Monday, January 4, 2016

Get Out Of Here, 2015

I'm only partly joking when I say that 2015 should get out of here. Obviously, first thing, I have no control over time, so I don't really have a choice in the matter. The Earth keeps spinning rapidly on its axis, and I eat breakfast and go shopping and the universe does not look out for me. Second thing is, disregarding some of my more prominent troubles (mostly medical), 2015 wasn't as bad as I maybe thought it was. I often get stuck on the bad things that happen and can only see those. (Take middle school, for instance.) But I made myself sit down and make a list of the things I accomplished in 2015, and I would like to put them here.

I met my nephew.

My sister had a son, Rocco, in November of 2014. We were going to travel down to see him that Thanksgiving, but we got in a car accident just a few hours into Wisconsin, totaled our car, and had to come home. We were able to go down and spend a week with them over Easter, and it was amazing.

I completed my first Whole 30 Challenge.

In February/March, I tried Whole 30 with a few friends, and remarkably I stuck with it. I cultivated some good eating and health habits that have stuck with me (somewhat...), and I felt really great, now that I think about it. I think I may do another Whole 30 this year, starting in February.

I taught my first J-term class.

I pitched and taught a class on ghost stories in January at St. Thomas. There were only five students in the class, and it was one of the more fun courses I've taught to date. I'm also looking forward to this coming semester, when I will teach a class on poets under 30.

My chapbook, OH NO EVERYTHING, was released in March.

My buddy Aaron King started a press expressly for the purpose of publishing my poems, for which I could not be more grateful. We had a big party on my birthday. I turned 29, and my book turned 1 day old. If you want to check it out but didn't get a print copy, you can get it online as an ebook for a buck!

I took over the Maeve's Reading Series in NE Minneapolis.

Previous curator and founder of the Maeve's Cafe Reading Series, Matt Mauch, handed over the reins to the poetry reading series at AWP, which was the first reading I helped with, and the last one Matt had a hand in. I hosted my pilot reading in June, and our next one will be next Saturday (an all-women lineup)! I can't wait.

I played the hell out of some Dungeons and Dragons.

Having never played before, it was interesting to embark on this magical journey with a bunch of other people who had also never played before. Our intrepid Dungeon Master, Reinhardt, explained everything (many times over) as we pillaged and murdered, and eventually we got the hang of it. My character is an elf named Carlton Beerjug. I don't feel like I have to say much else.

I did a buttload of poetry readings.

Among the highlights: The Soap Factory/Talking Image Connection, Poets & Pints @ Fair State Brewing Cooperative, The New Sh!t Show @ the Fox Egg Gallery, the Feminist Comedy Block Party @ Lowertown St Paul, The Great Twin Cities Poetry Read (where I won a drawing for real, actual money!), Independent Bookstore Day @ Boneshaker Books, Dead Media, Subterranean Reading with Steve Roggenbuck @ AWP, and the Trotter's Cafe New & Nearby Series.

Got experience working in a factory.

Over the summer I worked in an aluminum can making factory in downtown St. Paul. I'm hoping to go back next year. I did lots of random administrative things, organized weird rooms that hadn't been organized in years, inspected cans, and generally was a jack of all trades, which is my specialty.

Wrote over 200 poems.

I got a lot of writing done in the factory on my breaks and lunches. I wrote about 100 poems during the three months I was employed there. I didn't send very much out in 2015, but I'm planning on getting my butt into gear on that front in 2016.

I read 65 books.


For details, see my previous post.

I got a few acceptance in the poetry world.

I was in one of the last issues of PANK before they changed hands.
I have two poems coming out in an issue of Gargoyle Magazine this month!
Two poems were published in an issue of WomenArts Quarterly early this year.
And I got an acceptance from BOXCAR; a poem for which I was nominated for a Pushcart Prize!

I also won a Best of the Net Award.

My poem "Eve" was published originally in Sundog Lit and I got the news in February that it won Best of the Net for 2014. This news made me dance in the living room.

