Dreams and Dreaming #21

"'Poor mother, have sweet dreams. Or no dreams. I wish you no dreams at all.'"
-Ross Macdonald, The Doomsters

Good For Us

"'I am lonely, sometimes, but I dare say it's good for me…'" -Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

"'As I read it I feel humbled and insignificant — which is good for me. I say to myself, "You poor, pitiful, little creature, did you ever imagine you could write? If so, your delusion is now stripped away from you for ever and you behold yourself in your naked paltriness." But I shall recover from this state of mind — and believe again that I can write a little — and go on cheerfully producing sketches and poems until I can do better.'" - L.M. Montgomery, Emily Climbs

"'…I know it's good for me. Horrible things always are good for you, I suppose. After you've been killed a few times you don't mind it. But the first time one does — squirm.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Emily's Quest

"'Cousin Jimmy thinks I did perfectly right. Cousin Jimmy would think I had done perfectly right if I had murdered Andrew and buried him in the Land of Uprightness. It's very nice to have one friend like that, though too many wouldn't be good for you.'"
-L.M. Montgomery, Emily Climbs

"I used to read everything, Professor, I read all the time.  Now all I read is poetry.  Poetry is the one thing that isn't contaminated, the one thing that isn't part of the game.  I don't know if you follow me, Professor.  Only poetry — and let me be clear, only some of it — is good for you, only poetry isn't shit." -Roberto Bolaño, 2666 (Translated by Natasha Wimmer)

"She said gently: 'My dear, I'm trying to be good for you!'" -Agatha Christie, Evil Under the Sun

What Mindy Kaling Got Wrong About Best Friends

Random Musing
I just finished reading Mindy Kaling's book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). It was pretty entertaining, and I found myself laughing out loud exactly twice. I chuckled silently to myself many more times than that. This post isn't going to be a book review though. The book is a quick and fun read and if that sounds like something you'd be interested in, then I'd go ahead and spend a couple of hours reading it. I'm more interested in one very small selection from the chapter about Best Friend Rights and Responsibilities:

I know when you fall in love with someone that you will completely forget about me. That hurts my feelings, but it is okay. Please try to remember to text me, if you can, if you know I have something going on in my life, like a work promotion or something.
Re-read that. One more time. I'll wait. Done yet? Okay, good.

So that is the biggest piece of bullshit I've seen on the written page in a very long time. And I read the news. I mean, come on. You're giving your alleged best friend explicit permission to ignore you, to blow you off. Why Mindy, why? Why would you do that? People who blow you off are not good friends. They definitely aren't your best friend. Best friends don't blow each other off. I think that's actually a rule in the Unwritten Best Friend Constitution:

1A. Do not ignore your best friend for a boy. No matter how cute they are.
The only reason I can think of that Mindy Kaling condones this behavior is that she does the same thing to her friends when she meets a boy and so wants to pretend that it's okay. And having read her book and liked it, I really hope that's not the case. Because it isn't okay. If you entirely drop your friends - and I count only getting in touch for incredibly huge life events the same as "dropping" - when you meet a guy and fall in love, then you probably didn't deserve good friends in the first place. And definitely not a best friend.

Okay, rant over.  I just had to make sure that people were aware that Mindy Kaling made a mistake about one crucial aspect of best friendship.

In case you were wondering, I didn't find anything else in the book infuriating. It was a very pleasant read otherwise. So to try and end this on a more positive note, here are two quotes I really liked:

"One friend with whom you have a lot in common is better than three with whom you struggle to find things to talk about."

"There are time when friends have said they hooked up with someone and all it means is that they had a highly anticipated kissing session. Other times it's a full-on all-night sex-a-thon. Can't we have a universal understanding of the term, once and for all? From now on, let's all agree that hooking up = sex. Everything else is 'made out.' And if you're older than twenty-eight, then just kissing someone doesn't count for crap and is not even worth mentioning. Unless you're Mormon, in which case you're going to hell."

It Means Nothing

"Nobody meant to be unkind, but nobody put themselves out of their way to secure her comfort." -Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

"'I — I meant well. You must believe that, I meant well.'
Such sad words, Poirot thought, some of the saddest words in the world." -Agatha Christie, Hallowe'en Party

"…exclaimed Murray rapturously, not meaning a syllable of it, but devoutly believing he did." -L.M. Montgomery, "At Five O'Clock in the Morning"

"It appeared that nobody ever said a thing they meant, or ever talked of a feeling they felt, but that was what music was for." -Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out

On Hatred #1

"'…hate's got to be a disease with me.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars

On Beauty #6

"…she had the kind of beauty that made you want to explore its history." -Ross Macdonald, The Goodbye Look

On Happiness #39

"'Yes, yes, yes! I was happy there. I can't stand, just now, being reminded of happiness…. Don't you understand? A time when one didn't know what was coming. When one said confidently, everything is going to be lovely! Some people are wise — they never expect to be happy. I did.'" -Agatha Christie, The Hollow


"'My dear,' he said, 'so many people are disgusting about so many things.'" -Agatha Christie, Murder In Three Acts

"But I was quite breathless at the thought of what I had done. I had shown somebody both sides of my life. Told him everything as sincerely and truthfully as I could. Taken immense pains to explain things about my submerged life that really were disgusting and never could possibly see the light of literary day. On the whole I had made myself out far worse than I was — more boastful, more cynical, more calculating. And there sat the man I had confided in, singing to himself and smiling…. It moved me so that real tears came into my eyes. I saw them glittering on my long silky lashes — so charming." -Katherine Mansfield, "Je ne parle pas français"

"God, is this all it is, the ricocheting down the corridor of laughter and tears? Of self-worship and self-loathing? Of glory and disgust?" -Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

"'Lord, how unutterably disgusting life is! What dirty tricks it plays us, one moment free; the next, this. Here we are among the breadcrumbs and the stained napkins again. That knife is already congealing with grease. Disorder, sordidity and corruption surrounds us. We have been taking into our mouths the bodies of dead birds. It is with these greasy crumbs, slobbering over napkins, and little corpses that we have to build. Always it begins again; always there is the enemy; eyes meeting ours; fingers twitching ours; the effort waiting. Call the waiter. Pay the bill. We must pull ourselves up out of the chairs. We must find our coats. We must go. Must, must, must — detestable word. Once more, I who had thought myself immune, who had said, "Now I am rid of all that", find that the wave has tumbled me over, head over heels, scattering my possessions, leaving me to collect, to assemble, to head together, to summon my forces, rise and confront the enemy.'" -Virginia Woolf, The Waves

Catawampus Literary Journal

Random Musing
Catawampus Literary Journal just published three of my poems: "In the Ballroom," "Three Sheets Front and Back," and "For Typewriters." You can read them here. In a pleasant set of circumstances, a fellow MFA-er from Oregon State also has poems in the same issue, so make to check out Sean Beld's poetry as well.

Kisses with Fishes

Random Musing
I got my copy of Bank Heavy Press' Kisses with Fishes in the mail today! It's the first exclusively print journal I've ever had work in actually, which is exciting even if it also means that I can't share a link and show you the painting they liked. If you're incredibly curious - somehow just can't resist not knowing what the painting looks like - you can buy a copy of Kisses with Fishes here.  The painting (a black and white one) will be on page 18.

