Monday, December 31, 2018

the same auld lang syne

I'm not really one to make resolutions all that much.  Or maybe I make the same few resolutions every year that I do better or worse on given the year and what happens in the span of 365 days.  It seems such an arbitrary number, but it does equate the entire planet making that huge journey around the sun. So in essence what you do doing that journey is sort of a microcosm of all your journeys, and however long you've been alive.  I will turn 45 this year, which still astounds me somehow every time i think of it.  Somehow I was about 25 and fresh out of the first round of grad school and I blinked and 20 years passed by.

I was talking to a co-worker about another staff person whose job he was hired into, and how before, as he was leaving, that other co-worker warned him not to get stuck...that 10 years could pass and you wouldn't even realize it. I've never felt stuck in my job, there being enough moving and going around inside and outside of it that I've craved the stability of staying in the same place while everything else revolves around it.  But I sometimes wonder if this stability is what makes time pass so fast. I am surely only a slight variation on the person I was when I was 25, that point when my personality as an adult was sort of set (I'd actually argue this happen more around age 20 for me). I've made a lot happen and have a lot to show for those 20 years--multiple books and creative endeavors, a thriving and bustling press, an apartment I love and filled with things I adore.  A life, though while occasionally bumpy and never financially sound enough, that is a good showing, especially when my expectations starting out were never all that much. 

I have noticed that the days where there is a lot of variation seem to be really long.  If you ate breakfast in the morning and then went shopping, ran errands, worked, had lunch somewhere new, went to museum, went out later, that by the time you get to dinner, breakfast seems like it happened yesterday or the day before just by some weird sort of brain trickery.  We took a vacation to go to a wedding in Texas a few year's back and it was a whirlwind trip of a family visit in Tulsa, the wedding, and then a few days in Mississippi on the way back and it seemed such a long vacation, though it was actually less than a week. By the time we got home, the variation made it feel like we had been gone forever.

Maybe this is the key to making time stretch somehow--variation over routine, but it's hard when you really, really love routines.  Surely if I had changed jobs, changed cities, changed lives time would be divided into varying chunks. Even relationships, while they divide eras a little, seem part of the same routine, just different men, good or bad. My life didn't change that much with each one--at least not in an outward perspective.

Even writing and art have their routines.  I try to remember the MFA years, which were a slight blip in my routine, but they were replaced by moving into the studio and kicking the press into high gear, so these feel similar directions of my time.  I was always writing, always creating, just in different ways.  I blink and that first book that was so difficult to pull together and find a publisher has turned into several books, and yet on the surface, very little about my life has changed.

There are cracks to be sure--a big heartbreak, deaths of pets and parents, friendship losses.  But they seem lost in the hum as time goes on. Right now losing my mother seems fresh but in 5 years will I still feel this weird before and after I mark so much of my time in? Will I look at photos on instagram and flinch? Or does it all begin to blend.  On one hand it makes me want to go out an experience everything in the world to make time last longer.  On the other hand, I probably won't do this.

Every fall, we  muse over where summer went--whether or not all our plans panned out--what we accomplished in a slower period of time, and sometimes it's hard to remember exactly where you spent the last three months.  And I'm having a weird sensation that it's hard, outside of clear things like writing and publications and art projects, to pin down what I was doing this year in a clear way. Surely much of my time was spent in the studio, working on series of poems, planning for library programming and doing more mundane things there. But they blur into a general texture to the year. Every bus ride blends into others.  Every writing session bleeds into others.  Every conversation I may have had with others becomes less clear as time seems to move faster. Even the meals I eat, the movies I watch start to lose their clarity. Did I see that movie 3 years ago?  Did I see it 10?  I probably would guess wrong every time....

One of my biggest fears from that winter  meltdown a few weeks back was that you get to a certain age and the awesome things you have to look forward to begin to pale in comparison to the awful things that surely await us all.  Which is ridiculous, and in a saner frame of mind, it's obviously not true.  I tell myself this everytime I start skirting the rim of a darker place--so here's hoping that 2019 brings more of the former and less of the latter--new, good, surprising and awesome things will happen every single day or at least often enough..

Sunday, December 30, 2018

writing and place

I am avowed homebody.   I've only lived a few places in my life--the the neatly groomed trailer park I was born in, a small house in a town neighboring a mid-sized city, a slightly larger house in the boonies outside that same city, briefly in a dorm in Wilmington, NC, a tiny studio apartment in the Lincoln Park neighborhood during grad school, a few months in an gloriously large apartment in my hometown. Then Chicago again and for the past nearly two decades.   People who move around a lot make me anxious.

When I think about how place influences writing, I go back to my earlier work that was always somehow taking place in rural settings.   When I was 10, my parent's built a house on a plot of land that belonged to my grandmother.  It was on a street that was once a tiny sliver of civilization butted up against a river and surrounded mostly by woods and corn fields in equal measure. Over time, route 39 came through bisecting that larger plot of land from a nearby forest preserve.  Other subdivisions were built but not in comfortable walking distance, there being no sidewalks and only one streetlight above the gate to a small private park across the street. The neighbors at the back had horses in pens that would make a ruckus and occasionally escape.  Deer regularly ran through the yard and dangerously across the road in front of your car.  My highschool looked like a prison set amidst cornfields right before you entered civilization.

The trappings of ruralness had pretty much vanished on the plot of land with my mother's generation.  My grandmother, before my aunt's house was built, grew strawberries in the large field at the back. They had chickens when they kids, and an actual outhouse for awhile before indoor plumbing. My grandmother's tiny red house was eventually replaced by cousin's tri-level.  The town encroached a bit more then stopped.  It still takes about 10 minutes by car to reach the nearest gas station, and another 5 to get to any type of store.

My poems in the beginning embodied a certain kind of ruralness that probably never existed, but somehow that landscape lived in my head, and bred far better poems.  So many of the fever almanac up til the last section are rural poems, or liminal poems moving across landscapes. girl show takes place in Nebraska, where my mother was born and where we would occasionally visit relatives in Blair.  A long gone house that sat across the street from animal feed factory and a Dairy Queen, and where I'm pretty sure I remember there being the story of a haunted breakfront in the kitchen. (though I don't think anyone alive is left to confirm this and maybe I dreamed it.) My great aunt & uncle raised rabbits and had a tree swing and a basement filled with birdhouses and creepy old school desks.

My other home as a child, however, was southern and mid-Wisconsin, where my father was born and where my grandmother parked her Winnebago at a small resort and we spent nearly every weekend camping there or elsewhere.   This landscape is all dark pine woods and sandy soil.  Sudden clearings and clear lakes.  My beautiful,sinister series takes place here.  My grandfather, until his death, lived in Black River Falls, know best as the locale for Wisconsin Death Trip, and we'd make a yearly pilgrimage to swim in nearby Hatfield and take long drives in those woods.  So many of the early poems that were subject to fire and floods happen in this landscape, moreso than the one I considered home.

