Wednesday, September 29, 2010

some rabbits and books I've loved and lost...

The elementary school I spent my first five years in had this amazing collection of Peter Rabbit books that were probably the first books I really fell in love with. Very similar to the ones in the top left corner, they were pocket size with worn gray covers and glossy illustrated pages. The entire series took up quite a bit of space on the end of a section of shelves in the "learning center", a huge central sunken orange carpeted space in the middle of the the "pod" structures that were all the rage in the 70's. I was probably in first grade or so when I discovered them and then subsequently checked out, read, and fondled every single one. It might even have been kindegarten, since I'm not sure I even really could read them early on so much as I loved the tactile sense of them, the smooth dove grey book cloth (though some might have been blue or green), the illustrations, the little library pocket inside that was almost as big as the cover. I remember sitting through the story time, anxious to get my hands on a new book every week.

Spotting those books on etsy also got me thinking about the Weekly Reader/Scholastic Book Club and how I pestered my mother endlessly with the thin little folded catalog, how I would go through and x everything I wanted and then negotiate with mother how many we could afford. Then, of course, all that excitement the day the books were delived, all glossy and shiny in their plastic bags. (Later, I would also get sticker books, which is a whole other post itself.) I was also in love with a set of encyclopedias my grandmother had, a weird multivolume set where each book had a theme, my favorite of which was one devoted to literature and songs (these I think are in my parents garage or basement.) I remember "reading" those before I knew how to read, and later, when we'd inherted them, used them as makeshift textbooks when we played school.

And I was always ridiculously excited about textbooks, especially shiny new virgin textbooks, and even remember the thrill in college/grad school every semester when I stocked up on books, mostly novels and anthologies, then later poetry books. I would get them home and lay them all out. I suppose it's only natural the turns my life have taken me that landed me in libraries, in publishing, amidst so many books (quite alot of them). I still get excited when I get a book in mail, drool over them in bookstores, and it's still as much a tactile thing as it is a reading thing--the cover, the paper, the font, the heft. This is probably why I'll never quite be able to get with the whole Kindle thing, how intimate can you get with a hunk of metal and some pixels....

new from dancing girl press

silver roof tantrum
naomi buck palagi
dancing girl press, 2010
$7.00 (includes S&H)
get it here

Naomi Buck Palagi brings an eclectic array of work and life experiences to her writing. She loves shaping things such as wood, fabric, sound, and words. She has work published or forthcoming in journals such as The Spoon River Review, Moria, Blue Fifth Review, Otoliths, Wicked Alice, and Blossombones, among others. She lives, works, writes, and loves in Northwest Indiana.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

saturday night

Saturday, Oct 2
7 p.m.
Myopic Books
1564 N. Milwaukee Ave.

ADMISSION: Free and open to the public.

The Myopic Books Poetry Series presents Two Way Tarot Mirrors, a collaborative writing project which is part of the Fifth Annual Chicago Calling Arts Festival, and Chicago Artists Month. Two Way Tarot Mirrors involves people in Chicago working with people elsewhere, on projects wherein tarot cards are part of the collaborative process. Participants will include:

Kristy Bowen
Janina Ciezadlo
Dan Godston
Billie Maciunas
Ira Murfin
Larry Sawyer
and other TBA individuals.

Unlike one’s reflection in a regular mirror, the playback/feedback in TWTM isn’t an exact reflection of the original thing that’s sent. As Alice enters the looking glass, she finds that what’s on the other side is something different than she had expected; similarly, the two-sided mirror brings about something different and unexpected. A mirror can seem to be flat, yet it can become three-dimensional, and it can lead to dream worlds. Mirror games don’t end up with perfect parallels; i.e. Harpo and Groucho’s mirror game in Duck Soup.

Chicago Calling is organized by the Borderbend Arts Collective, a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to promote the arts, to create opportunities for artists to explore new directions in and between art forms, and to engage the community. Annual Borderbend projects include Chicago Calling and the Mingus Awareness Project. Other organizations partner with Borderbend to enrich and extend the reach of its project, such as the Experimental Piano Series, which is co-produced by the Chicago Composers Forum and Borderbend, in partnership with the PianoForte Foundation.

