Monday, March 31, 2014

Buttah & Honee

"Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse evil, and choose the good."--Isaiah 7: 15

AKA Consume Good. Fill yourself with Good. Make habits of Good so when someone offers you garbage you know what it is, what it isn't.
Two people I love super dearly. Fall 2013.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Yesterday I spent all day at a Prison Education conference. It was extremely inspiring and depressing at the same time. Our country has a major problem with prison reform. I have been interning with a prison this semester reading inmates' creative writing and offering them feedback. I get to visit the participants in a couple weeks, and I couldn't be more enthused. These men are thoughtful, genuine poets. Working one-on-one with them will be a pleasure. Most of them take their work at least fifty times more seriously than the undergraduates I teach.
My beautiful school post-conference.
In addition to tutoring inmates, I have been reading several books on the prison experience from various viewpoints (short term, lifer perspective, cop stories etc.). Something I've noticed is that each inmate story I've read ends up miraculously feeling hopeful, grateful for what they still do have behind bars. This floors me. And even I, who has a good life, sometimes get grossed out by their Pollyanna attitudes. They have every right to believe in nothing and soak in seas of self-pity when most of them find a higher purpose and a sense of peace. It's...cheesy to say the least. But I've recently realized two things.

1. I'm never going to read a book by someone who runs off of bitterness. That person will never do anything. So that perspective, which is probably the majority in prisons, doesn't get scribed.
2. While it seems serving life is the lowest of lows, it is all relative. Once you're incarcerated, I'm sure you see how it actually could be worse. At least you're not insane. (Most prisons are full of mentally unstable people because mental health facilities are too full for them.) Although the only luxuries you have are over-priced Cheetos, at least you can work your 50 cents an hour job to earn them unlike the guy chained in solitary for forty years. Compared to that, even some prison terms suddenly seem livable. Cheesy, but true.

So, don't be too cool for the cheesy. You get places by being optimistic--no matter how stupid it might seem to someone on the outside.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rice Krispies Mad Men, Y'all Be Smart!

Today in Screenwriting someone mentioned the movie Flipper, and I immediately wanted a bowl of Rice Krispies. Not weird or a coincidence. It has happened my entire life. Luckily, people don't mention Flipper that much.

I know exactly where it comes from. I have a memory, clear as day, of the blue and white-floral plastic tablecloth under my hands, a bowl of Rice Krispies in front of me, the wooden chair under my butt. I was staring at the cereal box. On the back was an ad for Flipper including a send-in-this-box-top-for-a-Flipper-watch deal. My dad did send in the boxtop. I did have the Snap, Crackle, and Pop water watch.

It has been almost two decades, and that ad campaign is still zinging me. Geniuses. Geniuses. Our actions last a long time. Also, who would like to deliver some Rice Krispy Treats to my house?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Blue Signpost

Scooted home in a dust storm yesterday. The blue signpost at the light I've turned at one-thousand times was swaying in the orange wind. I love that signpost. I would take photos of it my first year. I don't look at it now. Until I was made to. Invisible to the one who loves it most.
Friends shutting the club down, dancing on a speaker last Friday.

Monday, March 24, 2014


The term "bossy" has really exploded in feminist culture and writings lately. People be like, "That is an inappropriate term for women." (Mainly because, like "bitch," "bossy" is never applied to men since assertive male leaders are just called, like, "president.") Meanwhile, Nicki Minaj and Kelis are making it their own: I am bossy. I am a bitch. That's my right. Worship me. Donna on Parks & Rec compliments or degrades Leslie via Twitter by alternating hashtags of #BitchBoss and #BossBitch.

My jury is still out, but the debate resurfaced a memory I had long buried. It was the summer before 7th grade and my gang of gal pals had spent the day riding bikes and hanging out in various parks. We ended up at someone's house, and I thought it would be fun to do some project. I honestly don't remember what. Something with writing. Everyone was being sort of lazy and not listening--understandable because it was summer vacation. Anyway, the three girls eventually sort of left the room one by one and announced they weren't going to listen to me because I was being bossy.

