Wednesday, March 30, 2011

the control freak diaries

When I was in kindegarten, we had this amazing space near the back of the room that was designated as the play area, and featured several stations, one of which was a pretty awesome play kitchen set up, complete with a table, real dishes, all the accoutrements you'd need to play house, a cradle, a fake washing machine, etc. So we rotated every playtime. Sometimes you got the kitchen, but sometimes you got the mini-jungle gym, sometimes the giant wood blocks, sometimes the similarly amazing giant felt board with all of it's appliques. So the kitchen was my favorite, my fascination being especially odd since I spend very little time in my actual grown-up kitchen these days unless I'm making soap.

I waited eagerly for the days I got to play there, but even at 5 years old, there was a certain uneasiness: I loved playing house, but only if I could be solely in charge of the entire thing, ie, I could choose the role I wanted to play and dictate exactly how everyone played. I got in trouble ALL the time, and remember spending numerous days at the table across the room because I couldn't get along with other kids, especially when it came to the kitchen. I would say, in those years, I was much louder in my control freakiness (now I'm much quieter about it, but it's still there.) I did better on the days I wound up at the felt board, mostly since it was a rather solitary activity (it was large enough that you could make your own creations in your little space without having to be part of a group.) Apparently, as a sidenote, I also had problems "sharing attention" with my classmates according to my report card, attention being something even now as an adult I thrive on attention and shy away from at the same time, but that's an issue for another day, another blog entry.

Even now, everytime someone asks me to be a part of a project, I think about that kitchen play set. Can I do it? Or can I do it without hating everyone or making them hate me? I hated group endeavors in college and grad school with a passion. While I loved theater, this is the main reason why I gave it up and never looked back, settled into writing which is a more solitary pursuit. Truthfully, most of my life is pretty autonomous, where even at my library job, where while I am part of a department, there aren't many group oriented activities where it becomes an issue, since we all are sort of doing our own things, have our own little corners and duties. The press, which is perhaps the largest manifestation of my control freakiness, probably has existed so long only because I am working on my own and have complete domain over everything (which has it's badside in terms of shouldering all the work, but I'm willing to do that to retain that autonomy.) I always feel a little bad when I turn down offers to help out, internship requests, and a little embarassed to admit's sort of my own little corner of the felt board, if that makes sense.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ever since I got back, I've felt a little like a sullen, spoiled child. First there is the weather, which is bitterly cold and making my apartment way too chilly, my tolerance of which after the last two weeks of balmy southern climes is razor thin. There is also romantic drama I am trying to disentangle from after 5 years of throwing myself into the thick of it and the accompanying emotional exhaustion (I say this everytime things go bad, but that's the point, they go bad like clockwork.) I also have large book and wholesale orders on my plate, regular orders, and getting ready for April's chapbook blitz. (in which I catch up, ideally, on the schedule in a mass of sparkly new releases, stay tuned for details.) Last night, I had a few too many Jack & cokes out with work friends which made me foggy headed last night and woefully inneficient today. I slept too far into the afternoon and woke up insatiably craving pancakes. I'm lacking momentum mostly and this is a bad time for it. All this week I'll be playing catch-up with early mornings in the studio and hoping for better weather.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

the great southern road trip: part 3

The third and final leg of the journey found us in Gulfport Mississippi, a city still pretty wrecked from Hurricane Katrina and often overshadowed in terms of destruction by what happened in New Orleans. Despite the bare foundations, the concrete stairs to nowhere, hollowed out buildings, it is still very beautiful what there is, full of buttermint colored houses (the ones that were rebuilt) and white, white sand. It's hard to imagine so much under the storm surge and alot of it has grown over with grass like it was barely was ever there. There are more than a handful of casino hotels (most were barges that were strung all over town 6 years ago and now have land locations.) We stayed in a gorgeous, semi-luxurious one with an ocean view, but, with a couple of exceptions I had my usual crappy luck in the casino. We got to see an 500 year old tree right across the highway from the beach that basically had grown so large it's branches had re-rooted themselves into the ground around it, making it virtually hurricane proof.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

the great southern road trip: part 2

Had an excellent time this week in San Antonio, a city as lovely as I expected, all Spanish architecture, palm trees, and warm weather. We were staying along the River Walk, and enjoyed a couple of day's sightseeing and amidst wedding festivities for my cousin. I indulged in a few too many strawberry margaritas, rode a trolley, ate alot of yummy Mexican food, saw the Alamo, went to Sea World, and slept on an amazingly comfortable bed that puts all others to shame. We were exhausted though by the time the wedding rolled around, a rooftop ceremony with an amazing view of downtown and a million twinkle lights. One thing I noticed about San Antonio was that it was literally filled with all sorts of literature and art--mosaics, public installations, etc. The hotel, El Tropicana, was covered in poetry, which was delightful (the gesture, if not some of the poems themselves) on the walls, sheets of it in the rooms, on monitors, near the public phones, everywhere you looked. Also a lot of deco influences among the Spanish ones.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

the great southern road trip: part one

Even though much of our journey through Missouri and the eastern part of Oklahoma was drizzly and snowy (so much for journeying to warmer climes) we finally arrived to a clearer and slightly milder Tulsa later that evening. Though we were taking the more modern interstate, I hadn't realized how much of the old Route 66 territory we'd be traversing by proxy, and there were traces of it all the way through both states. While we were on a tight timeline and had to keep moving, I'd love to take a few hours to dally in all those remaining attractions--drive ins, diners, dive motels. To do a little exploring, buy some souvenirs, take some pics. I love the old and forgotten, the decayed and destroyed, the pure Americana of it. One day I am going to make a drive all the way out to California, dawdling in all those little distractions along the way. (preferably in a classic mustang and/or with an old airstream in tow, but they aren't requirements)