I am excited about this and sharing the tarot cards which are still coming in. I'm thinking of having the audience choose the cards from the deck for me to read. I could do something more complicated involving an actual reading but I'm not versed well enough in how to read the cards...I'm good on their meanings and such, but haven't ever tried laying them out the correct way...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

medieval manuscript drawing

This image caught my interest last night. Looks like the stuff of nightmares, beaten to death and flayed by bunnies. I was looking for antique images of cute woodland animals (foxes, hedgehogs, rabbits, deer) for some new notecards, which should be in the shop soon. Maybe I should use this one.

The weeks seem to be going so fast now that we are moving into fall. I've been library-bound every weekend this month mostly so I can get my required Saturdays out of the way before it gets cold and that 9am Saturday shift is more painful. While I'm looking forward to some work-free weekends the next couple of months, things are still happening. Next weekend I will give a sneak peak of the Arcana project at Myopic Books, then the next weekend is our Chicago Artists Month Open Studios (Friday & Saturday). Later in the month is the awesomeness that is Theatre Bizarre, followed by Halloween weekend, then we're already into November and the craziness begins. I still have a week's vacation I am trying to figure out what to do with and might just use it to get stuff done for the shop before the rush starts.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

nostalgia is the best invention

When I was a kid, my parents were members of the Moose Lodge in Rockford, so we spent a considerable amount of time in the basement bowling alley. I think early on, before my sister was around, my grandmother came along to keep me occupied. I remember having a collection of coloring books, notebooks, magic slates to keep me busy. How exciting it was to get Cokes from the bar and snacks from the vending machine (the old style pull handle ones). There were old school pinball games I sometimes got to play, and later, arcade games that were just appearing. While I was confined out of the way to the tables at the back, sometimes they would let sit in the colorful seats up near the lanes with the fancy drink holders. I looked up a pic of those lanes this morning and they were so small but seemed so vast at that age.

I dreamed about them last night, about the entire lodge, although in my dream, it was much more lovelier than it actually was. In reality, it was the 80's, and there was a big circular bar upstairs, a couple of ballroom/dining rooms where they held receptions, dinners, and once a year, a much looked forward to kids Christmas show with magicians and Santa and those stockings filled with hard candy. (I can barely eat a butterscotch button and not think of this.) There was a comfy lobby with a central fireplace and one of those table pac-man games, and somewhere a sideroom with a pool table. The bathroom had some sort of lounge area outside it with a couch and chairs (I remember this and there are photos of me as a toddler that seem to have been taken there.) So much of my childhood is pieced together like this (thus the great unsolved alien baby movie mystery). My parents are little help, and my sister was too young to remember much.

I was thinking earlier how much I've no doubt lost to shoddy memory. There is an entire span of years that contain things that may have been real, but also may have been dreams. Odd snippets, bits and leads that don't make alot of sense. I feel like they are getting foggier the further away I get from them. I found myself wishing I'd had some sort of diary as a child to record things. Nowadays, so much is documented (facebook, video, blogs) that there are more relable sources than the human mind for retaining them. I have a few photos, my own odd disjointed fragments.

In last night's dream, they had re-opened the lodge (which closed about 10 years ago completely) and we had gone to visit the basement and I was hit with such a gleeful sort of nostalgia I was almost in tears. Upstairs, though, was totally different from the actual, but a bright glitzy sixties cocktail lounge with sunburst wall decor, all rhinestones and yellow and aqua, a dance floor, and blue drinks in martini glasses that seemed to glow from within. It was definitely more Vegas than Rockford Moose Lodge, but it was so gorgeous it also made me cry in the dream for being something so lost and unreal. (and yes, I have been known to get overly emotional about vintage design).

Friday, September 17, 2010


Today is one of those lost days. I had intended to get down to the studio on my day off to finish up the newest book and get some other shop related tasks done and noticed last night the tickling in my throat that indicated I was coming down with a cold. It's a couple weeks later, so I thought I would avoid my annual Sept. illness, but no such luck. As soon as the weather changes it's inevitable. I slept late, hoping to sleep it off before it set in (which sometimes works, oddly) but still awoke to a bit of general snottiness and congestion. Hopefully tomorrow, I will be more productive. Meanwhile, I am drinking a lot of tea and plan to order some General Tso's chicken and wonton soup to clear my sinuses tonight. I did manage to get the new hair clips I photographed on Wednesday into the shop, as well as snapped some pics of some new, more manly man flasks (ie not bedecked in flowers). I've been feeling that chest crushing feeling that I will never be able to have time to get things done, so even small things crossed off my list are a relief of sorts. I have tomorrow off, thankfully, but will be in the library on Sunday. The tarot project, code named Arcana, is underway and it's a little eerie how some folks have somehow randomly wound up with just the right card for them (so they've told me).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