Until recently, my only suburban focused work was the shared properties of water and stars--a sort of suburban fairy tale--all cul de sacs and creepy neighbors.  I've revisited this again with exquisite damage.  Until recently, I would have told you that other landscapes than suburbia held more mysteriousness and magic.  Now I'm beginning to think I was wrong. There is the kind of midwest gothicism that happens on dark country roads, but also in suburban bedrooms and basement in equal measure, and is somehow far more sinister.

It took me awhile after actually living in the city to actually start writing about the city.  Poems slowly began to creep in and soon, the work took place as often in this landscape as in any other. I do occasionally write Chicago-ish archer avenue poems, shipwrecks of  lake michigan are good examples. I will soon reach the age where as much of my life has happened inside the city as outside it, and I suppose that shows up in the work. I did once, after all, write a love poem to my apartment and art deco architecture. There is surely such a thing as the urban gothic--though it's easier to think movies like CandyMan and The Crow moreso than any literary examples.  A similar prickliness of senses that happens in abandoned subway tunnels and old buildings. Maybe it's the way the old exists like a ghost simultaneously with the entire blocks are leveled in days and transformed into something new so very quickly. In the fall, I was reading a book on Horror in Architecture as research on a series of poems based around HH Holme's murder castle, so perhaps something will come of that.

Saturday, December 29, 2018


Last weekend, I watched Bird Box on Netflix, which I'd heard a little bit of buzz about and which looked interesting. At first, it reminded me of what I'd heard about  A Quiet Place, which at the time, I had yet to see but watched afterwards, and The Happening (which I had to look up the title for, since in my head it's that kind of bad M Night Shamilan movie with Markie Mark.) In that film, humans start mass suiciding (I think it's something with the trees.) In A Quiet Place, the cute guy from The Office struggles to survive with his wife and family in a world where the slightest noise draws monsters. These versions of the apocalypse reminded me of some really good indie films I'm seen in recent years about the end of the world, including Perfect Sense, H, and 4:44 The Last Day on Earth. In all of these, the end comes not with zombies or explosions, and climactic events, but slowly, creepingly, on a more human scale. 

The monsters in Bird Box, unlike A Quiet Place, are unseeable, unless of course you actually  look then feel a sudden need throw yourself in front of garbage truck. I spent my time watching it frozen in suspense, and that I think is the power of letting the imagination create it's own monsters (and this is where A Quiet Place could have learned a trick or two.  Many people didn't like the film Monsters, but I thought it was brilliant in never showing us what we were supposed to be afraid of. The unseen is always scarier than the seen. The goal of any apocalypse creature movie is finding a way to get away or outsmart the threat, our continual what if you do x, or y?  Think of how in Cloverfield they hide in the subway only to find that big mama monster has baby spider monsters attached to her. In other movies, people are able to escape and survive due to some inconsistency or imperfection in the threat.

The saddest thing of being raised in the Cold War and seeing The Day After on TV was always that I decided early on I'd rather be killed in the blasts than have to survive underground and surely eventually die painfully and lengthily  of radiation.  If we managed to destroy ourselves with fire, I really didn't want to survive the aftermath  of that.   Pretty much any apocalypse scenario (except maybe zombies which I weirdly want to see), I'd want to be out in the first wave.    The indie movies and things like Bird Box, are even more terrifying in that the threat is tougher to outsmart, or sometimes impossible. Perfect Sense is one that had me in a fetal position by the end with hopelessness--a villian you can't outsmart or hide from. Bird Box is a little more uplifting at the end.  A Quiet Place also ends on a delightfully feminist upnote. I also appreciated how both films don't go very far in explaining how the apocalypses came about or why.

Aliens. zombies, nukes, monsters--all scary, but much scarier the apocalypse we don't even see coming.

Friday, December 28, 2018

tradition and loss

Tradition is a strange creature.  Without fail until the last couple year's, my family has been working the same variation of scenarios every Christmas season since I was an infant.  Even though I wouldn't consider myself a Christian, Christmas has always been more of a secular family-laden holiday to me--similar to Thanksgiving or the 4th of July.    Actual Christmas Day has typically involved some sort of big meal at home, either just the four of us or with a handful of guests (my aunt, my mom's best friend) In recent year's my sister has typically spent the day with her in-laws, but whoever was left usually came over over for roast or turkey or sometimes both.

While Christmas day was usually low-key and mostly a food coma, Christmas Eve was always the busy night.  When I was a kid, it meant parties at either one of my grandmother's houses.  Later, shuttling back and forth between different sides of the family, beginning at 3pm and ending usually after midnight.  If the night began at my Aunt Nancy's with food and an ungodly amount of presents, it usually ended at either my Aunt Judy's on my dad's side (later my cousins hosted in too much wine and a poker game).   By this time, my sister and I would be sleepy and impatient for Santa.   We'd then go home to sleep and get up early, or at some point, switched to opening our gifts and the presents from "Santa" before we went to bed (to be able to sleep in).

At various points the outings shifted order.  Eventually the Bowen's moved the gathering to another night, either before or after the holiday. Occasionally my sister would have to work and couldn't come.   A few year's ago, even when everyone was still alive, there was a rift over ridiculousness on my Mom's side that meant we spent a few Christmas Eve's and Christmas Dinners at her friend's house and skipped the larger gathering entirely. Because we were usually out and about, we'd head to the other end of town and open family gifts with my sister at their place instead of my parent's. These were modifications, but still felt similar in pattern.

When my mother died, it was right before the holidays, and last year felt like we didn't quite know what we were doing. We had yet to get any sort of bearings My sister had me and my dad over, but she was sick and not really feeling up for company.   My Dad cooked me and himself a Christmas dinner, but otherwise we spent the holiday alone.  (The Bowen side gathering was scheduled later in January.) It was fine, not horrible.  But at the same time, everything felt horribly wrong.

But we go on and maybe our traditions are changing and that's okay.  This year, instead of anyone cooking, we went out for Chinese on Christmas Eve and then over for dessert and presents and movie watching at my sister's.  On our drive home from their place later, I was quietly crying in the backseat, of course, for all those past Christmases--the weird magicalness of those cold clear nights when I was a kid.  A big ball of my own nostalgia and memories of my mother and all the loss I usually push out to the edges of my mind. We went home and watched episodes of Twilight Zone and Hitchcock Presents and it was still sad, but less horrible than the year before. My Dad made pot roast for all of us on Christmas Day, and we hunted through old pics looking for embarassing holiday matching outfits to re-post on instagram.   It was still sad, but a little less so.

Meanwhile,   I've been focusing on the traditions I can control--my own--which include tree (or this year tree-less) decorating and cheesey Hallmark-ish movie watching.  Kicking off vacation with baking cookies and holiday horror movies. My usual NYE traditions of plentiful snacks and movie watching (and faux New Year's plans another night with J b/c he usually has to work..)