How was I being bossy? I wanted to know. Tell me what was bossy. I was offering everyone creative equality. "You just were." But I just had an idea of something to do. We were all bored. So I literally found a dictionary, read the definition of bossy, and asked, "What in here? Give me facts."

I don't think they were necessarily wrong, but I know I didn't get an answer, and I'm pretty sure I biked home and spent the night alone. In my middle school gang (there were about eight of us, thick as greek yogurt) people always made fun of me for saying "Can you give me an example?" Like, "Alice, you're always so blah blah blah." To which I would reply, "Give me an example." I still do this, and, come to think of it, it has frustrated people my whole life. That could be "pushy" (one of the definitions of "bossy.") But I'm honestly not trying to be right. I'm not trying to be "bossy" (whether that is a fair assessment or not). I just want to know.

Friday, March 21, 2014

I Am Who Is Supposed To Be Here (Greenblatt Lecture)

Saw Stephen Greenblatt speak at school Tuesday. It was what you might call "a big deal."Greenie is arguably the most famous living person in English academia. He helped invent new-historicism and write intros for Shakespeare plays in anthologies. I knew it was biggish, but I suddenly felt lameish when I realized everyone entering the reception sported ties and blazers. I was coming straight from class and sporting my giant stuffed to the gills lilac backpack. I was modeling the latest spring fashion of an oversized grey sweatshirt. Boop.

I edged around the sides at first, thinking I might be able to get inside and nab a seat, be largely unnoticed, but I saw a small pool of my peers hanging out by the refreshments and laughing over mozzarella kabobs. I saw a basket filled with assorted crackers and eyed my favorite snack ever: those sweet little brown digestive wafers! Any shame I had flew out the fancy windows as I picked through the basket and elderly women in cocktail dresses sullenly snorted "excuse me" into my behemoth knapsnack.

I had a pretty rad realization. "Hey," I thought, "I am who is supposed to be here." I am a student, getting my degree at this educational institution. The lovely people surrounding me were all very respectful of the man we came to hear, of the event itself, but I was actually in the first on this one. I have a big heavy backpack because I'm at school all day working and learning. I wear cozy clothes because I make peanuts and I drive a scooter that gets everything I don a little bit dirty. It was okay to be me. I felt good. I wondered if I ever mentally hold people to standards they weren't meant to meet. "I'll try to be better," I resolved.

Greenblatt was Greenblah. The man, the myth gave a (what I consider) a half-hearted look at storytelling and aging, mostly via King Lear. It was eh and my middle-age I-Teach-Persuasive-Speaking peer texted me during it, "Where are his signposts?" Everyone's a critic.

I didn't stay for Q & A. He hadn't charmed me enough. As I skittered out I noticed a table of assorted cookies for a post-talk reception. The tray was barely big enough to feed a fourth of the people in the room. I considered leaving the treats for the real academics of the night who stayed until the bitter end. But then I saw the most delicious-looking black and white cookie I've ever laid eyes on, so I scooped it up and gnawed at it as my peers and I walked back to our respective vehicles, laughing into the Arizona dusk.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New Marketing Plan

It has come to my attention that a lot of people's image problems (body, fashion, race) stem from advertising. Skinny models, trendy-looking teens, white families, etc. for all products--not even inherently image ones. Like, hotties are shown next to everything from diamond rings to toilet brushes. It's really just too much. So I have an alternate marketing plan.

I propose that advertisements cannot involve people anymore. Just the product. No people eating the bagels, just a bag of bagels. No people calling on cell phones, just the phone. No emergency dispatchers, just text "emergency dispatcher service." If the advertisement absolutely needs a sentient being, it can use Grimace. You know. The purple blob in tennis shoes from the McDonald's gang? If you must sell cars with people driving them, you can have a couple of Grimaces. If you have got to put the new sweaters on a thing, put them on a Grimace. If you want to use comedy or a voice over, uses Grimaces doing sketch or a Grimace voice.

I think everyone would be much happier. And products would be bought on their legitimate merit instead of a subliminal code about how attractive the actor was. Seriously, name one problem with this plan. Who's with me?