- - -

I also did a bunch of other exciting things: celebrated weddings, my own five-year wedding anniversary, and a trivia win at Galactic Pizza before my friend Kristin moved away. I filmed some episodes (with Kristin) of What Did You Look Up On Wikipedia, including one about yoga and farts (my favorite so far).  I got a record player, played a LOT of board games, and did a lot of yoga (worked on handstand and floating, which are my two favorite things to do in yoga). I went blonde again, learned how to throw a football, went to a baseball game, and found competent medical care (FINALLY). I went on a few short vacations and one long one, to Florida. I published some amazing work with my partners Molly and Jenn in Tinderbox Poetry Journal. I got stung by a wasp, got an MRI, and laughed a lot, cried a lot, and spent time with people who matter. I think that counts as a year that's worth it.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Year of Consumption

No, I don't mean I got TB this year, but if you could get TB from TV I definitely would have.

As many of you probably know, I like to track everything I read and watch during the calendar year. That way, I can see what I spend most of my time consuming (as if I didn't already know). It's also interesting to see what I rewatch, what I reread, and how my reading and watching vary from year to year in terms of what kinds of things I'm into, or how much I read or watch. This year I'm thrilled that my reading list is a tad longer than last year's reading list, due mostly to the fact that over the summer I worked at an aluminum can making factory and took the bus to work. That's when I did most of my reading--I did about two hours of commuting per day.

I ended up watching 30 movies, and (I can't believe I'm about to say this) 53 seasons of different TV shows. I also ended up watching some other odds & ends, like The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents, which is only 8 episodes, and which I didn't count as a season of a TV show. I spent a lot of my time staring at a screen this year.

BUT, I also read 65 books, plus some other manuscripts I read for a class I took with Todd Boss at the Loft about ordering a book of poetry. I listed some of those manuscripts here, whose titles I remembered or had written down. In addition to those manuscripts, I read MOSTLY poetry, though some graphic novels (kind of a first for me!), fiction, and non-fiction were thrown in for good measure.

So here's the list: everything I read and watched in 2015, though we have a few days left, and no doubt I'll be adding a movie or two to the list before the end of the year. There are also a few books near the end of my reading list that I am finishing up, and hopefully will close the book on (heh) before 2016. My most, most favorite new books I read this year are in bold, which means you should definitely read them, though one of them isn't published yet (!!!!)

READING LIST

Black Aperture - Matt Rasmussen
The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson
Any Anxious Body - Chrissy Kolaya
The Dig - Lynn Emanuel
The Wild Iris - Louise Gluck (reread)
The Turn of the Screw - Henry James (reread)
The Tell-Tale Heart - EA Poe (reread)
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Washington Irving (reread)
The Monkey's Paw - W.W. Jacobs (reread)
Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror - John Ashberry
1408 - Stephen King
Citizen - Claudia Rankine

Women Who Run With Holsteins - Jeanne Lutz
Poems - Lee Kisling
Sleeping With the Dictionary - Harryette Mullen
Things That Are - Amy Leach (reread)
Don't Let Me Be Lonely - Claudia Rankine
Beautiful Pathology - Katharine Rauk
Pyramid of Lemons - Carolyn Williams-Noren
You Are Not Dead - Wendy Xu
The Turn of the Screw - Henry James (again, for a class) (re-reread)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera (reread)
Flow - Del Doughty (reread)
These Are the Gloria Stories - Kelin Loe
Land Sparing - Gabriella Klein
Blues for Jocasta - Timothy Otte
Zion - TJ Jarrett
Bad Feminist - Roxane Gay
Don't Let Me Be Lonely - Claudia Rankine (again, because why not) (reread)
What the Living Do - Marie Howe
Still Another Day - Pablo Neruda, translated by William O'Daly
At the Drive-In Volcano - Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Haunts- Laura Cherry
[insert] boy - Danez Smith
Urban Tumbleweed - Harryette Mullen
Memoir of the Hawk - James Tate
The Road - Cormac McCarthy (reread)
You Are a Little Bit Happier Than I Am - Tao Lin
What Do We Know - Mary Oliver
The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands - Nick Flynn
Staying Alive - ed. Neil Astley (poetry anthology)
Hum - Jamaal May
The Art of the Story - ed. Daniel Halpern (short story anthology)
Ariel - Sylvia Plath (reread)
NOX - Anne Carson
Wind in a Box - Terrance Hayes
Steal Like an Artist - Austin Kleon
The Awakening - Kate Chopin (reread)
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
Debbie's Inferno - Anne Emond
Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson (listened to this on tape)
What It Is - Lynda Barry
Show Your Work! - Austin Kleon
Lewis Carroll in Wonderland: The Life & Times of Alice & Her Creator - Stephanie Lovett Stoffel
If the Tabloids Are True What Are You? - Matthea Harvey
An Unquiet Mind - Kay Redfield Jamison
Life on Mars - Tracy K. Smith
The Empathy Exams - Leslie Jamison
skin, sin, shine - Erica Anderson-Senter
Autobiography of Red - Anne Carson
American Barricade - Danniel Schoonebeek
Live My Lief - Steven Roggenbuck
Through No Fault of My Own - Coco Irvine
Some Planet - Jamie Mortara
Native Guard - Natasha Trethewey



