Friday, December 28, 2012

feed your head

Awhile back, I mentioned that I'd been trying to write a post, but was having trouble with it. The problem with writing that post was that I was trying to address two loaded topics and I wasn't sure how to write about either one. I tried to work on that post a few times and it turned into a muddled mess, so I took a break from it and here for awhile. I couldn't really write here until I got past that post and I needed to figure out how.

The two issues I was trying to address in that post were the presence I want to have online and my ongoing issues with eating/dieting/exercise. The two are intertwined, because the way I talk about the latter influences the former.

For a long time, I've walked a fine line between being very open about my history of disordered eating and being very uncomfortable talking about my present diet and weight. This is largely because people tend to react in one or more of the following ways: 1) discouraging me from dieting because they're worried about me binging/purging (and saying things like "You aren't even fat!"), 2) acting as though I couldn't possibly know anything about healthy dieting because I have a history of disordered eating, 3) telling me that their way is the only way that works, even when I suggest that this wouldn't work for me because of other issues, 4) re-routing the conversation to tell me how fat they are, even though they are skinnier than I am, thus making me really feel like shit.

I've gotten to the point where there are certain people in my life (most of them) that I refuse to talk about this with because, despite their good intentions, they make me feel awful about myself. This refusal is a personal one--in most cases, I haven't explicitly told anyone that these topics are off-limits because I don't want to argue about it. I just shut down. Part of that shutting down is not blogging about these things, because I don't want concerned messages or advice that I am very sure will not work for me or a subtle undermining of anything I propose, as though I lack the intelligence to thoughtfully investigate what I will and won't do to my body.

If this sounds cold or...removed, that's the point. That other entry got to the point where I was so angry and upset, that I could no longer rationally talk about the subject. That's not a place I want to be in, especially in a blog I created in part to help me be a better person.

When I started this blog, I was in the midst of a massive upheaval of my life. Ravi and I were moving toward our planned breakup, I was moving to a new city, I was starting graduate school, and my best friend, my non-blood sister, was moving a thousand miles away. Swirled in with that, I felt directionless, lacking in purpose, in a place where I was coming to realize life wasn't going to play out as I had envisioned it and still coming to terms with being okay with that. This blog has always had a small audience, but it started out as a deeply personal space where I could anchor my thoughts, write down my goals, track my own mental progress. The name of the blog comes from this quote from Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury:

When the shadow of the sash appeared on the curtains it was between seven and eight o' clock and then I was in time again, hearing the watch. It was Grandfather's and when Father gave it to me he said I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire; it's rather excruciating-ly apt that you will use it to gain the reducto absurdum of all human experience which can fit your individual needs no better than it fitted his or his father's. I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.

I like the idea that hope and desire are the the reducto absurdum of the human experience. I like the idea of living in Faulkner's idea of the absurd, though Jason Compson would certainly think me a fool (and I think him a cynic). At the same time, those hopes and desires were fragmented and the blog reflected that, especially in the earliest posts. It was, and remains, an attempt at quantifying, shaping, and discussing my hopes and desires. I used it to give me some of my feelings of self-worth back, to hold me accountable to my goals, to try and articulate what it might be that I wanted from my life, even if that was a goal as small as flying a kite.

But, as willing as I have been to write about some topics (sometimes artlessly or thoughtlessly, as some paramours might attest), weight has been an iffy one for me. Out of the 246 posts on this blog, 16 talk about weight, and only about 10 do so with any real thought going into the subject. Those are the posts that get the most page views and the most comments, on and off the blog itself, which just makes me more uncomfortable. I really want to be able to talk about my weight, my health, what I'm doing, with the same freeness that I discuss my other goals and pitfalls, but I haven't because I don't want to deal with the aforementioned issues. I don't want to be shamed, and very often that's the emotion that comes out when talking about this stuff. Let me be clear--I have enough self-shame to last a lifetime. It is my daily struggle not to shame myself about my body. Feeling as though I'm unable to write about these struggles in my blog is its own kind of shame, a sort of projected shame.

After AWP, I thought hard about going "public" with the blog in a way that it's not currently. I even registered a domain name and I looked into registering with places like BlogHer and  running ads and things of that nature. But, I felt in doing that, I would need to delete some of the more personal entries here, make the whole blog more public-friendly. In doing so, I felt I would need to censor myself in a way I wasn't ready to do, and give up the kind of scrapbook-y format that I enjoy about this blog (bits of poems, random conversations, occasional photos, etc.). I also knew I still wasn't ready to talk about some issues in a more public forum, and that includes weight. I'm still not. I don't want to give the idea that I'm working up to some great climax, wherein I overcome this barrier, then go wide open with the blog. Instead, I just want to build on what this blog always has been. But, I'm asking that you, my very small readership, allow me to do this in a way that is comfortable for me. I ask that you not send me concerned messages or dieting advice or really even bring up the topic. In time, I may get to the point where I want to talk about these things with some people, but right now, for the most part, I don't. I just want to be able to write about them in my blog, for myself (and maybe for you too, if you find it helpful or a cautionary tale)

All that said, I've decided to do a cleanse. Not an all juice thing or drinking cayenne-laced maple syrup, but something involving real food. It's called the Whole Living Action Plan, and it can be found here. I'm starting it on January 1, not as a New Year's resolution, but just because I know I'll be drinking on NYE and this is the most convenient time for me to begin. I'm actually very excited. I want to know how my body feels when I cut out sugar, dairy, gluten, alcohol, and meat. It's about weight loss, but it's also about re-evaluating my relationship to what I eat, which has become, over the past 6 months especially, very unhealthy. I've gotten back to a point where I'm not happy with my body and it's not happy with me. I ache, my head hurts, I feel sluggish, and my clothes fit badly.

I want to keep a journal of the cleanse here. I want to write every day about how I feel, what I ate, what I did. I want to do this because at the moment, I prefer writing here to writing in a food diary. It's easier to reference, to compare, and to do (since I'm usually online at some point during the day anyway). This is something I need to do for myself, both the cleanse and the writing about it, and for the same reasons--to prove to myself that I can. Eventually, I will (I hope) be okay with talking about these things outside the very small group I have discussed it with. That is my goal right now: To lose weight and be healthy and to be okay with talking about those things. Both are a process, and I really would like to go about both at my own pace.

If you've read this far, thank you. I hope I haven't alienated you or bored you (a futile hope), and I hope you know I appreciate all of you.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

controlled love

"Which brings us to love. According to Sean Penn, he is a victim of love:

'There is no shame in my saying that we all want to be loved by someone. As I look back over my life in romance, I don't feel I've ever had that. I have been the only one that was unaware of the fraud in a few of these circumstances blindly. When you get divorced, all the truths that come out, you sit there and you go, What the fuck was I doing? What was I doing believing that this person was invested in this way? Which is a fantastically strong humiliation in the best sense. It can make somebody very bitter and very hard and closed off, but I find it does the opposite to me.'

He is presumably referring to Robin Wright. And if you take him at his word, he was deceived into believing that she truly loved him, that she was fully engaged in their relationship. Evidently, according to his version of events, he was there, he was in it, he was the fool, he fell for her “fraud”, and in the end, he was blindsided by her general, overall lacking (noun). In the end, he finds her to have been lacking in love.