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel

-Best character was Adrian Brody. His dialogue: magnifique.
-It was extremely refreshing to see a tender friendship between an adult gay (bi?) male and a young impressionable teen that was wholly positive, supportive, zero percent creepy, and endearing. Gay males are often stuck with clouds of stigma about any form of relationships with boys. A good example to throw on the scale against unfair presumptions.
-It was always snowing, and yet no one ever wore a coat. GD, Wes.
-Underrepresentation of woman as always. I get it, you can make whatever you want with your crew of hip funny guys. But, ya know.
-Speaking of hip funny guys: they were underused hella anyway. Did they really need to be smooshed in? Bill Murray barely had a laugh line. What's the point? I wonder if the cameos were because Anderson loves his bros, or his audience mandates the bros, or the bros would be hurt.
-On being in a full theatre: dear lord, everyone laughs when any of the crew just shows up. Literally Murray's face was on screen and the audience died. He was just sitting there and proceeded to say very normal things. This happened for all the big names in the film beside, as I mentioned, Adrian Brody, who's character was actually well-crafted and interesting.
-I love many of Wes Anderson's films, but a lot of people don't and even associate a sense of artistic arrogance with them. I obviously get it. Also, people feeling the need to verbally comment to the rest of the theatre via chuckles "See? I'm a buff. I know Jason Schwartzman is in every movie and always hilarious."
-I mean, it was really pretty. I felt like I was in a felt picture book of winter and sometimes inside the giant pinball machine at the Science and Industry Museum. The details were cutesy, which is lovely and a little annoying all at once. I dunno, does anyone LOVE these movies? I'm a troll idk.
-I liked the story within a story within a story within a story. The themes of endurance, legacy, history, existential crisis covering everything like extremely trendy 1930s wallpaper.
-The humor. Personally, a little jokesy for me. The wordplay is tame, but, again, this word: "cute." Rarely did I honestly laugh, but when I did, it was really wonderful. Some delicious character explosion. Ralph Fiennes though. Dang, his timing was ballin' outta control.
-Okay, I really don't think this is unfair, but I fully aware I might get a stink eye for it: I found this film a giant glorification of murder and guns. Really frustrating. So many people are killed, and it's CUTE. Aww! So cute! Shootouts like mad. Chopped off body parts. It was seriously all so cute. Honestly, worse than a violent video game. I think a little subliminal part of everyone there's brain just stowed away a hidden desire to don an Urban Outfitters skirt and a pistol.
-The love story was very underdeveloped. It wasn't the point, so it didn't need to be, like, extremely complex, but something substantial would be nice.
-Anyway, there were a lot of shots of cake. So. Oscar winner for best picture.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Short Hair, Do Care

Been almost three weeks since I got my pixie cut. As my roommate said, "I feel like all liberal artistic women into gender equality have the short haircut at some point, so it was only a matter of time." If so, at least I am going through this rite of passage now when I am young and wandery and can look sort of like I got my head stuck in a sheep-shearer and its w/e.

Running is awesome. My head feels so light, there's no rat tail absorbing sweat and hitting my back. The shower after is divine. I feel like one complete person. No weeping willow vines. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I'm like, "Hey, this is okay. I kinda look like Anne Hathaway in Les Mis" and then I remember she was a street urchin who died of venereal disease. I dunno, guys.

I put on makeup a lot more. I have been wearing earrings every day. I grasp these bits of womanhood tightly. "You like a boy from behind," someone tells me, and I do feel flushed. Even though looking like a boy should be as much of a false insult as "playing like a girl." I get pizza with Shells, who also has a pixie, and I'm pretty sure our waitress thinks it's a date. Which also isn't inherently supposed to be an insult (but it's a little jarring). When I went on a real date this week, I felt a little deflated not being able to do anything with my hair. It is what it is now. Freeing, limiting.

Yesterday morning I went to the tiny hip grocery store for a cucumber, strawberries, and hummus. It was 8:30. I was in pajamas. (It's Spring Break.) As the dude checked me out he said

DUDE: Nice hair.
ME: Thanks.
DUDE: How do you like it?
ME: I don't love it. It's fine. This is the shortest it's been.
DUDE: I admire your guts.
ME: It's hard to have short hair. Which is a stupid thing because it's just a hair cut.
DUDE: A woman's hair represents so much in our society.

