in recent years

   

   

let’s kick 2016 in the ass

There are two different schools of thought when it comes to Resolutions for the New Year. The first thinks your goals should be concrete and measurable so that you can see what you’ve accomplished; the second thinks they should be intentions rather than goals so that you don’t get discouraged by numbers. Well, three schools I guess, since the third thinks they’re bullshit entirely. I used to be that third school! Now I’m a mix of the first two because turning thirty has turned me into the kind of woman who drinks lattes and sometimes reads motivational quotes, nodding her head like she feels it. Anyway, my goals last year went okayish, if not as well as I’d hoped, but I figure rather than giving up on all those refresh-and-renew New Year feelings, I’d just keep trying! Because trying is cool!

Since I’m trying to mix those two schools, I’m thinking of intentions as lofty, abstract, and aspirational, while goals are manageable, actionable, and calculable.

ADULTHOOD: Plan, execute, follow-through. Be a thirty-one year old adult. Kick being an adult’s ass. Be a Super Adult. Or like, at least be a better adult. Use your gym membership. Do laundry regularly instead of like you’re putting out a laundry fire. Plan meals for the week. Clean out the fridge and go grocery shopping. Develop a routine. Pick up your shoes. Floss. Make lists and actually do the things on them. You know, all that boring crap that actually makes your life better.

BETTER CHOICES: Choose better. Not perfect choices. Not even good choices, just better ones. Choose for the long-term instead of the immediate. If there is a choice, make the smarter one. If there are a lot of choices, narrow them down and make the smartest one. Making choices that make my life better and help me to take care of myself including meditation over griping, mindful eating over eating to survive, and moving my dumb body instead of slowly turning to stone. Choose well and above all, choose to be kind. To the planet, to others, and to myself.

FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: Make thoughtful purchases instead of impulsive ones. Save money whenever possible, including the Reverse 52 Week Savings Plan. Avoid the unnecessary. I am not, nor will I ever be a minimalist, but good lord do I just have enough stuff. We are pretty good about picking through our things and making regular donations, but I want to be better about not buying back-ups and collecting things that just end up collecting dust. One In, One Out isn’t realistic for us, but I think Less In, More Out will be the way of the year.

JOURNAL EVERY SINGLE DAY: This sounds more like a punishment than a goal, but is something I want to do because I am getting old and I would like to maybe understand my feelings and also remember things that happen in my life. Crystal and I also got the Our Q&A to start around the wedding, but we are not good at follow-through, so that’s another thing I’d like to commit to and add to our routine. Feelings are gross and should be banned, but until then, this is how I will try to deal with them.

100 WORDS A DAY: I write so rarely now that I hesitate to even call myself a writer anymore and that bums me out, like, a lot. So I’m starting small. I probably story-tell well over 100 words a day already easy, but I have to put some of those words down on paper every day. Just 100 of them! This can include the journaling, but should also mean at least some prompted writing or work on one of my books.

55 BOOKS: I read 53 last year and got a butt-load of Amazon gift cards for Christmas, so I think this one is super doable.

3 SEASONS OF TV & 20 MOVIES: They have to be new to me because re-watching doesn’t expand my knowledge-base. I also just want to generally seek out more tv and movies that interest me. I watched some stuff I really loved last year, but not nearly as much as I have in the past. Part of that is just having a full-time job and not being so sickly that all I can do is sit on my couch and watch cool stuff (which is obviously awesome) and part of it is just laziness (which is not).

BLOG AT LEAST ONCE EVERY TWO WEEKS: I just, you know, need to get it together. This also includes revamping the look of this place to match my awesome new url/name and also just, like, because it hasn’t been updated in way too long and it’s starting to get super embarrassing.

a thirtieth birthday

I turn thirty on the 26th of this month. I haven’t decided yet if I am going to be traumatized by turning thirty or if I’m going to take it in stride and be chill about being an unsuccessful but surviving adult, still living in their parents’ basement. Who knows? This next 24 days are going to be a real adventure.

Most of my freakouts have been not age related, but milestone related. I freaked out about going to middle school. I freaked out about going to high school. I freaked out about going to college and graduating college and going to grad school and graduating grad school and moving cross-country and moving back and moving cross-country again.