It's like ripping off a limb sometimes to lose traditions, especially when the people central to them are gone, but maybe you move onto something better, or at least good enough.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

2018 in review

My year started in a snow covered bitter cold snap and is apparently ending in more mildish winter weather this coming week.  In between, there was surely a spring, summer, and surely a fall, but they all seem very far away.  Sometimes, regular life threatened to subsume creative life, but some really good art & writing things did come out of this year, surely more than the awfulness 2017, so I thought I'd post my annual year in review post.

As I've mentioned in some previous posts, since spring, I have been knocking my productivity levels out of the park by merely changing up my writing habits.  I don't write every day, surely, but most days anyway.   As such I have about 150+ pages of work spread across a number of different projects. Whether or not all of it will stick remains to be seen, but I am fairly happy with most of it--damn ecstatic over a couple series in particular. There are bits of three different full-length projects here among the melee, and I'll be working into this year solidifying those.

Despite writing  a lot, I fell short in my goals to actually submit work, but I did land a few publications with what I did send out and places I was invited, including Tinderbox, Tupelo Quarterly, Grimoire, Stirring, Occulum, White Stag, Rust & Moth and Eleanor.  A couple of these journals were Twitter finds, which I finally joined up with my own page early in the year.  I also have some pieces of the slender man poems coming in Mansion, another bit of Twitter-serendipity which dgp will be issuing in February.   The biggest acceptance, of course, this year would be or book #8, sex & violence, and the latter half of this year has been ironing out things like blurbs and cover art for that due out in 2020.

I've done pretty well in regularly issuing little bits and bobs for the Books & Objects series, including /slash/, how to write a love poem in a time of war, honey machine, the science of impossible objects, plump (part of the Library-created Dark Forest project), an accordian zine for the garden series, a single pager cryptotaxonomy, and the poet's zodiac scrolls.  I've also been using the internet as a means of distributing work outside the usual po-biz avenues and I've loved the results--a couple of Tiny Letter distributed series (exquisite damage and swallow.taurus, which is still available on Chanillo. Also using instagram to disseminate the poets zodiac and the strangerie series of text/collages.  I sometimes feel like these routes get so much more distance than we give them credit for. Or maybe less distance but more engagement.

There are also art piece series for zines to come--some visual elements to accompany taurus and the poets zodiac--collages and text pieces for ordinary planet and the hunger palace.  Some monoprint botanical pieces that will eventually be their own project.   Also many, many cover designs for the press that I am totally in love with. I also taught myself a few new tricks this year in terms of printmaking materials and composing digitally, which have had great results.  Exhibit-wise, I don't think I had much up on the walls this year, but I did include several collages in the Grimm anthology book project, as well as included /slash/ in a display case as part of Beautiful Monstrosities.

It's been the usual craziness with the press, and I was more behind on just about everything than usual, but I finished the year out strong and things are looking up for 2019.  So many titles (nearly 70, the highest since 2014) were unleashed on the world though, and from such a huge variety of voices that looking at the range is astounding.  I'll be scaling back next year since I feel there is definitely a maximum point of efficiency even when I am fully-functioning and mentally/physically sound, but I am glad all these books found a home and I was part of their being in the world. I did not manage to get out the format re-boot of wicked alice, but it's coming, along with the mermaid anthology, which has a title (swim) and work lined up and just needs more money and time to make it happen (but I'm determined to make happen  even with little time and less money). In keeping some things afloat others have drifted off (more paper goods, more prints, other shop things, open studio plans) but hopefully I can round these back up in the coming year.

The Library, while a wild ride the last six months in terms of having to take on more responsibilities, we managed a great year that started with all of our spring activities, printmaking workshops, surrealism celebrations, Apocalypse, USA programming, art biz panels, and the Book to Art Grimm project.  Fall brought Beautiful Monstrosites shenanigans and the 4th Little Indie Press Fest. And of course zine nights, other artmaking endeavors, and gaming events like trivia nights and murder mysteries.   In general Library stuff, I did get a chance to start writing things for the blog after years of wanting to and never getting a chance.  I also took on Interlibrary Loan after a staffing gap, which while usually pretty rote and not all that much fun, I did occasionally get a weird frisson successfully tracking down really hard to find materials (the hardest? canadian census reports and sporting articles from the 1880's the strangest?  something that had to be borrowed from the US Army's library) . In the craziness, I did fall short on getting to some of the library related writing projects I've been brainstorming, but it looks like I might be able to invest more time there this spring. Jen & I are close to being able to define "curated learning" in libraries and by god, we will make it happen.

And finally, one of the things I am most proud of this year is using this space a little more and making things a bit more easy to find.  During the rise of shorter form social media, my rate of posting here fell from 200+ to under 50 in 2016.  I miss blogging on the regular though, so I managed to climb a bit back up the past two years..I have no idea if anyone is reading but I'll keep writing (stats are decent, but who knows how much are bots.)  I've also been doing a few more frivolous fashion & design posts to add some variation to the more serious writing/art material, and working to touch on all aspects of my creative work with the press and libraries. I like Facebook for discussion purposes and link sharing, love instagram for visual art, but Twitter sort of eludes me and besides running over their to share occasionally when I remember I should, I don't spend much time there (I also hate using internet on my phone--so facebook moves a bit slower if you just check it once or twice  a day.) This space, and its predecessor at xanga, has always seemed more like home, even if much of what I used to do here happens elsewhere.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

notes & things | 12/22/2018

I will be away from the blog  as we come into the holiday so this is about as close as I will get to an actual Christmas post.  I'll be spending a few days at my dad's with no real gathering plans outside the immediate family.  I sometimes feel like holidays were these great big shindigs and presents and food, but when you pluck the central people out of them (ie my mom and my aunt) , they sort of dissipate, as has most of my enthusiasm for the holiday.

Since I can't skip it entirely (believe me, I thought about ways to do this but none have seemed feasible) I've been trying to get into the spirit by watching x-mas horror movies like Black Christmas and Silent Night, Deadly Night and making cookies, even wrote a christmas-y poem in the swallow series, but I've since resigned that there is little than can pull me out of my holiday funk.  I do realize that yesterday's solsitice means we are on the upswing in terms of longer days, so today's dark at 4:30 pained me a little less than yesterday's.

Today, I did manage to polish off all but a handful of responses for next year's slate of chapbooks.  I have a few more rejections to send out, but the acceptances have been notified. I will be working on galleys for the last of the books from this season and the first few of next in the coming weeks.  I am also mailing out tomorrow a giant batch of orders and author copies I've been working on the last couple weeks.  When I get back, things will be a bit more orderly in general processing.

I'll be back on Thursday for a couple free days in the studio, and then some time off at home through the New Year. I'm hoping to work on editing some of the work I've finished recently, another poets manuscript critique,  and to play around with some art endeavors I've been hoping to get to.. I'll be back here with my usual year end round up post and some more writing related discussions on poetry and place  and some things I am hoping to get to work on in the new year, so stay tuned..

