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A New (Ad)Venture

As if I weren’t feeling guilty enough about how behind I am on my to-do lists, I’ve decided to become officially insane and start my own press.  It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m tired of telling myself “someday” when there’s really nothing holding me back from doing it today. 

Villainess Press will focus on Gurlesque writing, mainly poetry, flash fiction and lyric essay. I am so lucky I have the type of life that lets me occasionally fly by the seat of my pants. I’m hoping this becomes a good thing on my life, a simultaneous home and escape like theater is for me. In fact, I named the press Villainess because that’s usually the type of part I play. It’s so much fun to be the bad girl, edgy humor, great songs to get to belt. It’s also a very productive outlet for pent up aggression, just writing. See what I did there?

Please follow the press and stay with me. I’m planning great things.

Also, Twitter & Tumblr: @villainesspress

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STILL PLODDING & PLOTTING

I’m working on it. That’s my new mantra. Everything, I’m working on it. A new chapbook, a show, cleaning the house, organizing… Well, I’m working on it. In the past two weeks, I’ve assembled two new chapbooks for publication and applied for yet another pay-the-bills job (at a company I LOVE, so that’s good).

 And today, I joined a gym. An actual gym, not the Y (which is so miss, but it’s so expensive and doesn’t come with free massages like my new gym). Since leaving my serving job last year, I’ve gained quite a bit of weight, not that anyone notices, but it bothers me. I keep having to buy bigger clothes. The worst feeling I’ve come across lately is trying on seething that was loose the last time I wore it and now I can’t even pull it past my hips. 

I figured if I made the yoga challenge work for a month that the designed-for-me program from the trainer at the gym should be doable too. And, since I’m spending money on it, I really have no excuses to NOT do it. At least I like drinking water now, too. (Thank you Gallon a Day Challenge!)

And in the meantime, I’m trying to write more poetry, read more, always more. For the sedentary lifestyle I’ve been living lately, it sure looks like I’m doing more than I thought. The thing is, I know if I get off my butt (literally), I can accomplish even more! 

My 2015 personal challenges are shaping up well so far. I’m achieving quite a few of them. At least, I can say I’m on track to do so.

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Writing Through

Perhaps this will be a short post. Perhaps not. The point is to write something, anything. Because it’s been far too long since I have. 

It’s such a cliche for writers to be afflicted with depression, and of all the things I am, of all of my unattractive qualities, this is the one I hate the most. The first thing to go when I’m down the rabbit hole (and, God, I’ve said that so many times, that term is becoming it’s own cliche, I need a new one) is my writing. Then my reading. Until I can barely find much satisfaction in even magazines. It’s a cruel, ironic state for a writer: cliche depression leads to cliched writer’s block which leads to writer not writing, leading the writer to become more depressed. All I have managed to write lately is a story about a girl (woman) who is depressed. At least I was able to use the darkness for a purpose, if only for the few hours it took me to write it.

I’ve had to force myself to read. I was back to my voracious self for quite a while before I got reader’s block. It didn’t help that the book I was reading was about depressed women writers. The fact that it was so well written, and that it was as if the author had crawled into my brain and set up camp from which to narrate, only drove me further down. 

I’ve had to force myself to keep going, keep writing, even if it sucks (because, hey: words), to keep reading, keep moving my brain cells in some communicative way. So why am I sharing this? Partly, writing this post means I’m writing which is vital. Partly, because I believe good writing is painfully honest, it’s what invites the reader to empathize. Think about it: even sci-fi & fantasy is best when it is written so flawlessly that it could be true, right? (C’mon, if you ever find yourself in King’s Cross Station in London, aren’t you going to pay extra attention to the pillars between Platforms 9 & 10?)

I write this because I’m not the only one. Because being a cliche means there are enough people like you to make the cliche valid. Maybe if I let it out, I’ll perform my own exorcism, at least for this round. Maybe, I’ll inspire someone else to admit they’re feeling. The same way I am, and maybe they’ll write about it. Either way, the point is words. Words drive me and stop me, sometimes they drag me. I just want to be the one who knows how to read the map.

