Wednesday, April 30, 2014

So Many Things

So Little Time

What have I done?
  • Hosted a tiny dinner party! But really miss Leta was the host, as she did all the work. Because she is crazy. I merely offered up my living room for an evening.
  • Killed it at workshop! My final two poems of the semester went over quite well, if I do say so myself.
  • Saw O, Heart! My friends were amazing, as usual, and there was a lovely after-party at a Cuban restaurant. So. Much. Food.
  • Emceed Neon Lit! I was nervous, but people seemed to like it. Since it was the last Neon Lit of the year, it was all the graduating students, and I read their Facebook posts from when they started the program. And of course, there was an after-party for that, too. 
  • Pirate Fest! Me hearties Joe, Austin, Joleen, Denise, Shaun, and I were a fearsome crew at this years' Pirate Festival. We watched a cardboard boat race and threw some knives. I bought a coin belt so that I can annoy poor Lulu EVEN MORE when I gogo dance.
  • Gogol Bordello! Austin, Jamison, and I went to their midnight show at Brooklyn Bowl. Haven't jumped around that much at a concert in a while. It was so much fun we bought tickets to see them again THIS weekend. Best idea ever or best idea ever?
  • Rock climbing! Again! Jamison and I actually bought month memberships to the gym. I will have upper body strength one day. One day...
  • D&D! Kicked some ass. I really don't want any of the characters in our party to ever die. They are truly delightful. I bought my own dice. Leta drew this beautiful picture of my character, Penny Dreadful, because she is stupid nice and stupid talented: 
  • Olivia's Birthday! We got Ethiopian food and drinks at Stake Out. 
  • Emerging Writers Series! We finalized our top three choices of up-and-coming fiction writers to bring here next year. So efficient! Lots of us stayed at Stake Out afterwards. Jukebox. Party. 
Not to mention work. I swear I did a lot of work, too. Probably not as much as I should have, but what can you do? 

Speaking of work, better get to that now. Rest assured, I'm sure there will be more adventures to come this week.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I can't move my arms.

That's a lie. I can move my arms, but it's painful.

Last time Leta visited me, she went rock climbing with Austin. Now she's here again, and she and Austin decided to reprise this activity--but I came along, too. I had never been rock climbing before, and I'm always apprehensive about new athletic activities as I'm not the most coordinated person on earth. However, it's a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I was able to climb to the top on the first try, which I certainly wasn't expecting (admittedly on the easiest possible level). I managed to successfully climb a few slightly harder routes, too. And the climbs on which I didn't succeed, well, that's okay. Falling off the wall is kind of fun when there's a harness.

Belaying actually made me more nervous than climbing. I'm not afraid of heights--the benefit of being raised in a town full of roller coasters--and when I'm climbing I feel like I'm only responsible for myself. If I fall it's my fault and I can deal with that. When you're belaying you're suddenly responsible for the safety of another person, and that freaks me out. But I suppose that's a good thing. Better to be nervous and alert than comfortable and careless.

Anyway, such is Leta's zealousness for contortion-at-great-heights that we went two days in a row. I'm not sure my arms and shoulders will ever forgive me. You're supposed to use your legs more than your arms, but that's easier said than done. I think I might keep going, though. It's a nice, relatively low-impact workout, and it's a much more enjoyable way to improve my complete and utter lack of upper-body strength than lifting weights. Plus, it's actually a reason to be social while working out. I normally hate exercising with other people because I do a lot of cardio and I don't want people to be smiley and encouraging while I'm sweaty and gross and feel like I'm going to fall over. But rock climbing is much slower, and you need someone else there to do the belaying, and it's really helpful to have someone beneath you suggesting places to put your feet. So I might pick up a new hobby--because I'm not busy enough, or anything.

Tonight: tiny dinner party, food prepared by the magnificent Leta who is basically good at everything and I don't know how she does it. Tomorrow: workshopping two more poems. Ack. Thursday: "O, Heart," plus a mysterious after-party. I'm never sleeping again, but who needs sleep?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lorde + Gender

I shouldn't be writing this late, but hey, that's what insomniacs do. I recently finished planning my class for tomorrow morning, and then I gogo danced three high-energy songs because I felt guilty about eating a cheeseburger for dinner and not exercising today. The cheeseburger was supposed to be a reward for eating healthy so far this week, but now I just feel bad about it. Maybe I can (further) associate my irrational anxiety regarding cardiovascular diseases with unhealthy foods and then I'll eat only good things all the time. Maybe that sounds eerily like a recipe for an eating disorder and I've just creeped myself out and I'll stop with this subject now. Cheeseburgers are delicious. Delicious, I tell you!