Friday, December 21, 2018

friday obsessions | the ones that got away

Back when I was selling vintage goods full throttle on etsy, many wonderful things came and passed from my hands.  On one hand, selling them was absolutely instrumental in helping to pay the rent on the studio, there being more of a demand for vintage on the site than books or art, but also the venue wasn't quite as glutted. If you were peddling nice vintage and had decent photos, you could be somewhat of a success.  Things changed and vintage sellers were a dime a dozen by the time I left in 2011,  etsy got expensive to keep up with, and the sort of vintage I was looking to peddle got trickier to find cheap enough to turn a profit (the kind of stuff you find in thriftstores is more 80's/90's now, less everyone and their mother is reselling, so the good stuff goes fast)   So I moved onto other platforms. But while I kept some vintage in the free-standing shop, most of it just lingered as our sales on other things grew. Eventually I took it down.

But looking at old photos, I'm always amazed and a little sad on some of things I sold and wish I'd been able to keep for myself.  Granted most of the clothes wouldn't have fit me, and I really don't need more stuff in my apartment.  Some of these things were pieces I altered--the enamel hair clips which started as earrings. The basket purse I added the giant bloom to.  Some I've been able to find in modern versions that are close but not quite . I have a pair of cat eye sunglass frames that are a dead ringer for those lovely ombre ones.  While I gave up that amazing cookie jar, vintage owls are always trendy and I have a similar owl holding my utensils in my kitchen.  I don't have that pink lace dress, but I have one that has cherry blossoms and it cut identical to the vintage one and the same softish lined lace.  I am always on the lookout for tiny paintings, old slips, and nice wraps.  And that black dress, I am definitely always looking...

highs and lows

Last week, I stumbled upon this post from about  a decade ago.  I found it during a week filled with some feelings of overwhelmed-ness and anxiety about life in general (loss, money, impending age-related hypothetical afflictions).  I kind of read in wonder that I could have been quite so blissfully bouyant in 2009.  It made me nostalgic somehow for something I'm not even sure I've lost, but sometimes feel I have.  Also  wondering how could I have been so content then when all sorts of things were actually less ideal than they are currently--mostly romantic dramas and very little writing productivity.  Also, my day job, though technically the same,  was much more drudgery and much less fun in those days and far better now.  Granted the nation is a garbage fire and not at all the country I thought it was, so that puts a dent in things. But if I was that happy and content with my life at age mere 35, shouldn't I be even moreso now--now when my personal life is infinitely more stable? when I am writing up a storm?  when dancing girl press is more vibrant and amazing than ever?

 This is what I keep shaking my head at. If anything, the past couple of years blog efforts should be filled with bubbly gushing about happiness.   But they're not.  All the usual monsters that have always been at the door are still lingering in the hallway, but that the past year after my mother's death has made everything extra troubling, mostly since I have a general feeling of being extremely unmoored.  Sort of like if you were revolving around something your entire life on a rope, and you could always go as far as you wanted, could return and wander again and again,  and suddenly that rope was cut.

In trying to articulate my feelings to a friend last week, I kept stupidly repeating "But I used to be so happy. Like two years ago, when everything was okay, I was happy." It's something I repeat to myself on occasion at particularly lowish moments that seem dismal in a way I didn't feel before.  A couple Augusts ago, we took a work trip to the Field Museum and I took a bunch of photos of the Audubon books and the dinosaur bones and bought a green Mold-o-rama dinosaur. And every time I am scrolling through instagram and spot those pics, or glance at the dinosaur on my bookshelf, there's this plummet somewhere in my chest. It was good day that started with good overnight into morning boy conversation, our awesome grown up field trip, and ended in yummy Dim Sum and an afternoon nap. It was good day and I look at it and think "wow, I was so happy then."    It was good day and it was less than a week before my mother's infection had settled into her brain and made her delerious with hallucinations (which in turn  began the 3 month ordeal, up and down,  of her death.) It was the last time I felt stable and secure.   It was the last time I felt completely that everything was going to be okay, because I really did think it was at that point. I am sort of having a hard time getting back there. 

Of course these feelings manifest as a desire to flee--from just about everything in my life, good or bad, and that's where I was in my mental spin-out last week, which is ridiculous, because I'm not going anywhere.   Every time I am in Union Station around 8pm and here them start boarding for New Orleans I think about running away..even just for a little while. Or at the very least pulling up anchor and moving entirely. But transplanting is definitely not what I need right now.  Neither are long conversations and meditations on some happy past that was, sure, happy, but just with different sorts of challenges.

And I'd be lying if I said there definitely weren't occasional moments of similar elation now, just that the engine drags a little more on me than it used to.  My highs aren't quite so high, but my lows are much lower than they used to be.  Recent highs? Some awesome potential reading-related news yesterday.  Getting much closer to getting caught up in the studio and the batches of books from later this year out the door before the new year.  The swallow poems which are really turning out to be good. Tea and cats and being free of the library for a whole week and a half. 

May I remember this as 2019 rolls in.. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

dancing girl press & studio | the mini tour

Lately I spend about equal parts marveling at the awesomeness of having such a great studio space in the Fine Arts, and an equal part panicking over being able to afford the rent for such a great studio space.  At times, I've wondered at the benefits of moving the operation back to the confines of my apartment--being able to work on books on weekends and all parts of the night, having everything roughly in one place, saving about $800 a month.  But the negs are that it would be kind of crowded and chaotic, even more so than when I moved it out, storing packing supplies and books and printers and the general mess. Also, I still hope to open up the studio every once in a while, but since I've been pushing more on books and less on inventory of other things, I doubt the open studios would bring in the amount of income to make them worth it (and worth it after pulling a full day already in the library, by which time I am exhausted already).

 Plus there's added the benefit of being able to work in such an awesome creative building with so much going on. Even if it's only a few hours every day it does my soul good. Obviously the solution would be to get it more retail friendly and bone up on my paper goods and print inventory, which is my goal for the coming year, and actually make those monthly open studios happen. Though I do a fair amount of artwork at home on weekends--paintings, collages, and prints--and occasional things like jewelry making, and of course, most of my writing/editing there,  it's still nice to have a separation of "home" and "work"--where the more official things like printing, book assembly and shipping happen.  Plus a space just to store all the the books and art and random supplies that were threatening to drown me pre-2007.

I've been shooting some shots of my favorite little bits in the dgp space.  It's narrow and only about 300 square feet give or take, but it has the most glorious ceilings that have to be about 20 feet and these huge windows (the view is mostly a brick wall, but there's a little space where a lower building sits next to us.  From 9th floor, you can just see a bit of the lake if you lean out the window.  The building itself is always gorgeous, from the manned elevators to the frescos on the floor above to the Italian courtyard in the middle and hands down my favorite building in the city.  The 9th floor boasts a violin-maker, a sheet music store, several painters, an oboeist, and some music practice rooms that seem to be hopping during the day.  There is also a newish and infinitely instagrammable bookstore on the 2nd Floor and the newly re-opened Studebaker Theatre at the bottom.

