Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Bookseller. Artist. Barista. Writer. A twenty-something female easing into spinsterhood. Cat lady extraordinaire. Irreligious. An advocate of free-thinking free-loving free-writing freedom. Not a huge fan of mainstream media. Spends a little too much time drinking. Reads contemporary literature and large doses of French and Russian classics. Dabbles in philosophy, painting, photography, & poetry. Musically inclined. Spent childhood as a reluctant military B.R.A.T. Prone to wander. Harbors a desire to change the world, etc. Etc.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

plans, preparations, confessions

I am busily preparing for the month ahead of not-so-blissful literary abandon. It's been a long time since I have wholeheartedly committed to throwing myself into an all-consuming writing project, but damn it, I'M GOING IN. Yesterday I caught up on some obligations I've been procrastinating against. Bought an external hard drive so my computer can function when I need it most. Bought a pack of nice new pens, because I'm a nerd. Voted, so I won't have to worry about that later this month. Stocked up on some necessities. Bluebear (who will be spending the month writing an album!) and I made a big calendar to hang up on the wall so we can keep track of our schedules and how we're doing accomplishing our goals. My goals (so far) for the next month:

  • write a 50,000 word novel
  • keep up by writing 1,700 words a day for the novel
  • have an excerpt ready to read at Spiderweb Salon by the 10th
  • walk, bike, or run at least 30 min. every day
  • blog twice a week
  • journal daily

My to-do list today includes cleaning my house (I cannot work when my house is a mess), finishing this blog, informing loved-ones of my status for the next month (I won't be going out much, if at all. goodbye, social life!), make a list of last-minute rations to pick up at the store (cannot forget cat food), collect some more interviews from SCL survivors, and write an outline (I am in no way ready for this). I also need to finish up some Spiderweb stuff so we can archive our videos and I have some free space on my computer! Also, pay bills and I feel like I have letters to write? Day off, but a busy one.

I will be surviving on coffee, tea, frozen meals (some I prepared ahead of time so I'd have something decent to eat every now and then) and the kindness of friends (if you want to see me at all next month, bring an offering of food and I will find time to sacrifice to chat). Of course, I still have to work during the month (four days a week or so) so pals can also visit me at my place of employment if they feel so inclined.

My aim is to wake up early and stay up as late as I need to to accomplish my daily goals. I hope I can get a little ahead even, because I had an itch to take a little road trip closer to the end of the month (of course, I would still be working, but maybe not quite as intensively if I can get away with it). I took a few days off work to do so, but if I am behind, those days will give me a much-needed boost and I can save the trip for later.

Confession: I'm nervous. I haven't attempted a project like this in a long time, and when I did, I did not complete the book. And all that is merely considering quantity of work and proportions of time required. The other thing that concerns me: the subject matter is not easy. In fact, the story I hope to tell, though fictionalized, is also incredibly personal, and I expect it to bring up emotions that I have avoided for years. There is no way to prepare for this. My hope is that coming out of it I will be a healthier individual, emotionally. I will have expelled a certain poison that I have been harboring for a long time, derived from experiences I didn't understand when I was younger. I expect to grow from this endeavor, but I do not expect it to be easy. It is hard to ask for, but any amount of emotional support or general encouragement will go a long way this month. I am excited, but I have no idea where I will be once I get to the end of the tunnel. I guess we'll find out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

recipe: belgian endive & roasted garlic soup

I usually use this blog for music adventures and reading & writing endeavors, but I am almost as passionate about food and cooking as I am about literature and art, so I want to include a recipe of mine that I am proud of. I believe that what we eat affects who we are, and how we eat is an incredibly important part of our lifestyle. As a vegetarian cook, I am always looking for new and exciting ways to make food and eat. A good friend and I won a crockpot in a chili cook-off we participated in last week, and he let me keep it, so I had to try it out right away! The following recipe is one that I have made before on the stove, but I was curious to see how well it could convert to a slow cooker. The results were fantastic, so I must share! I have found that this recipe is an excellent vegetarian replacement for homemade chicken-soup, it's naturally flavorful spice clears the sinuses and warms the belly- a perfect comfort food, especially when sick.

