Saturday, September 21, 2019

writing & art bits | september edition

My upcoming full-length collection due out from Black Lawrence in 2020  has a cover and it is a beauty! Really, what else says my work like a bit of Victorian bdsm, raw meat, and doll parts?  It's actually a modification of a /slash/ collage, initially created for a dgp cover and I love it so much! The pre-sale page will be up in the next couple months for an April release, so keep an eye out for that.

Work on extinction event continues to go well and I should have lots of material for my reading on October 9th at the Field Museum.  Apparently, I am also getting PAID for said reading and am always incredulous when I do...seriously, I would read for nothing.  And for this one, hell, I would pay to read in such an awesome venue.  I  will be headed back for a couple more visits (and just to also see some unrelated things I missed my first go round.)  I haven't started submitting any of the work around yet, but it's pretty good. Weird, but good.

Some of the {licorice, laudanum} poems, aka the HH Holmes project,  landed in a new issue of decomP. 

The third and final segment of the Nasiona Magazine editor interview is now available for reading.

Keep an eye out soon for pieces in The Journal, Typehouse, and Midway Journal from several different projects...

Thursday, September 19, 2019

paper quilling workshop

Next Tuesday night, we'll be teaching a paper quilling workshop in the library as part of our How-To-Tuesday Series.  I've been Pinteresting like mad, and while nothing I make is even half as beautiful/intricate/complicated as these, it should still be some fun experimenting with papery objects.

Columbia College Library
624 S Michigan
1st Floor
Tues, September 24, 2019

Friday, September 13, 2019

316 gardenia street

Maybe I've been spending too much time watching spooky vlogs on Youtube, but an impetus for a new project came to me last weekend that has already yielded some promising results.  I was watching a segment devoted to haunted dolls and thought about the importance of stories when it comes to all things supernatural--hauntings, sightings, paranormal activity.  How really ghosts are a kind of story, or the memory of a story after something has happened or someone existed.  And I've always found dolls, even the unhaunted ones, somewhat creepy But also very much imbued with their own stories. .  What resulted, and how it manifests, remains to be seen, but what I'm thinking is a sort of installation/catalogue of my experiments and discoveries with the dolls,  which feels absolutely right to be doing this time of year as we get closer to Halloween.   There will be the website, of course, as well as other artifacts and installation projects.  I've gotten a start on the project, which will be unfolding in real time if you'd like to follow along @ 316 Gardenia Street...

Saturday, September 07, 2019

all sugar, all milk

I was thinking about how it's the 15th anniversary of the dancing girl press chapbook series, and realized  that also makes it the 15th birthday of my first chap bloody mary.  

In the spring of 2014, a lot was going on.   I'd been editing wicked alice for a couple years at that point and had a dream of a possible print operation companion.  I was finishing out my first year of grad school getting my MFA and had started sending out my first full-length mss..  I had just won a pretty big Chicago based prize and the 1000 bucks attached to it (and thus had a little wiggle money to devote to poetry). 

The previous year, Moon Journal Press had taken my first chap, The Archaeologists Daughter, but it would still be another year before it was published.  I was doing a lot of readings locally and fending off incredibly flattering inquiries about whether I had a book people could buy.  Also engaging in a flourishing online writing community where everyone was always trading work.   I thought to myself, if this press thing was going to be a go, I might want to start with issue-ing something that, if I botched it or found it horrible, only I would be affected. It actually worked out pretty well--since I was clueless, I taught myself how to layout something that could be manually double sided (something almost comical in these days of duplex booklet printing).  I bought some nice resume parchment paper for a the cover, used the library's pamphlet stapler, and I had a book.  The cover image was courtesy of Alaina Burri-Stone, whose work I encountered in stirring and would also use for another chap of mine, my first full-length, some of the wicked alice print annuals, and a couple later chaps by other people.)

That first edition was slightly shorter than the one pictured above.  After the initial 25 were gone, I did a second revised printing of another 25 , with a few more poems tacked in and a new, more sturdy watercolor paper cover. The entire chap only exists in those 50 copies.  Where they went or wound up, who knows?  We do have a copy in the library I donated.  I traded them to a lot of other poets and gave many away.  I sold a few at Quimby's here in Chicago. When I read at the Poetry Center that fall, I sold quite a few there, along with a second chap, belladonna, also released in 2004.

Looking at the poems themselves, there is much of what went into the fever almanac here, including the title poem. An earlier version of "nebraska."  What are more interesting are the poems that never made the jump--either thematically or quality-wise.  Poems about ghostly twins, memorial photography, wicked stepmothers. An early poem about Little Red Riding Hood that would be revisited as the "book of red" project.  Some of it' s overwrought.  Over done. I had to learn to reign back on the "poeticalness."

"When you speak it's like honey.
The flutter of wings and drones
harbors in the bones of your throat."
from "sugar"

The bulk were written in 2002 & 2003, when I was really beginning to publish work in online journals, so almost all of them appeared in various places electronically.   I would follow it up with that second 2004 chap with some newer work and a cardstock cover, most of which also made it into the full-length, but this one holds an especially fond place in my heart for it's roughness.

on routines

As I've mentioned a few times in various arenas, the fall semester brings me back around to my ideal and preferred schedule--when my studio time is a little more productive a the the beginning of the day and my routines a little more stable.  I thought I might give you, dear readers, a peek at what goes down in any given day...

10 am:  Linger in bed until the alarm stops sounding (which negates the purpose of leaving my phone on my desk in order to propel me from bed and not keep hitting snooze, but oh well.)  Eventually, I get in the shower, though sometimes I wait for the shower to warm up whilst scrolling through instagram and lose another 10 minutes.

10:30 ish:  Finish showering, and sometimes, esp. if it's cold, crawl back into bed to warm up in my robe and a towel wrapped round my head. Get piled upon by cats for another 15 minutes while I convince myself I should get up when I would actually much rather stay here.

10:45: Get dressed (luckily I usually know what I'm wearing, and it's all just dresses, so this is easy.)
I have a lot of shoes, but usually will grab whichever pair is closest and matches and/or do not make my feet want to die. . My beauty routine pretty much only involves face lotion, deodorant, tooth paste, and a defrizz serum.  My hair is usually still pretty wet when I leave the apartment, and then I usually apply lipstick rather slapdash on the bus ride downtown. I tell myself this makes my hair look beachy and wavy but more likely I look like someone who has no mirror. I'll put it up at the studio and out of my way, and this tames it a little into something more presentable.