Replace Robin Wright with Katie Holmes and Sean Penn with Tom Cruise and it’s the same situation: megalomania.

Isn’t it always the ultimate narcissistic who believes that he did all the giving and was never properly compensated? And the one who holds you emotionally hostage during the relationship with all of his needing to be loved? If you’ve ever been in this position, you know, it’s intensely manipulative, and sometimes frighteningly so. This is a form of control under the guise of need. He uses his need as power; his need makes him RIGHT, and therefore the person who’s depriving him is WRONG, and he’ll f-cking lord that over her for as long as possible."
 (from this Lainey Gossip piece)

Here are two old post from abusive ex:
"At the beginning of my emotional valley, you counselled others to leave me alone, even though I obviously wanted human interaction. I find it hard to believe that you thought I wanted solitude, when almost the entire union of our existences had been about sharing space with others. But I gave you the benefit of the doubt, thinking that you must have had my interests at heart, though you were misguided.

Toward the depths of that valley, I reached out to you. Much like I did the day in my youth when I nearly drowned at the water park. A hand, outstretched, grasping at anything to help keep me afloat. But the outcomes were totally different. On that summer day my hand found a raft, steered there by an unknown kid I will forever be grateful to. When I reached out to you, you told me a raft was coming... but none materialized. For two weeks, I waited expectantly for any signs, and found none.

I didn't think it was that big of a request... a couple of hours once a week. Something to break up the monotony of living alone, being alone. I have pretty much reconciled myself to never finding out what happened and why. Two weeks later, when you approached me as though nothing had happened, I was dumbstruck. I really couldn't believe that you would ignore me, ignore my plea, ignore your agreement, but then act as though nothing had happened. I will admit that I did not handle that night very well... Then again, there have been entire years you have ignored me, since.

A number of months later, I saw you reach out. You were in a similar situation, or at least you seemed to be reaching from the same place I reached. So I imagine that you know how I felt. I sincerely hope that the respondents to your call did not ignore you.

It is a terrible feeling.

I have been counselled to forgive you, but I cannot let this go yet. Not without an apology and some acknowledgement. And maybe some time on top of that. This cut too deep."

"I have some pretty high standards when it comes to those around me. Part of that comes from how selfless I can be, myself. So when someone I respect violates those standards, I feel hurt. My natural reaction is to remove that person from the position where they could hurt me. So I shove away many people because of mistakes, oversights, or just plain not caring about me as much as I'd hope they would.

This leads to a lonely existence, but one where the few interactions I have are rich and full. However, it cannot lead to a sense of camaraderie which, almost by definition, includes many others."

Ugh, I need a shower.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Every Land

            The holy land is everywhere. —Black Elk

Watch where the branches of the willows bend
See where the waters of the rivers tend
Graves in the rock, cradles in the sand
Every land is the holy land.

Here was the battle to the bitter end
Here's where the enemy killed the friend
Blood on the rock, tears on the sand
Every land is the holy land.

Willow by the water bending in the wind
Bent till it's broken and it cannot stand
Listen to the word the messengers send
Life from the living rock, death in the sand
Every land is the holy land.

(November 21, 2012 Writer's Almanac)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I'm listening to tracks from Ravi's old band, Big Sky, and it's crazy to me that I still remember every horn piece. Sometimes I miss driving all over south Louisiana with those guys to play shows and dance around in bars.

I had a really amazing weekend. I started tutoring with STAIR and, while I was really nervous about interacting with kids, I think it went really well. I got this sweet girl who is so spunky and funny and adorable. She challenged me to a race on the playground. I lost when I couldn't climb across the monkey bars, then contort my body to swing onto a nearby swing fast enough. I did pull a muscle in my arm though! Note to self: you are in no condition for the monkey bars. Go lift some weights.

I also went to my friend Ingrid's annual Halloween costume party. Y'all. I am really happy about my costume. I went as Max from Where the Wild Things Are and I handmade most of my costume. I hand-sewed a fur tail. I made felt claws for my fingers and toes. I made a crown and wolf ears. Then, the wild rumpus began

Unfortunately, after the party, my car broke down en route to pick up Richie from work. We got the car home, but we were worried about plans we had to go to Tunica Hills the next day with some friends. We ended up getting about 5 hours of sleep before getting up to take the Swift bus into Baton Rouge. I don't recommend taking the bus without firm plans for someone to meet you upon arrival. The bus stops in Baton Rouge are both in really shitty areas of town. After Richie was accosted for cigarettes 3 times in 2 minutes, we decided to just start walking and let our friends find us on the road. During our adventure down Florida Blvd., we saw some empty condom wrappers, a crack pipe and, my favorite, a grocery bag with not one, not two, but three used douches in it. In front of the veterans' memorial cemetery. Class.

Eventually, we rounded up all our friends and a group of nine of us headed for the hills. The hike itself was pretty exhilarating--we hiked the creek beds, many of us barefoot, climbing bolders, playing in waterfall pools, drinking whiskey, smearing clay and mud on ourselves. My favorite part was on the way back up the path. We came to a part where we needed to climb up out of the creek beds, but the normal path, with some wooden stairs, had been virtually washed away, leaving a slippery slope with no footholds. The only other option was to scale the side of a ravine with a very sheer drop. So, that's what we did. I wish I had a photo of all of us climbing up the side of this huge wall. It was insane. It was amazing. My Wonder Woman feelings were negated about half a mile later, when we had to hike up some steep hills in the last stretch and I got so dizzy that I began seeing spots and went pitching and reeling into Richie. I didn't pass out, but I took it easy for the rest of the walk.

We spent the night with our friends, Brandi and Jeremy, and it was so nice that Richie and I called in to work the next day. Well, and we missed the bus back to New Orleans. By the time we were able to make it back, it wasn't really feasible for either of us to go to work and we still needed to work on the car.

Here's the part where I need to tell you guys how amazing my boyfriend is. I try not to get too gushy in general, because I find it annoying in other people, but Richie really was just stupendous this weekend. He got up super early by himself (which, if you know Richie, is practically a supernatural phenomenon) to catch a bus to BR with me because he knew how much I had been looking forward to hiking. He came home from a long weekend and immediately got to fixing my car, which took two trips to Auto Zone, a stupid amount of money, a lot of time, and involved him repeatedly having to climb under my car. He bore my anxieties about phantom car noises quite well. Then, he rode with me to the grocery store, bought half our groceries, came home, and cooked me dinner. And got up early again this morning to work on my car some more. I'm just constantly amazed at his generosity of spirit and his kindness and the kind of boundless way that he loves me. It is, admittedly, awkward for me to admit that I am loved in that way by someone. And that I, in turn, love him back in much the same way. It feels showy, grandiose. Artificial. But there it is, and I am happy. I suppose there's not much else to say on the subject.

Lastly, I'm happy because I've committed myself to a writing project. I thought I'd try and write more in the blog and, of course, there's this post, but I have some other things I'd like to write about that aren't just a recounting of how I've spent my time in the last few days. Unfortunately, my own form of writer's block has struck again, wherein I begin to write something, need to mull over it/feel more comfortable about posting it, then avoid the blog because I can't finish that particular post. That post is still sitting in my drafts. I'm trying to force myself to get to it. In the meantime, I'm also giving myself weekly writing prompts. Likely, those won't be shared here, at least not right at first, but they're a good way to force myself to write, even if what comes out at first is just drivel. Since cars are on my mind, the first image that comes to mind is draining a radiator. First purge, you get a lot of gross, gunky crap. Rinse it again, it's still murky. But keep going and soon everything is boiling and clear. 