But the birthdays? Nah. I like birthdays. I remember ten being a big deal — double digits! — and thirteen! And I failed my driver’s test on my sixteenth birthday, so that one was pretty garbage-y, but otherwise I’ve been okay so far. Birthdays are happy, celebratory. I spend the entire month of my birth making myself the center of everyone’s attention and because I am just that annoying and because the people around me are just that amazing, they not only tolerate it, but encourage and participate in it.

I feel old all the time. I feel old when I realize how young other adults are. I feel old when I realize — with a suddenness that should be impossible at this point — that I will not publish my first book before I am 25*. I feel old when I see Taylor Swift. I feel old when my bones ache — which is sometimes daily — and I feel old when I hear a song I loved as a kid played on an “oldies” station. I feel old when I don’t like something intended for youths and old when I do. I feel old when I wake up with a headache or when I decide not to have a drink because being buzzed sounds exhausting. I feel old constantly, but I have always, since I was a kid, and it has never had anything to with the numerical value of my age.

I am old. I have always been old. I am perhaps slightly less old now, at thirty, than I was at 25, and most definitely than I was at sixteen. I will likely always be old.

But for me, old is just the way to be and the way I have been has worked out pretty well for me. So bring it, thirty, I’m waiting.

*And now not before thirty. What a failure.

PS: My RSS feed was/possibly is broken, so it is likely you aren’t even seeing this post! I have removed the Totally Top Five 2K14 Giveaway since it wasn’t hitting readers, but I will get it up again this week and give you guys plenty of time to win some Amazon gift cards! I will eventually spend a weekend moving away from my current theme since it is kind of infuriating, but for now we shall persevere.

back to school with judy blume: an outro

OKAY. I’ve put this off for too long and I can’t take it anymore. I want to wrap up my Back to School with Judy Blume project before I forget everything about all eight of the books I read last month. I put it off because this is my 100th post! And I wanted to figure out a way to celebrate that! And probably give away some free shit!* But I came up with absolutely nothing. So here we are instead.

school's out with judy blume
I spent my September getting emotionally educated by the inimitable Judy Blume and eight of her teen and pre-teen protagonists. I learned some stuff! And I remembered some stuff! And I shared a whole bunch of personal details that probably no one in their right mind ever needed! That was my favorite part though, let’s be real.

Most of all, though, what I learned/remembered is that books are important. Books are important. Writing for young adults is profoundly important. If there’s one thing from my adolescence that most shaped me as a person it was reading, reading, reading, all the time, anywhere, at any moment. I always had a book in my bag and I probably actually started carrying a bag with me because I needed somewhere to put whatever book I wanted to carry around with me.

I had always been a big reader, since I learned to read (at four, my mother wanted me prepared for kindergarten) but my eighth grade English teacher was a particularly valuable element in my quest for the written word. She gave me Fahrenheit 451 and a slew of other books that changed me as a reader, made me more open, made me more aware, and made me better. She gave me Chris Crutcher and Robert Cormier. She gave me Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. And, had I been a bit younger or bit less obnoxious/aggressive as a human being, I think she probably would’ve given me Judy Blume too. She gave me access to the incredible library she’d built in her classroom and she took me seriously when I came to her to ask for more. (Hell, she even took me seriously when I did lyrical analysis of a Korn song.) She was a phenomenal teacher and an incredibly important part of my youth. She believed books and stories were important and she made sure that reading stayed with me, that school didn’t dig it out of me. I wouldn’t be a writer now, had she not nurtured me as a reader. I wouldn’t have an MFA. I wouldn’t tell stories. And without telling stories, without writing, I don’t know where I’d be. Thanks, Mrs. Wells.

Books are important. And going back to school with Judy Blume taught me why: We need to know we’re not alone. And Judy Blume is important because she wants young women — young people, but young women especially — to know that to their absolute core, to know in their hearts that no matter how isolated they feel or how weird they think they are, they are not alone.

It sounds like such a simple thing, but I think it’s one of the Great Purposes of Writing and it’s one for which I strive desperately. Why else would I share each and every thought that flitters across my consciousness? Why else would I blog? Why else would I read blogs? As much as I love reading stories and experiences that are unique to each of the people I follow, I think the medium transcends when you have a moment of “Oh! Oh, yes! Me too.” And I don’t really think books are all that different.

And Judy Blume’s books excel at those moments, they revel in them, they both whisper and shout them at readers. From being the subject of childhood cruelty to figuring out how your genitals work, Judy Blume is there to say, “Hey, you’re not a weirdo! There are lots and lots of us just like you!” And no matter how dated the details may be — sanitary napkin belts and Milwaukee braces that would never make it through a TSA checkpoint — that heartfelt relatability is the core of what makes Judy’s stories successful and timeless.

