Welcome To My Bed

Viewing party for successful unemployed wannabes.

1. Last night, in lieu of going to a party that would have required driving and small talk and a general regard for personal grooming, Cass and I opted to stay in our cozy treehouse and watch the Jersey Shore finale and reunion show. It was definitely the superior choice. Afterwards, I climbed into bed and watched two episodes of The Tudors (which has more sex acts per episode than anything on TV, except maybe True Blood), then Grey Gardens, and then Step Up 2 on Netflix. I then attempted to watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory but decided during the opening credits that I didn't like the looks of 5 AM and should probably hit the hay. So, for those keeping track at home, this is what is currently in a blender in my brain.





wonka boy

If I had remembered my dreams upon waking, I'm sure they would have been epic and/or terrifying. Good thing SVU didn't make into into the mix, or things could have gotten pretty out of hand.

2. The job hunt saga continues. After calling and leaving a message at the office of the coffee shop I had my heart set on (in all likelihood, I'll never get a call back), I decided I needed to take matters further and do a second variety of canvasing--the internet kind. Honestly, I'm not sure why I didn't think of it sooner, being that half my life exists in virtual space (thank you, beloved Blog Land). Anyway, this afternoon, I woke up after that long night (and morning) of Netflix Instant Watch chomping at the bit for some employment. I dipped my big toe in the western Mass edition of Craigslist and shoved some debris around, eventually unearthing a gem: a restaurant in NoHo looking for someone to start on lunches and a Sunday night shift, to later be phased into the regular schedule. In a moment of frenzy--I have missed waiting tables more than I would risk articulating--I rewrote my resume, hopped in the car, and drove over, ready to conquer. And it seems they were prepared to be conquered, because the manager told me to come back for an interview tomorrow morning. Perhaps, if all goes as I wish it would, I'll have a new source of income by the end of the week.

3. I'm not sure if any of you watched this year's Golden Globes (I didn't), and even if you did, I'm not sure you would have even caught this bit of awesome on the red carpet broadcast. So, I bring you Amanda Palmer rocking the red carpet the way it should be rocked:


If ever I end up at one of those things, you can all rest assured it will be in a naked dress of my own.

Scattered to the wind.

1. I am all over the place lately. I mean that quite literally. Last Friday (I'm not sure how it's already been a week), Cass and I made a whim-trip to New Hampshire. Though things didn't go according to plan, we spent a fantastic chunk of time in the Red Arrow eating our way through mountains of fried food and gallons of coffee. College life is not really life, if only because Amherst has no authentic 24 hour diners. And because we refused to give up on the adventure in light of a plan-hiccup, we drove to Durham and spent the night in the de Alba family house. We got cranberry waffles out of the deal in the morning, picked up Liza (who is now probably in Cameroon) and then slowly migrated through the slush to Portsmouth and The Friendly Toast.



I clearly need to take up residence in this particular pile of kitsch. But not simply for the decor.


They also make a mean grilled cheese. There was bacon baked into that bread. And the onion rings are battered in Guinness. So much delicious.

2. So I'm doing this thing where I'm trying to get another job. I'm not sure how well it's working out. I think I have a fairly serious lead, but I could just be deluding myself. Yesterday I sat in the place for the better part of an afternoon doing work and wishing the manager had been in to interview me. Good thing they have adorable metal pots of tea that stay hot for hours. Good thing they let serious people write retrospective essays on their scarred wooden tables.


Is this the face of a girl who hates homework? Well. Not exactly.


Is this the face of a one Charley Pope trying to distract me from said essay? I think yes. Good thing I've written nearly twenty pages and get to turn the damn thing in today with a binder of other serious writing, most of it on feminism in literature or a man cut in half and also playing golf. Free at last! In four hours! YES!

3. I have to make a dance party megamix today, and the only thing I want to put on it is Amanda Blank. She has been rocking my world lately, even if I have been getting better about listening to rock albums again. I'm still having to ease myself out of the pop zone. I think the main issue is that, to crib a line from a Nicole Terez poem, I am a 140 proof superpony. In non-poet-speak, that means I want to dance. I just can't help it.

Cartoon confetti! High school football-style war paint! Also, she sometimes chills down with these guys:

4. I can't write poems lately. I think it might have something to do with my brain and heart being divided between too many locations. I fall in love with buildings. This is becoming an issue.

The briefest of briefs, Monday morning edition.

Good morning world and welcome to the under-2-inches-of-slush edition of my life. Today will consist of Grössby desperately attempting to tear me away from deciphering my own scribblings (read: assembling a properly documented portfolio and reflexive essay--two years worth of scribbling, to be exact), and then there will be me attempting to resist. It will look something like this:

menaced by a non-descript shark appendage

Grössby would rather it go more along these lines:

Photobucketfully in love, bathed in angelic light

Meanwhile, I have long since realized I am not about to escape college completely unscathed. At last count, I have acquired three cigarette burns, a heaping helping of flannel, and somewhat acceptable writing skills in this bargain, among other ailments. In all honesty, none of these things are going to get me very far. But I am okay with that, beyond mentally prepared for what will come next. I spent the better part of a three hour drive yesterday thinking about all the ways in which I could backpack across America. Also, I thought a lot about screech owls.


