Friday, December 12, 2008

The Belated "Who killed Amanda?" Post

Every now and then, I get really excited by an artist. Like when Sarah Silverman says "his brisket is beyond...beyond." Like that. I get beyond...beyond. Last year around this time, it was Regina Specter. Still quite happy about her (especially since moving from "Begin to Hope" to "Soviet Kitsch") but I've found a new love.

So I was at Amanda Palmer's concert at the Avalon, which first of all... have you ever been to the Avalon? The first act was all right, I think--and by 'I think,' I mean 'I have no effing clue,' because it sounded like they were being piped through a long tunnel lined with half-empty tuna cans.

Speaking of tuna cans, I was there with my boyfriend's boyfriend Bradley Giuliani, who gave me a sound verbal beating for whining about the cold which we waited in unnecessarily for nearly an hour before the doors opened. The venue never filled quite to capacity, unless the capacity limit heralds back to the theatre's movie days--back when Charlie Chaplin rolled his eyes up and smiled sweetly through that darling mustache.

But I digress. Venue: cold, windy, large, modestly populated. Acoustics: miserable. Opening act: ??? I do remember cracking jokes with Brad on hearing such lyrics as "I'm going down in the black elevator of death..." or something like that. Hard core emo dressed up as indie/alternative. What fun.

Second act was clearly gorgeous but obviously warped by the insufficient speakers. Zoe Keating, cellist of amazing talent who overlays her own performance aided by the marvels of modern music technology, was sufficiently amazing to make me hate the much younger audience (-than me, definitely -than Brad) when they lost patience and started talking during the second and third songs. No such restlessness was displayed later in the night, however. Oh, no.

Fortunately things seemed to go better sound-wise when AFP made her highly impossible appearance (we were assured many times that she had, in fact, died), elbowed her way through the crowd (at least that's the way Brad tells it) threw off her shroud and attacked the piano in a way that made me a bit lustful.

The Danger Ensemble, an Australian improv? troupe, illuminated her text with at times pitch-perfect performances: disturbing, delightful animatronica for "Coin Operated Boy" and crazed, coordinated fans for "Guitar Hero" (I was cynically amused to see members of the audience around me picking up on some of the moves and dancing along), sometimes bordering on melodramatic (showering fake snow on a tortured Blake for "Blake Says" and falling to the ground slow-mo for the Columbine tribute "Strength Through Music") but definitely adding to the show.

It was basically a kick-ass show. Couldn't have made me love her music more, I almost NEED it (I don't need it, I don't need it, Amanda, I swear...) but it was a great experience and left me with a different impression of the artiste than I got from the music alone, and very different than I got from the multiple music videos, all of which are available on youtube. Thank you once again Bradley (*smirk*). As always your contributions are vital.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

Can't we all just get along?

Okay. Here's my thinking on the gay marriage issue.

Marriage is clearly a social construct. I think everyone can agree on that, since everyone is fighting to decide what KIND of social construct it is, i.e. who can participate. Why don't we acknowledge that in our laws? As a good friend is suggesting, why don't we completely take away the right of the government to marry couples, and instead give our government the mandate to create domestic partnerships for any and all who want them?

I'm going to take his idea a step further, though. Once government-ordained marriages are illegal and a simple contract/rights package is substituted, the only ones who will continue giving "marriage certificates" are churches. And guess what? Churches can give these to/refuse these from anyone they want.

Shouldn't that make everyone happy? No church is forced to acknowledge the marriage of/perform a marriage for anyone. On the same token, everyone's partnership is acknowledged/respected by every government body. Marriage remains intact, rights remain intact. EVERYBODY WINS.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Titular Poem

Well, it's not perfect. It's not in the original format. But it's there. My blog's namesake. Down at the very bottom of the page, in all caps, for some reason. It will at least give you the idea. Hope you like it.

Obsessive and Happy

So. I am now a full time college access adviser. I love my job. Some days it's hard, some days it's easy, some days it's Monday. All days I am grateful for this opportunity.

It's lonelier than it looked like it would be at first. The first month we were all together, all of the advisers for the different schools, and that was fun. Now we hardly ever talk, which is sad. We have a meeting on Wednesday, though. Maybe some of us will reconnect. I hope so. But the kids are awesome--they're going through so much, and they ALL deserve to go to college, which in some cases means they deserve another chance. I only hope that I can give it to them.

