Tuesday, March 31, 2015


At some point last week I started an entry on the demands and obstacles real life sets in relation to creative work. (and of course technical issues--blogger maddeningly wouldn't save or publish-- and real life & work interruptions once again got in the way of publishing it..lol..)  But to recap, I won't be able to make it to Minneapolis after all for AWP because of a cluster of pesky things happening behind the scenes that make the trip impossible. I was wavering for a week or so and trying to make it work, but I finally decided it just wasn't happening.  We will have a slew of brand new books in the hands of their authors who will be reading at some rather awesome and amazing events, (books which I will be unveiling from afar online all the early part of next week).  We will also be offering our 3 for $10 bundle w/free shipping which we would have been offering at the bookfair table were we there, so keep an eye out for that.  I hate to miss the readings and miss getting to see all my friends and dgp authors (and meet new ones I've yet to encounter) and will no doubt be pouty and sulllen reading about all the conference escapades, but I'm hoping for lots of good stories.  I am finishing up a variety of press business and author copies this week before my MCMF release Friday evening and heading to Rockford for Easter this weekend.  (which means my parents will be at Quimby's and I probably should not read the really awkward subject poems.)

I've been working on something new the last week or so, not on my projected docket of projects and sort of in avoidance of finishing the strange machine pieces.  At this rate I may never finish the apocalypse book, but I might have the beginnings of something else brewing that is interesting.  I was so excited I sent out a couple of things to a couple journals, though I'll probably be kicking myself down the line for premature submission. (but ahh.the hell with it!)  Otherwise, the weather has been fairer and milder and thought it's supposed to be rather stormy and rainy the next couple of days I am happy to be going tights-less and not getting frostbitten.  I am also aching to pull out the spring/ summer clothes that are languishing in my trunks, even though they will be nigh impossible to wear for another month or so.  I'll be putting the winter coats away for the season though, even if I've only recently warmed to my raspberry Barbie pink lands end one and will kinda/sorta miss the damned thing...

Friday, March 13, 2015

We have hit a spate of glorious 50 degree days this week and it looks to continue.  I haven't yet forgone my coats and boots, but it's incredibly nice to be able to meander outside and not constantly be rushing to get indoors as soon as humanly possible.  I am mostly in the thick of pre-AWP preparations, including finishing up and designing covers for the 5 or so books that will be making their debut at the conference (most of our April books) as well as a couple of titles still slated for March release.  I am hoping to keep well to my schedule of getting things done early to avoid that last minute crazy rush ( that will allow me to really enjoy other things like the release reading for MCMF, a trip home for Easter to my parents (where I will be depositing the cats for a week or so), and some other smaller stuff that will be happening around then.   After the conference there are things like a family bridal shower planning (I am making the invites) my birthday, and a lit mag reading all before the end of April. I am determined to enjoy spring after the monstrous fuckery that was winter, so I have vowed to not get overwhelmed to the point where I miss the season entirely.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

It occurs to me that this month marks the 10 year anniversary of this here old blog. I came to online journaling in 2002 (at the dearly departed Xanga) after more than a decade of keeping my journals in written form--a series of marble composition books spanning from 1994-2001, seven years in which I chronicled college and grad school and those transitional years thereafter. Mostly, I was spurred to keep a journal as I'd pretty much always kept a journal (I have a couple diaries from adolescence, though they are really just a lot of nonsense.)  A desire to document important things, how I spent my days, to sew seeds for writing, to just write.  But there was the very public aspect of it that was unfamiliar, and as I was learning in the early days of Social Media for Writers 101, it was good to have a blog component to one's website.  So suddenly, what had once been a very private space became a very public one (well, provided anyone was actually reading then--or hell, even really reading now..)

In 2005, mostly, it was more of the usual writing & submission related talk, some MFA program rants & raves --I was at the tail end of my second, and in hindsight, my most productive year.  It followed year in which one asshole wrote "Could you please write a new poem?"  Followed the year when I used to take my journal acceptance letters (some of which were highly complimentary) printed out and tucked in my notebook to fortify myself during workshops. (Things got infinitely better with new people in subsequent years or I probably wouldn't have finished the program).  I was 30, and on the verge of some very fortunate and amazing things (I'd won a biggesh $$$ prize the previous year and my first book would be accepted in the fall.)  I was taking a workshop with Stephanie Strickland (who was sadly just visiting), which was my best workshop experience hands down (in a world where workshopping is usually not all that helpful with all those damn fingers in my poems) . There are poems drafts in there too--the things I was working on that spring--pieces for my errata projects, other poems that would go into my second book, the seeds of the Resurrection Mary poems.  Also some pieces, like this and this, sold for scrap.  I was also working on a pretty big collage/book art project, the book of red, for a Womanmade Gallery exhibit, putting out the first full-on year of dgp chaps, putting up new issues of wicked alice, doing alot of readings in Chicago.

I think what strikes me most if how much piss and vinegar I used to have, all these long discussion/rants on poetry related things (craft and publishing mostly) because *someone was wrong on the internet* that now I am much more *whatever floats your boat* on.  Maybe it's a lack of time to be arguing about things, or maybe I've just mellowed in my forties.  Maybe now I just roll my eyes and hold my tongue more.  Where I once ranted on the awesomeness of chapbooks when someone dissed them, I spend more time, you know, making chapbooks with no time to argue.  I also used to talk much more specifically about the trials and tribulations of submitting wor--where I was sending, rejections/acceptances. Also my grappling with the "legitimacy" question, which as someone who at that point was doing alot of DIY distribution of my work, was on my mind.