I am still looking for the through-line. I'll call you when I find it.

VLOG # 5

Cassandra and I give you the straight talk about cozy sweaters, Rihanna, the moose of New Hampshire, Ghirardelli squares, and what we aim to accomplish in the coming year.

You're so high//why can't you fly?

1. It feels good to be solidly back in action the Western Mass way. My head is still spinning from all the pinball-bouncing around I do on a regular basis. However, now that I am standing in the same state for longer than a few hours at a time, there has been an avalanche of responsibility. (Agh! Who wants that?!)


Clarabelle and I have been slaving away for the better part of today on my retrospective essay (the first three typewritten pages of which can be found above; please excuse excessive typos). It should be easy. For the most part, it is easy. Think about my courses in chronological order. Check. Write about what I learned in said courses. Check. Write about real world experiences and their relevance to class learning, also vice versa. Check. Maintain a plausible through-line pertaining to the learning contract I wrote with myself last fall. Check. The tedious part of this whole process is that it's going to end up being about twenty pages of wind-baggery about my "becoming a writer". Is there some bar mitzvah-type ceremony for this coming-of-age process?? Any way I can get fat checks from distant relatives? No? Cos it seems to me like I am doing an awful lot of "entering a new phase of my life" in this essay. I don't want to get carried away and new-agey with the narrative, but it keeps wandering away from me into touchy-feely territory. I'm not sure if I should just go with it or not.

2. Being a restless spirit, but really because I left my journal in Providence and as a result had no place to record the deep dark secrets rattling around my head, I decided late last night that I was going to move all my furniture before going to sleep. It has worked out quite well. My new desk nook is nothing if not conducive to writing this essay. Except the moment my fingers got tired of typewriter keys, I hopped in bed with my lap top and ended up here. Kind of like how the last time I attempted real work (in this particular case, it was cleaning out the unfinished half of the basement), I ended up on my computer. Although in this case it was a little different, because there were odd costume-type items lying about.

introducing Owen to the Beastie Boys


I had a near-overwhelming inclination to play dress-up last night instead of changing my sheets and organizing my desk after the move, but I restrained myself by mentally arguing that I had nothing interesting to wear. Yeah, right. However, as I told Cassandra when she noted that she had dressed more outrageously than I had the past two days running, I am still recovering from pretending to be normal while in New Jersey. It is going to take at least another week for me to fully retire the real-world-uniform of t-shirts and jeans.

3. I've been taking a chill pill as of late in terms of music. Not that I'm completely divorced from pop radio land as of yet(though I'm not sure I can even call it that, being as I have no access to any radio), but I've been giving my spandex and sequins daydream dance sequences a rest in favor of a heavy dose of mellow-me-out.

Current favorites:

Still looking for a rock album that will knock my socks off. I don't know how much longer I can hide in the recesses of my pre-existing iTunes library before going Completely mad, although I'm fairly certain it is analogous to the length of time I can spend continuously typing out this essay until my head spins off into the stratosphere.

Nerding out, newly incognito.

1. I have work in five hours, so this will be brief. I finished my first final tonight, the one that is due last. I guess we'll call today working backwards? I'm very proud of the thing though--a big manila envelope full of poems from one of my workshops. I did revised drafts for almost all of them and turned in a few other extras. One item knocked off the to-do list.

2. The last meeting of Woman & Poet took place in the Smith rare book room this afternoon. I got to listen to recordings of both Virginia Woolf reading aloud from an essay of hers and Sylvia Plath being interviewed by Peter Or on the BBC about writing. A favorite quote from Ms. Plath, on her recently discovered affinity for the novel: "I can't put toothbrushes in a poem." I kept looking over at Cassandra giddily the entire session--if I am completely honest with you, I had to resist the urge to clap my hands in sheer delight, and I also found it difficult not to interject biographical knowledge into the lecture, even though it was being done by Karen Kukil, who just so happens to have been the editor of Plath's unabridged journals. Today was a day made in heaven, that is, if it weren't for the slush storm.

3. I was precluded from driving to the Cantab tonight by virtue of the fact that someone decided it would be a good idea to heft a large bucket of slush over the Northeast. Snow is pretty to look at, sure, but I was up to the tops of my Docs in it leaving the house this morning. The only reason I am forgiving the universe for this foregone road trip is because I already have one lined up to replace it--on Friday after class, I'm driving to Providence for my sister and her roommate's Christmas party. I foresee large amounts of wine and Christmas shopping this weekend.

4. Speaking of which, I am deadly behind on Christmas gifts. I can't go into specifics here because I'm sure I'll spoil someone's surprise, so let's just say that there's lots of leg work to be done and leave it at that.

5. You may or may not have watched the video blog, but if you have, you saw that I was in the process of dying my hair. I am proud to announce that is now fully dyed (duh) and is quite seriously RED. I feel a bit like an anime character. I'm not sure if that can be in a good way, but I still like it. On the other hand, I feel like I shouldn't wear pink for a little while. Next stop, platinum blonde cotton candy hair like GaGa at the end of the "Bad Romance" video. Maybe. If I keep feeling restless and aesthetically ambitious in the same breath, I'll keep exploiting that cross-section.

Hello, world. No, I am not dead.

