Thursday, June 16, 2011

in which I move to tumblr (I think)

I've decided to continue the Watermelon Shirt Type over on Tumblr. I think this will lead to more posts (and also the ease of reposting things that I like and that you might like, too), and less feeling that I need to "sit down and write a blog post," and the community aspect is pretty neat. (Yes, I call things "neat." You can take a lady out of the Midwest, etc.)

But before I go -- a word about the origin of the watermelon shirt, since I told a friend I'd write a post about the name.

Photo: Fall 2009, Nashville, TN -- taken during the trip that inspired my Ridin' the Dawg manuscript.

This is the watermelon shirt. I tie-dyed it myself at an event at Sarah Lawrence, sometime in the spring of 2009 (I think that's right). The seeds are drawn on with Sharpie. It is remarkably un-hip, and is hence one of my very favorite articles of clothing.

Last spring, my boyfriend at the time and I were getting ready to meet up with a new friend, and I was rummaging through the drawers of my ugly green dresser, trying to decide what to wear. After casting aside a few rejected t-shirts, I came across the watermelon shirt, which had fallen to the bottom of my drawer during the winter. I picked it up and looked at it for a moment, and considered.

"She seems like the watermelon shirt type," I said of my new friend, correctly assessing that if she was the kind of person who would appreciate the watermelon shirt, our friendship was much more likely to last. I decided to wear the watermelon shirt.

I think, though, that the idea of "the watermelon shirt type" has also come to refer to the best version of myself -- the person that I want to be, but so far have only managed to be on a part-time basis. This person is brave and completely unconcerned with anyone else's opinion, often to the point of being unapologetically (not tragically) un-hip. This person does things that brings her and the people around her joy, and doesn't get bogged down with the details of adulthood. This person manages stress well, does not shy from confrontation when necessary, and is an open-hearted, fearlessly vulnerable communicator. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

in which I am an honorary galaxy defender

One of the things I like about New York is the sense that anything can change in a moment. Well, I guess I should say that I usually like it, since it works both ways. But tonight turned beautiful unexpectedly, with a launch party and reading for the first issue of the Milan Review (and can I just say: good friends are those who will stop at Old Navy to bring you sandals on the way when you've made foolish footwear decisions and decided to go out after work). Lovely words and food and drink, and then walking through DUMBO back to Brooklyn Heights to get the subway home, and we stumble on this:

I know, I know, I need to get an actual good camera so I can take real pictures of things. There were gorgeous classic cars lined up along Court Street all day today, but the timing was such that we got to see them in action, because they were filming a car chase as part of Men in Black 3.

The scene that we got to watch was done by stunt doubles, and involved classic cars & taxis driving rather normally, and then the heroes (presumably -- or maybe villains?) darting through on a motorcycle, chased by what look like police. They did this exact same thing three times (while members of the crew called out that we couldn't take flash pictures and cross the street, occasionally tacking on the fact that it was stunt doubles on not actors, possibly out of bemusement toward the assembled crowd of onlookers).

After watching the third take, we cautiously made our way to the subway, stepping over cables and briefly talking to a man standing on the steps who said he was an extra. On a whim, I asked if I could get my picture with him.

I sort of can't wait for this movie to come out so I can look for my random extra-man friend.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bravery & Lack Thereof

Despite my habit of writing compulsively, I have a distinct tendency to neglect this particular outlet. I think partially because I feel like I need to have something fully-formed and coherent in order to put it out into the world, maybe because I've been gaining an increased awareness of how public the internet is (very, super public!). But I've also been pouring my writing energy into a few other endeavors:

* In April, I participated in Script Frenzy and wrote the first 100 pages of a screenplay.
* I was accepted into the MFA in poetry program at City College of New York.
* I have two things-I-wrote coming out in the next few months -- a short story in the Fox Cry Review and a poem in Wisconsin People and Ideas magazine. (I'm excited about both of these, but one thing I have to say regarding the latter -- when I worked for a large bookstore chain, I really wanted something that I'd written to be available because it seemed like a way to be undercover, sort of like a spy. I liked the idea that customers could come up and, while I was serving them coffee and they were treating me like I was nothing, that some visible reminder of my humanity was available in the store. Anyway, this particular magazine is sold at this particular large bookstore chain in Wisconsin, so I'm pretty tickled that my undercover-spy fantasy is being realized, albeit after it's no longer fully applicable.)

* I also had the ridiculously amazing chance to sit down and have coffee with a famous poetry translator and get some feedback on some of my translated poems. (I'm afraid to say her name in case she finds it and I have to be embarrassed by how starstruck I am, and because I want to say that I'm amazed by her work and also by her kindness. It takes a really good teacher to inspire them to keep going while giving them things to work on, while also making them feel like they already have some talent.)

I've been thinking a lot about the idea of public vs. private, especially with the things-I've-written coming out in print. These are probably the first things that I've published that people who know me are likely to find accidentally, without my direction. There's something scary in that, to be sure -- and maybe that terror is part of the appeal. As someone with a distinct tendency to want to keep anything important private, why in the world would I want to publish anything? I'm not totally sure. And even when whatever poem or story is not personal, not really -- something always seeps out with it, and I wonder if I've admitted something that intangibly condemns myself.

So maybe that's why Lena Chen's article on Slate yesterday struck me in some way, at least the pervasive sense of melancholy inherent in the loss of some of the positive qualities of a former self, even a flawed one. I'm not talking about the subject matter, but rather the honesty that is owed whenever we try to talk to each other as human beings, no matter the medium. We've learned to trade real bravery for brave faces, and become cowards in the process.

I mentioned several weeks ago that I was going to see Marianne Kirby and Lesley Kinzel record their podcast, FatCast Live, at Re/Dress. Well, I did, and it was amazing, and Marianne Kirby complimented my shoes. (And lady has mad style, so -- hello, claim to fame.) I'd like to get into some reasons why I think she's awesome, and how I think the Health at Every Size movement is integral to a cohesive form of feminism that makes sense as a world view, but that's a post for another day. (In the meantime -- check out her blog, which is not only super rad but also I really admire her writing, in that she does not mince words. She says what she means and packs a punch. Me? I mince words all the time. You see that? Words being minced. So I have a great deal of respect for those who manage to leave their words un-minced.)

Oh, and relatedly but in the category of things-I-want-to-write-about-but-right-now-I-have-to-go-buy-wine-and-put-on-my-Settlers-of-Catan-gameface, Lesley Kinzel just wrote a relevant Thing over at xoxojane and here I am linking to it. I hear people say things like "ugggh, (type of person deemed by speaker to be unattractive) just should NOT wear (type of clothing deemed to be only appropriate to be worn by people deemed to be attractive by the speaker)". So, basically, you are saying that other people have the moral necessity to adhere to your personal standard for what they should look like? Huh. That's not arrogant at all!

(No, really, though! I can't get into it right now. There is wine to buy, and Settlers to play.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

in which I discover my favorite things in the faraway land known as Queens

So, a few weeks ago, I started a new volunteer position helping out with Gallop NYC, which is an organization that teaches therapeutic horseback riding lessons to people with disabilities. Right now, I'm most useful with the horses, since I'd never worked with anyone who had special needs before very recently, but I hope to gain some experience and then look to get certified as an instructor with NARHA. All in all, it's pretty rad and also pretty exhausting, but I feel like I'm doing something, and there are a lot of moments in which I wonder if it's more therapeutic for me or for the riders.