I just need to feel some awe again. I touched that a little this weekend, which is probably why that ravine-scaling experience is so stuck in my head. Very simply, I did something that, in retrospect, I would not have thought I could do. But at the time, whiskey-tight and surrounded by my favorite people, that drop didn't seem impossible, it just seemed like a challenge I knew I could defeat. I haven't felt that sure of myself in awhile.

So, to recap. Things to do:
-Feel awe.
-Be confident.

Monday, October 15, 2012

101 in 1001 July/August/September update

So, this got a little behind, no? Let's play catch up.

As I mentioned in my last post, I had been in kind of a mood slump, so I haven't done a whole lot lately in terms of goals. It's been more about hunkering down and doing small things to make myself feel better. Now that I'm feeling a little better, I'm also feeling more motivated. We'll see how it goes.

19) Read 1 unassigned book per month.
July '12- Poppy Z. Brite Liquor
August '12- Poppy Z. Brite Prime
September '12- Joan Didion The Year of Magical Thinking

23) See 26 movies I've never seen, starting with each letter of the alphabet.
K- Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) (September 2012)

24) Learn 1 new word a week.
(I'll get back to this one!)

55) Cook 10 challenging dishes from celebrated chefs.
2) Julia Child's Chocolate Mousse (July 2012)

94) Visit family graves once a year. (FAIL)
:( I just haven't been able to make it out to do this. Ah well.

96) Attend 10 cultural events.
9) "History of Prostitution in New Orleans" lecture

Full list here.   

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Occasional Musings from a Terrible Procrastinator

There are a litany of reasons I've been away from the blog, but it boils down to one: I returned the library book with the words I wanted to use for August's 101 in 1001 recap.

I know that's ridiculous.

You see, toward the end of June, my life was a blur. I was planning a wedding and a birthday party. I was probably drinking too much. And, after months of bouncing back and forth between apartments and a flea infestation at my own apartment (one that resisted 2 rounds of flea bombs, many tubes of Advantage, diatomaceous earth, and pretty much any flea remedy recommended on the internet), I made the decision to move in with Richie.

I spent most of July pulling off the two aforementioned events, packing up my apartment, renting a storage unit, bringing Marla to the vet, planning two large events at work, drinking more coffee and alcohol than recommended, spending more money than I really should have, and eventually, finally, at the end of the month, moving in with 3 dudes.

Which is, as you might imagine, it's own...situation.

With everything going on, I kind of forgot to update the blog. I intended to do it at the end of August and just do a two month recap. In that recap, I was going to include some words from Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking. But, in what I can only characterize as a giant brain fart, I returned the book to the library without writing down the words.

From this one small, easily rectified mistake, I built a mental block against this blog. I didn't want to update before I posted the 101 in 1001 updates, but I couldn't do that without the words! I realize how absurd that sounds, but welcome to a small selection of my thought process.

Oh, and we had a hurricane. That kind of threw a wrench in things.

But that's not being totally honest. I've had a bit of a slump lately. Not necessarily depression, but just one of those moments in life where all my desires come together in such a way that they seem overwhelming and impossible. And my reaction to that kind of situation is to shut down, which only makes things that much more overwhelming and seemingly impossible. Most of August and September have been spent trying to push myself to do something beyond the bare minimum required of me. I'm talking...finishing a half read book. Mailing some movies that I've already watched. Returning an overdue book to the library that is literally next door to my job. Seeing people.

Part of this is the living situation. I never do well when I'm not happy with my living situation and right now, things are kind of suspended. When I moved in with Richie, it was for a few reasons. One was because I was basically living there anyway. He's terribly sensitive to fleas and it was nearly impossible for him to come to my apartment during The Great Flea Infestation of 2012. Another was money. I'm trying to save up some money so I can buy a new car (as my current one is barely hanging on) and rent between 4 people is drastically lower than what I was paying on my own. Lastly, this was to serve as a trial period of living with Richie, to see how it went. So far, it has gone swimmingly. The problem is that the next step of this plan is to get our own place and due to various factors (money, a lease), we have to wait until at least December to do that.

So, I'm basically living out of boxes and things are cramped and I live in a shotgun house with three guys, which isn't the most private situation in the world. And by that, I mean I AM NEVER ALONE. For a person who is pretty reserved and, dare I say, "hermit-esque," that's uncomfortable. It's maddening. I know there are tons of solutions to this problem, but right now the only one I want is my own apartment, with my boyfriend and my stuff and no cardboard boxes and no one else's dirty dishes and beer cans (I am seriously thisfuckingclose to throwing dirty dishes into other people's rooms). I want to stop feeling like I'm living in a live-action movie about Wendy and the Lost Boys. I want to walk around naked!

All that said, it's not like my life is total misery and, in all honesty, things are pretty decent right now if you put aside The Slump. A dear friend is getting married in December and I'm a bridesmaid in her wedding (I have been a bridesmaid a LOT lately. I don't mind. I love weddings.) Richie and I have our one-year anniversary coming up at the end of this month and we're splashing out on a room at Le Pavillon. I'm happy with my boyfriend and I've had fun with my friends lately. I've been invited to so many shows and parties and events that I'm unable to attend all of them. I finally went through tutor training for STAIR and I'll start tutoring in October. I'm supposed to be getting a promotion at the end of the month. I bought some purple jeans. I'm throwing myself a really cool fun and nerdy birthday party (a garden party in the park with food inspired by various books).

I just need to shake this feeling that I'm not doing enough and, more than that, that I CAN'T do anything, and just get out there and do something. Step One: Press "Publish" on this entry.

Friday, July 13, 2012

frenzy, flurry, shim sham, blurry

This is what I've been up to lately:

1) A bachelorette party
From the balcony of the Hustler Club

2) A wedding

"Bridesmaids 4 Life"

3) A birthday party

This weekend, it's Running of the Bulls, biking to the Bywater, flying kites (weather permitting), and making a seafood gumbo. And a little rest too.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

101 in 1001- June update

16) Donate $100 a year to charity.
RAINN- $25

18) Read 10 books from the Bloom Canon.
8) Fyodor Dostoyevsky The Brothers Karamazov
This book has officially been added to my favorite books of all time list. I read the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation (supposedly one of the best out there). I can't speak to the translation's adherence to the original text, but I can vouch for the research that went into this edition. The notes on each chapter were an incredible resource and definitely contributed to a deeper understanding of the book. The entire novel is beautifully written and, while it's steeped in philosophy and religion, it's not what I'd call a "difficult" read, though I'm certainly glad I read it when I was old enough to understand more of the subtleties on the debates about God, free will and reason. It's one of those books that altered the way I think about life and I can't recommend it highly enough.