1. So much for ever talking about my life in public. The retreat to solitude (or rather, life without much internet posting) of the past week is in direct proportion to how much anxiety I have over the end of the semester. However, this anxiety is apparently unwarranted--I had a peer review of my critical/creative paper on the dangers of reading Plath's poems as solely inspired by biography that went incredibly well. Everyone told me that the paper was basically finished, but for a bit more textual evidence in a single paragraph. So perhaps all of this will be properly finished, on time, and handed in without any major panic attack? Maybe??

2. This weekend was the NorthBEAST slam regional, and I am proud to say that I drove out to Manchester for both nights of competition, in spite of incredible busted-ass-broke-ness and then a pretty gnarly snowstorm. Sophia made the individual finals, which I was absolutely thrilled about. I guess that statement loses a bit of its strength though, considering I was pretty syked to see most people who were competing. I really love living in the midst of the things that I do. Even if it does mean I lose my voice roughly once a week from yelling affirmations at poets (and admonitions at unsatisfactory judges), it always seems to be worth it. For most of the weekend, the question everyone asked me was what team I was on, followed by "Wait, you're not on one? REALLY?? Well, that just beats all..." Okay, so maybe not exactly like that, but the general feeling I got from such interactions was that the world at large wants me to be on a slam team. Driving back to campus late Friday night/early Saturday morning, Charley told me that he would be disappointed in our venue if I didn't make the NPS team this year. All of these remarks have my head spinning a bit--in my own mind, I was still hiding safely in the background--but my own compass about such things is point towards an August vacation to Minnesota. We'll see what happens.

3. Tonight, Sophia features at the Emerson Poetry Project. I am very excited to finally see what they do, as I've never been to another college's poetry thingamabob. And spending free time in Boston is second only in my mind to spending free time writing. Judging by my personal writing history, that's probably why I write so very many poems where Boston figures largely. Although, judging by the catalog, I haven't written one of those in a LONG time. Maybe tonight is the night for it to reoccur.

She's got a carburetor tied to the moon.

1. My teeth have finally been attended to. I have an oral surgery appointment for December 23rd to extract my left wisdom teeth, which means I get to spend the entire holiday season angry at my own mouth. However, this condition is not all bad. I got to watch a video at the oral surgery consultation about the risks and rewards of wisdom tooth removal. The acting was absolutely terrible. I felt as though I were watching a skit from a fourth grade D.A.R.E. class, except without the "drugs are bad!" slogans. Instead, they were extolling the virtues of general anesthetic and reminding patients how important dental health is.

2. I have set aside this afternoon to write my Div II retrospective. In all honesty, I doubt it's actually going to happen. But it's the thought that counts, right? I have to hand the thing in to my committee in a week or so. I'm not quite sure what to talk about. Reflexive essays have never been my strong suit. I feel silly talking about myself; the work in my portfolio should speak for what I've experienced, although I suppose that no one could possibly know what kind of an impact my involvement in slam has had on my college experience. It's a slippery fish to try to quantify, and even in a narrative space, I'm not sure I'll be able to capture it effectively. I'm not particularly worried about the writing I have to do about my actual courses, it's just this poetry thing. How can I make my professors see the weight of it? I often joke with Sean and say that he's the reason I'm still in college at all, and in a big way, that is the closest thing to the truth I can offer. I know for a fact that without Slam Collective, I would not have stayed at Hampshire, and in that case, I probably would never have graduated from college. Writing saved my academic life. It's so simple, but it's also difficult to make that statement seem justified. Ugh. I am probably over-thinking all of this. I should probably just do it already.

3. If all goes according to plan, I'm seeing my Button tonight!


4. I have a stack of letters that I am never going to send next to me in bed. The temptation to stamp and address them is excruciating. There are so many things that I'd like to say to so many people, and I'm not sure if it's ever going to be the "right time". On Wednesday I wrote a friend from Providence a letter and immediately after mailing the first letter, I came home and wrote her another, this time saying exactly what I would have said if I wasn't afraid of the consequences. It was incredibly cathartic, but also frustrating, because I'm not sure I'll ever have the courage I need to send that second letter.

5. My brother is on a Queen kick, and I blame me. I gave him the greatest hits album months ago and I think he's just now realizing that he loves it. The other night after dropping our sister off for a night on the town, the two of us drove home to a Queen sing-along, and hearing him sing "Bohemian Rhapsody" at the top of his squeaky twelve-year-old lungs was so heart-warming. I think I hear him watching Dr. Horrible in the next room right now. Is it bad that I have more in common with him than anybody else in this house??

The mouth fills with string.

1. I have a toothache, a condition that implies an abscess that must be drained (ew), a wisdom tooth that needs pulling (ow!), or a possible future root canal (ugh...). None of these options is desirable, and nothing I've tried as a pain remedy has helped. I've done several suggested home techniques (dissolving a baby aspirin over the tooth, holding a mouthful of whiskey in the cheek of the affected side, biting down on a hot Tetley tea bag, using mouthwash, etc.) but they're not as effective as I need them to be. I doubt I'm going to sleep very well, if I can ever get to bed. I just drove to the 24 hour CVS in Chicopee to buy Orajel as a last resort, and even the maximum strength stuff has only slightly dulled the throbbing. And when is my dentist appointment? Sometime after December 17th, when I'm next in Jersey for an extended period, and then at the end of December, my dental insurance goes poof! Hopefully, this swollen, painful situation is resolved by then. I would scream very loudly, in hopes that making a loud noise would distract me from the pain, but Cass fell asleep hours ago, so for now I will just mime screaming, and you will get the idea.