The only catch is that the volunteer opening was not at the Brooklyn location. It's in Queens -- and no matter which public-transportation option I exercise (all involve two trains and a bus), it takes me about an hour and a half to get there. So, to be there at 9:00 a.m. on a Sunday, I have to leave at 7:30 (7:15 if I want to buy coffee and a bacon wrap, which isn't really an if, let's be honest). For those of who you know me even remotely well, you know that takes a Herculean amount of effort for me.

So, suffice to say, that while I was setting out on my first weekend volunteer expedition, I was beginning to question my sanity.

But then! I reached the final leg of my journey, and right when I got off the bus to begin my 15-minute walk to the stables, I saw them: all of my favorite things.

A Panera (yes, please, I would like some bread on the side of my bread sandwich), a Five Guys, a library, and a Michael's (craft store), all within about a two-block radius.

Clearly, it was a sign. (Addendum: I have other favorite things too. But these are some of them. I'm like Oprah in that way.)

On my way back from the stables, I walked through the Michael's parking lot and inhaled. It all seemed so nostalgically Midwestern -- the families with kids getting into cars (cars! existing, and being owned by normal people who use them to get places!), and the teenage girls with big bags of colored t-shirts and puffy paint (I, once, was one of you. Confession: much, much more than once).

Then I walked in and saw this:

Isn't it beautiful?! High ceilings! There's just so much space! And no mirror on one side to make the place look bigger!

I didn't buy this, but I admired the fact that it existed:

I was tempted to get a row of these to put on my windowsill (SO TINY AHH), since I really want to try to grow something either pretty or useful (like dudes, it seems that plants are generally one or the other) (j/k, you guys, pretty dudes can totally be me). But then I remembered that I can't stand the sound of clay pots, so, I was relegated to simply admiring them, like the zebra-print hot glue gun.

This is probably just as well, since I usually just bring a small amount of cash for lunch and a Metrocard when I go to the barn. I did, however, manage to budget $3 to go towards buying two spools of ribbon, one of which is hot pink with skulls & crossbones. But this, too, is a good development because then I can continue to add to my ribbon collection whenever I'm out there, and it will help to act as an incentive. (You guys -- what should I do with all this ribbon? I just think it's pretty. I use it for bookmarks, and to tie around wine bottles to make them look fancy, and I have an idea that I will bring back hair ribbons. However this is unfortunately at odds with my goal of looking more like a grown-up on a day-to-day basis, and less likely to be mistaken for an intern.)

This is unrelated, but maybe someone can help me solve the mystery -- I was walking down Atlantic Ave. sometime last week or maybe it was the week before, and it looked like they were filming something. Everyone seemed busy plus I was on the other side of the street, so I didn't ask what it was. Instead, I took a low-quality cell phone picture (keeping it real, like all the other photos I post on here) and told myself I would figure it out later. How I imagined I would do this, I'm not quite sure.

Any ideas? (Either what it is, or how in the world I thought I was going to figure it out from that picture.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

heart, don't fail me now -- courage, don't desert me

This song will never stop being awesome. 1997 forever.

It seems like mainstream music videos used to be a lot less glossy. I miss that quality. I also love that Aaliyah is wearing a drawn-on eye patch here.

So beautiful, so talented, and such a tragedy -- she was definitely a class act.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

new desktop? MAYBE

Via Nina

...and what is possibly my new most-visited website.

Someday I would like to own a herd of corgis. And then I'll throw a frisbee and they'll all run to catch it, with their tiny little legs moving like cartoons and their tongues flopping in the wind.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Why I Am Bad at T.V. (but also great)

I recently made the decision, which may or may not have been influenced by a hearty amount of wine, to participate in Script Frenzy, a yearly event during which people from around the world attempt to write a 100-page play during the month of April. I should point out here that the last time I attempted to write a play was about 10 years ago, when I was a first-year at the Renaissance School for the Arts and took a playwriting class with the late Fred Gaines. I learned from this experience that writing a play is actually really, really hard -- especially if you write like I do, by which I mean if you find dialogue extremely challenging to write and rely heavily on description and pretty language to make it seem like something is happening when you write narrative. However, I'm coming back to give the medium another try for a number of reasons. I've been exploring the idea of dialogue and monologue within the medium of poetry recently, and also the idea of human voices acting as both a time marker, an instrument, and a mode of transportation for words. My friend Monica and I were discussing recently how exciting it must be to write a play and see it come to life through the eyes of directors and actors, and how in the case of film, the director has the privilege and responsibility to allow his or her imagination to become canonical. Think of books that you've seen remade into movies. If you read the book first and then saw the movie, are you able to remember what you thought the characters looked like before you saw the movie? Are you able to remember what you imagined the world to look like? I find that, in many cases (Harry Potter, anyone?), I can't. In a way, the director's imagination has superseded my own. I was telling Monica about the poem that I have fermenting that involves two parts, which I've recorded as my own speaking voice as a duet. Certainly, the choice (in this case made out of the necessity of 3 a.m. alone in my bedroom) to record both parts myself creates a certain canon effect. But what would happen if the voices were a man and a woman? Two men? What if the voices were very old? What if they had accents other than American? What if they had speech impediments? I've enjoyed imagining how actors would create the characters in my poems.

I've also been considering the role of good writing in TV, film, and stage. What makes it good? I might argue that what makes good writing is the ability to connect -- but how exactly does one accomplish that?

Consider the case of the show Huge (you can, and I recommend that you do, watch the whole thing on Hulu). After close to a year of hearing wonderful things about this show, and reading reviews by pop culture critics who hold similarly radical ideas (and how I wish these ideas didn't have to be radical!) as I do about the importance of diverse forms of media representation for minorities of all conceivable categories, I finally got around to watching the show. And I was totally floored. (This, right here, is why I am both good and bad at TV: I don't own one, and I don't watch TV all that frequently. It often takes repeated and persistent nudges from varied sources to convince me that maybe I should watch something. But, when I do and if I love it, invariably the show will have been cancelled by then. See: Arrested Development, Firefly, and now Huge.)

The show takes place at a "fat camp," and deals primarily with the friendships that form among the teenagers that are the campers. But I don't think that description would have compelled me to watch the show -- after all, I've never been overweight, and I've definitely never been to fat camp. What makes Huge extraordinary, though, is that on some level, I could identify with every single character. Especially as someone who has gone through the different stages of camp life -- from camper to counselor to program director -- there was so much that rang true for me, or reminded me of someone close to me. There are some scenes that are so true that they were sometimes difficult to watch. There's the fickleness & fidelity of close teenage friendships and the heartbreak that so frequently accompanies it, the goofiness of being a camp counselor and putting on a happy face and jazz hands through the most challenging of situations, the conundrum of what to do when a camper's parents just won't leave, and how to tell a camper sensitively that he or she needs to employ better hygiene. There's the utter fear that the boy you like will read your journal. There's the feeling of ascending in the camp hierarchy to feel the pressure of living up to those that came before you. There's the navigation of making peace with your body, despite whether it conforms to what's accepted culturally as acceptable.