What I really wanted to write about was how Joe and I went to see Lorde Tuesday evening! For the uninitiated, Lorde is a 17-year-old New Zealand singer who is fabuzarre. This is a portmanteau I have created specifically to describe Lorde, since no regular adjective will do. Her music reminds me of Lana Del Rey mixed with The Postal Service. Basically her entire record is my jam right now, especially "White Teeth Teens" and "400 Lux." You should check it out.

Anyway, the concert was at The Cosmopolitan, at their flashy rooftop pool venue. Just about as over-the-top Vegas as you can get. She was fantastic--I want her to teach me all her dance moves. And her voice was perfect. Unfortunately, the crowd was not. Many people were simply there to get wasted on top of The Cosmopolitan, and it seemed they either didn't know who Lorde was or actively disliked her. There was a lot of slurred shouting, a lot of stumbling/falling women in heels.

I don't mean to suggest I had a bad time. On the contrary--it was blissful. The weather was idyllic, the music was lovely, the neon was glittering. Joe and I took a picture that, at least according to Facebook likes and comments, appears to have reached the equivalent personal, non-famous level of the now-infamous Ellen Oscars Selfie. (What can I say? We're beautiful people.) I love live music. It makes me happy. I just wish the rest of the crowd had loved live music, too.

The other thing I wanted to write about is my haircut.

That's a picture from over winter break. (Me rocking late-90's-chic with the lovely Ashley and the lovely Meg.) I chose this one because it was right after I got a haircut, so my hair was at its shortest in recent memory. Incidentally, this was also my favorite cut in recent memory.

I've been getting my hair cut (both in Chicago before I left and in Vegas) at the Aveda Institute. (The cut in the picture above was actually from a salon in Gurnee.) Generally I would recommend their services to anyone. The students I've encountered in both locations have been friendly and professional, your business gives the students an opportunity to practice their hair cutting and styling skills, and because they're students, it's far cheaper than an average salon. Everyone wins.

The thing is, they never want to cut my hair short enough.

Initially I thought this was because they were students. I can imagine that if you're in the process of learning, you might be afraid that you'll cut it too short and then your client will be angry. However, this doesn't hold up. First, there are instructors running all over the place; if a student doesn't feel confident enough to complete a certain cut, the instructor will do it and show them how. Second, they have to learn to cut men's hair as well, so they can't be too terribly unfamiliar with pixie cuts.

I'm beginning to suspect that it might unconsciously have to do with gender. This morning when I was getting my hair cut, I asked them to take my bangs a little shorter, and the instructor snapped, "I think that's a good length for you." Then, when she was showing the student how to cut the back of my hair, she said, "be sure to cut it this way so it looks nice and feminine." These comments made me uncomfortable.

If I wanted my hair to look traditionally feminine, I wouldn't have chopped it all off in the first place. I chopped it off because I was moving to a hot place. I chopped it off because I'm lazy--it's far easier to get ready in the morning this way. Most importantly: I chopped it off because I think it looks fucking sexy that way. I love how I look with short hair. I don't think the hairstylists were actively judging me for getting rid of my fertility markers or anything ridiculous like that. I think it's simply an example of how gender norms are still ingrained in society, an example of why we still need feminism.

Okay. Time to turn off critical brain. I need to sleep. G'night.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Summer in Spring

Can I just state that purchasing patio furniture may be the best decision I've made since moving to Vegas? The weather is gorgeous (almost too hot some days, but after years of lingering Illinois cold I'm okay with that), and my schoolwork doesn't seem nearly as stressful when I'm doing it outside on my porch.

