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I’m Trying to Become Unstuck or Read Y: The Last Man Right Now

11 Aug

I’m going to pretend like it hasn’t been 8 months since the last time I wrote a post.

Here’s a picture of Geoff!

I had a huge post written ready to post a few weeks ago, but it was too negative, and I hated it. So, in short: this year has been really, really hard. I thought that moving somewhere new and totally awesome would make most of the cobwebs keeping me stuck, go away. But they didn’t, and instead I’m left with a head full of even more spiders. I know that so much of this uphill battle is just growing up and getting older. You’re going to have to deal with bills, and sickness, and people you love not being there anymore your whole life. But it’s not always so heavy, right? Or is that just wishful thinking? IDK DUDE. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Chicago is beautiful, I have the best job nannying 3 sweetie girls (4,3, and 10 months ahhh), but sometimes I get sad, and that’s okay.

In other news, I read at an open mic poetry reading back in July, and it was my first time reading without any of my fellow Chickz or really anyone I knew for that matter. Continue reading



14 Jun

What is there about negative space that knocks me to the ground? See, what I mean here is: there are about 300 pages of negative space here, on this blog, because we have not been writing. Dear god. Who thought that was a good idea? Or–did we just get lazy? How many of us tried to pretend like this wasn’t important, like our voices weren’t a big deal? Well they are. We chickz, all chickz, are a big deal. Hello, my name is Elysia Smith, and I’m a goddamned, genuine big-fucking-deal.

This is what happened while I was away.

I became a badass (har har)

I cut all my hair off. It’s short, like so much so, I don’t even brush it. Yowza.

Ashley, Ryan, Spencer, and I no longer live together. GASP! It wasn’t like that. They all gradumacated and well, I’m still here–chuggin away at this bottle (I mean, “degree”)

I have decided to attend graduate school when I graduate. Sound’s plausible right? I’m looking at UNO, Brown, UMASS, and The University of Virginia-Charlottesville.

I moved in with my twin sister and her miniature pig. EW. (JK. She’s not so bad)

I attended Bonna-fucking-roo. EE GADS.

waiting in line


I fell in love with these musicians: LP, tUnE-yArDs, The Devil Makes Three, Diane Cluck, and Alabama Shakes.

I have published 0 things of merit. I will get on that ASAP.

I contributed to this blog on Renaissance Animal and Human definitions.

And, I’m sure many other things I have left out by choice or by accident. But, the point is, I’ve been learning and growing and leaning into the sun. Who hasn’t been? Let’s talk about Bonnaroo: my goodness. It was my little brother’s graduation present from Dad and I. I have never smelled so bad in my entire life. I met so many rad people and listened to music until sunrise. I slept in a tent. I slept in a car. I got rained on and listened to PHISH. I ate a Crif Dog. Or two. I wrote a poem every day dedicated to the day previous on stolen materials from around the festival. It was the coolest.

So, this is just my re-introductory post. It’s an easy thing. But, I will be posting each week and encouraging the others to hop back on this bus. I hope you all are well or whatever.




24 Aug

Speaking of breathing. That’s the theme of my post for today! I’m sorry I’ve been absent for so long but I’m back now, and I’m trying, and I’m so glad you’re not like my puppy who pees on the floor when we leave.

So, I’ve watched this trailer like 30 times the past few days, and I’ll probably watch it few more times because I just. can’t. stop. I know I’m going to love this film. Just from watching the trailer I feel nostalgic for that feeling of falling in love for the first time. The way it wrecks you.  It’s not a deep love but it’s honest– untainted, untamed. I remember crying the first time I realized I was in love, because I didn’t understand how to comprehend the emotions I was feeling. It was a new, selfless love that planted its roots in my chest and squeezed so tight I could barely breath. It’s that feeling I miss sometimes, that virginal realization that you’re all in and you can never go back.

And I don’t miss the person I first fell in love with, but I do miss the person I was. Not really my naivety or innocence, but the kindness and goodness. Someone deserving of everything; someone ready to be loved; a blank, balanced canvas.
 But honestly as much as I think I’d like to feel that way again, I’m glad I don’t. I’ll keep my love that’s been aged and tested because everything is better that way. Because I would rather be with someone (see pic below) who’s my pause button, my deep breath, than someone who takes that breath away.

Hottie husbad, right?

P.S.- this, however, I would let take my breath away. And by that I mean I’d eat so much of it my body would explode. I am not ashamed. yes.

I’m Sorry I’ve Been So Busy or I Miss This Place So I’m Coming Back

18 Jun

Oh wow. it’s been too long since I’ve posted on here. Elysia is right– we’re all in the midst of huge transitions, but we’re not gone.

