who the heck knows anything, anyway

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Friday, November 6, 2015

Tudor Close Preorders are Open!!!!!! WOOO!!!

Polish your magnifying glass and dig up your obscure monographs on cigar ash, because PREORDERS ARE OPEN for TUDOR CLOSE: A MYSTERY ANTHOLOGY 

This is the second book in the Apiary's collection. We'll have ebooks and print copies available! Preorder for $20 before November 20th to receive a print copy, ebook, and an audio recording of the story of your choice from the collection! Seven authors, seven mysteries. For preorders, contact me @ killian.czuba(at)gmail.com. After preorders close (Nov. 20), the book will be available for $20 print (+ free ebook), $5 ebook only, $1 per audio download, and $5 for the "audio book."

H.E. Bilinski
Tabitha Blankenbiller
Leigh Camacho Rourks
Stephen Cox
Sherri Hoffman
Moye Ishimoto
Gina Mulligan

For more info, podcasts, blog posts, etc, you can visit our website: apiarylife.org !

We also have a few copies left of the The Egret's Crossing: A Collection of Adventure Stories, so if you're interested in picking up a copy of that one, shoot me an email (same address as above)!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Giving What We Can

Today I officially joined Giving What We Can (a long time coming, I know!) and took the pledge to donate at least 10% of my income for the rest of my earning life to eliminating extreme poverty on a global scale. We are all humans, we are all family, and (being a Gryffindor with strong loyalty tendencies) I'd do anything to help my family.

If you're interested in evidence-based giving (charity + science!), you should check out the Giving What We Can website, and also check out GiveWell for charity evaluations. And if formulae aren't your jam, look at charities like Deworm the World and the Against Malaria Foundation, which save lives (and promote education as a result--you don't miss important days of class if you don't have to deal with malaria) in a super tangible way that will give your heart warm fuzzies.


And here's John Green talking about these feelings in the context of Syria and the refugees in search of safety. I recommend the whole video, but skip to 7:17 or so for the heart of the message:

While we're on Syria, I also donated through Google, since they were matching donations 1:1 up until ~$6 million, and from the conversations in effective altruism circles and the articles I've read, unless you're a politician, the best we can do as private citizens in the USA is to write letters to government officials and send money. I sent money today. D and I are writing letters on Sunday. Here's a link to the UN Refugee Agency--a very reliable place to send your donations. You can also donate to places like Doctors Without Borders.

<3 p="">

Friday, September 11, 2015

The two peer groups I interact with most are: 

1. Rationalist Utilitarians (or those who identify generally in one or both of those terms)
2. Existentialists who Do Art

This makes my brain a mashed potato of feelings. If forced to pick a Philosophical Camp, I'd definitely identify as an Existentialist, but I've spent a ton of time with (and am married to an) utilitarian(s). They rub off on you. You start to incorporate effective altruism with your more heart- or passion-motivated giving. You consider your political biases and think "wait, but WHY do I feel this way, and what does the EVIDENCE say?" And then sometimes you change your mind. It's awesome!

However, my Existentialist brain promotes thoughts like "TAKE CHANCES, MAKE MISTAKES, GET MESSY!" My existentialist brain says: "You want to live in the woods by the water? Go move to the woods. Go live by the water. Pete did it. Pete is a beautiful writer. Pete is probably sad, because every good writer you've ever met is sad, but he also loves his life, and you'll always be sad, so how can you love your life?"

My rationalist brain says: "Factor in costs, factor in distance from your people, factor in practicality, factor in expected emotional impact, factor in factors on factors on factors."

I'm lucky. I'm starting in on tattooing, which is a super mobile career (especially on the west coast of the USA). I could move to a beach town and set up shop. My partner is a contractor, and his work is online. We're free to go (theoretically) anywhere. Most people do not have that luxury. But, like most people, the things holding us where we are, are family, friends, roots, normalcy, convenience. And I don't mean "convenience" as some kind of lazy synonym (although it is partially that, too) but the fact that living in a city means you don't need to own a car. There's an airport a 20 minute drive away, and the buses take you there in an hour if a family member can't drop you off. You can walk to the grocery store. You can meet your BFF at the park at 11. These things change when you move. A person is required to depend on a car to see family regularly, even if you're lucky enough to live in a walkable town.