Some of the faculty are so negative. I hate it. One of the kids that I encouraged to aim for the University of Utah (he'll have to get his grades up and score pretty high on the ACT) was told up front by his counselor, "You'll never get accepted to the U." I can't believe people do that! Why are these people guidance counselors? I can understand being realistic, but realistic should sound like this: "That's going to be tough. You'll have to work hard at this point, and do __ and __, but if you work hard enough, you can do it. Just in case, you should apply to a couple of backup schools that you'd also like to go to. But do your best, and I'll see what I can do for you." Instead they're creating a negative environment that turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy. No wonder these kids don't graduate or go on to college. They're just living up to everyone's expectations.

In my other life, the one where I will be a novelist someday, I have entered the obsessive phase of applying to grad school. Nearly all of my free time is spent working on apps or pouring over the Speakeasy posts or TSE or Kealey blogs. I am glad to have them as a resource, even though they feed my MFA addiction. I also spend a bit of time working on my manuscript, a very disproportionate amount of time when I consider how crucial the manuscript is to the process. But I feel good about what I already have finished, and I feel really good about what I'm working on. It should be finished by mid-October and polished by mid-November, when I'll be sending in the packets to the different programs. Here is my set-in-stone list (already gave it to my recommenders, can't change it now):

Johns Hopkins
N Carolina-Greensboro
Notre Dame
Wash U-St. Louis

I believe, deep down in my soul, that at least one of these schools will read my manuscript this year and put me right on the top of their pile (the acceptance pile, you buttheads). If not, my life will essentially be over. I'll have to change my name, shave my head, bind my breasts and become a monk. Or something. Oh! I also checked out books by faculty from most of the programs (I think all but three). I'm putting a lot more time and money in (two things that I didn't have last year) and I'm hoping that will make the difference.

In the meantime, I've got some exciting things going on. I finally found an opportunity to volunteer--I'll be helping out with the Bad Dog Rediscovers America creative writing class for teens every Tuesday night. I'm so excited. I tried to volunteer at the Road Home but no one wanted to take a writing workshop. :(

Also, I just joined the 29 Day Giving Challenge at So I'll be blogging here about that. It should be interesting.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Something to Do

Haven't written for awhile... where to start...

I have a job. A real job. Nothing against my fellow servers, who are amazing people and lovely to work with--I'm sad to leave the food industry because you cannot find a more interesting, diverse, and personable group of people--but I never considered it anything but a temporary measure to pay the bills, and this new job is more than that. I'll be working as a college outreach adviser, helping high school students to think about, apply to, and finance college. I know it's going to be hard work but if I do my job well, I'll be changing lives. It's difficult to find a job that you can say that about. I was shaking when I got the phone call. It's a temporary position, from August 1 2008 until May 31 2009, which may just work out perfectly if I get into grad school next year.

I broke my collarbone. It was one of those random, stupid, silly things, not even a good story, I was just riding my bike down a hill, hit a pot hole, and went butt-over-head, which is a much more accurate description than head-over-heels. I won't be whole until September; in the meantime I'm supposed to wear a sling but almost never do because I am a rebellious child. Also because the doctor told me I didn't have to. My collarbone is always going to stick up funny. This shouldn't be depressing but it is.

Just got back from California (San Diego and then LA). It was a wonderful trip, too short. I got to spend a morning with my Grandma, an afternoon babysitting my cousins (four of them... which is excellent birth control and confirmed my decision to only have two children when the time comes), hours and hours on beaches, an entire day with my Grandpa, who took us sailing to Coronado and then out for margaritas in Old Town, plus a tour of the Gaslamp district. Got to see my brave little cousin Ella who is just three months old and has survived two operations in conjunction with a brain tumor. Andy stepped it up and was a perfect gentleman to my Grandma, asked my Grandpa all kinds of questions that I had never thought to ask him, and didn't grumble too much when I wanted to just sit on the beach for hours. We went to the zoo, where he meowed at all the cats... silly boy. He took me to a couple of beer bars and breweries, where everything finally just clicked for me--he's been trying to train me to really appreciate beer for over a year and I've just humored him--and I got excited about some of the beers we tried, especially the Petrus Aged Pale. We went to Stone Brewery, which is just a beautiful place aside from having an amazing selection, and later in LA we went to a Biergarten where I decided that my favorite patio drink is a good Bavarian Weiss.

