Back to Reading in KS

November 14, 2013

I’ve been back in the US for a little over three months. This astonishes me. Time seems to be moving so much faster this fall than last, though that’s probably just a perspective thing or a busy-ness thing or a “I live in a place that’s more familiar and therefore, relatively less difficult” thing. I’m finally getting into a rhythm/schedule. I’m finally finding time to see friends on a more regular basis and not just a “I’m back from Russia! Let’s get coffee!” visit. Finally getting a handle on workload and learning how to grade student essays more efficiently and how to abandon work at 8 pm…or sometimes earlier. I’m finally starting to write again more regularly. Finally starting to make sense of the last year and a half of my life, what I’ve learned, what Russia means to me. I have not, however, found time yet to make an eye doctor’s appointment, wash my new car before winter sets in, or fully unpack my apartment–winter break?

SONY DSCWhat I want to write about, though, is finally making it back to Lawrence for a reading. The things above will likely take a few more weeks (months? years?) of reflection to come together.

While I was in Moscow, my chapbook Attachment Theory  was released, so I never got to have an “official” release reading/celebration. Finally, after three months back, I got around to doing that. The Raven (which became my favorite bookstore almost as soon as I moved to Lawrence, not just for its selection and atmosphere but also for the way it support local writers), agreed to host. I invited fellow writers (more importantly friends) Ben Pfeiffer and Mary Stone Dockery to read with me. I saw no better way to introduce my chapbook and celebrate my “return to America” than with them.

SONY DSC I don’t have a lot to say about this reading except that it felt great. I was so happy to be in Lawrence. I was so happy to read with Mary and Ben and to look out and see an audience full of friends. When I stepped up to the mic, I realized that I was less nervous than I’ve ever been for a reading. It’s likely I gained some confidence living abroad for a year; Russia requires a bit more directness, a harder shell than the Midwest. But it seems more likely that when I looked into the audience, I realized that with the exception of a few folks, everyone was a friend…friends sitting there, glad I went but glad I’m back, smiling, waiting to hear poems and stories about Moscow.

51b635d02e972_80495nI’m happy to announce that my chapbook of prose poetry “Attachment Theory” has just been released from dancing girl press in Chicago. Click here to read a sneak peak poem and grab a copy.

If we’re on the same continent and we see each other, I promise to sign it.



Now presenting the 2nd video blog:

Again, the writer in me must self-edit:

1) “a 5 gallon liter of water” What is that? It’s 5 liters of water. Obviously…metric system.

2) It is harder to stay on track in a video blog because rambling is real easy when I am just talking. I had like 4 other stories to tell you all. I hope you don’t mind my ramblings.

3) I don’t even care that much about Heinz ketchup.

4) I forgot some things about the metro. I should have mentioned these:

a) I’m getting comfortable making my way around underground. I still couldn’t tell you cardinal directions from like…anywhere…but when I’m in the metro, I can usually figure out which corridors I should go down to come out at the exit I want to come out at. Not always, but usually. And that’s cool.

b) What helped the most with the metro was practicing/learning my Russian alphabet. Initially, I would stand in front of signs and stare for a long time, matching up each letter of the station names and then hoping I’d catch the pronunciation when they said it on the train. But then, at the suggestion of a friend here, I practiced my alphabet over and over. And I wrote the names of my stations over and over again on legal pad paper (where I do my best work). Профсоюзная and Конькова. And others that I see often. And things got a lot faster. Literacy helps.

c) They sell everything underground–cigarettes, pastries, chips and cookies, magazines, eyeglasses, underwear. I haven’t bought anything yet, but I think very, very soon.

d) Some people stand right in front of the doors waiting for their station. They just stare out and they don’t hold onto anything for balance/safety. I can do that now too.

e) One day last week, I saw my train coming but I wasn’t on the platform yet. I ran down the stairs and slid through the door right as it was closing. That felt SO Moscow.

Writing and the Future.

December 18, 2011

The title sounds quite bold. If you’re expecting me to predict what writing will be like in the future, think again. If you’re hoping to read more about sweet potatoes, again, think again. I’m mostly writing this entry to share an accomplishment with you.

If you don’t know, in May I hope to/will graduate from KU with my Master’s in Rhetoric and Composition. My three years in Lawrence are coming to a close.

At this point, I could probably get some kind of job. Doing what, you ask? Well, mostly anything. Or nothing. I think that’s what an English degree + a Master’s in English is good for these days. When I found this job, I could start making a larger salary and get furniture from a store instead of from family or family friends. I could also buy matching plates and make friends who went to happy hour. I could probably get a dog, too, and we’d go on walks and stuff.

But I don’t know about all that just yet.

You’ll remember that in the last six months or so, I’ve had a bit of success getting published and getting to read around Lawrence. I’ve decided that I really like doing this. And that I want to keep doing this…at least for awhile.  See those papers with crazy marks and notes everywhere? Doesn’t that look like fun?

So, I’ve decided to apply to MFA programs and Creative PhD programs. I mailed the last one off last week. I’m looking for two things: 1) being accepted somewhere 2) getting funding somewhere because one should not pay for graduate school.

To the skeptics: I know that no one grows up to be a writer and only a writer. Well, a few people do. I know I will have to teach or get a job doing something else and then write on the side. Mostly, I just want to spend some time becoming a better writer. And I am young and hip and have no real responsibilities besides grad school (which we’ve already established I will have finished by this point).

In the photo, you’ll see my list (written in very official, grown up Sharpie) of where I might be next year. Or where I want to be but might not get to go. I realize that by telling you all that I applied to schools, there’s a potential for embarrassment if I don’t get it. Let’s just say…if I don’t mention it, it probably means I got rejected.

Also, I just have to point this out: Schools are really smart about advertising. I know that all companies/organizations choose attractive, happy people for their advertisements. Duh. I do, after all, live in consumerist America; I’ve seen this before.

However, I feel like one school in Chicago directly targeted me. After I’d already applied there, I received an ad with this gent on the front. Technically I’d already applied there, so this ad didn’t really affect my decision, but I think it would be hard to throw away. Seriously, Mr. Elbow Patches and Glasses? Will I move to Chicago? Yes. Though I tried, I couldn’t bring myself to put him in the recycling bin. He’s on my fridge as my new motivation for staying positive about next year. Now if only they had a photo of this guy in a community garden; my decision would be made.