On Friendship #30

Random Musing
I saw this recently on my friend Claudia's blog, gruesome thursdays. The illustration is by Yumi Sakugawa and has been published in Sadie Magazine.

I find it absolutely loverly.


"…no person, no matter how vivid an imagination he may have, can invent anything half so droll as the freaks and fancies that originate in the lively brains of little people." -Louisa May Alcott, Little Men

"'You gave too much rein to your imagination. Imagination is a good servant, and a bad master.'" -Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles

"'Imagination is a very dangerous thing…'" -Agatha Christie, "The Tuesday Night Club"

"'The fear grows shadowy; and Imagination, the enemy of men, the father of all terrors, unstimulated, sinks to rest in the dullness of exhausted emotion.'" -Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim

"'It's delightful when your imaginations come true, isn't it?'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

"But was anything in life, Anne asked herself wearily, like one's imagination of it?" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island

"'Imagination, Miss Vinrace; use your imagination; that's where you young Liberals fail. Conceive the world as a whole.'" -Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out

Anne Shirley-ism #6

"'Oh, but there's such a difference between saying a thing yourself and hearing other people say it,' wailed Anne. 'You may know a thing is so, but you can't help hoping other people don't quite think it is.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables


"'And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.'" -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince (Translated by Katherine Woods)

"Perhaps the reason he wanted to be alone was because he felt isolated from everybody since his talk with Dumbledore. An invisible barrier separated him from the rest of the world." -J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

"As if each generation of parents commits atrocities against their children which by God's decree remain invisible to the rest of the world." -John Updike, "Flight," Pigeon Feathers

"But often now this body she wore…this body, with all its capacities, seemed nothing – nothing at all. She had the oddest sense of being herself invisible, unseen; unknown; there being no more marrying, no more having of children now, but only this astonishing and rather solemn progress with the rest of them, up Bond Street, this being Mrs. Dalloway; not even Clarissa any more; this being Mrs. Richard Dalloway." -Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

"O Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy." -William Blake, "The Sick Rose" (Songs of Experience)

"…All I want is to tell you stories about my life.

For each new friend we make, the past becomes an unintended
An invisible hallway unfolds behind each friend's body, hidden from
     view by that friend's newness.
It makes me lonely." -Ken Chen, "3. The Invisible Memoir"

On Friendship #29

"…but very different from the old intimacy and understanding comradeship with Ilse. Formerly it used to be a chummy jest between them that they could walk or sit for hours together and say no word and yet feel that they had had a splendid time. There were no such silences now: when they did happen to be alone together they both chattered gaily and shallowly, as if each were secretly afraid that there might come a moment for the silence that betrays." -L.M. Montgomery, Emily Climbs

Whitepoint Press

Random Musing
It's announcement time: Whitepoint Press has accepted my poetry collection she wears grey for publication! It's incredibly exciting. Uber exciting doesn't even begin to cover it. There will one day be a book out there with my name on it - how bizarre is that? I have to say, I feel very fortunate to have found such a good home for a collection I really am proud of.

I got this news a few months ago, but I held off on announcing anything until some headway was made in the lengthy publishing process. I was just added to the Whitepoint Press website (check out my bio here), so this felt like as good a moment as ever. I've deleted almost all the Rosemary/she wears grey poems from the blog - a contract stipulation - but no fear, you can read them all (better, edited versions for the most part) in a shiny new paperback in only so many months (I'd specify exactly how long, but I actually have no idea yet).

I'll be sure to make announcements about all of this as I get more information, so keep an eye out!


"Life is a gift horse in my opinion." -J.D. Salinger, "Teddy," Nine Stories

"Blame it or praise it, there is no denying the wild horse in us. To gallop intemperately; fall on the sand tired out; to feel the earth spin; to have — positively — a rush of friendship for stones and grasses, as if humanity were over, and as for men and women, let them go hang — there is no getting over the fact that this desire seizes us pretty often." -Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room

Norfolk: …to climb steep hills
Requires slow pace at first: anger is like
A full-hot horse, who being allow'd his way,
Self-mettle tires him. -William Shakespeare, Henry VIII

King Richard III: A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!
-William Shakespeare, Richard III

On Sadness #13

"…but she wanted the privilege of occasional admitted sadness." -Dorothy Parker, "Big Blonde"

Child's Time

"She was childish enough still to have little sense of proportion. A year, to Linda, seemed like an eternity." -Agatha Christie, Evil Under the Sun

"'It's funny, when you're a child you think time will never go by, but when you hit about twenty, time passes like you're on the fast train to Memphis. I guess life just slips up on everybody.'" -Fannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

"'Thou has hit it, Dick,' quoth old Hammond; 'it is the child-like part of us that produces works of imagination. When we are children time passes so slow with us that we seem to have time for everything.'" -William Morris, News from Nowhere

"I seem to grow more acutely conscious of the swift passage of time as I grow older. When I was small, days and hours were long and spacious, and there was play and acres of leisure, and many children's books to read." -Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

On Love #37

"…love is something that cannot be generated by any intellectual rule o' thumb."
-L.M. Montgomery, Emily's Quest

Into an Abyss

"'...between them was a fathomless abyss which thought itself could not cross.'" -L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl

"When they turned, Pelletier and Espinoza saw an older woman in a white blouse and black skirt, a woman with a figure like Marlene Dietrich, as Pelletier would say much later, a woman who despite her years was still as strong willed as ever, a woman who didn't cling to the edge of the abyss but plunged into it with curiosity and elegance. A woman who plunged into the abyss sitting down." -Roberto Bolaño, 2666 (Translated by Natasha Wimmer)

"He staggered and fell, grasped vainly at the stone, and slid into the abyss. 'Fly, you fools!' he cried, and was gone." -J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

"To feel anything strongly was to create an abyss between oneself and others who feel strongly perhaps but differently." -Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out

On Words #21

"But really she was impossible to describe. If you stare at the sun, soon all you see is a dark blot. That's all that can be left from something so bright. Words aren't enough." -Tanith Lee, "Ceres Passing" from Hidden Turnings

On Beauty #5

"Secrets are generally terrible.  Beauty is not often hidden — only ugliness and deformity." -L.M. Montgomery, Emily Climbs

Election Day 2012

Random Musing
Go vote. There's really not very much else to say. It's election day. If you're at least 18 years old and a US citizen, you need to go vote. It's important. You can't really complain about how screwed up the country is - a beloved pastime for many US citizens - if you don't at least make the effort to influence who gets to screw it up for the next four years. So go vote.

In case you needed celebrities to impress on the you the importance of voting, here you go:

And yes, the whole "make your own video" bit near the end is irrelevant at this point, but the rest is pretty spot on.

