- The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros. So far adulthood consists of me paying bills and reading the books I was assigned in high school English but did not read in favor of AOL Instant Messenger. This particular one was great!
- Short stories: “A Very Small Flame,” James Winter. “Astronauts in Love,” Erin Somers. “Mr. Jenny Perdido,” Cathy Day. Also still reading Ms. Marvel and Lumberjanes. I recommend them all.
- Boy, Snow, Bird, Helen Oyeyemi. I love Helen Oyeyemi’s writing and loved this book up until about the last ten percent, but then it took a turn that I found bizarre and downright offensive and I still don’t really understand why it happened. If you’ve read it, please talk me though this.
- Kindred, Octavia Butler. Timey-wimey wibbly-wobbly antebellum South stuff. It is so good, but totally wrenching.
- Bellweather Rhapsody, Kate Racculia. Okay, so. This book came on my radar thanks to Rachel Fershleiser, as so many good books do, and then I had a conversation with its author on Twitter about how Peter Capaldi looks like a sexy row house and David Tennant looks like a sexy grasshopper in sand shoes, and that’s what made me buy it. It’s great: teens and music and MURDER. I highly recommend.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets & Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling. During this reread I just keep trying to imagine things from the point of view of Lisa Turpin, who was sorted into Ravenclaw in Book One, but is then never heard from again. In this AU, Lisa Turpin is very no-nonsense and is just here to learn: “Lisa, did you hear Harry Potter flew a car to school, even though he’s twelve?” “Jesus Christ. Fuck that guy.” “Lisa, turns out Harry Potter just helped his mass murderer godfather escape on the back of hippogriff and then he pretended he had nothing to do with it. Also Hermione’s taking extra classes via time travel.” “Ugh, FUCK THAT GUY. Hermione’s cool, though.” “Yo, Lisa, Snape just murdered Dumbledore in the tower. Harry Potter was there.” “Fuuuuuuuuuuuck I’m calling my parents.”
Anonymous asked: Maybe 15, 16 years ago I downloaded an outstanding acoustic rendition of Scotch and Soda, which, if I'm not mistaken, was recorded by you. Could you be persuaded to post it again / offer it for download?
It was TEN years ago, we’re not that old, but thank you, yes it might have been me! You can download a zip including that song as well as every other song I recorded around the same time, right here.
- It’s You I Like (Mr Rogers)
- Japanese To Engish (Red House Painters)
- Maxine (Donald Fagen)
- On An Evening In Roma (Dean Martin)
- Scotch & Soda (Kingston Trio)
- Shilo (Neil Diamond)
- Survivor (Destiny’s Child)
- The First Night (Monica)
- Another Dumb Blonde (Hoku)
- Change Partners (Sinatra)
- I Am A Cinematographer (Palace Brothers)
- Dreamer (Astrud Gilberto)
- Going Through the Motions (Buffy)
- How Deep Is Your Love (Bee Gees)
- Money Changes Everything (Cyndi Lauper)
- Quizas, Quizas, Quizas (Celia Cruz)
- That I Might See (Cheri Knight)
- The Face I Love (Andy Williams)
- Tonight (Aguilera Film Debut)
- Vacation (Go-Gos)
The sound is terrible b/c things were different and more complicated back then.
The only song missing is a cover of the theme from The Nanny, which I recorded beautifully & perfectly but somehow lost. This was back before clouds remembered everything for us. The loss of this file is the primary regret of my life.
I don’t really play guitar or sing anymore so this is it.
Thank you for remembering!
The fiercely talented and magical mkimarnold tagged me in the writing process chain letter that has been going around. Mary-Kim is one of my favorite writers & people, and I feel blessed that I knew her BEFORE she became famous for taking over from ROXANE GAY as Essays Editor at The Rumpus (!!!)). Mary-Kim’s writing is incredible and scarily inventive and if you are not familiar I encourage you to be so. Also if you ever have the opportunity to ditch AWP and get burgers with her, do that. I do.
What are you working on?
Mostly I am trying not to drown under feelings that I am useless and terrible and wasting my life and incapable of every accomplishing ever. I mean I have projects? But it’s been a difficult summer, and if other people were able to set aside the world completely fucking melting down this week and work on their writing projects, kudos to them! I was not. Sorry to be real! But OK when I’m not being an emotional dishrag in front of twitter because of all the powerful images of people standing with their hands in the air while undereducated police militia point assault weapons at them, I’m working on two novellas (one about Amanda Bynes, one about Kim Kardashian) and a book about celebrity twin sisters. Which, like, to see it written out like that makes me want to give up completely about the futility of my life.
How does your work differ from others of its genre?
I think this is a terrible question and whoever decided to include it in this chain letter has a lot of growing up to do.
Why do you write what you do?
Like this whole thing was written by a white male who is ALL FIRED UP about his MFA. GIve me a break with this special snowflake magic of writing shit. I write the things I write because they are interesting to me. Or not even interesting, it’s just what’s in my head for some reason, so that’s what needs to be cleared out. I write because I get jealous of other writers and worried I’ll get left behind. I write because I have literally no other hobbies. I write because I get really fucking crazy if I don’t, the end.
How does your writing process work?
