Welcome To My Bed

VLOG # 9 (part 1), + plenty of news.

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+ One of the last visual memories of the old tree house AKA the first half of the move documented on video. Or really, Cass and I making a final procrastination push before jumping ship from campus housing and entering the real world. We're not going to have internet in the new tree house until at least a week from now, so the second half will either be slow in coming or posted to the internets via this coffee house internet connection. If I don't find it too disgusting to be posting video blogs while sipping rooiboos.



+ Moving is tough. My whole body feels like it's made of old tires. I have at least six bruises all up and down my thighs from carrying couches up stairs. I had a sad moment when I returned the U-Haul. I liked driving that monster a little bit too much. Maybe my true car love will end up being a pick-up truck (but shhhh, don't tell Wendeline). Over the past few days, I have driven at least 500 miles all over New England gathering my belongings, biting my lip, and hefting an endless parade of boxes into my room to be unpacked and sorted into their appropriate locations. Through all of that driving, I thought a lot about how disturbed I was every time a radio DJ mentioned that a song I'd just heard was by Justin Bieber, mostly because his voice hasn't changed yet and thus he sounds like he is Miley Cyrus's new competitor for Britney reincarnated. Speaking of which, Miley's new-ish single sounds a bit too much like Britney circa the album Britney for my taste. As a home remedy for the amount of top 40 pumped into my system, I have only been spinning Sage Francis's Human The Death Dance and a lot of French shoegaze. I know it doesn't make sense, and I have no well-thought out justification for why it should.

+ I built a five shelf bookcase last night after work and an afternoon of swimming. Being able to look at all my reading material in one place makes me feel slightly more organized, even when the floor is still covered in clothes because I have yet to pick up my dresser from Wayne's garage. Furniture is a general problem right now for me. I won't feel settled until I have all my things with me (I am far too attached to worldly possessions to have ever become a nun, as I had planned in the fifth grade).

+ I have a show coming up this Tuesday in Newmarket, NH (event info here), which is a literal stone's throw from my beloved Portsmouth. I think a late night visit to the Friendly Toast will probably end up happening, and I will finally buy that t-shirt with the squirrel on it. I am avoiding thinking, talking, or pressuring myself about this show which is definitely not okay because I have half of my set list left to memorize and polish, in addition to the new chapbooks that need to be printed. But I finally brought my printer into the house from the car this morning, so I suppose we can call those baby steps. I am so excited to be performing in front of audience for an extended period of time again--I haven't had a feature since last June at Got Poetry! Live. I'm looking forward to the quiver in my stomach just before the first poem, and the drop that will come just before the last poem, when I realize that it is almost time to quit speaking. Incidentally, I'll be performing again on Thursday for a BARCC speak out organized by the Phoenix Charter Academy in Chelsea. I've been talking art and the politics of speech with just about everybody who will engage the topic and these performances will be a satisfying space to work out the energy I've had on reserve for public displays of artistic enthusiasm.

+ But the thing nagging at me the most these past few weeks isn't my apartment coming together or my show going well. It is my dad's health, as it has been for months now. Yesterday he checked back into the hospital (his language, as if it is now such a familiar action that it is on par with a hotel stay for him) because of an excess of fluid in the lung they collapse when they did his sextuple bypass. That "excess" ended up being 2.3 liters. When my sister told me, all I could see was a large bottle of RC Cola or some other such nonsense jammed up into his ribs. I have not been much for praying in my life over the past few years, but I have gotten very good at holding my breath over these things. When I was home last week and took him out to lunch for his birthday, he barely ate half of his seafood sandwich, couldn't even finish a pint of Harp. This is my father, more salt and pepper by the day, twenty pounds lighter than the last time I saw him, a network of scars, a cocktail of pills, and now all of this little bumps in the road that make recovery much slower going than anyone wants it to be. I wish there was something I could do.

Little happiness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Porstmouth, NH.

As promised, the highlight of my spring break AKA a day trip to the city that was once home to a notorious red light district, a place that has been a breath of fresh air every time I've visited. Cass and I spent the day with our shoulders bare to the sun and big fat smiles on our faces. I've been thinking about the Friendly Toast (one of the best breakfasts in America according to Esquire) and wharf walks and what a good time we had making fun of the people celebrating St. Paddy's in lieu of letting myself sit too long with hospital things on the brain. It seems to help.

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A black eye on Easter Sunday.