And Huge's ability to make all the characters ring true is its triumph. And I think that's a big part of good writing, and something to shoot for in my own screenplay. How do you make the audience ache when your character makes a bad decision? How to make them grieve for failures and celebrate for victories? It all seems like both the hardest and the most important thing (amazing how many times these two categories seem to overlap).

For those of you who are going to watch and are interested in reading some commentary -- I recommend Lesley Kinzel, who writes the blog Two Whole Cakes. You can read her comments on Huge here. She's an extremely perceptive and funny writer -- I'm actually going to see her live with Marianne Kirby (event info here) in a few weeks. Occasionally, she writes something in her recaps that makes me cackle with glee, such as her description of George, the counselor on Huge who is the most conventionally-attractive male character, as looking "about as tough as a baby lemur." (Funny because it's true, and also, how cute are baby lemurs?!)

Oh, also, as a very important PS -- Gina Torres, who plays Zoe on Firefly, plays the director of the camp. I think she is a totally spectacular actress, and it seems like she picks great projects, so I look forward to seeing what she does next. (Although, it is probable that in everything I see her in, a part of my brain will say, "Why, Zoe?! You're supposed to be with Wash!") Also, one of the campers is played by Hayley Hasselhoff, who is David Hasselhoff's daughter. And if I'm mentioning that, I definitely need to mention that the show's main character, Will, is played by Hairspray's Nikki Blonsky. And Gina Torres's character's dad is totally the dad in Sixteen Candles, and his character is awesome because it's very reasons-why-your-dad-is-funny. The cast is overall spectacular. There are just so many reasons why this show is awesome -- beyond what I've mentioned so far, it's so refreshing to see race, class, disability, sexual orientation, and gender expression explored in a sensitive way on a mainstream TV show. It's what Glee tries to be, but fails. Oh, also, when was the last time you saw a TV show take a nuanced view on eating disorders, and even showed that in order to have one, you don't have to be thin? Never? Yeah, me either.

This concludes my diversion from screenplay-writing! And now, back to work/play.

EDIT: Oh, and just one last thing! Somebody found this blog the other day by Googling "I have so much street cred..." I have never been so proud of anything. Srsly. #streetcredFTW

Friday, April 1, 2011

oh, goodness...

...this photo is one of my favorite things about today:

This was published on March 11, 1969 in the Schenectady Gazette. Via the Sarah Lawrence Girls tumblr, which I thoroughly enjoy for its dedication to sleuthing out SLC references in pop culture.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sense of Aesthetics?

Some of you already know that I've had somewhat of a revelation lately, in that I think of myself as someone with a strong sense of aesthetics, but I don't really exercise it enough for anyone else to know. So I've been thinking about beauty, and what it is, and how to make time and space feel beautiful in a way that gives me pleasure. I've been massively reorganizing my room, my closet, and details of my life in general.

But before I get into that, I want to make a comment about this whole Rebecca Black business (I don't have the conscience to link to the video -- but if you somehow haven't seen it, it's easy to find). I've been listening to a lot of NPR lately, and I was listening to Soundcheck a few nights ago, and they had Nina Shen Rastogi on, who writes for Brow Beat on Slate (and wrote this article earlier last Friday). One of the things that Rastogi spoke about was why this particular video became a viral hit -- and one of her theories was its profound earnestness. There's not a trace of self-awareness, or sense of irony -- and people love to rip that apart.

I'm not defending the song -- the song is terrible -- but I think there's something to be said here for "don't hate the player, hate the game." For those of you who may not have been following the coverage of the advent of this song, it was produced by a vanity music label that charges $2000 to write a song and record a video for budding pop stars. There are tons of companies that try to capitalize on the dreams of teenage girls who want to be stars. I know, because I was one of them (and, let's face it, I sort of still do want to be a pop star).

When I was thirteen or fourteen, one of my friends talked me into going with her to a cattle call model search at a local hotel. (Let me preface this by saying that I was not cute at this age -- but I was extremely lanky, so much so that my mother tells me that the neighbors asked if there was something wrong with me.) There were hundreds of girls, and we each had to memorize some line about Neutrogena, and how it was #1 (ironic, because my acne was pretty bad at the time. I just want to give you the full mental image, of my hopeful 13-year-old self, wearing a blue t-shirt that said "Angel" with wings on the back). We had to wait in line, and then go up and say the line as though we were in a commercial. Then we were told whether to stay or to go.

My friend was told that if she wanted to model, she would need braces -- and they told her to come back to another one of their model searches in the future. I was told to stay. I sat down in the conference room and listened to one of their representatives give a spiel about an opportunity that we could all have to go to New York and have a few minutes on a runway in front of countless modeling agents, and that we could get signed and live the glamorous life of our dreams, miles away from middle school, awkward slow dances (or more awkward lack thereof, in my case), and dear-diaries. All of this for the low, low price of $500 (or something like that, I can't quite recall).

I didn't go, though part of me wanted to, and I do wonder what it would have been like. Now that I'm older, a bit wiser, and have read way more model memoirs (I sort of love them), I recognize that the girls who make it big from these types of events are few and far between. The companies profit by appealing to the sense of, "What if?" not unlike advertising a glittery, fabulous lottery ticket. The agents are at the event in New York, as promised -- but only because they are bribed by the companies with food, drink, and the promise of "networking." Each girl gets just a few seconds, the agents barely look.

So, my point is -- if an adult had told me, at 13 or 14, that I had what it took to be a pop star, and that for $2000, they could make it happen -- I think I would have listened (if I had access to $2000, anyway). So I can't hate or judge that kind of dream. I can question an industry that exploits young girls, however. (And in the case of modeling, I've learned since then that there are many, many, more problems in the industry -- and there aren't even unions for models like there are for actors. Many girls feel that they have to endure poor treatment in order to sustain their dream and, in some cases, maybe that's even true.)

Anyway, I had Friday afternoon off (which is unusual for my work schedule), so here's how I got down on Friday:

What up, Poets House library. This place is totally magical. I look overwhelmed by books.

Being poet-y in my new blazer. (I don't consider myself a "blazer person," whatever that means, but this one is super soft.)

Also, you can see how the henna looks as my hair grows out -- it's growing pretty gracefully, I think. My roots look a bit "dusty" compared to the more vibrant red, but there's no clear line between my natural color and the dye -- more of a gradient. I do think I will henna again sometime fairly soon, though, to try the higher dye content and get a brighter, more striking red. Also, on the topic of trying to do what I think is beautiful -- the process of henna feels really beautiful. I love the global history, and the messiness of the clay, and the luxury of sitting around for a whole day with a friend while the color soaks in.

Oh -- and my room, as I said I'd post pictures. At one point in high school, I was really interested in photography, and took a lot of pictures. I'm not sure what happened to that, besides going to college and no longer having access to a nice camera. I did learn, as I was trying to take photos of my room, that my current digital camera has approximately 10 minutes of battery life. It also needs about 15 seconds after taking a picture to be ready to take another. So, I'm lusting after a big, beautiful digital SLR to get back to my high school enthusiasm, except with the convenience of digital -- but it will probably be awhile until I can get one. In the meantime, photos courtesy of my geriatric digital and Photo Booth on my Mac.

