Tuesday, November 29, 2011

wind and other ghosts

All last night and into this morning the wind was howling in from the lake, which meant I kept waking up all night and then wound up sleeping til noon and going strait to work still sort of drowsy and out of it. On the bus ride downtown, though, the water was brown and churny with fast moving, gargantuan waves that on days like this, sometimes rival the ocean itself. There was even sizeable surf in the inner harbor at Diversey.

Yesterday was basically a wash in terms of productivity, and more about getting my bearings, making a plan of attack and forging a complicated to do list with bullet points. Today, there are e-mails to be answered, books to be finalized for printing, meetings (the monthly library town hall and the paranormal kids**) that I may play hooky from anyway in favor of dealing with actual library paperwork type stuff (mangled books that need billing, invoices that need processing) that I put off till after the break, especially since I'm feeling rather non-social, non-meeting friendly today. I'm rather looking forward to installing myself at my desk with some hazelnut hot chocolate and having at it.

**a co-worker and I are faculty/staff advisors for the newish campus ghost hunting club, which we hope might provide some interesting amusements. Mind you, I'm not exactly sure I believe in ghosts (it's hard to believe in ghosts if you don't believe in an afterlife). But I do know a heck of a lot about them & other weird paranormal stuff...

Monday, November 28, 2011

I am headed back to civilization in the morning, and to work shortly after, so it can be expected I am having trouble getting to sleep tonight and instead am thinking about how so much of my time is spent decoding certain silences. I guess it can really be any sort of silence that seems unusual or somehow lengthier than it should be, a submitted piece of writing or application, a friend who simply forgets or is too occupied to return an e-mail or text or phone call (but then I am guilty of this all the time due to my own flightiness and chaos-and thus, am endlessly forgiving of it.)

But then I am thinking more about the silence of men, more specifically the ones I get entangled with. Recently, a lover, my having missed both confirming and showing up to a breakfast date (I had not checked my e-mail in which he agreed and then had slept in missing the message til I was already at work), and then, of course, was subsequently very late when we actually got together the next morning due to LSD traffic, made a comment that he thought I was mad at him, that I was blowing him off, which seemed, in the moment and given a certain longish history of him occasionally doing it to me, pretty hilarious. Usually, I have no problems telling people whatever my emotional weather happens to be at the time, good or bad, whether they want to hear it or not. If I'm angry or happy or sullen or excited, you will know it. If I have feelings or no longer have feelings for you, you will know it, believe me (probably more than you want to know it). Sometimes, its a little embarrassing, both for me and the intended audience, how forthcoming I tend to be since I tend to not only wear my heart on my sleeve, but tend to occasionally throw it into other people's laps unbidden.

Men are especially good at being silent at all the wrong moments. It's maddening. Some of this no doubt has to do with getting burned one way or another over the years by guys who are not so good communicators (well and in one case, pathologically awful at it) Things ranging from merely dwindling or diverted attentions all the way to evasion, betrayal, lying, legal issues. Even the simple fact that on dates, especially the early ones, I tend to talk way too much, so much so that I always feel the flow of info in general is so very one sided. Admittedly, I am at fault for simply chatting too much to let anyone get a word in, and also not wanting to be too prying and inquisition-like, but thus, it tends to lead to alarming holes in the greater picture--some, rather innocuous, like where someone grew up or their favorite food, others like, "btw, I have a wife or girlfriend I'm looking to cheat on." (this is a whole other post.)

I realize how much mental time and energy I spend with alot of men attempting to decode that silence, looking for information, clues, things that probably aren't even there to begin with. I'm reminded all the time by friends, those privy to this stuff, both male and female alike, that men's minds are very different, not quite so prone to thinking and overthinking, to turning every gesture, expression, word over and over like a stone in the hand and trying to read it the way women do (or least this woman does). And god forbid, mulling over it endlessly with their friends looking for other people opinions on what this or that brief or prolonged silence meant.