11-Noon:  I try to get out of the house by 11am and at the Fine Arts shortly before 12 (my commute is about 45 minutes door to door in low traffic..I spend this time planning my day or reading, or once I'm downtown, people watching on the Mag Mile). If I'm ready to go early and have proper groceries (on rare occasion) , I'll have breakfast and coffee at home before I leave and write a little.  If not, I'll get food downtown and do some writing there while I wait for my printers to start up with whatever I'm printing that day.

Noon-2pm: I'll answer e-mails and do some layout work while I wait for printing. Then assembly, trimming and such the rest.  I try to have the envelopes & package labels ready to go for things going out that day already, so it's a matter of popping them in and sending them on their way as I head out the door.  I'll get up earlier and get in more hours as needed here, but 2-3 is my standard.

2pm-10pm  My shift at the library starts, which is only a couple blocks down from the studio.  My days here vary depending on what's going on, what's priority, and what might come up.  Right now, I'm busy with beginning of the semester reserve collection processing and ILL mostly, and around those I squeeze in some A of R planning and materials design.  There are sometimes meetings and handling desk trivia. By evening, I'll usually have eaten a snack (I have dinner later at home) and if there isn't anything happening programming wise, I will either work on A of R things, or some design stuff for that or the press when things are quieter and/or read submissions. On a productive day, I might have time to work on my own creative pursuits, but these are most relegated to weekends.

10-11pm. Commute home--usually a little faster b/c there is less traffic on LSD.  I do a huge chunk of my leisure reading here--mostly novels.  When I get home I typically make dinner --sometimes a salad (lest you think it's healthy, I pile it with cheese and croutons and dressing) or more often something microwaveable. I'll read blogs or futz around on the internet while I eat. 

12pm-2am:  I usually will settle in with an episode of something while I am doing the stationary bike (pretty much the only exersize I get besides walking)  and then tidy up the apartment (clothing and papers and dishes--my mess) and then the cat boxes and sweep (their mess) then lately will watch netflix or youtube fashion vlogs until I go to sleep around 2am. I try to be religious about 8 hours, especially in the cooler less-daylight prone seasons, but in summer I get a little less.

There are of course variations, when I have the usual  phonecall with my Dad on Weds nights., when J sleeps over Thurs or Fridays, but this is pretty much my schedule during the school year.  Weekends, if I'm not working are devoted to editing work and maybe submissions and mss. plotting. Painting or collages on Sunday sometimes (though not lately). Occasional date nights, but a lot of watching streaming. (currently Gilmore Girls.  Again.)  And of course my marathon horror film watching now as we move into fall...

Friday, September 06, 2019

notes & things | 9/7/2019

We are already one week into the semester.  One week into a routine or a flow or a chaos, who knows which.  I am enjoying my mornings in the studio instead of going straight to the library, which always leaves me too tired to be really productive when I'm there.  (no one cares if I'm sluggish in the evenings--the most strenuous thing might be having to hold down the cir desk for awhile, but nothing that involves designing or answering e-mails or making books.) Tonight was our Board Game Night, always a crowd pleaser and one of our most well attended events each semester.  The weather has been cool and rainy, and next week I will start swapping the fall wardrobe in (normally I do it at the beginning of September, but we got a late start to summer this year.)  But I am already eyeing fall colored things, and have even drawn out the denim jackets a couple times this week. It's coming.

This weekend I am hoping to cut a wider chunk out of dgp submissions for next year.  We wound up at around 470 this year, which means I have my work cut out for me.  I'm hoping to have a batch of responses out soon, and the entirety done by Thanksgiving.  Since I'm busy in the library, and possibly a little busier now that I'm chairing the Program & Events Committee (where I'll be orchestrating some exhibit policies and a promotion inventory) in addition to the usual A of R stuff, my days will be packed tight with only a little legroom for press work there (which is where I've traditionally spent time reading submissions in past years.)  I'm also point person on the Artist in Residence program this year, which is going to be AMAZING (check out or resident artist here) and some other random stuff that has been shuffled over in all the restructuring. So it will be busy, but all fun creative things.  We'll also be presenting at a couple library conferences in October, one a session on zines and Chicago zine resources at the Chicago Resource Summit, and another, a poster session on curated learning at the Illinois Library Assoc. Conference.

Since this may be last weekend of freedom for a bit (I'm in Rockford next weekend and working the following.) I intend to also spend some time getting some horror movies in and drinking a lot of coffee and maybe some more work on extinction event, which has a couple more segments from this past week.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

writing & art bits | august edition

*August vanished down the rabbit hole and I didn't check my Submittable for a whole month, but was delighted to find that I had THREE acceptances waiting for me, including these pieces from SWALLOW in the new issue of Sweet Tree Review.   Other pieces from a couple different series are also due out this fall from decomP and Midway Journal.  While my 100 rejections project has fallen prey to general life chaos, it's nice I did get a few more acceptances than usual out of the year regardless.

* Part 2 of the Nasiona Magazine interview with fellow editors landed a week or so ago, with a final segment due out soon.

* cover preparations are in the work for next spring's SEX & VIOLENCE (Black Lawrence Press, 2020)..I can't wait to show you!

*I've been deep in my extinction event pieces for the Field Museum reading, which is happening in the Museum's Gidwitz Hall of Birds on October 9th.  When asked where I'd like to do it, I waffled between amidst birds and dinosaurs, but it's fitting the poet who wrote a book years ago called IN THE BIRD MUSEUM, is going to be reading in an actual one. 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

broken things

"In this box, I collect the broken things.  The twisted oak, the dusty lynx. Budgies and buntings and  speckled hawks tumbled from their nests. We are going on a picnic and can take only the most unfortunate.  The deer missing it's antler, the one eyed frog.  Like Noah, we build and build, but the space gets smaller.  Nothing can breath. least of all me, my lungs stopped up with feathers and the small animals I've smuggled inside the body for safekeeping . In the box, we rustle the feathers and bend the bones, but nothing fits, even side by side, stacked vertically in rows.  Nothing sits upright or thrives. We name them, tag their tiny feet, and still, nothing moves inside the box.  All night we soothe them with sounds their mothers make, but still they sleep and dream of trees."-extinction event

I have been working over the last few weeks on my Field Museum poem series and it's going remarkably well.  The reading will be happening October 9th, and I'll have more details soon on the where's the whens and the particulars.  I've been doing a fair amount of research on diorama artists and taxidermy methods and such and I'll be headed back to the museum itself a couple more times over the next few weeks to do some more writing.. It's funny but sometimes I feel poems pulling in certain directions--old directions--and have to reign them in.  This is not that poem.  This is not that place. But then again, perhaps there is value in the wandering from your task. 

