for fear that I'll end up adding more. And that is really the last thing that I need.

At any rate, I'll be done with my workshop portfolio momentarily (all that's left to do is print!) and then I can focus on the big meaty papers. Oh joy. These are the reasons why I will never go to graduate school for literature. A consideration of the gendered journeys to adulthood undertaken by Milkman in Song of Solomon and Denver in Beloved. And then a serious consideration of Houellebecq's assertion that love cannot properly function in a capitalist individualistic society, made in The Elementary Particles, a concept that is still making me have panic attacks, not because I don't think I can write a serious paper about it, but because I am scared that he's right. I don't know when I became such a feminist. I don't know how it is that I decided it was time that I take on gender differences in literature. It was never really something that interested me before this semester. It's the academic community taking hold in my brain I suppose, in addition to that bell hooks that I've been reading. I am having serious issues putting down All About Love even though I know that I have so many other things I need to get done before I go home on Thursday. Like packing. And those papers. I have a copy of Diane Ackerman's A Natural History of Love sitting next to me right now, begging to be read. So much to do.

Winding down.

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First of all, I cannot remember the last time I met a handle of liquor that actually had a handle. This bottle blew my mind a little when I picked it up last night. But anyway.

I think I have to go back to Rhode Island this weekend. I need to meet my future boss at the restaurant, I'm guessing to talk about logistical things. I'm not looking forward to having to spend another eighty dollars on a bus ticket, although I suppose it would be productive for me to begin moving a ton of my shit out to the apartment. I'll have to pack all my suitcases and lug them with me. I wish that all this resettling business wasn't a complete and absolute hassle. But being on the bus for the second weekend in a row will give me some uninterrupted study time to look forward to, which will be a plus with all of these portfolios to pull together, the bulk of them by next Tuesday. Good times. I am already dreading the papers I have to get written, and they're all still just twinkles in my eye.

I just want to take this moment to say that I hate transitional periods. A lot.

Ticking time bombs.

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This is my face just before assuming a look of absolute panic at the speed with which the end of the semester is approaching. Next week I'll have final classes, the following week I'll be scrambling to finish up final papers and hand in portfolios. Thank god we don't have any such thing as exams.

I am in the middle of pulling together a preliminary portfolio for my Div 2, finishing my contribution to a group presentation, lotterying for housing ( don't even ask, it make no sense even to those of us who must participate), writing/editing all the creative pieces I need done for the end of the semester. And also, there's this thing about trying out for the NPS team that's happening this Tuesday and next. Check out the info here, and if you're on campus or at least in the area with nothing to do, I highly recommend checking it out. And not just because I'm competing. There is going to be some truly crazy magical awesomeness going down on that mic, and if you miss it, it's gone. I wouldn't want you to have to go through that overwhelming sense of loss.

Anyway, I have my pimp hat on, and hopefully that will allow me to accomplish everything on my to do list not only competently, but with an added swagger, just so that it looks easy (or at least enjoyable) to the general public. In the worst case scenario, I may not be in touch until after this madness has subsided. So, in preparation, enjoy spring fever. It only comes once a year.

Spring Jam.

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I spent the better part of yesterday lying in the sun and now my back is a pale shade of lobster. I jinxed myself the other day by saying that I never burned. Oh well. It was a beautiful afternoon anyway. Cass, Sophia and I lay on the library lawn all day reading and enjoying ourselves with a rotating cast of characters. I played a very half-assed game of chess. Cass and I wandered the length of the entire campus at least three times for various reasons and eventually found what we were looking for. And at the end of the day, I had eaten so much delicious junk food and also baked a pecan pie with Peter.

Today is Spring Jam. I think KRS-one is playing? School events at Hampshire baffle me slightly. We never have them, until we do, and when we do they are always bizarre and poorly planned. But Maggie will be here, and I ate yogurt with fresh strawberries for breakfast, so I will not complain for another excuse to put off all my work. Again. Well, that isn't entirely true. I totally woke up early and cleaned for at least an hour in attempt to pull together my preliminary Div 2 portfolio. But a couple hours of decompression never hurt anyone, least of all me.



P.S. Providence update - Kaitlin bought me a dresser, and I will be babysitting Grace Ann's futon for the summer. So now I have furniture. All I need to do is get all of my shit from here (point A) to the apartment (point B). I imagine the logistics will be fascinating. Having a car would be ideal, but I guess nothing ever goes exactly perfectly right.

Sand dollar days.

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It is warm enough outside lately to wear tank tops (albeit under cardigans still, but it is only April), to let my hair air dry after a shower, to go without socks. I love this.

That pot on the stove is potato soup that I am making for James, because he is currently miserable with some mysterious cold. I saw him this morning when I was at work and he hadn't slept all night. He's been slaving away in the media basement finishing the final cut of his Div 3 film(which will be showing May 3rd if anyone is interested), and it has visibly taken its toll on him. It is so close to the end of the semester too. I want him to feel better so that he can enjoy it.

Next week is the first of the two final slams for our NPS team, and I'm nervously revising and expanding upon (then editing down) so many 365 poems in some sort of preparation. I'm trying to pare down the 12 step poem to a slam length, but its proving nearly impossible and I am very frustrated, because I know it would score well.

I want to lay out on a blanket in the sun and just forget about all of the silly things I've been worrying about lately. I have all afternoon to do it, so I probably will. It seems the best possible option on a day like today, when then sun will be as warm as I want it to be.

Making the "ch" sound.

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Sometimes we just need to vegetate. And talk through weekends of craziness. Instead of working on our group project on Beloved. Also, people should come to the open mics more. Hence the pointing at that chicken beast. Shout outs to HCSC!

In the (201).

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Self-reflection just beyond my fingertips. Sorry for the joke, I know it's shameless.

One of my good friends told me he was in love with me last night. No one should ever tell me such things. I need to make a sign to wear around my neck that says, "Just because I enjoy your company does not make me 'the one'." I can clearly never have male friends. This is the second such weirdness of the week. On Monday night one of my other male friends said completely out of the blue, "So, I'd totally sleep with you." Nothing leading up to it, just that blunt statement. Do people actually do this in real life, or is it only happening in mine?? If it is the latter option, I am giving God or whoever the finger right now.

I read so many poems to my dad tonight. It felt unfair, but he seemed to be enjoying himself. He's going to be sending the book he's writing to me so that I can have a look. I have never read anything my father has written, but then, I don't think my father writes very much.

This weekend will most likely be slavishly dedicated to reading the five novels that I had to bring home. Not exactly how I picture weekends away from Hampshire, but I guess this is what I get for being academically insane. I would have liked to drive to Philadelphia, crash in a hotel room, hiding out and telling secrets. But the world is conspiring against me to prevent any mote of escapism. Maybe next weekend I can shirk my responsibilities effectively.

Music obsession of the week:



I didn't think leotards were sexy. Perhaps I have been proven wrong?

Sheep and people.

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photo from National Geographic


Finishing up reading Damon Galgut's The Quarry for a class tonight, and though half my book is already underlined because of how beautiful and unexpected his descriptions are, this one on page 129 stood out to me particularly:

He saw a fence made of barbed wire and sheep following each other like people and the train passed howling through a settlement of tin shacks between which were men women children standing staring or running after the train and the wind of its passage made their fire lean backward and sparks flew up on the air.

Sigh. I really love books.

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.