Wednesday, October 31, 2018

notes & things | 10/31/2018

Monday night was one of the final events of our Beautiful Monstrosities month that kicked off a mere 30 days ago and has been moving along at full throttle. The art will still be up until January, so there's still a chance to see that awesomeness on the Library's 1st Floor. This was the film specific panel, Eat or Be Eaten, spawned from us questioning what is a positive portrayal of a female character in a genre where really you only have two options to be the killer or be killed--the monster or the one hunted by monsters and, at best, survive mostly intact. The discussion took place amidst a new student produced exhibit in one of the campus gallery spaces around the block, The Final Trope, an interactive experience built around horror stereotypes.

Geeking out about horror is something I get way, way into, so I sometimes have to hold back a little, but it was an amazing discussion, and I walked away with some recommendations I wasn't familiar with. At home, I am in the midst of a pre-Halloween horror binge that so far has included some perennial  faves (The Shining, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, Skeleton Key) some older movies I probably hadn't seen since the late 80's (Night of the Comet, Night of the Demons) and some new things that were either rather rather good (Malevolent) or horrible. but weirdly enjoyable (Truth or Dare).  I hope to continue with a few more this week, with plans for a date night with J Thursday night to see the new Halloween. 

Of course, in news of  ghosts of another sort, my dreams are just keeping me uncomfortable enough. Again this morning the recurring one where my mother does not know she's dead, or maybe more I do not know she's dead, and suddenly, crushingly realize it.   In this one, we were all sitting around the table and someone mentioned going to Monroe to the Swiss Colony outlet, but that we'd decided we'd rather go elsewhere for discount cheese from here on in .  And she said, she'd never decided that, but I reminded her that we'd decided it before Christmas last year and that was when she'd almost died, so of course, she'd not been in on the decision. But no biggie, we could change it.  She was laughing and saying she didn't, and I was trying to convince her that yes, she'd almost died, for reals, saying it over and over again and how lucky we were that she didn't.   But then something broke in my head, and I suddenly realized the truth and I woke with a start. I have various versions and combinations of these dreams 1-2 times a month and probably tap into the unrealness of it sometimes, even still, how it feels like there is a disconnect, even after a year.  And maybe it's feeling super intense because the anniversary of her death is in about a week.  It's less the disconnect and more general sad when I'm in Rockford, where the absence is all too real. But here, I go through most of my day with only fleeting thoughts that she's not around any more.  Maybe a story I would normally tell her.  A movie she would have liked.   When it's time for my weekly phone calls that are now with my dad.  But otherwise, she could totally still be alive and kicking out there somewhere.

Maybe some of the numbness has worn off, and writing about all of it helps, but the unreality of it is still there even now and I don't imagine will ever go away.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

writing & art bits | halloween edition

* I'm still working through some little text bits to accompany the strangerie series of collages I finished last weekend, and they are appropriately kind of spooky and Halloween-ish,. You can follow along with the posts over at instagram, where I've also been posting some of the taurus collages (which are also kind of monstery and spooky in their own,  full of labyrinths and modern minotaurs) .

* This one is the only holiday where I come even lose to writing seasonal work, so you can get a good dose of spooky-ness in a couple of new things, exquisite damage a sort of prose poem/lyric essay-ish piece on middle class gothic, and of course, taurus mentioned above and available by subscription over at Chanillo.

* Me and my sister are working on our slenderman-inspired project that will be debuting after the new year. It will probably be some sort of e-chap with her artwork and my text.   You can get in on even more slender man-inspired action by submitting to the Mansion Anthology in the works that dgp will be issuing in April.

* there are still some copies available of /SLASH/ in the shop.  If you are on campus, you can also get a peek at it in the display case on the Library's 1st Floor (part of Beautiful Monstrosities).

*And of course, do not forget poor roadside Mary. She's over a decade old, but it's one of the projects I am still most proud of...

Monday, October 29, 2018

in the red room

As I mentioned before, one of my recent obsessions has been watching (and re-watching, then re-re-watching) Netflix's Haunting of Hill House.  In fact, I caught the first episode at my dad's house and then promptly re-subscribed to Neflix to watch more after un-subscribing for a few months in favor or Prime and HBO. I am always in search of horror that is actually scary to my desensitized sensibilities, and the best I've hoped for in past years is at best creepy and atmospheric (Heredity hit this criteria through most of the film, though I had other issues with the film falling back on demonic possession when it could have went in more interesting directions).  Or the general atmospheric strangeness of something like American Horror Story (which is actually better at more human nature scariness all along.) Or you have something like Sharper Objects, not really horror, but a slow building southern gothic dread with so many ghosts (real or imagined).

This show comes from the director of another recent favorite Hush, which hit high points on breathless suspense, is all of these things above wrapped up in some fucking scary shit sudden moments that left my scalp tingling and others that have haunted me for the past two weeks (that kitten burial comes to mind). It's all so well wrought in structure and holds this tension between an exploration of psychological trauma and supernatural trauma beautifully. I have said on facebook I spent half of it with my heart in my throat and half with it leaping into my lap. It's rare something hits on all these levels--emotional, suspense, atmospheric, narrative, structural. In the course of a single episode I could be both crying and scared shitless--sometimes at the same time. And yet at the same time, entranced by the artfulness of something like the "Two Storms" shot in single panning shots crossing time parallels.  It's a mystery to be pieced together, but it doesn't demand and frustrate in the way something like West World or even Sharper Obects in trying to make sense of things. Like a good poem, I can experience it on one level and completely enjoy, yet there is so much there if you scratch the surface and pay attention. As I've been rewatching, I've noted things I missed the first time that only convince me of it's genius more.  It's also really beautiful in terms of setting--the house itself both beautiful and scary even without any ghosts--that ill-fated spiral library staircase, the mysterious locked door of the red room, statuary that may be statue/may be a ghost. There are also hidden ghosts, which are fun to find.