I just want to melt into the forest ground and talk to animals. I want to be Saint Francis. 

I don't know what to do. And people are going to tell me that what I should do, what I want to do, is stay here--but when do you know you're staying because it's easy and not because it's good?

How the flip do people make decisions?? And when you're married, two people have to AGREE on those decisions. Decisions are crippling, man. They can be your whole life. And some decisions that seem huge are essentially inconsequential when it's all added up, and that's stupid, too! Just be honest, life! Ugh!

#feelings or whatever

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sources close to me have said that it takes a good nine months to adjust after a big move. Nine months is enough time to make an entire human, so I guess it makes sense that rebirthing yourself would take about as long. The gestation period is, however, frustrating. Lots of barf feelings, and none of the magically clear skin/"glow" you hear about.

I had this dream last night that I made friends with a cute bat, and then the bat turned into a person, and the person was mean and terrible. Thanks, subconscious brain. Totally difficult to decipher that.

No easy way out, man.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Moving Back

Yesterday, I stood outside the front of my new building waiting to let a few of my friends inside to see our place. As I was standing there, checking my phone, a beat-up 90's Corolla drove past me on its way across the St John's Bridge. It honked. I looked up. The passenger flipped me off.

The duo was white, probably in their 20's. Male or female, doesn't matter. I want to say I flipped them off right back, but my reaction time to aggression is never fast. I just stood there.

There's a lot of hate among native Portlanders for Invaders. Housing prices have gone up exponentially, so we say "All those Californian's are buying up our houses, and we can't afford to live here." An influx of young professionals means old houses are torn down and apartment complexes are put up. It's natural growth, and it has major problems, but it's also bound to happen. If you want to live in a West Coast city and you're not in tech, Portland is really the only place to go. It really is a beautiful city. I don't blame people for wanting to be here. But I still hold a little bit of that resentment myself, because I'm perceived as being One Of Them.

I went to a low-income high school that provided job opportunities for all of us. The kids I went to school with--myself, included--have fought hard to go to college, to get into a trade, to climb that job ladder. I shouldn't be ashamed of my successes--my classmates aren't. But I'm white and middle class and I look like One Of Them, so I am ashamed.

This isn't a plea for sympathy or reassurance. It's more of a reminder for me not to be one of those natives who hates. On a national level, I've never had respect for people who are anti-immigration (in fact, I don't think borders should even exist), so it's funny that I find myself feeling so aggressive towards first-generation Portlanders.

I guess the money thing is relevant. I have a bad relationship with money. I hate it. The privileges a steady income comes with are great--food, happy cats, internet, the ability to write and make art and volunteer my time--but knowing that I have more than someone else kills me.

I feel better after writing this. I don't think I'll publish it, but I'll save it. I have to verbally process this shit, you know? Good people don't honk at randos on the street and make them feel like shit. Good people figure their shit out and try their hardest, and it's all ok.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

t-minus 75 hours

Everything is packed into three suitcases and two small carry-ons.

Moving feels real weird, man.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Submissions Open for Tudor Close: A Collection of MYSTERY Stories!!

If you like writing and you like mysteries (or if you make totally sweet commix), you should absolutely apply to be in this collection. If you are chosen to take part, you get paid at least $40 (more based on profits made from selling the collection). Read the directions, and apply the heck out of this.

Tudor Close, a Collection of Mysteries

The Apiary invites you to submit your work to Tudor Close, a collection of short mysteries. Please read guidelines carefully, because the instructions are very particular!
     Our short story collections are unified around a single element – for example, the stories in our adventure collection, The Egret’s Crossing, all mentioned a bar in Tangier. In this collection, all stories will mention a mansion called Tudor Close.
     We know that there’s a limited market for mystery shorts, so to submit to this collection, please send a sample of 1,000-2,000 words, written in a style that reflects how you would write this particular story, along with a very brief cover letter telling us a little bit about yourself. The writing sample doesn't have to be a mystery, it just needs to show your unique voice and ability. We strive to publish diverse voices.
     We’ll select seven stories to include in Tudor Close. Stories can take place any time post-16th century and into the future; word count can range from 3,000-6,000 words. Each mystery will reference Tudor Close. Deadline to submit your writing sample: August 1, 2015. Drafts will be due September 15; books will be published in December 2015. Tudor Close will be available in print and ebook, and profits will be divided among the writers.
To submit, please email killian.czuba@gmail.com with the subject "Tudor Close Submission."

for more about The Apiary and our projects, check us out here!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

New Prints! PIGEONS

I have new prints up on Society6! They come with or without the pithy greetings.