In the studio, I have about three printers, two staplers, a hefty guillotine trimmer, and about 500 mailing envelopes.  I also have about a thousand assembled and half assembled chapbook copies. I currently have about 5 discarded Epson Workforces shoved here and there that I occasionally harbor parts for the current ones I run in tandem (I was replacing them a lot over the years when I was using them for the laser does the covers, but the insides are done on the inkjet.  The inket is a heavy beast and  thirsty for toner, but is really good on covers. I also have a closet full of shipping boxes and packing tape, a metal cabinet full  of various colors of cardstock, and a mini fridge (currently empty, but I sometimes keep water and soda on hand.)  I also have various packaging materials, cardboard inserts, matboards, cello bags for selling things.

While a good amount of my art supplies are at home, some still linger here A box with about a hundred various faux birds and butterflies I keep meaning to make into more assemblages. A good amount of ephemera and decorative paper, as well as a fair amount of things to cover with said paper--paperweight blanks, flasks. Also a huge with lavender, rose petals,  green tea and other bath tea fixins ( though my messy soap making days have ceased, I really need to start selling this again in the shop, it was fairly easy and non-messy)

The studio has also been a great place to meet with authors who are local or in town (well, at least when there isn't a wall of paper trimmings threatening to subsume us all like there is currently.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

mini-collections | vintage cameras

There are some vintage things I am a freak for collecting--handbags and purses, for example.  Midcentury floral dishes.  Things get a little crazy when it comes to these, but there are other things I consider mini-collections acquired here and there and a little more limited in their scope. About 11 years ago, I bid on a lot of vintage photos for artmaking purposes on ebay that happened to come with two old box cameras.  The purpose of the acquisition was more for the ephemera than the cameras, but I put them on a shelf in the studio and plotted ways to use them to house some sort of assemblage.   

A few years later, I was in a thriftstore in Rockford and spotted a Spartaflex across the room for $10.  A few years later, I was in a tiny town in upper Wisconsin and spotted a Roloflex for a steal at an antique shop.  Suddenly, I had a tiny collection of old cameras that I really loved and spawned me to get a little more familiar with the history of cameras and what these were capable. (though they are sadly all unworking) Like many of the things I have mini-collections of, Pyrex, pressed flower designs, embroidered wall hangings--the collection wasn't exactly intentional in the ways things like dishes and purses, and I don't go hunting them on ebay, for example, but I do love stumbling on new aquisitions.

While they are not in  working order, I think they are just really striking objects.  In a world where so much is always new and disposable, I love that they have their own sense of solidity and history.

Monday, December 17, 2018

on magic and monsters

I was reading this article yesterday and thinking about magic.  As in what you lose once you cease to believe in things like monsters and Santa.  Or the almost heartbreaking effect no longer believing has on the child brain.  When I was in 4th grade, there were rumblings of disbelief.  Many kids had already had "the talk" in which all was revealed.  We had a couple of Jewish kids and at least one Jehovah's Witness who we listened incredulously to as they said they'd never had Santa creep into their houses and leave presents.  While at first may have been easy to  shrug it off and go about making perennial red and green construction paper chains,  I was starting to have my doubts.  There was an incident a couple years before where Santa "forgot" my new Candy Land game conveniently in the trunk of our car. One afternoon, I cornered my mother as she cleaned the bathroom and ask for some straight talk, and while she kept asking me "what do you believe?" in the end she consented to the fact that Santa didn't exist.  I stood there and suddenly was crying.  The Easter Bunny?  The Tooth Fairy?  Fairies in general?  All fake...I was devastated by this news...

Of course, my mother assured me we would continue to get presents "from Santa" which continued up until her death. And I was forbidden from telling my sister, 4 years younger, the truth (we occasionally still joke that since I never told her, she still totally believes he's real--also that since my mother never removed her embargo against riding her bike in the street, she still can't as an adult.) Even though we often were shopping with my mother and picking out gifts, we would find them wrapped under the tree when we went open gifts marked with Santa's name, never hers.

If you take Santa out of the equation, and all his magical friends, there too goes monsters and ghosts and the possibility that they might be real.  My mother had a loose religious upbringing, she considered herself a Christian, my Dad was similarly secular in mindset, so it wasn't like we still had to believe in Jesus and Mary and all that business, and I wondered how kids who did reconciled Santa's not realness next to miracles and virgin births.  I'd sooner believe in a man in a suit flying in a sleigh through the night sky than someone turning water into wine or walking on water.

But then again, the news that Santa wasn't real changed how I looked at the world, sucked the magic out entirely. Or at least it seems like did, but looking back, I was still ready to believe some things.   Around the same age that the Santa news was revealed I had also stopped sleeping with the covers over my head, which I had been doing for years, because my maternal grandmother had just died, and since I inherited her bed and bedding, I had nothing to fear with her watching over me.  (I still believed in an afterlife at that point.)

Despite my secularism, I am still weirdly superstitious.  I broke a mirror a few weeks ago and joked (kind of) that every spilled coffee and returned package was related.  I say "knock on wood" a lot.  Obsessively so at times. I am willing to believe in hauntings even without a belief in the afterlife--as impressions, as dimensional weirdness, even if I don't believe in ghosts.  Willing to admit maybe poltergeists,  telekinesis, ESP exist.  I also stupidly have a fear of playing things like Candyman or Bloody Mary in case they might be real, but oddly have no similar reverence for ouija boards and spiritual ways of contacting the dead.  So maybe not all was lost in "the talk" it definitely did change my ideas on magic and monsters, but maybe I still believe just a little as a grown-up.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

sayonara 2018

I will be shipping out the final bundle of goodies for this year's BOOKS & OBJECTS SERIES before the end of the year, but there is still a chance to get in on the 2018 fun...zines, prints, accordian books, & more...

dgp cover love

As I've often said, one of my favorite aspects of bringing dancing girl press titles into the world is the physical design aspects.  I love taking someone else's words and making this beautiful little object, interesting both inside and out.  Sometimes I start from scratch, other times, the authors have definite ideas (or artists or designers they already know and want to involve) but some of my fave collaborations involve some back and forth, the volleying of ideas and sparks, and then eventually whittling away to something that is absolutely perfect.

One of the best recent examples was the design for Kelsea Habecker's amazing THE WALRUS WIVES that went live on the website yesterday.  I collages up the original based on the author suggestions, but we agreed it was running too pretty and romantic for the quirky strangeness of the poems inside, whereupon we solved it by add the strangeness of the satellite birds and I was so happy it turned out so awesome.

Similarly, Catherine Kyle's SAINT:  A POST-DYSTOPIAN HAGIOGRAPHY started with some discussion of her vision, but the first mockup featured a less warrior-like  character on the cover--more childlike, which we swapped out.  Terry Ann Wright's ideas for MAD HONEY noted something angry or aggressive but not romantic or pretty, but actually somehow this cover manages to be both somehow weirdly..