There is talk of a second season, but I feel like this particular family's story is complete, but it's an old house, and I'd love to see more from the other spirits which inhabit the space with the house as the shows center piece--the old bed-ridden woman, the bowler hatted man, the insane flapper.  I've been reading a book on horror in architecture as research for a future project, so the house itself as a monster or monstrous is fascinating to me.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

blogs, diaries, and other evidence of a life

Readers (and I say that on the off chance I actually have regular may have noticed I've been reformatting things here on ye old blog and making it a little easier to navigate and find what you're looking for.  Since I tend to write about any number of things and also post artwork and occasional girly fashion & decor things, you can now find exactly what you're looking for in the menu bar.  I am also trying post a bit more regularly in all the various categories--especially writing related posts, that I feel are what the blog was initially intended for back in the heyday of poetry blogs. Also because I still prefer this medium to other social media outlets (maybe with the exception of instagram) for lengthier more in depth content and updates.

 This space is where I'm more likely to think outloud and figure things out, so it's as much for me as it is for potential readers. Also, I've found it's excellent documentation as time goes on for referencing timelines and things you don't want to forget. I had a couple teen diaries and started keeping a written journal in marble composition books when I was 20 up til I moved to blogging. While they sometimes make me cringe, I love revisiting my college years and the things I apparently though were important then--notes on what I was reading and writing and obsessing about--sometimes interesting and sometimes ridiculous. Even having spent the past 15 years in this space, some years more present than others, yields some interesting insight into where my head was at any given time point.

I am lucky to own one of my paternal grandmother's day's tiny little bound book with a kitten on the front I purloined from a box in the basement at some point after my parent's had cleaned out her house. I'm sure there were more, not sure where, and in fact, for a while had some ripped pages from another somewhere.  I'm not sure they give much insight into the woman who died when I was only 6.  I mostly remember she liked camping and fishing and once raised show dog St. Bernards (only one of which was still alive when I was born, but there were a lot of trophies and ribbons.)  But that's about it. The diary is one of two things I own from her, the other a tiny porcelain flower jewelry box I have broken and glued back together at least twice. My memories of my mother's mother are fuller because there were more years and more time but this grandmother is more the enigma.

The diary is very spare, though, more like brief jots and lists and I wonder her motivations for keeping them. It's dated 1980, the last year or her life and there are references to doctor visits, not feeling well and sleeping a lot. My favorite are her entries of "didn't do much" since most days were filled with dailyness  shopping trips, chores, card games.   Some entries are as simple  as "rained in the morning" or "bad storm, our cherry tree blew over". Then " awfully sick-- beautiful day"

Midway through the diary there is an ominous "This is D Day, operated on @ 9:30 found cancer" after which the entries get even shorter and then end.   A hinge on which I suppose her life pivoted.  Then many blank pages toward the end. But the sadness is buoyed by all the familiar things that reference that time I remember from my own point of view, young  as I was--her weekly trips to play bingo with my mom, outings when camping is Wisconsin to restaurants I remember, trips to the Dells. My own memory is fuzzy from these years, but between her notes and that fuzziness I can almost recall the adventures with a bit more clarity.

I also feel weird sometimes like maybe she never meant for the diary to be read by others.That I am somehow, nearly 40 years later super-intruding on her privacy by even talking about her words.  But then again, someday, these might be the only thing left of any of us (and obviously. I have no problem putting everything out there very publicly in the world, otherwise I wouldn't be a writer. ) The entries seem mundane and routine, without much sentiment, opinion, or commentary, but they tell a story of a life still, even in snippets that otherwise would only be left to memories of those around her.

She also makes occasional notes about money spent on things, which echoes my dad's tendency to jot reciepts and bills into tiny notebooks (and drive my mother mad Maybe it's genetic and in my blood somehow, all this jotting of details and graphomania. I don't really write down monetary things,that would be especially depressing since I really don't want to remember how much I over spend (yikes!), but I am obsessively scribbling words and phrases and to-do lists. The compulsion to document as much as I can. Which of course is why I took to blogging like a fish to water even in the early days when I started on Xanga in 2002 as soon as I had access to a computer on the regular, If I were to die tomorrow, maybe books and blogs and weird little scraps of paper are all that is left of any of us.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

happy mess

I have been plunging back into new layouts after a little on-purpose lag (I was running behind on getting out some of the late summer books that were finished in the galley stages and now I'm working on getting author copies out and orders shipped (plus a couple large batches for poets and dealing with the usual backlog of orders that I can never seem to get ahead of). Things are buzzing, and very messy in the studio, but it means things are happening.

 I am putting some finishing touches on a couple new titles that have been almost ready to go Becca Hawk's GO HOME YOU'RE DRUNK and Uma Dwivedi's THEY CALLED HER GODDESS (WE NAMED HER GIRL)--which features a snazzy little postcard collage I did a while back.  Tonight I started brainstorming some covers for some upcoming books that I will be working on in the next week or so.  I've been hoping things would ease up a little in other areas and give me some more dedicated time to press things like an upcoming wicked alice issue and the mermaid anthology, so here's looking at November.