Hello November

"'November is the most disagreeable month in the whole ear,' said Margaret, standing at the window one dull afternoon, looking out at the frostbitten garden.
'That's the reason I was born in it,' observed Jo pensively, quite unconscious of the blot on her nose.
'If something very pleasant should happen now, we should think it a delightful month,' said Beth, who took a hopeful view of everything, even November." -Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

"But there is always a November space after the leaves have fallen when she felt it was almost indecent to intrude on the woods…for their glory terrestrial had departed and their glory celestial of spirit and purity and whiteness had not yet come upon them." -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars

"November was stingy of its sunshine that year: raw winds blew through the bare, silver-branched maple grove and the Hollow was almost constantly filled with mist…not a gracious, eerie thing like a fog but what Dad called 'dank, dark, depressing, dripping, drizzly mist.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Ingleside

"'There are two adjectives that are never separated in regard to a November day — "dull" and "gloomy". They were wedded together in the dawn of language and it is not for me to divorce them now.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Emily's Quest

"October drifted into November and the chill, drear days came.  To Cecily the whole outer world seemed the dismal reflex of her pain-bitten heart." -L.M. Montgomery, "The Promise of Lucy Ellen"

Random Musing

Dreams and Dreaming #20

"I could get used to anything — that is, not really get used, but somehow voluntarily consent to endure it. But I had a way out that reconciled everything, which was — to escape into 'everything beautiful and lofty,' in dreams, of course. I dreamed terribly, I would dream for three months at a time, shrinking into my corner…" -Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground (Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky)

Bother and Nonsense

"'That doesn't sound very attractive,' laughed Anne. 'I like people to have a little nonsense about them.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island

"Well, everybody has, or should have, a pet nonsense in her life. I did not think mine was any sillier than some others I knew, and to myself I admitted that it was very sweet." -L.M. Montgomery, "The Letters"

"'I don't know so much about nonsense, but there was nothing light-hearted in their romance: they came together under the shadow of a life's disaster, like knight and maiden meeting to exchange vows amongst haunted ruins. The starlight was good enough for that story, a light so fain and remote that it cannot resolve shadows into shapes, and show the other shore of a stream.'" -Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim

"'For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me.'" -A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

"'All talk would be nonsense, I suppose, if it were written down,' she said, stirring her coffee.
Maggie stopped the machine for a moment and smiled.
'And even if it isn't,' she said." -Virginia Woolf, The Years

The Ghosts of Suffering

"…and all the time feeling like the miserable spirit in a ghost story she had once read who had a live coal in its breast instead of a heart." -L.M. Montgomery, Emily's Quest

"'I am surrounded by bitter fancies and unbidden ghosts — the little spectral joys of the past.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Emily's Quest

"'I want rest — rest,' said Mrs. Kent, laughing wildly. 'Can you find that for me? Don’t you know I'm a ghost, Emily? I died years ago. I walk in the dark.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Emily's Quest

"She said: 'I've met a ghost. That's what it is.'
'A ghost, Mademoiselle?'
'The ghost of what? Or of whom?'
'Oh, the ghost of myself.'
Poirot asked gently: 'Was it a painful ghost?'
'Unexpectedly painful. It took me back, you know.'"
-Agatha Christie, Evil Under the Sun

"'I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free-will, and of my own free-will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?'" -Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

"Now I know why the ghosts howl and haunt the tidelands. It's not because they want to scare you or steal your soul. They just want to be Seen." -Jennifer L. Holm, The Trouble With May Amelia

On Friendship #28

"'I often think,' said she, 'that there is nothing so bad as parting with one's friends. One seems so forlorn without them.'" -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice


"And was the day of my delight
     As pure and perfect as I say?
     The very source and fount of Day
Is dashed with wandering isles of night?

If all was good and fair we met,
     This earth had been the Paradise
     It never looked to human eyes
Since our first Sun arose and set.

And is it that the haze of grief
     Makes former gladness loom so great?
     The lowness of the present state,
That sets the past in this relief?

Or that the past will always win
     A glory from its being far;
     And orb into the perfect star
We saw not, when we moved therein?" -Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "In Memoriam
                                                                                          A.H.H.: 24"

On Sadness #12

"I am just so very sad
And this is not for some gesture
That I tell you about this sadness now
No one loves me
I don't love them either
There are things to be done in the world
And I do them
Only out of a place of despair
That I make these things happen
I was born a separate human than you
But that does not mean I do not understand you
Or cannot accept you fully in my own way
I have been a lot of places
Most of them in my mind
But places nonetheless
That I have gone
I was meant to go there
Why?…" -Dorothea Lasky, "Sad"

On Love #36

"'He was not worthy of remembrance — and yet I do remember him. I can't forget him — and I hate him all the more for it — for having entered so deeply into my life that I could not cast him out when I knew him unworthy. It is humiliating.'" -L.M. Montgomery, "Miss Sally's Letter"

A Baker's Dozen

Random Musing
A Baker's Dozen included a painting of mine in their latest issue. You can see it here, just scroll down to item #3.

On Happiness #38

"My days were all alike, but they had something that today, in hindsight, I don't hesitate to call happiness." -Roberto Bolaño, 2666 (Translated by Natasha Wimmer)

On Words #20

"The injury of words.
Yes, the brutality of words." -Mark Zusak, The Book Thief

On Friendship #27

Amiens: …Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remember'd not. -William Shakespeare, As You Like It

On Love #35

"'And with love one can live even without happiness. Life is good even in sorrow, it's good to live in the world, no matter how.'" -Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground (Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky)

Wanting Peace

"…peaceful in a way that seemed to go beyond simple peacefulness, thought Fate, or maybe not, maybe her peacefulness was just peacefulness and a hint of weariness, peacefulness and banked embers, peacefulness and tranquility and sleepiness, which is ultimately (sleepiness, that is) the wellspring and also the last refuge of peacefulness. But then peacefulness isn't just peacefulness, thought Fate. Or what we think of as peacefulness is wrong and peacefulness or the realms of peacefulness are really no more than a gauge of movement, an accelerator or a brake, depending."
-Roberto Bolaño, 2666 (Translated by Natasha Wimmer)

"When shall I finally untangle my thoughts, when shall I find peace and rest within myself again?" -Anne Frank, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

"'Yet surely I am not born to be for ever wretched; the time will come when' — She began to think she might one time be happy, but recollecting the desperate situation of Theodore, 'No,' said she, 'I can never hope even for peace!'" -Ann Radcliffe, The Romance of the Forest

"That's the whole trouble. You can't ever find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody'll sneak up and write 'Fuck you' right under your nose. Try it sometime." -J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

"'That's peace — real peace. To come to the end — not to have to go on….  Yes, peace…'" -Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None

Another One Year Mark

"I want a book that acknowledges that life goes on but that death goes on, too, that a person who is dead is a long, long story. You move on from it, but the death will never disappear from view. Your friends may say, Time heals all wounds. No, it doesn't, but eventually you'll feel better. You'll be yourself again." -Elizabeth McCracken, An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

Random Musing
Strange to think that it's already been a year. Time moves really fast. Rest in peace Chip. As always, my thoughts are with your friends and family. I hope they're on the road to feeling like themselves again.