I'm hoping to get back to my habit of writing over breakfast, which has been harder when I've been landing into the chaos of work and not the quiet of the studio daily for the past three months.  My daily writing has turned more into random spats over the weekend or in stolen hours during the week. It's still coming, just not as vigorously,which is okay sometimes. Fall always means more seriousness, more purpose, and I'm looking forward to it in spades. 

Saturday, August 24, 2019

notes & things 8/24/2019

The above pic was snapped a couple weeks back, so the demon kittens are even bigger now (though still mostly hard to tell apart.)  It's been a busy span, and included a couple museum visits, first the Field (see blog below) and yesterday, a 30's /40's fashion exhibit at the Chicago History Museum (I'll post a bit more on that in the next entry.)  The weather has been beautifully cool and breezy, yet still sunny the past couple of days, and even though yesterday was an early start, it was glorious to sit outside the museum next to the fountain for a bit and enjoy some milder air after a week that was muggy, buggy, and just overgrown in the way summer gets toward the end. I am sleeping really well the past few nights, the bed piled with cats, and even took out my big comforter last night and threw it on.

I was initially supposed to be in Rockford this weekend, but postponed it a couple weeks since that will land me in town for both my Dad's birthday and some fall festivities like apple orchard-ing (truthfully it's all about the donuts!).   I tend to miss out on such things most years entirely, since I usually visit over Labor Day (too early) and Thanksgiving (too late).  Fall is crazy for me, and October looking to be a similar beast this year, but so far September and November seem slower going. I am itching to get out my fall clothes, but since I didn't touch the summer ones until mid-June because it came late, there are still a few things I can wear after the semester starts that I haven't even touched this season.

Outside of my Field Museum poems, I've been in order muppet mode lately, and so not good for creativity.  I did start playing a bit with paper quilling, which we'll be doing for a workshop next month. I feel a little stalled visually outside of some cover designs, even though words seem to be prevailing nevertheless in the extinction event pieces.  We have a  small tiki-themed exhibit going up until the lethal ladies work happens in early October.

I'm starting to get excited about other things that signal fall as well--the horror movie marathons (though I did this a couple Saturdays ago, so I hardly need an excuse, but on that last docket, the really great Mon & Dad, the new Poltergeist, Happy Birthday 2ULights Out, and Us. ) Though somehow the season and early dark lends themselves to spooky flicks more than heat and humidity.  Add in things like IT, part 2 in theatres and new installments of the Haunting of Hull House and American Horror Story and my fall will be complete.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

my 90's fashion dreams

With fall on my mind, I'm plotting outfits and spotted this lovely on Poshmark and had to get being of two 90's varieties--velvet and waffle-printy, AND my favorite teal to boot. I think it's at least couple years old, because I don't remember it the Modcloth line-up (and I've had my eye on their velvet the past few seasons.) I'm looking forward to quite a few wardrobe staples in the forom of velvets and furs and knits, plus some fall florals I'll be hauling out in mid-September. I'm thinking it'll be perfection with tights and boots and a black cardigan.


Judging by runways, catalog spreads, and window displays, the 90's are so back this fall. You might argue that the 70's by proxy are also back). I like the 90's, though maybe didn't appreciate them quite enough when I was in them. I've mentioned before that my 90's wardrobe was a whole lot of leggings and oversized flannels & sweatshirts, with some long hippie skirts thrown in. By the end of the decade, I wore a lot of boot cut jeans and black & grey sweaters and some longer skirts. (and eventually only skirts after 2000 or so.) Mostly I look back at the 90's as a period I was mostly trying to blend in, and even if I'd wanted to be fashionable, things were hard to find in my size (which was a couple sizes bigger than I wear now.) Internet shopping wasn't a thing, so I was limited to big box stores and occasional stuff from Sears or Lane Bryant (not that I had much of my own money early in the decade anyway). Things got a little more interesting when I discovered Fashion Bug and TJ Maxx but only a little. Thrift stores weren't very accomodating to plus sizes, though I was just beginning my addiction to thrifting.

 So the cool things I saw in magazines/tv/movies in the form of floral dresses and leather jackets were mostly unattainable. Velvet seemed fussy. Leopard print something I'd abandoned in junior high. The Delia's catalog was awesome, but not for me. I could wear Doc-Martin-ish shoes & boots, and of course, my perennial fave chunky mary janes, but above my feet was pretty uninspired and would remain so for a decade or so. So it's probably only natural I would nurse a desire to hit decade trends hard. A few years ago, I started becoming obsessed with leopard print, what I call my "Peg Bundy wardrobe" pieces, so many that I was wearing it once a week, and then came the velvet, and thankfully fashion followed and gave me even more things to obsess over. It culminated of course, in a leopard velvet jacket I am crazy about. I am also plotting ways to incorporate flannels and florals, though I oft question my pattern mixing acumen.

check out my autumn pinterest board for more & links on the above...

Saturday, August 17, 2019

poems and peacocks and angry rabbits

My head is, as expected, filled with ideas after my Field Museum visit on Thursday, and I got started that very evening drafting bits of something that I think will be promising.   I initially went in with a vague idea of writing about extinction and dinosaurs and the earth over time, but of course got distracted by the birds (it happens) and then the maze of mammals, which had me mulling over taxidermy techniques and the work of diorama artists and the whole points of museums, the houses of the muses, and preservation, particularly when it comes to extinction (even our own).  And then of course, from my last visit, Audubon and his giant book.   And somehow, a kernal of sense-making came into being and I think I might have something. 

And of course, the Field is such a nostalgia filled place for me.  It was the site of the 9th grade field trip that touched off a desire to live in this big, bustling city perched on the lake.  And other visits were always with my parents, and far too infrequent, but always memorable.  But its somehow so familiar, even when they move things around and add rotating exhibits.  I stuck mostly to animals and the dinosaurs since I got a late start to the day, but there was much I wanted to wander through, but stuck steady to my material interests re: animals and evolution.