19) Read 1 unassigned book per month.    
June '12- Julia Reed Queen of the Turtle Derby and Other Southern Phenomena.
I bought this book on a whim while browsing aimlessly at Blue Cypress. I'm so glad I did. Every Southern lady should read this (I'm on my own personal mission to supply my friends with copies). The book is a collection of essays about the South and it addresses everything from Southern food (one of my favorite parts of the book is when Reed recounts a conversation she had about Triscuits and cream cheese with a friend from New Jersey. She asks what he puts on the cream cheese. When he replies "Nothing," she says, "You would never see a naked block of cream cheese in the South."), to the leniency given to female murderers in the South, to pageant culture, to hurricane parties, to fashion, to hair styles. I read the whole thing over the course of a day and a half, much of it out loud to Richie when he would ask why I was laughing so hard.

24) Learn 1 new word a week.
Pettifog- to bicker or quibble over trifles or unimportant matters.
Pfui- an exclamation indicating disagreement or rejection of an argument; contempt
Fichu- a woman's kerchief or shawl, generally triangular in shape, worn draped over the shoulders or around the neck with the ends drawn together on the breast.
Bain-marie- (in cooking) a receptacle containing hot or boiling water into which other containers are placed to warm or cook the food in them.

57) Make 3 food items I'd normally buy ready-made.
3) Duck Sauce

60) Grow a vegetable.
I have had the worst luck with my vegetable garden. All the plants have grown nice and high and they produce flowers, but for whatever reason, the damn flowers won't pollinate. Thus, all I have to show for 3 months of gardening are two measly bell peppers. But I still grew them! 
67) Learn to make 6 different cocktails from memory.
4) The 1st Jewel- 1 shot bourbon (pref. Woodford Reserve), 1 shot aperol, 1 shot St. Germain, orange bitters, Peychaud's bitters, champagne
5) Jasmine- 1 shot Hendrick's, 1 shot Cointreau, 1/2 shot Campari, 3/4 shot lemon juice, simple syrup
Ann and I had a lady date at Bar UnCommon. Ann arrived before I did and had a look over the menu. The bartender asked her what she'd like and when she ordered off the menu, he suggested that she just tell him what she was in the mood for and he'd make it for her. This gave us carte blanche to make all sorts of fun suggestions and we got some great cocktails out of it. The 1st Jewel came from me telling him I'd like a cocktail with bourbon and aperol (I was thinking of my beloved Pinewood Drifter from the Whistler in Chicago). He created the above for me and made a comment that he'd have to add it to the menu. Ann asked him to write the recipe down for us on a cocktail napkin and then pressed him to give it a name. She also got him to sign the napkin. She's very persuasive. The Jasmine was a cocktail he made for her that we also demanded the recipe for.

 Full list here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"but on earth, we are indeed wandering..."

Much on earth is concealed from us, but in place of it we have been granted a secret, mysterious sense of our living bond with the other world, with the higher heavenly world, and the roots of our thoughts and feelings are not here but in other worlds. That is why philosophers say it is impossible on earth to conceive of the essence of things. God took seeds from other worlds and sowed them on this earth, and raised up his garden; and everything that could sprout sprouted, but it lives and grows only through its sense of being in touch with other mysterious worlds; if this sense is weakened or destroyed in you, that which has grown up in you dies. Then you become indifferent to life, and even come to hate it. So I think.
-Zosima, The Brothers Karamazov

Monday, June 4, 2012

101 in 1001- May update

9) Attain a Master's Degree.
I GRADUATED.You can now call me Master. Or Mistress.
The ceremony (we only did the graduate school ceremony and skipped Unified Commencement) was really nice and the reception afterward was also really great (Tulane reminds you of why you pay so much in tuition when they have a reception featuring champagne, piles of smoked salmon, carving stations, and other bombastic food tables) and my grandma got loaded. I ended up drinking the entire day, starting with champagne at the reception, mint juleps at Pat Os, wine at Wave Goodbye (a little party Tulane throws for graduates), gingeritas and photos in full regalia with Alyson at Pals, beers at Mid City Yacht Club, and finally a bottle of wine at 2am with Richie at home. You can maybe see why I skipped unified. Alex graduated from high school two days my graduation, so we had a lot to celebrate :)
High school graduation! I'm wearing 3.5" heels here. Big little brother.

Chich & me

Mignon Faget jewels from my parents

Lovely lady friends

Fambly :)

19) Read 1 unassigned book per month.
May '12- Susan Orlean The Orchid Thief
I saw Adaptation before I read this and while I knew the basic premise behind Adapation (that it was Charlie Kaufman's fictionalized attempt to adapt The Orchid Thief into a movie), I didn't quite realize how different the stories were. I went into this book expecting something very different, but I really enjoyed the book. It reads, in turns, as a history of orchid hunting, the state of Florida, the life of John Larouche, and the Seminole Indian tribe. It doesn't really read like a novel as much as a very long journalism piece, which makes sense, as the book was born of a New Yorker piece Susan Orlean did on John Larouche. I recommend it. 

24) Learn 1 new word a week.
(I admit, I didn't learn each of these each week, but these words are brought to you by the Scribbs National Spelling Bee)  
Ingluvies- The crop, or craw, of birds  
Foulard- A lightweight twill or plain-woven fabric of silk or silk and cotton, usually having a small printed design  
Soubrette- A saucy, coquettish, intriguing maidservant in comedies or comic opera  
Ursprache- any hypothetical extinct and unrecorded language reconstructed from groups of related recorded languages. For example, Germanic is an Ursprache reconstructed by comparison of English, Dutch, German, the Scandinavian languages, and Gothic; Indo-European is an Ursprache reconstructed by comparison of the Germanic group, Latin, Sanskrit, etc.  

57) Make 3 food items I'd normally buy ready-made.
I found this recipe for making yogurt in your slow cooker. I tried it with skim milk and nonfat yogurt (with some powdered milk added in for thickness) and while it was a bit runny, it's worked beautifully in smoothies and I think with some full fat stuff, it'd be great on a spoon with some fruit.

81) Write down all purchases for 1 month and look at where I can cut expenses.
So, uh, this was a sobering experience.
A few things to note- I had graduation money to play with here, so I spent more than I normally would have...but the things I spent more money on are still the things I tend to spend money on. Also, there are only two items under clothes & shoes: a bridesmaid dress and graduation shoes that I was reimbursed for. Nevertheless, I wanted to be honest.

That said...damn. I spend WAY too much on eating out. I need to do smarter grocery shopping, instead of planning a meal on a whim that doesn't involve anything i already have in my pantry. I need to find a place with cheaper rent.

In view of these results, I'm using June to cross off another item on the list--100) Don't eat out for 1 month. I probably should have started another list to track the amount of money I (hopefully!) save, but I didn't think about it and I've already forgotten some of my weekend purchases. It's also kind of a bitch to write down every bit of money you spend when you carry cash and hate keeping receipts.

96) Attend 10 cultural events.
8) "A Brief and Sensational history of 'The Mascot,' Notorious Newspaper of New Orleans' Gilded Age"
This was an hour-long lecture on a New Orleans tabloid that ran from 1882-1896 and prompted duels, murders, numerous libel trials, all manner of marital woes and even some social progress. It was a really fascinating and hilarious lecture and I'm glad I made it. I went with Matt and we almost missed it because I mistakenly thought it was at City Park instead of at The Cabildo.Speaking of The Cabildo...I was tempted to add it to my list of historical New Orleans places I've visited, but since I just ran up the stairs and sat in one room, I feel like it wasn't explored enough for me to add it...yet.