You need:
a large-slow cooker
one large onion, or two shallots
a head of garlic
3-4 belgian endives
6-8 cups vegetable broth
drizzle of olive oil
1/2 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Do this: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Cut the top off of the garlic and drizzle olive oil over it. Roast the garlic whole in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. Meanwhile, combine your broth and spices in the slow cooker, diced the onion and endives and throw them in. When your garlic is roasted, let it cool (so you don't burn your fingers!) and pull it apart, adding the roasted garlic to the pot. Let the soup cook for 6-8 hours. It is best to eat with fresh bread to soak up the delicious broth! Top with a little grated parmesan or asiago cheese if you desire. Boom. Dinner.

Alternatively, if you wish to make this soup on the stove, be sure to brown your onions in the pot before adding the broth, and let the soup simmer for 1-2 hours.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

WWASP survivor interview and project

If you don't have any background on WWASP (World Wide Association for Specialty Schools and Programs) it's difficult to know where to start to explain it to you. It's an issue that has been close to me for a very long time: next summer will be ten years exactly since I came face-to-face with these schools. As a teen, I was sent to a facility in rural western Montana, called Spring Creek Lodge Academy, a school that touted a sharp-looking website claiming to "cure" troubled children through therapeutic programs and activities, in exchange for a hefty tuition and written contracts where parents agreed to keep their child in the lock-down facility until they completed the program. For me, the school was far from therapeutic, and to this day I view the eighteen months I spent in the facility as probably the most traumatic of my life. Don't get me wrong, I made friends there, life-long friends even, and over time I became accustomed to the very unorthodox structure of the school and it became a livable nightmare. But my time spent there was incredibly unhappy and readjusting to life outside of the school after I was released was almost as difficult, but it is an experience that, in retrospect, I don't think I would take back. It made me who I am today. I am a stronger and braver and far more independent individual than I would have been had this experience not been a key factor in my development and coming-of-age. That being said, I think it's time to get this episode of my life out of my head and on paper, so I can move on. Ever since I was actually there I have always wanted to record my experiences in an artistic way, but so many factors held me back. First, there was the fear that it won't do the experience of myself and so many others justice. I was afraid it would come up too melodramatic, too full of disdain or hate to do any good. I feel I have finally put enough distance between myself and the past to explore it more carefully and write about it genuinely. This is the project I have dwelled on for years and could never find the courage or energy to start, but next month, I am going to embark on writing this book. I want it to be fictionalized- there's no way I could dig deep enough into my memories to provide seamlessly accurate details and give a justified retelling of my story. Instead, I plan on drawing from my experience and those of my peers, people who were also affected by WWASP, to write a novel about a woman who had been to a school such as this what kind of psychological effects it had on her as both a child enduring the event, and an adult later in life trying to sort through it all. This novel will HOPEFULLY be written for NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) next month. It'll be a lot of work, but I need to do this so I can move on to other projects; I feel like I have let this hold me back too long. I sent out a brief interview in hopes of being able to accurately portray the wide range of feelings the survivors of WWASP schools have experienced and continue to work through. If you or anyone you know has been exposed to WWASP schools, please direct them to me, as I could use their help. This is the interview.

How long were you enrolled in the school?

Describe your intake. (How did you get to the school, what happened upon arrival, what was the process, how were you treated/how did you feel?)

What were your impressions of the school in the first few weeks? Why?

What were your impressions of the school in your last few weeks? Why? Were you pulled out, did you graduate, or take your exit plan? How do you feel this affected your attitude towards the school?

What was your attitude towards other children in the school? How did you interact with your peers? How did this change throughout the course of your stay?

Did you attend seminars? Which ones?