I spent the night before my wedding dancing for hours with my family in my living room. By dancing I mean yelling Journey lyrics until my throat was raw and shaking my arms and hair more than my hips. Everyone was there– my parents, my grandparents, my sisters, my cousins and their spouses, my aunt and uncle, my college roommate. All singing and swaying, not in unison but still together. I don’t even know how it all started; the night morphed from conversations in the kitchen to a dance circle in the next room with my eleven-year-old sister whipping her hair and shaking in the strangest ways. And then we ran. My sisters and my mother and my cousins, and I. We opened the back door and ran into the pitch black of my backyard, swallowing the darkness into our overheated arms. I ran in circles and squares, and my legs never got tired. It reminded me of the nights I spent playing capture the flag when I was younger. Like I was running that fast to get to the other side of the yard, my side, the safe side, and when I did everything would be ok because I had helped my team to win—that feeling. Except there was no flag, no team, no competition, just me and the women closest to my heart running around in the grass like kids a third of our age. And it wasn’t weird. It sounds like it now, writing it out, but it wasn’t at the time. It was like we were all releasing something, but at the same time clinging onto pieces of our bodies, memories, things we couldn’t place or recognize at the time but we knew were there and couldn’t let go.

So while most brides spend the night before their big day going to bed early and completing the final steps of a beauty regime, I spent hours writhing my body like a drowning fish and running like mad towards some unspecified place, some unspoken but understood level of winning. It felt surreal but necessary, like there was no other way that I should be spending my last single night, except right there with those exact people, doing exactly what was I was doing. I woke up the next day and married by best friend in a beautiful ceremony in which I did not cry  (because I didn’t want my fake eyelashes to fall off, but also because I couldn’t stop smiling). And at the reception, my family and I danced again. It was different that time, I think. More celebratory than theraputic.

All the women in my family are filled with intense strength and unmatched passion.  I have met few women who can handle their lives with as much grace as they do (minus the chickz, of course). I think sometimes they deal with their lives, jobs, and relationships so well, they forget about the joy that lives inside their bellies, waiting for them to let it bubble over. I’m glad that the physical distance we experience on a daily basis doesn’t affect the closeness we feel to each other, and we can still spend a night stomping around my living room and running through the grass with complete abandon, drinking deep from the pool of memories and sorrow and love and hope that binds us so close together.

No One Belongs Here More Than YOU.

24 May

(AKA: A short review of a short story)

Miranda July.

What a woman.

When I first heard about Miranda July, my friend Amber Sabo was telling me that her favorite quote was, “Live the dream, Potato.”

The quote is from July’s book of stories, No one belongs here more than you. In the second story (Majesty)  of the book , the main character witnesses a dog running away. She says, “But he looked joyful and I thought: Good for him. Live the dream, Potato.”

On the next page of the story, Potato has been hit by a car.

And, this isn’t even the focal point of the story. No. The piece is about a 46 year old woman who is obsessed with Prince William–she dreams that he nuzzles her butt with his face. She determines how to meet him. She works for an earth quake preparedness company. She has a showboating sister.

But, amidst all that ruckus, Potato stands out to me. And, when July ends the piece, she still leaves me thinking of the little care free dog.

stretching for the final lap

“This pain, this dying, this is just normal. This is how life is. In fact, I realize there never was an earthquake. Life is just this way, broken, and I am crazy to hope for something else.”

These words touched a nerve yesterday, sent me into tears, into frustration. They’re true and yet, they will never be. How can we go through life without hope?

We are all Potato. And maybe it’s ok to be running carelessly down the street into the hot breath of an engine, the rumbling throat of certain death. Maybe it’s ok because the last thing we want in life is a memory of pleasure: the wind in our hair, the hot pavement on our paws.

**Stay tuned next week for review of Sean Lovelace’s

 “Fog Gorgeous Stag”

Writing and the Internet: A Love Affair

10 May

Shit got real in 1995. That’s when it all started. In the then, very brief history of the internet, online literary magazines were an idea yet to be conceived. Writers were still sending to print journals, and don’t forget the SASE—self addressed, stamped envelope (and who ever heard of stamps!?). Then, from the foam of some cybernetic sea, CrossConnect was born! The first online literary magazine, the first rebel, the first mover/shaker.

Writing and the internet used to be this:

Now they’re more like this:

But, DON’T WORRY. They aren’t headed for this:

For a writer today, online lit journals are the shiz. They got all their ducks in a row. As a young writer, it is important to get out there, peruse the great-unknown. And, internet mags are the vehicle for that. However, that doesn’t make the process of submitting any less harrowing. Not everyone is George Saunders—by that I mean: don’t think the first time you get published, it will be in the New Yorker. Start small. Chances are, your first submission will be met with a rejection.