And of course, I've written about the museum before.  The title poem of in the bird museum is inspired by the Field's and other similar museums' bird specimen collections.  And there is a line in my first book, in the poem "How to Tell a Story in a Dead Language" specifically about the Egypt exhibit. (another fave, but I didn't have time for it Thursday.)  All of which, was perhaps why I am especially excited about this endeavor and the reading (which is looking to be happening in October at this point--they are still working out details.)  Already I have three drafts that look promising--I'd love to get a chap or a segment of another longer book from all this.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

dgp notes | august edition

We're coming up on the very end of the submission period and so far things are looking amazing in the pool, and the first round of acceptances will be going out mid next week.  I am struggling as always to figure out what the sweet spot is in how many releases are possible and when it tips over into overwhelming, but I think also being more generous in timelines for things may help immensely--more based on how things actually go than how I wish they would go. Life intervenes, printers break, and I never feel ahead of the game, no matter what. But I guess, just keep doing the best I can. I often overshoot and over commit, and I need to reign this tendency in as well.

We are also hosting our first ever fundraising campaign to help with things that are coming down the pipeline in terms of a mini-chap contest and the anthology project, both of which require a bit more in terms of resources than the usual schedule of chapbooks.  I want to avoid submission fees at all costs, but to offer a cash prize, you need to, you know, have cash and all, so if we can raise it beforehand, it would be amazing. One of the perks is that the mini-chaps will be included with every order, so that's some mad distribution (and some mad printing costs for larger runs).  I'm excited to turn people onto authors they might not otherwise read when they purchase something.  Plus, I'm dreaming that SWIM will be a little more luxe and fancy, which means I'll be spending more on all the paper doo-dads.

Our dancing girl press salon series will be back on September 10th in the Library (the perfect marrying of my library programming work and my work with the press.) and will feature Annette  Boehm, Aviya Kushner, Leah Claire Kaminski, and Eleanor Tisch in that first installment, all of whom have books out from this past year. I did a couple of these in the past, and then a few devoted to other presses & orgs, but we actually have plenty of visiting and chicago-area authors to bring in on our own.

Friday, August 09, 2019

notes & things | 8/9/2019

Every August, about midway through, there is a day that you wake up and the light just seems different and aches of the impending fall. Maybe that day was today, maybe yesterday.  Or maybe I'm just realizing in a panic that it's a few scarce weeks until the semester begins because, yes, it does and I am perhaps nowhere near ready--so much stuff to line up, including our Lethal Ladies programming, plus preparations for some library things--a session at the Chicago Research summit in October, and then a poster session at the Illinois Library Association conference shortly thereafter. Summer seemed like such a long stretch, but it's now almost over.

This week, I'll be heading over to the Field Museum to get a start on some writing for my reading there in mid-September. I have some vague articulations about extinction events and natural environments (and yes, dinosaurs!) so we'll see how those flesh out this week. I just finished the artist statement project, so I am primed and ready for something new. Fall seems perfect for a new endeavor to begin. I've been prepping with some notes on fossils and geologic periods (which were the least interesting and least retained bits of my science schooling I admit). I'll be writing a bit more about the project after my visit on Thursday.

I spent some time this week delving into the submission pile for next year's chapbook series and already I have a handful of possibilities ready for a second read.  I'm hoping to get through everything within the  three month window, which would pit all responses out by late October--it feels do-able, but I know the rate increases exponentially as we get closer to the deadline.  This should work out well, since I was just asked to be a prelim reader for another presses' contest that ends  around the same time.

Besides a little more research and note taking, this weekend will be devoted to groceries and cleaning and playing with the tiny demon cats that are running back and forth through my apartment. I have only a couple more free ones until a short trip to Rockford, then Labor Day, and then we are plunged into the semester. I am less excited about colder weather, but more excited by fall fashions, so I'll take it.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019


As much as I love them, old photos make me nervous.  My own and other peoples. Especially other peoples. Today, I spent some time sorting through a huge batch of vacation photos that a faculty member had picked up somewhere, intending them for a project that just never happened. So he passed them onto me.  I foraged for some good collage/art possibilities, and found a really cute vintage Hallmark floral bag, but as I tossed the majority of the pics--various women posed in front of monuments and scenic vistas (but did keep the vistas and the monuments alone for artmaking) I felt the same weight on my chest that I feel when I look at family photos of my own. That it's suffocating to think of the detritus of our lives--what we leave behind, where it goes, what happens to it.  The women were old in the 70's--now they are surely dead, so it felt weird tossing them into the trash with the days other detritus, coffee cups and sandwich wrappers--somehow sacriligious, even though I've no desire to keep them unless they are useful.

When I was 8, my grandmother died, and in her house was about a foot tall mountain of snapshots going back decades, that my mother and aunt sat and sorted through one stifling summer afternoon.  Many went into albums that still sit in my Dad's house today.  Others were split up among relatives. Even more, however, were tossed in the trash or on top of a fire or lost in the shuffle.  When I volunteered to help clean up that flooded farm house in Kaskaskia after the 93 floods, I  remember the horrible feeling of scraping family photos caked in mud from the floor boards of the 2nd floor, where the water had been halfway up the wall. What to do with all this--what we keep, what we leave behind,.  What matters to no one else but us, and after we're gone. ?

Years ago, my aunt gave me a stack of cool  victorian cabinet cards she'd been sent from relatives in Nebraska, where she and my mother were born. There were some young pics of my grandmother in the 20's and 30's among them, but most of the people were unrecognizeable and unknown..maybe a trace of resemblance at most--a set of brow, a curve of lip that echoed through my great grandmother, but little else.  She gave them to be to do "something artsy"  and they eventually, without their actual heads, became he unusual creatures pieces. At first,  I debated collageing on the photos themselves.  On one hand, it would ruin them. On the other, no one much cared, least of all my aunt..The originals, tucked somewhere in my studio even now, will one day be inconsequential to whoever stumbles across them. I wound up reproducing them on cardstock and then working with them.  But it scarce matters. Ultimately, they'll ed up in the trash sooner or later.

