Monday, April 27, 2009

Stuff I've Been Reading: All The Time Between Then and Now

I haven't done a Stuff I've Been Reading since December, when I covered what I'd read in August-->October. I'm no Nick Hornby, that's for sure! So this time it'll be:

Some of April
Oh boy!

If you've ever felt jealous of how much I read, this six-month period will quell your envy.

Howevs, it's occurred to me that since I read a ton of stuff online in addition to about 20 magazines cover-to-cover every month, it's not that I don't read enough, it's that I don't read enough books.

Probs I'm basically illiterate at this point. Where do I begin? I hope at least 2-3 people will read this blog post and maybe if just one comments I will feel good about life & literature. Hey have you seen Autostraddle? It's so cool! We had a team meeting on Sunday. It was awesome. Right now actually I'm reading Keeping You a Secret for a feature Green & I are working on about YA novels for lesbians.

Everyone's talking about this book Wetlands . It reminds me of how people talked about 100 Strokes of the Brush Before Bed , which was about a teenaged girl in Europe who has a lot of "erotic adventures." Wetlands is also the work of an anonymous European girl who talks explicitly about sex, but more explicitly about her bodily fluids, and my number one feeling Sam Anderson is leading a book club on the topic over at New York Mag . In fact Sam says you can participate without having read the book. Here's a slice:

"For those who have managed to steer clear of the hype, Wetlands is an international bazillion-seller about an 18-year-old girl named Helen who is obsessed, above all, with her sexuality and bodily fluids. It's hard to describe the full mind-blowing extent of its raunchiness: Helen puts, among many other things, dirty barbecue tongs, avocado pits, and a hard-boiled egg in her vagina; she leaves a used homemade tampon in an elevator; and once a week she gets her entire body shaved, with a straight razor, by a total stranger she met at a fruit cart."

Have you had your period? Had an orgasm? Experienced female ejaculation? Urinated? Wouldn't it be funny if I suddenly started talking about that stuff on here? Maybe? Anyhow participate!

Speaking of my book club, um, I will update you soon. Brooklyn Boy will be the first to know. Autumn & Brooklyn Boy have both already gotten the book I want to do (Reborn) so we will definitely do it. Possibly looking at a late May deadline.

In March, Tao Lin mailed me some books: eee eee eee (short stories), you are a little bit happier than i am (poems), and bed (novel) and Ellen Kennedy's sometimes my heart pushes my ribs . Before I got these books I liked the idea of Tao Lin and even said to facebook that I wanted to read all of Tao Lin's books but I hadn't made any steps towards doing so besides putting "eee eee eee" on my amazon wishlist which my Mother ignored and probably thought "what a strange name for a book, what is wrong with my daughter" which is actually a thought she has all the time so it's not a big deal. I saved the package in case I can sell it on ebay one day, thought 'i bet everyone does this when tao lin sends them packages' and then i 'felt like everyone else' and then I sat on my bed and stared at my hands until I fell asleep.

The voice got into my head and I felt I 'identified' with the 'loneliness and isolation,' also that they're inventing a 'new literary style' as the critics have said. Tao Lin feels very honest, but sometimes when you read stuff about him it's almost like he's daring you to dislike him. Also he googles himself all the time so he will read this. It's like when I said I stole prescription medication from my mother's medicine cabinet and she called me that very afternoon. I was kidding obvs/maybe.

Ellen Kennedy feels like Tao Lin, but also in a way that is not exactly like Tao Lin, but like the IRL acting out of "Better Together - Customers Also Purchased." After reading Tao Lin & Ellen Kennedy's poetry I felt like all my 'thoughts & feelings' were very important, including my g-chats and my meals.

Before I got these books from Tao Lin I was reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. So I have about 25% of this book left to go. So far there has been a mute who I am pretty sure is gay. Actually I think they're all gay, and I am progressively confused when various characters turn out NOT to be gay.

Before starting The Heart is a Lonely Hunter I read On the Road: The Original Scroll by Jack Keroauc, which Crystal gave me for my birthday because I love her. Or because she loves me ... you decide.

On the Road TOS has about 100 pages of critical essays in the front. Because I'm obsessive about books like that (I don' t think you can say you've read a book when you've actually only read part of the book) I had to read all of them before I started but once I got past that stuff I was on a roll.

The first time I read this book I was 12, it was confusing, I remember only the part when he had sex with a Mexican girl and said he loved love and I thought one day I'd like someone to love me like that.