I have an epic string of adventure photos to show from Spring Break New Hampshire 2010 (otherwise known as my two-day vacation to Cassandra's parents' house in Durham), but I am only going to give you a preview of the kinds of wonderful to be had when you poke around the junk shops adjacent to the train tracks, the used bookstores with bigger poetry sections than Barnes and Noble (sadly, it's less difficult than you might imagine), and a city whose past is heavily tinted by the glare from its red light district (Portsmouth, not Durham).

I found this poster for a movie based on the book Spinster Dinner. I've been thinking a lot about black eyes lately. The intersection of factors proved too serendipitous.

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Jaws here is a little concerned for Carole Lombard, but I assured him it was only stage make-up.

In other news, I memorized a poem while at work today and scared my co-workers half to death by mumbling under my breath for most of the day about shiners and seizures and all manner of strange conditions of the body. It has a line in it about Easter, and I kept dropping the poem when I got to that line, a stutter I'll attribute to the fact that this will be the first Easter I won't be able to spend with my family in my entire life. I hadn't thought about that until right now--"my entire life" is an inordinately huge thing. My little sister is angry because she wanted to reinstitute the egg hunt this year. (She is nineteen.) I am angry because although I do not see the point in dragging myself to mass over it, as I always must when I drive down to Jersey, I miss meals with my extended family. I want to have a couple glasses of champagne with all those aunts and uncles and cousins, get down to that real talk that worms its way in among the jokes and old stories. Maybe the real talk is just the jokes and stories. I'm just rambling now. I sent my mother an Easter present in the mail today, which I guess came from rehearsing the poem but ended up being a little too emotional for a trip to the post office. I keep ascribing giant meanings to very small envelopes. There aren't enough stamps for these things.

Speaking of mail, I ran into my former roommate at that same 24 hour post office (I KNOW, I had no idea they existed either) and she didn't even recognize me. I had completely forgotten that since we last spoke, I've died my hair three times and essentially dropped off the planet where people with social lives congregate.

So much gets lost, but when I take deep breaths, I find that it all comes back to me in its own way without so much as a complaint. It's the remembering my lungs that's the problem.

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

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

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



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

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Recyclable foil prom dress?

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Sartorial choices to match your patio furniture?

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

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

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



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

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

Magic morsels #10 and 11.

Oh Maggie Atwood, you are such a gem. I think I may be partial to Maggies. I think that may be why some masochistic part of me enjoys Los Angeles.

Momentary digression where I insert a poem video that may or may not apply to the above claim:



Isn't it weird to be so lucky that when you wish people you know were around more often that you can look them up on youtube and watch them talk about things they care enough to write about? Isn't the internet weird??

Phew! Digression complete. Back to Maggie Atwood and being a gem:

"An interview is also a performance, and although a performance can reveal much, its revelations are selective, and its omissions and concealments are often as instructive as its grand pronouncements.... Sometimes a writer doesn't want to tell; sometimes a writer has forgotten.... Writers are human beings; they too inhabit bodies, had childhoods, get through the day somehow, experience joy and fear and boredom, confront death. The rabbits they produce are only common rabbits, after all; it's the hat that's magic. And yet it is only a hat. This is what fuels our curiosity: the mix of the familiar, even the banal, and the radically inexplicable."

From the new introduction to Paris Review collection Women Writers at Work.

On a semi-related note, I am starting the outlining process for a series of personal essays on what different kinds of writing mean to me. On another, also semi-related, note, I was offered a feature today. And there was lots of sun. And both of my sisters made me laugh. Other than that, my current brain is up for grabs here.

Magic morsel #9.

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This is how I like to think of mine and Cass's room. It isn't nearly as majestic, but our bank of windows does offer a halfway decent view.

Posting here is going to slow down (if it hasn't already). Work is spilling past its boundaries, and I have a stack of library books that's taller than I am. In the meantime, I made a place to keep a kind of juxtaposition journal for my thesis. Even without as much content here as I'd like, I'll be doing my homework here.

Magic morsel #8.



Inclement weather on a Friday means absolutely nothing to me--it is my one day off a week. Thus far, I have spent it doing four loads of laundry (chores sometimes get away from me), organizing my desk, and singing along very loudly to various songs with Cassandra. Like this one. Being that we live in a tree house, the people walking below can usually hear these impromptu karaoke sessions. They are especially exciting when it is snowing steadily outside and all of the usual witnesses are hiding somewhere warm (definitely not under our bank of windows).