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Listless Listing

I found myself having to read my own blog post yesterday. I set challenges for myself in 2015, but I feel as if I’ve been drifting for awhile. Since January, I’ve made a list for myself each week of things I wanted to accomplish, like responding to a friend’s letter, clean the bathroom, etc. On each list has been poem drafts and submissions. It wasn’t until today that was able to check off the submission box. Not once have been able to check off every item on my list by the end of the week.

This is one of those rabbit-hole-warning-signs I need to be conscious of. My productivity slows, its always the first thing to go before I fall into a depressive episode. It doesn’t help that my friends are doing so professionally well. I have to admit I’m jealous, but the thing is, how often do we get jealous of something and still sit back and dwell in it rather than doing something about it, so we can feel better, at least feel as if we tried? Every day I tell myself, do something, write something, say something, try something. This week is the first in awhile when I actually have.

People have called me a force to be reckoned with. It’s a weird label to have, because you begin to believe that you are at once formidable and vulnerable. How do you keep the momentum of the force? What happens when you slow down? That slowing quickly drives you far lower than usual because you realize that you are suddenly not at all what people believed you to be. I have to constantly remind myself that I always have the potential to be that person, that it is always in me to be that force, but that I need to DO SOMETHING in order to earn it.

So I list. I make lists because they keep me on track. I keep lists because my fibromyalgia can render me utterly useless at times, but there is always something small I can do that will still make a difference and I need to remember that. I make lists so I can remember what I need to do, because my fibromyalgia will also cause me to forget or even not see what needs to be done. I make lists so that I can feel accomplished no matter how little I do. I make lists because they haunt me into action.

This post, this general, freeform post, was on my list for at least three weeks. Now I can check this one off too.

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Yoga Challenge: Days 18 & 19

Pose of the Day: Savasana

I did no yoga AGAIN on Day 19. Which means I have no more days off this week, so I must be sure to get it done this weekend. I’m doing far better with this challenge than with Gallon-a-Day as far as following the rules I set for myself. I get my minimum 10 minutes every day, 5 days a week and I feel good about that. I know ten minutes doesn’t seem like much–I usually go over that anyway–but I’m doing this more for the habit and calm than anything. I’m still experiencing benefits, even if they’re not drastic.
The PotD is Savasana because I finally did it. Rather than the floor, I used my bed. I fell asleep. It was gorgeous. It means I was r relaxed. It may look like I just crawled into bed, but I DID do yoga breathing and paid attention to my core while doing it. I think the point of Savasana is to be aware of your body and only your body, letting everything float away, and that’s what I did. Hence the nap. I don’t know if I’d do it again though. I know it’s some people’s favorite, but I am just not a meditative person. Forcing myself not to think and or be active is harder than yoga.

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The Girl in the Hat: Why I’m a Feminist

https://thegirlinthehat.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/if-i-had-a-dollar-why-i-am-a-feminist/

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Poem of the Week: January 18th, 2015

A fantastic poem by one of my favorite mentors, Teri Youmans Grimm, over at Burnt District!

burntdistrict

Teri Grimm, author of our poem of the week, is the author of Dirt Eaters (University of Florida Press) and the forthcoming Becoming Lyla Dore (Red Hen Press, 2016). She teaches in the University of Nebraska’s low-res MFA program. More of her work can be found in Volume 1, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

THIS IS HOW IT ENDS
By Teri Grimm

As they’re dying, I want my lovers to think of me,
my hair draped silk across their chests,

my calculated breath creating small summits
of skin I conquered many times before

in Catalina, the Garden of Allah, balconies,
desks and office couches. Reverie will tempt

their tongues to slip through lips like small snakes.
I’m the charmer urging their mouths into a parting kiss.

Careworn wives think they need a drink, offer ice chips
and rest sad hands on their arms, heavy as overripe pears.

But they turn…

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GO ASK ANAIS: I Thought I Was a Writer, but I’m Probably Just a Talentless Hack

I need–we all need–to commit this to memory.

WEIRD SISTER

Go Ask Anais

Dear Anais,

I am in the middle of my first year in a graduate writing program. The program was my top choice, and I was also offered a nice fellowship as part of the admission package. Needless to say, I was on top of the world when accepted.

