How do I leave here?
Or, the more pressing matter: how do I tell you about my last week here? Especially without it seeming like a diary entry.
Of course, this post would start with St. Patrick’s Day. How appropriate. After the event at Poets House, Brittany and I walked to the McDonald’s to (FINALLY) get me a Shamrock Shake. SO DAMN GOOD. So then it was officially St. Patrick’s Day, of course. We tried maybe a thousand different places before we settled on leaving the immediate vicinity of our house and heading up to Times Square for the night. New York City was in fine form, let me tell you. Brittany got a lot of comments on her “leggings,” which were actually bright green elastic pants made for a seven year old child (she got them at Target). She was a sight to behold. At one point we acquired some St. Patty’s Day necklaces, which was good because I was feeling a little un-festive, considering the greenest things I own are all various shades of olive. Once we skipped out of that place, we found some Irish people walking around who steered us with them to another Irish pub. I have no idea how I’m ever going to top this St. Patty’s Day next year…I mean, where in Michigan would you ever just find a giant group of Irishmen wandering around? Maybe I’ll just have to jet on over to Ireland next year, that seems like my only option.
If I left out one particular Irishman it would be a glaringly obvious exclusion and everyone would probably notice. His name is Colm (like Coll-um…it’s an Irish thing I guess?), and he does animation. You should check out his stuff on his blog, it’s www.colmgriffin.blogspot.com Do it. God, I sound like such a blogger now. I refuse to ever think of myself as a “blogger,” even if it just means I’m in complete denial about it that’s fine with me.
The next day was pretty rough. I don’t honestly know how I functioned, but somehow I was completely fine. I went to sleep at 5:00 am and woke up at 8:30 to get my butt to Poets House on time and raring to go. I spent another late night there, hanging out with Victoria in the lobby and reading some of the poetry of Paul Celan, around whom the event centered. If you haven’t read “Deathfugue,” it is absolutely essential that you do so. If someone asked me to give them a poem that exemplified duende, I don’t think I would ever be able to find a better poem to answer that question. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=179933
I slept harder than I ever have after that. Then again, I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot lately. The next day I showed up at Poets House early in the morning to help out with a children’s event. Carin Berger, a children’s poetry author and collage artist, read to the kids and conducted a collage workshop with magazine clippings. After that, we had a quick turnaround for another adult event regarding the language of the Qu’ran, which I attended. It was pretty interesting, but I could tell that the speaker was a bit overwhelmed with the task of fitting a discussion covering the entirety of the Qu’ran in to one two-hour session. My favorite point that he made: most of the lines are connected with a syllable that translates to the word “and,” except for the lines addressing the orphan. A friend of the speaker’s pointed out that this was the prophet Mohamed’s special message of understanding to orphans (he was one himself): that the orphan begins with no sense of connection. I thought that was amazing.
After the event, I lugged all the paper for my chapbook over to Staples, my final hope for cutting and printing my chapbook. They turned out to be extremely helpful, which was just about the biggest sense of relief I could have asked for. That weight lifted off my shoulders, I set out to meet Victoria for a dinner date at Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bald Man. The place was AMAZING. It was my chocolate dreamland. Actually, I should note that the food was pretty good, too. I had a Greek salad that was amazing–and I usually don’t use qualifiers with salads. The main attraction was the dessert, though. Their dessert menu is as long as or longer than the entire menu at most restaurants! They’re interesting combos and ideas, too. You can get ice cream bars that come with chocolate sauce and candy pieces and dip them to create your own as you go, you can order from a multitude of incredible-sounding sundaes, crepes, and regular desserts with a twist, experience several different fondue options…it was completely overwhelming to try to decide what to get. I ended up ordering the dessert pizza, which was basically a pizza crust with a thick layer of melted chocolate topped with bananas and (a mountain of) toasted marshmallows. Victoria ordered the s’mores fondue, which was equally as incredible and unique. They brought out a little flame source, along with marshmallows, graham crackers, a little container of melted chocolate, peanut butter, bananas, and raspberry spread. Whoever thought of peanut butter/chocolate/banana/marshmallow s’mores is my HERO. It’s like all my favorite things swirled into one. Needless to say, I ate a lot of dessert. But I was also thankful to have been able to spend some one-on-one time with Victoria again. She’s a really inspiring person. Frankly I’m really flattered that she’s my friend…it’s exciting to know that someone older, wiser, and smarter would enjoy spending time with me! Going to see Max Bemis remains one of my favorite NYC memories.
The next day (Sunday), after sleeping in for a little while, Brittany and I made our way down to Brooklyn to see the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. I hadn’t actually been to Brooklyn yet! Now the only borough I haven’t visited is Staten Island. We had a great time–the gardens are spectacular. I can’t wait to see them when everything is blooming. After the gardens, Brittany showed me around some of her digs. She works at BOMB Magazine, which has its offices in Brooklyn. We stopped in at The Green Grape, this adorable little grocery store, and grabbed some fantastic pumpkin bread with chocolate chips in it. It seemed like there were a million options for dinner, but we ended up settling on an adorable Mexican restaurant called “Pequena,” which lived up to its name. The food was fantastic. My mouth was on fire. I’ve had such crazy cravings for Mexican food here. I’ve realized how much I usually eat, and so I think going without it a bit has made me go a little nuts over it.