If hungry, proceed with caution.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

VLOG # 7



The last episode will never be seen (unless you come to our house and demand it!!!), but this one's still breathing. Not easily, but it's breathing.

Mish mash girl making that kish cash monay.

1. This picture of my coffee table speaks volumes about my current state.

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Too broke to buy cigarettes, so it's been Bugler since last week. Too beat down to make it to the Cantab this Wednesday, so we bought a bunch of wine instead. Too busy to straighten up, so the living room resembles a tornado victim. The start of a new semester. I am taking one writing workshop and waiting tables six days a week now. This pictures will most likely continue to represent the state of things.

2. Last Tuesday, because of logistical issues (and mostly because paperwork at Hampshire seems to boggle the administration a bit more than my taste), we had Slam Collective outside on the sidewalk. In late January. It looked like this.

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my roomie performing one of her hits with musical accompaniment


Though half frozen by the end of it, we were all in high spirits and had a huge crowd of good-natured observers willing to indulge our makeshift stage. I love being surprised by the poetry community on campus, because at times it feels like the core members care extra in the face of general ill-will on campus. It was really nice to know that people love what we do and would sit out in sub-zero weather just to get their weekly open mic fix.

3. It is difficult to even admit this, but I have not been a highway in nearly two weeks, and I haven't driven my own car on a highway in nearly three. I am a terrible nomad, living in a stationary house, working a job with a W-2 and a uniform. I have been reduced to getting my kicks from after-hours trips to McDonalds. Don't judge. The glowing interior of fast food restaurants after they have been closed to the public are oddly comforting.

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And for the time being at least, as long as I am among friends, I wouldn't have it any other way.

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.

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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:

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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.

This week is the bomb (like "tick, tick").

1. I'm ill (not sick, says Weezy), sinus pressure, no-sleep-til-Brooklyn ill. I forget why I hate campus Januaries, and now it's all coming back to me with a surge of phlegm and a few too many cartoon sneezes. Maybe I'd feel better if I grew my hair out a bit and died it brown again?

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no, that can't be right...


However, I have been making the most of things in spite of this minor speed bump. Exhibit A:

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note the importance of wearing a particularly girly hair clip into battle


On last week's Providence visit (this is becoming an almost-regular occurrence), Kait and I went out for a night of substance-free fun (read: nostalgic reclamation of childhood followed by hot cocoa with schnapps and heaping helping of General Hospital) and ended up at an elementary school-turned-arcade that boasted indoor paintball and airsoft, along with a convoluted laser tag course that had my legs sore for too many days afterwards. We lost three rounds of laser tag to a group of fifteen-year-olds who had been there every night that week, played as many rounds of House of the Dead as we could justify, traded in our skee ball tickets for monkey tattoos that didn't stay on for more than a half hour, and were generally pleasantly surprised by the whole thing. From the road, the place definitely didn't look like much. But then again, we were in Attleboro, where a weeklong stay at the Pineapple Inn clocks in around $150. Don't ask me why I know that.

2. Exhibit B: last night at the Cantab was one of the best Cambridge nights I've had in awhile. The open mic was a stacked deck of awesome with a surprise visit from vintage heckler Eric Darby reading a persona poem involving a Yankee's fan on Sox Talk, day 2 of J W Baz's brief Hampshire-guided adventure in Massachusetts (we've nearly convinced the man to enroll), Melissa ranted about breast monsters and catcalls, DJ Muse played me on with an electronic track that made me feel like a super villian, and then there was this whopping moment where Tom Daly lumped me in with Brian and April as one of the venue's exciting voices (I promptly crawled into my scarf and/or melted into a puddle of my own blushing under the table where I remained for quite some time). Will Evans featured and blew me out of the water. Erin Jackson won a highly entertaining slam, the final pairing of which was against Sam Teitel. Oh Hampshire, look at you, making me proud. And then, we said, "Let there be IHOP!" And there were pancakes, and endless coffee, and so much shouting of stories down the line that I suggested we all play telephone. It felt like the best kind of family dinner, the kind you eat with the family you've chosen. And all 20-something of us (yes, we did break their seating limit something awful) said it was good. Cos it was.

3. I'm still waiting for my notebook to return to me via the mailroom (yes, I am forgetful enough to abandon my journal in another state), so I've been writing down things on a very long piece of paper towel, among various other places.

