“Nothing is Impossible, the word itself says, ‘I’m possible!’ ” -Audrey Hepburn

26 Jul

So.

Here I am at work, trying to figure out my schedule for school this fall. It is pretty crazy: being a full time student, working two jobs, and balancing interpersonal relationships. I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever be this good at multi-tasking again. Really, truly, more than likely…

this is my golden age of getting shit done.

I’m really enjoying it though. I’ve learned how to take time for myself amidst all the things that need/want my attention. I’ve learned how to balance, something very near to my heart [me being a libra and all].

I wonder if anyone else feels like they can only get things done now. Right now. Exactly here it must be finished and perfect. Ya know?

I mean, I know plenty of pessimistic, procrastinators. I used to be one. But, at this point in my life I just want to excel. I want everyone to be happy with me and what I am doing for them. Sure, that’s a burden and it’s not necessarily even my responsibility. And how can I expect to continue doing things like this [writing, this blog, restoring a house, working, going to school]? Then I am reminded of friends like Christopher Newgent and our own Ashley Ford who continue to do all the things they want and most of the things people want of them.

They are two that truly know the secret to balance. [Perhaps…and even if they don’t, they are certainly putting on a convincing show.]

I suppose our quest now should be to devise a plan for balance, or at the very least, a sort of sketch that each person can take and shape to fit them.

The first and foremost rule: YOU’RE ONLY RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU.

The second most important thing: Stay active. While it’s ok to take time for yourself and even something that I consider incredibly important, you need to participate in life. INVESTIGATE. Note the word “invest” tucked in gently. By considering details, you are investing in life. You are striving to avoid complacency.

Finally: Organize. Everyone needs a method of evaluating and ranking tasks. Everyone needs objectives/goals. And how you go about deciding what is worth your time is entirely up to you. But, it needs to be done if you are truly going to stay invested in your life and your plans.

What does everyone else do to stay fulfilled and busy and a part of something?

Is it more or less important to you?

Make this a discussion, I’m interested in what y’all have to say.

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Blog Commenting as explained by Mean Girls.

12 Jul

The reality is always this: we are pretentious.

It is that inherent thing we are always talking about, the “I just know I am cut from different cloth—maybe paisley or something. But anyhow, my star is like the brightest and I know I’m going to hand the world something fabulous.”

image

I mean, would we be writing, if we didn’t think we had something worthwhile to say? The ambiguity of being a writer doesn’t last. You are no more amorphous than a cherry pie.  And, I suppose the point I am trying to get at is Have you ever noticed how writers approach commenting on blogs?

I was on a writing blog the other day scrolling through some articles and comments, etc. And I was reminded of something I learned in French class.

In France, if you are going to correct someone you begin by apologizing. You use the full and formal title of the person addressed and then you say, “Excuse me, I’m so very sorry but you are incorrect. Civilly and humbly yours, X.”

When a writer comments on a blog with some sort of dispute, they tend to butter up the other writer first. Then, they commence correction. Next, they thank the first writer for being so articulate as to allow them to spot all the holes in their argument, only they do this in a manner that makes those outside the know feel as if the exchange could be nothing shy of civil.

[Here is an example I stole from an unspecified forum]

LANCELOT: “when some asshole publisher and asshole writer decides to take this only thing I concede to holding complete control over and decides I’m wrong and changes it without my say-so, I’m going to fucking flip out.”

WILLHELM: “So, if an editor uses his will and desires to alter my work, especially in a such a seemingly rare and odd way, I can’t imagine myself getting upset over such an issue. Again, I just mean this as what your thoughtful response brought up in my head.”

GENNIVIVE: “I have to default to Willhelm on this. It seems strange to me that one would think of writing as something they can have complete control over. I mean, I suppose you do have complete control over the words you put on the page, but you have no control whatsoever about how a reader is going to receive those words.”

LANCELOT: “Well that’s what I mean, Gennivive. The only thing I have complete control over in this entire fucking miserable world are “the words put on the page.” That control does not extend to a reader’s interpretation. I’m fine with that. I advocate that.

Thanks for the thoughtful response, Willhelm!”

Do you understand what I mean, reader?

Does this help:

I suppose I’m just curious if anyone else has noticed. Is there a specific etiquette one should follow as a blog commenter?

THIS has some suggestions for commenting. What do y’all think?

The Life of a Former Baby Genius

25 Jun

*It feels good to be back. Get ready for our new website design which should go live at the end of July. Love you all. Now read the post.

Lavender is my fave

My best friend is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met.

She got pregnant with my god-daughter, Aubrey, our junior year of high school and still graduated valedictorian. She gave birth to her son the summer after graduating from college (in four years) and started her first f teaching position about two weeks later. Then, she started and finished her Masters degree in two years–all while teaching ESL students full-time. This is normal for Ashley.

