Good morning, Brave Monday, I’m all wound up.

What I really want to say is: I dreamed last night that I was making Thanksgiving dinner and had forgotten to go grocery shopping, and that there was a baby scrambling around (that might have been a kitten?), and I was at the top of some stairs that I couldn’t get down from. And that dreams are super weird, but anyone can see that there’s some interpretation to be gleaned from that there pre-wakeup business.

What I really want to say is: this is about courage.

I put it out into the world. Yes, I did.

So you know about the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival, yes? This is an effort in bravery, and I’m not afraid to say so!* I got up off the sofa at the end of January with my good idea tucked under my arm, and pushed it into action. Holy crap, it’s in action!

Since then I’ve been figuring things out – like making pretty web pages, getting logistics in order, shouting out news, learning to write a press release, chatting up people I don’t know, and sniffing around cool venues for the scent of amazing things in potentia.**

And now I’m asking for help – which, in case you were wondering, is terrifying. This morning I set up a Go Fund Me page  in order to make submissions to the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival free, and now I’m buzzing all over and feeling weird and excited, and hopeful, and and and…

Look – here’s the scoop:
Right now the plan for this festival is to use money that I have been carefully socking away since the beginning of the year as prize money. And I was planning to use that and money from submissions to cover the cost of throwing the awards ceremony event, right? But the more I think about it, the more I think about how often money can be the one thing that keeps me personally from submitting my work. Money for poems in the mail or money for groceries, right?*** The groceries usually win out. And I thought about how people who make a lot of art don’t have a whole lot of disposable income†. Conclusion: I want to make submissions free.

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So, sister, there’s been some talk about my talk. I *can* call you sister, can’t I?

Have a look at this:

—Where are we going then?

—Brothers, brothers…

—I ain’t your brother, a woman shouts.

—All right bloody hell sisters then, and everyone is laughing.
 -from Iron Council by China Mieville

Iron Council is one of those books that I can just read and re-read, and it never suffers for it. It has trains, and remade people, and union politics, and golems, and sex workers, and civil rights, and magic, and it’s a fucking artful piece of writing. But all that aside, it’s the interaction in that quote that stays with me beyond the entire adventure, more than anything else at all.

Shall we talk about sisterhood a moment without getting granola? I mean, I’m sure that at least half the people reading this are expecting granola. I can get granola with you, if you want – personally, I’m down with the notion of sisterhood and the hippie magic associated with it. I have no shame around that stuff, ‘cos there’s nothing to get shameful about. But the hippie magic isn’t where I’m going when I call you sister.

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Lately there’s been a spate of crap on my facebook feed of judgement, specifically the type regarding what people look like, or how they dress, or what they eat. A lot of it is of the high and mighty variety – commentary on Michelle Obama’s behind, or what dress Gabourey Sidibe should or shouldn’t have worn on the red carpet (and how she’s obviously going to die young, because omg, deathfatz), or coupons leading to even more omg, deathfatz because dontcha know, people who use coupons don’t know how to eat good food. Or the latest, straight up shit talking about Harnaam Kaur’s choice to rock a beard instead of conforming to homogenized standards of beauty, complete with assumptions about her religion and medical status.

And it just irritates the shit out of me. First and foremost because it assumes that anyone who has a little padding or some extra hair is inherently stupid. Secondly, because, holy shit, why is it your business in the first place? Why so judgmental, buddy – got nothing going on by you of interest to talk about?

And I could let it roll off, all duck’s back and water, sure, but the fact is, this shit is personal, hello.

Point in fact, I’m a fat and kinda hairy lady, myself. At 4′ 10″, I’ve been around 167 pounds pretty much all of my post-teen years. I was 190 when I was pregnant, and then around 130 twice, for a hot fifteen minutes apiece. This body involves years and years of fat shame from doctors and strangers, as well as occasional, “concern,” from members of my family,* and, if I may speak frankly, sister, I don’t need that crap from my friends.**

I walk around in this body – do you know that? I look after its stray hairs and lumpy bits, and feed it and bathe it, and exercise it. It’s mine, and I’m in it, and I take it to the yoga mat, and I drag it to doctor’s appointments where it gets weighed and tsk tsked over sometimes, just like Michelle Obama and Gabourey Sidibe, and everyone else. I have two options in this world with this body: 1) I can be ashamed of it and hide it away at home, or 2) I can walk out into the sun and have a life.

Let me tell you a story:

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Ok. So I can’t seem to get more than a third of my to-do list tackled on any given day,* but I can totally manage to start new projects.