WATCH LIST

The Desolation of Smaug
Hauntings: Is It Real? (watched twice, for a class)
Don't Trust the B*** in Apt 23 (seasons 1 & 2)
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas (rewatch)
Friends (season 1) 
(rewatch)
A Long Way Down
The Haunting (watched twice, for a class)
Star Trek TNG (season 1)
La Vie de Boheme
The West Wing (seasons 2 & 3) 
(rewatch)
Dirty Pretty Things
1408 (for a class) 
(rewatch)
The Fall (season 2)
It's Such a Beautiful Day
House (seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) 
(rewatch, though it's been ages since I've seen House)
Parks & Rec (two episodes only)
Californication (seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) 
(rewatch)
Weeds (seasons 1 & 2) 
(rewatch)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (season 1)
Arrested Development (seasons 1, 2, 3) 
(rewatch)
Mean Girls 
(rewatch)
Twin Peaks (seasons 1 & 2) 
(rewatch)
Louie (season 4)
Top Gun 
(rewatch)
Game of Thrones (season 2)
Monty Python & the Holy Grail 
(rewatch)
Wet Hot American Summer (season 1)
How I Met Your Mother (seasons 1 & 2) 
(rewatch)
Veronica Mars (seasons 1, 2, 3) 
(rewatch)
The Rescuers
Dale & Tucker Vs. Evil
Hocus Pocus 
(rewatch)
New Girl (seasons 1 & 2 [twice], season 3) 
(rewatch)
Moonrise Kingdom 
(rewatch)
Dance Academy (season 3)
X-files (season 2) 
(rewatch)
American Horror Story (season 4)
American Psycho 
(rewatch)
Zombeavers (gave up on this one)
Orange Is the New Black (season 3)
American Psycho 2 (also gave up on this)
30 Rock (part of season 1) 
(rewatch)
Gilmore Girls (season 1) 
(rewatch)
Seinfeld (seasons 1, 2, 3, 4) 
(rewatch)
Darjeeling Limited 
(rewatch)
Hannibal (season 2)
Girls (season 1, partially)
Juno 
(rewatch)
Gothika
The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents (8 episodes)
Killer Legends (this was truly terrible---I did other things while watching it)
Stonehearst Asylum
Planet Earth (episodes 1 & 2) 
(rewatch)
The Double
Psych (just the pilot episode)
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (in progress)
Mind of a Chef (season 1)
Jackass 2 
(rewatch)
The Simpsons (4 episodes) 
(rewatch)
Burlesque
Pulp Fiction 
(rewatch)
The Following (season 2)
Love Actually 
(rewatch)
Home Alone 
(rewatch)
White Christmas

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Travels, La Croix, and a Pushcart

Things have been just crazy around here lately. Will and I went to Florida over Thanksgiving and it was glorious. We did a lot of sitting outside reading, sitting on the porch reading, and, well, lots of eating. I always eat seafood when I go on vacation because I so rarely eat it at home, and it's one of my favorite things to eat. We also got to hang out with my family, see a cannon get shot off, and tour the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine.