I should also mention that it's really tough to get any kind of shot where you can see my whole room. Here's the closest that I came:

Change purse: $10, Housing Works.

Books: Inseminating the Elephant by Lucia Perillo (poetry -- cover art by Jojo the elephant), Keel's Simple Diary in yellow, and the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Calendar 2011 (my poem appears in February).

Flowers: Jasmine's Floral Design in Park Slope. I knew I wanted to buy flowers today, so I took my largest Mason jar ($2, hardware store) for a walk with the intention to check out a few places in the neighborhood. The first place was shockingly tacky, and didn't even have flowers by the stem. Jasmine's has a pretty nice selection and has extremely low prices, given the quality. Hydrangeas were $4/stem, and irises $1/stem. I had a brief stint working seasonally at an expensive Brooklyn florist, and I'm pretty sure our prices were easily double that. The staff were amenable to my whim of wanting to do my own arranging, and even gave me ribbons (quick and easy way to my heart).

Wine: On my walk, I found a wine store I'd never been to before -- Adam's Wines & Liquors on 5th Ave. I took a quick look around (one of my recent resolutions is to drink more wine, and try to learn something -- this complements my earlier resolution, to learn to identify cheeses, quite well). I was looking at South African reds when the bottle of shiraz with the horse head caught my eye (call this the Larry & Teddy Method of Choosing Wine, after my family friends who spent a year drinking wine with birds on the label). It had just won some kind of award, and according to a nearby plaque, boasted notes of vanilla, mocha, cherry, and plum. But then, I noticed another shiraz directly below, designed to look like a jam jar (and how perfect, for my recent Mason jar obsession). On the back, this one said: "It makes a perfect partner for bacon cheeseburgers, soft cheeses, and desserts." (Emphasis mine.) How could I not buy it?! It's like they know me.

So, I bought both and got a punch card (I really, really love membership/loyalty/punch cards for businesses. They make me so happy).

This is my classiest shelf. (I'm also proud of the one above, which stores all of my vitamins, soaps, face washes, etc. and which I am designating my "apothecary.") I reorganized all of my makeup into Mason jars, and arranged all of my perfume bottles next to my wax seal stamp, a jar filled with dried flowers from a bouquet I received, a pretty pin from a friend, a small ruffly purse, my passport, and an Erlenmeyer-flask-esque vase with silk flowers from IKEA.

...yes, I'm wearing knee socks. Hello, knee.

Part of my redecorating has involved finding interesting postcards, either from vintage stores or that friends have sent me. The one on the wall here is of the capitol building in Madison, and above it is a pop-art-y color-contrast postcard of the Brooklyn Bridge (you can see part of it in the picture).

My windowsill (yes, I moved the flowers to be in the photo). You can see the clotheslines that my neighbors and I share for drying clothes when it's warm out, as well as my jar filled with wooden clothespins. I haven't decided what to use the spare jar for yet.

Other redecorating took the form of: cleaning out everything under my bed, donating a lot of clothes, books, and jewelry to the Salvation Army, realizing that I have an old hook on my wall that I can use to hang a bathrobe, putting all electronic cords in its own Mason jar, getting bed risers, moving my giant suitcase out of my closet to under my newly-risen bed, and getting plastic bins for under-bed storage so I could get rid of cardboard boxes. I also rearranged my furniture -- bed is by the window instead of the middle of the room, and nightstand is on other side.

I am still hoping to get a desk, which I would put where my bookshelves currently are, and move my bookshelves next to the window. But, I'm pretty happy with how my decorating has been going so far. As of about a week ago, I have lived in this apartment for one year -- the longest I have ever lived anywhere that wasn't my parents' house. So it's time to make this feel like home, and find out what that means.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Through some odd combination of good fortune, I've managed to have the privilege of attending a grand total of three events at the Tully Scope Festival at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall. The first was the free opening ceremony -- written up in NY Times here. (Charlotte, one of my friends who went with me, says that she can see me in one of the pictures, but I can't. I never was very good at Where's Waldo. Or Magic Eye, for that matter. Remember those?) The contemporary piece performed in the opening ceremony, "Bells" by Nathan Davis, incorporated the use of cell phones to create an atmospheric, futuristic effect. Ordinarily, the curmudgeon in me would be skeptical of combining the necessary evil of cell phones with a concert at Lincoln Center, but I really enjoyed it. There were performers moving about the space, including a flute player, and there were some really cool overlaps between what the live performers were playing, and the electronic effects coming from the cell phone channels. There were a few different options for channels of sounds to have your cell phone play, so my friends and I had fun holding our phones up to one another's ears and creating a surround-sound. I would really love to see what the score of the piece looked like, since parts of it felt improvisatory to my ear, but other parts involved really precise interactions between instruments.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to obtain a ticket that a friend couldn't use to go see Kayhan Kalhor and Brooklyn Rider. As previously mentioned, I can be a bit of curmudgeon in some ways when it comes to classical music (though not in others -- for example I think it would be totally awesome to see more classical performances in bars and places that have more of a rock-concert feel) but even so, the idea of a contemporary string quartet performing with a Persian-music virtuoso seemed intriguing. My favorite piece on the program was the world premiere of a John Cage string quartet, which was rich and luscious, and made me wish that I could play the cello. There was also a piece by Colin Jacobsen, who plays violin in Brooklyn Rider, called "Beloved, do not let me be discouraged" that combined the string-quartet sound with the kamancheh (Persian fiddle-like instrument) in a really interesting way. They combined the instruments on some other pieces, too, but this one in particular stood out to me because the kamancheh blended completely with the violins during some sections, and then took on its own voice. They apparently have a collaborative CD called Silent City that I'd be interested in checking out (both figuratively literally, from Brooklyn Public Library).

Tonight I'm going to see Louis Lortie perform a Liszt program. When I bought the tickets, I knew that I had heard of Louis Lortie but wasn't sure where, but I needed to make a quick decision in order to get an awesome deal. My general rule of thumb for classical music is that if I feel like I've heard of the musician and I can get tickets for less than $20, I should definitely go. (My feeling was correct on this one -- as soon as I got home, I found that I had some recordings of Lortie's on my iTunes.) And Liszt is awesome -- it should be a good program, and probably involving a drool-worthy piano that will make me entertain fantasies of moving somewhere where I could keep a gorgeous Steinway grand in my living room.

Other than that -- I recently paid a visit to my alma mater to attend their annual women's history conference. This year's theme was Breaking Boundaries: Body Politics and the Dynamics of Difference. My friend Charlotte was presenting her paper on information bias in fat studies, so basically she is a rockstar academic who does things like speak at conferences now. She and her research partner Kate did a really awesome job, and I learned enough to be appropriately outraged, for example that all books on fat studies (studying how fat bodies are perceived in society, suggesting that it is possible to be both fat and healthy and that most studies that say otherwise are funded by various multimillion-dollar diet companies, etc.) are mostly categorized by the Library of Congress under such offensive categories as "disease", right next to books on cancer, rather than under a more-factually-correct social science heading. There were a ton of really excellent panels, and it was a good reminder for me that I can still do lots of things that expand my brain and challenge my thinking without being in school.