On Beauty #4

"'Oh, beauty!' whispered Emily, passionately, lifting her hands to the stars. 'What would I have done without you all these years?'" -L.M. Montgomery, Emily's Quest

On Sadness #11

"What concerns me among multitudes and multitudes of other sad questions which one had better try to lure aside with parfaits and sunshine, is that there is a certain great sorrow in me now, with as many facets as a fly's eyes, and I must give birth to this monstrosity before I am light again." -Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Human Civilization

"'That was what set me off hating civilization.'
'Well, cheer up,' he said; 'there isn't much of it left.'" -Elizabeth Bowen, "Mysterious Kôr"

"What is it that civilization softens in us? Civilization cultivates only a versatility of sensations in man, and…decidedly nothing else." -Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground (Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky)

"…where there was nature and earth, life and water, I saw a desert landscape that was unending, resembling some sort of crater, so devoid of reason and light and spirit that the mind could not grasp it on any sort of conscious level and if you came close the mind would reel backward, unable to take it in. It was a vision so clear and real and vital to me that in its purity it was almost abstract. This was what I could understand, this was how I lived my life, what I constructed my movement around, how I dealt with the intangible. This was the geography around which my reality revolved: it did not occur to me, ever, that people were good or that a man was capable of change or that the world could be a better place through one's taking pleasure in a feeling or a look or a gesture, of receiving another person's love and kindness. Nothing was affirmative, the term 'generosity of spirit' applied to nothing, was a cliché, was some kind of bad joke. Sex is mathematics. Individuality no long an issue. What does intelligence signify? Define reason. Desire - meaningless. Intellect is not a cure. Justice is dead. Fear, recrimination, innocence, sympathy, guilty, waste, failure, grief, were things, emotions, that no one really felt anymore. Reflection is useless, the world is senseless. Evil is its only permanence. God is not alive. Love cannot be trusted. Surface, surface, surface was all that anyone found meaning in…this was civilization as I saw it, colossal and jagged…" -Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho

August Rains

"And it seems that always in August I am more aware of the rain." -Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

"August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time." -Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

On Words #19

"Words revolve in flame and keep the coliseum heart afire, reflecting orange sunken suns in the secret petals of ruined arches. yes, the glowing asbestos thorns and whistling flame flowers reflect the cells of the scarlet heart and the coliseum burns on, without a nero, on the brink of blackness. so words have power to open sesame and reveal liberal piles of golden metallic suns in the dark pit that wait to be melted and smelted in the fire of spring which springs to fuse lamps and clods into veins of radiance.
so sylvia burns yellow dahlias on her dark altar of the sun as the sun wanes so impotence and the world falls in winter. birds contract to frozen feathered buds on barren boughs and plants surrender to the omnipotent white frosts which hold all colors cruelly locked in hexagonal hearts of ice." -Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Dreams and Dreaming #19

"We all live in our own dream-worlds and make and re-make our own personal realities with tender and loving care. And my dream-world — how much more valid, how much nearer to the truth is it than that of these people?" -Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath


"Psychologists call that state of deluded madness 'narcissistic love.'
I call it 'my twenties.'" -Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

"Whom can I talk to? Get advice from? No one. A psychiatrist is the God of our age. But they cost money. And I won't take advice, even if I want it. I'll kill myself. I am beyond help. No one here has time to probe, to aid me in understanding myself…so many others are worse off than I. How can I selfishly demand help, solace, guidance? No, it is my own mess, and even if now I have lost my sense of perspective, thereby my creative sense of humor, I will not let myself get sick, go mad, or retreat like a child into blubbering on someone else's shoulder. Masks are the order of the day — and the least I can do is cultivate the illusion that I am gay, serene, not hollow and afraid. Someday, god knows when, I will stop this absurd, self-pitying, idle, futile despair. I will begin to think again, and to act according to the way I think. Attitude is a pitifully relative and capricious quality to base a faith on. Like the proverbial sand, it slides, founders, sucks me down to hell.
At present, the last thing I can do is be objective, self-critical, diagnostic — but I do know that my philosophy is too subjective, relative & personal to be strong and creative in all circumstances. It is fine in fair weather, but it dissolves when they forty day rains come. I must submerge it before a larger, transcendental goal or craft. What that is I cannot not now imagine." -Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

"…we all like to think we are important enough to need psychiatrists." -Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

For Faeries #3

"'But you are a fairy yourself — or you wouldn't be able to find fairyland. You can't buy a ticket there, you know. Either the fairies themselves give you your passport at your christening — or they don't. That is all there is to it.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon

On Friendship #26

"I have been needing, more than anything, to talk to somebody, to spill out all the tight, jealous, envious, apprehensive neurotic tensions in me…" -Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

On Love #34

"I want to love somebody because I want to be loved. In a rabbit-fear I may hurl myself under the wheels of the car because the lights terrify me, and under the dark blind death of the wheels I will be safe. I am very tired, very banal, very confused. I do not know who I am tonight. I wanted to walk until I dropped and not complete the inevitable circle of coming home." -Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Don't Chase

"'If we don't chase things — sometimes the things following us can catch up.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Emily Climbs

"'If you run after a man he'll run away. It's instinct. We have to run when anything chases us.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Magic for Marigold

"Life, if you keep chasing it so hard, will drive you to death. Time — when pursued like a bandit — will heave like one; always remaining one county or room ahead of you, changing its name and hair color to elude you, slipping out the back door of the motel just as you're banging through the lobby with your newest search warrant, leaving only a burning cigarette in the ashtray to taunt you. At some point you have to stop because it won't. You have to admit that you can't catch it. That you're not supposed to catch it. At some point, as Richard keeps telling me, you gotta let go and sit still and allow contentment to come to you." -Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

On Happiness #37

"Very gently and quietly, almost as if it were the blood singing in her veins, or the water of the stream running over stones, Rachel became conscious of a new feeling within her. She wondered for a moment what it was, and then said to herself, with a little surprise at recognising in her own person so famous a thing:
'This is happiness, I suppose.'" -Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out


"'Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.'" -J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Cleon: Thou art like the harpy,
Which, to betray, dost, with thine angel's face,
Seize with thine eagle's talons. -William Shakespeare, Pericles, Prince of Tyre

"…I don't want to be this body anymore
That holds all the betrayal of the universe
Its tissues bluing all day into a blue-black
Blood balloon
One day all that blood will be dark and grey
I want to be an unearthly body instead of this one
I want to be a body that is free of dreams
The imagination
I never wanted the imagination within my legs and arms anyway…" -Dorothea Lasky,
                                                                                              "The Body"

On Love #33

"In that I loved you, Love, I worshipped you;
In that I worshipped well, I sacrificed.
All of most worth I bound and burnt and slew:
Old peaceful lives; frail flowers; firm friends; and Christ.

I slew all falser loves; I slew all true,
That I might nothing love but your truth, Boy.
Fair fame I cast away as bridegrooms do
Their wedding garments in their haste of joy.

But when I fell upon your sandalled feet,
You laughed; you loosed away my lips; you rose.
I heard the singing of your wings' retreat;
Far-flown, I watched you flush the Olympian snows,
Beyond my hoping. Starkly I returned
To stare upon the ash of all I burned." -Wilfred Owen, "To Eros"

Graduate School: MFA

Random Musing
So I began the rather terrifying process of applying to MFA programs in poetry this past November.  I didn't have too much faith in my prospects of getting in anywhere - MFA programs have notoriously low acceptance rates - but I was fortunate enough to be accepted to four of the nine programs I applied to.  Let me tell you, there was a ridiculous amount of celebrating after each of those letters/emails arrived.  Lots of tiramisu.

Ahem, anyhow, in the end, after weighing the various pros and cons of these programs, I decided on where I'm going to be this fall: Oregon State University. That's right, I'll be a beaver come September.   Not nearly as cool a mascot as the wolverines, but it'll do.