Saturday, December 15, 2018

tiny machines, long distances

When I first set out to writing poems with any sort of seriousness at 19 or so, I was mostly clueless as to contemporary poetry and really sort of clueless on how anyone went about it. I had all these ideas, political and social that I shoe-horned into short, skinny, really bad poems.  Later I was really good at Emily Dickinson-style rhyming. By the time I was finishing up my undergrad years and beginning grad school for Lit, I had left much of that behind and was banging out much better quality things--mostly centered around theme and allusion. They were not horrible, but not terribly good wither, but they managed to win me a couple college poetry awards, and eventually, my very first publication in 1999.  I got better, more personal, but crafting a poem still seemed like an arduous thing, with a beginning germ of a thought or a concept and then hours of work trying to make that happen and not suck so much. It continued like this well though the construction of most of the fever almanac poems.

In 2004 or so things began to change.  I started the press.  I began to work visually with collage.  The poems changed too, as I began shifting the way I wrote.  There was errata, which involved my own language woven within the tapestry of existing victorian language an text.  There was more collage-like use of language and imagery. Things got stranger--more accidental--less wrought.  Or maybe a different kind of wrought.  Through much of the work of in the bird museum and into pretty much all the books published to date, there was much more play and experimentation that made writing so much more pleasurable than it had been in those earlier years. Fragment and collage, interwoven found texts, all of which made writing this glorious experiment that no doubt spurred me on. The only exception I can think of is the james franco series, which gathered their own steam in a strange way.

It's only in the last year or so that I have felt another shift, this one still moored in that same experiment, but more led by sounds than before.  I am not a scanner, and have never been, but I've often loved most that work with works materially with not only image or language but with sound. There is also the tension between poems as a read-entity on the page, and the poem as an auditory-entity read outloud.  Over the years sometimes I got good results occasionally, but often they were unintentional, or at best, sort of a result of composing work while reading it aloud.

In the last year or so, I've been composing led more by sound than by image.  It's hard to describe.  The difference between the two.  The ways in which the images, which used to collect and  scatter themselves on the page are now being pulled by their sounds from a hat.  Or maybe, not that at all and that they spring fully formed, not as pretty things, but noisy things.  Perhaps a more concrete way to describe it is to say that I spend less time with my notebook or words and images while actually writing the poem, feeding the poem bits and scraps, and more time letting the poem rev itself like a tiny machine.   And sometimes it can go for miles on it's own momentum and doesn't need anything to fuel it.  It might be why I've been writing so much and so often.  Definitely composing the first way I was writing was arduous and slow, the second was swifter and more playful, a bit more regular.  Now it's like I can struggle to get a couple lines going, but once I have them, the poem can go long distances before running out of steam.  Entire projects can go a good distance before having to stop for gas.

Maybe it's just the sort of efficiency that comes from writing a lot.  Or maybe having been writing for so long.  But I hope it keeps going...

Friday, December 14, 2018

friday obsession | some velvet love

It's the season, of course, for a little bit more luxurious things.  The windows along Michigan Ave are decked out in lots of velvet, glitter, and faux fur.  Though I've been wearing more flannel and sweater dresses to keep warm, velvet is also a winter staple.   I have a few favorite velvet pieces collected over the years (and that I usually wind up hanging inside out in my closet to avoid them collecting large amounts of cat hair floating through the air somehow.)  Last winter, I found this dress on sale at Modcloth, but only still available in a smaller size.  I bought it anyway, thinking it might work, but it was too tight in the bust.  This year, however, they bought back the same dress, only in an even more attractive greyish blue and totally in my size and I snapped it up full price I wanted it so much.  I'm still seeking a fancy-schmancy holiday party to wear it to, but lacking any, might just wear it to work or twirling around in my apartment. (so far, sadly,  every gathering is sort of super casual.)

They actually have many super cute velvet things, and I just might procure the berry colored sleeveless one as soon as I get some holiday money.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

all the thanks...

In my final proofing and my blurb gathering for sex& violence, I have reached the most difficult part of the process (and I would argue), maybe a little more difficult than writing the damn poems--the acknowledgements.

This morning I was lying in bed thinking this task was ahead of me today and giggled over completely outrageous thank yous. Often I've considered thanking the undergrad poetry teacher who said she did not remember my work at all (it had been about 5-6 years tops) and therefore could not possibly write me a recommendation letter to get into my MFA program--I think she was just trying to nicely say no because I sucked, but hey, look who doesn't suck anymore!  It made me kinda bitter, but maybe bitter made me better. Then there were the 1st year grad school workshop folks who delighted in tearing me down with a particular zealousness that still rankles (it got better, but that 1st year was a doozie.)    The random male editor circa 1999, who said "nice, but these are hardly of the Keatsian mantle."   Or maybe a note thanking all the horrible men I've dated and who inspired some of the poems. By name.

Other things are less Taylor Swiftian, and just sillier. Thanking my cats, for example.  Or Pop Tarts.  Or the makers of my favorite pens (Pilot g-2s).  Tequila . My day job where I spend a decent amount of time working on poetry things and probably wouldn't have such latitude for such distractions in other professions.  Sylvia Plath, who set an excellent and horrible example in my young mind on how to be a poet.  The 7th grade boy who irrevocably broke my heart.  The math skills I lack that doomed me from the career in science I set out for when I graduated high school.

With my first book, the fever almanac, I took the task very seriously, thanking my poetry communities, the editor of Moon Journal.who published my very first poems in her journals and later my first chapbook, as well as my Ghost Road editors and the journals where the poems had previously appeared.  Also,  Poetry Center of Chicago whose  contest I had won a couple years before with a chunk of change attached. I got a little more creative with book #2--thanking all the artists and writers who had inspired me and who I had probably stolen from.  In the shared properties of water and stars, I thanked the fairy tales I was reinventing and the people who had instilled in me a love of the strange and magical. With girl show, I thanked everyone for indulging my weird interests and writing reclusiveness, as well as a friend who helped me with my sideshow research.

By the time major characters and salvage hit the press, I was down to bare bones, previous publication notes and that was about it. Similar with the upcoming little apocalypse.   Initially, I'd included a combined notes and acks. page for the new book, but as I was proofing, I thought I might want to flesh it out a little bit again.  By the end of it, I think I did okay--thanking my community, my awesome blurbers, Black Lawrence and my editor, some personal notes at the end. Another book put to bed and ready to send off the final draft in the next couple of days.  Book #8--and wow, who would have known? (Certainly not my undergrad professor. Nor my 7th grade crush).

notes & things | 12/13/2018

Sunday night was a horrible bout with the fear monster--about money, about the future, about forever being behind on just about everything,  everyone around me dying and being unable to stop it.  It this swirling, descending about of horror and it was gone by Monday afternoon, but it took me by surprise and has made it a weird week full of manic conversations in which I am crying for no good reason. Which is to say it is December again, and December will always bring it's December ways. In no way is this as bad as some years---1997 and 2003 were particular doozies, and at least I am not having weird cold weather induced panic attacks like last winter, but it's a slippery little thing and weedles it's way in even when I think am doing okay.