One of the best talks I attended was by Zoe Spencer from Virginia State University, whose lecture was entitled The Sexualized Body Politics of African American Women: From Enslavement to Hip Hop. I would actually really like to listen to everything she said one more time, because she was a super engaging speaker and kept dropping these really huge, groundbreaking statements like they were totally no big deal, and it took my brain a second to try to keep up (an example that I wrote down: "Reproductive and sexual labor is directly controlled through social constructs"). I bet she is a really awesome professor. She also talked about Sarah Baartman/the Hottentot Venus (who I hadn't heard of before but came up again later in a talk I attended on the inherent sexism and racism in the field of anatomy, and how the default in textbooks is almost always white and male unless the picture has something to do with reproduction).

I also learned about the "ugly laws" from the 1860s, in which people who were considered ugly or "deformed" could be sentenced to a mandatory year of hard labor if they were seen in public (partially due to a belief that a pregnant woman who saw an ugly person would damage her unborn baby), and how reaction to this law affected disability rights movements and later, employment discrimination laws (though apparently 98% of employment discrimination cases are settled in favor of the defendant*). Susan Schwiek, the lecturer, brought up the interesting point that in most discrimination cases, the oppressed group refutes weakness as a part of deserving civil rights (for example, women and African-Americans arguing equal intelligence to white men as a reason for suffrage). However, this type of reasoning is problematic for some forms of disability rights movement, in that people deserve civil rights regardless whether they are neurotypical.

* For my lawyer and legal-oriented readers -- Schwiek referred to the case of Samantha Robichaud v. RPH (McDonald's) as an example of a notable employment discrimination case. To sum up: Samantha Robichaud worked at McDonald's, had a large birthmark on her face and, after watching new employees that she trained get promotions, asked why she hadn't been promoted. The response she got was, "You will never be in management here because I was told you would either make the babies cry or scare the customers off." Robichaud ended up losing the case, but it broke new territory in that it raised the question of whether or not disability laws applied to discriminating against someone for being "ugly".

The conference allowed me to do some examining on my own intersecting forms of privilege, and put some thought into what I can do in order to work against systems of the kyriarchy -- even when, on the surface, they can benefit me. I think the biggest thing for me is to continue to work on being a good listener, and to question other people's assumptions, and to continue to ask questions in general. And also, to notice when privilege may play a part in what's going on around me. For example -- I attended on a panel on burlesque in which a member of the audience asked a question about whether or not fat bodies are accepted in burlesque. There were three women on the panel: one woman who was self-identified fat and performed in a burlesque troupe whose goal was to show fat bodies as sexy, and two thin women. The self-identified fat woman responded that fat bodies were not always accepted in burlesque, and that sometimes venues respond, "Oh, don't just want to sing?! You want to take your clothes off?!" The responses of the two thin women seemed to dismiss her experience, saying how great everyone was in the burlesque community and what a positive place it was for a wide variety of bodies.

Overall, though, I left the conference feeling inspired by movement. I realize this sounds heavy-handed, but what I mean is that I'm excited by what's happening right now in the various sub-groups of progressive political activism. In a way, the internet has done something similar for politics as it has for music and film: put it into the hands of everybody. I have a serious love/hate relationship with the internet in general, but I do love that I can read blogs that remind me to, above all, see people as people, and think about my reactions and assumptions. (One of these -- good even for those with short attention spans -- is the Microaggressions tumblr, found here.)

In somewhat related news, I've recently discovered some old high school journals, and if that's not a surefire way to show that I've gone through some amount of personal growth, I don't know what is. I'm currently working on a podcast that will include some of the best quotes as a feature (possibly entitled "Teenage Dirtbag"). As can be expected, I say a fair amount of things that I now don't agree with at all. What's actually more shocking are the things that I feel like I could also say in five minutes, and still have it be true. Also, prepare yourselves for some really great quotes from my dad, recorded for posterity.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

buckets of moonbeams in my hand

Now that pretty much everybody I'm going to see has seen my new hair in real life, I get to post some pictures for the masses. It's been super fun surprising people ("surprise"?! it's like the days before the internet!!). I was doing some reading online about taking care of long hair, and I found a lot of positive comments about 100% pure henna, body art quality as a deep conditioner and a way to get more shine.

After doing extensive research, I decided to buy 500 g of Ancient Sunrise-brand Purity Henna (the one with the second-highest lawsone content) from this website, whose owner is working on a PhD in henna (which, apparently, exists). I learned there are a ton of variations for recipes in terms of what to mix the henna with, so this is what ended up doing:

400 g Ancient Sunrise-brand Purity Henna (
15 fl oz lemon juice
approx. 6 oz of Trader Joe’s orange-peach-mango juice (because I ran out of lemon juice and didn't feel like going to the store -- and the e-Book I read said that any acidic juice should work)
four spoonfuls of cinnamon (for delicious smell)
latex gloves (two pairs -- one for me and one for my friend Monica)
plastic bowl
plastic spoon
newspaper for protecting living room
clear plastic wrap
pizza (for eating)

Mixed around midnight.

Let sit until about 1:30 pm next day.
Added more orange-peach-mango juice & stirred.

I enlisted the help of my friend Monica, who had done henna on herself before. She came over and after thoroughly newspapering my living room and eating some bacon, we went to work. It was extremely messy to apply -- think mud wrestling. It is totally necessary to wear clothes you don't care about staining, as well as have a towel of similar status. I have some pretty ridiculous pictures of myself with the mud all over my hair -- and, after much debate, eyebrows even though it said on the website not to -- but since I look like a Swamp Thing, I'm not posting them lest I ruin my presidential campaign.

We plastic-wrapped my head, put a towel over it, and left the henna on for three hours.

Because the e-Book said that it would come out coppery bright at first and then oxidize to a darker color within three days, I had done all of this on a Saturday, expecting that I may need to hibernate until it looked less ridiculous. Fortunately and unfortunately, it ended up looking exactly like I wanted it just after we finished, so we went out for a drink.

Over the next few days, the color did get darker, as promised and as depicted below (poorly, due to flash and bad lighting). I still liked the initial Little-Mermaid-esque color better, so next time I won't be afraid to get the highest dye content, which is the Celebration henna.

Close-up on hair before, immediately after, and next day:


In honor of joining the redhead ranks -- this is a fabulous Dylan cover by Neko Case.

I've been super into her lately. Gorgeous voice.

And another gorgeous one -- not a cover:

Also, a few weeks ago I was looking at things on the Internet, as I am often wont to do, and I stumbled across this nail art tumblr. Lo and behold, the artist, Fleury Rose, works in Brooklyn, so I made an appointment and got my nails done to match my new stockings:

I'm into it. Pretty much played "Pro Nails" by Kid Sister on repeat all the way home.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Best of Hipster Disney; Mermaids & Poetry

As a kid, I always wanted Ursula to win in The Little Mermaid. Ariel was too whiny. Also, Eric was totally the boringest of the princes. At least he liked dogs, I guess. And...silent women. (Probs that last one would be a dealbreaker in my case.)

Awesome program at the Brooklyn Public Library yesterday -- Matthea Harvey, one of my favorite poets, read some of her mermaid poems (one was in the New Yorker last August -- rare that their poetry suits my tastes, but I love this) as part of a collaboration with a few members of the Brooklyn Philharmonic (Bridget Kibbey on harp, Ah Ling Neu on viola, and David Wechsler on flute). I just put Matthea's newest book "Modern Life" on reserve at the library -- my favorite of her mermaid poems that she read was "The Inside-Out Mermaid". I'm amazed by how she manages to combine whimsy with packing an emotional punch.