I am also about midway through submissions and still on track to have responses out and the schedule firmed up by around Thanksgiving. We're getting to the hard part where I am feeling the tension of spots available vs. manuscripts that I think are promising. I have no idea how presses with less publication slots narrow the tide...even with 50 or so I'm in the process of scheduling, I feel like I turn away so many things I shouldn't have to (oh,  to given unlimited time and funds to bring these things into the world.)

This weekend, I am home and not in the studio, but I plan on drinking a whole bunch of coffee & making my way through some more manuscripts & proofing some upcoming things, so wish me luck...

Friday, October 26, 2018

curvy girl shopping exploits | modcloth

Occasionally, people in real life ask me, weirdly usually at weird moments like getting on the bus, where I get my clothes, typically more more rubenesque ladies who already are pretty stylish and compliment something I'm wearing.  I usually say Ebay or the thriftstore (tops & cardigans particularly), but sometimes I'll rattle off some more conventional retailers...but the struggle is real.  I spent years wearing the least possibly offensive clothing while most plus size venues (I'm looking at you Lane Bryant) sold a lot of shapeless sacks in horrible prints. There were years I lived in long black skirts and 3/4 sleeve t-shirts/ sweaters because I couldn't find anything else I like.  Over the past few years, things happened that changed this (1) I dropped a couple sizes that just opened up many more options and (2) retailers are finally figuring out that you can totally take a smaller sized piece, add some more fabric, cut it a little more generously,  and WHAT?  same dress, just ya know BIGGER..

I discovered Modcloth several years ago, actually via their blog (where dgp had been profiled in an entry from Laura Davis on chapbook presses) at a time where they had limited plus size markets and were just about to bust things wide open with their sizing options (no pun intended).  At the time, I was still a bit too large for their largest size, but eventually I fit. Some of their vintage-inspired duds err on the size of just a little too twee-ish, but I've found enough super-enticing options to make myself incredibly poor everytime I browse the site (seriously I have Modcloth embargo periods where I have to stay away financially) I've been a Modcloth cheerleader ever since/

Sometimes I can save so much by waiting a few months to see what goes on sale, but you also risk that they will have sold out in your size, so it's a gamble.(I lucked out on the recent purchase of the floral dress I'd been stalking, it was pretty much only in my size by that point). They are one of a couple retailer go-tos I hit outside of my usual Ebay and Poshmark foragings (I try to buy as much as I can second-hand and under $20), but Modcloth is treacherous territory for my bank account (most things run $50 to $100 unless you snag them on sale, but I occasionally splurge.)

Everyone freaked out a year or so back when they were bought out by WalMart (equal parts fair labor complaints (totally legit) and bougie snobbery (people like to hate on discount retail) , but I haven't noticed any change in their clothes, prices, sizes, or service and actually further expansion of plus sizes and their Modcloth brand merch, so I say it's a win.   I've got my eye on a cart-full of things I'll be stalking over the next couple of months to buy before the holidays (those velvet dresses--take my money!), about $500 worth, so obviously I won't be buying them all at once,  but soon...

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


 "You'd be certain the house was haunted, but the house haunted us."

When I conceived taurus, it was initially just expected to be a text project.  As it's developed, I kept feeling an itch to add some visual elements, though, and over the weekend, started playing around with some collages.  Not sure if I'll include these as part of the serialization or make a zine project at some point in the future after the entirety is published online, so we'll see.

for some more images..

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

notes on food, memory & grief

I've occasionally been wracked by bouts of sadness that my mother's specialty dishes, the ones I've tried to make the last 20 years or so with varying degrees of success and failure, are mostly lost to me now that she's gone.  When I was younger, she would bring me frozen dishes (chicken & noddles, goulash, sloppy joes) and most did not hold up after defrosting, but I did get all these things when I was visiting.  She would usually ask me what I wanted to eat while there and, add in taco salad, these were all my favorites I would list.  I've actually approximated the goulash and my taco salad is pretty good, but I've yet to get the noodles or sloppy joes right.  Wouldn't even know where to begin with a Thanksgiving turkey, or her potato salad, or her banana bread (all very simple, but their simple eludes me.) I mostly have her chicken soup down and a modified chili (she would make some without the dreaded kidney beans always for me, but I substitute black beans in my own kitchen. ) I can make a pretty tasty version of homemade pizza, but then I use pizza dough and not bread dough, so it's a little different.

My dad is funny.  He regularly bemoans never knowing what to have for dinner, but the man who excelled, when my mom was absent, in hamburgers and canned chili we hated, actually is a pretty decent cook, an underused skill not revealed until his 70's . He made the two us a tasty Christmas dinner last year, and grilled on most of my summer visits. He cooked for my mother the entirety of last year once she was limited in mobility. (though she sometimes was chopping. mixing, cooking from her chair or the dining room table when she was feeling better last summer before things got bad.)

Sunday I made one of the very first things I learned to cook on my own--stuffed pasta shells.  When I moved out of my parents and  into my grad school school studio in the pre-internet (well home internet for me) days, I had a couple cookbooks I'd bought in the B&N bargain bin--one devoted to vegetarian dishes.  I was not, nor have I ever been a vegetarian, but I soon learned to make two of my favorites (the above shells and a fried rice dish I, of course, added chicken to.)  In those years there were many failures--I decided henceforth to leave pad thai to the professionals, nor should you try to make sloppy joes with boca burgers. )

But every time I make the shells, I am immediately carried back to my tiny kitchen in Lincoln Park (when I say kitchen I mean a wall with appliances and a sink and no counter space whatsoever. )  My apartment now has a decent sized kitchen , but I pretty much only use it on weekends, the rest of the week left to takeout an microwave dinners mostly, but I briefly had a gorgeous kitchen in my Rockford apartment in the late 90's--glass cabinet doors, a farmhouse sink, tiled countertops (that in retrospect would have been a nightmare to keep clean) It didn't make me a better cook, but it was beautiful.