Being a kid — particularly one between 10 and 16 — is just horrid. It’s ugly and confusing and scary. Not just in a puberty way — zits and pubic hair and periods and boners are all weird, but we survive — but in a “I have no idea how to be a human being” way. You want to be cool and you want to be liked and you’re constantly struggling with desperately wanting to be older and not wanting it at all. It’s years of genuine misery and confusion, longer if you’re not lucky, and it all sucks so much. Adolescence will always be those things — gross and weird and scary and confusing — but lucky for lots of us Judy Blume was, is, and will be there to hold our hands through it.

And maybe through those scary bits of adulthood too.

In case you missed ’em:
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.
Then Again, Maybe I Won’t
It’s Not The End of the World
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
Otherwise Known As Sheila the Great
Deenie
Blubber
Tiger Eyes
*No, you absolutely cannot have my Judy Blume books.

blogging matters

During the first year of my MFA, when we’d all returned from our month of winter break, the professor who was my favorite at the time asked us if we’d gotten any writing done.

I said, “Yeah, if blogging counts.” It was facetious. Of course blogging counts. Teehee! A joke! I had done lots of blogging! Lots of Twittering and lots of Tumblring and lots of blogging and lots of reading others personal narratives via blog.

He returned, dead seriously, “No. No, it doesn’t.”

And at the time I couldn’t even really respond because that idea flabbergasted me SO MUCH. The idea that, somehow, because the writing was going on the internet by my own hand instead of into a folder on my hard drive to be theoretically published by some authority figure was absolutely FLABBERGASTING. FLABBERGASTING. Do you understand how significant the feeling of flabbergast is? IT IS UNBELIEVABLE.

And I sort of gaped and said nothing. But I got home and RANTED to my poor girlfriend and yelled at him through the miles that divided us. This guy had spent his formative years as a ROCK CRITIC!! And then became a genre writer! IF anybody should understand why playing writing police is bullshit, it should have been him. But instead he was an ass. FUCK YOU, DUDE, FUCK YOU A LOT.

One of my other professors later went on a rant about how “THEY” — this large and unidentified entity that included what seemed liked all media producers — didn’t want you to read or write. They wanted you to “watch movies and buy things and BLOG about it”.

I have literally never heard the word “blog” spit with more venom ever. No one will EVER yell “blog” with that much hate in their throat. I think I got some on me, actually. And it super a lot pissed me off. Like A LOT A LOT. Because you know what? Fuck you. Writing is writing. Writers have different processes and different kinds of writing has different processes but they are all WRITING and fuck you if you’re going to belittle one in order to raise up another.

ALSO, it’s not like book publishing and writing are fucking noble-ass pursuits! PEOPLE WANT YOU TO READ AND TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT TOO SO THAT THEY CAN SELL MORE BOOKS. This is not a complicated idea. People make things and then sell them because they want to make money. If they didn’t, they’d put everything ON THE INTERNET FOR FREE. (People should be paid for their creative products. I am not arguing otherwise at all.)

I blog because I love writing. I love it. I like talking about myself and I like talking about dumb shit and serious shit. I LOVE THE INTERNET. I love the sense of community that comes from blogging. And fuck those guys and anyone else that doesn’t get it.

Anyway, I’m not mad. (LOL I AM REALLY NOT OKAY) But I saw someone having a crisis about whether they should keep blogging the other day because it wasn’t “real writing” and I got super bummed out because there are so many of us who have had to absorb that bullshit from other people and just laugh it off and pretend to be unmoved by our belittling.

Blogging matters, man. It’s instant, constant, and current. It’s often genuine and funny and honest. It fosters community and interaction and idiocy and genius and creativity. It keeps a whole lot of people WRITING. If I didn’t blog, I wouldn’t write nearly as much as I do now, I would’ve missed out on fiction ideas that came from the process of blogging. Blogging is writing and it matters and it’s awesome. THE END.