The strange thing about being childless I suppose is knowing that my legacy, whatever that is, dies with me. Some day, I'll grow old and die and people, probably strangers, will throw the bulk of my things in the trash --the poems, the artwork, the random bits of my life I've collected.  This makes me hurt. it makes me heavy in a way I can't quite put my finger on. My dad & sister were pretty quick about dealing with my mother's things after her death--alarmingly so, but it was probably necessary mental health-wise--the closet full of clothes, her jewelry box, a linen closet stuffed with half  burnt candles and semi-filled bottles of lotion.  Her presence is still very real in the house--the art she chose for the walls, the furniture, the photos, her dishes. .  But at the same time, she is also more absent--and in a way that has nothing to do with her physically missing.  But who can hold on to ghosts?  Or maybe ghosts are all we have?

While I've purloined a lot of photos and scanned them for social-media purposes over the years, I have only one photo album in my apartment, mostly filled with images taken from my first years in Chicago before the world went digital. I also have a sizeable stack of yearbooks, journals, and scrapbooks, but the photo albums for the most part are in my parents' house.  The weight of the seems to much.

One project that I've always thought would be cool would be to hunt down a bunch of stranger's family photos and create my own story from them. I know other artist and writers who have done this (Jaime Zuckerman's Alone in this Together, published by dgp a couple years back is a great example.) One of our Aof R artsist from a few shows ago liked to alter photos found in antique stores with his own monster illustrations and then slip them surreptitiously back into the stores to be found by others. 

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

toni morrison and the midwest gothic

Sad news today that the world lost Toni Morrison. The first time I encountered Morrison was my freshman year. In a community college class called Intro to Literature.  We mostly read stories from an an anthology--everything with a feminist bent--Tillie Olsen, Flannery O'Connor (I am so fortunate in my education that we always read more women, even in non-focused classes.)  I was just beginning to write seriously, but badly, and was sort of placeholding and wracking up some credits & gen-eds (history, intro to psych, dramatic lit) before I started at Rockford College in the fall after returning from North Carolina and changing my plans and my major.  By the end of the semester, we had time for one long form fiction, and the professor had chosen Beloved, heavy reading for a 19 year old, but one that struck me as amazing.  It struck me as a horror novel, becuase of the ghost, the haunting of the main character after sacrificing her children to save them from slavery.  And it is a sort of ghost story--and importantly, a midwest gothic, one wrapped up in our terrible, bloody history.  It was a book that haunted me, as a reader, and I returned to it in the following years, particularly as I was trying to figure out the whole writing thing.  We later read it in another class at RC devoted to Psychology and Literature. Though I read and loved The Bluest Eye as part of my MA Comp exam a couple years later, Beloved remained my favorite Morrison, because of its strong roots in the gothic.

Monday, August 05, 2019

a tale of two kittens

Having long ago given up the ghost on fighting any urge to deny my cat-lady spinsterish tendencies, I welcomed these little lovelies into my house last week.  I wound up naming them after famous Siamese twins, Violet and Daisy Hilton, sideshow and vaudeville performers ( they were in the classic Freaks (see below) and surely an inspiration for AHS:  Freak Show.)  They were also one of the inspirations for my poem "double tongue" in GIRL SHOW.)   

Sunday, August 04, 2019

artist statements

The last few months, I've been working on a more meta project, spawned by some less coherent thoughts I had when I was working on my actual artist statement. How to convey a whole world--a whole aesthetic framework, without delving into something a little more creative when it feels like you are supposed to be more expository somehow.  What wound up resulting was a lot of fun.  How to write about the endeavor of writing poems (and I use "poetry" loosely since most of my stuff takes the form of prose lately).

The subject matter of the pieces take a lot from my experience writing as a woman, of subject matter, of the academic-poetry complex.  Of desire and sex and writing.  The closest thing I can compare it to in my past writings would be this poem, which opens major characters in minor films, which touches on some of the similar ideas, but in a less specific way. Some of the artist statement pieces are coming soon in an issue of TYPEHOUSE,,so watch for that to get a sampling. 

Saturday, August 03, 2019

curvy girl fashion | oh sailor....

I somehow convinced myself to indulge in buying this little number, mostly since I've been forgoing my daily Dunkin habit and saving a bit more money. So instead of daily lattes and breakfast sandwiches, I've used the money to go towards my other vices.  I feel like I've seen this dress previous seasons, or some variation thereof, but I've never spotted it available in my size. I tend to spend some time lately watching plus size haul videos on youtube, and one blogger posted this dress, which I filed away in my fall to-buy file, but I spring for this one since summer is dwindling fast and it's definitely a summer dress. 

 One of my other favorite Torrid acquisitions that came from Poshmark was the dress above which is super luxe and flattering (so much so that I'm sad it's only really wearable in the summer and not all year long--it actually is heavy-ish, so maybe you could pair it with tights & cardigan, but I've been putting it away the past couple years come fall to make room for cool-weather clothes).  I have quite a few sailorish feel items, mostly for spring and summer, mostly navy.  I'm a big fan of that center tie that is super 1930-ish in origin. Some of my favorites can be spotted in my Pinterest. Enjoy!

Friday, August 02, 2019

cover love | august edition

a peek at some of the designs on some more recent and upcoming cover designs I've done for august dgp titles..

Sunday, July 28, 2019

notes & things | 7/28/19

This month has been slipping away from me with alarming speed, and yet, I am tiring of summer, perhaps the earliest ever in the season.  It's not even August yet, and I am craving fall and somewhat listless  While the heat has been bad a few days in the past couple of weeks, most of it has been reasonably mild in between.  I am just ready for later starts and more productive time in the studios before the day has taken bites out of me both physically and mentally. I work faster and better and more energetic when I haven't spent my day dealing with library (and mostly busy work since my go-to ILL student has been away at an internship and her replacement works less days.)

Lately, I find myself battling frustrations on all fronts at not getting as much done, at not working as quickly as I need to, and have to talk myself off ledges I should not even be on.   The writing has all but slowed to a trickle, and I'm hoping to get back on track in August with some other projects.  I am trying better to live as a whole person and not just a productivity machine (and at this point, a glitchy one at that). I'm struggling to feel in control of things and it's taking both mental and physical toll.

On the home front, there is the bright spot of a pair of new additions to the household--a set of siamese kittens I plan to name Elizabeth Bathory and Lizzie Borden (edit:  I decided to name them after famous sideshow/vaudeville performers, The Hilton Sisters--Daisy and Violet (who were also Siamese  It was supposed to only be one, but the second one was unspoken for and once I caught sight of both of them lying together in the cage Friday, I knew I wouldn't be able to separate them (also, I imagine much Lady in the Tramp sing-a-longs and Parent Trap-like hijinks in our future since they are IDENTICAL. It means at least one additional litterbox and a little more vacuuming no doubt to combat lighter hair, but I've been down a cat since losing Zoe during that terrible traumatic summer of 2017, so we'll see how it goes.  (and I will be posting pics on instagram as soon as I've brought them home.)