And I have plenty to be stressed about. I'm having a hard time with this term paper for Dr. Becker's theory class. Every time I think I know what I'm talking about, I bring it to her and she says, "have you considered x, y, and z?" No. Of course I haven't. Since I'm working with Kristeva's theory of abjection (which, for those of you who don't know, is a psychoanalytic theory), I think she's afraid that I'll try to psychoanalyze the characters, the author, or the reader, which I have no intention of doing. As per Peter Brooks' essay "The Idea of a Psychoanalytic Literary Criticism," I want to explore how abjection is reflected in the structure of the text itself. Then the other day she said, "be careful--you don't want to have a paper where you simply cite Kristeva and then cite examples from the text." And I'm like OK, WHAT EXACTLY IS A PAPER THEN? I thought that's basically what they were. Obviously, you don't want to take a plodding, unsophisticated approach--a paper should mainly consist of your own analysis. But I don't see how one can write a literary criticism without...examples? From literature? I'm a smart kid, but I know I'm not smart enough to write my own entirely new theoretical concept. Or maybe I am, but I certainly don't have the time or the inclination to do that in a 20-page paper due in a few weeks. I just have no idea what she wants. I'll probably just end up writing something, and it probably won't be what she wants, and that will be fine because at least it will be finished.

Rant complete. Sorry about that.

Last night several of us went for drinks at Velveteen Rabbit. The weather was perfect and there was a live 2-person blues/folk band from Nashville called Smooth Hound Smith. I have rarely felt so utterly content.

And now I must be content to get some work done before another D&D adventure. I think we have to kill another 14 people today. Or something like that. Hopefully that will work out.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Spring Break II: Return of the Spare Time

We don't really have a second Spring Break, but my students have CAAP exams this week, which means somebody else gets to proctor and I don't have to teach them. Therefore, I have lots of extra time in the mornings to get things done for once, so I am, of course, blogging. So productive!

I took it far too easy last weekend, so I desperately need all this extra time. On the bright side, I finally got to stabilize the dying as a minor action in a rousing game of D&D. Also, I went to the Mob Museum with Joe and Matt. They have the actual wall from the St. Valentine's Day Massacre there, so naturally I was excited. Old things are the best, you guys.

All the third years are defending their theses right now. I went to Sam's last night at the Frog. We all had some whiskey and listened to her beautiful, prayer-like poems. It was amazing to witness the culmination of three years' work with a small group of people. Her poems mattered to everyone; those graduating with her have watched her poems evolve from workshop to workshop. It made me glad our program is so tightly knit. 

It also made me a little nervous. One of these days I'll have to start thinking about what I want to write for my thesis. Ha. Ha ha. 

Tonight: a craft talk and reading with visiting poet Lynn Xu. Learning awaits! But first, reading more Kristeva because 20 page paper because confusing because I'm scared ahhh help.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Felt like updating, even though I suppose nothing much has changed since I last wrote. Let's see...last Friday's Neon Lit was great. We all went to Velveteen Rabbit afterwards--perhaps the hipsteriest of Vegas bars, but for fancy hipsters, not divey hipsters--and several of us ended up at Blueberry Hill for late-night/early-morning pancakes (the best kind of pancakes).

Sunday I played D&D for the first time in months. I mentioned this in a Tweet, but I think one reason I enjoy playing so much--or rather, one reason I enjoy playing with Austin, Shaun, Jamison, Josh, and JD so much--is that I imagine it's what it must be like to have brothers. A pack of boys, sometimes gently berating you for not catching on fast enough but letting you play anyway, reverting back to some primal state where the prospect of conjuring and controlling a giant fireball is the coolest thing ever; it's cute.

This week in theory class we read Heidegger. Heidegger wrote about things thinging and worlds worlding in the dif-ference. Heidegger was an unrepentant Nazi. I'm not a huge fan of Heidegger. I'm excited for Derrida next week, though!

I just finished applying for another publishing internship. I wish I had something solid so that I could figure out my living situation for this summer. I'm sure it will all fall into place, but I'm a fan of planning ahead. The one I applied for this evening would be ideal; it's in LA, so I wouldn't be too far away if I needed to get back to Vegas for any reason. And I'd get to hang out with Katie and Mackenzie all the time--definitely a plus.

And now I must sleep, for I was decidedly woozy today. And by "sleep," I of course mean watch an episode of Mad Men and then sleep. I'm trying to re-watch season 6 before the final season starts on April 13th. What will I do without Peggy and Don in my life? Television will never be the same.