I read OTR again at 18. I was depressed cause the boy I was dating wanted to date someone else, and my BFF Ryan told me I was wasting valuable brainpower on such things and instead should be focusing on enlightenment. I could begin my journey, he said, by reading On the Road.

So I walked to the Border's Bookstore from our apartment and bought it and read it and Ryan was right, I felt better right away and remembered that the stupid boy would never understand me anyway because he only read Tom Clancy books and had no sense of "IT."

It's one of the only books I've read more than once. The voice gets in your head. The original scroll is even better, and it has more gay raunch in it, and you feel crazy too, but in a good way. This time I read it as a Sancho story. I read it knowing Neal was manic, and wondering if he would've been better off on Depakote, wondering about the children and the wives and if they'd put up with that now, and then that made me think about how people like Neal would be on Depakote now, which is better for his potential wives and neglected children and other discarded children but not as good for literature, and how that's fucked up, and I couldn't really reach a definitive conclusion on that.

I don't know if other people spend time thinking about these kinds of things.

Before that I read AM Homes' This Book Will Save Your Life , which a. told me to read and I didn't really want to 'cause C. said she wasn't that into it, although I love AM Homes (fun fact: she wrote for the l word before it started to suck). At first I was bored like "oh, it's another book about a rich guy who suddenly has an epiphany etc etc --" you know like American Beauty and Fight Club.

But after the first 50 pages or so I just got into it. Like I started to like the guy in a real way, and care and turn the pages in excitement. I can't explain it really, it just became awfully lovely by the end. I read it on my way to Michigan and back on the airplane and stuff. The voice was good, 'cause it made me write good, like the best voices will do for you.

Just like Music for Torching, could've done for a better ending. But it's a good book, read it!

I also read Two or Three Things I Know For Sure by Dorothy Allison, which my brother gave me for Hannukah (I asked for it). It was short and full of goodness. Dorothy Allison is a very magical writer and I love everything she's ever written. Interesting w/r/t sexuality & storytelling & "honesty," three of my favorite topics.

Then Cool for You by Eileen Myles, 'cause she's my favorite poet and I think I ordered it off Amazon 'cause I needed to hear one of my favorite writers talk to me again. It was cool to read two tough lesbians back to back, with all their hard experience and coarse shell surrounding poems & near-insanities. Cool for You has a really embarrassing book cover so I had to hold it special on the subway so no-one would see. I quoted Cool for You when I wrote that letter for my Dad in December. About how not all of us are put here to work.

Before that I read The Best Nonrequired Reading of 2007 , edited by Dave Eggers. Again as per ushe I forced myself to read the entire anthology, and this was generally a rewarding experience. I felt smarter afterwards, and had read a lot of stuff about the Middle East.

Before that An Invisible Sign of my Own by Aimee Bender, which I picked up on a reader recommendation for inspirational books I could read during National Novel Writing Month (I wrote over 30K words, but as publishing began to collapse, I began losing steam on it) and though I did like the voice in a Lorrie-Mooreish way ... it seemed sort of small. Like I don't think it grasped anything larger outside itself. I liked it, I did, and I would recommend it to me too, but I've been thinking a lot about timelessness of literature -- like what of all this will last? What's been cast to the wayside from prior generations?

I don't know if other people think about those kinds of things.

Friday, April 17, 2009

This Girl is 12, She Called Automatic Rhyme, I'm Emo, Maybe 12 or 13 and I'm Fine

Insomnia Poem #500

There's no-one to [redact]
It was just an act

Not mine -- I'm fine
we missed all the signs,
always pushing my love
under your Borderline

'Cause I thought I knew the distance
between reason and rhyme
but really you were lying
all that time

So I'm angry, but I'm fine
No gun, I'm stunned, no crime.

Sometimes I wonder who you really are
Sometimes I wonder why you never fixed your car

While you waited for us to tell you who to be,
As mirrors go --

I like yours,

I mean
that's what I wanted to see.

Well we're done, now it's over, now we're free --
All I wanted
was safety --

What came first, my helplessness, or you helping me?

You'll be busy with
your cast of 99,
though no one's on the other line

Your gifts soothed my spine
You built my castle, poured our wine
Whatever I wanted; you made it mine mine mine
You offered, you protected, you designed,
hire me, fire me, thrill me, fill me.

I'd taken care of everyone else for so long, you know?
My heart got snagged in the undertow
they admired me, inspired me, killed me, billed me
but you ...
chilled me ...

You flew in on a whim, we were stars, so I shined
We played, we complained, we drove, we dined ...

So I'm grateful, I'm fine
I'm lucky to be on this side.
With my ass off your line.