Full list here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"all my life is on me now/hail the pages turning"

I am now officially a Master of Liberal Arts.

There's always that looming "what now?" question after a graduation that I've noticed a lot of my friends dealing with. I don't remember it so much from high school, (I barely remember my high school graduation and there wasn't even drinking involved. I think I've just blocked that era off.) but I certainly remember it from my undergrad. When people asked "what now?" I said I was taking some time off to figure out what to do next. In truth, I had no idea "what now," but I knew I needed some downtime to process everything, to figure out what was next. I also knew that part of what was next was going to involve giant life changes. Ravi and I had already begun to talk about potentially breaking up if he had to go to pharmacy school during my last semester of college. I was tired of living in Baton Rouge. I probably wasn't going to get into a good MA program with my dismal overall GPA.

While I sorted it all out, I stayed at my old job and I was promoted to executive administrative assistant. Basically, the most important secretary. It sounds like a mundane job and, in many ways, it was. There were a lot of boring meetings, spreadsheets, obnoxious and needy people. But there were some pretty great benefits as well. I had a great boss, financial freedom (which eventually enabled me to move to New Orleans to go to school before I had secured steady employment), health insurance, and I gained a skill set. I learned marketing, I wrote copy for the company website, for radio ads, for print ads, I got MUCH better at communicating with strangers, I learned more than I could ever want to know about the inner workings of a hospital and I can make an amazing financial spreadsheet.

When I moved to New Orleans, I had a hard time finding a job. I had been working since I was 15, but all those jobs had been office jobs and, at first, those jobs weren't hiring. The people that were hiring needed servers, bartenders, cooks. Skills I didn't have. I started to get a few nasty cracks about the worthlessness of my English degree, but I also got some pointed and smug questions along the lines of "don't you regret never having worked in the service industry?"

I ended up getting hired by Tulane as an academic administrative assistant--basically, I'm the academic secretary to a bunch of surgeons. Is it the most exciting career ever? No. Many days it's really boring. It has improved as I've been given more responsibility, but it's not something I want to do as a career.

Now that I've graduated from Tulane, I'm back in a similar position I was in after LSU. I'm waitlisted at LSU, but the odds of that coming through this year are slim. And, as I've mentioned here before, I'm not even certain a Ph.D is something I want to do right now. I would like my doctorate, but I'm not sure I want what comes with that title right now--the years of school and struggling and the shitty economic prospects that follow it. The difference between then and now is that I've used my "useless" English degree to my advantage--I've done some freelancing, I got a degree that I'm proud of (even if not many others are), I explored and expanded my life in ways I wouldn't have been willing or able to in Baton Rouge. I'm looking at my options, but right now, I'm staying at my job.

A lot of people mock this decision. Some think I should be doing something that offers more affluence than a secretarial position (some of these people suggest teaching like teachers are making some serious bank). Others, the same people with their smug questions about my experience in the service industry, hint at the idea that life as a secretary must be a dry well of experience. How can I live in NEW ORLEANS and be a SECRETARY, they ask. Surely I should be waiting tables, perhaps busking, doing something out amongst the people that would foster my creativity in ways that working a desk job surely cannot do.

Would I like to do something that offers more creative freedom? Sure. But I don't know what that something is yet. And right now, my job offers me opportunities that I have difficulty eschewing, opportunities that offer their own chance for creativity. It gives me the financial security (mostly) to live alone. It gives me hours that allow me to attend events and see friends regularly and volunteer for causes dear to me. It bankrolled my master's degree. On a non-creative front, it allowed me to get my teeth fixed when some asshole hit me on my bike. It gave me money to even get that bike. To donate to charity. To pay off my bills. To go visit my friends that live more than an hour away. To use for writing submissions.

I get irritated when people act like I'm crushing my soul or I must not care about some greater picture that's only their own view of reality because I'm not out living the great bohemian lifestyle. I think there's an arrogance in that. I'm not denying the arrogance in my own viewpoint, but I think it's disingenuous to imply that someone can't work a 9-5 and be creative at the same time.

I was recently discussing this with Christie, because she wrote an advice piece for recent Creative Writing grads. In it, she wrote:

As this didn't make me feel any more qualified, I started a list of things I wasn't willing to do with my life. My list was as follows: I'm not willing to sit in a cubicle, watch the clock, or do algebra. My posture will never be scrutinized by anyone other than myself. I will never work nine to five, and there will never be early nights or mornings. I'm not willing to work a job that doesn't engage me intellectually on some level, because  I have no method of making myself care about boring shit. I'm not willing to exchange my freedom for a career that earns more than I need, because that's what souls do a few years before they die or have kids. 

If I have any advice for new Creative Writing graduates, it is this: skip the list of things you're good at, and go straight for the list of things you're not willing to do with your life. Take your degree and scratch out "writing," because you're not qualified for that yet. Your degree is in Creative Living.

On many fronts, I agree with her points. You don't have to have the next 10 years laid out in front of you. You don't even need the next year. You should have an idea of compromises you don't want to make. Christie called that list her Dignity List.  I'd add that you might want goals section to that list, however varied and unachievable and conflicting they might seem or be. But, while understanding that Christie's list was personal to her, I took some issue with what I felt was the dismissal of the entire idea of steady employment in "uncreative" fields. I don't think someone needs to throw themselves into dire financial straits to be taken seriously as a writer. I don't think working a "boring" job to afford oneself the money and time to be otherwise creative is necessarily a terrible compromise and certainly not the death knell that many make it out to be. I don't even think that any job should be considered to be exempt from creativity, because the entire idea of what is creative is so subjective. I'd also add here that people can have kids and still produce art. I hope to be one of them. In the next few years, even.

I'm being careful here because, as I said, Christie's list was personal to her and she's reiterated that she didn't mean her post to be taken as dismissive. But I guess I just want to say, you can do something you're good at, even if it's, on the surface, tedious and unfulfilling (I'd argue that asking if someone wants a refill and washing dishes are also pretty tedious and unfulfilling). You can get really creative and channel those experiences into your writing, your art.

The way I see it, everything is a learning experience and art is a reflection, an expression of those experiences, even if it's simultaneously operating as an escape. I'm a Master of Liberal Arts and I'm not sure what now. I'm not even sure what that degree will mean in the long term, but I know what it means right now--it was a wealth of experiences, an excuse, an education, an opportunity and it'll eventually be a part of A Living.

In closing, consider Paterson, a poem by William Carlos Williams (a doctor, a poet). Per Wikipedia: "The Poetry Foundation's biography on Williams notes the following source: With roots in his [short] 1926 poem [also entitled] 'Paterson,' Williams took the city as 'my "case" to work up. It called for a poetry such as I did not know, it was my duty to discover or make such a context on the "thought".' While writing the poem, Williams struggled to find ways to incorporate the real world facts obtained through his research into the poem. On a worksheet for the poem, he wrote, 'Make it factual (as the Life is factual-almost casual-always sensual-usually visual: related to thought)'."

Who because they
neither know their sources nor the sills of their
disappointments walk outside their bodies aimlessly
   for the most part,
locked and forgot in their desires--unroused.