When we were seniors in high school, Ashley got in my face. That was not normal for Ashley. We were walking to class, she was telling me she was beginning to worry about another girl in our class who had been steadily creeping up our class rank and was clearly trying to graduate with that precious V. Ashley had held tight at number one all four years, but this girl had recently crept up to number 2. Before the pregnancy, since our freshman year, Ashley told me countless times she was going to graduate Valedictorian then go to Notre Dame, possibly with a softball scholarship. She knew what she wanted and she knew how to work for it. So, when her beautiful daughter came along and at least two of those three goals went out the window, she put all her energy toward the first one–and being a good mother, of course.

I was listening to her that day in the hallway. I heard everything she said about this girl. Ashley is in no way a mean-spirited person, but she is pretty competitive. This girl was coming for her and Ashley wasn’t angry–but she was dangerous. I did not share her love of competition. I mean, I got it. She was raised by a football coach. Our high school’s football coach. I was raised by…well, my mother. Who is also not competitive unless it’s in an argument. A character trait I, unfortunately, inherited.

I always thought a big part of the reason Ashley and I were such good friends was having nothing to compete over, which is why she surprised me so much that day on the walk to class. She played volleyball and softball; I was all about band and theater. She wanted to be valedictorian; I just wanted to get into college. We were both into leadership, but were involved in so many separate activities, we were never trying to be leaders of the same organization. There was never any reason to compete. We didn’t even like the same kinds of guys! The only man we’ve ever agreed on to this day is Optimus Prime.

In-between her hissing venom about the rank-crawler, she turned to me and said, “This is kind of your fault.”

“Um. Huh?”

“You’re probably the smartest person I know and you just refuse to work hard for anything. I shouldn’t even be thinking about her. I should be trying to beat you for valedictorian.”

I was pretty damn dumbstruck. Let’s be honest, my entire educational life, my teachers have been telling me that I was capable of more than I was giving them. Didn’t matter if I got an A or B there was still a note: Good job, but not your best. Specifically not MY best. Maybe your classmates best, Ashley Ford, but not YOUR best. And yeah, they were right. You see those little standardized tests aren’t just used to pinpoint and label the children who are a bit behind, they also stick a big fat gold star next to those students who might be baby-geniuses.

That’s right, Lucky Reader. You are now skimming the words of a bona fide baby-genius.

For all of elementary and middle school, I was given tougher books to read and more difficult spelling lists than my classmates. Then, I had to go to another classroom with a few other kids like me so we could learn at a level that was less boring for us. They eventually had to start busing us to other schools with better programs they couldn’t afford to offer us for part of our school day. I was usually the only black child in my “special” classes and definitely the poorest.

When the other kids brought in reports they’d typed on their computers at home, or had money for lunch and didn’t have to whisper, “free lunch” to the cafeteria workers who then had to look up your name in a big orange binder, I was embarrassed. I made up for my uncomfortable poorness by making the other kids laugh. I spent more time doing that than working hard, which meant I got in trouble for not doing assignments, but these classes were about potential not production so I never reached my goal of getting kicked out of the program. I missed my poor friends at my poor school a lot. I hated being a baby-genius when I was a baby.

Hear this, dear reader: I’m not a genius. I was a precocious child, I was funny, I knew much more about life than I should have or was expected to. I was a child who loved to read. I am an adult who loves to read. When you start reading your mother’s novels in the second and third grade, your ability to retain information is going to be better than your second and third grade peers. I was not great a problem-solving, seriously, fuck a context clue, I was just an exceptional remember-er. This definitely helped in school, but I wasn’t going all Good Will Hunting on the homies, or nothing. I was a smart kid, no doubt about it. Maybe even a little smarter than most, but by no means was I, or am I, a genius.

Still, my teachers, professors, mentors, and best friend were/are right. I haven’t done enough with my potential. I’ve settled in the most terrible way. I’ve settled for myself. I’ve rationalized my way into a life that’s nice, but not great. Instead of seeing stepping-stones, I see flat surfaces to rest on. Indefinitely. Not because I have no motivation, not because I don’t have desires. I do this out of a very real fear.

My greatest fear is actually having all that baby-genius potential firing through me, combining it with my secretly stubborn motivation, maybe even a little new-found competitive spirit, that elbow grease (which may actually just be cocoa butter) and missing every mark. What if I have to look into the faces of every person who pushed me up and up and up and see nothing there but disappointment in a fail investment. People are INVESTED in me. My life, my accomplishments, my failures matter to people.