Also in LA: saw Wicked at Pantages. Very cool theater, elaborate and well-performed production. Lots of themes to think about. I don't remember the novel being nearly as good. Went to a Dodgers game, which was as fun as a game can be when the scoreboard looks like this:


(Andy tells me this is typical of Major League Baseball games. Almost as boring as watching golf.) Venice Beach wasn't quite what we expected--more trinkets and less performers. We wandered along the beach from the end (or start) of the boardwalk all the way to Santa Monica (?) pier.

Now we're back and busy finding a place to live (we're moving closer to downtown/U of U for Andy), working extra shifts where we can, trying to make everything work out.

Things are coming together as far as my manuscript. I feel good about the different projects I'm working on, have one just about completed and a great start on another. I need to get going on my screenplay, though. If I want to enter American Zoetrope I need to finish it by August 1. I'm only about a third of the way done. In the back of my head I guess I'm planning on doing it Kerouac-style, maybe three caffeine-fueled days of writing. Not a good plan. That's how the script started, though. I wrote the first thirty pages over the course of several feverish hours. If I finish it and love it, I'll have a tough decision to face: apply to Michener for fiction or screenwriting? Fiction is my passion but I might have better odds with a screenplay, especially a strong one. We'll see. I wish I could apply in both genres. (I can study both genres, sort of major/minor style, if I get in, but I'd love that extra chance of getting in.)

I miss the ocean.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

On My Own

I'm finding that being out of college is much like getting out of a long term relationship. I'm having to redefine who I am now that I can't define myself in terms of that relationship: a student working towards graduation. I graduated. I'm out of that relationship. It's a good ending, but still an ending.

I didn't picture it being over. I thought I would be going to graduate school this fall. I still plan on going to graduate school, but in the meantime, I have to figure out who I am. For one, I have to figure out if I'm really a writer. Do I have the self-discipline to sit down for hours and hours every week to write? I'm a little anxious about this. My self-discipline has recently hit an all-time low. What if my dreams and ambitions can't kick it back into gear? What if I continue to spend time reading blogs, watching tv, and blogging instead of reading novels and short stories, doing writing exercises, and working towards publication?

I have been feeling the drive lately, though. The excitement I feel when I think about the several stories that I'm working on. The anticipation of writing. Often it doesn't last once I've got that blank screen and that cursor blinking at me; I stare at it and wilt in the face of my own expectations and can't even write a sentence. But I have got the drive, and that makes me happy. It's a start.

My list of MFA programs for next year is just as ambitious as my list last year; it's just a lot longer. I've been criticized for this by fellow MFA hopefuls. They say that only one-third of my applications should be aimed at top twenty schools; my entire list is made up of schools with around 5% acceptance rates. I know they're right. But I have trouble accepting that. I know it's foolish to dream big, but whatever they say, I know that getting into a top tier school isn't like the lottery. It's not pure chance. A lot of it is arbitrary--I can't control people's opinions of my work--but a huge amount of it is based on talent. I don't think it's arrogant of me to hope that I have the talent level to succeed at one of the big name schools. It's more that I have something to prove to myself. I have to believe that I can do it. I don't know how to define myself except as a writer, and I don't know what to hope for myself except great things.

So maybe I won't get into any of those schools next year. Maybe I'll have to accept that they don't see that talent level in me. But even then I won't be able to accept that it doesn't exist. I'll just have to keep working.

Andy says I'm the hopeful type. He says that only the foolishly hopeful are foolish enough to keep working for big dreams, and therefore the only ones to accomplish those dreams. May that prove to be true. May I not find out later in life that I've been jousting with windmills. Because I don't know how to think in any other way. I'm afraid of the day when I figure out that I don't have it in me to be a great or even good writer. Though it's not my only identity, my romance with my far-too-ambitious dreams is an integral part of me. If I ever lose that, I won't know how to define myself at all.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Wow. I'm done. It feels so strange. I took my last final this morning, easy peasy, and now basically nothing stands between me and that diploma. I kept expecting something to happen, I don't know why, usually I'm not the paranoid type (not even on pot; on pot I'm the "weep over not getting to choose the cereal brand" type) but I was just waiting for a bad case of gangrene to keep me from finishing. I kept waiting for an Acme...oh jeez. What are those things called? Those things that have no relevance to everyday life except for falling on cartoon characters? Really heavy. ANVILS. Right. I kept waiting for an anvil to fall on me. But I'm done. It's kind of exhilarating, like making it to the $1000 level in Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. It's not that exciting, really, but at least they can't take it away from you! Take that, Regis!