I spent alot of time that summer working on the "megascript" aka the fever almanac, which I was meticulously going over poem by poem (which paid off in November when it was taken by Ghost Road.)  I was still trying to forge a way forward and figure out this world of po-piz and how to maneuver within it.  There were moments of self-doubt, questions fo whether I would "get it", that indefinable quality of good work. (I have no idea if I've answered these questions somehow or I just realized the frivolity of asking them. )

Sunday, March 01, 2015

After reading about some huge re-modeling efforts in my old highschool (apparently before that not much had changed since the early 90's it seems), I was struck by a wave of ..what?  nostalgia, weirdness, surreal euphoria?  nausea?  Anyway, it prompted me to pull out the couple yearbooks I still have. Considering I 'd just re-watched Mean Girls last night and came to the conclusion that high school is pretty much always high school just with different clothes and music, I am struck by the fact that that particular feeling of entropy I'm struggling with is a very particular late 80's early 90's sort of entropy, filled with big hair and varsity jackets and mall  food court culture.  We were just beginning the era of computers and I remember the journalism dept was the first glimpse I had of Windows.  The Berlin Wall fell.The Gulf War came and went and barely registered a blip on the radar. I did a stellar paper in American Govt class on the US response to Alien sightings. I watched a lot of Beverly Hills 90210 and laid on my bed listening to  first Paula Abdul and NKOTB and, later, Concrete Blonde and Nirvana.

Culture was shifting, and at that moment, the 90's was being born. Within a year after graduation I'd be a black-wearing, Kant-reading alternative music listening misanthrope with black light posters and a desire to be a writer.  But at 14, I liked Debbie Gibson and neon and swatch watches.  I wanted to be Tiffany Amber Thiessen on the cover of Teen Magazine. I want to marry Corey Haim and, later, Christian Slater.   I wanted to be as shiny perfect as the Noxema girl, but mostly I argued a lot with my mother and tried strange diets to whittle my size 16 frame (which was actually pretty thin for me in retrospect) down to an 6 or 8 like the girls in movies and magazines.  I vascillated between strict dieting and binging (I never could bring myself to purge, though I did do weird things like chew things and spit them out.)

Outside of this, I was pretty happy.  At that point I was still trying to find my way by joining everything--student govt, french club, the student volunteer org, drama club.. I wrote environmental editorials for the newspaper, failed trig my senior year, the first thing I'd ever faltered in. But already I was pumped for college, pumped for ambition, seeking out the shiny plaques and gleaming white certificates. NHS, French Honors Society, International Thespian Award,  Illinois State Scholar..(It took me awhile to stop seeking out the gold stars and the joining, well into college to focus on only the things I wanted to focus on and the not the shiny feathers in my cap.) I was "friends" with  alot of similar people and we fed off the competition and rivalry (one girl a year behind me so resembled Reese Witherspoon's character in Election I had to check the credits to make sure I didn't know the writers.)  In reality, I was pretty much dealing with my awkwardness by overcompensating to not seem awkward at all.  To belong, to be one of th,X people--the newspaper staff, the drama people.  And it helped, and I also had other friends who had been around pre-highschool to ground me.  They were the people I had sleepovers with, talked on the phone with, went to the movies with ,have albums full of photos from sweet 16 parties. Most of us drifted and occasionally re-connect over Facebook from time to time, but we are not the same selves we were anymore than the school itself is the same now.

In fact, looking over the past is sort of like coming face to face with your former self and finding it unrecognizeable.  Even the permed blonde hair that was always sort of green from summers spent in the backyard pool seems strange. I laugh when I look at old photos and say "What that girl needs is an underwire and a good conditioner."  Mostly because I don't know what else to say to her.    It sounds canned to say that things will be more awesome than you imagined (and well, yes they are, they really are) but that girl doesn't even know what to imagine.  She wanted to be a journalist.  She wanted to be an interior designer.  She wanted to be an actor, a marine biologist, an English teacher. She read a lot of Stephen King, but really she didn't know shit about writing, outside of some horrible rhymed poems about flamingos scribbled in her diary.  She didn't know what to ask for mostly because she didn't know what was possible TO ask for. Outside of romance and horror novels, writer and poets were strange historical creatures like Poe and Shakespeare.  I read The Bell Jar my junior year (mostly because the Bangles referenced it on the Everything album), and was non-plussed, though two years later I would fall in love with it. Boring.  I said that a lot then.  I'd like to think I had deep undercurrents of dissatisfaction with high school, but I didn't run much in the way of deep anything those days.

It was all surface shiny--all neon lights ad Spencers and and Sbarro. I always get this uneasy feeling when I see those photo series depicting abandoned, decaying, shopping malls.. I tried to be at the mall every chance I got, even though I couldn't afford much outside the movie theater and the snacks from Walgreens we'd sneak into said theater.  But even then things were shifting.  By the time my sister( 4 years younger) left high school kids were hanging at Barnes & Noble and strange tiny artsy cafes downtown.  It was the mid 90's and the whole world became sort of artsy and bookish and pseudo intellectual.  I loved this in college and ate it up whole, but it would have been completely foreign to my highschool self in her Guess sweatshirt and imitation Keds.  By the time I moved to Chicago in 1997, I was already a different person (though I would argue I'm still very much THAT person now, just a little older and blonder and with a bigger apartment and better taste in clothes)

I skipped all the re-unions (10 and 20), mostly on the logic they were inconveniently timed and most of my actual friends were not going anyway, but mostly probably because I can't reconcile that world to my world now and it makes me really sort of uncomfortable.  How would I  merge those selves together?  Was it even possiblle?  Does grown up writer me even fit in that world anymore?  Does that world even exist?  Did it ever?