I've been stumbling across a lot of fantastic poems lately, and I am thinking of recording a podcast of some of my favorites. As I mentioned earlier, I've been interested lately in the use of the speaking voice as it relates to poetry -- but I tend to feel alienated by what's considered "spoken word". I'm thinking about doing some recordings that involve singing poems, too. I think it's fascinating how we can listen to songs over and over, and how the lyrics become a part of us years later -- and maybe incorporating more musicality into the world of poetry could help change our hearts and minds in that direction.

I also finally bought a copy of Nox by Anne Carson, which is so incredibly lush, expansive, and gorgeous. It puts me into a similar mind-space as House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (except without the nightmares, so far), which affected a lot of the creative work I did in the end of high school and early college (to be honest, I'm afraid to reread it, in case it doesn't hold up -- because I love what it became to me). In the advent of e-readers, I love seeing books that effectively use the medium of printed text. I understand the advantages to e-readers and it's exciting to me to see what publishers are doing with them, but there's something really special about ink, pages, and the new-book (and old-book! and smell. For those of us with tactile sensations, we need to encourage publishers doing new and interesting things with the print medium. How can we incorporate additional senses into books of poems and stories? How can we capture a spirit of revelation? (Or maybe "release" is a better word than "capture", in this context.)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Man in the Elevator

A few days ago, on what was already a particularly stressful day, I was in the elevator at work on my way to lunch. (It's relevant to note that I work on the 15th floor, and the elevator that I take runs express between the first floor and the 14th floor, so there's a fairly long period of time during which it is impossible to exit the elevator.)

On the 14th floor, a man stepped into the elevator. I moved to the side to give myself more space, and looked straight ahead toward the elevator buttons. I never really saw what he looked like, except that he could have been middle-aged and white -- but I could see, out of the corner of my eye, that he was staring at me. The elevator began its descent, and I started to get nervous.

Then he started making kissing noises at me -- and I realized, that no matter what happened in approximately the next 90 seconds, I was trapped. I could feel my hands start to sweat, and I pointedly kept my gaze away and my body as far away as possible. I reached down to check my phone with faux nonchalance. He continued to stare at me and make kissing noises until the elevator reached the ground floor.

But rather than feeling relieved when I stepped out of the elevator, I was angry. I was angry at myself for not saying anything. I was angry at myself for feeling threatened -- after all, nothing happened. I stood in an elevator with a creepy dude. No big deal, right. Again: nothing happened.

But it could have. And I know that if it had, I would have had to make the choice to say nothing or to enter into a situation during which everything I have ever done or haven't done would be brought against me as "evidence".

And then, walking down the street to the pizza place, another man caught my eye and told me to smile. I ignored him and walked a little faster.

I just cannot understand how we can live in a society in which it's perfectly acceptable to have half of the population trained to be afraid -- and if they lack the necessary fear, then whatever happens to them is their own fault. I'm not blaming men -- just like women (and anyone anywhere else on the gender spectrum), they're breathing in messages that are healthy for no one. The system is broken -- and I know I'm not immune to perpetuating it, even inside my own mind. When I've been harassed, I'm ashamed to admit that one of my first thoughts is if I might have done anything to provoke it, and how I was dressed at the time (answer: it doesn't matter). And yet -- both of these thoughts can end up as courtroom "evidence".

And the men on the street who've told me to smile? (This one was not the first, and I'm sure he won't be the last.) My face is not here for your enjoyment. My body isn't, either. By telling me what I should do with them, you're telling me that body isn't mine. You're telling me that I'm public property. And as hard as I try to fight it -- sometimes public property is exactly what I feel like.

And I'm sick of it. And I'm tired of violence against women being treated as something to laugh about. I'm sick of rape jokes in the mainstream -- on network television, in movies, even in Broadway musicals. (Melissa McEwan at Shakesville sums it up far better than I can.)

So, that's part of what's been on my mind.

I went to a Sarah Lawrence alumni seminar yesterday about how post-modern art influenced the work of John Cage. I would like to find more opportunities in the city to go to lectures, because in addition to learning being awesome, they always put me in a great mind-space creatively. Plus, I can look super-academic and intellectual when I furiously scrounge for a notebook and a pen, when the real reason is I just thought of a poem or story idea. (Oh, and there was classy food! I have decided that one of my goals for the New Year is to learn how to identify different kinds of cheese. My first new one -- taught to me by my friend Monica, who was also at the seminar, and apparently knows things about cheese -- who knew? -- that I can identify is Gruyere.)

Anyway, the topic of the modern dance world in the 1950s came up, and the professor mentioned Merce Cunningham's interest in departing from the "tyranny of narrative". While I think it is definitely possible to go too far in that direction, I started thinking about how, out of all the art forms, the only one that I haven't heard people complain that they didn't know what it was "about" was instrumental music. If Bach Sonatas don't have to be "about" anything, why does modern art? Why does poetry? Why does it bother some people so intensely to watch a dance performance and not know what it is "about"? I would argue that beauty should be enough of something to be "about" -- although I suppose the problem there is that no one can decide what beauty is, and it's frustrating to encounter a piece of art that not only do you feel like you don't understand, but you don't think it's beautiful. (I had this experience when I was assigned to read Recyclopedia by Harryette Mullen for a poetry workshop. I got that she was doing stuff with wordplay and sound -- but when I wasn't particularly interested in what she did with wordplay or sound, I found myself struggling more with the feeling of "not getting it".)

And then I started thinking about how, even if a work of art is "about" something, it can easily be misunderstood -- and then subjectivity comes into play, where each individual person experiencing the work of art will inherently get something different out of it, based on their own life experience, preferences, mood, and biases. And maybe it's not necessarily a wrong interpretation, so long as somebody gets something they think is beautiful. (I'm going somewhere with this, I promise.)

So, then, if wrong interpretations can also be right in terms of attaining the goal of providing beauty -- how can we, as a community of artists, use miscommunication as a form of art? And I returned to an idea that I had several months ago, about writing a poem in two columns that is intended to be read by two voices simultaneously. When I finally got to my laptop, I remembered that I had already started to write a poem based on this idea back in October or November (and the working title, GIRLBOY, made me laugh a lot because it reminded me of MOTHERBOY). As the name suggests, I originally wrote it for two speaking voices, one male and one female (though maybe a bit older than one would think from GIRLBOY -- I imagine early 30-something). I don't usually like to post poetry, for a number of reasons, one of which being that when you're submitting to literary journals, you're supposed to give them most of them the first publication, which technically includes online self-publication if you're being totally honest. But since this one is so far from what it's going to be when it's done, and I really wanted to talk about the ideas behind it to see if anyone else is similarly inspired so we can start an awesome cycle (you know, as opposed to a vicious cycle).

So when I got home late from the lecture and my roommates were asleep, I very quietly recorded myself speaking each part individually into Garage Band. Then I played them back together.

