Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

Monday, December 30, 2013

To big, to small.

Decca Mitford

My old walk took me over the pedestrian-friendly bridge and across Front Street in Harrisburg — past the statue of the man reading the Patriot and Evening News and the Art Association building for one job, past my favorite building ("the Sunset," the use of which I have yet to determine) and Little Amps for another. For all the difficulty I experienced then, I have nothing but intrusively positive memories kicking up distracting splashes of nostalgia about the morning walks. I missed that this year.

I am grateful this year for all of Marlo Meekin's Vines.

I am grateful this year for all the Ottessa Moshfegh stories the Paris Review published.

I can't walk to work anymore, and I am thinking I may need to learn how to drive. I am not (I assert) a fan of defining myself by negatives, although the fact that I can't eat dairy or drink has inured me to this as of late — still, not driving is one of those things, like wearing bright patterns or pants, that I dread the reaction from people who know me to such an extent that I don't consider it to be within the realm of possibility. The roads around work, route taken notwithstanding, are too suburban-industrial even to bike, but my route has one redeeming charm: a small sign, dangerously difficult to read from a car, that says "no job to big or to small." I look at it every day but have never tried to figure out that is all about. It overwhelms me.

I am grateful this year for the times Lena Dunham and Maria Bamford favorited my tweets.

I am grateful this year for Jessica Mitford's investigative journalism.

I couldn't find Hons & Rebels anywhere on the west coast. When I went to McNally Jackson one afternoon, I asked a clerk upstairs if they had a copy, and was referred to the memoirs downstairs. I turned down the staircase and was met at the bottom by a clerk, holding Hons & Rebels up, asking, "Is this yours?" — it was very romantic and called for strings.

What I'm anticipating in the coming year:

  • Writing about the symphony
  • Reading with the Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel in March
  • Multiple trips to New York and Olympia/Portland
  • Ordering fewer books online, waiting until they appear in the Scholar (a sound financial measure but, we'll see)
  • Continuing to enjoy my work — in April I will have been making all my money from writing/editing for one year
The owner of the Scholar became the Mayor of Harrisburg this year. Once, I had a private audience with him and we discussed a mutual enthusiasm for small presses and the area business journal.

I am so grateful this year for the business journal and the internship they gave me.

I am so grateful this year for the newspaper for hiring me after I spent the last of my unemployment on room service at the Algonquin.

I am so grateful for Dancing Girl, Unthinkable Creatures, and Birds of Lace and for all the writers whose work mine was published alongside by these ravishing presses.

I am so grateful to live in the time of Guillotine and Dorothy and Emily Books and such a font of writers whose work makes me believe this is the best time for writing — if even just for me as a reader. I think back to middle school and I was a miserable reader. I think I broke the spine of the Girl with Green Hair because there was just nothing else.

All this and Scarling. is making music again. And my boyfriend bought me this wonderful squid!

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's called "In the Hall of the Mountain King."

1. Copies of Come as Your Madness are in my possession! I still recommend you support small presses and order copies from Birds of Lace, though. And if you intend to get Come as Your Madness as a gift for a parent, please consider omitting some of the racier passages and replacing them with strange/funny ones, this-is-what-happens-when-you-find-a-stranger-in-the-Alps style.

If you are still at a loss for what books are great and worth purchasing for others for any reason at all, I told Gina Abelkop what I loved this year.

2. My sister went to live in Norway for a few months, and I asked her if she would not mind — since I accumulated some Portland-specific items for her on the trip to the northwest — bringing me back something one could only get in Norway.

3. Taylor Mali visited Harrisburg — more than I love a lot of things, I love "The The Impotence of Proofreading" — the same weekend as my best friend, and she got to see me feebly judge a slam poetry competition that preceded his performance. To its last, 2013 is surprising.

4. The Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel invited me to be a featured reader! On March 6, unless there are surprises.

5. My gnawing suspicion that I have not done anything for the past six months, which has been a plague on my mood, is only feebly allayed by constant checking of my Submittable account — not to see if anything has a response as much as to see that I am, indeed, submitting work to places. This fuels my suspicion that my object permanence skills could be outshone by a toddler.

Friday, December 13, 2013


I joined Instagram. And Vine:

None of those glorious people are me. Not even the smallest Poe.

Monday, December 9, 2013

"I could make Hitler laugh to death"

Thank you, Dinosaur Pty Ltd.

If I had it my way, all of television would be some shade of Danger 5. A team of international spies in a hyper-exotic vision of the sixties band together under the command of a Colonel with the head of an eagle to kill Adolf Hitler. It's Australian, it's joyful, and it is populated by gracious, lovely stars, two of which joined me in celebrating Danger 5  and its forthcoming second season — at PennLive!

Danger 5 also has the distinction of being easier to guide new viewers to than, say, anything. The pilot is on YouTube and the first season is on Hulu (the free Hulu, at that). Anyone in my life who might want to get me a gift this season should instead acquaint themselves with the show so we can talk about it over Grape Escapes.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Lately, my preferred use of lists is to pressurize: things to do, books I want. I do this for the reason Umberto Eco surmises people list, which is to make infinity comprehensible.
And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries. There is an allure to enumerating how many women Don Giovanni slept with: It was 2,063, at least according to Mozart's librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte. (Der Spiegel, 2009)
When I was younger I loved to list my favorite books/films/albums because I could not believe there were any that I loved so much and wanted to display them like trophies, especially since, in the wee small hours of the internet, finding these things was hard won. I was lucky, in a rural village, pre-internet, to even become aware of David Lynch, and my whole purpose in early blogging endeavors was to shout that relief from the rooftops.

Now I hope I will not stop encountering things worth loving. I'm so grateful that every last one keeps swimming my way or that I collide with. This year, I continued enjoying books and films, but music has been harder and harder for me to love every year, I've been feeling. This year really reversed the trend, after Fiona Apple's Idler Wheel. That is the minute part of what I want to impart about this year: The Blue Jasmine soundtrack — especially "Blues (My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me)" and "A Good Man is Hard to Find" — the On the Road soundtrack, Jean Ferrat's "Ma Mome," Marie Laforêt's "La Moisson," Maurice Chevalier's "Sweepin' the Clouds Away," miscellaneous Delerue and Pink Martini, the Real Jazz and Symphony stations on XM Radio, the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra's "Rite of Spring," the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the Chorale La Chateau's "Abyssinian Mass," and Jacques Dutronc's "L'idole" most of all.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Come as Your Madness.

Come as Your Madness, my little book of first jobs, funerals, art, and love, has been unleashed by Birds of Lace! I could not be prouder or more pleased with that look: those ornate details, that rosy complexion.

Excerpts can be found all over the place:
I've stated it, but if anything bears repeating: every last one of the Birds of Lace 12/13 titles are thunderous, and in a year marked by achievements (mostly surprising, almost all of the harrowing, just-dodged-a-cliff variety), this event is the dearest to me. I love what Gina and the writers whose work she put out this year — Andrea Quinlan, Samantha Cohen, Carina Finn, Megan Milks, everybody — are doing. Celebrating that and participating in that is of wild importance to me, and its been crushing the way much of 2013 laid me too unwell to do that work to the level I expect from myself. With Come as Your Madness out in the world, a text I have so much affection for, I'm excited to get back to work.

Wayfaring Googler: should you be angling to purchase Come as Your Madness from Birds of Lace, do not keep it on a shelf all alone, it has siblings — Say you're a fiction, a collection of poems from Dancing Girl Press, and the Black Telephone, an essay from Unthinkable Creatures.