Otherwise, it is a bit more like spring here nevertheless, with trees in bloom and a bit more greenery. Today, we hit a couple of casinos and played penny and nickel slots for a few hours. I have the worst luck with slot machines and always wish I actually knew how to play more advanced things like blackjack and roulette with any sort of skill. The new Hard Rock casino is lovely inside, all newish and shiny with a giant hotel and towers above the flatter outskirts of town.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I am never really ready for vacations, always this mad rush to get thngs done that ends up being more exhausting than just keeping on working, etsy orders packed, books made, things laid out. Since I went out with coworkers on Friday, I found myself trying to pack at 3am Saturday morning to go to my parents in the morning (where we are leaving the kitties while we are gone.) I was afraid I was going to pack ridiculous and uneccessary things and forget something important. I brought along some books for the trip, also the havoc manuscript to play with. It's alot of car time and I couldn't find my crappy little mp3 player, so I might be buying another one at some point. I'll probably spend most time dozing or daydreaming or staring out at the landscape anyway.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

the poet fashionista

There has been a bit of of a kerfluffle in poetry corners over this:

I kept thinking as I was looking at it that it would have been much cooler if they had featured the poets in their actual clothes, to have revealed something more about their individual style rather than shove them like mannequins into rather awful over-priced duds, the "latest trends", and talk about them in vapid ad copy language. (also, the idea of a $300 sweater does seem a little optimistic when you consider most poets will barely ever earn even that much from their writing ever.) It also raises issues about the perception of women poets as commodities (ie, why weren't there any stylish men among them? Is it simply because it's a woman's mag, or is it something more sinister?). Questions about art vs. artifice, style vs. substance.

I, admittedly, am a visual arts oriented person who gets into a certain amount of fashion related stuff, so at first I was excited by the idea (and maybe would have remained so had it been better executed.)--the intersection of clothes and identity and creativity. (I realize discussions like that would most likely be above the Oprah loving throngs, but in an ideal world, it would be part of the conservation.) I suppose it's no different than fashion speads featuring investment bankers or astrophysicists, since we are bound to ask what the hell do clothes have to do with any of these things. I like the intersection of incongruent things though. It is interesting to think about poets, as people who spend most of their lives in their heads, being people immersed in material culture. I love a pretty dress (as my forays on Fashion Fridays reveal) and some of those clothes are pricey, but I'm usually going more for loving a certain look than the actual items. I would actually probably rather see a feature on poets living and creating spaces than about what they wear, though, since the former might be a little more telling (at least for literary voyeurs like myself). But I do know some rockin stylish poets (male and female) as amazing in their ensembles as they are in their work. Perhaps merely a comment in general on society and culture that prizes stylishness over substance. (Unless you want your substance to be stylish, which I increasingly go for these days, but not everyone is on the same wavelength...)

Interesting sidenote: Years and years ago, sometime in the early - mid 90's, I saved a small clipping from what was either Mademoiselle or Glamour that mentioned the rise of young women making waves in the po-biz world. I don't have it anymore, but it was sort of the first exposure, in the pre-internet days and having no poet aquaintances, to the sort of poets that would become my contemporaries. The poets? Lisa Jarnot, Eleni Sikelianos, and Lee Ann Brown.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Monday, March 07, 2011

Get ready for next Monday, when I will hopefully be blogging from the road,(providing I have sufficient internet access and remember to bring along my camera.) The main part of the destination is my cousin's wedding in San Antonio, but there will be a couple of stops in Tulsa, OK and Gulfport, Mississippi to visit myriad other family members strung here and there. I've never been to Texas before, and am not sure whether I should be more afraid of big bugs or republicans, but San Antonio looks lovely, almost Venice-like with it's tree lined riverwalk. I'm also hoping for a New Orlean's daytrip when we are in Gulfport, since it should be recovering from Mardi Gras madness by then. My parent's were there in the fall and say the beach is heavenly and not even all that crowded since alot has not been rebuilt since Katrina. I am most looking forward to getting away from the cold and dreary of Chicago, and apparently even Tulsa is up in the 60's now (not exactly tropical, but considering the ice-slick sidewalks I was navigating yesterday, I will take what I can get.)

Sunday, March 06, 2011

habit, creature of

Someone asked me this week whether I could see myself staying at the library forever, and I had to be honest when I said yes, barring the ability to make a living from my more creative ventures (nice but a little impractical) or getting laid off or fired (knock on wood), I'm probably not going anywhere anytime soon. Probably not even for more money since the idea of even having to search for a job is scary, let alone having to interview, having adjust to new co-workers, new expectations and duties. I have friends who change jobs, change cities, uproot their lives yearly and this terrifies me. Meanwhile I have had the same job for 10 years, the same apartment. I need stability to function, I need to know that everyday I am going to be doing roughly the same thing daily. Otherwise, I get nervous, anxious, sometimes even over the slightest variation. Maybe I'm just not adventurous enough. Even with food, I tend to order the same thing in cafes or restaurants on a regular basis, to eat the same dinner several nights in a row if I like it, wear the same sorts and colors of clothes. New places sort of freak me out. Readings for example wig me out a little, not because I'm all that scared of reading, but more going somewhere new. I tend to have a great time once I'm there, but the getting there is the hard part. And everything is harder in winter. I tend to like my little routines, sleeping late, heading to the studio for some work, heading to the library, a few hours of paperworky stuff, then circ desk duties for the night. Coming home late, dinner, working on some stuff, to bed around 3am. Weekends vary a little with more socially oriented things or hiding out and getting serious work done, but even those tend to be pretty routine lately...