However, a semester later, I’m having a crisis. I came into the program feeling pretty good about my work, but my confidence has plummeted. The other writers in the program all have top-tier publications, get asked to read all the time, and two of them already have well-received books. They are obviously more talented than I am and I feel like I don’t quite know what I’m doing here: they seem to know all the right people and seem to have read EVERYTHING. I just feel like I can’t compete. The one thing I have going for me is that I’m socially…

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Back in the Cozy Armchair

I love what my Read Harder challenge is doing for me! I set upon this challenge as a way to get back into reading. The last few years I haven’t been able to keep myself as interested in books as I used to be. I definitely wasn’t as voracious as I used to be. I could devour a book as if it were a delicious meal and I nourished me as much as a meal would. I purposefully open all the curtains on a snowy day and curl up in a chair next to the largest window with a cup of hot chocolate and a Willa Cather novel just to be able to enjoy being the perfect cliché for a few hours. I’ve never stopped reading, but I kind of took a back seat to everything else in life.

What I’ve been noticing in the past two weeks or so is that I’m getting closer to the reader I used to be. I persevered through a book I wasn’t thrilled with, to find that the second half was totally worth it. I devoured a book in less than 24 hours. I’m even reading classics again… well, a classic. I reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for one of my challenge tasks (a book published before the author was 25). I do plan to reread Jane Eyre for another (a book published before 1850), which will lead to a book I plan to read for yet another task (Wide Sargasso Sea: an imagined prequel to Jane Eyre focusing on the first Mrs. Rochester, a book that is a new spin on/retelling a classic story). The more I’m reading, the more I’m looking forward to the next book, and the one after that.

I’m also finding that the way that I read is returning more to the way I used to. I’m really interested in interpretation of the text, picking out the various symbols and references to other works of literature. (Mary Shelley seems to have been a big fan of intertextuality.) I’m making notes, I even write in a book because I wanted to underline a passage in the absence of my usual post-its. (If you know me, this is a big deal. I regard most marginalia as sacrilege, but I let it go because it wasn’t an expensive book and I don’t like mass market paperbacks anyway, so it didn’t hurt as much to deface it.)

What I mean to say is that I feel excited again. I didn’t realize that a simple challenge I set for myself last month (Gallon A Day) would lead to me setting new/more goals for myself. This Read Harder challenge came at the right time and I’m so happy about it. I want to write every day. I actually couldn’t wait to type this up because it felt weird not to have something to say.

I think the most important that we always have to remember is that there pieces that are integral to the core of who we are. They may break away a bit, but they’re always still there, even if only by a thread. As long as you know what those pieces are, you always have the opportunity to keep them strong and intact. If it takes a challenge or a kick in the pants to make it happen, so be it. You can’t let go of the things you love, especially when those things come together to make you who you are.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I still have 15 chapters to go on this one.

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Gallon A Day: Days 26-28

I’m winding down on my challenge! Even though I didn’t a full gallon every single day, I’m definitely reaping benefits. I’ve had really good moods. I think I’ve felt happier overall, even though I never lost my snark, this month. Happier than the last four months, based on consistency. I haven’t weighed myself this week; I’m waiting for Day 30 for the final result.

I finally noticed that my undereye circles are a bit brighter. They’re still there, but I don’t constantly look like I’ve been punched in the face. On Saturday, Day 27, we left town for the day so my total intake was only about half a gallon. Wow did I notice a difference! I felt crampy, experienced dizziness and lightheadedness towards the end of the day. I was basically miserable by 9pm. I had forgotten my water bottle at home and I can’t stand Minneapolis water. It’s more chlorinated than my hometown, it tastes like pool water. I choked down some at dinner, but I really had to force myself to do it. I won’t even drink the fountain sodas there. By the time we got home, I was so thirsty, I drank two cups of tea and two glasses of water within an hour, maybe even less. I’m more aware of my need for water now than before.

I like the way I feel. Today being the first day that the kids are back in school post-holiday vacation, I would usually be taking a nap already. While I am tired, I feel like I can fight through it in order to accomplish a few tasks first. I never got that extra burst of energy I was really hoping for, but the fact that I can function more than usual is enough for me.

I’m more inspired.

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