Thursday, December 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo, 2011

I did it again! This year was easier and more difficult. It was both. This story came out more coherently and with more structure than the last, but the structure of the experience made it feel a little less exciting. Last year I had no idea what I was capable of. This year I had confidence but was also scared I couldn't pull it off again.

I love that the month of writing pushes you to just create and worry about editing later. I love that it teaches you to sit and write every day, that every day you have something to contribute. It is a strange experience to spend so much time in your head with new people. I'd be thinking about Mina's pit bull or thinking about how I need to give Anna more attention. Mina was the attention hog. I would be eating breakfast and have an idea-- "Oh! This is going to happen!" Or, "Oh, this has to happen." It was challenging and saddening to think about creating a relationship and then showing its cracks and then letting the women decide what they wanted for themselves.

I don't want to sound like one of those writers, those, "The characters just talk to me, they do. I have conversations with them when I'm in the tub." It's not like that at all. Writing is work; it is the brain firing with complete focus. The other stuff sounds clever and maybe exciting, but it takes away from the fact that it is very, very hard to write. It just is. And having conversations with people that others cannot see or hear is usually very scary-- from what I've heard from people who do this daily.

So. I'm set to edit. I have a clear plan and I know the story's weak points and what needs to be further developed. It feels almost as amazing to finish 50,000 words in a month as to know I'm on such firm ground with the story.

Hey, agent who contacted me a year and a half ago, I'm ready for you!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pushcart nomination!

Unsaid's editor, David McLendon, nominated my story "Scouts" to be in the running!

What pride and gratitude! Exuberance!

Lithuania was Exhausting it was Exhausting to do that Letter Thing so Here:

L: Literary Death Match. I did not win; I did not Milosz in my sights and kiss him with a lipsticked nerf gun dart. But I did laugh and blush and had a great evening. I'm glad I got over my nerves and performed.

M: Milosz

N: Nude Beach! Yes! You could pick which one: both genders or just women. It was incredible to be on a beach with just naked ladies. I wish I could do that more often. And not for some pervo reason-- it was great to be with all ages, feelings comfortable and free in the sun and waves. And, no wet bathing suits= major plus.






Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lithuania: K

Me, again. This is my blog, right? Okay. I'm standing in the wall of heroes. It is green, red and yellow and has tiles of names of people who were important in gaining Lithuania's independence from Russia. You could also walk through it through people shaped holes. This was across the river, outside of Old Town, near a large highway and rundown, half built apartments.

I spent this entire day by myself, walking in the cold and the grey. I was over-talkative the day before and had an extrovert hangover.

*And just so you don't get the wrong idea-- the two photos I took of myself are among four such photos on the trip. I am not the sort of blog gal who has a section titled "photos of me." Not that there is anything wrong with that-- well, no, there probably is something wrong with that. To be seen in a bathroom mirror holding a phone is tacky. It just is. If you have to have that bathroom self-portrait, find a way to not include the phone in it. It's not hard to do. Or does having the phone contribute something to the larger cultural movement of Internet and media sharing? To show the phone shows that you are a participant in a major brain shift to processing images through a real time filter- to experience something is to experience it on a screen as it happens in front of you. A remove that is then made virtual. Anyway, those are the few photos of my face from the trip.

Lithuania: J

Jake Levin: A poetry Fulbright scholar, the organizer, the finder of EVERYONE'S hostels, hotels, apartments-- the coordinator of all arrivals and flat mates. The creative force behind the readings, the cultural events and seminars. The leader of a bagel collective and a leader reclaiming Jewish Vilna's history.

And, the man can wear color coordinate his bandannas! Cute.

Lithuania: I

I am visiting the Baltic Sea, surrounded by fifty foot tall sand dunes. I am taking self portraits. One of these is on purpose, the other isn't. I am thirty-one and I think I look thirty-one in one of the pictures and maybe not in the other. Huh!

Lithuania: H

Hothouse: A reading inside one, on the grounds of a tiny restaurant across the river.

That's Robin Hemley-- the incredibly funny, awesome writer.

Jake Levin told the owners that they could easily grow mint in the boxes-- and look at them now! They had been empty before his suggestion.