2. While in Jersey, I went to Loser Slam for the first time. Any other time I've spent in Long Branch up to this point has been in service of a family reunion. I much prefer being there for poetry, even if poetry in Long Branch is not at the beach. I ended up winning the slam, much to my surprise. Read about that, and other poetry exploits of mine, here.

3. My G-ma went on a tirade this afternoon while I was hanging out with my family in our kitchen about my nose ring. She asked me if the money it took to pay for the piercing couldn't have been better spent feeding a starving child somewhere. Chrissie (who also has her nose pierced) and I just looked at each other and bit our tongues to keep from laughing. Couldn't the money spent on anything be put to better use feeding a starving child?? A direct quote from the rant: "You're not jungle bunnies." I'm glad she didn't start in on tattoos. I'm still not sure she's seen the 82, and if she has, she hasn't mentioned it. I'm fairly certain she disapproves of almost everything about my lifestyle. I cannot imagine what kind of conversation will ensue the first time she and I discuss touring poets or other such semi-starving artists. But she did give me a bunch of bananas and some vegetable lasagna to take back to school, so it was difficult to be mad at her.

4. The Posthumous Voice in Women's Writing from Mary Shelley to Sylvia Plath by Claire Raymond is one of the most intellectually pretentious collections of essays I have ever laid eyes on. It does have the word "posthumous" in the title, so I suppose I should have known better, but I was holding out hope that there were big, thoughtful ideas to back up the massive, wordy titles, and no cigar. Just lots of reliance on Derrida (blech), among other pretentious academic fall-backs that typically prevent an essayist from having an original, inspiring thesis. Sample sentence:

Indeed, the self-elegist claims her understanding of the cultural mechanics of mourning, her exquisite schooling in private poetics.

Seriously, Claire Raymond, what does that even mean?! You go on for twenty-five pages, and I made your same argument (that Plath's "The Rabbit Catcher" both takes agency from and gives it back to the speaker of the poem) in less than two pages. D. H. Lawrence, or Keat's treatment of antiquity really don't have anything to do with what you're saying, nor does the imagery of the rabbit from Alice's Wonderland, nor the discussion of Aurelia Plath's elevation of her collection of Emily Dickinson poems to the status of family Bible that you open the essay with. How do these things even get published?

5. It feels silly to be back at school only to be leaving again on Wednesday afternoon. I wish I could go to the Cantab this week. I am dreading Christmas break because of how totally it will separate me from the things that have been making me creative lately-- the Cantab, the Lady Poet house, the umbilical cord connecting me to the Five College library system. I promised my parents they would see me read poetry in public at least once this winter (I should have swallowed such a promise before I ever uttered it, but it's too late to go back now...) and I am scared of what they will think of me. They nod a lot when I try to explain my experience at open mics, but I know they don't really get what I'm trying to articulate. Maybe once they see it (if I don't die of embarrassment in the middle of the experience) for themselves, we'll be on more level ground. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever stop feeling like a foreign object shoved uncomfortably into the middle of my family that doesn't belong there even out of irony.

Five things (11.17).

1. I gave myself a haircut today. I keep getting indecisive about whether or not I want to venture growing the stuff out, but the scissors are always triumphant.

2. I have a headache that will not quit. I am not happy about this. I have to drive to New Haven to retrieve Sean from the train (somehow, this train station business sees fit to plague me on a semi-regular basis) and I'm not looking forward to it. I must keep the gas money in mind.

3. Ticketmaster has to be one of the worst and most disorganized companies EVER, and here's why: after selling my sister our Lady Gaga tickets not without much strife and page-reloading (I won't even go into the ludicrous pre-sale issues we faced and eventually gave up on), they contacted her several days later to notify her that they had accidentally given us handicapped seats and thus had to cancel the sale, and sadly could not provide replacement tickets because the show was now sold out. Now, besides being sloppy and aggravating, they were basically lying. TicketsNow, a resale company that they own, is still selling tickets (although the "cheap" seats are upwards of $130). Now, I don't care how much red tape they'd be sidestepping, if we made a big enough fuss, we could probably have tickets. But who wants to sit on hold for hours at a time only to be told by multiple representatives that no one is at fault. UMMM EXCUSE ME: if your computerized ticket-choosing system gives us tickets you cannot technically sell us, then I'm pretty sure it's your fault. No wonder they have lawsuits on their hands. So much for scalping being illegal. FAIL, Ticketmaster. EPIC FAIL.

4. After deciding to go home to Jersey this weekend for happy, carefree reasons (getting writing done, spending time with my family, etc.), I found out yesterday morning that a family member passed away and now the weekend will be spent in funerary ways. On top of the already awful impact that had on me, I also had to grapple with the fact that no one even told me he was sick, and his death wasn't exactly sudden. I'm getting very tired of my family try to "protect" me by withholding things. It's amazing-- sometimes I feel like I absorbed all the emotional sensitivity in the house, so that I can be sad enough for ten people, whereas the rest of them act like robots and don't discuss anything that isn't Jesus or dinner menu. I was really looking forward to a little R & R, and now I'm dreading this trip; I'm probably going to spend the whole weekend biting my tongue to keep from reprimanding my parents.

