What I’m Listening to: “Howl”–Florence and the Machine, Lungs
Cardigan: Black and White Striped
Quote I Can’t Get Over: Can’t decide on a quote..its the whole damn book…A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
It seems as though its been an eternity since I posted. Plays have been finished, degrees have been conferred, apartments have been rented, a new shower curtain has been purchased. I’m reading for general enjoyment again and its been wonderful. The first book on my summer reading list was Jennifer Egan’s 2011 Pulitzer Prize-Winning “A Visit From the Goon Squad.” I first encountered Egan when I read “Look at Me” in high school and remember being impressed by her meticulous research, but dismissed the book as boring compared to Chuck Palahniuk’s breathtaking, guerilla-style speedball of a mangled model novel, “Invisible Monsters.” At seventeen, I appreciated shock value over nuance. Now, as an adult with a newly minted master’s degree, I am completely smitten with Egan’s style, especially the innovative structure she uses to buoy the narrative in “A Visit From the Goon Squad.” It becomes a short story collection, a hypertext, a mystery novel, and truly one of the most honest depictions of humans existing in the cuspid space between 20th and 21st centuries I have ever laid eyes on it one fell swoop of controlled artistic prowess.
On the subject of my own artistic prowess, (side note: I keep typing the word prowress as if trying to articulate a strange conglomeration of the words prowling and prioress. Also now I am thinking about prawns…too close to lunchtime…haha) it seems that I have ascended to a new level in rejection letters from literary magazines–the personalized rejection. I am assured by colleagues and advisors that emails stating, “your poem started a heated debate in our editorial meeting!” and “we gave your story more than the normal amount of consideration” are extremely good signs flashing the promise of crossing that threshold into actual publication. Hooray for half-accomplishments!
Until next time,
What I’m Listening to: “Somebody I Used to Know”–Gotye
Cardigan: Neutral-colored boyfriend length
At first, I thought they were frat boys. With no need to look up, I simply allowed their deep voices discussing how much they loooved fooood to slide past the surface level of my perception and nearly tossed them away as uninteresting subjects for observation until I heard the sound of bibles cracking. Stiff spines filled with onionskin paper releasing the Word percussively–almost, chiropratically. I turned away from my sandwich to search for the source and saw them–two boys of athletic build and stature, one looking like an import from 2001 with blonde highlights and shimmering studs in each ear, the other wearing the costume of a typical midwestern undergrad (sweatshirt/non-descript carpenter-ish jeans) holding hands and praying over their feast of coronary-inducing delights.
I was transfixed.
Their conversation quickly turned into a discussion of favorite verses, which began to closely resemble conversations I have on a regular basis about other literary works minus the gravity of the conclusions created from zeroing in on authorial intent. I was curious to know if they approached other texts with such voracity and vigor, but I hated to break up their discussion about the crazy amount of wrath God would be willing to release on those who failed to accept Jesus into their heart. I have no problem with expressions of faith, I just wonder if the absorption of God’s word may have been impeded by the grease salaciously dripping from the slices of pizza they were shoving in their mouths alongside fistfuls of french fries and numerous chicken strips. I’m not much of a biblical scholar, my Catholic upbringing didn’t involve much interaction with the text, but according to the movie Seven (Kevin Spacey as psycho killer, Gwenyth Paltrow’s head in a box…ring bells…anyone?) gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins. Then again, so is wrath so maybe it evens out? Who knows. Regardless, they were simply fascinating sociological specimens. I wish them luck in their endeavors both as Christians and future diabetics.
Until Next Time,
What I’m Listening to: “Maybe You’re Right”–Friday Star, Defenceless
Cardigan: None (my arms are expressing exposed truths)
I am on such a nostalgic music kick right now. Apparently, writing a play about teenagers is causing me to commune with my suppressed teenage self. This song by Italian emo band Friday Star takes me back with such a fierce vengeance that I can feel my pores erupting with sebaceous cysts. My eyes instantly become heavier under the weight of ounces of eyeliner, mascara, and surmounting tears. Oh the joys of hormonal imbalance! The singer’s broken English “I love you unperfection/You are my destiny” is still quite endearing and the drum and baselines still resonate with general kickassery so I don’t necessarily feel guilty about listening to it today in my “office” with my speakers cranked, I just suddenly feel fifteen.