Last year took so much, not only my mother, but my aunt, the only person whose culinary talents matched my mother--her 4th of July fried chicken, her thanksgiving pumpkin pies, her Christmas peanut butter balls.  Perhaps its a sense memory thing, but when I mourn the people, I also develop a a sad hunger for foods that will never happen again, or at least not happen the same way. It seems silly, and obviously I'm always a a little over-obsessed with eating (to the detriment of my waistline, who has regular bitch sessions with my wallet as to what is my greatest vice.  I chalk it up to be being a Taurus.

So thinking about food also has me thinking about one of my newer longer projects that involves the hunger palace series, the imaginary daughter poems, the hansel & gretel pieces, and another series just developing.  I'm calling the manuscript FEED in my head, and somehow it fits, but much of it is wrapped up in mothers and food, mothers and daughters, and those tensions. I'm especially thinking about these things as we come up on a year of my mom being gone, and all the attendant feelings theirein.  My wariness of November, and how already I am trying to fend off the sad and distract myself with the shiny....

Monday, October 22, 2018

notes & things | 10/21/2018

I am behind on my general life updates, so bear with me a bit.  This weekend I have been library-bound, but last weekend included a visit to Rockford for some wedding(ish) party action and some outdoor grilling/campfiring when it's cold enough to actually huddle close to the fire pit.  While there, I started watching Netflix's Haunting of Hill House, which was amazing enough for me to re-join my lapsed Netflix account and start up a second round of viewing, momentarily pre-empting my AHS bingeing (keep an eye out for a future post about this awesomeness.)

Library plans are afoot for next week's horror trivia: women's edition and the following week's film roundtable discussion. .We're also doing our usual Public Domainia showing on Halloween night even though I am doomed to working. Not sure if there will be a costume--I probably have everything I need for something in my closet, but am unsure if its worth the effort.

It's gotten much colder faster than usual and I'm pretty sure it was in the 30's overnight.  this means we've all but skipped jacket weather and now I'm foraging further back into my entryway closet for actual COATS, which I am so not ready for just yet.  I have been ordering tights like a maniac, so I should be set there, having found some really nicely durable and appropriately sized ones on Amazon (including some navy ones exactly the right shade of blue). . I'd pretty much destroyed every pair in the spring to the point where there were holes in every leg and one pair of black ones were holding on in shreds.  I can usually find ones in my size, but like to go a couple sizes bigger to keep them really opaque and riding higher on my waist to not slip down throughout the day (but not so big they bag at the knees and ankles.)

I am very close to finishing up taurus and have been working a few more visual manifestations in my collage-mania this weekend..(see above & below's new series the strangerie).  Since it's all appeared online, I don't know if I will eventually issue it in print with the artwork, or just include the artwork in some of the subscription updates perhaps if the platform supports it, but we'll see how it goes...

Sunday, October 21, 2018

ghosted, afflicted

I realized today that this week is the 10th book birthday of book #2, in the bird museum, and it's strange journeys into everything from victoriana to urban legends to Joseph Cornell.  It came rather fast on the heels of book #1, or at least it seemed like it then. But it was very different, or felt very different somehow, both in tone and voice and style of poems.  This is probably the book that was most reflective of my MFA experience--not my thesis (girl show), weirdly, which was more a finished product of my education, but this book more an examination of the process it took getting to the point of writing the thesis.

I started the program in late 2003 writing the sort of poems that appear in the early parts of the fever almanac, then the latter half in early/mid 2004. That fall, something shifted, and I usually say it started with errata--those poems borrowing from victorian genres. Of course, writing that I suspect maybe it started even a year before, my first semester,  in a craft seminar with visiting writer Karen Volkman, who took us to the Art Institute and acquainted us with Cornell (I'm not sure I remember if this was the impetus for the field trip, but it was definitely what stayed with me and I started at the hotel andromeda that fall.)  Later that semester, I created a hypertext project called The Dream Alphabets I stumbled across some printed out segments of--these tiny fragmented pieces that told a fractured story. So maybe it was already happening, the shift, what led to errata (created in hybrid poetics class) and then all the things that developed in the spring when I had two classes with Stephanie Strickland and the bulk of what would become feign were written.

There was quite a bit back and forth with those first two manuscripts combining and carving back apart.  I thought I had two books that eventually became a single one.  And then there was this other thing--these pieces that differed quite a bit from what came before.  Initially, I thought the book was finished with the victorian stuff, archer avenue, the phobia pieces in the next to last section, and the feign pieces. (which was already being published as a chap by NMP.)  I was close to the publication of the fever almanac in late 2006 and thought I might send the new things, then called instabilities, to Dusie, who had just begun issuing full-lengths, since I knew Susana Gardner, Dusie editor,  shared my mad love of victoriana.  She took it, suggested the great title change to in the bird museum, and the book swelled a little, and soon included all the Cornell poems, which I finished in early 2007 and some other random newer pieces that seemed to fit written before it was published in late 2008.

By then I had finished the program, my thesis, and was actually in a dry period when it came to writing (which I called post MFA syndrome, that strange feeling like I needed to get everyone else's fingers out of my poems).  I spit out occasional pieces that would eventually go into major characters in minor films, but nothing steady.  Whenever I was asked what I was writing I panicked, but it was good to have something new coming out into the world.  I was doubling down on the press and the shop, having moved into the studio the previous year.  I remember having a release at Quimby's right before Thanksgiving that year, but otherwise the details of my life around then are a little fuzzy but I remember very busy.