OSU's program is excellent (despite sharing the whole "OSU" thing with Ohio State); I'll be working alongside very talented individuals and it actually fully funds each of its MFA candidates for the full two years.  I was lucky enough to receive a diversity fellowship from the school as well that literally doubles my original stipend for this upcoming year.  So on top of receiving my MFA at a great school - getting to work almost exclusively on my poetry for two years - I won't have any financial worries.  It's really ridiculously ideal.

I will be sad to leave Ann Arbor for Corvallis, OR though.  I've really grown to love my college town.  This is why, quite a long while ago, I mentioned already being homesick for Ann Arbor - knowing you have to leave somewhere makes you all the more fond of it.  This move to the west coast is going to be a very big change.  I've never lived anywhere but Michigan my whole life.  Here's hoping it's a good one though.

Dreams and Dreaming #18

"…I can't help what I want.

There is no such thing as a dream that comes true.

Every dream is already true the moment it is dreamed." -Suzanne Buffam, "Amor Fati"

Word Gumbo

Random Musing
This is a bit late - I'm not sure how I forgot to post about this earlier - but Word Gumbo published one of my poems in their last issue. You can read it here, just check out page seven.


"If they substituted 'Lust' for 'Love' in the popular songs it would come nearer the truth." -Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

"Once cannot bring children into a world like this. One cannot perpetuate suffering, or increase the breed of these lustful animals, who have no lasting emotions, but only whims and vanities, eddying them now this way, now that." -Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

"…Love, if you love me,
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,
the getting out

of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
Be wet
with a decent happiness." -Robert Creeley, "The Rain"

"…'Love comforteth like sunshine after rain,
But Lust's effect is tempest after sun;
Love's gentle spring doth always fresh remain,
Lust's winter comes ere summer half be done;
Love surfeits not, Lust like a glutton dies;
Love is all truth, Lust full of forged lies…" -William Shakespeare, "Venus and Adonis"

For Faeries #2

"For the fairies dwell only in the kingdom of Happiness; having no souls they cannot enter the kingdom of Sorrow." -L.M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon

On Love #32

"'I will not love — to love is to be a slave,' I said.
And the minute I said it I was ashamed of saying it — because I knew I had just said it to sound clever. I don't really believe that to love is to be a slave — not with Murrays, anyhow. But Dean took me quite seriously.
'Well, one must be a slave to something in this kind of a world,' said he. 'No one is free. Perhaps, after all, O daughter of the Stars, love is the easiest master — easier than hate — or fear — or necessity — or ambition — or pride.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Emily Climbs

On Friendship #25

"It was not for Rhoda she mourned — it was for the friendship that had been so dear to her." -L.M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon

Happy Mother's Day!

"'Isn't she the sweetest thing in the way av mothers?' asked Father Cassidy. 'I keep her to look at.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon

"But the heart of the father is not as the heart of the mother." -L.M. Montgomery, "The Dream-Child," Further Chronicles of Avonlea

"'A mother is the best thing in the world — I realized that when I lost mine,' said Alan gently." -L.M. Montgomery, "Four Winds"

"And mother-like, Mrs. Jo forgot the threatened chastisement in tender lamentations over the happy scapegrace…" -Louisa May Alcott, Jo's Boys

"Dan clung to her in speechless gratitude, feeling the blessedness of mother love, — that divine gift which comforts, purifies, and strengthens all who seek it." -Louisa May Alcott, Jo's Boys

"Without knowing it, he had been centralised, polarised in his mother. It was she who had kept him." -D.H. Lawrence, "Daughters of the Vicar"

"She thought her mother looked wonderfully beautiful with her back to the leafy window. There was something comforting in the sight of her that Linda felt she could never do without." -Katherine Mansfield, "Prelude"

You Can't Ignore History

"'After all, we live in the present day! History is quite far back; it is said, of course, but it does seem silly. I never ever cared for history at school; I was glad when we came to the end of it.'
'And when, my dear, did you come to the end of history?'" -Elizabeth Bowen, "Ivy Gripped the Steps"

"'The happiest countries, like the happiest women, have no history,' said Dean."
-L.M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon

             "Those angels of history are whispering, again,
That I'm the product of two people who should have known
-Jay Hopler, "The Boxcars of Consolidated Rail Freight"

"'Sometimes I feel I don't want to know anything more about it than I know already.'
'Why not?'
'Because what's the use of learning that I am one of a long row only — finding out that there is set down in some old book somebody just like me, and to know that I shall only act her part; making me sad, that's all. The best is not to remember that your nature and your past doings have been just like thousands' and thousands'.'"
-Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d'Urbervilles

On Beauty #3

"'Never trust an ugly woman. She's got a grudge against the world'" -Richard Peck, A Long Way from Chicago

14, 15, 16

"They are sixteen, fifteen, fourteen years old, younger all the time, an army of children waiting to be given the words." -Joan Didion, "Slouching Toward Bethlehem"

"Little, silly, dreamy, happy, ignorant Fourteen! Always thinking that something great and wonderful and beautiful lay in the years ahead. Quite sure that the "mountain purple" could be reached. Quite sure that dreams always came true. Foolish Fourteen, who yet had known how to be happy." -L.M. Montgomery, Emily's Quest

"If there's one thing you can't see at the age of fifteen, it's ahead." -Richard Peck, The Teacher's Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts

"'It's awful to be sixteen — simply awful.'
One didn't somehow, know where one was." -Agatha Christie, Evil Under the Sun

"Those awful things are survivable, because we are as indestructible as we believe ourselves to be. When adults say, 'Teenagers think they are invincible' with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don't know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail." -John Green, Looking for Alaska

On Happiness #36

"She was at that moment as perfectly happy as any human being is ever permitted to be." -L.M. Montgomery, Emily Climbs

On Love #31

"I remember the pain. What you really forget is love." -Nora Ephron, "The D Word" from I Remember Nothing

Everyone Has Them

"'We do things, say things, that later we regret with all our souls…'" -Roberto Bolaño, 2666 (Translated by Natasha Wimmer)

"I have made it a rule of my life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy, and no one who intends to be a writer can afford to indulge in it. You can't get it into shape; you can't build on it; it's only good for wallowing in. Looking back, of course, is equally fatal to Art. It's keeping yourself poor. Art can't and won't stand poverty." -Katherine Mansfield, "Je ne parle pas français"

"'I love that sound,' he mumbled into her hair. 'Blackbirds at dawn.'
'I hate it. Makes me think I've done something I'll regret.'" -David Nicholls, One Day

"To lie and regret the emergence from the womb as the umbilical cord is snipped, neatly, and the knot tied." -Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Laura: What does it mean to regret when you have no choice? It's what you can bear.
-The Hours

Resentment and Distaste

"…she felt so strong a distaste for her lonely, purposeless life that she was in no haste to go forth to meet another day of it." -L.M. Montgomery, "The Bride Roses"

"He also discovered that he was bitter and full of resentment, that he oozed resentment, and that he might easily kill someone, anyone, if it would provide a respite from the loneliness and rain and cold of Madrid, but this was a discovery that he preferred to conceal." -Roberto Bolaño, 2666 (Translated by Natasha Wimmer)