How did you feel about going to the seminars? Do you feel you thrived in the setting or were they difficult? What made them that way?

What are some of your strongest memories from the seminars? Did they affect you positively or negatively? Why?

Describe one or two “processes” that affected you. What was the “process”? (You can include as many/as much as you want here, I’d like as much perspective as possible about the different exercises and emotional challenges one faces in a seminar setting.)

What was your academic life like? Did you feel you were receiving an adequate education? Was this a concern of yours at the time? Has it been since leaving the school?

Describe your lifestyle as a teen before enrolling in the school.

Describe your lifestyle after leaving the school.

Describe your lifestyle now. 

How do you feel about the school in retrospect? How is this different from when you first left the school? How many years have gone by since you left the school?

What are the most negative memories you have from the school?

What are the most positive memories you have from the school?

Describe your relationship with your family/friends before the school.

Describe your relationship with your family/friends immediately after leaving the school.

Describe your relationship with your family/friends now.

Do you think about the program? How often? What do you think?

Do you talk about the program now, to your peers, loved ones, or family?

Do you stay in touch with friends from the school? How do you interact? What kind of activities do you participate in? What do you talk about?

Is there any other unique perspective you can offer about being in a school such as this and how you relate to it now, as an adult?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

it went like this:

This past week has been incredibly busy, kind of stressful, but super fun. Friends, music, art, drinks, and shows, shows, SHOWS!

Firstly, Godspeed You! Black Emperor absolutely brought the noise Thursday night at Granada. I don't know who opened for them, but they were awful. The audience recovered quickly, though, as soon as Godspeed began there was a respectful and awe-filled hush in the room (except for the dickhead in front of me reading his facebook feed off his phone. When I asked him to put it away, he replied, conscience-stricken,  "you're right..."). I believe I counted nine or ten performers on stage, none of which seemed to need to communicate with any of the others throughout the course of the show, which was interesting. No one player appeared to be in charge of the direction of the music. They must be incredibly well practiced, or maybe just as awesome as we all think they are. The performance was incredibly powerful and rather emotional for me. I never thought I'd be watching this band live. I remember getting really into post-rock my senior year in highschool. Godspeed and A Silver Mt. Zion (who I saw in February of this year at Sons of Herman Hall- AMAZING) changed my life. I remember listening to Lift Your Skinny Fists after completing the S.A.T. and using Silver Mt. Zion tunes to soundtrack projects in my video classes. I would listen to them in the background while I wrote terrible poetry. I fucking love these musicians. I believe it was the 09-15-00 outro during their set that made me weep. Sad Mafioso from the song East Hastings (F♯ A♯ ∞) was quite possibly my favorite, and appropriately their closing performance. It had the potential to be both the loudest and softest piece they played and they pulled it off masterfully. A giant projection above the band flashed anarchist propadanda, mugshots, and burning buildings throughout the entire show. It was great. I had a freaking wonderful time.

I'm not going to lie, I haven't really slept for days. I should have rested Friday night but I went out with friends (to a pretty bad local comedy act, sorry, Denton) and came dangerously close to closing the bar. I worked early Friday and Saturday mornings, taking the edge off my sleepiness with coffee. I worked my ass of Saturday setting up for the Spiderweb Salon show. I was terrified we were going to have to reschedule the show due to weather, but everything worked out in the end and I was so damn happy. I already blogged about this show on the {we, bees} blog, here! Check it out.