It's probably my longest book page-wise, 6 sections, the melding of 5 different distinct smaller series (feign was split into two and expanded for the full-length.) It was the first book that had distinct smaller parts and I liked it--almost like short stories in a larger collection, and I still use this model for assembling manuscripts unless it's a book-length project.  Looking to see where my series projects start to constellate around certain themes and concepts and building from there.  It starts with corset poem:

The body requires correction, the borders defined. 
("a short history of the corset")

and ends, like the first book, with, of course, water.

you still open your seams to the world like a good little shipwreck. 
("lake effect")

I've always though the voice in these poems were different from the speaker's in the fever almanac, less real women with pasts and more "paper white, present tense" ("ornithophobia") . that voice changed with subsequent books.   Is still changing I imagine, though lately I've had a few more narrative leanings than lyric--(things like taurus and the slender man poems.). After it was published in 2008, there was gap in both my output and new books (girl show landed back in my lap after Ghost Road folded and then lingered a bit before Black Lawrence took it on.)  After it was accepted in Sept 2011, the writing pace, related or unrelated, seemed to pick back up and the James Franco poems knocked something loose and I've been going full-tilt ever since.     

Friday, October 19, 2018

style decade obsessions

While the phrase capsule wardrobe is enough to give me hives, I do sometimes like the idea of uniform dressing to save time and effort (my closest is yanking a dress off the hanger and adding a cardigan) If it's not a dress, it's usually an A-line skirt and a tee or sweater of some sort. Nevertheless, I still like a lot of variation in style within those parameters.  Since I switch things out in my under-the-bed bins by season,  I try to keep a well-curated wardrobe, sloughing off the unwearables and making sure I wear most of my at least once or twice in any given season I've found this approach actually saves money in the long run, mostly because I don't wear things out quite so fast as regular wear and tear had me going through my favorites previously. I also have pretty good stash built up, so my buying is entirely elective and not necessary on the regular once things started to stretch or wear or pill.

There are decades that never work on my body type (I'm too curvy for drop waisted Gatsby 20's lines) , and decades where I find the fashions pretty horrible (hello 1980's),  but my wardrobe and style hits a few key inspirational periods.  There's some mixing and crossover peices, and some trends that hit multiple points, but things tend to fall into certain inspirational categories.

Girl Band Grunge

This is the period I came mostly of age in, so it's natural I love certain style aspects of the decade.  While 90's Kristy mostly wore oversized shirts and leggings, a smattering of long hippy skirts, and a few well-placed flannels, I've since learned a new appreciation of the decade's ditsy florals, leather or denim jackets, lots of black and grey, clunky shoes or boots.  Plaid kilts and a-line above the knee skirts. Also touches of velvet and leather.  Think Courtney Love and Drew Barrymore in the 90's. The Delia's catalog.  Sally in AHS Hotel.  I hate ribbon chokers now, but this style loves them. Somehow it always feels like a more cold weather style for me since I tend to wear a lot of tights through the winter.

70's Boho

I've always thought the 90's were greatly informed by the 70's (boot cut jeans & bell bottoms, for example).  But this particular style conjures paisleys and romantic florals.  Suede and corduroy.  Shear, lacy, film things. More velvet.  Embroidery and macrame. Indian or asian inspired prints. Shawls and ponchos. A little bit of fringe. Warp Dresses.  Conversely, this always feels more summery somehow.  

Mid-Century Secretary

The first thing this conjures is all the plaid midi skirts in my closet.  Tweeds and tie-neck blouses.  Pencil skirts aren't my jam, but they'd be here along with Christina Hendriks inspired sweater dresses.  Lots of subdued neutrals and black turtlenecks. Of course, cardigans, either buttoned or not. Peter pan collars. I could imagine it leans toward librarian or school girl chic, and I'd lump my weird obsessions with Mary Janes here (but the chunkier could also stem from the 90's)

Pinup Inspired 

I tread carefully here since sometimes it can get too costumey, but I love an occasional circle skirt and some tulle.  Sleeker variations and slimmer skirt work if you can pull them off. Polkadots (oh the polkadots).  More leopard. Sailor-inspired details.  Reds and navy blues.  Some baby pinks. Plaids and ginghans. Black and white French Girls stripes. Some more tropical florals. I have a Torrid sundress I wear in the summer that nails this --red, black poladots, tiny anchors. Obviously, Modcloth excels here, as does the maddenly small-sized Stop Staring.

WWII Dance Hall Girl

This straddles the 30's and 40's and is embodies floral and polkadot days dresses, shirt dresses, things with slimmer lines through the waist and less pouf and vavoom than pinup. It's probably the sibling to the above pinup style, but with a different cut in most of the pieces  I probably tend toward more 30s than the square shouldered more structures 40s/I have some gorgeous dresses from Eshakti and Modcloth, find but NOLA find Trashy Diva also has some great options. Think Bonnie Parker and capelet sleeve, tienecks and things cut on the bias.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

scary, not scary

I reposted a list of the supposed top 100 scariest films recently, and while I would have put the Shining at the top all around, it got me thinking about scariness and the movies that have actually scared the bejeezus out of me (only a couple of which made my favorites list--which have more to do with enjoyability than truly being scary.)