"There is no living being on earth at this moment except myself. I could walk down the halls, and empty rooms would yawn mockingly at me from every side. God, but life is loneliness, despite all the opiates, despite the shrill tinsel gaiety of 'parties' with no purpose, despite the false grinning faces we all wear. And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter — they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long. Yes, there is joy, fulfillment and companionship — but the loneliness of the soul in it's appalling self-consciousness, is horrible and overpowering." -Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

For Faeries #1

"'But I heard all kinds of fairy sounds and each gave me an exquisite vanishing joy as I went up the hill. There is always something satisfying in climbing to the top of a hill. And that is a hill-top I love. When I reached it I stood still and let the loveliness of the evening flow through me like music. How the Wind Woman was singing in the bits of birchland around me — how she whistled in the serrated tops of the trees against the sky! One of the thirteen new silver moons of the year was hanging over the harbour. I stood there and thought of many, many beautiful things — of wild, free brooks running through starlit April fields — of rippled grey-satin seas — of the grace of an elm against the moonlight — of roots stirring and thrilling in the earth — owls laughing in darkness — a curl of foam on a long sandy shore — a young moon setting over a dark hill — the grey of gulf storms.
I had only seventy-five cents in the world but Paradise isn't bought with money.
Then I sat down on an old boulder and tried to put those moments of delicate happiness into a poem. I caught the shape of them fairly well, I think — but not their soul. It escaped me.
It was quite dark when I came back and the whole character of my Land of Uprightness seemed changed. It was eerie — almost sinister. I would have run if I could have dared. The trees, my old well-known friends, were strange and aloof. The sounds I heard were not the cheery, companionable sounds of daytime — nor the friendly, fairy sounds of the sunset — they were creeping and weird, as if the life of the woods had suddenly developed something almost hostile to me — something at least that was furtive and alien and unacquainted. I could fancy that I heard stealthy footsteps all around me — that strange eyes were watching me through the boughs. When I reached the open space and hopped over the fence into Aunt Ruth's back yard I felt as if I were escaping from some fascinating but not altogether hallowed locality — a place given over to Paganism and the revels of satyrs. I don't believe the woods are ever wholly Christian in the darkness. There is always a lurking life in them that dares not show itself to the sun but regains its own with the night.
"You should not be out in the damp with that cough of yours," said Aunt Ruth.
But it wasn't the damp that hurt me — for I was hurt. It was that little fascinating whisper of something unholy. I was afraid of it — and yet I loved it. The beauty I had loved on the hill-top seemed suddenly quite tasteless beside it. I sat down in my room and wrote another poem. When I had written it I felt that I had exorcised something out of my soul and Emily-in-the-Glass seemed no longer a stranger to me.'"
-L.M. Montgomery, Emily Climbs

On Words #18

"'…but it seems to me there is something beyond words — any words — all words — something that always escapes you when you try to grasp it — and yet leaves something in your hand which you wouldn't have had if you hadn't reached for it.'"
-L.M. Montgomery, Emily Climbs

On Friendship #24

Claudio: Friendship is constant in all other things
Save in the office and affairs of love… -William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

Dreams and Dreaming #17

"'Being young, no doubt, you dream a-plenty.'" -L.M. Montgomery, "Abel and His Great Adventure"

Anne Shirley-ism #5

"'Of course we have a Tomorrow on the map…located east of Today and west of Yesterday…and we have no end of 'times' in fairyland. Spring-time, long time, short time, new-moon time, good-night time, next time…but no last time, because that is too sad a time for fairyland; old time, young time…because if there is an old time there ought to be a young time, too; mountain time…because that has such a fascinating sound; night-time and day-time…but no bed-time or school-time; Christmas-time; no only time, because that also is too sad…but lost time, because it is so nice to find it; some time, good time, fast time, slow time, half-past kissing-time, going-home time, and time immemorial…which is one of the most beautiful phrases in the world.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars

All That Glitters

"And the strongest feeling within me, if truth be told, is that which makes a sufferer curse those who do not suffer and seek to drag them down.  I confess that I so despise and envy your untroubled ignorance that I want finally to force upon you the truth of my words…." -Douglas Hill, "True Believer" from Hidden Turnings

"…when anybody says 'How future ages will envy me,' it is safe to say that they are extremely uneasy at the present moment." -Virginia Woolf, Orlando

"And I know what it feels like to want something, believe me.  I well know what desire feels like." -Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

"…The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me-
Yes!— that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.…" -Edgar Allan Poe, "Annabel Lee"

Apemantus: Like madness is the glory of this life.
As this pomp shows to a little oil and root.
We make ourselves fools, to disport ourselves;
And spend our flatteries, to drink those men
Upon whose age we void it up again,
With poisonous spite and envy.
Who lives that's not depraved or depraves?
Who dies, that bears not one spurn to their graves
Of their friends' gift?
I should fear those that dance before me now
Would one day stamp upon me: 't has been done;
Men shut their doors against a setting sun. -William Shakespeare, Timon of Athens

On Beauty #2

"'Something pleasant happens to me most every day and that girl is today's pleasant thing.  I just feel real happy and thankful that there are such beautiful creatures in the world and that we can look at them.'" -L.M. Montgomery, "The Prodigal Brother"

At the Start

"…nothing seemed impossible in the beginning…" -Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

"'Now, too, the time is coming when we shall leave school and wear long skirts.  I shall wear necklaces and a white dress without sleeves at night.  There will be parties in brilliant rooms; and one man will single me out and will tell me what he has told no other person.  He will like me better than Susan or Rhoda.  He will find in me some quality, some peculiar thing.  But I shall not let myself be attached to one person only.  I do not want to be fixed, to be pinioned.  I tremble, I quiver, like the leaf in the hedge, as I sit dangling my feet, on the edge of the bed, with a new day to break open.  I have fifty years, I have sixty years to spend.  I have not yet broken into my hoard.  This is the beginning.'" -Virginia Woolf, The Waves

Richard: No matter what you start with it ends up being so much less.
-The Hours

Growing Up

"'That's the worst of growing up, and I'm beginning to realize it. The things you wanted so much when you were a child don't seem half so wonderful to you when you get them.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

"'You must pay the penalty of growing-up, Paul. You must leave fairyland behind you.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island

"She was beginning to learn how full of silent little tragedies life is." -L.M. Montgomery, Pat of Silver Bush

"For there is no bond more lasting than that formed by the mutual confidences of that magic time when youth is slipping from the sheath of childhood and beginning to wonder what lies for it beyond those misty hills that bound the golden road." -L.M. Montgomery, The Golden Road

"Altogether I had no regrets, I told myself sadly that growing up was not the painless process one would have thought it to be. -Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

"Isn't it true that you start your life a sweet child believing in everything under your father's roof? Then comes the day of the Laodiceans, when you know you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, and with visage of a gruesome grieving ghost you go shuddering through nightmare life." -Jack Kerouac, On the Road

"'I am growing up,' she thought, taking her taper at last. 'I am losing some illusions,' she said, shutting Queen Mary's book, 'perhaps to acquire others,' and she descended among the tombs where the bones of her ancestors lay." -Virginia Woolf, Orlando

On Happiness #35

"Like most misery, it started with apparent happiness." -Mark Zusak, The Book Thief

On Sadness #10

"…Now, years later, I wonder why no one could see my deep sadness, my desire to disappear.