The stuff that’s sitting on my list right now is mostly the hard stuff: some emails I need to send out (two of which require me to be brave), an art submission (which also requires me to be brave), and some handwritten letters that need to be sent out (two of the five require me to have something to say, and one more requires me to organize my notes into a comprehensible letter after reading someone’s poetry manuscript). Also, I need to call the health insurance company about optical, find all three of us new PCPs, arrange a dental appointment for Our Man Cub, and arrange for our car to be serviced.**

Yeh. So my plan today was to make mail. To sit down and write letters and pack stuff up to send out. I didn’t do that, so much. I handled the ironing and the changing of linens. I cleaned and finished a scarf and posted a couple new listings on my Etsy. And then this happened:

I’ve been aching to try out arm knitting for what feels like forever – A woman I worked with shared a video of it with me and I became intrigued like whoa. I even pinned*** it, intending to try it out when I got a chance. Ok, really, intending to try it out when I found the right yarn (chunky) at the right price (cheap – I’ve never tried this, so no need to spend a lot of money on it). I haven’t found said yarn yet. Also, I’ve heard tell of making yarn from tee shirts, and have been just dying to try that out. Then I mentioned to a friend the tee-shirt yarn thing, and she mailed me a pin about how to do it, and omg, SHOWED UP AT OUR HOUSE WITH A BAG OF TEES! Squeee! Thank you, Sarah!

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Fourteen years ago in winter, Snowball broke into our house. No – really. It had been bitter weather, and he had been hanging around our porch, probably because it afforded some shelter from the miserable cold, semi-enclosed as it was. I had started leaving some food out for him when it became obvious that he was sticking around more than part time. He had a red flea collar at first, and no tags, and no one on the block knew whose cat he was, if he was anyone’s at all – I didn’t feel bad about feeding him even a little bit. He was such a scrawny little bit of a thing.

My mom was up from FL to visit that week, and Our Man Cub was almost two years old. We had gone grocery shopping one evening and were sitting down in the living room after putting things away. Then I turned my head, and there he was, sitting on the back of the couch like he’d lived there all the time and we’d just never noticed. Well, hello you.

And it’s like this: the temps were sub-zero, and I couldn’t bring myself to send him back out. And Dearest Will was in New York that week, when we got the news that our friend Pat Storm had passed away in Thompkins Square Park. And Our Man Cub was really but a squirrely kit then, and my mother was in town, and really? The last thing on my mind was putting an animal back out into the cold.
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Good morning, and welcome to Pretty Pretty Princessland, winter edition.* I am currently blogging it up in my pjs and bathrobe, with a nice hot cup of coffee, IN BED. Yes, sister, I am blogging in bed.

And really, what’s that about? you may ask. I might spend some sweet space justifying purchases here, but, really, let’s cut to the chase: teenagers today (the delightfully nerdy ones, at least – you know, my favorite ones) don’t use the phone so much as talk for hours over Skype while playing together on the same Minecraft server, and recording it for YouTube, and I share a desk with Our Man Cub. Which is to say, it can become a touch noisy at my desk. And I payed down the Best Buy card from the winter holidays last week. So a Chrome Book? Yes, please. I joked that I would blog in bed, and so here I am test driving that business, in bed, cup of coffee, big orange cat purring up a storm beside me, and all up in some soft blankets. Also, I sat in my studio the other day and collaged like a badass while watching Netflix. SO MUCH WIN.

SO! I’m trying to indulge myself more. Does that sounds ridiculous so early into the year? I know everyone’s all about getting back on the stick and losing weight and being more disciplined about their exercise regime, and cutting out sugar and all that – it’s resolution time, still, after all. But I’m so totally into indulgence tight now.

Honestly, I’ve been working like a dog since about mid-November. With the museum where Will Dearest and I work(ed)** closing down and then the cleaning and moving and consolidating, I’ve been on my feet constantly, and not taking very good care of me terribly well. And I discovered something important: when I don’t pour enough sugar on the everyday, when I come home exhausted and eat junk food and zone out, just waiting for it to be late enough to go to bed, and then get up and do it all over again, I don’t like being me so much. When I operate like that, even my weekends go to the dogs – I spend a ton of time just sitting still and feeling sorry for myself over how much energy I’m expending for someone else (no mind that I’m being, you know, paid for it, and that I really like the people I work with, and that I actually like the work I’m doing there) and how I never get enough time to do my stuff and blah blah blah whine whine whine oh, my feet. Yeh, I don’t like living in that headspace. It’s like moving a 9′ metal horse through a 7′ door – you can do it, it’s just really hard and involves a lot of heavy lifting.