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why yes, I do have the smallest of all handwriting; thanks for noticing


Most everything I write down is either for my retrospective, or a quote from The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which I picked up on a boring afternoon at work earlier this week on a whim and cannot put down. I read this passage last night right before the open mic and had to hug the book to my chest and not move for a solid five minutes to keep from being completely paralyzed by it.

She felt attracted by their weakness as by vertigo. She felt attracted by it because she felt weak herself. Again she began to feel jealous and again her hands shook. When Tomas noticed it, he did what he usually did: took her hands in his and tried to calm them by pressing hard. She tore them away from him.
"What's the matter?" he asked.
"Nothing."
"What do you want me to do for you?"
"I want you to be old. Ten years older. Twenty years older!"
What she meant was: I want you to be weak. As weak as I am.


It may not be as effective if you haven't read the book. The only thing I can say about that is that you should probably read the book. Lara Bozabalian has this poem called "Music Box" that references the novel, which is how I ended it grabbing it off a library shelf, and have not regretted a second of rapt reading.

Coasting.

1. Saw this video today around lunch time on MTVU while making myself a salad (ground turkey cooked in Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce, sliced strawberries, cheddar cheese, lettuce, bacon ranch dressing; it sounds wacky but tasted heavenly) and decided to adopt it as my new theme song since all I'm doing lately is coasting from city to city, departing and arriving whenever it feels right.



2. This tendency towards drifting has taken me from Amherst to Boston and then down to Providence over the past three days. Those three cities seem to be the triangle of home base, rotating in and out of favor at random intervals. I sat talking with Erick at Coffee Exchange for the better part of this afternoon about the triangle, making plans for art and living spaces, talking shop about poetry and sculpture, discussing the best trees we've met and so on. I've come to realize that what the triangle cities have in common are the types of people that live in them--the kinds I stay up until four in the morning talking to, ones who let me live on their couches or nest in their guest beds whenever need be. Fitz and I spent Wednesday trading stories about beloved books; my sister, her roommate Leanne, and I went to Kartabar on Thayer street for dinner last night and laughed raucously while recounting our New Year's Eves; and then today Erick and I had our afternoon of caffeine and a bunch of pizza at Nice Slice. I feel very good about this triumvirate of beloved locations. Home has turned into a state of happiness that can exist in lots of places, and that's a comfort, especially since I've been concerned about belonging somewhere specific for the past few months. Maybe I can just belong everywhere and have that be alright.

3. I am taking a mini blogging hiatus (probably two or three days-worth) in favor of organizing a few things (read: searching for a new/supplementary form of income, making a reading list, traveling to visit friends, etc.). Thanks in advance for the breathing room. I promise to return well-rested and with oxygen-induced euphoria.

New year, empire state of mind.

This post is nearly a week over-due, but I am still basking in the afterglow of all the wonderful that took place between December 31st and January 2nd. I was telling my friend Brian about it last night at the Cantab and he literally said, "I don't think I've been more jealous of anyone in my life. I am restraining myself from pushing you off your chair out of spite."

Anyway, let's get into it. New year, new decade, new everything--well, not exactly. I thought I was leaving the trial and tribulation of the 365 project behind with 2009, but I just don't know when to quit and have signed on for another year. We'll see if I can make it through this second round.

I rang in the shift of time with Sean and Sophia in Manhattan and Brooklyn, my first New York New Years ever, a criminal situation since the city and I have been loving neighbors to one another my entire life. It was time to break my former tradition of quiet evenings at home with Dick Clark and cheap champagne, so I made it a saucy evening in Clinton Hill at Roger Bonair-Agard's brownstone dancing the night away with the New York all-stars. One of my favorites moments of the night--Roger's mother joining us on the dance floor and looking like she was having the time of her life. Another that I'll never forget or be able to replicate--the midnight champagne toast turning into an "Empire State of Mind" sing-along where absolutely everybody knew the words and absolutely everybody was on their feet having the best possible time.

After the party, Sean, Sophia and I hopped on the subway back to Sophia's apartment and continued our festivities more quietly, sharing a hot pretzel, going for a late night walk in the park, letting our cases of the champagne sillies get the best of us. The next morning after homemade waffles, Sean hopped on the Holtz's grand piano and played an epic medley of his old standards. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to harmonize, being that we don't get our car-radio diva sessions nearly enough.