This isn’t a very thoughtul blog but I believe in it. BLOGGING MATTERS. And stuff. Also, if you have the desire to cry today, DO I HAVE A RECIPE FOR YOU.

crying recipe

Man, just put these sad ladies and their pianos on loop and you will cry and cry. You will be SO SAD. Can’t spell piano without PAIN.

of band-aids and bonsai

I have all of my best ideas while driving or in the shower and I start all my best projects around two or three in the morning. Granted, “best” is really up for debate here, since most of those ideas are just poop or dick jokes and the projects are just Google image searched images with transparent Helvetica slapped over them in Photoshop. THEY MAKE ME LAUGH ALRIGHT? I am my most important audience, for now and forever.

So, I was in the shower a couple of weeks ago thinking about Jesse Eisenberg, like I do, and I was like, DAMN, that kid’s like… a RAPSCALLION or some shit. Because he is! Google that face and tell me it doesn’t scream old-timey adjectives at you! If you can, you are LYING.

And so it kind of began with this dumb shit:

jesse oldwordenberg

SCAMP, guys. Jesse Eisenberg is a SCAMP. He is ruined for me forever in the BEST WAY because I cannot look at him without thinking something Old Timey. RASCAL! RAPSCALLION! He’s like the sort of handsy son of a really wealthy southern oil baron guy who is charming and good looking and also RICH who is at least a little hesitant about groping you against your will, so he doesn’t really seem like a bad guy, just like maybe he had a drink or two too many and got REAL FRIENDLY so you just brush it off and giggle and say shit like, “Oh, dear, I had heard those rumors that you were QUITE the rapscallion and I do believe they’re true!” but really it sounds sort of sexy and delightful. And then he gropes you under your petticoats in a hallway. Something like that. OR WHATEVER.

I think this Old Timey Thing applies to Donald Glover too, but I have a harder time looking at pictures of him because they are like lightning directly to my genitals. SO ATTRACTIVE. I can’t deal with it. I just can’t.

But anyway, that dumb shit rapidly escalates into this dumb shit:

i can see forever

PARTY LIKE A ROCK STAR

Kittens are a point of no return, right? I mean, really. There is no coming back from slapping text over the top of adorable kittens. There just isn’t. And then it just turns into transcribing your dumb tweets on pictures snagged from NASA and it’s over. It’s just all over.

ZETA OPH

SO: sometimes when I am having those brilliant thoughts late at night, my brain says, “YO BITCH SUBMIT SOME OF YOUR WRITING YO” and because it’s two in the fucking morning, I am like, “YEAH ALRIIIIIGHT.” And whatever, I’m hitting 50/50 acceptance to rejection at this point (because I don’t write almost ever unless it’s for fun, which means I have nothing to submit, which is a great excuse not to put yourself out there. FOOLPROOF.) so I don’t really care about the process. I come across a place that seems like they might take me, I submit, no big.

SO ANYWAY. I was reading a submission to the lit mag I work on at school and she mentioned another lit mag that I was unfamiliar with (This happens a lot. Generally, if someone mentions one, I haven’t heard of it.) so I checked it out, saw they had a nice selection of flash fiction and threw something their way. I logged it in my little submissions file (anal retentive, what what!) and put it in my calendar (redundancy!) and went about watching BBC comedies (Miranda) and forgot about it.

Guys, I am pretty sure I won the speed award for rejection turnaround tonight. Seriously. One hour and four minutes. ONE HOUR AND FOUR MINUTES. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. I submitted the story AFTER MIDNIGHT and had a rejection shortly after one. THAT IS SOME EFFICIENT LIT MAGGING.

Holy shit. I didn’t even have time to worry! I didn’t even have time to obsess and then forget about it entirely, which is my usual submission coping mechanism. And let me tell you, this was a much more awesome way to get rejected. I know the longer someone keeps your work, the closer you are to getting in. And that’s great! But instant gratification is always SO SATISFYING and it turns out it actually kind of applies to rejection!

I know part of my cavalier attitude is because I just didn’t care too much, you know? I have extremely low expectations when it comes to anything having to do with my writing (greeting cards and hilarious poop twitters aside) but there was something about that rapid response — like ripping off a band-aid maybe — that I don’t think I will soon forget.

Aaaaaaanyway, it turns out this is all just a long way to say that if you don’t remember Bonsai Kitties, you have not been on the internet long enough.

BONSAAAAAAAAI

PS: For the like… two of you who read this BLAHG, would cutting my insanely long and stupid posts be helpful or irritating? I HATE cut posts because I read everything on GReader and am also incredibly lazy, but I am down to do whatevah whatevah because I live to serve, guys. I live to serve.