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Remember that time when you wanted to do a Big Something, but you were scared shitless, and so you didn’t do it? And then for a really long time after, you sat around and said things like, “Man, I wish there were more poetry videos that weren’t just performance selfies. You could do so much more with the medium,” or, “Someone really should run a poetry film festival in this town. I bet some really amazing work could come out of that.” And your friends hung out with you while you said stuff like that, and they nodded their heads, knowing that, in spite of your idea being a really cool Big Something, you’d never actually get off your ass and make it happen, because you were afraid. Remember that?

Oh, yeh – that was me.

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Hello, hello! I am arrived home from NPS 2013. Dearest Will and I spent two days (that’s what we could afford for hotel) out in Cambridge. This was a huge decision, not just because it was expensive monetarily, but because it’s expensive emotionally – I’m anxious in cities and always afraid of getting lost or left behind, bars freak me out (and both our bouts were in bars), and slam judges frequently disappoint me. But it turned out to be a good couple days, in spite of the judges and the traffic and the booze

Favorite frames from the last couple days:

Karen G hugs. Omg, Karen G hugs when she arrived at our hotel room.

The Tribute reading: Weeping silently through the whole thing. Matt Richards reading for Ken Hunt. Talking with Gerry Hardesty about Brenda Moossy. Bill realizing that he was wearing Jack’s socks.

The tiny tiny rabbit in the courtyard eating grass as three of us tried for photographs – and then Dearest Will  pointed at Liz’ tattoo for Gabrielle, and we all gasped.

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Ok, so can we talk about Mystery Gardening?

It happens almost every year: at some point in March, Man Cub & I take over the kitchen table with packets of seeds, dixie cups and any seedling trays we happen to have, and a big bag of potting soil. We fill the cups and trays and stick the seeds in the dirt. Invariably we wind up both planting the same seeds in different ends of the trays. We have full intention to label what we stick in the dirt – it’s just that that doesn’t really ever, well, happen.

What does happen is that we shrug and tell each other that once everything sprouts, we’ll be able to tell a tomato from a cucumber and a melon from a pepper, and then we cover it all with plastic and stick it in the window and wait.

And we can, in fact, tell a cucumber sprout from a tomato sprout and a pepper sprout from a melon sprout – that’s no problem. On the other hand, telling cucumbers from melons from zucchini is a little bit harder. Also, tomatoes and peppers require a few extra days to tell apart. But, fuck it, it all has to end up in the ground anyway, so as soon as the garden is ready, in it all goes. About three weeks later, the real fun begins, when we realize that there are at least two patches that are complete mysteries, surprise! there are jalapenos  among the bells, and we may or may not have planted watermelons, but we have no idea what seeds we planted, because we threw out the packets when they were empty, so it might be pumpkins? Lol, whoops.

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Oh, vacation. As of 3 o’clock yesterday, both Will Dearest and I are on vacation for a week! To celebrate, after work yesterday we grabbed some grocery store lobsters (they’ll cook them for you – joy!) and I steamed up the corn from the farmers market*, and we had a family picnic on the living room floor – which was truly lovely.

While I’m wrapping my head around the idea of a week without waking at six and going in to work, the smallest cat is laying on top of a handled bag from Old Sturbridge Village. He has killed it two tiemz, even tho’ he was frightened of it when it first arrived because it smelled strongly of fudge. I’m impressed with his fortitude and bravery. I am planning to channel his osm spirit in the coming days.

I have some plans for the week: I’m thinking about taking everything out of the sun room and reorganizing it. We are going to paint Man Cub’s room at some point. He and Dearest Will have already taken advantage of the weekend and the good weather to build a (gorgeous!) fire pit in the yard, and we are all eagerly awaiting the cement’s curing to test drive it. I would very much like to get back into my yoga practice, which has derailed over the last month because of Busy. I want to pick up some big pots and some soil, and replant the english ivy that’s looking droopy. I’m looking forward to sleeping in a few days this week.

But first, I got things to do. We have a 2 o’clock slam practice that we’re looking at ending around six tonight. We have a slam team send-off tonight, as they’re to Boston for Poetry Slam Nationals on Tuesday, another practice tomorrow night, and laundry and sundried other odds and ends to handle before we all depart.** Also, I have to order oil and pay the bills sometime today. So I think after Thursday, it will be about really digging into the move-stuff-around-in-the-house business. And going to the movies with Man Cub. I’m looking forward to it, just bringing the focus back home for a little bit.

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