In other news….the play is almost complete! Just in time for the public reading next week. Normally I thrive off of public readings, but I feel so inferior in this genre that I just want it to be over so I don’t have to be so dull and waxy. I design my art to burn and shine–unfortunately my attempt at this genre is definitely not conducive to those activities.
I got another litmag rejection email yesterday. This one came at 11:40pm, definitely not the hour of the day I expect to receive them. Most midnight rejections happen in or outside of bars and don’t involve literature at all. Well..maybe poetry…really bad poetry… It didn’t help that I had neglected to realize the editor was a ghost from my past.
*Other skeletons in my closet rattle their bones in approval of this awkwardness*
In my defense, I did look at the masthead and never saw this person’s name. I really need to research these thing more carefully….our industry can be such a small world….
Until Next Time,
What I’m Listening To: “Champagne Supernova”–Oasis, Stop the Clocks
Cardigan: Cerulean Shawl Collar
Okay…maybe he wasn’t as hot as shirtless Franco, but the my attraction level to this man was certainly concerning…definitely not my normal. Waxing poetic about the beauty of grilled cheese sandwiches and baseball games. with these adorable boys who were giggling and behaving appropriately in public and….
I’m sweating right now?
25 is staring me in the face and all I’ve got to show for it is two degrees and an empty uterus. I thought I was okay with that. More than okay. Like bang-a-drum-shoot- a-confetti cannon, spray champagne style okay with it. My mother didn’t have me until she was 31. She’s not old and decrepit now. She doesn’t beg me for grandchildren. I want to go back to thinking guys with kids are ancient relics. Making a mental note to stop by a daycare right before nap time sometime soon.
Whew. On to less disturbing things…like Champagne Supernovas.
Britpop from the 90’s has a special place in my heart. When the Gallagher Brothers and Co. recorded this song I’m sure they weren’t picturing nine year old me sitting in my father’s pickup truck at a lumberyard belting the refrain, “WHERE WERE YOU WHILE WE WERE GETTING HIGH?” at the top of my lungs– but it totally happened. I will never forget the look on the worker’s face as helped my father carry 2X4’s to the truck, complete and utter bewilderment. I took it in stride and began my air guitar solo, satisfied in my status as an assuredly strange child.
Still hacking away at the play today. In my attempt to create a second act and simple conclusion, I’ve cut nearly the entire first act and written only one scene for the second. Ahh the joys of the editing process! A new story is bouncing around in the confined space of my prose writing mind is begging to bust loose, but I have to resist the urge to start working on it because this play HAS to be written. HAS TO BE WRITTEN! Wish me luck.
Until next time,
What I’m Listening To: Souvenirs by John Prine, John Prine Live
Cardigan: None ($2 sweatshirt from Goodwill circa 1980)
My Saturday mornings suddenly become more productive when sprinkled with a little Prine. “Souvenirs” especially gets my mental motor running–something about that banjo track just travels through me. On the subject of souvenirs, I found a plastic camel in my purse this morning. It took me a while but I eventually remembered collecting it off of the rim of a companion’s drink last night and meditating on the purpose of drink trinketry. Aside from the potential choking hazard, I’m definitely pro-trinketry if only for the chance to declare the following:
When I’ve consumed a petting zoo, it’s time to stop.
Today I’m working on act two of a a play about the exploration of confessional space that has really exploded into a steaming overworked mess of an unrequited love story. Wish me luck as I try to unwind the tangles and work back to the core of what I really wanted to do…it’s not going to be easy…
At least I have my Prine : ).
Until next time,
Listening To: “Just Like Heaven”–The Cure, Greatest Hits
Cardigan: Lavender long-sleeve with brass buttons
Quote I Can’t Get Over: “Hey, remember that time I found that human tooth down on Delancy?”