--Say it, no ideas but in things--
nothing but the blank faces of the houses
and cylindrical trees
bent, forked by preconception and accident--
split, furrowed, creased, mottled, stained--
secret--into the body of the light!

From above, higher than the spires, higher
even than the office towers, from oozy fields
abandoned to gray beds of dead grass,
black sumac, withered weed-stalks,
mud and thickets cluttered with dead leaves--
the river comes pouring in above the city
and crashes from the edge of the gorge
in a recoil of spray and rainbow mists

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

ain't no book larnin'

I know I'm crazy behind on this, but as XKCD reminds us, there are always going to be plenty of people who haven't heard about something "everyone knows."

In that spirit, who knew about all these free online college courses?! From really great schools?! My friend, Lianna introduced me to Coursera the other night. I immediately signed up to take Health Policy and the Affordable Care Act, Modern & Contemporary American Poetry, and Introduction to Finance. I wish I knew enough (read: any) calculus to take Game Theory. I wish I had time to take all the classes. Because there are SO MANY. A quick Google search turned up open course programs at Yale, Berkeley, MIT, Carnagie Mellon, UMass, and lots of others around the world.

I think these are pretty amazing resources, especially when you consider how expensive education continues to become. None of these courses, as far as I can tell, offers any kind of certificate or degree but the chance for free enrichment is a pretty wonderful one. I might even take some French again and cross #15 off the list.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

spinning wheels

Hey, remember that time I was like "I'm going to revamp the blog and update way more often!" and then I updated two times in as many months? Hilarious! I promise, I'm getting to it. I've been putting off final touches on the new site and, as a result, have been avoiding updating the blog at all. Because, you know, that makes sense.

 April ended up being one of those months that was been really busy but produced few results. I feel like I haven't stopped at all, but I don't have many results to point to yet. May will be equally busy, but hopefully more fruitful. A few things that have been eating away at my time:

 -Graduations. In addition to my own graduation (which Tulane turned into A GIANT MESS...seriously guys, y'all lost my diploma forms, messed up my Golden Key registration, didn't notify me about Grad Fest, and failed to mention that I needed to do loan exit counseling until I called to specifically inquire about it. WHY?), it was finally assured that Alex would also be graduating. But he is a teenage boy and too lazy to send out his graduation invitations. Since I had all the addresses anyway and my mother has enough on her plate, I volunteered to work on the announcements. I also had to find the perfect green dress and accompanying yellow heels to wear with my gown, a task that took far longer than it should have, because I am an amazingly stubborn person when I know exactly what I want. This is also why I made my own graduation announcements.

 -Parties. And, uh, subsequent hangovers. My friend Ashley is moving to the great North (i.e. Shreveport), so to send her off in style, we had Baton Rouge and New Orleans parties. There was a "gay robots" themed party and I threw a "naughtical" themed one on Cinco de Mayo (that Ashley and I both totally crapped out on dressing up for--we tied on bandannas, called ourselves swabbies and left it at that). At both parties, I consumed more alcohol than was, shall we say, strictly necessary. Like, maybe there were 3 margaritas, a 6 pack of beer, a bottle of wine, and two mint juleps put away on Cinco de Mayo. Maybe I yelled at Richie for making margaritas from my dreamsicles. Maybe those margaritas were delicious. Maybe my mother's eyes almost fell out of her head when I recited the above list. I'm also in the midst of planning my mom a 50th surprise birthday party. And a bachelorette party that, I've been instructed, must include "mudriding, shooting guns, and the Hustler club." Speaking of...

 -Wedding. My dear, darling Nancy is getting married. Nancy isn't really good at weddings. Since I'm Maid of Honor, it's fallen on me to do a fair bit of wedding planning. And to tell Nancy a wedding dress is ugly and "looks like one dress ate another one" (much to the bridal consultant's chagrin). And yelling at Nancy to schedule the goddamned caterer. But not-so-secretly, I can't wait. Nancy events are always fun events and this one involves booze, second-lining and dresses.

 -Festivals. Blues Festival! Strawberry Festival! French Quarter Fest! Earth Day! April was a festive month, y'all.

-Teef. I went to the dentist to get a cleaning and ended up finding out that I had some between-the-teeth cavities. $370 dollars (just typing that makes me want to puke) and 3 visits later, my teeth are pristine again. And still rockin a crossbite, because people with perfect teeth freak me out, I like my crossbite, and please see the cost of dental work.

 -Home Renovation. I decided to turn my old computer desk into a liquor cabinet. But moving it out of my bedroom meant I could finally move my other desk out of the hall into my bedroom. Then I had empty space in the hall for bookshelves. Then I got a new couch. So, basically, I moved my entire apartment around. I also cleaned the hell out of it and got rid of enough stuff to have my own garage sale (happening soon!) I even painted furniture. Spring cleaning, indeed.

 -Work. I can't really talk about it right now (or maybe ever. Talking about work in a public forum makes me nervous), but work has gotten pretty hectic. Plus working in the midst of all the partying, shoving furniture, and dentisting put the kibosh on my extra blog time.

 So, the tl;dr version: Life has been busy, yo. I'm hoping to move the blog to its new home this month, but if it doesn't happen, I'll still try and keep it updated. You know, more than once a month.

Monday, May 7, 2012

101 in 1001- April update

16) Donate $100 a year to charity.
World Wildlife Fund- $16

19) Read 1 unassigned book per month.
April '12- Kim Edwards The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Every time I update this, it reminds me that I should be updating my Goodreads account. :/ Anyhow, this is a decent book. There are some plot/continuity problems that bothered me and I was continually reminded of Freedom (especially in the way the female characters and sons were written), but it wasn't a bad book. A good, quick, and distracting read.

24) Learn 1 new word a week (Plus extra April words! All words from Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov).
Puissant- having great power or influence
Zaftig- (of a woman) having a full, rounded figure; plump
Fanfaronade- arrogant or boastful talk
Apiary- a place where bees are kept; a collection of beehives
Casuist- a person who uses clever but unsound reasoning, esp. in relation to moral questions; a sophist.
Anthropophagy- the eating of human flesh by human beings

61) Start an herb garden.
I started a garden in my back yard! I'm growing lots of veggies and herbs but none of the veggies have come out yet, so for now I'm just going to cross off herbs from the list :)


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

101 in 1001- March update

6) Design a new tattoo or get some color in my existing one.
I studied Greek for a couple of years of my undergrad. During that time, I went through some pretty huge emotional upheavals (and spent a good chunk of time in the office of a wonderful counselor who helped me get my life back together). During that time, I would sometimes just repeat the Greek word/suffix "εἰμι" to myself. I wrote it in notebooks, I drew it on myself. The word is the first person singular "to be." It was a reminder to not get too lost in the things that were threatening to overwhelm me, but just to be, be myself and be a friend, daughter, sister, student and all my other roles that serve as my function in society.
I decided I wanted the word as a tattoo, but I couldn't decide where. Too small for my back. I didn't want a very visible tattoo, so wrists, ankles, shoulders were all out. I thought about the nape of my neck, but decided it was still too visible. Finally, I settled on behind my ear. Then I decided, rather than get just "εἰμι," I would get the full phrase, "ἐγώ εἰμι"--"I am." Or, "I exist." The phrase has theological significance, but that;s not why I wanted it. To me, the phrase is a reminder that I always have myself, my being. I exist, am a part of the world as my body, my dreams, goals, memories, legacy, while also being true to myself as an individual. I realize this sounds a little hokey, but it's a meaningful tattoo to me. So, here it is:

16) Donate $100 a year to charity.
The Hunger Project- $15
March 8 was International Women's day. The UN's theme this year was "Empower Rural Women--End Hunger and Poverty." In that spirit, I decided to donate to The Hunger Project. Regarding International Women's Day, they stated:
Throughout the developing world, women are the primary caregivers for their families. Rural women grow the majority of the food produced for household consumption. They are intensively involved in food processing. They collect cooking fuel and water. They prepare and serve meals, ensuring that their families' daily food requirements are met. Despite this critical role that women play in food security, rural women are systematically denied the resources, information and freedom of action to fulfill this responsibility.
Yet, we know that when women are empowered, their families are healthier, more children go to school, agricultural productivity improves and incomes increase. Our programs support women and build their capacity as leaders and key changes agents. After participating in Hunger Project programs, women throughout Africa, South Asia and Latin America are improving education, health and livelihoods in their communities. They are visible role models, inspiring countless women in thousands of villages.

18) Read 10 books from the Bloom Canon.
6) Carson McCullers The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
7) Ernest Hemingway A Farewell to Arms

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter was an incredible read. I can absolutely see why Bloom would consider it canonical. A Farewell to Arms reminded me of why I'm so disdainful of Hemingway. Sorry, friends. I've tried, but I cannot stand the way that man writes characters. I will give it to him that I stayed interested in the story--he knows how to move a plot. But that's about it. I've never understood why Hemingway is considered a Great American Writer.

19) Read 1 unassigned book per month.
March '12- George Saunders Pastoralia
I read this on the train up to Chicago. I received this book in a White Elephant gift-swap (or whatever you call it in your neck of the woods). It came highly recommended. It's a really...interesting read. The book is a novella and a group of short stories. I want to use the word "dystopian," but that doesn't feel quite right because the genius of the stories is that they aren't posited as being in any kind of alternate societal model. There are just...weird things that happen in some of the stories. They offer a creepy side-eye to some of the more banal elements of society, in a way that makes the stories stick in your mind long after you think you should even been remembering them.

24) Learn 1 new word a week.
Prevarication- a false or deliberate misstatement
Agglutination- the state of being thus united; adhesion of parts
Chilblains- the painful inflammation of small blood vessels in your skin that occur in response to sudden warming from cold temperatures
Expiate- make amends for

40) Have a Sazerac at The Roosevelt Hotel.
Ann and I were finally able to synchronize our schedules and we met up at the Sazerac bar. I had a sazzie and a Ramos Gin Fizz while noshing on some excellent bar foods (wasabi peas!)

67) Learn to make 6 different cocktails from memory.
3) Pinewood Drifter- 2 shots bourbon, 1 shot aperol, 1 shot punt e mes, 1 shot cynar, 1 shot sours, drizzle of orange bitters and drizzle of walnut bitters.
This is a drink I had at The Whistler in Chicago. It wasn't on their menu, but when I asked the bartender to make me something with Aperol, he told me this was a past menu item. It may be my new favorite "fancy" cocktail. (For reference, my standard cocktail is a whiskey sour and I am on a constant mission to find the best one in New Orleans).

70) Discover 5 new-to-me poets.
4) Juliet Cook
I bought Juliet Cook's collection, 13 Designer Vaginas, a collection of poems about vaginal rejuvenation surgery, at AWP. Here's an excerpt from one poem (all of them are titled, "Designer Vagina"):
Home girl swirled with lard ass.
Pink foam egg carton wastebasket
I don't want to burst at my seams.
I want to stay intact and gleam.

5) Naoko Fujimoto
Fujimoto has a poem called "Peel" in New Madrid's Winter 2012 issue. I have re-read the poem about 20 times. It is beautiful and bracing and every time I read it, it makes me want to write something.

96) Attend 10 cultural events.
6) Reinventing Radio: An Evening With Ira Glass
7) The Lion King
Y'all. Go see the Broadway production of The Lion King if you get a chance. It is gorgeous. I cry at anything, so this is probably not a testament to the play, but when all the animals started coming out onto the stage and walking up the aisles of the theater, the whole experience of it--costumes, set, music--was so overwhelming that I started crying. I don't remember having ever been literally breathtaken, but I was leaning forward, slack-jawed with tears rolling down my face. It's good that there are no photos. Yokels at the theater, y'all!
The tickets were a gift to Richie for Christmas. That may seem like an odd gift to give a twenty-something man, but the movie is sort of special to the two of us. I don't know if I've ever told this story here, but I'm going to tell it again. Over the summer, before we started dating, Richie and I were hanging out at his apartment. We stepped outside on his patio so he could smoke a cigarette. A kid walked up, about 16 or 17, and asked if he could borrow a phone to call his mom. I didn't have mine on me and Richie's was dead. We told the kid this, he said okay and disappeared...only to reappear with a gun, demanding our money. We told him we didn't have anything and begged him to please not hurt us. The kid started laughing and ran away. Richie practically picked me up and threw me inside the apartment. Later, after the police had come (they never found the kid), Richie put The Lion King on to calm us down. We became a lot closer after that night and that movie has held a special significance since.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

better late than never

Shortly after I posted my last post, my laptop charger broke. Between that, lots of stuff going on at work, and a pile of reading I wanted to catch up on, I've neglected the blog.

At this point, I think writing an exhaustive breakdown of the Chicago trip probably isn't worth it. So, the short version is this:
The Amtrak ride up to Chicago was great and really comfortable. I did a lot of reading and writing. AWP was amazing and inspirational (more on that in a second) and seeing Margaret Atwood was totally worth the trip by itself. I bought lots of records and books and my checked luggage was 49 pounds. Erin, Mike, and I ate a lot of amazing food (pastries, popcorn, hot dogs, tacos, Ethiopian, waffles, cheese, sausage, quince jelly) and I drank a magnum of pink moscato champagne over the course of three evenings, because I'm classy. I thanked God every day for Chicago's freakishly warm winter that ensured I did not have to deal with anything except the smallest of snow flurries during my visit. I do not deal well with extreme cold. It was a pretty perfect trip, getting to see two of my best friends (twice in one year!) and visiting one of my favorite cities.
Posing with a festive cow in my cat dress
Margaret Atwood!        

Giant stack of lit mags I hauled home
Hot dogs! Chili cheese (T) and Chicago-style (B)
Friends :)

Onto the inspirational part of AWP. Two of the goals on my 101 in 1001 list are to submit seven poems for publication and write two non-fiction pieces. I wrote those goals and then avoided them. Mostly because I just didn't feel like a writer anymore. Writing without a goal felt pointless and the goal of publication felt...silly. Calling myself a writer just because I have a BA in creative writing felt overblown to me. Egotistical. Obviously, this is partly an issue of semantics, but there it is.