They are dirty Portland pigeons--for all the PDX natives who can never find the right visual representation of their city.

Print 1: Portland Pigeons enjoy trash outside of Big Pink.
Print 2: Pigeon enjoys its perch/poop spot on the top of the Kvinneakt (or "naked lady") statue, made famous by of Bud Clark and his "exposure" to art.

Prints 1.5 and 2.5 have greetings and welcomes. CLASSIC PORTLAND.

Special thanks to Hobart and Aaron Burch for inviting me to make these for an interview piece that will be coming out soon. I'll link to that as soon as it's out. You'll definitely want to read it.

You can buy my prints (mugs, t-shirts, stationary, etc etc etc) here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

You can go back, but you can't go back

We're moving back to the US of A. It's been a long time brewing (I'd say three years, really), and as of today (fingers crossed), we have an apartment locked down. We'll load ourselves and our cats onto a total of three planes and travel for a disgusting 25-or-so hours and when we lay us down to sleep, it will be in Portland.

It's difficult for me to describe the emotions that come with this move. There's the people I'm excited to see and the people I'm sad to leave.  I can't wait to get out of a prestigious town I don't fit into, but nervous about returning to a homeland that has changed so much since I was a baby, a kid, a teenager, a college student. Five years is a long time to be away from a place. I've visited, of course, but that's not the same. Visits are spurts of excitement full of action and activity. Living? Living a place is different. I'm not going back to my Portland (forever 2003 in my heart), or even the Portland I felt somewhat estranged from in 2010. I'm going back to my neighborhood, but I don't know how much it will be mine anymore.

Postcard of St Johns from 1930, from here
I'm returning to St Johns. It's mythic in my mind the way that Ireland is to my relatives: barely real, a place that's seen hard times but that persists regardless, beautiful beyond reason. It haunts me so deeply that I've barely ventured out there since moving to the UK. I spent my week-long visits in Kenton--the neighborhood where my parents live, which used to be nothing but a bank, a meat market, and a liquor store but now has a public library, amazing pet store, and a row of restaurants that cater to lovers of southern comfort and strict paleos, alike--and Downtown. Kenton's transformation has been positive in my mind: where there was once nothing, there is now an active, lively community. Houses have gotten more expensive, but you can still buy a 1940's craftsman for under $250k. And Kenton is still small, quiet, family-friendly. It was changed, but in a way that felt natural to the neighborhood. Areas like Mississippi and the Vancouver/Williams corridor are terrifyingly different; I get lost on streets I've been able to navigate since I was a tiny kid. But that's a different story.

I avoid St Johns because it is changing, too. Cathedral Park used to be a scary place. My family lived in a house directly under the bridge supports when I was small, and the neighbor kids behind us lit our yard on fire once. An old man who leased the basement apartment (we leased the top floor) died down there, and his relatives didn't look for him for a while. There were needles in the park, on the sidewalks. By the time I was a teenager, however, you could safely hang out in the park. You could covertly smoke cigarettes or make out in your boyfriend's car behind the pollution research center and by chain link fences with giant boat parts stacked up behind them. We were probably hoodrats, to some extent. I wore heavy eyeliner and black hoodies and my friends smoked weed and we snuck into abandoned buildings below the bluff and hid when the cops came to tell us to go home. The cops were nicer back then, it feels like, but that's probably wrong.

I miss that life. I was constantly afraid of getting in trouble, because I had an unchecked anxiety disorder, but that didn't stop me from climbing on cranes and train cars. We were stupid teenagers and we lived in a beautiful place: people native to every other quadrant of the city steered clear of our difficult-to-navigate peninsula, and the couple who ran the local coffee shop happily let us hang out for hours over a $1 cup of tea, and we had a view of Forest Park, and we had abandoned buildings, and we had a dirty river, and we had the St Johns Bridge. I've spent these last three UK-based years missing my park and my bridge and my friends.