5. In happier news, I just had an aimless meeting with my committee member about community service, concert tickets, writing process, and slam poetry. I never thought I would be discussing the aforementioned Lady Gaga disaster with one of my writing professors, but I'm just so frazzled today that that's where the conversation ended up, besides discussing Bob Dylan and scamming seats at a Cream show in Albany back in the day. The conversation eventually turned to our final meeting for me Div 2 (this whole thesis thing is basically happening NOW), and then we realized she'd be free to be in Boston on Wednesday night for once (she lives in the city and commutes west for little chunks of the week to work at Hampshire). Just so happens, that particular Wednesday is the Cantab semi-final for season champ, which I could potentially end up competing in (if I EVER win a Cantab slam, that is). Regardless of whether I end up slamming then or not, it'll still be exciting to introduce one of my professors to my unofficial writing classroom, especially because many Hampshire poets love her dearly. And there I go, talking about her as if she's some retired old fogey. She isn't. She's really rad. She has a framed picture of Joe Strummer above her desk in her office and a doctoral degree in anthropology. Sometimes she makes me seriously consider what my life would be like if I became an academic. But shh, don't tell anybody.

Five things (11.13).

1. I started in on "Ted Hughes Bakes a Cake" last night while in the Cantab audience, somewhere between finishing my knitting and escaping out the back door for a quick smoke. The draft is in a weird place. Ted Hughes is currently attempting to hypnotize the oven. I'm not sure where it will go next. Probably somewhere too serious for the title, though I'm really trying to keep it as light as possible. Everyone who's heard about this project cannot contain their laughter; it comes out through spitting noises, like their mouths are deflating too quick for their lips.

2. I brought the Dickinson persona piece to workshop this afternoon and felt attacked. The majority of people thought it was too harsh an indictment of Amherst. It's defeating to have a poem I thought of as pretty solid knocked down a peg, but I'll probably just cycle it through several drafts tonight and push it through the problems. I'm trying to have a better attitude about editing, mostly as preparation for the thesis-writing I have to do starting in a rough month.

My second piece at workshop was "The Church of Tchaikovsky", a poem I wrote after a prompt my friend Erich gave me a few weeks ago (he asked me my convictions and after I answered, told me I should write about them). It was a really tough poem to get to-- I must have drafted it nearly fifteen times since I started working with the concept. There are at least four or five more poems to mine from free writes surrounding the thing that I turned in today, but the polished piece of it seemed well-received. I was proud; it's not often that I talk about my relationship to religion at all, let alone in my writing, so it was a tough thing to share in a class setting. Compared to reading in on the open mic at the Cantab last night, I'd say that class is far more nerve-wracking than being on stage, even if I am among friends in both cases. The distance probably helps.

3. As is Thursday afternoon tradition, Cass and I watched ANTM and got a little too giddy during the results portion. It was double elimination, which would narrow the playing field from four girls to the final two, a set of circumstances that some people would also see as cause for freaking out. I want to know those people, so that we can all get together and have a fondue-driven support group. Or a fashion blog knitting circle. Or something similar. Being on a campus focused on "social change", sustainability, and recreating the late 80s/early 90s via the Salvation Army bargain bin makes it very easy to deal with what I lovingly refer to my "schlub" days (the ones when I wear jeans instead of some incarnation of my fairly steady uniform of mini dresses and black tights). It also makes it incredibly difficult to not feel like a freak when I am wandering campus in five inch suede platform heels. Fashion and global-mindedness should not be mutually exclusive. Where are the other secret sequin lovers? (From the mouth of Gaga: "I'm just trying to change the world one sequin at a time.") My roommate and I can't be the only ones. Two of my friends saw me walking back from the library in some pair of pumps the other day and had a serious conversation about how they couldn't understand my impetus for such shoes. But then again, this anxiety could be its own entry, and will probably be further explored in later lists.

4. Rob "Ratpack Slim" Sturma featured in Cambridge last night, and I laughed so hard my abs were sore this morning. I'm not sure if it was the Van Halen, or the waltzing, or what-have-you, but I'm glad it happened. He just released a book with Write Bloody. The more I see of the poets in their catalog, the more I want to get all of them in a room and have a semi-trashy cocktail party with many ashtrays and spanakopita. Then, once everyone was properly liquored and trading stories, I would stealthily extract their brains one by one and secret them all into mason jars. So that I could study them. Perhaps to understand why they all find butterfly knives so aesthetically appealing. But mostly because I keep lending out their books and not getting them back from long, intolerable stretches of time.

5. I crave a conference with Sean, a trip to New York, any kind of small vacation to keep me from getting so buried in books and the mad woman-poet lives of the already-dead that I can't crawl my way out. Being back last week was a short breath, followed by a long a serious plunge under water again. I am bad at scuba diving. In fact, I've never done it before. This feels like drowning. I am taking serious advantage of winter break this year. Sophia said she would take me to her synagogue, and her writing spot. And then there's that Gaga concert. Sometimes I wonder how I manage to convince myself of my love for any other city.

Ten things about today (Tuesday edition) 11.10.

