Sunday, May 17, 2020

Reading, Baking, Stressing, Etc. (Pandemic/Coronavirus/Covid-19/Social Distancing)

Welcome to what will likely be a very disjointed blog post. I decided to put a bunch of stuff in one post instead of a series of short posts. I'm trying to save my concentration for what's most important, but still want to let people know I'm doing okay. 

Obviously as an immunocompromised person, this is a very stressful situation. I've had autoimmune issues since I was a kid. I think most people are really stressed. If a person isn't feeling freaked out right now, they probably need to be educated about what is at stake.

I've been social distancing since early March. My forthcoming book is still on schedule to be released in September. In February, I answered some questions for Tinderbox Poetry Journal which you can read here. I'm glad the word is getting out about the book.

Anyway, now on to more frivolous topics. I didn't wear makeup for a full eight weeks, so one of the last days in April, I put some on and took some selfies for the first time in months.

Are we done with photos yet?

Are we?

I recognize myself the most in the blurry photos.

(And semi-blurry.)

Now I'm back to going makeup-free. I'm a couple weeks in. I'll see how long I go again without it.

Here I am a few days or so before those photos were taken (late April) not wearing any makeup. My hair is getting really long. This is my natural hair color.

I was looking at old pictures recently. I had no idea my highlights were so bright in the spring of 2014.

Lately I've been reading news articles even more than usual (like everyone else), and short pieces like individual essays and poems. My concentration hasn't been at its best for reading longer works. Right now I'm reading Birds of America by Lorrie Moore. 

In mid-March, I read The Body Double by Emily Beyda. It's a fast read. It is a book that makes sense to read while social distancing. There are very few characters in the book. The main character is actually in isolation for most of the book, only seeing one other person on a regular basis. I'm not sure how I would have responded to this book if I hadn't read it during a period of quarantine. With some celebrities being tone-deaf during the pandemic, the book's focus on the hollowness of image was satisfying.

Fairly early in The Body Double, [WARNING: SPOILER ALERT] it seems obvious that the real Rosanna is dead. I don't know if this was an intentional choice by the author or not. Knowing this didn't ruin the book for me because the main character doesn't know. Or maybe she is just in denial until the final moments of the book. If you like ambiguity in stories, you might like this book. It was interesting to see how the author maneuvered the writing around some of the bold plot and character choices. 

There are a bunch of books I want to read this summer, but my notes are all over the place. I'll try to post what I've jotted down another time. 

I've been baking a lot the last ten weeks. 

Chocolate chip cookies (milk chocolate chips)

Chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips

Peanut butter cookies with milk chocolate chips

 Peanut butter cookies with semi-sweet chocolate baking chips

Chocolate cookies with semi-sweet chocolate baking chips

Peanut butter cookies with extra peanut butter, sugar, and brown sugar

I also made brownies with caramel chips on top and brownies with milk chocolate chips on top, but the pictures of the brownies weren't as cute as the pictures of the cookies. 

I have some really adorable photos of my three year old nephew eating one of my chocolate cookies (and wearing a teeny tiny Prairie Lights shirt). I thought about posting them, but I don't want to post too many pictures of him online. I guess I would rather be an overprotective auntie than not protective enough.

I've been watching Mrs. America on Hulu. I really like Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem. I wish the show was centered around Steinem instead of Phyllis Schlafly. I like the contrast, and obviously Cate Blanchett is an amazing chameleon as a performer, but it makes me think about the Schlafly types we are still dealing with in 2020. A pie in the face is not enough.

Last, but not least... Something new (sort of) from Dressing Room Poetry Journal. It's a flashback issue with poems to read while social distancing. It consists of twelve poems from various issues and you can read it here. You can read Dressing Room Poetry Journal on any device, but it is best viewed on a computer.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Cover Reveal!

Without: Body, Name, Country

Out September 15, 2020 from Vine Leaves Press

Thank you to Daniel Handler for writing about the book, and thank you to everyone at Vine Leaves Press!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Good News: Forthcoming Book

My third full length collection has been accepted for publication by Vine Leaves Press! The book comes out this fall. The official release date is September 15th, 2020.

Before I found out, when I would see announcements about other people's books coming out in 2020, I would always think to myself that 2020 is a cool year for a book to be published.

Finding out that my third book was accepted for publication made me feel kind of old in kind of a good way.

It was nice to find out before Christmas and be able to be super relaxed for holiday stuff. I watched Frozen with my nephew a couple of days ago. It was actually my first time seeing it. Obviously, I'm an Elsa, not an Anna. I'm sure I'll end up seeing Frozen 2 as well because of my nephew. I still have a lot of Christmas shopping to do. Anyway...

The title of the new book is...

Without: Body, Name, Country

The book is a collection of poetry and flash nonfiction pieces. There are a lot of individual poems and nonfiction pieces which are grouped into two larger sections, I: Vaudeville and II: Diagnosis.