Continue reading


3 May

This week we will be busy:

swooping our number 2 pencils across sheets of paper destined to fracture our nerves. We will be moving in ond out of houses (dorms for me). We will be dancing across campus, unwashed, in pajamas. We will be eating canned food. We will be pulling our hair out in distress …because we love you so much, internet peeps. And, we’re sorry we can’t be here as regularly this week.

But I have two bits of good news. 1) we have a web designer. A Mr. Darik Hall who seems delightful!

And 2) I have a cat. His name is Sampson.

This is him (and Lindsey).

Submit, I Say!

23 Apr

Today, I’d like to direct you over to Bull: Men’s Fiction in hopes that you SUBMIT some of your best work and make this next issue their best issue yet. This is important to me. When the VIDA research came out this year and showed how underrepresented women are in lit journals, it sent a lot of people into quite an uproar. The only way we combat numbers like those are awareness and action.

Seriously, I’m loving what they do over at Bull and I’m loving the idea for this next issue, so do as I say. For the love of all that is holy and sweet, SUBMIT SUBMIT SUBMIT!


19 Apr

Great big hugs and thanks and loves to all of you that came out to our reading.

This is for you:

so yeah. WHOA YEAH. Thanks to Jill Christman, Ben Rogers (and crew), Travis Harvey, Maria Hines (and family), Laura LaVal, Debbie Mix, etc, etc.

Thanks to everyone who came out to hear us read. You guys were a great crowd. I for one, really enjoyed myself and I hope y’all did too. We will try to track down some pictures for those of you who couldn’t make it. Also, if you want a chapbook, let one of us know. You can find our emails on the “email the chickz” page.

Now, for the real question of the day, Why do self-publishers usually suck?

I am a tumblr fan. I spend hours clicking links, liking pictures, etc. I think my experience with tumblr allows me to say with confidence that if tumblr has three hot things they are as follows: Lesbians, Cats, Poets. And even sometimes, lesbian-cat-poets. And, of course, I don’t have a problem with the lesbians, or the cats. But, the god damn poets.

I get all excited thinking, she’s cute, oh god, she writes!? No. She doesn’t write. She journals lyrically. That’s what I typically see with poems that people post on blogs. I know of a few exceptions. My best friend used to post poetry and that was good (maybe I’m biased, but many would agree she’s talented). Also a few writers I know operate blogs that are enjoyable. But, but, but, they are rare. How many times has a friend put up poetry on facebook that was pretty bad, yet they expected you to say something about it?

What is it about the internet that makes people think their writing is worth reading? Is that harsh? I mean, I posted some pretty bad stuff on facebook a while back but that was mostly for family and I deleted it when I realized I had improved. The thing about posting on the internet is that it follows you. When you’re a prominent writer and you go on the oprah show, they’ll pull up the story you wrote about your dog in the tenth grade. Just because you can post it, doesn’t mean you should.

Am I right? I mean, is this a trend other people have noticed?

My Inability to Read the Word “Ego” Without Thinking “Eggo Waffles” Is Not Important Right Now

11 Apr

I was part of a spontaneous reading Saturday night held in a campus parking lot, which was one of the most personally enjoyable readings I’ve gone to/read at in a long time.  (I think Elysia might put up videos from it.)  No scheduled lineup, no real promotion (two text messages + word of mouth), no emcee, no stage or podium.  Just boozy kids yelling O’Hara and xTx and our own stuff from a concrete ledge down to our friends, who yell back FUCK YEAH and MUNCIE.  Or stand quiet not because we’re polite but because we’re wowed.


The lack of expectation or competition or domination of one or a few personalities was insanely refreshing, as was the goofy and genuine affection we all had/have for each other.  This, this shared love for words/stories and people who love them is what drew me to poetry in the first place, and eventually the contemporary indie lit creature with it.  This reading might have been the best thing for my wordy heart since the first reading I ever attended, held in a martini bar two years ago, my first experience hearing my peers’ poetry and wanting to create similarly laugh and thought-provoking writing.


In the past year my writing head has shifted from “how can I entertain people at a reading?” closer to “how can I get published in (this or that kickass journal)?”  (The difference between the two mindsets was especially clear to me Saturday as I was printing lyrics to Janet Jackson’s “Nasty” to close my set.)  I don’t think that’s necessarily good or bad so much as just something to be aware of and act accordingly, now that how I think about audience has changed.  And the change makes sense, given goals I have for myself.


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