What I think is interesting is the way that the two parts end up lining up. I like the moments in which you hear one voice say one word, and then you hear the other voice responding with the same word in a different context. I like the part where it seems like the two voices breathe together, which is a total coincidence since they were recorded separately (obviously, since I can't do multiphonics with my voice -- but oh how cool would that be?!). I'm interested in new ways to experience poetry other than visually (why are visuals more important than say, smell? how would it affect your experience if a poem smelled like lemons?). It's also interesting to me how confessional this ends up sounding, simply because I was speaking quietly so as not to wake anybody, and how because both voices are me, it's easy to let the voices conflict until neither of them make any sense. (If somebody wants to lend their voice to help me experiment -- that could be pretty cool. And if you have a Mac with Garage Band, it'd be easy to record the tracks separately.)

What I think isn't working: Well, I actually hate each part on its own, and a lot of the lines individually. Each part alone sounds melodramatic to my ear, and trying a bit too hard to get wherever they're going. I would be a bit embarrassed to see this in print. Oh, and clearly I need to think of a title other than GIRLBOY, at some point. And if I wanted it to be put this on the page, how would I print it so that a reader had close to the same experience as it would be to hear it aurally performed by two people? This may not be possible -- but how would one even approximate? And how do I fix all of the problems while keeping the parts I think are interesting (the way the words line up together, the fugue-like quality to the repetition)?

GIRLBOY by littlemissdictionary

In other news: it is still winter, and there are few things more oppressively grown-up than being at work while kids are off from school and sledding in front of your office.

In other other news: people still think it is okay to lick their hands while handling papers or money. This is gross.

That is all.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Instead, here is Johnny Depp holding a puppy.

Well, I was planning to write a post about street harassment and how it's ridiculous that any situation in which human beings feel threatened is still seen as a feminist issue, but I just don't have the energy today. I think all I would like to do is wear a bathrobe and drink a rather strong fuzzy navel (haters gonna hate; sorry you don't feel secure enough to enjoy delicious beverages with funny names), and think about snuggling with puppies.

So, please accept this photo of young Johnny Depp holding a puppy.

I got a thank-you over at Cute and Cuter for submitting this article. Although I think the following photo is more in the true spirit of the blog than the one that was posted over there:

Hadn't heard this Ingrid Michaelson cover 'til today -- makes me want to get back into tango & ballroom.

EDIT: Oh man, I just went to Google Usher and one of the suggestions was "Usher with Pitbull". Talk about disappointing when I found out that meant this guy.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Mother Knit Me a Capelet

Starting today into next week, I am going to make some headway and all of the projects I've promised to do for people and haven't follow through yet, while fully intending to do so, even if this is months after the fact. Some of these projects include editing the beginning of a friend's novel, and writing a the text of children's book so my friend Matt can illustrate. Get psyched.

I'm kick-starting this with two such projects before I head out for the night:

Project Request #1: Take pictures wearing the capelet that my mother knit me for Christmas.

Project Request #2: Take a picture next to a drawing that my friend Kenly drew of me.

So here we go with project #1:

When my mom told me she was knitting me a capelet, I didn't know what it was, and I had to Google it. She explained that I could wear it a bunch of different ways, but she was concerned that said capelet would not be stylish in New York.

I don't make any claims to being stylish -- in all honesty, I pretty much still dress like I did when I was 12 except minus the Catholic-school uniform -- but I think it works, don't you?

(All stupid Myspace-y faces are to demonstrate said high-fashion of capelet, obvs.)

It started simply enough, with intentions to photograph a few of the capelet-wearing methods that my mom had mentioned to me over the phone. This is the over-the-neck method!

Capelet on the go!

Capelet over-the-shoulder!

Arguably, the safest way to exercise second-amendment rights.

And then, once I tried the over-the-head capelet method, things started to get weird:

I call this one: "Why, yes, I will make you cupcakes. AND THEN KEEEEEL YOU."



The lighting is pretty egregious in my apartment (capelet is more purple than brown, as it appears in some of the photos) -- I really should have taken these while I had natural light earlier -- but anyway, CHECK. Mission accomplished.

Project #2:

Kenly is a professional artist and does storyboards for movies. I met him while I was couch-surfing between apartments last January. I was leaving for work one day and he asked if he could draw me -- and this was the result:


Oy, got carried away -- it's later than I thought. Into the night, zoom zoom!

QUICK EDIT: I think I just really like the word "capelet".

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Songs That Bear Repeating

Since I mentioned my rather compulsive habit of song-repeating in my last post, I've had a request to post some of the songs that have gotten this treatment in the past. And since I'm a sucker for reader-requests (whoa, people actually read stuff I write?!), I'm totally game. This is also the most I have actually planned out a post ever (I actually wrote down notes on my lunchbreak -- true story), which may have not been a great idea because of course, I kept thinking of more songs to include. For now, though, I'm keeping it to a super-concise nine (if I counted right). I pared it down like so:

You see, dear Reader, even though I, in theory, subscribe to the idea that there should be know guilty pleasures in life -- after all, you enjoy what you enjoy; in practice, I can usually recognize when I should be embarrassed to like a particular song. (Hence my admittedly defensive note about the T.Swift song in the last post.) These songs, however, are all songs that I am not even remotely embarrassed to love, nor do I feel like I should be. If someone were to put out a huge press release to the world that said: "[The Watermelon-Shirt Type] has played all of these songs on repeat before!", I would be okay with that. (To be fair, that's pretty much what a blog is, anyway. So, done and done.)

Also, it should be noted that although I'm putting unofficial YouTube videos up for your listening convenience (you'll notice I had to make some compromises here in terms of the visuals), if you like these songs as much as I do, please support the artists and buy their music! I paid money for almost all of these -- the exceptions are two songs which I received on mix compilations from other people.

#1- Fiona Apple, "Paper Bag"

I was staring at the sky, just looking for a star
To pray on, or wish on, or something like that
I was having a sweet fix of a daydream of a boy
Whose reality I knew, was a hopeless to be had

Hunger hurts, and I want him so bad, oh it kills
'cause I know I'm a mess he don't wanna clean up
I got to fold 'cause these hands are too shaky to hold
Hunger hurts, but starving works, when it costs too much to love


He said, "It's all in your head," and I said, "so's everything" -- but he didn't get it.

Her voice sounds like bourbon tastes.

Ms. Apple may be surprised to find that this song has been co-opted by some pro-anorexia groups as a "thinspiration" song, due to its use of food-hunger as a metaphor for love-hunger. But although she has discussed struggling with an eating disorder in past interviews, it seems clear to me via context that's not what this song is about.

This song gives me a visceral reaction every time I listen to it, and has since I was twelve years old. (Most other music I liked back then hasn't aged quite as well -- but the best songs, like the best books [Chronicles of Narnia, anyone?], seem to evolve with time.) I have a distinct memory of waiting to leave on the St. Joe's Middle School ski-trip bus with my friend Liz at about six in the morning, and sitting with our Discmen (Discmen!) and listening to this CD. The same year, I memorized the full title of the album (When the Pawn) and can still recite it on command:

When the pawn hits the conflicts he thinks like a king
What he knows throws the blows when he goes to the fight
And he'll win the whole thing 'fore he enters the ring
There's no body to batter when your mind is your might
So when you go solo, you hold your own hand
And remember that depth is the greatest of heights
And if you know where you stand, then you know where to land
And if you fall it won't matter, cause you'll know that you're right

#2 -- Fiona Apple, "Shadowboxer"

You made me a shadowboxer, baby
I wanna be ready for what you do
I been swinging around 'cause
I don't know when you're gonna make your move

Oh, your gaze is dangerous
And you fill your space so sweet
If I let you get too close
You'll set your spell on me

So darlin' I just wanna say
Just in case I don't come through
I was onto every play
I just wanted you

It's still amazing to me that the album this song is on, Tidal, came out when she was only 17. The whole album is breathtaking. There are rumors that she might be coming out with a new (fourth) album in the spring, and although they are unsubstantiated, I sincerely hope that they're true.