Lithuania: G

Ghetto: Vilna (the first recorded spelling, the Jewish spelling) was over seventy percent Jewish before WWII. Most were taken to fields and
or forced onto trains and
or fled and

See the small star carved into the cement? This was taken on "German Street," the entrance to the largest ghetto.

I cannot describe the story I read about a rabbi, a Torah and a blade. I cannot.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Lithuania: E (I am mostly proficient)

Edward Hirsch: I can say that he changed the way I read and write poetry-- in six classes! He is a powerful teacher and it was humbling to be in a workshop with someone so completely devoted to poetry. I return to the poems he picked out for us to study and can hear his New York accent talking about Krakow vs. Warsaw, a city intact and a city destroyed, a city of traditional poetry and a city of modern. And of course, Milosz. Milosz, Milosz, Milosz-- a man born in Wilno (Vilnius).

Hirsch taught me to care about form more than I have in the past. He taught the importance of respecting someone as a "maker." His classes were the academic highlight of the trip.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lithuania: F

Fish: smoked, salted-- only fish, no- fisherman points at self-- oh of course, I don't want to make you local color, some folk attraction, your fish is just beautiful, peels from skin and from bone smokey, oily. In a plastic bag on a six hour bus trip next to an Utenos "Basketball Celebration" beer. Eaten at a rest stop on cement stairs, scrape scales from nails, wash hands in beer. Return to bus and try not to touch anything with oily fish beer hands. Smile at person in seat next to me, sip on beer when driver isn't looking.

Lithuania: D

(You understand)


St. Casimir's: LithuanianPolish/PolishLithuanian. Lithuanian. Polish. Lithuanian. Polish. Lithuanian. Belarusian.LithuanianPolish. Napoleon! Oh, retreat. Russian. Russian: Museum of Atheism. German. Russian. Lithuanian.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lithuania: B

Bridges: Padlocks of love: Marriage in the city: Engraved with names and dates: locked to bridges: especially the bridge to Uzipis: the independent republic of artists within Vilnius.

Lithuania: A

Alcohol: Alaus: Beer: Lithuanian: German: Very good, easy to drink, but not the cloudy amber one with a lemon. Lithuanian vodka: smooth, yes, oh yes, more. Mead: sweet, strong, with cloves with richness. Wine? Not from Lithuania, not very good at all. This night pictured: Utenos then vodka, and vodka with lemon in princess cups. Wolves and beggars.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Tomorrow I return to my normal job. It's going to be surreal and probably painful. But I have a new motivation. SLS was incredible and hard and emotional. I met fantastic people. I can't go beyond general statements just yet. Maybe the way in is to first talk about TSA? Maybe tomorrow.

My feet are green

after the grass is cut. I'm smiling. You see?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Okay, better to the point of crush, to heartache in the best way

more views of my apartment and a shot of the local cinema.

So busy!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Folio arrived

I got my contributor's copy in the mail yesterday. I had started to wonder if they just decided, without telling me, that they weren't going to publish my story. It had been that long since I'd heard anything... but here it is! It's very interesting to be in American University's journal because it's clear they have a rather large budget. Glossy paper. At least 25 pages of art. Etc. It's beautiful! I wish that the cover didn't have a teenage girl in a bathing suit, though. She does have a thoughtful face I guess!

How strange

to think I lived for a year in England and did the transatlantic flight several times with no worry, even on Air France when the bolts were rattling in the plane's bones and they fed me rice cakes as their vegetarian meal, even on the other planes, too, as we flew over Iceland and they showed a picture of a viking blowing hard from that land as a way to remind us that turbulence was normal, when I lived from one large suitcase and was so content.

Two weeks is nothing, right? But it's so different now. I have a "normal" job talking to people with severe, persistent mental illness and an office with a door I can close. I won't be working there for over two weeks. I was walking along Belair Road yesterday and it hit me that I would be leaving the east coast oak trees and dying grass for a place with long days and weak sunshine. The heat off Belair was melting the tar. I was excited in that moment to think about new air and different pollens and barometric patterns. How is it that my life has gotten so small?