You made me laugh, I made you laugh, we had fun.

I believed you when you said
that we auto-win some.

Now I'm out from underwater, I'm floating, I'm wood
I'm that guy, Who am I, remind me where I stood
But I don't think you could
or should
or would

Who are you?

Don Quijote sans ambition
A Genie without premonition

Echo without immortal fate
Santa with an expiration date

A savior often spotted running away
An angel no-showing on judgment day

Frank Abagnale but you never took, you gave
The Hipster Grifter sans sexual games
Catch me if you can, and we did, and we cried
Let you back in, and you lied, and you lied.

A martyr, a giver, a servant, our mom
Victim, loner, hero, helper,
time bomb

You're sick, she's sick, she died
She sued, she's rude, you lied
She fled, she's dead, I eulogized
I trusted you
we busted you --

You saved, I forgave, I tried

And when you cried, I cried

We got out of town,
We fixed my frown,
made my throne

and my crown --

I wanted to say "this one's on me,"
A renegade team so fancy/free
I said you want sunshine, come with me
your dreams will come true,
I'll fix everything for everyone
starting with you

Why is my anger
so long overdue?

Because you helped so much?
'Cause of all that stuff?

'Cause my broken record's a sad sad song
and it's waaaaaay tooooooo long ...

I was a good friend to you, that's the rub,
Treat me like I'm someone you love --
Like we treated you --

that story's true --

enough is

I love you but
I'm tough

I like it rough

Meanwhile, we'll sort through the stories, what remains
The honest hearts waiting in the wings, soul-stained
and oh I'll try to explain.
"Here I am again, wanting to place blame ...
and I'm ashamed."
I'll try to fix the honest love that stuck around
Here I am again, myself, and I've found

Folding into you
Was not the thing to do

This story's
true: fuck you.

I never had a chance
You never wanted to be well
There'll always be new lies to tell --

It never had to be me myself
did it
there's always somebody else
quit it

Let's dance

I like your pants

Where's my grant.

Nevermind I don't want it
you can take that grant
and suck it.

I never asked for that.

And I'm no sleuth
All I wanted

was your truth.

Friday, April 10, 2009

'Cause All The Love's Alive Tonight

Will I ever, ever


be the kind of person who can go to sleep at a reasonable hour? At what point do I give in to my body and what it wants? I've eliminated the variables, I've re-instated some or another. Yet still here we are, me and the future which I imagine will last 'til 4 or 5. I must love it here, the freedom of the whole country sleeping and me awake, alone, in the dark. Physically alone. I have to specify that now.

Will I ever, ever



I've never been the star of this show, but I keep losing my leads like love, rising stars and shooting stars, it's all the same.

I used to date people who'd come over late for one reason or another. You sleep differently when you're waiting to be woken. Or when I took three sleeping pills and he still made me go to Denny's at 3 AM 'cause he was hungry and I thought I was going to become Moons over My Hammy, nearly passing out like a senior citizen on narcotics right there in the booth, like a physical gag in a dark comedy. That's one example of a variable I've eliminated (dating late workers, being a late worker myself) and yet still here I am awake. I'm in Ohio at someone else's house in the suburbs of Cleveland and I'm sober and nothing is happening here in the silent silent silence. Yet I never want to be alive/awake more than I do at 2 AM. 2PM are you kidding me, so much expectation at that hour.

Goodnight Moon. You dark comedy, you.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Sunday Top Ten: Top Ten Non-Emotional Wounds Like Steel in My Palm

[You guys, this top ten might be kinda bad! Hey have you read Autostraddle? It's awesome! Dinah Shore live-blog and etc!]

The story goes that Josh had a show to play that night and did not want to work his shift that afternoon at [redacted] Pizza, this cheap on-campus spot staffed by local hipsters and frequented by drunk University of Michigan undergraduates at 3 AM [like many things, it's a lot different now than it was in the mid-90's, possibly under new management, thus the name redaction] and 'cause his boss wouldn't give him the night off, J arrived on time, went into the back room, pulled out a tomato and a giant knife and proceeded to slice his hand right open. He was promptly sent home, hand bandaged, and made the show. THAT IS SO PUNK. Like Neal Cassady's dirty bandage waving in the wind, unraveling as he unraveled on the road .

I've told that story before, I hope it's true, that I haven't enhanced it retrospectively too much. That wholehearted embrace of life's little hand-slices is inspirational to me 'cause I do shit like that all the time -- not on purpose [though it has been, at times, in other lifetimes] but 'cause I'm clumsy. Ridiculously accident-prone. Bruises and scratches like nobody's business, or issues with sharp objects that've also been nobody's business, in their own way. I can just say things like that now. I've discussed, previously, my propensity to burns & bruises. Today I will cover my most memorable injuries.