Either I lied so well or they never looked at me, never saw, never wanted to see…."
-Kazim Ali, "New York City"

On Beauty #1

"To look almost pretty, is as acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain the first fifteen years of her life, than a beauty from her cradle can ever receive." -Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Past and Future

"'All the ghostly joys of the past are haunting me — all the ghostly fears of the future.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Emily's Quest

"Rebellion flamed up in her soul as the dark hours passed by — not because she had no future but because she had no past." -L.M. Montgomery, The Blue Castle

"Was it impossible that the past should be able to injure the future irreparably?"
-Elizabeth Bowen, "The Inherited Clock"

"'The mind of man is capable of anything — because everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future. What was there after all? Joy, fear, sorrow, devotion, valour, rage — who can tell? — but truth — truth stripped of its cloak of time.'" -Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Past and Present

"To-night everything seemed to drift through her consciousness in a dreamy, jumbled procession of delight, big and little things, past and present, all tangled up together." -L.M. Montgomery, Magic for Marigold

"'I believe the present matters — not the past! The past must go. If we keep the past alive, we end, I think, by distorting it. We see it in exaggerated terms — a false perspective.'" -Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot's Christmas

"…dreaming of the past which is, Mrs. Vallance thought, somehow so much more real than the present. But why!" -Virginia Woolf, "Ancestors"

"The past is slipping away and the present is a constant affront."
-Nora Ephron, "I Remember Nothing" from I Remember Nothing

"But no, the quest of time past is more difficult than you think, and time present is eaten up by such plaintive searchings. The film of your days and nights is wound up tight in you, never to be re-run — and the occasional flashbacks are faint, blurred, unreal, as if seen through falling snow. Now, you begin to get scared. You don't believe in God, or a life-after-death, so you can't hope for sugar plums when your non-existent soul rises." -Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

"…The past and present wilt — I have fill'd them, emptied them,
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future…." -Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself"                                                                                            (Section 51)

On Love #30

Rosalind: Love is merely a madness, and, I tell you, deserves
as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do: and
the reason why they are not so punished and cured
is, that the lunacy is so ordinary that the whippers
are in love too. Yet I profess curing it by counsel.
-William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Jennifer L. Holm at the UMMA

Random Musing
Jennifer L. Holm came to the University of Michigan on Thursday, March 29th as part of the Sarah Marwil Lamstein Children’s Literature Lecture Series. (That's a long one, innit?)

I first read Holm's Our Only May Amelia when I was ten years old. My school had this Book-a-thon contest which essentially consisted of reading as many Newbery Honor and Medal books as you could in one year. For each book read (and you had to answer a short quiz to prove you'd really read the book  the system worked back then, Wikipedia didn't exist), you got one Book-a-thon certificate. At the end of the year, they tallied up who in each grade had collected the most certificates and the winner received a $20 Border's gift card. I won both years  5th and 6th grade. My small moment of glory.

Ahem, anyways, to get back to the point, I read Our Only May Amelia as part of that whole Book-a-thon competition, and have loved it ever since. The book follows May Amelia, a girl with seven older brothers, as she grows up on the Nasel river in Washington state at the beginning of the 20th century. It's touching and funny, surprisingly dark for a children's book, and exceptionally well written. I'm an enormous fan of well-done children' literature  Richard Peck is another author to check out if you're similarly inclined  and was very excited when I found out Jennifer L. Holm was coming to Ann Arbor.

The lecture was scheduled to start at 5:10pm in the Helmut Stern Auditorium of the UMMA, but I got there a bit early. Ms. Holm was actually up at the podium signing a few books for some kids whose parents couldn't stay for the lecture and I decided to go up and introduce myself and tell her how much I love Our Only May Amelia. I also had my copy with me, and was hoping it wouldn't be too weird or intrusive to ask her to sign it.

Now I've met a few authors over the course of my twenty-one years: Brian Jacques when I was twelve, Lois Lowry just last year (she was the children's literature lecturer for 2011), the poet Suzanne Buffam only a few weeks ago (as part of the Zell Visiting Writer's Series). They were all nice people  I have a very fond memory of Brian Jacques telling me that my name sounds fierce and warrior-like  and I was super excited to meet them, but Jennifer L. Holm stands out nonetheless.

She was not only incredibly gracious about signing my book, but seemed thankful that I had liked it/it had meant so much to me. In short, she seemed as thrilled to meet me as I was to meet her. This is somewhat obvious from how she signed the book.

                                    I think that giant "sniff" is rather telling

I had the feeling that she's the kind of person who tries her best to answer any fan mail she receives from kids, and as the lecture started it quickly became obvious just much she loves her audience.

There were two kids attending this lecture with their moms, and at multiple times during the lecture she referred to them and had them come up on stage to help her out: to read an excerpt from her upcoming book, to answer questions about what kids look for when choosing a book to read, to participate in a small drawing segment surrounding her Babymouse series. You could tell she wanted them to have fun during the lecture. It seemed important to her.

The lecture was largely aimed at adults, but it was definitely fun and interesting by just about anyone's standards. She talked about how big an influence her family has had on her books  her three Newberry Honor books are all historical fiction tied to her own family history  and about what her writing process is like. I'd had no idea just how much research went into writing a children's historical fiction novel (which was rather closed-minded of me considering how much I presume to respect the genre as a whole). For example, she actually spent a lot of time in Key West to research and write Turtle In Paradise, and Our Only May Amelia took her six total years to research and write. I didn't know that she currently collaborates with her brother Matthew Holm on her Babymouse series either, or that she had originally thought of Our Only May Amelia as a novel for adults.

The lecture was illuminating in so many ways, and really has rekindled my adoration of children's literature. I'm going to devote some time to finishing a few more of Jennifer L. Holm's novels soon, as well as more of Richard Peck's. The lecture also made me suddenly homesick for Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan. Not every university has such amazing lecture series, or opens up so many opportunities to meet incredible writers.

As for where I'm going exactly that I'll be homesick for Ann Arbor anytime soon, I'll be sure to do some illuminating of my own in the near future. Keep an eye out for that post. But for now, do yourself a favor and go spend some time with May Amelia.

Embodying Spring

"She looked like a very incarnation of Spring — as if all the shimmer of young leaves and glow of young mornings and evanescent sweetness of young blossoms in a thousand springs had been embodied in her." -L.M. Montgomery, Kilmeny of the Orchard

"'She's a bit purtier than you, but I like you best — ye look like a bit o' spring.'"
-L.M. Montgomery, Magic for Marigold

"Surely the flowers of a hundred springs
Are simply the souls of beautiful things!
The poppies aflame with gold and red
Were the kisses of lovers in days that are fled.
The purple pansies with dew-drops pearled
Were the rainbow dreams of a youngling world.
The lily, white as a star apart,
Was the first pure prayer of a virgin heart.
The daisies that dance and twinkle so
Were the laughter of children in long ago.
The sweetness of all true friendship yet
Lives in the breath of the mignonette.
To the white narcissus there must belong
The very delight of a maiden's song.
And the rose, all flowers of the earth above,
Was a perfect, rapturous thought of love.
Oh! surely the blossoms of all the springs
Must be the souls of beautiful things." -L.M. Montgomery, "Fancies"

Anne Shirley-ism #4

"'Plum puffs won't minister to a mind diseased,' said Anne disconsolately; but Marilla thought it a good sign that she had recovered sufficiently to adapt a quotation."
-L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

Spring is Here

"'I'm always a little mad in spring. But it's such a divine madness.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Ingleside

"'Spring is such a happyfying time isnt it….'" -L.M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon

"…spring is just around the corner and I have forgotten everything but gladness.'"
-L.M. Montgomery, Emily Climbs

"One could not be altogether unhappy, in springtime…" -L.M. Montgomery, Magic for Marigold

On Friendship #23

"…All I want is to tell you stories about my life.