I read some of the poems in the workshop packet and worried about the age of the group. I sensed youth. I sensed my own age. It will be fine, I know. I know. And on the subject of cultural differences, I have decided to try images. I started a tumblr for the trip. Maybe you want to see it? Wooden Hinges I do not know if I will actually post anything on it, though, because I am for words. I am for reading. I will post some images here on this old blog, for sure, and write here, too, and continue to believe that the Internet is also for things that require language.

Wish me luck and wish me luck in the Sanskrit-cousin tongue of my mother's people.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Damn, my man is good!

1972 Ironhead, completely restored with hand fabricated parts, including brass bells, pressure cooker vents and pump plates! Those exhaust pipes were created to fit around the motor and the kick start. Oh, and it's jockey shift.
Yes, Yes YES!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dali Lama in DC

"He often says, perhaps only slightly in jest, that he gives these renowned mystical and advanced initiations as a pretext so people will come and thus allow him to spend time presenting the basic Buddhist teachings he feels we really need to hear and take to heart."

It was beautiful to see so many colors of robes on the Metro and on 7th Street.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I made these earrings

Please don't be jealous of my new jewelry.

Ronnie, nap. Ronnie, glamour shot. Ronnie, apprehensive.

My big brother is having a hard time adjusting to me now. He yells this song, "That ol' mutt loves my mommy and I want to bite his face off." He sings the melody to an old, traditional Chihuahua folk song. I try not to take it personally because it's clear he has emotional problems. His name is Machismo for heaven's sake.

I'm enjoying daily pets and catch. I'm starting to live.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thanks, Keyhole

I will have three short shorts in the new issue of Keyhole, including my "Voice, Lost" story that I wrote a couple of years ago. It has a home! Hooray. Also accepted: a story about an "unbaptisism" and a story about a woman who owns a car service that runs people out to Jessup to visit their incarcerated family members.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tattoos and other examples of impermanence

Final thoughts: EFF it! The devil stays.

Shocked and Stunned and Nervous and HAPPY

I recently sent the middle part of my novel to a great editor. He is one of my "perfect readers"-- someone who understands what I'm doing and why and who supports me in that effort-- and he wants to publish the ENTIRE excerpt in his upcoming journal...

For real? Oh my gosh!!! Oh! Oh! Oh!

Monday, June 27, 2011

7 Extraordinary Things You Must Know This Instant

1) "Maxi" dresses are 7x more obscene than "mini" dresses. Firstly, they are almost all made of jersey. Jersey is extraordinarily clingy. Jersey will show just how ill-fitting your underpants are. It will enhance the lumpy and bumpy parts of your legs and your rear-end. Secondly, the name. Please. In conclusion, "maxi" dresses end up being much more explicitly "showy" than a mini.

2) In 7 days I am cutting ties with my iPhone. I am saying good-riddance to bad garbage.* Although I worry that my brain will not develop and evolve like others of my generation and of the Internet generation, I am saying "no thanks" to hyper-connection. That worry about my brain is founded, by the way. I worry about that already because I cannot use facebook without feeling like I'm at a party where everyone is talking and I am overwhelmed by the noise and the self-centeredness. (And I am aware of how self-centered blogging is, thank you!)This is old-fashioned and it is not okay. I will just have to go it alone.

3) I am trading in both generations of my iPhone for Amazon money. I also feel awful about this. But then I think about conflict metals and I am a little less ashamed of using Amazon to get cash for a new camera. But then I feel ashamed of not supporting a local camera store with my hard-earned cash. And then I think about how snobby the local camera stores are and then maybe I feel okay about getting a camera from an anonymous, push all the little guys out store. In the end, I just want to get wicked pictures of Lithuania and I cannot afford a new camera without some help.

4)For the first time in my life I am afraid of being homesick. Truly and deeply and astonishingly homesick. This fear is taking most of the excitement out of planning my trip. I'll be leaving a month! I'll be studying with Edward Hirsch! Whoa! Oh, to be connected to a family and to have my own wants. It is very hard.

5)Uh huh.

* An acknowledgment: work got me a BlackBerry so I can use the map function for site visits. Apple's map function is much easier and smarter than BB's. So, in theory I will still be plugged in-- but not really and no personal info is on the work phone.