While bouncing around my office wailing along with Robert Smith, I am suddenly thirteen again, encountering the name of this song between the intensely enjambed lines of Beau Sia’s poem “Love.”
I used to kiss her/while listening to/the cure’s just like heaven,/now I don’t see her anymore,/so that song makes me sad,/why must we associate music with/our love lives?
This poem carries a strange weight for me as I subsequently became irreconcilably attracted to Asian men after reading it–personal anecdotes aside, this poem does bring up an interesting universal question: Why do we associate music with our love lives? I had a friend who would change music preferences (and a lot of other preferences) to suit the person they were dating at the time, completely abandoning them when the relationship ended. I often wondered if there was going to be music left for them to listen to and promised myself I wouldn’t follow in their footsteps. Then, after a particularly jarring breakup, I avoided Radiohead like the plague only to develop addictions to bands that relied heavily on their influence. Thom Yorke and I still have issues to iron out, but we’re back on a mild rotation. No full albums as of yet. Such a strange psychological thing we do…but I guess that is just the beauty of the artform–it’s ability to incite such strong emotional responses in people, further proving that art is essential to life.
In other (less philosophical) news, due to some creative ingenuity and a strategically positioned paperclip, a Regina Spektor CD (Begin to Hope) I borrowed from a colleague a few years ago finally was freed from its imprisonment in my old MacBook and has been making my morning commute a little more bearable. This post’s “Quote I Can’t Get Over” is the first line of her song, “That Time.” Opening lines are key to producing memorable works of art and I welcome someone to find a line to at least a song that hits harder than this one. BAM, HUMAN TOOTH. Smacks your right across the face, doesn’t it? Also, the h and d sounds in the line add an awkwardly beautiful musicality to the line that further emphasizes the strangeness of what you are experiencing. I am riotously envious of this line. It is so good. So so good.
Until next time…
Listening to: “Mr. Brightside” –The Killers, Hot Fuss
Cardigan: Blue 3/4 sleeve bolero
Quote I Can’t Get Over: “…As an independent woman of what used to be the nineties, I love you from the bottom of what used to be my heart.” –Jenny Schwartz, God’s Ear
As the closing minutes of “Mr. Brightside” work their way through my headphones, Brandon Flowers wails, “I never…I never…I never…” Here’s an “I never” from my personal stash: I never thought I would never start a blog. It seemed to be equal parts too self-indulgent and too overwhelming for me. But after realizing the essential relationship a writer needs to have with social media these days, I threw away my reservations and am now ready to jump in sideways, eyes open, limbs flailing (I’m a remarkably shitty diver…). I’m not promising to be anything more interesting than an amateur writer/professor/flexitarian/idealist can possibly hope to be (I’m listening to pop music from 2004…let’s be real…), but i’ll be me and you be you–sound good?
This semester I took some time away from short fiction and took classes in both poetry and playwriting hoping that I could come back to my prose like a seasoned traveler, arms full of gifts to give to my eagerly awaiting craft. Now that it’s nearly over, I want to go back home so badly I can taste it….paragraphs, sweet paragraphs… I think I will have quite a few things to give to my craft, but not nearly as much as I hoped. A complete stranger and a old friend that has distanced itself from you is a little more than I can handle in four months. I think I’m seeking to be a genre-blurrer rather than a complete code switcher. The importance of lyricism and setting in scene construction are what my prose is getting and it better be happy. That’s all I’ll say about that.
This post’s “Quote I Can’t Get Over ” comes from Jenny Schwartz’ God’s Ear, a play that I recently read for my playwriting course. Strikingly beautiful in its study of the impossibility of true communication in the wake of tragedy, God’s Ear is full of gripping one-liners (something that I appreciate in every genre of writing) that express exhausted confusion, putting actual words together to describe the oft used sentiment of “huh?” With that said, I’m dedicating this quote to my fiction writing hoping that our road back to each other will be smooth and serendipitous.
Until next time,