Now we're home, and the end of the semester is in sight. We both have just two weeks left of teaching, and then about a metric buttload of papers to grade. My desk right now is atrocious. I sometimes use the coffee table as my desk if I'd rather be sitting on the couch while I work; this moment, it's littered with books, notebooks, and empty La Croix cans.

Somehow, even through all the traveling and grading, I managed to write twenty poems and read nine books in November. I'm unsure if this recent burst of productivity and diligence is due to the fact that I'm turning 30 in a few months or what, but I guess I shouldn't be asking any questions. I'll just take hold of this bull by the horns and keep going.

ALSO, I was literally writing this blog post when I got word that I have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Boxcar Poetry Review nominated my poem "Genesis." I have never been nominated for a Pushcart before, and I'm not ashamed to admit I cried a little when I got word.  Now I must go and buy a bottle of champagne and pretend I'm not scared when I pop the cork.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

XTREME POETING

I have been trying to write a little each day. It is working. I can feel myself coming back to myself. I work out what I think by writing it down. If I don't do that then yes, I am failing myself.

Somebody today told me that I use a lot of "extreme" words. (The kinds of words that tip you off to the idea that a true or false question should be marked 'false.' - Always, never, etc.) I refrained from making a joke about XTREME POETING.

I make an X in the calendar box when I write in my poem notebook. It has been a week. I have written for a week. The words are feeling more fluid when they come out. Not as it used to be, but I am in the process of recovering what has been lost. It is a long process.

Right now I am reading The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. That damn girl could write. And she did write. The journals are 624 pages not counting the notes and the index of the book. Two journals were even omitted--the two journals she kept nearest to the end of her life. One of them "went missing" and the other was destroyed by Ted Hughes, which is fascinating to me. Destroyed.

I'm hoping to get more and more X's as the days go by. Write a poem. Feel more myself. Write a poem. Feel more myself. We're going to Florida next week, and I want to make sure I'm still writing, even when my schedule is not what it normally is. I'm looking forward to the beach and the warm weather. It snowed today. I thought I was ready for that, but I was not ready for that. I never am.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

YIKES: What I've Seen This Year

Last year, I started writing down everything I read and watch. It's in a little notebook. I started at the front with the list of books I read and started at the back with the list of TV shows and movies I watched. I have a feeling if I keep doing this, the TV & movies portion of the book is going to eat outrageously through to the front of the notebook and take up most of the space. Right now I'm trying to read more, but it's funny to go through & look back at what I've watched. I even write down the failed movies--the ones I get twenty minutes into and say NOPE! Or the TV shows that don't pull me past the pilot episode.

Here's what I've watched so far this year, with a little more than six weeks left until 2016. I'll be a little ashamed if this list grows too much longer before December 31st, but I do like the practice of simply having a list:

The Desolation of Smaug
Hauntings: Is It Real? (watched twice, for a class)
Don't Trust the B*** in Apt 23 (seasons 1 & 2)
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas
Friends (season 1)
A Long Way Down
The Haunting (watched twice, for a class)
Star Trek TNG (season 1)
La Vie de Boheme
The West Wing (seasons 2 & 3)
Dirty Pretty Things
1408 (for a class)
The Fall (season 2)
It's Such a Beautiful Day
House (seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Parks & Rec (two episodes only)
Californication (seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Weeds (seasons 1 & 2)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (season 1)
Arrested Development (seasons 1, 2, 3)
Mean Girls
Twin Peaks (seasons 1 & 2)
Louie (season 4)
Top Gun
Game of Thrones (season 2)
Monty Python & the Holy Grail
Wet Hot American Summer (season 1)
How I Met Your Mother (seasons 1 & 2)
Veronica Mars (seasons 1, 2, 3)
The Rescuers
Dale & Tucker Vs. Evil
Hocus Pocus
New Girl (seasons 1 & 2 [twice], season 3)
Moonrise Kingdom
Dance Academy (season 3)
X-files (season 2)
American Horror Story (season 4)
American Psycho
Zombeavers (gave up on this one)
Orange Is the New Black (season 3)
American Psycho 2 (also gave up on this)
30 Rock (part of season 1)
Gilmore Girls (season 1)
Seinfeld (seasons 1, 2, 3, 4)
Darjeeling Limited
Hannibal (season 2)
Girls (season 1, partially)
Juno
Gothika
The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents (8 episodes)
Killer Legends (this was truly terrible---I did other things while watching it)
Stonehearst Asylum
Planet Earth (episodes 1 & 2)
The Double
Psych (just the pilot episode)
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (in progress)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Book Rec: Steal Like an Artist