I really feel like I want to be done with it, all the decoding and overthinking. With guys who shut down instead of talking it over or giving the simplest answers to the simplest questions, who would rather sulk than seek to somehow change whatever it is they are sulking or distant about.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

autumn landscape with pie

So it has been a rather wallowy non productive week, only one poem written, some vague plans in terms of new additions to the shop, a couple books in galley stages glanced through but not quite proofed. Also, two thrifting expeditions ( mostly linens, old frames, a mirror). Two thanksgiving feasts, a successful attempt at scalloped corn, one load of laundry, an entire bottle of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey, 2 seasons of Vampire Diaries, and an unglodly amount of peanut butter/chocolate rice crispie treats. This week, I will be paying for my laziness with early mornings in the studio filling orders, making books, and getting ready for next week's open studio. The spectre December seems long, busy, and sort of bleak, but it would help if the heavy snow held off and at least it was a little warmer.

It is time again for the big holiday Open Studio event, where there will be all sorts of new books, artwork, paper goods and accessories (alot of things steeply discounted from our website prices). There are also all sorts of other artsy happenings in the way of performances and exhibits occuring in The Fine Arts that night for your wandering pleasure, so come check it out...

Friday, November 25, 2011

confessions of a book fetishist

Dreamed last night of roaming packs of cats dressed in costumes, including a two headed one. They kept turning into children and trying to get into the house. Also that I was living in a hotel downtown and kept falling asleep on public transporation and forgetting who I was. Today, there are turkey sandwiches and leftover pie, not to mention round 2 of Thanksgiving with my Dad's side tomorrow. I am not venturing far today, since Black Friday and the crazy consumerism freaks me out a little. I did browse around online for gift ideas for the passle of little ones, and think I may keep it simple and just buy books for all of them. (they range in age between 2 and 10, so I should be able to find something appropriate even for the non-readers).

When I was 7 or 8, my mom (or Santa) bought me a boxed set of illustrated classics, filled with things like Swiss Family Robinson, A Tale of Two Cities, A Journey to the Center of the Earth. (they looked like these, but mine were paperback) I read them all, but my favorite was War of the Worlds, which I must have read a hundred times (and the single book it looks like this set is missing). I also liked to take them out of the boxes and fondle the smooth, glossy paper covers, their little thick square shape, muse over the cover art. I was almost as enamored of them as I was the Peter Rabbit books from the school library. I distinctly remember devouring most of them during Christmas break, sprawled across the bunk beds I shared with my sister. I think the only thing I hated was Huck Finn , which I never really warmed to even after a couple readings in college for my courses. In the next couple of years I would abandon the classics in favor or trashy horror novels passed down from my aunt and assorted library finds. Somehow, I seem to have lost them all admist the chaos of moving, but I still remember exactly what they looked like, felt like, even smelled like.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tonight, I am overfed and drowsy and feeling more contemplative than usual. As the year starts to come to a close, I always like to take a look at plans and resolutions (and then of course in the next four weeks work furiously at some of the easier ones to actually feel like I acomplished them.) Some of them were easy, more art, more cooking, more poems, taking more photos, blogging more. Otherwise, I took more chances, read alot, recorded my dreams, did a little bit of traveling in the spring. I learned to trust a little more, love a little more, made new friends (but also developed sad, sweet, utterly hopeless crushes on said new friends. I do this at least once a year lately it seems, but I did fail utterly at my resolution to be less of a girl about these things). To my credit, I also finally walked away from something (someone) bad I'd been struggling with for 5 years (though at the same time then continued an interesting little fling with someone sort of wrong for me, or at the very least, too young for me, but really a lot of fun.) If anything, I became a little more at home in my sexual/romantic skin.

Next year, I still plan to get in the habit of more organization in general. I'm still bad at finishing half done things, and my life is sort of littered with the remnants of mid-stream projects, art series, poem series, half-manuscripts. Both the studio and my dining room is filled with supplies and beginnings of project started or concieved as early as two years ago and never completed. I recently came across a large box of slender jewel cases I intended to help me organize and streamline my CD collection that I purchased in late 2008 then shoved away in my closet until I could get to it. It's time to wrap these things up and move onto all the new ideas and projects filling my notebook.