AWP inspired me to write again. Being around other writers, talking to them, reading them, talking to people who run lit mags...all of it reminded me of how happy writing creatively makes me. I miss crafting poems, connecting moments for non-fiction pieces, writing in a non-academic way. I went around talking to a number of lit mag representatives and found that a lot of them are looking to publish more non-fiction. I got copies of journals and I've been reading them. Last night, I finally had a break in my mental block and I wrote for almost two straight hours. At the end, I had two non-fiction pieces and two poems. All in need of editing, but that's more creative writing than I've done in the past four years.

I made some decisions while I was at AWP. Or, if you prefer, confirmations. I'm going to keep reading and writing non-fiction pieces. I am going to send them to various outlets and try to get published. I want to eventually get good enough and have enough of a reputation to put together a small collection, to be published by a small publishing house. I would also like to publish another (non-creative writing) book, but that's a topic I'm a little too nervous to talk about just yet. :) I want to start writing more, creatively and for hire. To that end, I've emailed my editor at GoodNola and ended my self-imposed hiatus. I've put out feelers (and gotten some responses) about doing paid freelancing.

And, I am revamping this blog. I've already purchased a domain name and I'm in the process of moving the blog to Wordpress. Not all of the entries here will be moved there--some are much too personal for the more public face I want for the new blog. I want to start updating at least twice a week and, ideally, daily. I need to be writing more in general if I want to write more creatively. Right now, my words still feel hampered. I have difficulty expressing my more abstract thoughts sometimes and I fall back on words like "kind of" and "just" that really don't express anything. Writing more helps refine that sort of thing. I also want my name out there in a more public way so I have a public face to point to if I pursue publishing.

All of this is a little scary. I've mentioned here before that I hadn't really considered a life outside of academia. That's always been my goal. That goal has to be reconsidered now, not just because of Ph.D programs, not just because of the terrible economy for academics, but because it has slowly dawned on me that teaching English may not be what I want to do with the rest of my life. It isn't what I want to do anymore. There's no set path ahead anymore. So, for now, I'm going to pursue those things that make me happy and see where that takes me.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"let me stay, please"

I'll post a write up about Chicago later, but for now, this pretty much sums it up:
Some of the people I love the most + cat print dress.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

101 in 1001- February update

19) Read 1 unassigned book per month.
December '11- Carson McCullers The Member of the Wedding
January '12- Jonathan Franzen Freedom
February '12- Pam Houston Waltzing the Cat

24) Learn 1 new word a week.
Cicatrix- A scar resulting from the formation and concentration of fibrous tissue in a wound.
Plenipotentiary- That which confers full powers OR a person invested with "full powers."
Macrocephalic- Abnormal largeness of the head.
Hircine- of, or pertaining to, a goat.

28) See all of the Mindfuck movies.
Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)- technically not a Mindfuck movie according to the original list, but one that the author said later he wished he had included.

32) Go to a major sporting event.
One of my doctors gave me his tickets to a Hornets game. As it turns out, these tickets were only 10 rows up from the court. We had a really great time (and acted silly, cheering along with the Jumbotron, etc.) and we hit up the fancy-schmancy lounge area that is only available to people with expensive tickets. Of course, we also took photos because, as I told Richie, we'll probably never see that again.

39) Make a cheesecake.
I don't normally do Valentine's Day. Not out of any annoyance at the holiday--I generally don't care if people want to celebrate it--but because I've either been single and not cared or been dating someone that also didn't care enough to make it a big deal. But Richie and I decided to cook a nice meal for ourselves. He made me an incredible meal of seared scallops over garlic butter pasta and duck breast with a beer reduction cream sauce on a bed of sauteed kale and pureed turnips. And I made him a red velvet cheesecake. For those who don't want to click on that link, this was basically a cheesecake sandwiched between two layers of red velvet. Unfortunately, I actually had to throw out half the cake before I left for Chicago because it was SO rich that eating one piece of it was more than enough and we weren't able to ever finish it. But it was really really tasty. 

57) Make 3 food items I'd normally buy ready-made. 
I made harissa! (recipe here) I wasn't able to find the peppers that the recipe called for (I subbed serranos, california chilis and jalapenos), nor was I able to find dried chilies (I dried them myself in my oven over the course of about 4 hours at a 200 degree temp. Also, wtf Whole Foods?) AND I forgot to get coriander seeds, so I was forced to use powdered, but for all that, this still turned out to be delicious and authentic tasting.

88) Go to all the major Mardi Gras parades.
Krewe du Vieux
King Arthur and Merlin
Box of Wine

96) Attend 10 cultural events.
5) Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra- Shostakovich Symphony No. 1 
Alyson scored free tickets to the Philharmonic and invited me to be her date. Since I haven't been to the symphony since middle school and hadn't spent time with Alyson for almost a month, I accepted. It was lovely.

Full list here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

gras fotos

I was going to upload Mardi Gras photos with the 101 in 1001 February roundup but I decided they deserve their own post.

First, I need you to play this in the background. I heard this song at least 10 times while walking 100s of blocks all over the city, and I never failed to start dancing.

The night of Endymion was miserable and rainy. Richie lives very close to Canal and Carrollton, so even though we were without rain gear, we thought we'd just run down the street and get some ponchos. We ended up taking refuge on the porch of an insurance company while waiting for the rain to calm down. Endymion ended up being great though--we got drunk at Richie's job, met some nice people and the rain stopped about 3 floats in.

Some friends we made while parading. Two of them were in Box of Wine and hooked us up with copious amounts of vin when they passed, since we shared so much of our booze with them at parades. This photo was taken at Hermes, right after I insisted everyone take a celebratory shot from the bottle of Jack Daniels in my bag. Like a LADY.

L to R; Paul S., self, Suz, Jesse. On Sunday, My friend Susan, her boyfriend Jesse, and Jesse's roommate, Paul, came into town for their first Mardi Gras ever. We had a long day--65 blocks of walking (yes, I counted them), LOTS of alcohol and  4 parades (Okeanos, Mid-City, Thoth, Bacchus). They enjoyed it. This was the day I got hit in the face twice with beads. Once was at Okeanos, when someone threw some giant beads that hit me so hard in the mouth that I cut the inside of my upper and lower lips. I worried it had chipped my falsie tooth, but luckily, things seem to be okay there. Later, someone threw a handful of beads at a throwback float and they hit me square in the side of the head and left little goose eggs on my forehead. This was also the day that Ashley got engaged.

My parents came in on Lundi Gras. This is us at Orpheus. I drank pretty much the entire contents of a bottle of Crown that evening (some of which is still in that cup I'm holding). My outfit here is a variation on what I wore to most parades: leggings or tights, 10-year old Chucks (seriously, those things have been through so much: various Mardi Gras seasons, every music festival I've ever attended, plus being my go-to tennis shoes), tutu, top, thrift store military jacket. This night ended badly--I got sick due to a potent combo of alcohol, little food, and 5 hour energy drinks. I had a bad anxiety attack later, made worse by my darling little brother, who didn't show up at my house until 7am (without responding to my multiple texts about where he was and if he needed me to come get him). But the day was good until that point.

Downtown, right after Zulu. I was in an AWFUL mindset at this point: very little sleep, all friends except Matt totally bailed on going to the parade, still not feeling well, parents disappeared. But a super nice lady at Zulu gave me one of the many coconuts she caught and her gesture was a small bit of loveliness in what ended up being a fairly shitty day otherwise.