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After the private concert, we had a hearty diner meal and a healthy gossip session (as poets tend to do whenever there are several in one place). I could help but smile, no matter where the conversation turned. It's so seldom that we get to spend any substantial amount of time with Sean. New York isn't terribly far from Massachusetts, but it's far enough to keep our lives too separate for my taste.

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But with not even twenty-four hours-worth of reunion, Sean was Boston-bound to do some more visiting, so Sophia and I took advantage of the unseasonably warm January weather and went for a walk around her neighborhood, eventually stopping in at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, one of her favorite places, to do some talking and marvel at the architecture.

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When I have my first Christmas tree, whenever that may be, I want it to be a huge nest of paper cranes like this one. I was so taken by the sight of this one in the church--like a bunch of wishes floated down from wherever just to roost in the tree. I am getting all romantic about then for literally no reason, but I love them. They literally made my day.

Sophia's parents invited me to stay for my very first Shabbat dinner, and after a glass of wine and lots of laughs and stories of the most famous Israeli poet and his attendance at dinner parties, I made my way back to Brooklyn to drop in on Evan and James for a long overdue visit. Also, Theodore was there, adorable as always, and probably twice the size he was when I last saw him in September.

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The next morning, the subways back to Manhattan were all wacky with service interrupted on at least four different lines out of Brooklyn for track repairs, but I eventually made it back to New Jersey in one piece in time for a family dinner and some more champagne to finish out the week. If I'm not careful, I'm going to start getting used to the stuff.

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I have my fingers crossed that the sun will keep shining on me as brightly as it's been since the first. I am so grateful to have kicked off this very important year with good friends and a clear head. At lunch with one of my high school English teachers on New Year's Eve, I got a compliment I wouldn't have known how to take a year ago--that I am "empty and marvelous". I am going to keep that in mind from now on, that emptiness isn't negative, just a better state from which to accept all the lemons Life juggles and then drops into your lap when you least expect them. Empty, I can easily be a pitcher of lemonade with a little elbow grease.

Buried in AWESOME.

1. Happy Holidays everybody! The snow is melting in drizzle, so I'm pretty sure I can only be buried in intangible awesomeness today. I don't know if it has something to do with the fact that I'm getting older (and thus, hopefully, more grateful) or what, but this Christmas was definitely one of the best I've ever had. Maybe it's the shift in traditions--for the past few years now, my sisters and I have gone to midnight mass with my dad and then out to a huge diner breakfast afterwards to do some catching up (read: hysterical laughing) before the big day; introducing each other to our favorite beers; spoiling our brother with electronics and big squishy hugs. But even the things that stay the same every year made me extra-smiley this time around. (And I didn't even take my wisdom tooth Vicodin all day, so we can't blame the painkillers.) I got to give copies of my new book out to all my aunts and uncles; the cousins made (very) tentative plans to go on an all-inclusive cruise together in a few years when we're not so broke; and then there was cheesecake. Also, I got a parasol prototype that they'll be selling at the Seattle Museum in the near future:

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This lead to discussion of starting a traveling performance troupe as a family. We're all so loud and entertaining (at least among ourselves), that it seems the obvious choice. I think I'm going to learn to juggle, and when Chrissie gets out of business school, we can hit the road with balanced books and a whole lot of wacky fun.

2. Poetry found its way into everything yesterday--besides getting the collected works of Anne Sexton and some Plath, my sister bought me Anis Mojgani's Over The Anvil We Stretch and Sarah Morgan's Animal Ballistics. My brother made me a book of his poems (we must pause so I can yell about this for a second: MY BROTHER MADE HIS FIRST EVER CHAPBOOK!!! AT THE AGE OF 12!! IT'S HAPPENING!!!!!). I put several spoken word albums on my brother's Christmas iPod, his favorite of which is Connor and Ian's The Narwhal's Revenge Song. I made a spoken version of my new chapbook for my dad, as well a spoken anthology of poems for him that started out as a read-the-classics-aloud session and ended up peppered with words of friends I dug up on Facebook, Blogger and Youtube, as well as in my iTunes library. It seems that no matter how hard I try to ally myself with traditional page poetry, I find myself defining performance as an integral aspect of poetry.