1. "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat" just came on shuffle. Today is going to be a good day.

2. I am pulling together a new chapbook, tentatively titled any number of ridiculous things, although at the moment, I'm thinking of calling it "Spindle". Thus far it is comprised of several imagined biographies of Sylvia Plath (blame my reading Rough Magic with the fervor of a woman possessed), the eyelashes poem I wrote for my sister this summer, my first stabs at persona (from the voices of EBB and ED, what can I say, I am just that nerdy), "Yes, Virginia" which previously appeared in the zine I sold at my Providence show, and an as-yet-unwritten poem called "Ted Hughes Bakes a Cake".

3. The last of the poems I have collected for this new book is a love letter to my typewriter called "Smith-Corona", which will immediately follow this epigraph, a line from a letter written by Eddie Cohen for Sylvia Plath:

And will your husband, whoever he may be,
find contentment in talking to you or making love to you
while you are banging on a typewriter?

It was too perfect. And I had already written the poem. I love the way the stars align sometimes.

4. I have a stack of library books at least the height of my leg, all of them for a final that needs to be roughly eight pages. To say that I have actively planned on going overboard is an understatement. I am horrified at myself and apprehensive that if I allow this behavior to continue on unchecked, that I will end up miserable in a graduate school library somewhere writing a dissertation on madness in the canon of women writers with a focus on the twentieth century. Or maybe that apprehension is excitement. Or maybe I've just been awake for too many hours without breakfast.

5. Tonight is Slam Collective, as is every Tuesday. Steve Subrizi is featuring. It promises to be highly amusing, with a sprinkling of quiet profundity. Tuesdays have turned into weekends-- last week, we finished my handle of bourbon, played several debauched and raucous rounds of Apples to Apples, and stayed up much later than my normal threshold. My living room is the apparent hangout spot, and now that it has been cemented, I feel a little overwhelmed by that. I am not a hostess the way I used to be a hostess. I feel all flustered and underprepared whenever such a large group of people plant themselves in my house and drink out of my glassware.

6. I am taking a course on the Bloomsbury Group. I know I mentioned this yesterday, but I am still geeking out about getting to spend classroom time with Woolf for the fourth time in my college experience. Not that I don't spend countless personal hours talking about her work, but that's just because I cannot help myself. Cass was presenting on Christina Rossetti in our Woman & Poet class yesterday and besides laughing where I knew wombats could (and should!) fit into that conversation, I also had to laugh when she brought up Coleridge's addiction to opiates because I knew that somehow we could work in her "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" tattoo if we really tried. And then a small part of me got sad that my Woolf tattoo wasn't finished (and won't be for awhile) and also will never be visible to the bulk of the population. Whenever someone sees it in its natural habit (my ribs, for those of you who don't know), it is always something of a surprise. I can't wait to get more work done on it, even if it's just for me.

7. Moz says, "most people keep their brains between their legs."

8. I am getting seriously apprehensive for next semester. I only have one major assignment left for this one - that paper I'm seriously over-researching - aside from turning in my general portfolio, and I am antsy to finish all the silly paperwork and just GET ON WITH IT ALREADY. I hate hate hate hate hate red tape.

9. After spending so much time cruising New England last week in Wendeline, I kind of miss driving. Not that I'd want a week like that again, at least not in the near future, but I am a little too happy with the open road to say I'll never do something like that again. I keep erecting dreams off in the distance - of tour next January, or a road trip at all after I graduate next December - and though they are still so far off, I know I'll get there eventually.

10. I find myself missing Providence more than ever lately, and there's really no explanation for it beyond the understandables (my sister, my summer, getting writing done like nobody's business). But in addition to all of that, there's something more, something I can't put my finger on. Maybe I just miss feeling at home. Hampshire is comfortable, especially in this unseasonable warmth we've stumbled into the past few days, but it isn't home. It's trying though.

Spring pre-registration, and wombats.


Registration for spring classes never ends up the way I expect it to. I go into the day with a list and end up not actually taking any of the listed classes. This year, it was the advance writing seminar and a poetry workshop with a professor I really enjoy; too bad both of these courses conflict with a special class at Smith about Woolf's intellectual circle. I think I'm going to take my second class at UMass instead, some upper level class on writing experimental fiction, which is perfect for my thesis. All is well, just in a very different form that was in my mind when I woke up this morning.

The wombat above has very little to do with this, except that Cass is preparing to present on Christina Rossetti in the class we have to be at in roughly five minutes, and Christina Rossetti's pre-Raphaelite painter brother had a wombat he got through the mail. He wrote it an ode. It will be on her soon-to-exist blog. I silently pressured her into a Twitter account, and the blog is coming, I promise. I am a bad influence when it comes to technology.

Cheers from the land of academia!


The fever pitch of the week has somewhat subsided, and now Cass and have confined ourselves to the living room (mostly because the cold is party prohibitive, or maybe we are just already spinsters) to do research for a final paper not due for another month. She is reading Christina Rossetti: A Literary Biography, and I am reading Rough Magic: A Biography of Sylvia Plath. I suppose our friends don't refer to our place as the Lady Poet House for nothing.