After that, we hurried home so I could meet Colm to go to a movie. We were a bit early (the movie didn’t start until 9:45), so we went to Billy’s so I could grab a cupcake and then we just walked around and talked for a while. At last, someone here who doesn’t make fun of my midwestern accent! He calls cupcakes buns. I’m fascinated by the differences in words like that. We went to see “Limitless,” the movie about the guy who takes a pill to turn his brain superhuman. It was interesting, for sure. Not my favorite movie but not a waste of time, either. We walked up to Times Square after the movie so Colm could experience Coldstone. They were not, unfortunately, playing club music this time. Darn.
After wandering around outside, not sleeping, and eating ice cream in the middle of the night in freezing temperatures, I went to sleep pretty sick. I downed a packet of Emergen-C, a lot of advil, and laid low for most of Monday. I at least accomplished a few things for my bookbinding the next day: I went to the art supply store and bought needles and thread, ordered a red velvet cake from Big Booty Bread Co. (a bakery down the street at 23rd and 8th) and bought forks and plates. That night was the going away party for us Kalamazoo girls…which didn’t last too long, but the food was really good, at least. Since I had decided to bypass laundry my last week in favor of shopping, Brittany and I walked over to the Forever 21 in Herald Square. She found a necklace for me that’s a little tiny wooden horse…I love it so much and I will always remember that she picked it out for me! Despite that store being so gigantic (it’s three levels…) it’s so much less overwhelming than the one at home. Much less crowded, quieter, and better organized. After finding a place to grab smoothies, we made our way back to the house. Of course, this journey would not be complete without us getting lost and turned around AT LEAST once. Something about being together makes us both directionally challenged.
The next morning (Tuesday) I stopped in at Staples to big up my chapbook. They could not have done a nicer job–and they were pretty cheap, too! I was ecstatic. I had everything all ready for my bookbinding party that night. After work, I headed over to Big Booty to pick up the cake. For some reason I didn’t look at it before I started carrying it away, so it was pure torture wondering what it looked like! It definitely did not disappoint. The bookbinding party-goers and I all agreed that it was basically the best cake we’d ever had–most and dense without being too rich, with fantastic cream cheese frosting. Lydia, in particular, was running around screaming CAAAAKE!!! The general consensus was that someone had slipped some cocaine in this cake batter, because we were all nutcases after we ate it. The binding actually went really quickly–Emma and Olivia from the program are knowledgeable about book arts and helped us out immensely. Brittany hand-lettered the titles as we finished binding, and she did an absolutely beautiful job. It was so powerful to actually hold one of the books in my hands. I’m so happy with the end result, and I’ll cherish the memory of that bookbinding party for forever.
Colm came to the end of the party and we hung out again for the rest of the “night” (night seemed to turn into 8pm-4am in the morning this last week). Funny that I could click so much with some random guy I met on St. Patty’s Day…and a random IRISH guy I met on St. Patty’s Day, at that!
On Wednesday evening I presented my chapbook to my seminar group. It was a strange experience to read the poems aloud. The speaker of these poems is much bolder, wilder, more assertive and violent than my speakers tend to be. She’s a lot farther from my projected self than my speaker usually is so it was out of my comfort zone…but in a good way. It was exhilarating to show people that side of myself.
So now we come to yesterday. The days have flown by. Poets House hosted an event on the poetry of Zbigniew Herbert, an important Polish poet that I had never studied. I would say these kinds of events were some of the most useful to me while I was here–even if I didn’t get to actually see them, they put the poets’ names on my radar and marked them as important. I was a little bummed, because Charles Simic was supposed to be on of the speakers, but he couldn’t make it because of a health problem. Still, it was extremely interesting and the program room was PACKED. Brittany came along, too, so that made it even more enjoyable. I would say it was one of the busiest (if not THE busiest) event I’ve been to at Poets House.
So today. This is my last day here. I’m so devastatingly sad to leave this place, I can’t even begin to describe it. I’ve given a copy of my chapbook to everyone I’m close to at Poets House, and it’s just about time to hand a copy to the librarian to leave in the library (!!!). My supervisor, Mike, treated me to lunch and we sat down to eat it together. Victoria came in and brought me little mini red velvet cupcakes, despite not having to work today. Strangely enough, I spent most of my time today training a new intern. It was strangely like the circle of life. The amount of love I have for this place, and the way in which that love is reciprocated, absolutely knocks me off my feet.
I’ll update you guys on the goings-on of tonight after they’ve happened. For now, the plan is to go to the MoMA once I get out of work (with Brittany), and then meet Lydia at Max Brenner for a farewell dinner. SOB.