some thoughts, 9 years later

I always predicted I would never write about 9/11 until enough years had passed to keep me from freaking out about it all over again. It seemed ten would be a good number of years, and yet, I still don't think I'll be ready. For all my love of disaster movies (mostly the fictional, apocalyptic kind involving huge explosions and maybe brain eating zombies) I have not yet brought myself to watch any of the number of movies made years ago detailing the events. In 2003, I wound up watching a documentary about the firefighters on PBS and could not finish it. I will probably also never be able to write a poems about it, not only because anything I could say seems so hackneyed and cliche, and SO not important about it from my small vantage point amidst the huge horror, I'm am not even tempted to try. All I can say is I had nightmares for months. The worst were the ones where I walked outside and the city was falling down around me. The best was when I dreamed that the characters on Buffy could save it.(you know, with spells and girly magic, which could surely trump war and violence).

For years before, I had had plane crash dreams, but they took on a particular terribleness that fall. I also had public transportation nightmares that occasionally resulted in getting on and off trains (this was before, and perhaps a little bit why I switched to mostly bus travel the following spring) and once, actually calling in sick to work because of an overwhelming feeling of dread. It was sort of silly in hindsight, but I still sometimes very much believe in dreams that foreshadow something, and sometimes they do (little, unconsequential things...but enough of them to make me give some creedence to them). The worst was a train dream, where I was standing in a car holding on to the pole when a little girl appaeared in front of me and warned me that I would be dead within a year right before a wall of flames swept through the car. Since I'm still here obviously 9 years later, I'm sure it was just my anxieties working overtime (as with most of my dreams.) but it freaked me out and had me spooked for a year. Any time I would get stuck standing on the Red Line, which happens rarely as far north as I am, I would get off and catch the next train. It happened over and over again.

It was almost pathological, but then, in some ways, the feelings I had about it were a little pathological. Perhaps had I lived elsewhere, been elsewhere when it all went down, it wouldn't have been quite as traumatic. On one hand, it was probably the first time I didn't feel safe in my smug little American bubble. It's a little ridiculous that I ever did, given other metropolitain areas that are always under threat of bombings, violence, etc. But it seemed impossible in this great gleaming city (like that other great gleaming city) that there was ever even a threat. And perhaps it was worse that I was just leaving for work when the first footage spread across the news and casually thought flipping off the remote, " odd that planes don't accidently crash more often into skyscrapers." By the time I arrived at work, the second plane had hit and everyone knew it wasn't an accident. I was covering the fifth floor AV desk and internet traffic made it impossible to bring up CNN. They sent us home soon after (after hilariously telling us not to panic the students), and I swear there were more people on the sidewalk than I have ever witnessed since, all of those buildings emptying out completely mid-day, everyone sort of stunned and wandering. It was a gorgeous day, much like NYC,and I remember feeling like I was safe in the library, but would be less safe on the Red Line, especially since planes were still rumored to be in the air and the Sears tower sat a mere few blocks away from us. Of course, nothing else happened, not here, but after we emerged from underground, I kept looking back over my shoulder at the skyline from the north side, half expecting it to be in ruins. The rest of the afternoon, I watched the horror unfold, after, of course, calling to assure my mother I was still alive. For awhile I was fascinated by the people's who had been SUPPOSED to be there (either in the buildings or the planes) and were not, the close calls, the near misses. The tiny decisions/uncontrollable circumstances that caused them to stray from their usual or predicted path. It caused me to dwell and dissect my own paths on a regular basis, my own variations from routine.