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

to all the desks I've loved before...

When I was a child, I badly wanted a desk.  For a long time, there was only one in the house that belonged to my father--a midcentury cheapie that instead of drawers, had side cabinets guarded by roll top panels. It lived first in the upstairs attic space until my bedroom moved there, and later in the basement.  My dad hoarded paper like you wouldn't believe, so the surface was usually not visible, but mostly I dreamed of a time when I would have such a desk--a place to read and write and color.  To play school,  which was also a favorite thing--teacher's desks being a similar magical space filled with red pens and star stickers.

When I was 9, we lived briefly in the trailer of a great uncle, the room I squatted in having a huge desk with drawers that had been too large for him to move, and which thus transferred to the new owners.  It was summer and school long out, but I would pull the chair up to it and pretend to study. I kept a pair of scissors found in it's copious drawers for years engraved with my cousin-by-marriage's name, which was the same as mine except with an "i". When we moved into a new house, eventually I inherited my father's desk, by then, the doors broken completely, but I quickly painted it white and covered it in magazine clippings under tape and it served me well for quite a few years--through junior high and into highschool.  Eventually, it fell apart, and I traded it for  a huge board propped in the corner on a pet kennel we kept the new kittens in. It wobbled, and would fall off if I leaned to heavily, but I loved the space.  I made college plans, and wrote essays for Seventeen magazine on changing the world. Penned environmental editorials for the paper and begrudgingly did math homework perched on a metal work stool I'd lifted from the basement.  My dorm room at UNCW had the perfect tiny wood desk, my first with actual drawers I had very things to put in it, but I wrote a lot on the floor, my electric typewriter on my knees.

When I left North Carolina and came back to the midwest, I carried my "desk" portably with me--to the living room coffee table where I'd sit on the floor.  The dining room table in front of the a/c.  Outside to the deck, where I's spend time writing horrible poems and making plans to submit them.  By desk, it was mostly a big envelope box full of writing magazines and typed drafts, banged out on the typewriter. In those years, my aunt had soon brought me a proper desk with a bookshelf upper, and every semester, I would line my textbooks & other reading materials in the top cove. Tucked my hilighters and post-its in the drawers.  I moved it so many times into various corners of the room, eventually the particle board fell apart, but by then, I had moved on to grad school, and my uneven little wood table in my Lincoln Park apartment.  It too had a busted leg, so for two years it wobbled as I began to write the first poems that actually were any good. The apartment was so small, I could sit at the table and reach not only the fridge, but most of the other furniture in the apartment.  Lacking an extension cord, most of my typeing was done a few feet away on the floor in front of the futon on a Brother wordprocessor .  I moved back to Rockford briefly, and didn't have a proper worktable until I moved back to the city--a newer pedestal table that also wobbled due to construction, on which I spent a couple years at until I could afford a new dining room set, which then spent years covered in laptops, art supplies, chapbook innards, and more until I moved a lot of it into the studio. . About a decade ago, I moved to writing at a wooden vanity table in the living room --big enough for a laptop and notebook, but not so big I overclutter it with piles of books and abandoned cups of tea. (I've written about this space at length here ...)

My dayjob desks have always had a transient feel--even if I've been at them for a long time. My desk in the elementary school was not so much a desk as a table with a computer and barcode scanner. (there was an old school teacher's desk nearby, but mostly I used it for a book displays and a surface to sort incoming materials.) My desk in the library now is surely from the 70's-- broken beige drawers (which I've covered over the years in stickers) and a faux wood laminate top. Mostly it houses inside it a couple decades worth of hoarded discard materials I eventually plan to make into art. Also, dozens of chopsticks and soy sauce packets from delivery lunches. I actually used to do a lot of writing in the evenings on the library circulation desk, a big blue formica topped behemoth.

Other desks have been, in fact, transitory.  When I was in college , my favorite place to work were a slate of study carrels that faced a brick wall. I would leave place markers there even when I left for class to stake out the spot.  A sweater.  A notebook.  A stack of books.  They were more cubicle than carrel, and I grabbed one whenever I could.  I did revisions on my first book at a cafe in a downtown Barnes & Noble. Wrote poems between my MFA classes at a counter at Corner Bakery down the street.  When I'm visiting my dad, I sometimes write at that same dining room table I wrote at decades ago.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

writing & art bits | july edition

*I have a couple of pieces (including one of the eleanor & the tiny machines pieces and one older catalogue collage) in the latest issue of Radar Poetry, fast becoming of my favorite places combining writing and visual art.  Check out the new issue here. (you can also see some of the exquisite damage written and visual pieces in the previous issue.)

*The latest Tupelo Quarterly dropped on Monday and features 5 pieces from the [licorice, laudaum] project (aka, my HH Holmes series.).  So much research went into the project , it's great to see the elements together for the first time here in all their weird little glory. 

*As mentioned below, I am taking part in an interview series with a host of other editors & publishers at The Nasiona Magazine, the first part of which landed on Monday. 

* work is beginning on the next books & objects offering coming around the bend, the poets zodiac, which needs a little tightening up, but is finally (finally!) finished. It's going to be a tiny little guide-book sized project that should be absolutely lovely. 

*This month, I am working on rounding out my artist statement series, which is turning out to be delightfully meta as one would expect.  My fave part so far is  this bit:

"The poem won’t shut up until you take it home. Until you shove it beneath the bathtub’s surface a few times for effect.  Neglect is the poem’s best weapon. All night, it will moan and pretend it’s coming, but by morning will be nothing but a few strands of hair on the pillow you used to smother it." 

Once that series winds down at the end of this month..I intend to do some more work on my woefully neglected unusual creatures project.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

dgp cover love | white space

some recent and upcoming cover designs, all if which are keeping it pretty simple in terms of space and color.......

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

vattemare award for creativity in libraries

My Monday morning started off with some exciting news that me and my co-hort, Jennifer Sauzer had scored the 2nd Annual Vattemare Award for Creativity in Libraries for our work with Aesthetics of Research.  Given that it's sometimes been bumpy road in the early days, this felt really good, and really excellent timing since we are working on some other writing projects devoted to our efforts, both about A of R  and curated learning in general,  that we will begin submitting for publication soon. Also helpful as we work on some more classroom-connected projects this coming academic year.

