This is my last day with you! And it’s already late afternoon. I’ve been in meetings and then working on a syllabus for Experiments in Literature for the CCC system here. Sorry. There is so much to get to. I’m going to warble. I’m going to make a bird’s nest out of bobby pins.
Here is one thing about objects I feel vulnerable to admit:
I have joint-custody of my dog (this is not the embarrassing part, this is the part of genuine love). He lives in Denver right now, where he gets to go to the mountains and hang out at friends’ houses. Here is a little proof:
In Chicago, he’d be inside all day by himself and wouldn’t have that many houses to visit. His paws would be so cold. So I will go collect him in July when the city will be a sunny adventure for him. I think that without him, I started to grow attached to weird objects. For example, this badger stuffed animal:
That snout is just asking to be petted. Am I right?
Eh, I’m pretty sure I’m wrong.
Before this, it was a TempurPedic pillow. I spent 4 months living alone in Chicago while my furniture and all of my books were still in storage in Denver. I slept on a hard futon on the floor in an empty apartment. My bureau was a cardboard box. I bummed wifi from my downstairs neighbors for $20 a month. I ate weird meals, like bags of Indian food you buy at the grocery store and then boil??
I focused on teaching. I’d come home, eat, watch something trashy like an episode of Gossip Girl, and then get back to work. Which meant it was me, a hard futon, and a TempurPedic pillow. This pillow was the only giving thing in my apartment. I didn’t name it or anything entirely screwy, but I started to feel a weird affection for it. Like, a step below a pet fish or how people care for a certain houseplant. I didn’t do anything with it, obviously, other than rest my head when I slept or lean on it when I worked. But there was this strange part of my brain that started to feel like this pillow was looking out for me. It was comforting me. This pillow had my back, physically and figuratively.
In an empty apartment, I had the space to think about objects. I had so many in storage. Occasionally I missed them, but despite my slightly abysmal descriptions above, I actually liked the emptiness. There were no distractions. I could focus more intensely. I could see the entire wall. The entire floor. I paid attention to the light. To the few pencils scattered around my bed. To the bobby pins.
In retrospect, I wonder if it allowed me to focus too intensively. I was more anxious, more obsessive in my thinking patterns. So now that I have all my possessions out of storage, I’ve been wondering about their almost unconscious interactions with my brain. Most of the items I own are strange and nostalgic. A chunk of aqua glass I picked up on a road trip after graduating college. A ceramic duck from my grandma’s house. Their sole value I suppose is to trigger memories, feelings. I think it keeps my brain more a-temporal. I guess what I mean is, I find myself deliberately cultivating living habitats that, when I look up from typing a sentence on my computer and plotting my lesson plan for tomorrow, almost immediately take me out of the present moment. In those wanderings through familiar yet slightly altered memories, new images are able to shake loose, as these memories slide into the current surroundings.
I haven't abandoned my train of thought about objects but: I began this week by bringing up Facebook. Let’s come full-circle, shall we? First, I want to emphasize that I wished people “shared” (and I need to do this too) other people’s links to their published work more often. I began by saying that I only “like” something if I actually read it. But I want to suggest, since so many magazines are “released” on Facebook, that we make more of an effort to not just “like” but to “share” the work when we think the issue or a particular piece is worth it. Or, re-tweet something instead of starring it. Because people moan about limited audiences, etc etc, but simply “sharing” something with your different community on FB might help widen the audience. I’m sure there is plenty of overlap, but who cares. So I want to encourage myself along with everyone else, to take the time to circulate work you genuinely respond to. This is a babystep, but a step toward and in support of others.
I like when I finally meet in person someone whose work (and public personality) I’ve been following for years on Facebook. It’s a weird sense of familiarity smashed up against the realization that you get to know someone in an entirely different, long-conversation-realface-go-to-poetry-readings-together-kind-of-way. A huge part of the awesomeness of moving to Chicago has been meeting poets who, geographically, I’ve only been able to admire and communicate with from afar. One such poet is Daniela Oslzewska. Her work appears in the online journal Alice Blue Review and I particularly like this one poem that animates objects and drags them into the relationship.
Day 5 Journal: Alice Blue Review
This review is on its 22nd issue! That’s awesome. Prose and poetry: a simple, easy to navigate layout. Click on the names. Archived issues are also easy to find. This .org also publishes chapbooks, which you can find here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/alicebluebooks
Day 5 Poetry Spotlight: Daniela Oslzewska
actually, neither of us deserves the certificate of completion
i am an emotion-
corset-tight in beaded cow
bodice + the awards hall
is filled w/potted
ferns that are probably
agents w/spot-poison darts
for our weather
to get inclement again.
i pocket a tangerine
+ gold-leafed ashtray anyways—
who cares if they take me
out when you can’t
even meet my bare minimum
of wearing a cummerbund
well + not only loving me
back in real-time,
but loving me enough
to claim it in front
of the presidential security
cameras, on a tuesday night,
w/the whole nation
watching all slack-jawed?
I love that the title inculcates the reader in a failure to complete an unknown certificate class. There is nothing incomplete about this poem, yet it maintains an energy that’s rushed, breathy, calamitous in lower case. Simultaneously accusatory and exuberant. I love that the speaker’s contact with all the objects in this poem seems uncomfortable, delusional, or sensuous. I love the tanginess of the tangerine with the acrid angularity of the ashtray. And how the shape of the tangerine, regardless of its harsh and zinging name, seems to roll with the bustiness of the cummerbund. I love the privacy of accusations and desires in relation to the lost opportunity for public exhibitionism.
You can find her full-length book, from horse less press, here: http://www.spdbooks.org/Producte/9780982989630/default.aspx.
Day 5 Poetry Exercise:
Write a poem in which you
1) Have no lines that are longer than 5-6 words
2) Invent 3 compound words, like “corset-tight” and “twitch-quicking”
3) Create 3 images based off of the objects in the photos below (taken from around my house)
4) Accuse the “you” in your poem of something for which you have to decide whether he/she can or cannot be forgiven
Thanks for having me.