AND LAST NIGHT! DIE ANTWOORD! (I discovered that "die antwoord" means "the answer" in Afrikaans.) THIS SHOW WAS SO MUCH FUN. It was everything I wanted. They played my favorite song of theirs (Rich Bitch). Of course they blasted I Fink You're Freaky and played an exciting Enter the Ninja as their encore. On the way up my friend Conor and I were speculating what the crowd was going to be like. It turned out to be  strange mix of all our hypothesis, a surprisingly older crowd (by which I mean, not many youngsters, mid-20 to 30s kind of group), a mix of geeky hipsters and average joes, with the occasional gaggle of scantily-dressed girls with fake tans who must have been expecting a dub-step rave experience... Of course Yo-Landi and Ninja were completely ridiculous and over the top the entire time, but there is something about them as a duo that I can only describe as cute. Sure, they're both grungy nasty weirdos but of course they are- those are their characters. They really have their shit together, the energy the produce is fucking awesome, and I really like their shtick. I may have been bashful to say that when I first started listening to them, but seeing them live brought it together for me and made a lot of sense. These are some creative people that a just having a fucking blast with what they are doing. It felt like they really appreciate their fans. I danced like a madwoman through the entire show. It was wild. I loved it! To make the night even better I spent some time with good Dallas friends that I don't get to see too often at a bar called Barcadia, one I've always wanted to visit. It didn't disappoint. Great falafel, too.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

READ THIS: Rimbaud

"L'enfer ne peut attaquer les païens."

It is difficult to find Wallace Fowlie's translation of this piece online and, to me, it's far superior than the ones I came across. Anyway, Rimbaud is a treasure. I, for one, need to read more/reread as every time I pick up his work I am struck with a new understanding and appreciation of his writing (most of which was written, you may well know, as an adolescent). This particular prose-ish piece, the first short chapter from Rimbaud's "Season in Hell," I find especially appropriate given the spooky season befalling us. Find a copy of Rimbaud's works and consume it all! In the meantime, I am taking the time to type this out so you may take the time to read it. Enjoy.


Long ago, if my memory serves me, my life was a banquet where everyone's heart was generous, and where all wines flowed.

One evening I pulled Beauty down on my knees. I found her embittered and I cursed her.

I took arms against justice.

I ran away. O witches, poverty, hate- I have confided my treasure to you!

I was able to expel from my mind all human hope. On every form of joy, in order to strangle it, I pounced stealthily like a wild animal.

I called to my executioners to let me bite the ends of their guns, as I died. I called to all the plagues to stifle me with sand and blood. Disaster was my god. I stretched out in mud. I dried myself in criminal air. I played clever tricks on insanity.

Spring brought to me an idiots terrifying laughter.

But recently, on the verge of giving my last croak, I thought of looking for the key to the ancient banquet where I might possibly recover my appetite.

Charity is the key. This lofty thought proves I dreamt it!

"You will remain a hyena..." etc., yells the demon who crowned me with such delightful poppies. "Reach your death with all your lusts, with your selfishness and all the capital sins."

Ah! I've taken too much on. Dear Satan, I beg you, show a less glaring eye! While waiting for the few small acts of cowardice still to come, for you who like in a writer an absence of descriptive or discursive faculties, I as one of the damned tear out those few miserable pages from my notebook.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

READ THIS: the path to the spiders' nests

“Not to be frightened anymore, that’s the final aim of man.”

(This may contain spoilers, but nothing that will endanger your ability to enjoy this incredible book in all its tangy literary glory.) 

“The Path to the Spiders’ Nest” was written by Italo Calvino when he was just twenty-three years old. The novel became an instant hit, something Calvino did not expect as such a young and unknown writer in a relatively saturated market. He has since composed essays making distictions between this book from his main body of work. He may not be the biggest fan of it himself, but as a disciple of Calvino, I think it is a fantastic read and I can’t see any reason that he would be ashamed to write it, somewhat simple prose and general inexperience as a writer aside. 
This novel has so many elements that I adore in the books I love. It takes place in northern Italy at the close of second world war. For some, this may not be a huge selling point but I am very interesting in WWII and post-war literature. It describes love and war told from the eyes of a misguided youth while a chorus of imperfect characters hoarsely sing the sad truths of life touched by love, hate, and other humans. It makes it oddly simple to parallel the lives of the characters, fighting for their lives and their country in the resistance against the Germans, to the reader’s own life because of the resounding truths echoing throughout the pages. It highlights the importance of individual lives in the broad and terrifying scope of war and history. It supports a humanitarian perspective of life and blurs the glaring distinctions so often attributed to making a clean separation between childhood and adulthood.
One of the first things I’d like to note is that each character in the book (and indeed, each human being on this earth) has his own way of evading the harsh truths of war and death. Some become overly-invested in the political aspects of the war, and they convince themselves that they are willing to fight and die for such values. Some use humor to dull the sharp pangs of reality. Others still invest their thoughts in hobbies or pursuits of sex or power. Because Pin, the main character, is thrown into this adult world of war, politics, pain, and sex as a lonely and oblivious youngster, we go along with him taking everything he sees and hears at face value. Pin wants to trust adults, he is desperately searching for someone to care for him, but he is constantly let down by the grown-ups’ inconsistencies, skewed by their passions and desires that he cannot even begin to comprehend.