And now you know how long it's been since I've watched TV.

It's been a good four years, y'all. Lots of change. Lots of growth. Two long-term relationships with a couple of flings in between. More moves than I could chronicle without the help of's address book--god bless you, Wonderful roommates, lots of laughter, at least seven different jobs, lots of failures, and a couple of successes. College is everything they say it will be, and then some. Wear a condom.

This is a big step. I don't know what comes next. I guess I have to either accomplish my dreams or fail to accomplish my dreams now. Which kind of sucks, because who needs that kind of pressure? Not me. Obviously I'm big into pursuing success at the moment. Because blogging is the first sign of true commitment to one's future. Not a sign that one needs at least a brief vacation from self-discipline. Hooray, summer! (That's your cue. Summer? Summer...?)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Still in Limbo

Quick commentary on limbo: limbo sucks.

Moving on. I spent the weekend in St. George with Andy and his family. It was so nice to get away from all of the things I'm stressing about: homework I still need to do, money, final papers, final exams, money, not having a car/what I need to do in order to get one, bills, what I'm going to do for a whole year since it doesn't look like I'm starting grad school in the fall, etc. You get the picture. I didn't think about any of those things from Friday until Monday morning. It was wonderful. Instead I lounged by the pool, swam, was followed around by Andy's four-year-old nephews like the Pied Piper, went biking, climbed on the red rocks, and ate way more junk food than I should have. I really, really like Andy's family. I already feel pretty comfortable with them.

I'm completely finished with three of my classes as of today: yoga, Research Writing (which has actually been a terrific class, thanks to the teacher) and Intellectual Traditions:Modernism, which I've hated more than I've hated any class since high school. Now I just need to finish everything for my Reasoning and Rational Decision making class, turn in the three bound copies of my thesis, and write those two seven page papers for the Think Tank, and I'm done. Ugh. It sounds like a lot still.

I think I've found a job that would be perfect for me over the next year as I'm reapplying to graduate school. There's a position open for a College Outreach Adviser, which means I'd go around to different schools across the Wasatch Front and help high school students figure out what they need to do to apply for college and financial aid. How cool would that be? It's from August until May. I'm working on the application. Very excited.

Anyways, that's it for now. Just trying to get through this next couple of weeks. I can't wait to be done with school so I can focus on my writing. I have several projects that I want to finish, hopefully by June. Maybe I'll get around to actually posting some fiction or poetry here once I'm not weighed down by the heavy burden of college.

Friday, March 28, 2008

My angsty, angsty self needs some Prozac

I've heard back from all four schools that I applied to. Anyone who knows anything about Creative Writing MFA programs will throw back their heads at this point and laugh--laugh in my face for applying to so few schools when the standards are so arbitrary and the competition is so fierce. Here are the results, which indeed justify a certain amount of I-told-you-so style laughter. Please read "REJECTED" with a Strong Bad accent.

University of Virginia: REJECTED
University of California, Irvine: REJECTED
Johns Hopkins: Wait list.

So basically I'm in limbo until the third week of April when the lucky six students who were actually accepted to the program at JHU will be forced to give their final decision. Barring a miracle, I'm trying to think about next year: write new, better stories and research schools and faculty and save up for those bastard application fees.

Also, my car is in its death throes. It overheats quite quickly, even on ten minute errands. This was me in my car yesterday:

Me: Look at you. You're pathetic. You're in the red after a tiny distance. Tiny, I tell you!
Car: *wheezing* It was hilly.
Me: Damn you and your mutiny.

Something about the head gasket. Apparently my car is going to keep "nickling and diming" me until it finally dies. WTF? It's just under 160,000 miles. Shouldn't it have another forty thou at least?

Also, I've spent the last two days running around trying to get everything together for my thesis submission. I wrote a novella! Hooray! I had to come up with a name for it yesterday so I could hurry and print a title page, and I settled on "God Will Laugh." When I expand it to novel length it may change.

So I'm hanging out at the U of U library, waiting for a phone call from the English department, where the secretary is kindly on the lookout for the professors who need to sign my title page. With nothing to do but obsess, worry, and obsess some more. Credit card payment: overdue. Debt: too much. Plans: uncertain, depressing prospects at the moment. Life: can't handle it right now! Overload!
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