I do, however, feel I was better at being in the moment more, whatever that moment was, be it spending time in the studio doing what I love, writing, making things, enjoying the fruits and pleasures thereof, but also making time for frivolous, mindless fun, which is hard for me sometimes. I worked my ass off in 2011 (so many dgp books released, printed, assembled in addition to my own creative work) but also took life in general more leisurely.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

on thankfulness

Part if me likes waking up in my sun-drenched childhood bedroom, but part of me always feels a little suffocated here, something like a hand closing over me and blocking out all the fresh air. I don't think it really has to do with my parents, who I enjoy visiting, but more the place, Rockford and all it's associations. And again maybe it's just a touch of cabin fever, since I don't really notice it in the summer when the outside is welcoming and warm and in bloom and I can spend hours outside waiting for the stars to appear. There isn't this quick plunge into dark and we're all stuck in the house. It's ridiculous, but sometimes I feel like I need be careful lest I get stuck, get trapped here, this house, this town, this brackish landscape. Eleven years ago, after I finished grad school the first time around, I almost did, almost settled for something I wasn't sure I wanted, but was willing to want it because it was easy. Luckily, things worked out the better way, espeially since I can't imagine life here, working 7-3, going home so tired I can do nothing but stare at the television, the hassle owning a car (one of the best surrenders I made moving back to the city), a lack of stimulation, of culture.

I was discussing with a friend a couple weeks back how amazing the city is to live in, how there's a feeling that anything interesting or unusual or interesting can happen at any moment, how there's a certain freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want, with whomever I want. Sure, I'm pretty adhered to my routine of studio time then work then home, but I have more leeway to do whatever I want outside of that, which somehow seems less of a possibility in a town that rolls up it't streets at 9pm. Let alone all the creative stuff (my writing, the press, my artwork) I'm not sure would have stuck if it didn't have a steady culture to evolve in, the writing friends/poetry scene/ literary culture I am part of, the collage workshops/galleries/creative environment that has spawned so much. There are a million things I could be doing at any possible moment (readings, museums, galleries, productions, film screenings, bars, restaurants, picnics in the park, street fairs) and even if I don't do them all, it's immensely satisfying to know they are there.

Almost exactly eleven years ago, I took my job at Columbia very suddenly, packed up everything I had and moved in two weeks and started the Monday after Thanksgiving in an apartment pretty much with only a bed, a chair, and Christmas tree. There was so much snow and so very quickly that year. It was amazing and exhilarating and sort of scary, but one of the best decisions I ever made.

Monday, November 21, 2011


This week I am in Rockford again for the holiday, where there will surely be tons of family and lots of food of the turkey based persuasion.. Todays' haunts included the craft store (where I procured some fancy papers and some $1 rubber botanical stamps) and a couple of thrift shops (where I found some old floral pillowcases for my bed, a grey blue bedskirt, a ballerina painting, and a tiny framed pressed flower.) I also loaded up on smaller frames for the impending photo project at the dollar store and some sparkly snowflakes to hang in my windows, since it appears Christmas is faster on my heels than I would like it to be.

I also realized how tenuous my mood is in this early dark. I don't notice it much when I'm working since we don't have windows on my floor, but it's a little unsettling when I'm not so busy and I notice how long these nights really are. There's a point somewhere between sunset and 10pmish when I don't really know what to do with myself. I'm napping a little too much and missing any chance to be at all productive. I was hoping to do a little work on the narrative project since I have been woefully neglecting it in favor of other newer, shiny projects, but so far, not much is happening.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Tonight the spectacle series made it's grand debut in the library's third floor gallery space. This is probably the largest amount of work I've ever exhibited (well, physically largest was probably the winding words that spanned three floors in the stairwell and all around the first and third floor ceiling. Or maybe the banner installation I did not long after.) But this was the largest in terms of scope and number. I love the grouping and the mismatched frames as well (I harvested most of my own frames and some vintage/thrifted ones to make it happen). It will be up for the next couple of months, so if you're in the Columbia neighborhood, stop in check it out..