I was introduced to horror films right around the time that the brain begins forming anything like tangible memories, so they have always been with me. We saw things like Carrie, The Shining,  and The Omenat the drive-in, and while I'm pretty sure I fell asleep a lot during the second feature ones, I remember the main Shining scenes staying with me--not in a scary way, but a  wow!  that's cool!  way--the twins, creepy as hell, the woman in the bathtub, the elevator of blood.  I don't think these traumatised me, nor did the late 70's/early 80's slashers--Halloween, Friday the 13th, Prom Night. I think the only trauma-indcuing film was Ghost Story, and only because I'd probably sat down and thought it was a movie about old men and suddenly there was a rotting corpse lady and look, there she was again.  This persisted until I watched it in high school--a certain anxiety about the film (which upon adult viewing, is scary in all sorts of other, non-supernatural, #metoo ways.)

The Exorcist was disturbing of course, and many of those scenes also stuck with me--a certain unease, which had everything to do with the scene where her head spins around and all that pea-soup vomit. As I got older, I craved horror, and while my mother always avoided horror, my dad obliged endlessly in weekly trips to the video store to get things to watch on Friday nights, when they would go bowling and I would stay home to watch my sister from about age 10 on up.  It was here we discovered Sleepaway Camp, which if you'd asked me at 10, was my favorite movie--the most traumatising thing not the ending or the murders, but that boat accident at the beginning. It was followed by an obsession with Nightmare on Elm Street. 

This obsession leaked into my reading materials--the year when I read every existing Stephen King novel cover to cover.  John Saul.  Dean Koontz.  Christopher Pike.  (I'd also drop VC Andrews in here but for different reasons.)  My aunt would bring me brown grocery sacks full of her latest horror acquisitions (at first she was technically bringing them to my Dad, but I read them all vorciously before he did.)

There was a weird lull in horror my high school years ..I remember going to see Silence of the Lambs underage at the $1 theatre where they didn't card.  Seeing Candy Man at the mall over a college break home from North Carolina.  I closely followed Full moon Productions, who was releasing a whole bunch of interesting straight to video horror like Dolls and Puppetmaster.  But not much stands out unto the mid-90's self-aware Scream-induced renaissance but some other good things followed.

As someone who watched horror on the regular, it was hard to actually scare me.  I started to appreciate a more measured, psychological response to horror--those sorts of movies with interesting and artful camerawork, psychological terror,  general creeping doom. Horror as art more than horror to scare.  Which isn't to say some things were not good in a scare-factor way--The Ring and Insidious are a couple good examples.

I also have some films that I consider guilty pleasure horror--the Final Destination films for example, some of the Paranormal Activity ones.  Not scary, not artful, but enjoyable.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

very serious things

Autumn, the thick of it, always makes me nostalgic and backward looking.  Last week I found myself looking forward to getting some Thai Food and maybe watching some Buffy and realized this was pure late 90's ritual for me..Every Tuesday night when the show was on, sometimes with my sister, I would order takeout (usually pad thai but sometimes pizza) and throw ourselves down the futon and floor or my tiny Lincoln Park studio to watch the show.  In some ways it made me think that my existence is not so different from then, my life not so strange to that 24 year old self.  Sure, my apartment is bigger, and I traded grad school classes for library work, but that was the first fall where I felt like poetry was at the center of things. the fall where I plunged into writing and for the first time, it was actually promising.  When I fell in love with the Wasteland in a lit seminar and it opened a door for me that changed everything. When I began writing the poems that would go into that very first forgotten, horrible, book manuscript I vowed to finish before 25.

I had come out of a weird depressive funk the first couple months of the year, having begun to realize teaching was not for me, but with no clue of any future direction that did not include that fall back plan I'd always held in place. I was untethered for a while, but in the fall, began to feel a bit more anchored by the writing process.  The hours I spent not in class, I was working on poems.  I would kill to have that sort of free time these days, that sort of impulsive energy.  The words came fast and furious that fall, some of which would wind up in my first chapbook from Moon Journal and other online publications a couple years later.  (though none made into my first book.)  Perhaps this is why fall always seems like a very serious time to write very serious things--moreso than other seasons. When I want to hide among stacks of books and do research for projects that are just beginning to take shape.

There is something about the drawing in, the waning daylight, that makes me want to hunker down with projects.   I am still working catch as catch can through taurus, but I need to spend some time on the weekend rearranging and sorting the newer pieces into something like coherence.  It's running a little longer than I intended, so seems a little vast and unruly, which needs a little work.   I think I am scheduled to work Sunday, so maybe I'll get a little time in then to arrange.

Monday, October 15, 2018

assorted writing newsiness

1.  It being the season of profound witchiness, I have a witchy new piece (from the ordinary planet series) in the latest issue of Grimoire. This is the very first of the series to see light of day (with some more coming later on in Rust & Moth) It's my strange little gothic steam punk apocalypse series, and look!  actual line poems, which I suspected I'd forgotten how to write with all the prosiness happening the past couple of years.

2. Stirring also recently dropped the first of the slender man series, necessary violence. Some more will be coming in the Mansion anthology next spring, and then later as an online collab project with my text pieces and visuals from my sister next summer.

3.  You can still get in on some subscription series action for both EXQUISITE DAMAGE (totally free and available via Tiny Letter) and TAURUS,(which  progressing along at Chanillo, where you an subscribe to unlimited series for only $5 a month.)

4.  I'll be starting to post more of the Poets Zodiac pieces on instagram, as well as collages, which will eventually be some sort of larger artist book project.

5. You can also still get in on the subscription plan for this year and get your hands on all sorts of goodness, including /slash/, how to write a love poem in a time of war, the honey machine, the science of impossible objects, as well as more zines, prints, and poets zodiac scrolls.