After reading my post a few days ago in which I was bemoaning not writing anything down lately, my friend Timothy Otte recommended a book to me: Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. I requested it from the library that day, picked it up this morning and just finished reading it. I took a ridiculous amount of notes while reading: lists of other books to read, movies to check out, and things I want to incorporate into my own daily writing practice. I told another friend, this book got me fired up about reading and writing. And living.

Steal Like an Artist incorporates so many things I love. First of all, it's a list. The whole book is a list! And GOOD LORD do I love lists. I make a list every morning of all the things I want to get done each day. This is like a to-do list for the artist. But it's general and specific at the same time, so that no matter your discipline, you can adapt these practices to fit what you need.

I think that the idea that resonates the most with me here, as I've been saying for the past few days is: show up and do the work. Kleon writes, "Do the work every day, no matter what." But there's also a place for restrictions. If I only have fifteen minutes, I'll do the work in fifteen minutes. It becomes manageable. (Let's be real. I only really EVER spend fifteen minutes writing a poem. I have a very short attention span.)

If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend checking it out. It combines craft and inspiration in a really unique way. And there are so many charming doodles. I'm not a doodler, but maybe my heart is one. I loved these little doods.

This is a book that I plan on buying so I can keep it on my desk. I'm also planning to check out some more books like this one, if you have any good recommendations. I was just recommended Syllabus by Lynda Barry, which I've already requested from the library. I want to cash in on this inspiration and drive I've got going so that when it gets dull again, when the work gets hard, I know that it's possible: fifteen minutes a day, at least. I can show up and do that.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

One Small Task at a Time

The past two or three days, I have been feeling a little more myself. A little happier. A little more normal, if that's ever a thing that a living person can feel. On account of what, I can't really say. But I have been writing more down, which is making me feel lighter. I have been accomplishing small tasks each day. Clean out purse. Take out the recycling. Spend an hour grading papers. Water the plants. These are the things you can do.

I even wrote a poem yesterday. I also watched approximately one metric buttload of Netflix. I watched a few episodes of New Girl, even though I've seen all three seasons on Netflix already. I've probably watched it through three times, at least. It calms me down to spend time with characters. (I am an avid re-watcher: Buffy, X-Files, West Wing, Californication, 30 Rock, Weeds, etc. etc. etc.)

Will and I are also making our way through Seinfeld. It's funny how many of these episodes I remember vividly, having not seen it since it was on TV when I was a kid. These characters stick with you. I have a feeling it would be difficult to write a show like Seinfeld today. So much of the humor is based in society being analog. It makes me nostalgic.

Last night I also watched "The Double," with Jesse Eisenberg. It's based on a Dostoyevsky novella. It was pretty good--I gave it three stars on Netflix (I'm stingy with my Netflix stars). Jesse Eisenberg is compelling. The two characters he plays are so opposite, both convincing. His voice at times reminds me so much of Michael Cera it's outrageous. The whole tenor of the movie was dark, though sometimes funny, a dystopian kind of feel. I haven't read the novella, but it makes me want to. Reminds me somewhat of what little Kafka I have read. The only other Dostoyevsky books I've read are Notes From Underground (in college) and Crime and Punishment (in high school). Yes, I'm ridiculously under-read.

I'm going to try to write another poem today, and maybe make muffins. Go to yoga. I feel like I'm taking my life back, somewhat. One small task at a time.