Friday, June 17, 2011

oh lazy head and stuffy nose and stuffy head and lazy nose and sleeplessness. oh, it must be summer.


More Ronnie!

Okay, I've been here five weeks. Maybe she can pet me now. But not him-- no way is that guy getting near me! I think I like that lady even though I yawn with nervousness and lick my chops obsessively while she scratches behind my ears...

I like that they let me on the bed even if I don't want them to look at me while I'm up there. It's good to be up there, with all the family smells and sleepiness.

It's quiet here, mostly.

Today I went on my first walk around the neighborhood. I was scared about the harness, but then I saw that all the other dogs were doing it, so it must be okay. That crepe myrtle was a bitch. I ran around that thing five times before the leash gave out and I was stuck... but after that I got the hang of it-- I understood that the lady was holding on to me and that was okay.

And man, dingo bones?!! Wow-za.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ronnie, part two

Diarrhea, fleas, garbage and grass eating, hiding in closets, hiding under the rose bush, no eye contact, don't even think about petting me, oh wait, treats? Chicken? What? Wet dog food? Okay, maybe we can be in the same room. No, we have to be the same room. I'll follow you around the house, but if you turn around to watch me, I'll run. Wait, what's my tail doing? It's wagging? Huh, that's strange. What is your hand doing? That hand better not be coming near me-- I said don't touch me. Run! Run! Run down the stairs, run up the stairs, run under the bed! What's that sound-- I know that sound, the treat bag! Okay, I'll take a treat from your hand, but don't get any ideas, I mean it.

Count all four of my babes in the bottom picture.

Okay, BMA, I do love you...

This is a silk painting I did a few weekends ago at the BMA's textile day. It was an incredible, FREE day of demonstrations and talks about fiber art. I fell in love, twice, that day. The first time was during the silk painting workshop-- I was in love with both the medium and fantastic, eccentric, seventy-year-old Egyptian woman teaching the course. The second time was during a needle felting demonstration. It is a simple art, like painting, but without the wait of drying layers, etc. I created a snail by stabbing a barbed needle through wool and yarn into a piece of felt. Katie F. and I both lost ourselves in the process and would have stayed at the table for the duration of the event if I hadn't looked up and noticed a line of children that wanted to try it out.

The event also featured lace makers (whoa), couture clothing, wire and bead work and batik.

A small side note, the streaks in the blue dye are from salt. You throw some onto the silk when the dye is wet. The salt absorbs the water and leaves that incredible speckle pattern.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

thank you

Dishwasher soap and dog treats! A love bunny! A bell for an ignition, an umbrella for an air filter.

Fantastic life!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Chronicles of Ronnie, part one

Ronald was in a house with 85 other chihuahuas and 4 cats. There were dead chihuahuas in the house, too. This was in South Philly, in a little brick row house, last July. Ronald was rescued by the Pennsylvania ASPCA and who then reached out to the tri-state rescues to help them place all the dogs.

Ronnie has a limpy leg and no one knows exactly what happened. He is also pretty terrified of movements and noises. He doesn't make eye-contact and doesn't like to be touched. He spent the first day and night at our house in the basement behind the woodstove. The next day he decided to try the first floor. He camped out under a chair. What a big step!

My Sandy loves him and my Machismo just wants to play. We are taking our time with him, letting him get comfortable and make the first moves. I am so happy to have him in our home.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

University of Baltimore's MFA reading, 2011

I attended the final reading this past Friday. It was so filled with gratitude and love! This graduating class seemed to have a bond, much more so than my class... Watching them (all 18 of them!) interact made me want to go back to UB and do it again, get another MFA from them. Hooray for Kendra and Steve.

Click here for links and pictures of the books they created.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dang, Lockheed Martin!

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Violation Date: Mar 30, 2011 16:23:33

Actual Speed: 42 Speed Limit: 30

Location: 6114 Harford Road N/B

Weather: CLEAR

Now the City, by way of a Lockheed Martin contract for red light and speed cameras, also offers you a video of your offense. I tried to post it here but the firewalls wouldn't let me. I'll try again later.