Friday, December 31, 2010

resolution #2 through #30

write more poems, cook more, give more, take things in stride, make more art, not be such a girl when it comes to men, go on more walks, eat more fruit, write love letters, blog more, say what I mean, mean what I say, stay more organized, be less of a control freak (okay this is probably the one I will fall off the wagon on first) eat more ice cream, go to the beach more, love more, travel more, trust more, watch more movies, be braver, finish everything that is half done, organize my poetry shelves, go to more museums, take more pictures, sing in the shower more, pamper myself more, eat breakfast more, record my dreams better, be in the moment more instead of pushing on to the next thing.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


In the midst of unpacking yesterday, I realized I was coming down with my second cold of the season. I am all stuffed up and just want to hide under the covers and wait til March. I am back, and there are things to do and organize before I head back to work next week. Yesterday I took a nap and dreamed about a chaotic re-modeling of the library. A bookshelf kept falling over on me and I kept losing my shoes and my camera, which seemed very important. They were ripping up the carpet and the walls. No one found this alarming but me. I don't, as a rule, like change, and this probably has everything to do with it.

Monday, December 27, 2010

resolution #1: poetry, po-biz, etc.

It sometimes alarms me a little how much my priorities have shifted over the last few years in terms of where I put my greater efforts. About 5-10 years ago, the po-biz stuff was primarily (perhaps the only place) where my head was, obsessed with where to send poems, book manuscripts, things to apply for, ways to market myself as a poet, golden rings to reach for.

I find myself still with poetry at the center of my life, but it's different, more focused on building something than just getting it out there. I hoard poems these days in a strange way and only occasionally send them out, and then usually only when someone asks me to. Part of it is simply time, the business of being a poet falling very low on the ladder. And very often, my focus is not even my own work at all, but moreso the work I do with the press. I get just as much joy bringing these books into the world as I do spawning my own poems (also there is much less writerly anxiety).

Perhaps every poet feels this way after a couple of books, after they've gotten some footing and an audience and the struggle is not so paramount. While I can't help but mourn a little for the ambition bird dead in it's box, it's also incredibly freeing somehow, almost like I'm getting away with something, scribbling poems and hiding them and not running about waving them saying "look at me!" "look at me!" like I used to.

It might be partially a post MFA thing, that whole too many cooks in the kitchen syndrome, the very publicness of it, too many people in your poems and creative business to the point where you couldn't breath sometimes. To have someone making judgements on your "body of work" based on what they've seen of it when really they've seen nothing. Some of what I heard and witnessed there still turns my stomache. After three years, you'd think I would be over it, and yet, the feeling is still there.

It might also just be a diffusion of my creative efforts. I am not nearly so type A about my explorations into visual art or the crafty stuff. It's all much more open and low pressure, and also a bit more subject to simple supply and demand (ie..I make things, people either want them or they don't). There's no angst over whether or not it's good enough, important enough to warrant an audience**. Even if it sometimes regulates po-biz concerns to the back burner, it's what keeps me sane (and outfitted with paper & art supplies, studio space, little luxuries and all manner of other frivolous things beyond my paltry day job salary.)

And still it's sorta nice to write something and not be obsessed with where to send it, the poem as currency, the entire book as currency for what? career? respect? acclaim? The stakes of poetry are so laughably low and so very important at the same time it makes my head spin. But then again, any poet needs an audience. Really an audience is all you've got in the end, people who discover and like your work enough to take an interest in it. And to find those people, certain concessions need to be made. The poems have to make it into the world hell or high water. And yet so many of us still feel trapped in a system we sort of despise, the do's and don'ts of a poetry "career", the rules, the heirarchies...the stuff we feel we are supposed to want, but maybe don't really.

So I plan this year to be better at it, at least in terms of audience if not the typical po-biz stuff, better at finding ways to get what I want and discarding all the rest that's been fed to me. It feels scary and exhilerating at the same time...we'll see what comes of it...

