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This is what research looks like for me:
Obsessive hunting down of information (which could take anywhere from hours to months), coupled with a bookmarks list in my Chrome account the length of my arm, coupled with a browser history that brings me the occasional deep and burning shame. And, frequently, an expression plastered on my face that’s somewher between “Oh! Oh, I Had No Idea…” and “What In the Actual Fuck?”
Consequently, my husband & I have an agreement that whoever goes first, the other one will erase their browser history and burn their journals, preferably before family arrives, optimally, before the medical examiner’s big grey van pulls up to the curb.
Because I am a curious fish, and I will Google, really, anything.
I mean, it’s one thing when I want to know about commencement speeches. It’s only mildly embarrassing to admit that sometime in the end of June I will inevitably find myself cleaning closets while sobbing as someone’s YouTube playlist runs on my laptop for three or four hours.*
It’s entirely another thing to not know, and then seach to find out what the terms “Destiel” and “Wincest” mean. And surely “knot” is just some Aussie slang for the common human penis? (Spoiler: nope. And you can thank me now that I’ve done the research so you don’t have to, because iw.)** For the record, I know now that the descriptor “slash” is not entirely synonymous with “fanfiction.”
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Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival was huge, and beautiful, and there were no tech hiccups, and there were glamorous gowns and Tony wore a tux, and the venue was perfect, and people came in from New York and San Francisco, and omigod omigod omigod, I am over the moon. Bursting with gratitude to the filmmakers and the people who made it happen, and the people who came out to see it. Over. The. Moon. It was exquisite to watch these films again, and now on the big screen – I saw things that I had missed in previous viewings, I got chills, even. Because look! Look! Look at what happened! Look at what happens when poems and films collide!
This took years for me. It took something like two years worth of just thinking about it before something snapped in me last winter and I pushed my shoulder into it to make it real – just like that. I decided to say yes. Hello, we have a film festival. I am still astounded, and gleefully gobsmacked. No really – I don’t know how to put the words in order.
One of my favorite things about last night was that I got to sit with the filmmakers and the poets after the show was over. And it wasn’t just the finalists – people came in from all over to see the screenings. It was a bar full of people who live art.
At one point I found myself at a table with Josh and Chris, who had come in from New York, Carolyn, who just moved back from the Cape, Lauren, who had come down from NH, and my brother, and I realized, Hey – this is how it happens. Here I am at a table with filmmakers, poets, musicians, dancers, and book-binders. Here I am with the makers. And it is SO good. I was relaxed like I rarely get to feel, and right with the world.
This afternoon I am exhausted. Last night I came home late from the show and did about a zillion web updates before rolling into bed, then got up early to work on a grant app, and have been knee-deep in it all day – there’s still a LOT to do before Wednesday’s postmark – but I don’t feel gross. I feel good on so many levels. Tired, indeed, but honored to be in the work.
What’s say we do this again next year? Yes?
DJO2is tagged me on Facebook for a meme about music – your personal 15, “platters that matter,” and I was all like, Oh, I can do that in my sleep, right? Yeh, um, so, not so much. Turns out that picking out music favorites is even harder than picking out book favorites – because the time reading the books is the time reading the books, but the time spent with a particular album as your life soundtrack could be years – decades, even. And the music colors those moments, and those moments color the music. This exercise was Hard, with a capital H. It took me 3 days to narrow my list, and I’m not sure it’s anything like perfect.
But, here’s my top list today. I reserve to right to change my mind as nostalgia strikes or new stuff is released.
1. Fleetwood Mac – Rumors
I just always come back to this one. Rough day, happy day, protracted project, doesn’t matter, I just keep coming back to it. It may have been one of the first albums I remember my dad playing on the hi-fi. And then it came back to me again in the Clinton era when Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow was a campaign win song. And then it came back to me again five years ago for no particular reason and stayed. While working at Higgins last year, I would start the morning with it while I cleaned the gift shop. It comes on the radio and I fall in love all over again. I can spend the whole record singing along, or just listening to production.
2. Cat Stevens – Buddha and the Chocolate Box
My dad’s hi-fi again. And later with the Harold and Maude Soundstrack. Cat Stevens comes on at the grocery store and I can’t help but sing along. It hits me on a physical level – I immediately calm down when this album is on.
3. Patty Griffin – Living With Ghosts
Favorite to sing along to in the car, like whoa. Also, I have a delicious memory of sitting on the couch in Hilary’s living room with her and Matthew, just soaking it all in together. This album is all kinds of roadtrips across Texas and morning coffee. It inspired me to relearn to play guitar after decades away. One of the sweetest gems in my heart box.
4. Soul Coughing – El Oso
I didn’t know about Soul Coughing until a few years after the band broke up, but when I found out about them, I listened to everything I could get my hands on. This one stayed in the car for years (it may still be there, actually), because, as it turns out, it can calm a driving-triggered* anxiety attack for me.
5. Pixies – Surfer Rosa
You’ve heard me say it before, and I’ll say it again: this album changed my life. Steve gave me a cassette tape in 1989 with Surfer Rosa on one side and something by Sonic Youth on the other. I listened to Surfer Rosa until the tape snapped, and started playing in my first band, of course with Steve. Read the rest of this entry »
I have been stupid productive this last couple of weeks. No – really. I’ve made a set of spring scarves and gotten them up on Etsy, I’ve redesigned the Doublebunny store, done a ton of art, written some press releases, finished fundraising* for Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival and issued a venue challenge for it, done some writing for a pet project with a good friend, led a collage workshop, put down the bones for a website for another pet project, and did I mention, I’ve made a ton of art? I’ve made a ton of art.