Slim's is a hip bar, now. The Incinerator was torn down a few years back. Xeno's closed in 2005 or 2006. People from all over the US (probably a few other countries, too) sport tattoos of my bridge on their bodies. The building I'll be living in is big and new and exactly the kind of building I would have complained about as a teenager. Oh, look: another rich, white 20-something moving into the neighborhood. I can claim I'm not rich, that I'm still Jenny from the block, that we're solidly middle class, but while I'm a starving artist on my own, my husband's got a good job and we don't have/want kids. Plenty of my friends do have/are having kids, which is amazing and exciting and yet another reminder that life is different. Things change, we get older, etc. And I'm not nostalgic for our misfit days or the trouble we could have gotten into--I like being a boring adult who occasionally goes out for a drink and likes to be in pjs by 10pm--but I am nostalgic for that feeling of ownership and belonging; for that feeling you get when Cathedral Park is empty and the weather is nice and you're kissing someone in a gully under the trees; for the teen-outlaw feeling of smoking a cigarette in the middle of the bridge while the moon hangs heavy over downtown; for the ghost stories and the late night heart-to-hearts and the perfect backdrop of dilapidation and debris and natural beauty. It used to be a fairy tale and a crime scene of a place. Now I'm moving back, and it's a different place, a discovered place, a place with less grit and more gilt, and I'm so desperate to live there that I will sacrifice this careful image I have of myself to live in a shining new building that used to be Our Daily Bread.

**all photos--unless otherwise specified--were taken by my friends Danielle and Mary Jane, or myself, between 2003 and 2006

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Case of the Mystery Ailment(s)

Someone needs to write a guide for me. Two guides, actually:

1. How to gauge the badness of pain
2. When to go to the doctor

My experiences with medical doctors has been generally good. (I'm not going to talk about insurance here. I've had the whole range of experiences with that, being a US citizen in a time of healthcare transition. That can be a top for another time.) Most of my life has been spent with the same doctor--a family practitioner in Portland who treats every member of my immediate family--which makes me very fortunate, because she is an amazing doctor AND knows all of my hereditary red flags because she is extremely well acquainted with my family history. As a kid, I was lucky enough to pretty much never need a doctor. I can remember only one instance that required a doctor visit, outside of physicals and booster shots, and that one instance was cutting the tip of my thumb off. (It reattached).

The downside to being healthy and hardy as a kid is that, now that I'm in my mid-twenties, every time I have a weird ailment, I'm afraid of going to the doctor. I'm afraid of being weak, of seeming like a baby, and of wasting smart people's time when they could be saving an actual baby. There are probably a few psychological reasons for this (ex: Growing up without money meant we went to the doctor only for vaccines and life-threatening illnesses; A popular family saying was "Let me know when blood is coming out of multiple orifices," and I psychologically morphed that into "anything less than blood everywhere just means you're being a baby"; I have a pretty high pain tolerance--I think? at least, so I've been told?--so I can't effectively tell you how much something hurts until I'm sobbing and vomiting my brains out*; It took me like 8-10 years of insane OCD symptoms before I talked to my doc and got medication for it**).

Being in the UK has loosened me up a teensy bit in terms of seeking medical attention, due to the amazing NHS***. I've had to jimmy with my medication a few times, and I'm definitely reasonable enough to seek professional help/opinion for that. But Mental Health is sort of in my wheelhouse for knowing what is normal (for me) and what isn't, at this point. The issue here in the UK is, I think, a combination of lack of a regular doctor and subtle cultural differences (probably cost-related, too) surrounding patient-doctor interaction. It's not bad, just different.

Which brings me to the point:

Thrice, now, I have visited the doctors here (twice since January, how embarrassing) for Mysterious Ailments. The first was for sleep. Everyone who knows me knows that my sleep life is terrible and abnormal. The doctor didn't order a sleep study or anything--just told me that everyone is kind of different. (My body wants to sleep about 14 hours a day, which, in my opinion, interferes with my daily life, but I guess it's not deadly, so no one cares and everyone says they are jealous. Do not be jealous. Being awake for only 10 hours a day is a serious bummer, especially when you mostly sleep during daylight hours). The second was poop related. I wasn't formally diagnosed with anything so much as told "Yeah, maybe it's IBS, who knows, it'll probably go away." Ok, cool. It did go away. But it comes back sometimes. So probably IBS? But it goes away after a while, so why go to the doctor if they'll say the same thing? But I kind of want a diagnosis. But am I just being a baby? Maybe everybody poops that way.