I’m at this place in my life right now where I’m tired of giving people 75-90%. I’m not an adult genius, but I am kind of smart, and Haven Kimmel winked and told me I was “funnier than most”. I’m ready to try to blow somebody’s mind. Maybe not everybody’s mind, but somebody’s. Maybe even, a few somebody’s. I’m ready to start giving my life a whole lot more 100% investment.  I’m pretty sure that’s what baby-genius Ashley Ford would have wanted, the ability to be smart on her own terms. I’m pretty sure that’s what people who love me want. It’s what I want.

I’ll make good on those investments.

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.

moving, renovation: relevant (perhaps always)

14 Jun

so, here’s the low down.

Things are happening right now, important things, hard things, big things, things that tire us like the wailing of sirens in the morning. Moving is a theme of our lives right now and that’s making blogging a difficult task for us. I am speaking for all the girls here, but I think they’d agree if I said, we’ve sorta hung a sign on this virtual door saying, “Be back shortly” in loopy red writing.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re here, physically. Ask us things, take us out to coffee, tell us you love us so much. But, seeing as the website is currently under construction, we’ve kinda begun to get our own personal lives in order before getting back into the swing of this here thing. [I’ve mentioned this but we’ve got this cool web designer guy going to town on the site right now. He’s like magic or a man in an orange protective helmet].

Here is a short list of what’s been going on with the Chickz:

*Abby Hines became Abby Grindle and the other five of us dressed in our wedding finery and went out to support the blushing bride.

*Lindsey has found her various game systems: Nintendo, GameCube, Sega, etc and is currently attempting to rule the world of gaming.

*Lindsey and Lora moved into the house, they are sharing the apartment below Ashley and myself (along with Mr. McNelly). Layne has yet to move but will be around August. (She’s just ‘cross town from us other gals). And, Abs is around the block with her hubby.

our house.

*I have been diligently working and searching for more work. I just secured a second job at Tradehome Shoes in the mall (Sean Lovelace, come see me and I’ll sell you some nice hiking boots and running shoes)!

*Ashley Ford has been working on decorating her new bedroom. It looks stunning thus far. She also works two big-girl jobs!

*Lastly, Lindsey, Lora and myself are trying hard to acquaint the three cats in our lives: Sampson, Pol Pot, and Ghenghiss Khat. So, needless to say, a lot of hissing and cat drama.

Dear readers, the darling few of you who have kept with us during this time of slow reading, we sincerely promise to bring you a spankin’ new website with new and stellar material soon.

We love you guys.

It’s Tuesday?! CALLING ALL ARTEEESTz

31 May

Man.

I guess I forgot today was Tuesday.

Anyways, I do have things to tell you, general public, writers, readers, etc!

So, I had this idea…for those of you who remember, Layne and I recently did a reading for the Slash Pine Poetry Festival in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I know I’ve written about that before, but I have to mention again that it was a wonderful experience. And, I would really love for my other Chickz to be involved in something similar and to perhaps sponsor that event.

I have noticed that readings can go either way. Usually, they’re good. But, that could very well be my own discriminating tastes matched with a discriminating pocket book. Sometimes, readings are bad. And, I have been to a few bad readings.

yeah...sometimes that's how it feels

I suppose there are several reasons that  live readings turn out badly, but I find this list takes the cake predominately:

A) the readers are relatively in experienced

B) the crowd is boring

C) the crowd is bored [either bored in that artsy, bru-ha-ha way, or because the readers have no clue what they ‘re doing.]

or finally, D) there isn’t enough happening!

How do we change these problems?! Well, some of them, we can’t change. New readers must be given the opportunity to be involved or else readings will die like the dinosaurs.

But, as far as the other issues go, I think I’ve come up with a few cures we could implement.

First of all, I’d like to do a reading, more an event actually. I guess that’s the main point I’m trying to make. I’d like it to be large, with writers from throughout the midwest, with varying themes and genres. I’d like to mix up the crowd a bit, including both college students and the older set.

let's get the porch sittin' hicks out on the town!

My hatchling ideas are as follows:doing a dinner with the readers, where attendees could pay a fee to sit at a table with a writer of their choice [this is how we include the older, more financially inclined set]. Also, I was thinking of having a short concert after the reading with two or three bands performing, so as to bring together the art community in the midwest. I want an amalgamation of artists. I’ve also had the idea of doing a small art display in the lobby of the venue.

[WHAT SAY Y’ALL?]

An event,  partially sponsored by Chicklitz via our own private fundraising. Thanks to a gracious source [hey dad!], I might have located a ritzy venue with catering, a theatre, etc–all in the area. I have a few ideas as to readers I’d like to invite, but mostly I want suggestions! This will be the first mention of anything to the rest of the Chicklitz, so I look forward to hearing from them as well as the rest of our readership and beyond.