Other than that, peppermint schnapps and hot cocoa all around, and I welcome winter-- I dare the cold to breathe on me like it's January. Just watch, Western Mass, I will defy you. I will continue wearing slip dresses under my wool coat until the bitterest of nights, and there is nothing anyone can do about it!

We are perhaps bordering on a cautionary tale: buried in library books, enthusiastically reading passages aloud to one another, making exclamations about the ways in which women of the canon were crippled by the expectations of their environments but still somehow managed the life of a writer (too frequently at the price of great personal strife), and then, on a lighter note, getting mildly delirious--

Me: "You can't italicize a picture..."
Cass: "It's not done. It's just not done, Emily."

Ten things about today.

1. I am reading a psychoanalytic perspective on Sylvia Plath's work at the reference desk called Sylvia Plath: Poetry and Existence. It is very wordy and from the seventies. I am not sure if the writer is angry at Plath for her suicide or defending her behavior in talking about her schizoid personality and its manifestations in her work. Basically nerding it out for the first time in weeks. I have a taken a turn towards the academic, a process of throwing myself back into books that I tend to restart every time I get seriously overwhelmed by the rest of the world. Case in point: last winter, from about January to early April.

2. I am concerned that all of this reading about Plath is going to make me psychoanalyze my own writing. I don't think I'm ready for that, but I'm also pretty sure I wouldn't even know how to go about it in the first place. David Holbrook, in the aforementioned text, has thus far talked a good deal about Plath's reliance on an interior world to support her when her articulations were not understood by their intended audience. To be plain, she retreated inside of herself looking for answers when no one else had any for her, because no one understood her questions. He argues that her answer was the wrong one, quite passionately, saying a bunch about the glorification of modernist literature in the current (1970s) school system being responsible for rampant narcissism and nihilism.

3. The facsimile of the original manuscript for Ariel is one of the required texts for the class I'm doing all this research reading for. We haven't gotten to it in discussion yet, but we will soon, and I have to do a presentation. All the included scans of her type-written final drafts (in the order that she originally intended!!!) live at one of the Smith libraries. I suspect that I will soon make a pilgrimage, so that I may cry, and swoon, and wonder aloud what has changed about Smith since she went there on scholarship forever ago.

4. My aunt sent me a Halloween card from West Palm Beach. I never get mail, and I was definitely not expecting any from her. It had birthday money in it, which made me wonder why she didn't just send a birthday card.

5. I skipped work this morning because the pile-up of exhaustion from the events of the past week proved too crippling for me to get out of bed. I literally opened my laptop, which was next to my face, wrote a two-line email to my supervisor about feeling "under the weather" and hit send, promptly falling back asleep with my hand still on the keyboard. I did not write anything while asleep, but I kind of wish I had.

6. Every Thursday we end up talking about some aspect of space in our poetry workshop. I mostly blame Charley for this. Today's space topic was the space program during the Cold War. Sophia whispered to me that "cosmonaut" is one of her favorite-sounding words, much better than "astronaut". I would probably agree that "cosmonaut" sounds better to me, but that's probably only because I am less familiar with it.

7. I am getting very tired of my vocabulary. I need to read a book translated from another language so that I can think about sentence constructions differently. This method usually yields great results-- last semester, my seminar on the contemporary European novel drastically altered my writing. I produced some of the cleanest prose I ever have as an indirect result of the reading I did over those few months. I think I'll email the professor and ask for some suggestions, although she'll probably just recommend that I read more Sebald, and then I'll get terribly depressed and have World War nightmares that only subtly hint at what is truly going on in the background.

8. Kat Mott is sitting in my living room waiting for me to leave work. I feel like an over-acheiving employee for staying ten minutes past the end of my shift, especially because there's no one here to even see if I show up or not.

9. Cassandra bought groceries, the (arguable) best of which is my current favorite snack: Ruffles and Philadelphia cream cheese. Esme and I discussed the delightfulness of chips and cream cheese today, and it seems like we three have stumbled onto a goldmine of simple yet delicious snack food. Although Cass keeps buying fat free cream cheese, which sometimes creeps me out if I think about it too hard.

10. I have to do a presentation on the origins of microfiction tomorrow afternoon and have not done a lick of work for it. Time to slave over some photocopies of Baudelaire.

Dress-up box, and the historical girl-crushes of the week.

Playboy U named Hampshire # 21 on the list of top party schools in the country this year and while I'm not sure if that's entirely accurate (I mean, since when does a predisposition to decriminalized smokables a party school make?), our biggest party of the year is tonight, and I still have no idea what to wear.

Halloween is an event I change my mind about until the very last possible moment. But here's what I'm thinking at this sleepless moment:



Edie Sedgwick is what most biographers would call one of the Silver Factory's first "superstars". I am more likely to call her one of Warhol's many casualties. Regardless, she seems an appropriate costume, being that I've been living in my fur hooded coat and black tights lately. The only thing left to accomplish is the silvery hair and the eye make-up, and man, did she know how to do up her eyes. Yes, yes, this is who I am dressing up as tonight. I just wish I had a leopard-skin pillbox hat.

