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.