One of my medical doctor friends here told me there's less interest in solving mysteries here. They are efficient and kind (bonuses, both, for if you have kiddos or grands to take care of), but if you're not bleeding out of multiple orifices, and you're a robust and non-feverish 26 y/o woman, they'll go the wait-it-out route. I get that. I appreciate it, even. (Hold up: do people ACTUALLY abuse medical systems by seeing the doctor for every little thing, or is that something the patriarchy tells us?? Seriously, wondering.) But what about those of us who don't understand our own bodies?

I went in today because last night I suddenly got this tenderness and pain in my abdomen, underneath/behind the lowest point of my ribcage. It was (is) on the left side, though, so I was confident it wasn't appendicitis, and I went to bed. I didn't sleep too well, but that's how I do (another medical mystery of mine that doctors don't really seem to worry about). I woke up this morning, and it still hurt. It still hurts now. I saw the doctor a couple of hours ago, and she was so sweet to squeeze me in last-minute (yes, I actually went to see the doctor), but she was like "welp, it's not your kidneys, soooo...just wait a while and see if it gets worse," and I was like "...how long should I wait if it keeps hurting?" and she smiled and shrugged and I said thanks for seeing me on such short notice. The one time I go to the doctor without waiting for a few weeks, and I should have just...waited a few weeks. Like always. Because I've never been sick, except for mentally, apparently.

This is not a rant about doctors and the services they provide--doctors are awesome mechanics for the human body, and they can't disassemble it to diagnose it--this is me complaining about how confusing it is to be the owner of one of those meat-sacks, the maintenance of which is integral to literally staying alive. What if I was having a heart attack, and I thought "Well, flip, this sucks but it'll probably pass in a minute. Hmmm, shoot, it still hurts, but this is probably normal." As a person with sleep and gastro issues (all mysterious), I often experience some shitty (lol), painful, exhaustion-promoting things, and I just roll with it, but they never really go away and my body feels sad a lot of the time. Is that just how a body works? Am I a hypochondriac baby?****

I read this super-scientific article, which addresses some of my questions, but fails to tell me how many of the See Doc vs Stay Home symptoms are relevant. Is 1 point for See Doctor equal to 1 point for Stay Home, or does 1 point for See Doctor mean Definitely See Doctor, or do the weights of each point vary in comparison to one another?

So someone, please, write me a manual. I love a good book. I love a good MEDICAL book. Give me a comprehensive guide to my body, to when pain means anything important, and to when I should see a doctor, because WebMD will just tell me I have lupus cancer and then my doctor will tell me it's nothing.

*and last time this happened, I did not see a doctor
**LIFE SAVER. Seriously.
***I said I wouldn't talk about insurance, but...I did get a Nexplanon implant + the procedure for free, soooooooo
****My mom called me a hypochondriac a lot as a kid, and I think my fear of becoming one has also been a factor in my lack-of-seeking-medical-attention

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Post-AWP15, etc

I did a short podcast about what tabling at AWP in Minneapolis was like! So if you're curious about this insane writers conference, give it a listen. (It's 37 minutes.)

Speaking of AWP and writing updates:

1. We totally sold out of The Egret's Crossing print editions. Seriously. We printed 150, and they are all gone. But you can still get ebook editions--and we're considering a second run, so let me know if you're interested (comments, twitter, email, facebook, however you want to hit me up). It felt so good to pay everyone who contributed, and I'm stoked to get to work on the next project (stay tuned, etc).

2. Cactus Heart (an awesome lit mag I help out with, led by the charming and sassy Sara Rauch) did amazingly well, too. It was the first AWP for CH as an exhibitor, and--in addition to selling many sexy t-shirts and back issues--we sold out of print issue 10.5. !!! TheaSara, and I celebrated heartily:

3. Barrelhouse is the literal best. I got to meet [almost] everyone in the crew over the weekend, and it is truly a family of smart, hilarious people with great taste in lit. I have a comic in issue 14, and have joined their team (as I may have mentioned?) as Art Director, because the world has finally recognized my exceptional taste, and everyone wants a piece of me.

this photo lovingly lifted from the Barrelhouse FB page
Seriously, I am such a lucky kid to be a part of this.