I was discussing with a friend who assured me that every single person our age is having these same conversations, and if I wasn't certain a huge part of it was just winter (and now without even the usual holiday happiness to look forward to.) I'd venture it was a general coming into middle age malaise.  I always said I had avoided my mid-life crises by making sure I was always doing exactly what I wanted with my time and energies and not falling into certain societal expectation traps..all well and good, except that even avoiding some things, others come looking for you nevertheless.   You can do everything you can to make the best choices, but invevitable  things like losing parents or age or sickness will still come round for you and eventually knock you on your ass. So you find yourself crying at your desk at work and trying to explain why things are upsetting, not because anything out of the usual is just wrong, but that irrational fear that things WILL go wrong, that bad, that worse things, WILL happen, even if everything is totally kosher now.

And this is where I don't know where my particular kind of crazy intersects with just general stress and life patterns.  All the what if seem terrible creatures sometimes, and I usually am good at fending them off or dealing with them, but they are just extra bitey in the winter when even the landscape outside seems inhospitable to just living.

Regardless, things go on.  Other things come to a close.  We are in the last few days of the semester, and I am staring down a week or so off around the holiday to rest up. (or spend unlimited time obsessing about the worst, which could also happen.)   We've started planning our spring activities (there is a peek at our focus topic below) and it's a nice distraction to begin plotting out the details for that.  I am also plotting a couple unrelated lit-oriented things coming around the bend.

The one thing I do feel in control of is writing projects.  I finalized the last draft and gathered my blurbs and sent them yesterday to Black Lawrence. The new Tiny Letter project is going swimmingly, as are some new pieces for the poet's zodiac.  Over the break, I'll be doing some editing on things that need some more work, but if 2018 gave me anything at all, it was getting a lot of stuff down on the page.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

strange fevers

The Library’s Spring 2019 focus topic, STRANGE FEVERS: MASS DELUSIONS, CONFUSIONS, AND OBSESSIONS explores the strange world of public madnesses through the lens of art, culture, politics, and entertainment.  From propaganda hoaxes to Victorian Spiritualism.  Cults to crop circles. Fake news to Sasquatch. Witch hunts to urban legends. Satanic Panic to Beanie Babies. Our infatuations, real or imagined, often tell us more about our culture than our legitimate ones.  Join the library for a series of exhibits, displays, discussions and other events that probe the public imaginations more bizarre corners of enthusiasm, naivite and skillful manipulation.   


Preparations are in the works for our spring focus topic and we are plotting all sorts of weird awesomeness in the name of mass delusions--exhibits, displays, panel discussion, readings, and well a mini-conference when April roles around. I'm hoping to pull together a panel about weird delusional phenomena in teenage girls--like Heavenly Creatures, the Slenderman stabbing, and that recent story about the satanic girls who wanted to kill their classmates in the bathroom.  Could tie it in to Salem witches  Also, another topic exploring the Fox sisters and victorian spiritualism /hypnotism. And also some crypto fun, of course. We're still working out the exhibit details, so I'll be posting a bit more as we go...         

into the breach

I am in the midst of the final war of dueling dancing girl press manuscripts for next year.  It's rough--we crested 500 submissions again this year (the good news is that number has stabilized after quite a climb from about 15 in 2004--the bad news is that I have an embarassment of riches and just a whole lot to read, which is making me about a month late in getting responses out this year. )   Also, as I've mentioned before the pool gets less slushy every year, and so many authors seem to know exactly the sorts of things I'm looking for (which of course, makes it hard to decide between them. )  Amazing folks have occasionally volunteered to help read submissions, to winnow things down, but my Taurus control-freaky self worries I would miss something I wanted if I didn't look at everything myself--even just a few pages to get a sampling.  And truthfully, if I'm going to have to go through them all regardless, I might as well just do it myself.

What usually happens is I will read about 5 pages of everything that comes in the door, not always the first 5 pages, sometimes other ranges. Some books get released back into the wild as not really my thing immediately. Then there are the total read-throughs, these are the ones I'm wanting more of.  Sometimes, these are definite yes.  Sometimes they are yes, if we have room. The criteria between these are fuzzy--all of them sound poetry and something I could see dgp releasing, but maybe variations in subject matter, voice, or just plain quirky oddness, makes one stack a definite and the others a possible.  The problem is when there are too many yes and then also too many maybes, and the latter wind up in the death battle at the end.  I also tend to do rolling acceptances, which means the maybes stand a better chance when I am reading for January-July, than the latter half of the year as the schedule starts to fill up.  (the pro tip, I guess, being to submit early in the season.)  By the time I get to August subs, there is a sense of panic and sudden death. Occasionally, I can wiggle some things into the early part of the following year but don't like too long of a stretch between acceptance and actual publication (plus it can make things tighter the next year.)

 I have a general "thank you for sending but no" form rejection (worded, if course, more politely), but then also a "this one didn't fit, but maybe send something else another year."  Occasionally, we get the same mss. back in a subsequent year and I take it, especially if it was case of just running out of slots, so it never hurts to try again. (Sometimes these seem obviously familiar, but other times, I might have completely forgotten I've read it before, especially if it's been revised a As it stands I currently have read at least some of everything left in the queue, released the no manuscripts to their authors,  and marked a few more for total read throughs, but plan to have the responses out and the schedule firmed up by Christmas. (Or realistically at least by the end of holiday break.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

the poet's zodiac

Throughout the majority of this year, I have been working steadily on a series called the poets zodiac.  It was conceived as simply a book-artish project involving those supermarket zodiac scrolls, but soon, there were some accompanying images, and now I'm wondering if they might, in fact, be an entire book.  By the end, there will be 48 of them, plus illustrations if I can find a publisher willing to do both. Initially I planned to do a full round every month, but realized it might be a bit over ambitious.

I created a bunch of scrolls back in May right before the Chicago Zine Fest, and have been distributing them in random ways ever since.  I will be doing another round this winter, and plan to get a little more fancy in my paper.  I've also been posting them on the regular over on my instagram hoping to drum up some enthusiasm.

I am far from anything like a horoscope expert..I've always loved the details of the signs though.  And, with the exception of the Meyers-Briggs inventory which is always dead on, I do feel they somehow inexplicably capture personalities on the nose. There is talk that babies are subject to the seasons they are born in, and it make have more to do with science and weather than the strange pull of the stars, but it's a nice idea. I am so very Taurus it still sometimes surprises fact everyone I encounter who is a Taurus, I probably would have guessed they were without even knowing their birthday.  I don't always nail it on other signs --I'm decent at spotting Aries and Libras--my mom and my sister being my real life examples, but my Dad is a Virgo, and given other Virgos I've met, doesn't seem like it.  My boyfriend and my best friend are both Leos (and actually share the same birthday, I sometimes see traits of the sign in both, but not the same ones.) So who knows, maybe I'm looking to hard and it's all bunk, but it's fun to think about it. 

As for these poems, they take a little bit of the general traits of the zodiac and flesh them out a bit into advice and predictions. They are serious fun to write, and I would love to finish the whole round of them by the end of the year (though swallow is shiny and new and pulling me in another direction.)  I use them sort of like exercises to loosen up the poems sometimes when I'n not sure what to write.

