Thursday, November 19, 2015


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)
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.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Logbook: The First Three Days

As I was complaining the other day about not writing enough down, not cataloging my life, a friend recommended a technique that Austin Kleon talks about here. Keeping a calendar of past events. Or, keeping a logbook.

I pulled out an old notebook that had failed food diary entries in it from earlier in 2015 and started writing down the cold hard facts. What did I do today? What did I eat? Who did I see? Today's my third day, and while I don't feel an enormous change in how I'm feeling re: not writing recently, it is kinda nice to just sit for five minutes and have something easy to put down on paper.

My entries are not as beautiful as Kleon's, whose little doodles are charming as hell (pictured right).

Today I'm going to try to write a poem, and I'm not going to beat myself up if it doesn't go well. Maybe I'll just write for fifteen minutes and see what I can crank out. Pretty low stakes.

Today is also my three-year yogaversary, so I'm thinking of practicing today, even though I already took a shower. A very good Rockin' Shower, with many over-the-top dances to Ace of Base and Men Without Hats. Of course, I will have to jot down my shower dances in my captain's log.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

THIS Is What I Spend My Time Doing?

Okay, here I am, ten months later.

I would like to make a conscious effort to be writing more down. Even if I just write one thing down every day. Maybe not even here, necessarily, just someplace. On a scrap of paper. The only things I've been writing down lately are grocery lists and reminders on my hand re: school, grading, and sending announcements to my classes. Oh, and I've been writing announcements. And comments on essays. These things should count, but they don't.

I feel like I'm failing. And in a way, I am. I say I'm a writer but I'm failing to document even the smallest parts of my life. I don't journal anymore, and I don't blog. I tweet and I write updates on Facebook and I post my little pithy pictures to Instagram, but that's not a substitute for thinking. I feel like I figure out what I think by writing it down, and so in that way I'm failing myself.

These things came to me because I keep a log of everything I read and watch during the year, and I thought to myself, THIS is what I spend my time doing? I watch so much more than I read, and I write even less. Even if I wrote down a paragraph about each thing I read or watched, I think I would double my word count for the year, which is sad.

Anyway, this is me complaining. And writing something down. I hope it's a start.

I'm watching a documentary on Netflix right now about killers and urban legends, called "Killer Legends." It's bound to be terrible, but my brain needs a break. And my body needs popcorn.