I try to find hours or parts of hours here and there, when there isn’t life/family/work/laundry/dishes/whatever to attend to. The phrase “carving out time” is very real to me. It feels like that, a physical act, the strenuous and exhausting work of finding and shaping and pulling this time out of the huge fucking complicated tangle of life. A lot of the “writing” happens in my head when I’m away from a keyboard, arranging the pieces mentally so I can just get it all down as soon as I have an hour to myself. Often in conversations with people I’m nodding my head but not really listening, I am using that time to figure out what happens next in my story. Evernote is very helpful b/c I can dump things into my phone or my work computer or my laptop and later it’s mainly just cutting & pasting & editing. I work slowly. It’s ridiculous. It’s a joke, how long it takes me to accomplish something that any 20 year old blogger could spit out in 20 minutes while standing in line at Starbucks.
THE END. That was fun, right? Sorry this is a downer, it’s been a week. Now I will tag amyspalding lest the chain become broken and my soul become forfeit. Amy has written some of my favorite books, and she has one of the best and healthiest attitudes towards the balancing act of writing/work/life that I have ever seen. She is an amazing writer and a daily inspiration to me.
I’ve been thinking about this Jezebel piece tonight, while scrolling through the coverage of the atrocities happening in Ferguson. The piece, “Why Would I Ever Want to Bring a Child Into this Fucked Up World?”, was written less than a month ago. Over the past couple of days, everything has gotten worse. Maybe I notice it more, maybe I’ve been watching more attentively; I don’t know. My child is two.
When I was pregnant, Adam Lanza shot 20 children to death. A few weeks after I gave birth, James Holmes killed 12 people in Aurora, Colorado. I used to absorb these kinds of news items with a sigh and close the computer, but suddenly — when I knew I would be leaving someone behind in the world eventually, alone — I couldn’t. When I was pregnant, I would sit with my computer on my thighs, and I would feel obligated to absorb the despair, because it was important in a new way. I used to think, “Well, this is the world,” and the impact I felt was numbed and relatively small. I had armor to protect me. Now I have none. But, of course, this isn’t about me, or at least it’s only about me as much as it’s about you, assuming you’re a person who isn’t currently in Ferguson or Gaza (or assuming, even, that you’re not Zelda Williams). What it’s about is how we are now given access to horrible, unspeakably awful things, and we feel paralyzed together in outrage, watching.
Of course, there are things we can do (for instance, donating to the Missouri ACLU might be a good idea). We can acknowledge things that we don’t like to admit: that mental illness is devastating and we need better resources to help those who are brave enough to seek it; that the militarization of police forces and discrimination are a devastating — and real — combination; and that no matter what we do, chaotic acts of violence will always exist and will always remind us of how volatile and scary we can be to each other.
When I was younger I used to think of that Breakfast Club quotation, “When you grow up, your heart dies.” Without shading John Hughes (I would never), I now find this is both melodramatic (obviously) and untrue. Your heart explodes, sometimes a million times a day. It is horrible, but it’s also a gift. The longer you remain in the world, regardless of whether or not you procreate, the larger your investment in it. It gradually feels more like it belongs to you, and you to it, and you are less of an outlier. You gain your footing and look around, and begin to actually notice and react to what you see. You have context. You become more powerful, and even when you know you can’t do much, you still feel very close to being able to do something.
The only thing that consoles you when everything is falling down around you is information, because now you know that the thing our generation has going for it is that we speak and we listen. The arrests of reporters in Ferguson is beyond unnerving, but the one thing that I find uplifting is that we’re evolving around these barriers. The brave journalists who have reported from Ferguson — several of whom have been arrested — are giving us a little power by igniting our consciences. We still have a long way to go, but we have a greater capacity for caring than we’ve ever had. Why would anyone ever hope to bring a child into this fucked up world? I suppose that it would be because he or she would hope that that child could change it. I do hope for that. Even — especially — now.
Every day when I pick up my four-year-old daughter from preschool
she climbs into her back booster seat and says, Mom—tell me your story.
And almost every day I tell her: I dropped you off, I taught my class
I ate a tuna fish sandwich, wrote e-mails, returned phone calls, talked with students
and then I came to pick you up.
And almost every day I think, My God, is that what I did?
Yesterday, she climbed into the backseat and said, Mom
tell me your story, and I did what I always did:
I said I dropped you off
taught my class, had lunch, returned e-mails, talked with students…
And she said, No Mom, tell me the whole thing.
And I said, ok. I feel a little sad.
And she said, Tell me the whole thing Mom.
And I said, ok Elise died.
Elise is dead and the world feels weary and brokenhearted.
And she said, Tell me the whole thing Mom.
And I said, in my dream last night I felt my life building up around me and
when I stepped forward and away from it and turned around I saw a high
and frozen crested wave.
And she said, the whole thing Mom.
Then I thought of the other dream, I said, when a goose landed heavily on my head—
But when I’d untangled it from my hair I saw it wasn’t a goose but a winged serpent
writhing up into the sky like a disappearing bee.
And she said, Tell me the whole story.
And I said, Elise is dead, and all the frozen tears are mine of course
and if that wave broke it might wash my life clear,
and I might begin again from now and from here.
And I looked into the rearview mirror—
She was looking sideways, out the window, to the right
—where they say the unlived life is.
Ok? I said.
And she said, Ok, still looking in that direction.