From mid-2015 until somewhat recently, I kept saying that my third book wouldn't be finished until The Jetsons era. I just realized George Jetson and Donald Trump have a similar vibe, so maybe it is The Jetsons era.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Current Reading List (& Middle School Memories)

Last night I finished reading Margaret Atwood's The Testaments. I think everyone should read the writing of Margaret Atwood. If it's been many years since you've read The Handmaid's Tale, you'll be fine. The second time I read The Handmaid's Tale was about five years ago. You could probably even read The Testaments first and then The Handmaid's Tale (even with a big gap between reading the books), but you should definitely read both for the full impact.

I had disturbing dreams while reading The Testaments, but I also had disturbing dreams while recently watching the Netflix documentary series The Family. And of course, it's the Trump era... A completely crazy, corrupt Gilead style of life feels much more possible now than any other time before. At least in my lifetime. (The end of The Family is connected to the Trump era and brings to mind every dystopian novel and short story I've ever read.)

I read The Handmaid's Tale for the first time when I was in seventh grade. One of my teachers saw me with the book and said, "That's a scary book, kiddo." I didn't say anything, but I decided if she brought it up again (she didn't), I would tell her my mom gave it to me. (Which was true.)

I remember that in seventh grade I also read The Thorn Birds (don't judge me, I was thirteen), and the autobiography of Bill T. Jones called Last Night on Earth. I cried so much during the section about Arnie Zane's death. Luckily, I was at home when I read that part so I didn't sob in public. This is the cover of Last Night on Earth:
In seventh grade we had a free reading period. The guy who sat next to me (who I ended up dating part of my junior year of high school) said to me, "You're only reading that because he has his shirt off." I looked at him, probably smugly, and said "He's gay." He looked shocked and said nothing to me for the rest of the day.

Anyway... Next up I'm going to read Bully Love by Patricia Colleen Murphy. I really like her writing and I really like Press 53 so I'm really curious about it. Also on my reading list is Lara Vapnyar's Divide Me By Zero, Sonny Brewer's A Sound Like Thunder, and Mary Biddinger's Partial Genius.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Best of the Net Nomination (& Looking Back)

I found out last week a poem of mine was nominated by the publication Vending Machine Press for Best of the Net. You can read the piece here. Thank you so much to Vending Machine Press. 

I actually found out about it a bit late because sometimes I don't check social media for up to two weeks at a time. I know that's sort of a big gap, but it feels like a compromise to me. (Using some social media, but not letting it distract me too much. It still distracts me though.) The best way to contact me is email.

Finding out about the nomination made me think about the first time I was ever nominated for anything, which was a Best of the Net nomination in 2010. I was stunned. Then I was really excited. (You can currently read that poem here. It's the only place I could find it online.) 

I think it's good for me to reflect. I feel like I have too many days now of feeling dissatisfied with myself. A big part of this is because I still have serious fatigue after Guillain-Barré Syndrome, even though I technically made a full recovery. I found out this issue with fatigue a long time after GBS is incredibly common. The good thing is, other than motion sickness (throwing up in a plastic bag one time), recent travel has been great!

Anyway... I think I have my website fairly up-to-date. 

I think those are all of my updates for now. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Photos: 31 Days in Fairhope, Alabama (Writer-In-Residence)

I'm back from my August residency. I enjoyed my time as a midwesterner in the deep south. Fairhope, Alabama is a bit like a southern version of Madison, Wisconsin, which I mean as a huge compliment. It's a great community that takes the arts very seriously. I felt drawn to experiencing the south because of southern literature and southern writers. The residency gave me time to work on a project that is very different from what I have previously written, which I won't go into detail about right now. Leaving Fairhope was bittersweet.

Thank you to Fairhope Center for the Writing Arts, Friends of the Fairhope Public Library, Skip Jones, Margie Gewirtz, Randal Wright, Gil Wright, Tamara Dean, Nan Denson, Elsie Pritchard, bj Cooper, Linda Foster, Betty Bowdoin, Mary Streu, Patsy Napier, Deborah Pennington, Sonny Brewer, Convergence Book Club, Book Club Night at Page and Palette, and whoever makes the peanut butter fudge sold at Greer's.

There are a lot of photos in this post. Before August, I read various articles and blog posts about Fairhope and about the residency which really helped me prepare. I thought maybe this post could add on a tiny bit to all the helpful information online. I recommend bringing plenty of bug spray in the summer. 

The photos of different places are interspersed. Locations in the photos include Wolff Cottage, Fairhope Public Library, downtown Fairhope, Gulf Shores, Eastern Shore Arts Center, Panini Pete's, and Fairhope Municipal Pier. I didn't use any filters or edit the photos in anyway, other than cropping some of the pictures. I thought I would mention it just because there is so much over editing of photos now.