Pin’s fears concerning the terrible truths of war and human nature are covered up by an adult humor he hardly understands, but that he has perfected by constantly gaging the reactions of his elders. He is viewed as a crude and nasty boy, but he continues to vie for any attention he can acquire and delights in it, however short-term the notice he receives often is. His only real comfort is in the knowledge of his secret place, the place where the spiders lay their eggs. He refers to the nests as “magic places” and vows to show them to the person (who he is seeking throughout the story) who he can trust and will consider a true friend. His search is difficult and often very sad.

We walk with history everyday. Young Calvino’s characters in this novel stop to recognize this fact from time to time. They are painfully aware of their own mortality. One wraps himself in a blanket as he prepares for battle and wonders where the blanket will be at the end of the day: if he does not die, he will continue to use it for warmth, but he imagines it warming the enemy when he is killed. And when they die? And so on. One of my favorite characters in the book is the self-appointed-psychologist commissioner, Kim, because of the the amount of time and insight Calvino allows to describe his personal thoughts. Kim thinks about love and history as intertwined, because perhaps the only thing that matters in the grand scheme of everything is these two things. He imagines the life of an enemy soldier waking up from sleep, alone. He imagines the enemy soldier thinking, “I love you, Kate.” Kim muses, 

‘In six or seven hours he’ll be dead, we’ll have killed him; even if he hadn’t thought, “I love you, Kate,” it would have been the same; everything that he does or thinks is lost, cancelled from history.’

And he tries to imagine his own fate differently, he sees himself making history, he imagines his love not lost, but perhaps sacrificed for history. He talks about great consequences. He says, “all the thoughts I’m having now will influence my history tomorrow, and the history of the human race.” We can see he uses his great love to continue fighting, putting one foot in front of the other, rationalizing his participation in a war that is difficult to make sense of. “Who is Kim?” he must keep asking himself. At one point he calls himself a Bolshevik, “a man who dominates situations.” He tells himself “a, b, c,” he must remind himself what his purpose is, and in what order he must perform his duties. But is Kim’s main duty to be a war commissioner or a lover? Is he a thinker or a fighter? We all have these moments, and it isn’t until we taste death or become close to our own end that these questions can be filtered down to their essence. The last paragraph of Kim’s crowning existential chapter is summed up:

“Tomorrow there will be a big battle. Kim is serene. ‘A, b, c,’ he’ll say. Again and again he thinks: ‘I love you, Adriana.’ That, and that alone, is history.”

The book’s final moments wrap up the tale with a strange happiness that I couldn’t have possibly expected. There is something incredibly touching about the changes that overcome Pin, who one can’t help but be both completely repulsed and intrigued by throughout the novel. One also can’t help but feel strongly for the people he encounters and the friends and enemies he makes on his journey. We are left to ponder the minute differences between childhood and adulthood, and it is sweet relief at the end of the book to be able to admit that age can make very little difference on our humility and capacity to live and love after all. “‘Our heads are still full of magic and miracles,’ thinks Kim.”