So. I realize I haven’t written a good, meaty blog on my New York escapades in a while, despite a million exciting things happening recently. So I will end this blog with a quick rundown of what has been going on.
But do you want to know WHY there has been a distinct lack of these kinds of blogs??? Because I have FINALLY been writing poems again. They are coming back slowly, but steadily. That unavoidable impulse is back again. The other day I wrote a poem entitled “You say to do what I want like what I want to do is legal.” I will give you a little tease:
You say to do what I want like what I want to do is legal
like the emaciated screamers I’ve had locked in my belly deserve rights.
I am here to become a mythological being, and no one ever created
harmony within a group without following one mouth, opening and closing.
I’m reluctant to post the whole thing because this blog is as public as can be, but if you would like to read it (there are two more stanzas) please message me and I’ll send it your way. It’s rather dark. What else is new.
Though I can’t say I have nailed down an exact frame for my chapbook, I have a few ideas in mind. One would render the previously mentioned poem completely appropriate for inclusion: voice and identity. I know I’ve beaten the whole “personal growth” angle of being here to death, but there’s just no getting around it…I have never experienced such leaps and bounds of change in such a graceful (and graTeful) manner in my life. My voice on the page has always been so intimate and honest, and I’d like to try playing around with it a little bit. That isn’t to say I want to lose the intimacy and the honesty, just that I want to stretch myself beyond it a little bit. I want to be able to magnify and enact and perform on the page in ways that I haven’t before. Two of my biggest influences, Sylvia Plath and Louise Glück, have led me to this conclusion. Plath creates nothing short of a mythological persona in her poetry. Her speaker feels powerful and assertive in so many of her poems. I heard a recording of her reading “Daddy” and she just seemed intoxicatingly in control. Yes, her speakers have suffered…but it just seems like the words of all her speakers are underwritten by an urgent message: this matters. Glück does that, as well, perhaps in more subtle ways. She often makes bold assertions that are sometimes philosophical in nature, and she even more frequently directly asks very pointed, confrontational questions of her readers…which is a trait that, in my experience, is quite rare of female poets. Basically, I want to give myself license to be a badass. I want to ask difficult questions, give difficult answers, and shout instead of whisper.
Though this is an interesting thread that I would like to follow, if my poems don’t lead me directly down that road right now I will be okay with that. I’m also interested in exploring my spirituality and my struggle with organized religion. The reality is, I’m going to write and the poems will take me where I need to go right now. And that will be my chapbook. Anything different would be dishonest. Poetry is unique in that you absolutely cannot force it. If you don’t allow the poem to take you by the hand and lead you down the path it wants to take, your poem is going to end up being crap. Or at least, that’s been my experience with it.
Last Saturday: I helped out with the children’s Valentine’s Day event, in which they watched a screening of “The Red Balloon” and made hot air balloon valentines. It was a freaking. Mad house. Insane. Children EVERYWHERE. Some are cute, some are monsters. Overall, it was a terrifying blur. Saturday night, Brittany and I went out again and did a little bit of dancing. After that, we sat down to eat for a while at this adorable place called “The Sugar Café,” where our waiter was gay and Hispanic and fabulous and just couldn’t get enough of us. Brittany ordered a burger and I ordered red velvet cake…I don’t know what it is lately, but I am just obsessed with red velvet cake. I’ve seen an inordinate number of red velvet cupcakes around and I resist buying one every time. This time, “no” was not an option. And DAMN, was that cake good. Upon finishing our food we met up with another girl from the program and her friend and found a random place that was hosting a cover band. The band was basically crappy as a band, but they rocked at covers. It was basically guitar hero live…all songs that everyone knows and are just irresistible for singing along. We stayed there until around 3:30 am and reluctantly headed home. I’m quite sure I didn’t hear anything probably for days afterward.