Monday, November 14, 2011

mix tapes and projects


Great discussion here regarding poetry contests and the mix tape vs. project manuscript. Having been on both sides (the fever almanac was more of a mix-tape, while everything since has been more project oriented, or in the case of in the bird museum , several small projects strung together.) However, while the poems in the first book were written poem by poem with no thought of a larger picture, you could argue that I definitely had a project there, even though I didn't really know what it was until I was putting it together and certain things started emerging that tied them all together. As a reader, at least when it comes to full-length books, I don't really tend to prefer one over another, though as an editor looking for chapbooks, I do tend to find myself drawn more to projects than mix tapes, since a chap is such a limited field of engagement. Even the more mix-tape like things we take on tend to be thematically and/or narratively tight in some way.

When I was working on girl show, however, which was a project from day one, I really felt how hard it was to sustain something so focused over the length of a full-length book. I probably wouldn't set out to do it again unless my project was much larger and more expansive. Of course, I'm tending toward shorter more focused projects these days: the narrative project, beautiful, sinister, the james franco poems, the text pieces from dreams about houses and bees. havoc is actually more mix-tapey, though I was consciously threading things a little while writing it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


some loveliness from Pinterest...

Otherwise, I have been holed up this weekend working on a couple things for the shop (a couple sets of new hair clips, some gift tags, some french coin cufflinks), watching movies (both horror and foreign and foreign horror) and making enough chicken & dumplings to eat for the next two days (well that wasn't what I intended but there wound up being a lot). I have so much to get done this week (books proofed, layed out, released,) since I will be out of town the week of Thanksgiving, which is somehow, miraculously already on the horizon. This time of year always whizzes by so insanely fast, fast enough that the holidays will be here and gone before we know it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

why i love where i work

Another Thursday night in the library. Everyone just act naturally.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

the solidness of objects

On my ride home last night I found myself thinking more about the old photo project, for which I will be basically scanning a whole bunch of old photos, tintypes, cabinet cards, etc to work with for some collages. It was a huge batch of photos my aunt gave me last time I was home, and while she didn't seem particularly attached to them really, she thought I might be able to do something with them. They seem to be primarily from my maternal grandmother's family, though with a couple of exceptions, so many generations back, it's hard to know who is who. My first impulse was to get scans of them, digitize everything for posterity's sake, and then use the originals in the art project (I guess since, as physical objects, they don't seem to have any sentimental value to anyone in my family). I have conflicting impulses when it comes to such things, hating clutter, the incessant hoarding of things, hating the idea of photographs mouldering away in boxes where no one sees them (and most likely getting thrown out anyway as soon as someone dies--witness the antique fairs are filled by the binful with these orphan photos). Why not use them to make something interesting, something beautiful, something useful since they are neither particularly sentimentally valuable nor particularly financially valuable (this sort of stuff being very common).

But I just can't do it. Something makes me want to hold onto them for dear life. Maybe it's the pure nature of them as objects, as the very same photo that some woman, most likely some woman related to me, held the very same photo in her hands that I am holding in mine. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with being people related to me or not. It seems important that they were any people, people who sat for long photo sittings, wore strange hats, and probably paid quite a bit for a session in those days. People that ate dinner, took walks, read books, held conversations. Whoever they were a 100 plus years ago and how they are related/not related to me, it doesn't matter. So much is always lost, but so much is also kept. I remember after my grandmother died when I was 8 or 9, sitting at her coffee table piled with hundreds and hundreds of photos my mom and aunt were sorting and dividing among family, alot of them just snapshots of family, friends, people she had know and feeling, I guess crushed by history, by the weight of things, objects, the stuff we leave behind, what does or doesn't happen to them. When I was in college, I was part of a volunteer group to help in some Mississippi flooding clean-up, and remember the house we worked on, the wreckage, the water laden boxed of albums and ephemera, the black & white photos pasted to the floors and walls by the mud and water, how I was struck by a wave of nausea over the lost things that couldn't be fixed or maintained.

It seems odd in the era of digitization, where most of my own taken photos never leave the ether of the internets, but somehow, digital things seem even frailer. In theory they are preserved that way, made available for everyone, filed and stored away on Facebook, on flickr. Millions of bits and images all available at the touch of a button, but yet, somehow, they don't seem quite as real as something on paper. This might be part of my resistance to e-books and digital readers, my love of hard copies, my need to put papery things out into the universe, if only, a hundred years from now, someone to hold one of our chapbooks, or a piece of art, or a postcard, a letter, in their hands and feel that connection to the other people who have ever held that same object in their hands, read the same pages, left their fingerprints, smudge marks, marginalia.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

paper moons, art projects, and plans...