I blame it on Edward James Olmos. Well, the Admiral.
See, I got home from a fantastic retreat feeling energized, and reading Stephen Cope’s The Great Work of Your Life, which I had picked up while away. When I hit the part about focus, I sorta lost my shit for a week, and everything started to fall apart as I thought myself into a corner.
If an eavesdropping stranger told you that the project that you are working on full-time and hardcore right now, the project that’s your baby, the project that you’re longing to see come to fruition, that is your reason for getting out of bed in the morning to work on, is doomed to failure, would it take the wind out of your sails?
Or if someone you trust told you that you weren’t clear enough about what you wanted for the project, and maybe people just don’t get it, so that’s why they’re not taking part. Or if you realize that your current reach is that of a t-rex, and you, clearly an otherwise impressive beast, are waving your tiny little arms in the air, and no one is really seeing you, because, you know, tiny little arms. Or no one is looking, because, you know, dinosaur.
Would it slay you?
Here’s the truth: I’m not stopping.
Hello, I am returned – Ta-DA!
Last week was amazing. I spent five days in the Berkshires, taking a collage and yoga workshop with amazing women and an amazing teacher, learning and playing, cutting and piecing, and having a bit of a reunion.
It wasn’t just a reunion with other people, tho’ that part was pretty great, too – some of us have been taking the Vibrant Visionary Collage Workshop for years now, and it is a delight to reconnect and catch up. My mom & I attend together every year, and with her living in FL and me in MA, it’s a really good come-together for the two of us as well.
But the big reunion, really, was with myself.
There’s just so freaking much on my plate at home, it’s not even funny. There’s the film festival , there’s the household stuff,* there’s the art rep,** there’s the businesses,, there’s getting ready for the workshop I’m teaching at the end of the month, not to mention all the messy crap that goes along with the health insurance change that we just made.*** And did I mention that Our Man Cub broke his poor nose last week at the Memphis May Fire show?†
To say the gas was low in my tank is an understatement. And retreat couldn’t have come at a better time.
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:
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.
So after 22 months at the temp job, I was unceremoniously released with no reason furnished. Maybe they just didn’t want to pay the agency’s fees anymore, who knows. So I packed up. That’s what you do with temp jobs, you pack up and don’t ask questions, and then you call the agency. Within a few hours I had another part-time temp job (not related to my agency), and was answering the email to HR. Also, I came home that afternoon to a note that I had been accepted as an instructor for a night-life class next month. And I had a high school fiction workshop to lead for the next day. I am grateful – I got out of a job I kinda hated, and I had some things lined up, as well as a few days off to manage my emotions and re-do our family budget. The Universe, clearly, is taking good care of me.
So I re-did the family budget, and we’re going to be ok, but it’s going to be super tight until I get some things rolling. The new job has fewer hours than the last job (many fewer, unfortunately), and pays less, but it’s a steady little something, so I’m thrilled. Also, it gives me time to look for another job. While I’m shifting through Monster and Craigslist, tho’, I thought this might be a good time to put out into the Universe and to you, dear reader, some of the things that I’m good at. For example:
♦ I lay out a brilliant chapbook. I can make your poetry gorgeous and ready to sell at readings. I do these at very reasonable rates,* and at the end can either send you a ready-to-print pdf, or assemble and package them up for you in pretty paper so it feels like Christmas when you receive them. I can also lay out a newsletter, set up post- and greeting cards, posters, flyers, cd packages, and other pretty paper things. You can check out my services here.
Scattered – I’ve been truly scattered this last two weeks. Some of it is that Jack’s passing, and the anniversaries of other friends who have passed has me distracted (and, sister, I am distracted), but that’s just part of it. It isn’t that things aren’t happening, or that there’s been too much happening, even; I’ve just been having a tough time of organizing what it all is. Welcome to my January – I’m pretty sure that January and February are like this every year, to be completely honest.
So! Random thoughts, no particular order:
Where have you been all my life? How could I have not known about you until I’m properly in my forties? Holy carp, chard! I want to eat you and eat you and eat you. I want to eat you with rice and tuna, I want to eat you in soup. I want to eat you gently wilted with garlic and olive oil. I want to chop up your delightful rainbow-colored stems and put them into my salad. Oh, chard, I adore you!
So we had soup last night. Lentil soup with sausage, chard and garlic, to be precise (Oh, Smitten Kitchen, I adore you!) and it called for this new vegetable. It’s not often I run into a vegetable that I haven’t tried at some point, so I was a wee bit excited in the produce aisle, I’ll admit. I set up the soup and ribboned up the chard to be ready for the last few minutes of cooking, and then while stirring said soup, decided to sample the chard and see what’s up. I called Dearest Will in to join me and my puzzled expression. He took a taste and promptly brought his own puzzled expression to the party. We couldn’t figure this stuff out – there are flavors of bok choy, beets, and citrus in there, alongside a slight astringency reminiscent of spinach, and a delightful crunch. Love. I went back for seconds on the soup because the soup was delicious, and the chard made that happen. So, um, chard may be my new favorite vegetable.
I’m trying.* Clearly, I am a slow learner. At least I’ve set up a nice space to focus.**