4. I am still recovering from an intense, social, drink-heavy, laugh-heavy, emotion-heavy weekend. I can't wait for #AWP16 in LA next year, and I am filled with a renewed desire to make art and kick butt. My only regret is that I can't live close to everyone I love--but we're moving back to the USA in July, so I'll be much closer. :)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Egret's Crossing - An Adventure Stories Anthology

Aww, shoot. The wait is over! (Well, almost--they'll start appearing irl the first week of April.) If you're interested in preordering a copy, send me an email or purchase the book through paypal via this handy link on the Apiary site

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Makeup Adventures, pt. 1

I generally consider myself to be a pretty low-key tomboy. Some of it is natural inclination, some of it is lack of experience with mysterious rituals like 'contouring,' and some of it is possibly (probably) a result of dating at least one guy who hated when I wore makeup. However, I've learned something important about myself--particularly after being sick for a week and a half and feeling like a lump dump every time I look in the mirror: I like how I look when I wear makeup. I like it a lot. It makes me feel more beautiful and confident.

Like many of us, I grew up under the impression that, as a girl, I could like pink, or I could like dirt. I chose dirt. But in the past few years, I've realized that I kind of like pink. Yeah, I almost exclusively wear jeans and I still get into who-can-punch-harder fights with my brothers, but I also love Justin Timberlake and Covergirl's Lash Blast mascara. I used to view my occasionally well-manicured nails as a sign of fragility (and not going climbing enough), but now I like the fresh look and feeling of painting my nails every few days. I've discovered the world of color theory as it relates to clothing and accessories (finally. You'd think that for someone who likes art, I would have understood this long ago). I've made the jump into looking for a fancy perfume to wear when I want people to drool over me. It's nice. I like it. I'm sad that it took me so many years to understand that I'm allowed to like whatever I like because ANYONE is allowed to like whatever they like.* I know a lot of people that like a variety of funky + mainstream things, and I don't judge them for it, so why do I judge myself?

This is all of my makeup** (forgive the photo quality--why did I decide to do this at night?):

Maybe I'll do a post about it sometime, but I really like it!*** I did research on some beauty blogs I dig--like XO Vain--and also spent a lot of 15-minute post-meeting breaks scrutinizing the goods at Boots. Three of these were purchased in the states over the summer: the Almay black-brown eyeliner, Covergirl Lash Blast, and NYX Indie Flick lipstick. I'm hoping to expand my collection more when I move back.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I'll probably do a post reviewing all of my goods once I've decided on a nice perfume. Notes on the hunt: I'm increasingly fond of Gucci Guilty as a winter/fall/nighttime scent (it's lasted about 8 hours, it's not overly invasive, and it mellows real nice--I keep sniffing my wrist happily) and I think Honey by Marc Jacobs is the nicest spring/summer scent I've tried. Touch by Burberry smells terrible on me, and Cool Water by Davidoff wasn't great with the top notes, but the base is surprisingly nice. I should be getting a sample of Eau de Protection by Etat Libre d'Orange in the mail, and I am really excited about it because some person on the internet said it would deffos be the signature scent of Claire Underwood, and I was like IT IS IMPERATIVE TO MY SURVIVAL THAT I SMELL LIKE CLAIRE UNDERWOOD.

*not including hurting themselves/others in a nonconsensual or dangerous fashion, obviously
**and my glasses?
***I actually don't know how I like the three Maybelline eyeliners, bc I just bought them today. I tested them on my hand, and they are awesome, so as long as the liquid liners don't make my eyes itch, I think we're good!

Friday, February 13, 2015

a poem on a weird, emotional day

I don't usually share my creative writing online, because the way that the publishing world works is so insane and I fear the plagiarists. But (1) I am becoming less uptight and more rebellious in my attitudes towards publishing, and (2) this is a finished poem and not a piece of fiction that is still in-progress. So, here you go. A rare gift of artful (not just spontaneous) words from a month or so ago, which I am finally presenting to you on a day that's been a little too heavy for me.