The proposal for the Vattemare included a general summary of our mission and some of our ongoing series and initiatives.

read more here... 

(incidently the prize is named after a famous ventriloquist/librarian, which seems an odd, but appropriate combo..)

Monday, July 15, 2019

interview @ The Nasiona Magazine

I am super-excited to be amongst the selection of awesome presses answering some questions over at The Nasiona Magazine about submissions, manuscripts, and other relevant topics..

"I love a book that can take a completely ordinary subject matter and stylistically turn it on its ear. I also really love quirky & weird subject matter. I love surrealism, the supernatural, pop culture mash-ups, science-inspired writing. Found and appropriated texts. I always say that I love those sorts of manuscripts that take the reader to weird places, but with such authority, you have no choice but to follow." 

read part 1 here..

Sunday, July 14, 2019

curvy girl fashion | early autumn wish list

Considering I only switched out my spring clothes for my summer options a couple weeks ago, it is perhaps a bit too early to be looking toward fall, but I'm cheating just a little.  I was thinking this morning that late July is always when that magical, back to school issue of Seventeen magazine showed up filled with all of it's fall-fashion magic.  It does not help that I've been bingeing season three of Stranger Things and so freakin nostalgic for my youth of neon-lined malls. All of which is giving me a summer sort of restlessness and excited back to school shopping vibes.  (and the best thing about working in academia is still being excited for every school-year start even as an adult, so I usually buy a few new clothes and some random school supplies every September. )

But nevertheless, I already thinking about jackets and sweater dresses, even though we actually have had some heat out there finally especially since I've spent the morning with some plus-size haul videos on YouTube that have me thinking about fashiony things. There are some colors I keep seeing that are jumping out at me in summer offerings that I see carrying well into fall, especially since I always have this weird span of time in September where it's still warm enough for summer dresses, but am anxious to get into fall clothes.


There is so much mustard in stores this year for summer--also other shades of buttery yellows, of which I now have way too much in my closet.  Fall is looking to be no different.  They're a little tricky sometimes, because there is a variation of mustard that looks terrible against my skin, but the warmer ones tend to fare well.  The above Old Navy one caught my eye and I will probably get it since I'm loving the delicate floral.

Dusty Pink

This is a color that works really well for my skin but I never encounter it quite enough. I'm not sold on the neckline of this particular Old Navy dress, so it's not a sure thing (too high and I feel like it will make my boobs look frumpy).   But that color is making it super tempting to try..esp with those leaopard flats.

Forest Green

I've been unusually obsessed with dark green, and even bought a velvety green ottoman for the studio  (mostly as an incentive to keep the damn place tidier. )  When my hair was darker, this was a color I loved, but it still works even when I'm blonder.   It's actually a color that works in every season, being bith naturey and holiday-ish.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019


At first, I walked out of the theatre not sure what to say about this movie.  I was super excited going in, but was fully prepared for it to fall short.  After all, with all the hype around Ari Aster's Heredity, I did not like it as much as some of my friends--thinking it definitely was a beautiful work of art in terms of impending gloom and camerawork, but thought the family trauma was more than enough even without the supernatural element that felt tacked on at the end.  The very thing that was wrong about that film, Aster did right in this one, centering the dissolution of a toxic relationship as the main source of horror, but setting it amidst the sunlight dappled beauty of a creepy Kinfolk catalog aesthetic.

In fact, there is less of the supernatural in this one, than there is the general horror of much folklore.  Very little happens that is not human directed--sacrifices, spellcasting, fertility rights.  But at the same time, there are spots of gore that jump out so strongly and starlingly becuase they are in broad daylight and paced exactly right.  So much so that you might forget you are in a horror movie, or can't quite figure out if you're in a horror movie, which contributes to the viewers disorientation as much as the characters.  It is, like Heredity, very much a meditation on trauma and grief, and the main actresses' struggle with a personal tragedy had my heart in my throat the entire movie (the closest thing I can think of recently that had this effect was Haunting of Hull House.)  Also, the dynamics of isolation and community, however fucked up. And the boyfriend, is ultimately every bad relationship you ever had, who meets a weirdly satisfying end. 

But so much can be said about the visual feast of this movie--from that unbearable bright beauty of the clearing to the visual representations of much of what happens in the film--the iconography, the illustrations. Unlike most horror, everything happens in the daylight, which becomes oppressive in its own right. As someone who most appreciates the beautiful cast against the terrifying, this movie hit all the right buttons, and some I did not even know existed.

notes & things | 07/09/2019

And just like that, we have bitten a chunk out of July.

I've been away from work and away from the studio the past 5 days or so, so re-entry is proving to be a bit rough.  There was the 4th--spent mostly just hiding from the crowds, eating takeout ribs and battling the heat in my apartment.  Then Friday hijinks, which included seeing the amazeballs Midsommer (more on this in another post) and karaoke at the Uptown Lounge. Then I was off to Rockford for some day drinking (a bit too much day drinking) and some thrifting yesterday. It's not much of a vacation, but a little bit never hurts.  I now realize that once we hit the 4th, it's a swift forward roll down into fall, so perhaps I should absorb as much summer as I can.

Otherwise, there is studio tidying, the unending saga, but still too much chaos to try for an open studio this week.  I realize I am failing in my goals to make one happen this summer, but I can use the extra work time on Fridays since I get out of the library earlier that day.   I finalized a bunch of new books before the holiday, so those are on the agenda this week and some more order filling in the task of catching up, which seems impossible sometimes.  I feel like the last two years have been an uphill slant for all kinds of reasons and I'd like a little bit of leveling off. I am also set to dip my toes into the new pool of submissions for next year and looking forward to reading so much goodness.