6.  If you happen to be on campus, stop by the CCC Library to check out our Beautiful Monstrosities exhibit, which contains a spread of the /slash/ project in one of the display cases.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

poet magic in the real world

Yesterday brought some fortuitous news regarding something rather mundane but necessary I'd written a few months back that had to do with a job classification audit (I'm bored out of my mind even typing those words.)  It was a union thing, and there was an appeal process that I penned the department's response to, and we actually got exactly the rating we wanted, even better than we expected, which bodes well for supporting some of the restructuring and title re-imaginings afoot that will hopefully bear fruit as a pay increase.

It got me thinking of how odd it always feels when my writing abilities actually manifest as real life consequences..not that poetry life is not real life, but it rarely does it impact the daily life of jobs and bills and affording groceries (or dresses.).   It's terrible that real world gains only signify financials in my mind, but it's sadly true..I can't pay my rent in poems.  I can't really buy dresses with poems.  My day job is another weird place where my writing abilities are called upon seldomly, and the majority of people haven't a clue that I'm a writer, much less a rather good one.Especially since libraries often have weird power structures that privilege the MLS degreed librarians over "support staff" who really have far more responsibilities for the daily functioning & maintenance of the library.  Especially for me. since I have two graduate degrees, but neither is in library science.

That writing magic has manifested at least a couple times in the past few years, most noticeably the winning ACRL award application, which while I did a lot of compiling existing info, I did do quite a lot of writing in terms of intros and transitions, and organizing and outlining the final product   Our win was likely a combination of various programming efforts, amazing illustrations by a student artist,  and my writing/design/editing skills. But rarely does my experteise have much to do with that other, more practical life.   It's gotten better with all of the other things I do in the library, committee work for A of R and such, but those aren't nested in my more mundane job description duties and what I'm technically being paid for --well, at least YET (see above).   That award pursuit itself was in the works for awhile, at least two other committees (all degreed librarians part of the Ref / Instruction Department) had written previous year's applications, and we were sort of left-fielding it from the Access Department spurred on by all we'd been doing with A of R programming.   Our then-Dean of the Library joked that it took a poet to win the damn thing.   And yes, I would think, poets can do a lot things where others have failed.

(I ended that paragraph with a wish that poets could change the mind of the American people and make real change, but this flashed in my mind, so maybe they can (maybe not a poet, but songsters are sometimes as close as we can get in the American I'll take it..)

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

crypto zine fun

In honor of the upcoming Little Indie Press Fest, I put some effort into getting a new Chicago Cryptozoological  Society zine up and about and ready for it's very own little table Friday. The crypto zines went over really well at Zine Fest back in the spring and hopefully will catch some interest this week. While I still find it disheartening that fun little 20 minute creations capture the public imagination far more than lit/art zines that took years or months to manifest, I still find them fun to do (and the cryptotaxonmy project was a little of both--serious artwork, but a fast little zine creation.)

Monday, October 08, 2018

I will be on hand with lots of dancing girl press  and Chicago Crytozoological goodies at the latest incarnation of the Little Indie Press Festival during the Columbia Arts Crawl this Friday. It's the 4th Year of the fest and looking to be one of our best yet..there will be art, books, zinemaking and more!


Columbia College Library and The Aesthetics of Research Project, which is dedicated to exploring the role libraries play in the creative process, announces its annual Little Indie Press Festival on Friday, October 12, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (during the Columbia Weekend Crawl).

Participating artists/presses/orgs include:
Valerie von rubio
Jennifer Sauzer
Sarah Suzanne Noble Artist/Writer
Zach Bartz
Bleh the Buddha
Another Chicago Magazine
Lya Finston
dancing girl press & studio
JJ McLuckie
The Publishing Lab
The Chicago Crytozoological Society
The Cluster Project
& more...

Featuring many manifestations of independent publishing, including indie literature, comics, zines, visual and book arts, the festival seeks to bring together all manner of publishers artists, & orgs. under one roof to celebrate the spirit of independent publishing, including a publisher’s showcase, word games, readings, zine making, and more.

notes & things | 10/8/2018

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Another week under wraps and another about to begin.  I spent this weekend resting up and getting ready to charge into this weeks Little Indie Press Fest preparations.   Saturday, I zoned out and did some work on a longer blog post about personal style for next Friday, but not much else but watching AHS: Asylum and sleeping til well after noon. Yesterday was a little writing and some blurbage for someone else's forthcoming book, and a post about the newest zine offering, but otherwise a slow day.  I meant to work on some paintings, but wasn't quite feeling it yet.  Next weekend, I'll be in Rockford for a party and some belated family b-day celebrations, and am probably set to pick up some weekend shifts, so my free weekends may be numbered.

The exhibit hanging and Beautiful Monstrosities discussion panel went off swimmingly, with some good discussion on whether or not it's necessary that female monsters be likeable in some way--which I hope to pick up again in our film panel at the end of the month. Next week is our mask-making workshop, followed by trivia night the following one, and converging the last week with that panel and the  Halloween Public Domainia screening to round out the month.  I know I will blink and it will be over, and who knows how November will feel, how I will handle things mentally, that unsettling month every year all my life for no real reason and now this new terrible anniversary.

I am pre-self-medicating my mood with some more shopping--some leopard ballet flats, a buttery soft flannel for layering, a new plaid fur-collared coat spotted in the window of Forever 21. But all it just leaves me is poorer and with lots  things I love, but don't really need, which maybe is enough (and probably better for me than eating my feelings, which was happening for a bit there earlier in the year). There is always the ability to drown myself in work and it helps--my writing and the press, things for the library.  But sometimes even those things feel a little smothering. Fall is always like this as the days get shorter, but I worry about this year in particular more than others past. 