As an aside, my great aunt shared an interesting quote last night that I think applies to lots of writers I know: something along the lines of "we all start out as poets and end up novelists because it is easier". I can't remember who said it, but it rings true in many ways. Novels are so much easier to sell--very few regular Joes go to the bookstore and spend their time there in the poetry section, and it's a shame. Virginia Woolf writes a lot about how poets are born with a gift, whereas novelists and essayists can be trained to a certain level of competency. It's an interesting tension to think about, especially in light of all the genre-blurring the Lady Poets have been discussing since moving in back in September. We seem to have reached a consensus that the differences between "fiction", "non-fiction", and "poetry" are chiefly in terms of form; in most cases, content crosses over with relatively few hiccups, and thus the concept of genre is something best left to the critics and ignored by the writers themselves.

3. Today, even though it's rainy, I am smiling extra-large, already starting in on new sets of mittens. I am ready to soak up this vacation as a completely immobile fun-sponge. Time to make a nest with all of my new books (among them a first edition of Who Killed Amanda Palmer? from my dad) and my knitting and my parasol. For now, as much as I miss the Lady Poets, and Boston, and Providence, there is nowhere else I'd rather be than curled up here, in New Jersey. It feels good to say that and mean it.

"We all go to schools for people who don't like colleges."

1.
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This is the face of general anesthetic. And suddenly missing teeth. If you look closely, you can see the gauze I have to keep tight in my jaw (hint: it is much whiter than my actual teeth). Also, if my face was turned the other way, you'd see the pillow marks on it from passing out as soon as I got back from the oral surgeon. I stayed up late last night showing Matty slam videos and making plans to start a band (for real, this is going to happen, I am finally going to sing in a band and it is going to be EPIC), and while I'd like to blame my nap on that late bedtime, I'm pretty sure it had more to do with the combined effects of the IV in my arm, the nitrous/oxygen mix strapped onto my nose, and whatever else it was they used to put me under and into a dream state I couldn't describe to you if I tried. I blame the strange dreams on the fact that Alanis Morissette was playing as I drifted off into what I imagine this inside of the Barney bag must look like.

2. On Monday, I spent the afternoon reuniting with Meg and Erick on Thayer (Meglet and I had a low-key soup night on Sunday that quickly turned giggle-fit/poetry reading and stayed that way, much to my delight; my favorite moment of the night came during an epic conversation about Amanda Palmer in which Meg stated, "I've definitely written a poem about Amanda Palmer's thighs..." and then trailed off wistfully) for extra-cripsy pizza at Nice Slice and then a long discussion of respect and art at Tealuxe.

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She's so magic, her scarf is invisible!


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The conversation was the kind of satisfying where you're all jumping in and chomping at the bit to make your points, but nobody ever feels cut off in a rude way (or at least I didn't). But there was more than a fair share of digressions as well, with everything from the traditional Santa foil the Krampus coming up, as well as the monetary value of mental labor, Jesus' status as radical Jew, someone wanting to Falcon punch a cat, and the terrible existential question of what one is meant tod in their early twenties. I left the tea bar hours later with so many ideas to write about and so much fire in me that I decided I needed to drive back to Jersey almost directly in order to make some art in the basement. I haven't had an itch to do some painting like that in years. So I hopped on the highway after saying my see-you-laters and looking hopefully forward to a good, productive holiday and my return to Providence to do some more triangle tea table discussions about how to create and maintain healthy communities without stepping on toes or stagnating. And sometimes you have to stand on chairs to be among the people again, simple as that.

But the most important thing to take away from the tea house symposium on the ins and outs of art and academics is this, in reference to Erick's always rosy cheeks-- "he not a player, he just blush a lot."

3.
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This is one of the many reasons I love my brother: when we get together, we do silly dances in front of the living room mirror, and sometimes he wears a ceramic duck on his head? It's better not to ask about such things, because they only really make sense at the time. For example, last night at dinner, he yelled at his own reflection in the window, saying, "SILENCE YOU, Doppleganger!" I wish I had his non sequiturs around all the time--I feel so at ease when we skulk around the house together making up stories and songs and having wild rumpuses. I need more wild rumpuses. They are becoming less and less acceptable for me as I get older, and I am clinging to them for dear life. Yesterday I was stomping around the house in gold tights, lace trim bike shorts, a David Bowie t-shirt, and a turban made from an orange beach sarong I wore to death in middle school--my mother made a face at me asked if I was going to change before I went to the supermarket, but I just told her that if people wanted to stare, that was their prerogative. I wish I had a picture to show for it, but since it was nothing particularly remarkable in comparison with my day-to-day outfits, I neglected to document it. People did stare, but I am happy in my skin, even if it's too shiny for some people to understand.