In the grass, there are white stones
small enough to swallow.
Bitter powder.
Don't let them touch your tongue.

Saint Joan,
I was only twelve
and already pinning windows shut to keep the eyes out.
Telephone poles, pulling hair out by the roots.
Teach me how to bear the pain of the burns on my back--
I never learned my lesson about sitting in the sun.

Eight legged creatures crawling into me,
For Every Car You Pass
You Must Lift Your Left Shoulder
(feel the wing bones flex).
The airplanes take off and land.
So vividly
I watch them

O, hot flash of light
O, sound that lags behind;
I forgot to kiss my husband goodbye.
Instead, I wait on my elbows--
still half in bed--
to be burned alive.

There are poems that benefit from having a little explanation--I find them more enjoyable when I know what led the poem to where it is. This might or might not be one of those, but if you prefer a little concrete beneath your feet: it's about having OCD. This is the closest I've ever come to conveying what it's like to be in my head on bad days.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A semi-professional assessment of recent changes in the English language

Daniel was telling me last night about how "like" is probably going to be an official part of speech, as in "My dad was like:..." or "Her boss was like:..."

At first, he was like "I don't know about this." Oh, shoot--you see what I did there? I actually think this is a useful distinction in English. When you say "X person said Y," then you are basically relaying a quote. Even if it isn't a quote, that objectivity is what you're going for. It's straightforward. It's the reliable narrator. If you say "X was like 'Y'," then there's some implied wiggle room. The "like" suggests that what comes next will probably be an approximation  of a quote that is [slightly/majorly] changed to fit the mood of the story or the storyteller's agenda. It's less reliable, and a lot more conversational.

So there you go! Don't feel bad about "like"! Embrace it! It's the unreliable narrator of our lives! And don't worry about the blah blah ruination of the English language blah. Daniel agreed with me. He'd never thought about it that way. Then he told me I was a genius!* (*After I asked him to tell me that I am a genius.)

I've got a graduate degree, so I am an authority.

Friday, January 23, 2015

music music

Having a bit of a difficult time connecting to books right now. I'm not worried, it happens sometimes. Mood, taste, whatever it is, sometimes all I want are comics, sometimes all I want is TV. Occasionally, it's novels written by Russian authors in the 1950's. Desire is a fickle beast.

Anywho, right now I'm in a Music Place. Less music than lyrics, I guess, though that's complicated. I can't hear all the separate instruments doing their independent thing when I listen to music. Daniel can; he'll be like "That piano reminds me of X," and I have to listen for a minute and disassemble all the sounds before I can hear what he's talking about. However, as a person who is not tone deaf, good lyrics don't automatically make for good listening. I do have a soft spot in my heart for boys who don't sing pretty, though.

The thing is, I don't write music. I never have, and I don't have any particular desire to. I mean, sure, if I could magically be imbued with the ability to jam on guitar (let's be real: DRUMS) and carry a tune, I would absolutely be writing songs. But I'm not and I can't, so I don't. I write prose. That's my gig. So I feel a little frustrated when I'm sitting back, listening to Skeletal Lamping*, and I can't translate my feelings of elation and inspiration into my own work. I'm listening to The Hold Steady--my fave band 5eva--as we speak, and I want to write a book that has the same effect on people that Separation Sunday has on me every flipping time I listen to it. Or Heaven is Whenever. Or Neutral Milk Hotel's Aeroplane, the Parenthetical Girls' Safe As Houses, Josh Ritter's Historical Conquests, Rilo Kiley's More Adventurous.

I tried reading John Darnielle's Wolf in White Van recently. I'm not going to say it's a bad book, because I don't think that's actually true, but it wasn't my jam. I was disappointed--not in Darnielle (because a lot of people love his book, and I'm sure he wrote the piece he wanted to read), but in the fact that I didn't like it. The Mountain Goats are great! It was a bummer not to like his prose work. It's not totally surprising--some people can make the jump from poetry to prose (Jack Driscoll, anyone???? omg), but those people are the minority. Everyone is influenced by other media, though. Like I said, I'm not talking about writing music of my own. I want to figure out how to take the personal weight I feel when I listen to "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" and "Hurricane J", and get the same weight out of my own prose work.