For each new friend we make, the past becomes an unintended
An invisible hallway unfolds behind each friend's body, hidden from
     view by that friend's newness.
It makes me lonely." -Ken Chen, "3. The Invisible Memoir"

Of Clay

"…having learned that people cannot be moulded like clay…" -Louisa May Alcott, Jo's Boys

"'…Nature has but little clay…like that of which she moulded you.'" -Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Alcott on "Genius" and "Talent"

"It takes people a long time to learn the difference between talent and genius, especially ambitious young men and women." -Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

"'…because talent isn't genius, and no amount of energy can make it so. I want to be great, or nothing.'" -Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

"'On, I don't think I'm a genius!' cried Josie, growing calm and sober as she listened to the melodious voice and looked into the expressive face that filled her with confidence, so strong, sincere and kindly was it. 'I only want to find out if I have talent enough to go on, and after years of study be able to act well in any of the good plays people never tire of seeing. I don't expected to be a Mrs. Siddons or a Miss Cameron, much as I long to be; but it does seem as if I had something in me which can't come out in any way but this. When I act I'm perfectly happy. I seem to live, to be in my own world, and each new part is a new friend. I love Shakespeare, and am never tired of his splendid people. Of course I don't understand it all; but it's like being alone at night with the mountains and the stars, solemn and grand, and I try to imagine how it will look when the sun comes up, and all is glorious and clear to me. I can't see, but I feel the beauty, and long to express it.'" -Louisa May Alcott, Jo's Boys

On Sadness #9

"'So sadness is a place?' Giovanni asked.
'Sometimes people live there for years,' I said." -Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

On Happiness #34

"'Is he then an unhappy man?'
Poirot said, 'So unhappy that he has forgotten what happiness means. So unhappy that he does not know he is unhappy.'" -Agatha Christie, "The Apples of the Hesperides"

On Love #29

"And I will settle for nothing less than a great soul; it would be sinful to compromise, when I have known this." -Sylvia Plath, Letters Home

Flat Futures

"'But the trouble is there aren't any bends in my road. I can see it stretching straight out before me to the sky-line…endless monotony. Oh, does life ever frighten you, Anne, with its blankness…its swarms of cold, uninteresting people?'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars

"We are on a perilous margin when we begin to look passively at our future selves, and see our own figures led with dull consent into insipid misdoing and shabby achievement." -George Eliot, Middlemarch

The Montucky Review

Random Musing
The Montucky Review published a poem of mine today. You can read it here as well as (for now at least) on their homepage.

Seeking Calm

"Calm is the one thing that will never let us down.  And Amalfitano said: everything else lets us down?  And the voice: yes, that's right, it's hard to admit, I mean it's hard to have to admit it to you, but that's the honest-to-God truth.  Ethics lets us down?  The sense of duty lets us down?  Honesty lets us down?  Curiosity lets us down?  Love lets us down?  Bravery lets us down?  Art lets us down?  That's right, said the voice, everything lets us down, everything.  Or lets you down, which isn't the same thing but for our purposes it might as well be, except calm, calm is the one thing that never lets us down, though that's no guarantee or anything, I have to tell you." -Roberto Bolaño, 2666, (Translated by Natasha Wimmer)

"That calm acceptance went to my head at last. It fascinated me. It led me on and on till I threw every card that I possessed at him and sat back and watched him arrange them in his hand." -Katherine Mansfield, "Je ne parle pas français"

"…'Tis calm indeed! So calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness…." -Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Frost at Midnight"

"…Though forced to drudge for the dregs of men,
And scrawl strange words with the barbarous pen,
And mingle among the jostling crowd,
Where the sons of strife are subtle and loud—
I often come to this quiet place,
To breathe the airs that ruffle thy face,
And gaze upon thee in silent dream,
For in thy lonely and lovely stream
An image of that calm life appears
That won my heart in my greener years." -William Cullen Bryant, "Green River"

On Sadness #8

"'That's just how it is here.  It's always sad at this time of day.  It's a goddamn landscape for women.'" -Roberto Bolaño, 2666 (Translated by Natasha Wimmer)

One Year

"…dead people need us to remember them…." -Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler's Wife

"She had a way of embroidering life with stars." -L.M. Montgomery, "Old Man Shaw's Girl," Chronicles of Avonlea

"A creature of joy, she ran or danced." -L.M. Montgomery, Magic for Marigold

Random Musing
This year went by so quickly. You haven't been forgotten. Not that there was ever any chance of that happening. Sending you so much love. Rest in peace.

On Love #28

"'We can't command our love, but we can our actions.'" -Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor"

Rear Window

Stella: What people ought to do is get outside their own house and look in for a change.
-Rear Window

Stella: Nothing has caused the human race so much trouble as intelligence.
-Rear Window

L.B.: Well, when am I gonna see you again?
Lisa: Not for a long time. At least…not until tomorrow night.
-Rear Window

L.B.: He’s washing down the bathroom walls.
Stella: Hmm, must have splattered a lot…. Well, why not? That’s what we’re all thinking.
-Rear Window

Stella: Let’s go down and find out what’s buried in the garden.
Lisa: Why not? I’ve always wanted to meet Mrs. Thorwald.
-Rear Window

"Mrs. Thorwald"

Dreams and Dreaming #16

"'That's what I'm living on now, honey, dreams, dreams of what I used to do.'" -Fannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

Waiting for Spring

"'Smells like snow,' he said. 'It always seems to me that November is a homesick time. Does it ever strike you that way, Mrs. Blythe?'
'Yes. The year is looking back sadly to her lost spring.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Ingleside

"And before us was the dream of spring.  It is always safe to dream of spring.  For it is sure to come; and if it be not just as we have pictured it, it will be infinitely sweeter."
-L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl

"Even while I write, I know this too shall pass and some day, eons hence, it may possibly be spring." -Sylvia Plath, Letters Home

On Happiness #33

"'Felicity, felicity — how shall I say it? — is quaffed out of a golden cup in every latitude: the flavour is with you — with you alone, and you can make it as intoxicating as you please.'" -Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim

A New Year

"But Anne with her elbows on the window sill, her soft cheek laid against her clasped hands, and her eyes filled with visions, looked out unheedingly across city roof and spire to that glorious dome of sunset sky and wove her dreams of a possible future from the golden tissue of youth's own optimism. All the Beyond was hers, with its possibilities lurking rosily in the oncoming years — each year a rose of promise to be woven into an immortal chaplet." -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

"More than putting another man on the moon,
more than a New Year’s resolution of yogurt and yoga,
we need the opportunity to dance
with really exquisite strangers.…" -Matthew Dickman, "Slow Dance"

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