Monday, December 10, 2018

flashback fashion | so much plaid

Sometimes, memory is funny and fuzzy.  I often wonder if there would be things I would forget entirely if there were not photographic evidence.  Surely, there are non-captured memories that are vivid, but somehow visual representations of the past are more textured somehow.  This photo, taken Thanksgiving circa 1979, is one such instance.  There are things it evokes about my great-grandmother's house--those stairs, the strange wood paneling of her tidy little house (her house and all its lovely vintage style is worthy of it's own post in the future.)  But that basement was the perennial Thanksgiving haunt until it moved onto an aunt & uncle's house.   There was a strange little closet under those steps where, for most of my childhood, she kept a collection of children's distractions for us, small dishes and cars and randomness she'd haul out for us at our tiny kids table. I also used to shut myself in there like a weird little introvert, and there were strange knot holes in the wood you could peer out into the rooms on either side--the party in one room, the dark laundry room.

But moreso about this picture, which is probably also one of the ones that features all my cousins in one place who would eventually scatter across the country, it's the dress I was wearing that catches my memory most. (I am also delighted by the preponderance of plaid on all of us.) While my mom had a tendency to frock both me and my sister in red velvet at X-mas, this was , I remember, a re-wear of my first day of kindergarten was a weird polyester and I don't think lasted long, but I see it and immediately I am sitting on a weird orange carpet of the classroom, staring at the alphabet above the chalkboard and making the connection between the visual representation and the song my dad had bribed me with Rolos to learn about a year before. I also remember those tights were bought later for my tiny devil Halloween costume for which I had a small plastic pitchfork. (and as with most tights in my life, probably were already running.)  While I can pretty much remember every 1st day of school outfit ever, this is one of my favorites.  It must have been my go-to, b/c it was not only first day and Thanksgiving, but also picture day.  Somewhere in my stuff there is a tiny, smiling version of me in the same dress with a pageboy bob only a couple months shorter.

I think about this time and the things that surprises me most is it pre-dates any unhappiness about my my body, and self-consciousness that would creep in a couple years later.  There are many photos where you can tell by my confidence, those thoughts hadn't even entered my mind.   By 3rd or 4th grade, I still loved clothes, but was also conscious that I was larger (not just chubbier, which I was maybe a few pounds at that point, but not drastically so)  but just larger in things like shoe size and height than my peers.  When they lined us up by height for class photos, I was always in the back with the boys.  I've talked a bit before about my child self and my love of fashion that took YEARS, maybe DECADES, to get back, but it's always weird to see myself in that brazen, un-self-conscious state before things like eating issues and magazine took a chunk out of it.   May we all be as happy with our appearance and bodies as I was when I was 5...

Sunday, December 09, 2018

writing & art bits | decemberish

*  As I mentioned in a previous post, I've embarked on a new project for the Tiny Letter subscriptions, a series called swallow.  I'll be writing these in real time, so we'll see how long it ends up being.  I'm currently alternating my writing efforts between this and  more of the poets zodiac poems, which I am about halfway finished with (they can be seen on Instagram and floating around in the little scrolls I've been tucking here and there. )

*If you're looking for some more newer work, I will also be releasing a couple of zines after the start of the new year--including the hunger palace and ordinary planet ( read some of it here & here), as well as the collab project with my sister based on the slenderman stabbings, necessary violence (some of which appears at Stirring and in the upcoming Mansion anthology.)

* the strangerie is about wrapped up, all of the pieces, with their text elements posted on Instagram.  I'll be making some new prints available in the shop soon. Eventually I am aiming for a book arts project with them, but it's a bit of a ways off.

* preparations for sex & violence continues and we'll have a cover after the new year.  I have rounded up some terribly flattering and amazing blurbage and will be soon delivering those and the final manuscript, which I'm taking one more pass through for typos, to Black Lawrence.  It's strange to think that barely a year ago, I was pulling the book together from a whole bunch of disparate parts during a really bleak month of my life just to distract myself and not go crazy. And so strange they are closer and closer to becoming a book thing all the time.

* as the smaller projects begin to coalesce into longer book projects, I am excited to see what is happening..there are currently four balls in the air as I write this, each of them a little closer to being something every month that passes.  They still need a lot of work, but the bones are definitely there. The first, currently titled, dark country (after a really good line in taurus), may be ready to start sending out by summer if all goes well..

Saturday, December 08, 2018

holiday tunes to ruin your jolly

Even before I had any reason to be melancholy around the holidays, I have always been a fan of the most melancholy of holiday songs.  For years, my mom made fun of the fact that from around ages 5-7, we owned a record (yes, it was that long ago) that featured a song about an unloved little homeless Christmas tree.  Because was too young to do it myself, I would make her keep playing said song while I stood in the middle of the room and bawled my eyes out (if this isn't a pre-curser to using art as a release, I don't know what is.) She would whip this story out often, but actually, my tastes in holiday tunes always swayed a bit a bit sad rather than happy and bright.

1. Hard Candy Christmas  (Dolly Parton/ Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Sndtrk.)

This is hands down my favorite Christmas song and second only to Jolene in my Dolly faves.  While I love the Dolly-only version too, I like the multi-singer rendition from the musical best...

2. River  (Robert Downey Jr / Ally McBeal Christmas Album)

Sure, the Joni Mitchell is a classic, but I spent the entire first few years of Christnas in my current apartment with the Ally McBeal Christmas album listening to this version. This was when RDJ was on his comeback from serious drug problems, but before Iron-Man. (swoon)

3.Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) (Mariah Carey)

While I also appreciate the original Darlene Love version, X-Mas is pretty much the only time to say you like Mariah Carey and have it be at all acceptable...

4 Blue Christmas (Elvis)

I am not usually a very big Elvis fan in general, having came of childhood in his less than stellar later years, but this always reminds me of grandmother's Christmas celebrations...

5.Baby Please Come Home (Jon Bon Jovi)

I get fun of for liking the Eagles too much, and their version is great, and sometimes in the first few bars, it's actually hard to tell this one and that one apart.  But I like the music more in this one as the song progresses than the original..

6. Last Christmas (Taylor Swift)

Perhaps my most contentious choice of a version, but while I like the song, I pretty much got over Wham in the 6th grade...

7. All I Want for Christmas is You  (Mariah Carey)

This one is always an infectious romp (see no. 3).  But, hey this is one that's actually not a little sad, except maybe in an unrequited love sort of way..

8. Have Your Self a Merry Little Christmas (Judy Garland)

There are many great versions of this one, but I think Judy nails it best.  When I was a kid, I never picked up on the sad undertones of the song..

9. Same Auld Lang Syne (Dan Fogerty)

Stick a fork in me.  I'm dead.

10.  Carol of the Bells (Trans Siberian Orchestra)

I was strapped for a 10th one to round out the list, and while othe versions of this song leave me cold at best, and are annoying at worst, I've always loved how this one particular sounds like the soundtrack to a Christmas horror movie, so it made the list...