**And granted alot my starry-eyedness when it comes to visual art is just being oblivious to the inner workings of the art world, which I suppose are as troubling as those of poetry, I guess I just don't see them from my vantage as an outsider, someone not really part of the gallery circuit, totally unschooled, not really hanging out with many people in that world. Part of me kinda wants to keep it that way. I sort of get nostalgic for the years I was writing poetry as an "outsider" who had no clue about the inner workings of the poetry machine (or that there was a machine). Actually, I think there is less of a machine than there was 10, or even 5 years ago, thank god, but it's still there, some people holding on furiously with their fingers despite it falling apart.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

december doldrums

Oddly, I am looking forward to January, even though I usually hate it...somehow, it seems less depressing than dark December. Almost as if you are on the downward side of the mountain and the worst is over. I'd like to think the worst of winter would be behind us, though February seems to be pretty nasty the last few years as well. Still, it's a new start, a crisp clear mindset, and time to devote to all sorts of new pursuits and projects. In addition to a slew of new dgp books coming right along, there are also my own new poems to play with, all sorts of cool projects that of course, occured to me, or found their way to me, in the midst of pre-holiday craziness that luckily I jotted down, including a couple of zine-like things I've been plotting, a load of new unmentionables for the shop, and some pretty new business card holders. Also tasks I've been putting off, certain very patient friends I've been neglecting. Hopefully, I can catch up with all of it.

Christmas was the usual routine of food, family, and gifts. Everyone seemed to like the handmade (mostly) ones given and I wound up with a new mattress & box spring, fluffy green towels, a new set of white sheets, yummy orange Bath & Body Works Lotions, a Starbucks Gift Card, a Hot Cocoa Mug Set, cash, and enough chocolate to choke a horse. Now I am settling in for a few days in Rockford before I head back to the city and hopefully a little bit of resting and pulling things back together after the chaos. I treated myself to some new boots, tights, and a new dress on the condition I clean my messy bedroom closet when I get back, so we'll see how that works out. If I keep bribing myself with clothes I will have a million things to wear and no where to put them.

Meanwhile, I am eating turkey sandwiches and my mom's cookies and watching a mix of Buffy marathons and Christmas movies. I will no doubt be hitting the thriftstores at some point in the next couple of days and will surely blow all my Christmas money on dishware and fabric for things I never have time to sew once I am back in the midst of ordinary life. I have pretty much given into the idea that there will never be enough time to get to everything I need to right when I want to. Perhaps this year's resolution should just be to embrace this fact and not freak out about it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

silent night

One of my absolute favorite things was always coming home very late Christmas Eve after leaving whatever extended family gathering(s)we'd been to, when most everyone else was in bed, the roads empty, the stores all closed. We'd be tucked in the backseat, with our gift haul, anxious to get home and to bed for Santa. It was almost like all that pre-holiday chaos explodes in a chaos of family, food, and wrapping paper earlier in the night and there is this rather peaceful silence afterward. When everything that could have been done to get ready for Christmas has already been done and you just give in to enjoying it. I'm not Christian in any sense (and certainly don't believe in the Bible as anything but interesting mythology), but there is something almost holy and magical about it, especially when I was still young enough to really believe in magic. Christmas has always been more about family and getting together and warding off the winter dark for a few weeks. Sometimes I almost forget the religious aspects in my more pagan and secular context. Still, I always say that the true tragedy in finding out there is no Santa is that it draws an end to the possibility of anything beyond the realm of the real world (the Easter Bunny, fairies, monsters, miracles, etc.) For this scientifically minded agnostic, for a little bit every Christmas Eve, I can almost convince myself that I still believe at least in some sense of wonder and mysticism.

To all my readers, have a happy and merry holiday season, with hopefully a little time for magic, some introspection, and maybe a little booze.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

wintering along

Another weekend, and even though I noticed the early dark, there was a rectangle of sunlight on my wall mid-afternoon that made me happy. It's still ridiculously cold and I nearly got frostbite Friday night when I was putting packages in the blue mail box on the corner without my gloves. The lake has taken to being churny and brown-grey with enormous and impressive waves. Luckily, I have a new, cozy, tailored black wool coat, that is not so drafty and holey as my old gray one. Still, I am fortifying myself with near daily hazelnut hot chocolate and trying to make the best of it.