It might not be possible, exactly. Some mediums are just better suited to a particular project than others (TV is not a movie is not a novel is not a comic is not a painting, etc). But I've read books that made me roll on the floor and cry and laugh and forget to breathe, so I know some approximation is possible. I just don't want to forget what I want from a story--I don't want to get lost in tropes and story logic. I want to write about girls that smoke cigarettes on the St Johns Bridge at 1am and fall in love with boys who don't love them back. I want to write about religion and doubt and how downright terrifying it can be when you have dreams about God talking to you. Mental health and medication and identity, loving boys and girls and more than one person at a time, feeling like an incomplete sum of parts.

*I will fight anyone who says this is not Of Montreal's best album

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I'm adapting this short story into a comic right now (more on this at a later date), and I'm looking up photos of Kent, WA, and I am so, so homesick for the Pacific NW.

Friday, January 2, 2015

A resolution; a #shelfie

Yesterday I posted a picture of a haircut I gave myself.* It was fine and everything, but not super exciting. I mentioned my cautious optimism regarding 2015, but I really wasn't planning on making myself any promises. Then, while I was watching Homeland and eating a can of pea soup, I was struck by a resolution idea: I will shave my head, and--apart from very minor upkeep--will not cut it again until a draft of my novel is actually finished.

This is a fun experiment. I can't really promise I'll see it through, because haircuts have, historically, been my go-to form of self-soothing and catharsis. But I am actually going to try, because it's good to have an incentive, and I think long hair makes me look like a teen baby.

Plus, bonus: Daniel's iPad has one of those cool photo-a-day apps that takes a picture of your face in the same frame every day, and then you can make a video out of the year's worth of photos. It'll be pretty rad to see just how fast my hair grows--and how it grows, more generally.

So here's our starting point.

I spent this morning hanging out with one of my BFFs, Bernadette, and it was lovely. As a result, I went from our brunch to Blackwell's bookshop--and what was intended to just be this:

became this**:


Ok, it's 3pm and I'm ready for some tea, pjs, and YES PLEASE (after I finish Wolf in White Van, that is.)

*everyone knows I let only two people touch my hair--my hairdresser since childhood back in Portland, and myself. Any time I trust an additional party, I end up leaving with a bad haircut and I have to pay the person for doing a bad job, which should not be a thing.

**The copy of Persepolis came in a secret xmas package from my buddy Mikaela, bc she knows me very well. She also sent me two bags of homemade cookies. !!!! FRIENDS

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Updates, new year

Hey everybody, lots of updates today (finally?).

1. It's a new year, etc. It is (cross my fingers and pray to your deity of choice) the year we move back to the USA, and for that reason I am hopeful. I miss my friends and my family, and I will never complain about domestic travel ever again. Ideally, I will have a long and prosperous life that will never again include dealing with Heathrow.

I'm also pretty nervous. Even if we do get lucky and move back to the west coast, it's not like everything will be the same. We're never going to have such a massive contingent of friends in Seattle, all of us within walking distance of each other. No matter where we live, we'll be far away from people we love. Add to that: it's not actually the case that the number of unknowns goes down at the end of one year and bubbles up again at the beginning of the next, but it sure feels like it sometimes. Cross your fingers for us, please?

2. I'm not going to spend too much time reminiscing about 2014. It was a busy year marked with big personal successes and new friends, but I also struggled with pretty hardcore depression and homesickness. I might be past the point--for a little while, at least--of considering a single year as Good or Bad. A year is made up of a lot of months--even more weeks--and I can hardly assess my existence and progress on a monthly level.

3. Housekeeping! This is the most important update (to my mind): The Apiary has a beautiful new website, and Audiodidact celebrated Episode 20 this Monday! A few changes to be aware of:
--The Apiary website is http://www.apiarylife.org/ 
--The Apiary's Twitter handle has changed and is now @apiary_life
--My indie PR outfit, Scout!, is also under the Apiary umbrella and can also be found on the Apiary site

The Apiary is going to be the home for a lot of awesome, collaborative projects in the future. Pay special attention to announcements coming up in April--we'll have a project debuting (fingers crossed!!) at AWP in Minneapolis. More hints as we inch closer to April!

4. Haircut and £3 Jurassic Park t-shirt.