#3- Janelle Monae, "Tightrope"

We call that classy brass!

This lady needs to be a bigger star than she already is, stat. Talk about triple threat. I also love her in interviews -- other stars talk about their love lives; meanwhile she talks about ALIENS. ALIENS, YOU GUYS.

#4- Nerina Pallot, "Geek Love"

In the race to get out of this place, I am checking my face in the back of a spoon.
You're accusing, you say I'm not here -- but I'm here, yes I'm here, yes, I'm not on the moon.

I got this song and first heard of this artist from my friend Aly. It was on one of the few CDs that I brought with me on my cross-country Greyhound trip, and it was one of my favorites for looking-out-the-window-listening-to-music-and-writing, which is pretty much what I did on that trip. (Miss you, open road.) Also, her song "Idaho" is the main reason why I was super excited when my trip from California to North Dakota took me through the northern Idaho, where I had a layover in Coeur D'Alene.

#5- Amy Winehouse, "Rehab"

This song reminds me of summer '09, a/k/a Nomi and Abby's Summer of Glory, when we would drive around and play this song on a summer mix CD I made, and she would make me skip the one T. Swift song (Track 1, "You Belong With Me") that was on there whenever we got to it.

For the record, I may love this song, but I am not a heroin addict...yet. (Just kidding, M&D! No desire for that sort of thing, as you probably know.) Hilariously, though, the GoogleAds on YouTube advertise rehab facilities alongside this song. ("They advertised that I should go to rehab, but I said no, no, no.")

#6- Johnny Cash, "Hurt"

What have I become, my sweetest friend?
Everyone I know goes away in the end.

You could have it all -- my empire of dirt
I will let you down. I will make you hurt.
If I could start again a million miles away,
I would keep myself. I would find a way.

Is it terrible that the phrase "heroin addict" made me remember to add this song (which I wrote in my notes, but didn't count in the nine I listed above)? This is actually a Nine Inch Nails cover, but I find the Johnny Cash version a million times more enjoyable.

#7- Lily Allen, "The Fear"

I want to be rich, and to have lots of money
I don't care about clever; I don't care about funny.
I want loads of clothes & fuckloads of diamonds
I heard people die while they're trying to find them.

& I'll take my clothes off, and it will be shameless,
'cause everyone knows that's how you get famous.

I mentioned this one earlier as a Perfect Pop Song (TM). I really admire how Ms. Allen manages to combine saccharinely-perfect catchy pop melodies with actual social issues. The whole album "It's Not Me, It's You" is wonderful.

#8 - Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories, "Stay"

Major throwback. This song came out in 1995, and I can remember being in the health-club locker room with my mom and enthusiastically singing along. A few years after that, I remember staying up late to watch Lisa Loeb on Loveline with Dr. Drew.

#9 -- Adele, "Right as Rain"

Who wants to be right as rain?
It's better when something is wrong.
You get excitement in your bones & everything you do's a game.
When night comes, and you're all on your own,
you can say I chose to be alone.

I first heard this song during a happy event and assumed that it was cheerful, probably due to the upbeat tempo. After listening to the lyrics, though, I couldn't hear it the same way again, sort of like being unable to picture the way you imagined characters in a book after seeing the movie.

#10 - Adele, "Chasing Pavements"

If I tell the world, I'll never say enough
'cause it was not said to you,
and that's exactly what i need to do,
If i'm in love with you.

Should I give up, or should i just keep chasing pavements even if it leads nowhere?

Since I finally gave into the countless recommendations of friends and started listening to Pandora last year, I've come to terms with the fact that my taste in music, which I once thought was rather eclectic, is entirely predictable. My discovery of Adele is an example of that. What is that, Pandora? Lots of piano? Subtle use of vocal harmony? You know me too well...

***EL FIN***

Tune in next time for "Songs I Am Actually Pretty Embarrassed To Have Played On Repeat." Well, maybe. If people want it. And I'm not too embarrassed.

In the meantime, here's what I'm reading as of late:

Born to Believe: God, Science, and the Origin of Extraordinary Beliefs and How God Changes Your Brain by Andrew Newberg, MD
Lessons from the Fat-O-Sphere by Kate Harding & Marianne Kirby
Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men by Michael Kimmel
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
A World That Will Hold All the People by Suzanne Gardinier
Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut by Rob Sheffield
The Real Facts of the Grimms' Fairytales, which I have been borrowing from my friend Charlotte since forever
Communion by bell hooks
Fragment of the Head of a Queen by Cate Marvin

I overheard someone say recently that sometimes, our worst qualities are the same as our best qualities. The more I think about that, the truer it seems. I'm extremely loyal, but that also means that I don't know when to bail. (But maybe part of that is from riding horses, and the knowledge that's tougher to injure yourself if you're still on the horse instead of the ground. On the other hand -- the emergency dismount exists for a reason!) I'm honest, but sometimes it's possible to be too honest and say things that are unintentionally hurtful. It also means that I don't build up the walls that most people have in place for self-preservation -- but even the strongest houses collapse without walls.

Also, you guys! I totally wrote a poem the other night and immediately sent it out for publication. I have never, ever done that and I probably never will again. I keep a folder called "Unfermented Poetry" and I usually let things sit for at least several months, sometimes several years, while I revise, ignore, or some combination of both. But every once in a long while, something leaks out so honestly that I'd feel like it was lying to revise it. I will probably hate it if I reread it (and so no one else can read it either, unless it gets published). It's basically about how I don't understand the Book of Job. I reread it the other day and it really made me think of this Onion article.

Also, my body is better than anything on TV lately! I wake up every day with something different. Earlier, it was a baboon-red rash covering my entire neck. Then, hives all over both of my legs. (I took a picture! If you are nice to me and like gross things, maybe I'll send it to you. But also, maybe not.) Then, I could see my heart-beat in my left wrist. (Paging Dr. Peters? What does this mean?) Always against my better judgment, I decide to Google these things, and the Internet tells me that I could die at any moment (this time: the allergic reaction could spread to your throat and it could close up! oh noes!). And will it be sleeping all day, or no sleeping? Being very hungry, or not hungry at all for two days in a row? Tune in next time!

I think death is probably the Internet equivalent of college health services suggesting that I am either pregnant (srsly, not even possible) or have mono. ("So, my eye has been pretty irritated lately, and now it's bright red and oozing." "Hmm. Are you pregnant? No? Are you sure? Why don't we do a test to be sure..." "But my eye! It burns! Do I have pinkeye? Should I not go to class? I need ans..." *collapses in puddle of eye ooze*)