Last Sunday: I went to see a production of Swan Lake by the Russian Ballet’s touring company in a theater in The Bronx, which kind of turned out to be an all-day affair. The theater was giant and sort of strange…all cement and acoustically bizarre. For some reason they were having difficulties seating people and the show started over a half an hour later than it was supposed to start. People were pissed. A woman came out and apologized, saying the theater “wasn’t prepared for so many people showing up at once,” which confused me…how could they not be prepared when they knew how many tickets they sold, and their theater seats so many in the first place? I think it was more packed than usual because of the movie Black Swan. I probably would have gone anyway, because I’d never seen a professional dance production before, but I have to admit that that was partially my motivation for going. Apparently it was quite traditional. I didn’t love the first act, which was confusing and sort of boring…but then it really picked up and I though it was beautiful. Black Swan uses a lot of the traditional choreography, including the crazy amounts of turns (I don’t know the proper name) the Odile does on one point shoe (when Natalie Portman’s character is growing the wings). I don’t know much about dance, but I at least knew that the girl who played the swans was amazing! The biggest disappointment with this ballet, though, was that they don’t commit suicide at the end. I was interested to see that, but it just kind of ended with the prince ripping the sorcerer’s wings off. Which was weird, and anticlimactic, because I was expecting more and it didn’t happen. Overall, I’m glad I went, though. I’d like to go to more dance shows while I’m here.
Monday: It was Valentine’s Day!!! The weather here was GORGEOUS. I spent most of my morning at the gym and lounging around eating candy and watching FEI TV. Then I had to get ready for my Valentine’s Date with Kate! We ate at Serendipity 3, home of the Guinness Book of World Records most expensive sundae. It costs $1,000 and has to be ordered at least 48 hours in advance because ingredients are flown in from around the world. It also features flecks of real gold and you eat it with a gold plated spoon and a crystal dish, which you can keep. We, of course, did not order that. I got a frozen hot chocolate, which is one of their specialties. I ordered the peanut-butter kind, and it was UNBELIEVABLE. I would go back just for that. I had a hotdog for dinner (like a 16 inch hotdog…holy crap) and a “Forbidden Broadway Sundae” for dessert, which is their chocolate blackout cake with ice cream and hot fudge. SO GOOD. But also so painful. I don’t know that I’ve ever had that bad of a food baby. Then, of course, to top it all off, we headed down the road to Dylan’s Candy Bar. That place is literally Candy Land. I need to go back when I’m not dying of sugar intoxication so I can get one of their s’mores cupcakes. It was hands-down the best Valentine’s Day I’ve ever had.
Tuesday: Pretty low-key, Tuesday is the new Monday for me because I have Mondays off. I took some belated Valentine’s Day stuff to the UPS store to ship and I’m pretty sure the guy completely ruined everything by crushing it into a tiny box. I was pissed. I thought I was having a bad day, but then I found Louise Glück’s chapbook October in the library at Poets House. First of all, I’ve never read it. Second, IT WAS SIGNED. It’s possible I’ve reached crazed fan-girl status, because I was very overly excited about this. I photocopied it and immediately wrote a poem upon reading it.
Wednesday (today): Of course, I choose this morning to go to the gym in the morning and shower there so I can go straight to work, the morning when skeezy repairmen are in the women’s locker room fixing the sink. Slightly traumatic. Highlights of work: taking the typewriters to this cute repair shop called “Typewriters and Things,” getting a bagel and an SUPER yummy latté at a random little coffee shop, finding a few poems about Lake Michigan in an anthology. After work, I accompanied Brittany on her quest to get another tattoo. The place she originally wanted to go to was closed, so we had to wander a bit to find somewhere. Once we gave up and decided to find someplace to eat on St. Mark’s, we stumbled upon like fifty million tattoo parlors in a row. We went into a place called “Addiction,” and she talked to a guy there. It ended up being a fantastic find, because the guy who did her tattoo was extremely knowledgeable about sizing and how she should do her tattoo so it will stand the test of time with minimal ink bleeding. She got a compass right behind her left ear, which turned out looking AMAZING. I love it. I would definitely recommend that place to anyone, but only if you ask for Nick. She’s ecstatic with it. We grabbed dinner at this adorable diner called “Trailer Park,” which is literally a trailer park. It’s like that country song “Redneck Yacht Club.” I loved it…such a nice little trashy getaway from Manhattan’s usual vibe. I got a burger that kind of tasted like the ones at Don’s Drive-In in Traverse City, so it definitely received my stamp of approval. It was so great to have so much time to really talk with Brittany…we were so lost in conversation about writing that we kept missing streets and turning the wrong way when we were looking for tattoo parlors!
BAM. You’re caught up.