We've hit a welcome spate of milder days, which are a relief after a few steamy muggy ones in which my apartment failed to cool down over night, which made sleeping well difficult with no A/C..  It seemed summer would never arrive, and for a couple days there it did in spades. Ideally, I like a low-humidity 80 tops, and some cooler nights in the 60's. I always grow tired of the blazing sun, the humidity, the crowds, around mid-July and long for September/early October. I also start to long for my more productive studio hours at the top of the day when my brain is still fresh.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

exquisite damage and the suburban gothic

This weekend, I am working through some more fine tuning edits on exquisite damage, which is mostly done, but needed a little distance to iron out some rough spots.  This week, I also am planning a couple more collages to accompany the text portions.  I started the project thinking about my love of the horror genre, of the gothic, particularly a more suburban, midwest gothic that plays such a central role in many horror classics (Halloween and It Follows come immediately to mind.)  The sort of things that lurk at the edges of the world we think we know. It's origins are similar, but it's manifestations different from purely rural gothic--theres a thicker gloss on it all--a variation between the perception and the reality.

I worked with something similar in the shared properties of water and stars--that dark shadow sitting squat under suburbia, but this project is more personal and grounded in my experience as a child who loved horror and grew up in the 70's & 80's. Last spring, one of the speakers at the pop culture conference on horror touched on the definition of the gothic--how even in the Victorian ages, it's appeal lie in a safe way to transcend the relative safety of the middle class.  If we were comfortable--not in actual danger--we sought out ways to experience similar danger from a a safe remove.

When I was a teen, I had all these romantic fantasies that involved whatever boy I was crushing on at the time saving me from something--a disaster, a plague, a plane crash. the apocalypse.  It was a twisted princess fantasy I suppose--the prize not so much security, but survival.

"Sometimes, I'm swimming and there's a body, floating bloated in the water. I scream and the man who saves me gets to have me.  Which is pretty much the plot to everything."

The rush of being afraid, that rush of endorphins was similar to that of love.  Or at least my fevered teenage mind thought so.

And of course, imagined fears only go so far in touching on the REAL fears of suburbia--kidnappings, rapes, school shootings. (less prevalent, of course, in my years, but viewable in the lens now.)  But even these need a safe distance--survivors of actual trauma do not always like horror (with a few exceptions). All the urban legends we think we're are afraid of vs. the very real things there are to be frightened of. 

What I wound up with is a series of vignettes mixed with personal experience, something not quite just prose poems, not quite lyric essay, also something that, by presence of myself as "writer" addressing you, as a " reader" becomes a little bit meta.--an echo to victorian gothicism.  The visual elements are a nod to midcentury style--lots of detritus like floral wallpaper, shampoos ads, television sets, and creepy basement seances. 

Eventually, I intend for them all to be a zine project, and the text fragments themselves to be part of my longer dark county manuscript. In the meantime, for a peak into this series, some links:

* (w/ accompanying artwork)

5 things you might not know about me

1. When I was a kid, we spent pretty much every weekend in Wisconsin, where my grandmother had an RV in a campground/resort.  My aunt & uncle owned a slot nearby, so those particular weekends were a mess of extended family and a whirl of activity--most of which was me following my older cousins around trying to be as cool as they were. (Outside of my sister, virtually no one was my age on that side of the fam.)   Other camping trips included visiting my grandfather up in Black River Falls, as well as many camping trips my parents took us on our own to various places.  Me & my sister spent a lot of time on my dad's fishing boat and in a terrible little canvas pup tent freaking out about daddy long legs, but it was glorious fun.  Contrary to what you might expect of my city dwelling heart, I really like camping, but require only two things:  1) showers 2.)a comfy air mattress.  Otherwise, I am good.  I am not even scared of daddy long legs anymore once I learned they weren't really spiders.

2. In 3rd grade, I won the upper grades spelling bee and had the first taste of ambition and success that made me crave it more.  I had sort of stumbled through the lower grades, sometimes getting in trouble for not doing, or failing to do my reading homework right. Even though I was an early & adept reader, I hated grammar homework with a passion, and spent many lunch hours trapped inside as punishment for not doing what I was supposed to. I don't remember 1st & 2nd being hard, but I was struggling in the 3rd. When I won the spelling bee, my teacher, who had written me off as just an idiot, suddenly decided I was smart but maybe was having trouble seeing the board.  I seriously think I may have thrown my eye test out of spite, though, and spent 4th grade in glasses I really didn't need (ditched completely when we moved the next year, by which time I was one of the top readers in my class regardless with near perfect vision at my 5th grade physical. I found I liked being rewarded as a word person, and it sort of formed my identity.

3. I played the clarinet in junior high,  Or I should say I was very mediocre and never practiced the clarinet, but somehow still wound up in the concert band in 8th grade. I remember very little of how to read music today, but I was decent at it then. I, of course, went in wanting to play the flute, but they were in high demand and would have had to rent it outside the school, which wasn't going to happen.  Thus, the clarinet.  I basically spent two years eyeing the cello players thinking I should have joined the orchestra instead of the band, but we did do concerts on occasion, and once, well to an Illinois-wide competition (where we lost, mostly becuaue I was not the only one that  I mostly spent my weekends, blowing off my practice and watching Svengoolie with an an existential dread of Monday.

4. My senior year of high school, I somehow wound up in an acting class filled with freshmen (I had planned to take a zoology course, but it conflicted with something else important. When the counselor called me over the summer to ask what I wanted to do, he rambled off theatre and I said sure). I wound up LOVING it and quickly got a decent role in the fall play.  For a hot minute, I was determined to be a Broadway star, spurred by a class field trip in to see Les Miz at the Auditorium, and this learned every single word from the score--and could sing it even now in its entirely.  (as well as my second fave, Into the Woods.)  Becuase I left high school determined to become  scientist, I figured that would never happen, but a couple years later I wound up back in the theater--mostly working backstage--lights, costumes, stage managing, and it formed my social group in those years.  I wound up adding Theatre as a minor to my English Major and vaguely entertained the notion of writing plays (which has not yet happened, but, hey, who knows?)

5. As mentioned above, I went off to college thinking I wanted to be a marine biologist--mostly since I had a charismatic AP Bio teacher who made it seem really exciting, strong opinions about saving the earth (as witnessed by my preachy editorials in the high school paper) and a best friend who was also into environmental causes (and actually did become a scientist/teacher!) While I probably just really liked the idea of swimming with dolphins (oh boy, did I love dolphins!) and living near the ocean, I decided to attend UNC-Wilmington, where I soon confirmed that I have the math skills of a 7th grader and that I should stick with words. I think that semester was valuable in that it cast me into the world and gave me a stereotypical college experience with dorms and frat parties,  but I was sort of relieved when I landed back at RC and its staid liberal artsyness.  I really should never have allowed my inner mermaid to make my career plans.  Lesson learned.