Would you appreciate this type of an event?

Would you like to be involved if you are a current writer/artist in the midwest?

We can't all be this aloof. So, let's get together, yeah yeah yeah!

eyetms of intrst

30 May

the good.

 

the bad (but so good):

 

Continue reading

LADY FILMS – “Frida”

26 May

HELLO!  It’s been so long since I’ve updated like a good little blogger.  Here are my excuses for why I’ve been absent, so put on your Forgiveness Pants:

  1. On the 11th, it was my birthday, and I was too busy partying/having an existential crisis because I am now 23 and that is scary/partying/stewing in my own sweat because we don’t have AC/partying/eating Mexican food/partying.
  2. Last Wednesday I was sick and when I tried to write the blog post, I actually coughed up one of my lungs onto the keyboard, and it was super gross and messy.  That didn’t really happen, but I was sick and I slept a lot.
  3. Also, I’ve been spending SO MUCH TIME looking for a job.  It’s as if looking for employment is my actual job.  I had an interview today, though, and I’ve been prepping for it a lot (and by “prepping,” I mean “FREAKING OUT”).

So do you forgive me?  I hope so, because I am here to make it up to you with DOUBLE LADY FILMS MADNESS!  TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE (EVEN THOUGH THE PRICE IS “FREE”)!  DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE, DOUBLE YOUR FUN!

And we couldn’t have picked two films that are more radically different.  In one corner, we have Frida, a biopic about bisexual Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, starring Salma Hayek!  In the other corner, we have Bridesmaids, chick comedy extraordinaire, starring Kristen Wiig and many other hilarious ladies!  DO YOU EVEN SEE HOW MANY EXCLAMATION POINTS I AM USING RIGHT NOW?!  I am having to bring DOUBLE THE EXCITEMENT!  Look!  All caps, too!

But seriously…

Frida

Much like my last Lady Film, Bright Star, Frida is a true story about a lady who loves art and the people who create it.  The film, which came out in 2002 and was directed by Julie Taymor, tells Frida Kahlo’s story, from the crippling bus crash she survived as a young woman, to her first art show and her death soon after.  For the most part, the film focuses on her marriage to famous Mexican painter Diego Rivera (played by Alfred Molina), a man known for his murals, his belief in Communism, and his womanizing ways.  The two have a tumultuous relationship full of infidelity.  Diego has sex with Frida’s sister, with nude models he uses for his artwork… basically anything that has boobs and is still breathing.  But that’s okay because Frida does the same!  She sleeps with Leon Trotsky!  She even sleeps with women Diego has already bedded.

They both sleep with this woman, but Frida took her out to breakfast afterwards, so clearly she wins.

Throughout all her marital struggles, and her numerous health problems, and a miscarriage, Frida learns to channel her anguish into her surrealistic paintings (although it’s worthwhile to note that Frida did not see her paintings as surreal; as she said, “I don’t paint from dreams or nightmares.  I paint my own reality”).  The film mirrors the aesthetic of Frida’s paintings, and there are a handful of beautiful shots where paintings blend into reality.

"The Two Fridas"

Frida is perhaps best-known for her multiple self-portraits.  She often “turned the camera” (paintbrush?) on herself.  Her paintings became explorations of her own identity, and that often included her identity as a woman.  As a historical figure, Frida Kahlo is already widely regarded as a feminist figure, due to her success, her “radical” lifestyle, and her keen observations on what it means to be a woman.

So does the film reflect that? Continue reading

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”

Well, we’re still here.

23 May

You may have noticed I skipped out last Monday. WHOOPS.  MY BAD.

Part of that was me still recovering from being in New York for a week.  While there, I lost my favorite hoodie.  I bought a backpack with wheels in Chinatown for thirty-six dollars. And I got some good books, like this one:

So far it’s like hearing a creepy orchestra tucked in the walls, or crawling up from the basement.  Sometimes it’s too quiet for comfort and sometimes it accompanies a loud chill on my shoulders.  It keeps on bowing strings in a way that buzzes my bones.  An unresolved chord.

I got to hear Pete Davis and Jill Christman read at the Vouched reading the day after I got back.  I expected to laugh a lot during Pete.  I expected plenty of heart from Jill.  Expectations fulfilled.  But I didn’t realize how hilariously informative Jill’s essay would be, and needed to be reminded of the strange pinpricks of sadness and wonder that dot Pete’s works, especially when read aloud.

But I’ll admit:  I feel preoccupied.  Not with typical things, but because it’s May 23rd and I’m not covered in boils I’ve been Googling phrases like “rapture news,” “rapture disappointment,” and “where the hell is harold camping.”

Google Images: "kickass rapture pix"

Continue reading