And then, there is that business of the Dead Poets Slam, which throws a kink into everything. I made it to the finals as Denise Levertov (a feat that flabbergasted my poetry professor, who said he was sure that Levertov would never work in a slam; however, I was one of the high scorers of the night) and so I have to show up in the library gallery looking decidedly un-"superstar":


Even if they may have both been stars in their various cosmos around the same time, that's about the end of the similarities between my two chosen Halloween personas. Incidentally, they are also my girl-crushes of the week (but really of forever: my eternal style icon and my first favorite poet of college who made me fall in love with sharks all over again).

Anyway, I'm off to turn in my thesis proposal and then do some serious writing for my last class of the week, which frustratingly absorbs the bulk of a much needed afternoon -- Georgie wants a haircut, Charley wants me to take him shopping for costume supplies, and then there's this whole business of the slam that I have to prepare for. A few extra hours in the day would probably be nice, but wait a second, isn't Daylight Savings Time this weekend? Oh wait, it's the bad version. Fuck.



let the light in

It's Charley's birthday party (as an aside, happy happy birthday Charley, and fuck you for having your party during a MONSOON), which apparently makes it the end of the world tonight? At least that's what we're told by the theme of the party. I somehow interpreted this to mean that I needed Egyptian make-up. Ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies.

I have a somewhat serious sewing project in the works. Not serious in that the outcome is somehow crucial, but in that the skin on my right middle finger is a little bit angry at me (meaning that it is somewhat mangled since all of my sewing callouses have disappeared). It has a fair amount tot do with Halloween. Coincidentally, Charley will probably be very jealous when he sees it.

It feels like everything I say lately is "I was going to go to college for fashion design" / "I was going to go to college for painting" / "I was going to go to college for graphic design" / "I was going to go to school for _______". Odd that all of this comes out just as I'm getting my thesis project together in order to graduate. I am such a public mess. Check for updates about that whole writing thing over on Fiction Pays The Bills (I swear I'll update it soon, really).

This day is shark bait.

Lots to buzz about. A one Jack McCarthy is storming the Northeast, and I had the exquisite pleasure of seeing him perform on two consecutive evenings, once in my own Hampshire backyard (for an hour! for free!!!) and then for the second time on my weekly excursion to Cambridge. I also gave Sam a pretty decent haircut. On the way back from Boston, I sang at the top of my lungs almost the entire way, and it was amazing. I even made the weird Alanis noises that Alanis makes in her songs. My throat felt very 90s afterwards. Katie and I laughed at my need to make such ludicrous noises, but we also decided that one of the main factors predisposing us to feminism was our childhood love/unhealthy obsession with Alanis. Yay Canada!

In "real life", one of my poetry professors told me that I am too "emotionally hard" on myself after reading selections from the manuscript of my 365 project. This impromptu meeting about the manuscript cut into the first twenty minutes of a class where I was meant to be discussing the poetry of Emily Brontë, but beyond that, it probably made me be even more hard on myself for being hard on myself in the first place.

And I got semi-lost driving to North Station, which is stupid, because North Station has signs for it everywhere. Google Maps, you are thoroughly inadequate when it comes to navigating Boston. I propose that someone create some sort of exhaustive GPS designed only for navigating Boston, one that actually recognizes what road you are on, and tells you to turn down streets that aren't one ways headed in the opposite direction. Yeah! Hop to it, Somebody!

I am using exclamation points a lot more frequently than I normally would. This can probably be attributed to the fact that I am over-tired in a way that is generally unacceptable for the level at which I must function on a given Thursday. I just want to curl up in bed with my shark and take a long long nap while someone else does my laundry, fixes me a hot dinner that isn't leftover pizza rewarmed in the toaster oven, and then maybe crawls in bed next to me. We all know how likely that is to happen.

Workshop in my an hour, with two of my poems on the chopping block. I will reiterate here for effect, I just want to crawl into bed with Grössby.


The brain is a labyrinth.

Anxiety issues are something worriers like us (okay, maybe just me...) are born predisposed to according to this New York Times article.

Now, I'm not typically heavy into psychology, but the ways of the brain fascinate me; the fact that our levels of reaction to outside stimulus as infants remains on some level consistent as we age is compelling because I've always heard of the brain referred to as "plastic" or constantly changing. If something like potential for anxiety remains consistent, what does that mean for people who are crippled in their daily lives by worry?

Questions of consciousness, bodily experience, temperament, and the ways in which humans are still such scientific mysteries were among the topics of conversation last night after I got back from one of my all-time favorite nights at the Cantab. My friend Kat's academic concentration is based on a holistic approach to the brain, and we did a little talking about the nature of memory. If there was a science I'd like to sit in on simply as a curious observer, it would be any and all sciences involving the study and theorization of the human mental experience.

And speaking of anxiety, I have a writing assignment weighing heavily on me at the moment; enjoy the article!

Our first trip to "The House".


One of our roommates (Aly) at the Lady Poet house has a long and exciting history with a certain house in Amherst. There are usually theme parties, and though this weekend wasn't one of those times, there was still a more general kind of party going on, so we made the trek out anyway. Aside from having not been to a real party in months, the whole thing was very exciting and allowed me to cross a few things off my "teenage debauchery that must be accomplished before Tuesday" list. Because Tuesday is my 20th birthday! Which means tomorrow I'll have to start acting older and wiser. Yuck. All I want to do is dance. And write poetry. But anyway, here are a few cell phone memories from the evening.


Cass and Aly pose, then forget that they are being photographed.