A friend at work created this amazing giant 7 ft. paper moon for photo-ops during the Halloween themed fundraisor event which was really sort of awesome and subsequently got me thinking about a potential project for all of those old photos I picked up from my aunt last time I was in Rockford. Before I can move onto that, however I spent a few hours yesterday finishing up the Spectacle series collages since there might be an impending need for more art for the next library show. Since they are all different sizes I had to track down some frames and reharvest some matteboards I'd been using for my own walls, but I'm hoping for maybe a grouping effect (there are 18 pieces of various sizes total).

I'm feeling particularly visual-project oriented the last couple of weeks, but I'm hoping to get back to both the silly series of prose poems I was working on and the narrative collection this week. It's hard to stay balanced and soon as I get overwhelmed with my to-do list, the writing, which takes a certain concentration, tends to get pushed aside. Friday, I also finally put the finishing touches on the little landscape/architecture zine I've been dawdling with since the summer, so I'm hoping to make that available soon.

I realized with a start that Thanksgiving break is now a mere two weeks away, which means I am so very behind schedule in getting the shop all ship/shape for the holidays. I'm planning for a little bit of rush, some new goodies, and was even thinking about re-opening the etsy shop for the season, at least with some of the more popular, less work intensive sellers (hair clips, flasks, paper goods). I will probably miss the extra cash if I don't (though I will not miss the 3am making/wrapping soap binges and the shipping marathons of years prior). And there are always new book titles, a slew of them before the year is out, including havoc, which I am starting to get excited about releasing.

Otherwise, I have been trying out some recipes in my quest to make actual meals, including a delish Penne Rosa sauce and, today, hopefully a successful chicken pot pie crumble. I'm still a little frightened of more complicated things, but it's better than spending so much cash on frozen food and takeout. Otherwise I am catching up on sleep from all of those lost weekends and mostly hiding out in the apartment.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

zombies, libraries, and my weird, weird head...

Horror lover that I am, I have zombie dreams quite alot, of various persuasions, some scary, some downright silly. Last night was the first time my slumbering mind combined a zombie dream with a work-related library dream and it was sort of one of those long, epic, cinematic dreams with sub plots and minor characters. It began with dolls, dolls we had somehow figured out how to animate, Barbie-like dolls that could walk and talk. Only one of them was also an angry library patron who kept yelling at me when I kept spelling her name wrong on the computer and was up to all sorts of mischief whenever we looked away, knawing her way out of her cage, slicing her way through the window screen to escape. Soon the dolls were running amuck, filming weird doll porno, biting us with their oddly sharp teeth, stabbing each other with tiny knives, reproducing with alarming frequency in tiny plastic eggs.

Every human bitten by one of these dolls would become a zombie, and by the time we called a meeting in the library to discuss the problem, only a few of the staff remained immune, gathering in a meeting room crisscrossed by railroad tracks, and for which we had to keep moving around to avoid the trains. Me and a co-worker, A, were actually more concerned about the Taco Bell we were eating getting cold than the zombies, but soon, they were busting through the door. We then decided to divide into groups to each take a floor with the intent of wiping them out. I killed a few by swinging a rotary phone at their heads, and even faced off against a batch of zombie kittens I was too chicken to kill and just stepped over. The goal was to get back downstairs when we were done, and I arrived to find no one else, but then a door opened into this weird underground room where everyone who had survived, having failed to take the zombies out, planned to build a new society.

The room, suddenly became town, a park, a public square, and we all assumed we'd be safe. But of course some dumbass had been compromised and suddenly, I was surrounded by zombies with nowhere to go. I managed to fight some of them off, then crawl behind some bushes, where one attacked me and pushed me to the ground. In the knick of time, I was saved by a truck full of survivors. Though since I was getting into the car and it was already too full, it was decided that another co-worker, K, would have to ride on a skateboard pulled by the truck to serve as a diversion or bait or sacrificial lamb something. The last scene of the dream is fleeing in the car, pulling an empty skateboard. Roll credits.