Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 retrospective



Usually, I do a yearly round up on the blog around this time of year--a look back on what happened--the good and the bad, but somehow this year seems to tip more toward the bad, especially from about June onward, or hell, maybe even February onward, after I received that first hospital middle of the night phone call and my mother said casually something to the effect  "It seems I've had a heart attack."   
But surely, there was some good in there somewhere. and actually February through late August were pretty tame compared to what happened later in the year, the losses there not as scary as that which would come after.  June & July merely took away one of the ginger cats unexpectedly and my aunt, who'd been ailing for quite a while.  November took my mother.  Though I know all those happy years in between (years where I may have only lost small things like an umbrella on the bus, or even a relationship, or a few bucks fallen out of my pocket. ) Those fortunate years had a price--at least one year like this one, possibly more.  Not that loss was unfamiliar--grandparents, all gone pretty early, an , my mom's brother to MS, aunt and uncle on my dad's side.  Many pets over the years, even recent ones (2013 & 2014 were brutal in this way.)  But of course, nothing like this.

But then, those bad things are hard to separate from the good things.  And in fact, maybe some of the good things are sweeter only because they are interwoven with the bad. On one hand, all those hours sitting in hospital rooms and the nursing home were worrisome, but I'm happy to have had those hours, even when my mother was super-out of it or sleeping.  The jokes she made even while delirious, things I swore I'd tease her about when she was out of the woods.   As I was leaving the nursing home, right before she returned home those last couple of weeks, she had me brush her hair before a doctor's appointment, and we joked about mohawks and other unfortunate options now that she was at my mercy.  She would be home in a couple days.  I would visit once more, but she would be quieter, less cheerful and sleeping more.  Two weeks later she would be gone.  All through September and most of October, the weekly Sunday visits--the uncomfortable chairs and horrible news headlines on tv (west coast fires, hurricanes, mass shootings in Vegas. )  All of it is wrapped in this weird ball of feelings I haven't even begun to begin to pull apart.

But this post is supposed to be a wrap up of good things that happened. So maybe I should start there.

Library-wise, the year began with the news we'd won the ACRL award and that all that hard work of the previous November had paid off, all of which culminated in a pretty swanky party in April (well swanky by CCC Library standards). The semester brought with it amazing things like our HOAX week programs & exhibit.  The usual readings and workshops and zine nights.  I planned our first real murder mystery, Horror Prom, and wrote about it and general gaming stuff during the summer.  Jen Sauzer and I started the Chicago Cryptozoological Society as a public art/installation project and giggled all summer over mothman sightings.  Put together a poster session at the ALA conference devoted to A of R. The fall, even amidst the chaos going on in my life, we still managed to knock the ball out of the park with our Tattoo: Ink, Art, & Object Week and the 3rd Little Indie Press Festival.  More panels and events and fun workshops (paper mechanics, black light painting--both of which I was horrible at btw.) Also the premiere of the Book to Art Club, which will bring even more goodness this spring.   Our annual snow globe workshop and our fall murder mystery based around the Hollywood suicide ended the year with a bang (or at least a satisfying crashy sound.) 

Press-wise, it was the usual amazingness of being able to bring so many books into the world, though the terrain was dicier and more difficult to manage later in the year. I am still playing catch-up, both in terms of layout, production, and orders, but am hoping to have things closer to on-schedule soon.  The past couple of days while hiding from the cold, I've been idly reading through some of this year's titles and they are so good it nearly lifts the top of my head off sometimes when I think how lucky I am to be able to help them on their way.  So many books, all all so very different and interesting. And, might I say, damn pretty (both those I did the design on ones others did--artists, designers, sometimes the poet themselves--all beautiful.)  This year, my goal is to get some other things rolling--the long due mermaid anthology, some of my own overdue zine projects, the lovely slate of chapbook titles for this year just as awesome as last.    And of course, the poor neglected wicked alice, who I am plotting some interesting new things for after the new year. We will also be hitting Tampa this coming year for an off-site, alternative book fair during AWP. (my wish came true.)

Art & design-wise, there were a lot of new collage exploits, including the honey machine series, the tattoo prints, and some apocalypse pieces (one of which will be on the cover of little apocalypse.) Some more floral paintings with watercolors and markers. I also made a lot of zines--crypto ones, botanical coloring books, a crossout zine with collages using that cart of discard celeb images next to my cubicle during zine nights.  The dirty blonde collages made their debut in a zine, as did the surrealism coloring book images and (in)vertebrate collages. I also added new prints and paper goods of the older radio ocularia pieces to the shop and did some restocking in general of prints and paper goods.  I also tried some pochoir printmaking experiments for our Tiki Madness exhibit that is still up.   As most years, I have a notebook full of ideas and techniques I've barely scratched the surface of, so here's hoping for some more art-related focus time in 2018.

Writing-wise, it was a successful year, nothing big, but some smaller projects making their debut in the world in limited editions (the Dali poems, dirty blonde, and soon /SLASH/.)  Publications in Hobart, interr|upture, Rag Queen Periodical, Midway Journal, Sweet Tree Review, Tupelo Quarterly,  and a review of SALVAGE in The Literary Review. (also two Pushcart nominations for Plath Poems).   Readings at NOLA Poetry Fest, at City Lit Books, a Poetry Center benefit, and at Wit Rabbit this fall.  I was able to finish up the love poem series, although it turned out  to be an entirely different beast than I expected. fAlso, the entire text elements of unusual creatures.  Also pulling together what may very well be longer book # 8, SEX & VIOLENCE  if the publishing world will have it.

As for more personal things, while the bad is there for all to see, there is good under the tideline--my best friends who helped me cope and without whom I could not have survived November.  J,  who seems to be holding fast for 2.5 years  in the only functional relationship I've had in the past decade (and who seems to be the only person I've ever dated who we just seem to fit into each other's lives seamlessly and just work somehow. )  Finances are, as ever, a teeter totter of moderately stable and incredibly unstable, but then, that has always been the case and will no doubt continue to be, but there are tiny luxuries--breakfasts out, secondhand coats, the occasional vintage bag., and art supplies. Maybe even a vacation (well, a working vacation usually, but still a vacation.) New Orleans was lovely in April and maybe I'll go back if the Florida trip doesn't drain me completely.  The rest is mostly kitties, and dresses, and writing and making things. A whole lot of folding and stapling, but also tacos and cocktail experiments. Weekend retreats from the world.  Trashy books and even delightfully trashier movies. 

And really, 2017, you were good in as many ways as you were bad. My resolutions may come later, though they are the same three I usually vow--be healthy, be fearless, be productive.  Some years I excel more in one or the other, but let's try again for all three...

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