I still catch myself doing this. Say if I take the train today, will it derail? or was my impulse to take the train saving me from a bus accident? If I cross the street on one side or the other will I be hit by a car? What if I cross the street and THEN am hit by a car? Which impulse should I follow? Which decision will entail my certain doom? When my head gets like this, it's difficult to make any decisions at all. While my disaster dreams have lessened over the years, and usually are just plain weird and much less traumatic, I also don't watch planes in the sky for fear they will a) explode or b) crash into a building. And you still probably won't get me on one, at least not alone. 80's and 90's movie scenes involving the towers still jolt me, and even this morning, I was a little stunned by seeing the images in memorial when I brought up the Yahoo homepage which bought the general wave of unsettledness back again. A few years ago I stopped watching the news. It was a combination of war/violence overkills, also how one morning, five stories in a row were about horrible things (kidnappings, abuse, rapes, murders) that happened to women and girls. I sort of shut down and stopped paying attention. Another dead girl. Another dead soldier. I can't deal with it on a daily basis and still function. All very ironic coming from the person who regularly indulges in slasher film marathons and zombie gorefests, all of which are much more palatable than the news on a daily basis...I know that the actors, whatever happens will all take off their costumes and makeup and go on to their next part...

Friday, September 10, 2010


I recently ordered an large stash of vintage wallpaper for the journals and can't wait to tear into this lovely's the thick textury kind that makes good covers. I have some more that was in rolls I will show you when I get photos. Some of these I can't imagine having a whole wall let alone a whole room papered in them, but in small doses they are gorgeous.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

call for submissions (artists who write, writers who art)

I am working on a project that is half for a Chicago Calling event, "Two Way Tarot Mirror", and half for an idea I've been tossing around of creating a tarot deck (or book of some sort) for dancing girl release (initially it was just going to me something I did, but I think it will be much more fun if it involves you (yes, YOU over there). Right now, I'm thinking we'll just stick to the major arcana, but possibly may expand that if this goes over well. How it works is I need 21 people willing to create a two sided 4 x 6 card using whatever artistic medium they would like. One one side, the image side, it would be more image based (drawing, painting, collage, whatever) based on one of the major arcana cards I will choose for you at random (I plan on just drawing you a card from the deck I have.) The other side would likely be text prose, poetry, knock-knock jokes, instructions, recipes related to your card in some way.) Since I will be reading and sharing them on Oct 2nd, time is of the essence, so I would need them ideally mailed to me by September 25th. For the actual book project I plan on going through the whole deck possibly...but for now I will be assigning cards to the first 21 people who e-mail me wanting to participate so contact me if you are interested in being a part of this. dancinggirlpress (at) yahoo with the subject heading of "tarot project"...

Saturday, September 04, 2010

september, again

It definitely feels a little like fall the last couple of days, and I even had to close my windows in the apartment last night when I got home. I am already craving soup and baked things. I am starting to get cracking on restocking the shop for the holiday rush which will be here before we know it. I've added some fall flavored slips, some new notecards, pencil boxes, letter openers. Also some collage prints are available of collages that the originals have long since sold (or they were never available in the shop). As always there just doesn't seem to be enough time to make and do all that I am inspired to do. This week, I will be making more hair bobbies (I had a huge vintage earring score) and finishing up some journals I've been working on (small wallpaper covered notebooks, sadly not the coptic bound ones I am still trying to perfect.) Next weekend I plan on sewing some more pillows that are larger than the little ones I started out with. And always more soap to make and wrap.

In dgp news, I am hoping to have the new chap by Naomi Buck Palagi, Silver Roof Tantrum, done this week and then finishing the layout on 5 new September releases (books by Julia Cohen/ Brandon Shimoda, Emilie Lindemann, Joanna Novak, Alexis Vergala, Britanny Ober, and Grace Marie Grafton.) We are still woefully behind my original schedule, but there is a new one I am hoping to keep to. Otherwise, the dgp inbox is full of about 350 new manuscripts to read through in the next couple of months. (you know, the books I will be woefully behind on next year.) The nice thing is I am back to the nightshift and will have plenty of circ desk reading (especially next weekend when I am pulling a double header in the library.)

I am fighting a little bit of melancholy, even though I was waiting for autumn, it's sad to see it here.

Friday, September 03, 2010

next friday night

We'll be having our first open studio of the fall season next week and there will be all sorts of new little surprises, especially lovely papery things like new notecards, journals, dgp titles, letter openers, pencil boxes, and collage prints. Also, pillows, fall slips, and new jewelry...oh my!

Friday, September 10th
The Fine Arts Building
Studio 921
410 S Michigan