The holiday shop rush is slowly winding down, and even though it had me in hysterics earlier in the week, the last batch of pre-Christmas arrivals will be going out Monday morning. After that, all bets are off. It was doozie, triple my usual business and I am exhausted. This weekend has been devoted to making Christmas gifts for the people on my list, reading in bed, and having odd continuous dreams that continue even after I wake up to move a cat off my head or re-arrange the pillows. I spent last night watching movies (Black Christmas, which seems far more disturbing now than when I saw it as a teenageer) and Two Days in Paris (I heart Julie Delpy ever since Before Sunrise/ Before Sunset, and this almost felt like her continuation of those films but without the annoyance of Ethan Hawke).

This week I will be getting the remainder of book orders out, as well as the latest batch of copies to subscribers. I also want to give you at least a sneak peak of the books ready that will be coming right after the new year (titles by Britanny Ober, Jules Gibbs, JoAnna Novak, Emilie Beth Lindemann & more as I finish the layouts I am dreadfully behind on, even more so since December was so crazy in other respects), as well as finish up selections for the 2011/2012 season of books. I made it down to the last 20 Friday and realized I was just too poetry-jaded to continue, so hopefully I can look at them with fresh eyes on Monday and get my decisions out before I head out of town.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

knock on wood

I realized the other day how often I much I regularly say say or do this, outloud or in my head, with others or all alone. Almost pathologically so, as if a hoard of woodland fairies are just waiting in the shadows to screw me over. Sometimes, I will say "knock on fake wood surface" when I am at my desk at work. I do not consider myself superstitious when it comes to most things--black cats, the number 13, ladders and spilling salt. I know as soon as I say how good things are going, how lucky I am, or how I haven't yet gotten sick this season, inevitably circumstances will change. I try not to be so obvious about it when other people are around, and it's almost embarassing, but there's a slight panic that sets in when I can't find any to knock on...

This probably just goes along with all the other weird idiosyncracies, phobias, routines that I just don't notice are odd until someone points them out, ie. my need to sit on the right side in vehicles, my compulsive to-do lists, occasionally reading poetry books backwards, etc..

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

To help facilitate pre-holiday delivery, we are offering free Priority shipping upgrades on all US packages ordered between December 14th and December 20th on all orders over $20.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

little miss crankypants

I'm having one of those days where I feel invisible and cut off from the world, which is usually gloriously relaxing, but combine it with general restlessness and such early nightfall and I'm a little glum. There are gatherings I could be going to, friends I could be seeing, but instead I thought I needed the weekend to turn off and regroup after a rather exhausting week with always too much to do and never enough time to do it in. Maybe that was not what I needed after all. I have spent the day wrapping soaps and lip balms whilst watching zombie movies, but overall I am exhausted, the bone weary sort of exhaustion that renders me tired within a couple hours of getting up. I am too cold mostly and achy, and thought perhaps I was coming down with something earlier this week since everyone seems to be sick around me. I cannot tell if my symptoms are mental or physical but I just feel out of whack, out of focus, out of it in general.

Monday, December 06, 2010

These lovely little cards will henceforth be tucked into all packages sent this season with a small thank you discount. Not a jackalope, but a rabbit nonetheless.

In other news,winter is already grating on my nerves, pretty much the minute I had to actually, you know, go out in it this morning. I was more than content to spend the weekend tucked away in my apartment and while I did little more than huddle under my comforter and drink endless amounts of blueberry tea, none of it involved venturing further than the lobby of my building to collect my packages. And packages there were, including all sorts of new fun things to play with in the way of supplies. I managed to make about 10 batches of soap, but now am in need of some elves to wrap them (if you see any, let me know..) as well as some votive candles. Tonight, I have some jar candles planned (Cranberry Citrus) and always, various odds and ends of things. I am rather scattered today without my notebook and to-do list, so I am probably forgetting something really important that I need to do. In general, I've been sort of loopy and unfocused since I got back. I think I will just keep plowing through the rest of the dgp submissions, tonight, though since I missed my December 1st deadline for results by a mile.