Sunday Top Ten: Non-Emotional Wounds

10. Flying is Hard -- Playdate Wristbreak - late 80's
Cindy -- flat on her back, legs in the air -- claimed rocket-launching powers. She vaulted her brother successfully and I wanted to fly too, like my andro-hero Peter Pan, so I innocently lay on her feet and kerpow I flew for a brief glorious millisecond before landing triumphantly belly-down, my wrist slamming square atop a discarded softball.

Did this mean I was broken? That I hadn't flown?! Absurd! The swelling concerned the Moms, but I didn't want to get Cindy in trouble (always, even then, a desire to protect the pretty girls).

When two weeks later I still couldn't swing a bat my Dad made me go to the doctor. It was broken. I was excited to have a cast so everyone could sign it. It made me feel popular.

9. Trouble with Balls - late 80's

Wheels Inn was magic -- a shrine to everything forbidden in normal life: waterslides, mini golf, buffets and room service. I tried showing off at the bowling alley -- and for me showing off means doing categorically ridiculous/foolish things and then whining later when I'm bleeding -- with the heaviest ball. Banged my chin right on it, and it split right open. Dad scooped me up onto his shoulder to remove me from the premises and I left a bloody trail behind me, talk about the Special Olympics of Bowling.

It hurt like holy hell but I wasn't giving up Skittles & video games that easy (always, even then, ignoring pains to maintain shimmery pleasures).

By the time we made it to the doctor a few days later it was apparently too late for stitches. The scar remains, hidden under my non-existent chin.

8. The Cheese Finger Slice - early 90's
Mom took my brother to a movie I didn't want to see (yes, I've always been this impossible) and I wanted a grilled cheese (obvs!) and couldn't find a cheese slicer so I just used a large knife (always, even then, "resourceful"/idiotic).

Unfortunately at the age of 12 my knife skills were fairly underdeveloped and I sliced off the side of my left index finger. This particular scar is absolutely permanent and hasn't changed in 14 years. It's very noticeable.

That Hannukah I got cheese slicers as a brilliantly original gag gift from three (3) oh-so-amusing relatives. Now I just buy pre-sliced cheese, who has the time.

7. FYI, I Still Have My Toe, Do Not Have Summer Wardrobe - early 90's

A few weeks after slicing off my finger, my diary states the following:
"We celebrated Cinco De Mayo at school on Tuesday. Me and all of the girls had a Mexican Restaurant. It was a hit! When we were setting up I dropped a table on my toe. It was bleeding and is bruised underneath. It's supposed to fall off soon. We went to the mall today and I got the most cool summer wardrobe ever."

6. Palm Slice #1 - '95
When you're 14 you'll take any job you can get. Furthermore you'll comply when, after slicing your hand open, your boss tells you to sit it out, wait for the bleeding and the near-fainting to stop, 'cause you aren't legally allowed to use knives and therefore cannot visit the ER (always, even then, convinced any deviation would get me fired immediately, no matter how shitty my job). I didn't miss a beat, and the bleeding stops faster when we're all denying it together. The scar faded fast, too. I liked pretending it was my lifeline.

What happened between '95 and 2002? Did I stop running into things? I started running away, I started running, I got sick all over and couldn't move, my life got dull and crazy too. There's a scar on my left calf, and I know when I got it (2000), but I don't know how. I got my energy back and catastrophe then, too.

5. Palm Slice #2 - '02
Livejournal: "Today at the grille, a glass cut my hand open. it broke, and while breaking, sliced across my hand and it gushed blood forever. Which couldn't be more perfect, because every 20 seconds I get a big rush of pain from whatever nerve I sliced open, and we have to move on monday and I am going to be in tip-top shape to carry furniture. but i did get to go home from work early and [redacted ex-boyfriend] brought me Quiznos and my favorite drink ever, Diet Air. [It actually doesn't taste that good, but the name is pretty incredible.]"

Amendment: (Always, even then, writing things to make them true.) He was CERTAIN I could get worker's comp! This's the dude that made me go to Wal-Mart instead of Meijers to save five cents on a notebook. Waitresses don't get workman's comp for Chrissake. He was over the wound before it healed, so I broke it back open moving furniture & boxes 'cause he felt the cut was an invalid excuse. What the fuck do you want from me, I asked, bleeding all over the new desk I'd told him was too complicated to put together but he'd insisted on getting anyhow and then making me assemble with my hand wrapped up. Always, even then, I thought he could see me and I wouldn't have to spell it out (showing, not telling).