Sunday, October 07, 2018

the science of impossible objects

I've been planning for the past couple of weeks to write a few notes on the new zine project.   They began with an idea for a future project scrawled in my notebook after I stumbled on a funny pinterest board--a woman with a  remarkably stylish imaginary daughter.  It was pure comedic genius. It took me a while to actually sit down with it in earnest, but this past April during NAPOWRIMO, I tuned my attention specifically to that project and began making some progress, particularly since I intended those to be included in a longer mss. I was working on about mothers and daughters, something that was finally taking shape after losing my own mother (and includes the hunger palace and plump pieces)

"Sometimes you have to call it what it is, blind luck. that what tethers the body never took.  Never shook itself free of the tree."

As for real kids, I had long ago made the decision I wouldn't be a slave to biology, that if, in my 20's, I didn't want them, there was always time to adopt or foster if I was too old by the time I had anything like the stability (romantic, fiscal, mental, career) necessary to do it well. By the time I hit my late thirties, I pretty much decided child-rearing wasn't for me.  Perhaps I had too good of a childhood and never felt like I, in turn, could provide someone else what my parents had provided me.   Also that I wasn't prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to the endeavor.  It wasn't a hard choice, and there was a bit of waiting for signs (getting accidently pregnant would have been a big to see if I was being too hasty, but none came. By the time I reached 40, people stopped expecting any of the usual things from me like traditional marriage and kids, and kinda stopped asking.  

Despite my intentions to delve into what it means to be a intentionally childless woman in a world that finds this anomaly, it actually wound up being less about that and more about creativity and what little control we have over things we make,kind of like kids once they are out in the world.  I often joke that my books are my children, and this project gave some tangibility to that without me even setting out to do that at first. So in a way it became much more meta than intended and I liked it even more for that. 

I really wasn't thinking about visual elements when it was written, or even if there would be any. but in early May, I started a series of collages that somehow developed into what would accompany the text pieces and a zine project was born. Somehow, they were perfect--a little creepy, a little haunting.Probably just like any child I would have--real or imagined.

(to get a sampling of the poems, check out this issue of Occulum, where a chunk appeared or the White Stag editor's issue)

Friday, October 05, 2018

i came, i saw, i bought | needful things

This week marked a little more bank account cushioning in the week since I've avoided eating out since the semester began  (barring coffee and my usual breakfast--my one allowance.)  A rare feat since I inevitably cave to pizza and tacos at least once a week or wind up going on an occasional Friday.  But as such, and since money burns a hole in my pocket pretty quickly, I chose to hit up my other vice and pick up a few things I'd been wanting.  Ever since I finished re-watching the last season of Sex in the City, I'd been obsessed with Carrie's stripey Paris outfit, and though I have a couple more summery tees sporting stripes, I wanted some sort of sweater or cardigan and a short sleeve tee for layering, both of which I hunted up on ebay and got for a combined under $30.


In my hunt for stripes, I stumbled across this shirt, and since I've been listening exclusively to Stevie in the studio for the past couple of weeks (and in honor of AHS) I of course had to buy it. (also because it will look amazing with the velvet green jacket I bought a couple of years ago that barely goes with anything else, but I love it madly. ) It's also art nouveaux-ish Stevie, so it was extra enticing...

Image result for stevie nicks t-shirt torrid

I was lying in bed another morning and thumbing through Pinterest and spotted this dress which I had been watching since summer and praying it would go on sale, and realized it had, almost by like half, and amazingly was still available in my size.  I have three of this style from Modcloth and love them (a polkadot, a black, and a berry-colored one.)  I've learned that if I love a dress and it's flattering, to buy as many colors as I can since it eliminates the fashion error rate.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

archer avenue

Image result for resurrection mary
Perhaps they are, after all, godless.
Licking the finials and mothering
strange black dogs. The boxwoods
alone accumulate thousands,
precarious as jukebox lovesongs. 
It being the season of ghosties, I always post a link to this chap. It’s long-ago out of print, but i do have a pdf posted for reading…

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

monster season

We are drowning in the back of the circ area with the amazing art dropped off for the Beautiful Monstrosities exhibit and I am super excited to get it on the walls tomorrow.  We were semi-inspired by our visit to the DePaul Pop Culture conference in the spring devoted to slasher films to do something with horror this fall (especially since we put off our mass delusions and illusions topic for spring.)  I will also be throwing in my contribution--some spreads of the /SLASH/ zine from last winter, both the text and the images (see above).  Over the course of the month we have some cool things coming up in conjunction with the exhibit, including a mask-making workshop, a film trivia night, a round table discussion, and our Halloween Public Domainia.

I was charged with coming up with some of the panel questions for Thursday night and got to thinking about the idea of monstrous women and the current political climate and how montrosity can work as social commentary--I immediately think of something like Wasp Woman--the woman so vain and afraid of ageing that she transforms into a monster.Or something like American Mary, her patients,  where the surgeries and body mods essentially make women into monstrocities. Or plastic surgery gone awry.  At what point does the beautiful become the monstrous. (which really makes me want to cut up fashion magazines and make monster collages, which I totally might do.)  It's far down the pipeline and I've only worked at researching it, but the Renaissance Dog girl poems I want to write eventually, and how they tie into this idea are interesting as well. Probably something I touched on a little in girl show, but something that could be explored a little more in the future.