Look, douchebag, I model through it, I wanted to say. I don't cry over spilled blood. I'm not just whining, that's your job. Instead of saying those things I had an affair. La-la-la.

4. Falling is Like This - Summer '03

Then I slipped on the rainy porch. It hadn't been ... sealed, or something? So the rain slid on the wood and so did my feet. Hurrah! Dusted my shoulders off and got in the car to go to work! I can DO IT! HURRAH! GAME ON!

"What the fuck happened to you?" my manager said when I limped in. Isn't that weird, how at first it feels like it'll pass and then it takes over your entire body? My left side felt like it'd been removed from my body, thrown into a meat processor and then stitched back on.

I thought my back was wet from the rain but it was wet with blood. Whoops.

"Go to the ER!" She said.

"But I'm the only to-go person on this shift!" I protested. Restaurant managers never tell you to go home, I've worked under very disgusting conditions before.

I wanted someone to save me or something, I think? I got home with my seat pulled right up to the steering wheel. I couldn't walk up the stairs so I collapsed on the landing and called my boyfriend from there.

He took me to the ER, and was quietly pissed that I'd made him leave work (why did I do that? to prove he was better than the last one? wtf?) to take me there, so then later my Mom came and he went back to work. He'd made me stay in town that summer with no friends, who else was supposed to take me, I thought. I could've waited, I know now.

I had an x-ray, I'd bruised my hip-bone or something. Oddly couldn't move for the rest of the day, then felt miraculously healed two days later when my BF and I were going to Toronto.

Luckily all the Vicodin came in handy later that summer when everything went to shit and I grasped for anything, anything at all, that claimed to kill pain.

3. Kill the Messenger's Foot - February '05
my GIANT feet are better now seeeeeee

In February of 2005 I was run over by a bike messenger on 47th street, his fault. I was too preoccupied by my conviction that he had thirty children in Nigeria to feed to actually care to follow up with his employer. My skim mocha was lost, my soup was salvaged, and I was per ushe convinced it'd be fine and the pain would pass until it didn't. Then as always I walked back to work, even walked up the stairs, and then the swelling literally made my shoe come untied.

Swift-footed Ingrid took me from work to the Metropolitan Hospital emergency room, and sat with me there for eight hours 'til Krista got off work and relieved her. The foot was swollen to twice its regular size, and post X-Ray and uninsured I was refused free painkillers and ordered instead a week of house arrest with "fluffy pillows." That was when I first started calling myself Emily Dickinson. My Cocoon tightens - colors tease- I'm feeling for the Air- a dim capacity for wings -

J & S came over with food, drugs and magazines; British glossies with pull-out photos of skinny girls with large breasts. I applied for internships and took [now vanished] photos of my foot and hopped around while Krista yelled at me for not using the crutches. Krista ran errands for me and Natalie brought me yogurt and Ingrid made me breakfast. I slept a lot. I got the internships, opened a gmail account!, I fixed my life ... I thank the messenger.

2. Autogear Handslice - December '07

As reported on this here blog: "Anyhow, yeah at about three or so, I was moving a box and somehow managed to get my hand caught on this pesky nail and it sliced clean through the skin on the front of my hand between my middle finger and my other finger and it was really intense ... I thought "I wish I knew someone who'd accidentally cut herself with a crack pipe before who could provide emotional support during this trying time," and luckily, I do, so I called her, and she provided said support ..." (read all about it here ) (scar remains, a nice white line. Everyone would yell at me for picking at it) (always, even then, running late and therefore clumsy)

1. Election Legslice - November '08 - Election Legslice

Obviously my most glorious injury of all time was live-blogged on Election Day 2008, as you may recall. I was standing on a flimsy IKEA cabinet to screw in a curtain rod and I fell through the cabinet, thus inspiring a nail to journey straight up my leg. 'Cause I was so excitant about the election results, I forewent suggested journeys to the doctor/hospital/ER and dodged tetnus-related questions. Here's a flashback screenshot:

My favorite part of this particular scar, besides that it reminds me that the past is real and the night that Obama won, is that when people asked me how it happened I can respond: "You know how people sometimes get pissed off and like slash someone's tires? Well since I live in NYC and don't have a car, this bitch got fresh with me and I was like whatever and she was like whatever and then instead of slashing my tires she just like slashed my leg." And then they think I'm really punk.

Always, even now, preferring the story over the shots & stitches.