I mean, tell me something I don't know, dude. Mainly, I try not to think about it too much. Because it is just hair and it will grow back and it's all very vain in the first place. But thoughts are thoughts. Better to ruminate a little than suppress a lot.
Trefoil and chocolate chai ice cream in Virginia.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Muffy Stuff

Home again. It was a glorious week in Richmond as usual. Started with freezing rain, but by our last day together, the sky had cracked blue, we sat in the park next to a brook watching buffalo and journaling.

Something I admire about Muffy is her refusal of regret. It seeps from her. No regret, no, no, none. Horror stories are always qualified, "Obviously I think everything worked out perfectly." The here and now is what is, and from most informed angles, what is is perfect. You can either take that to mean, "at least for us middle class Americans" or an absolute, "for everyone there is perfection attainable." Regardless, if you're reading this blog on your technological device, something's going right for you in the cosmic scheme of things. Perfection is in everything.

Not to sound like a complete hippy, but it's fascinating to consider there is no past or future, only now. Not just in an inspirational speech way--yes, make the most of now--but beyond that. The past exists in our thoughts today, now. It becomes our present. Ditto future. Only this time it's not exciting to consider "the future is now." Mental toil over tomorrow and the next shadows what is here. The reliving reliving of the past makes it alive.
Pop-tarts demolished at Ted's Bulletin in DC.
I'd be the last person to say "forget your past" or "don't worry about the future." You should plan for the future, let the past inform who you have been. Who you are though, that's new. That's very new.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spring Break 2014: Best Friend Reunion IV

Muffy and I are halfway through out Fourth Annual Best Friend Reunion. I am so grateful for this person for a trillion reasons. But something I always especially cherish is that we were not seeking friends when we met. Halfway through college, content in relationships, satisfied with school. It would have been easy to let it all fly away, confetti post-parade. But here we are! I am sitting on her bed! The same bed I stayed in two years ago on my visit! The same bed we had girl talk on the night before she got married! If there is a spark of love, you must nourish it! It will not lead you astray! Love does not lead astray!
Skyline Drive National Park in Virginia. Yesterday.
There's no hiding for me.
I'm forced to deal with what I feel.
There is no distraction to mask what is real.
I could pull the steering wheel.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

It Works If You Work It

Remind yourself daily what it is you're about.
It seems like that shouldn't even be a thing you even have to do.
Like the carrot would be right there. Duh!
But we forget dreams, personal character hopes, convictions pretty easily.
Regionals morning. 2014.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Marathon 2014

Three years ago I ran my first marathon. Yesterday I ran my second. It was much harder. Much, much harder, but I made it through. I was explaining to Bisque that in hindsight it's just not that bad. But during the race literally every other thought is "Stop. Just stop." Makes sense, your body is real tired, your brain doesn't understand what you're trying to pull. It keeps sending the same message to your feet, but your willpower vetoes it. 

I didn't make my goal time of running faster than my first race, but a lot of factors contributed to that, and it was sort of an arbitrary goal, so I'm pretty pleased with my medal.

Why It Might Have Been Harder:
-My carb-load. Friday night I just ate a bagel and soymilk, garlic break and three slices of pizza for lunch. In 2011, you could have fed a small village with the amount of food I ate pre-race day. But I also battled heartburn for the first ten miles of the run, so I was trying to avoid that. Still, a bagel is not really dinner if you aren't running a marathon in the AM.
-I got five hours of sleep. Had to leave to drive to the bus which would shuttle me to the start at 4 AM.
-This course was boring. The first few miles were gorgeous AZ desert landscape. I was down with that. Then, we were on plain, vacant mainstreets forever. There were only water stations every other mile and very few supporters in between. Triple boring, I was alone with my thoughts for over five hours. No pump up jams, no soothing songs. I opted not to have any headphones or music because
-It rained. I was grateful that it wasn't raining pre-race where there was no where to be covered and it was cold and windy. The clouds hovered right until, I kid you not, five minutes before start time. I had already ditched my emergency trash bag to cover me, so all I had left was to turn my back to the wind and get pelted. There was a police car near by, so I crouched behind the exhaust pipe to stay warm and a little dry. That's right I was so cold I OPTED to inhale car fumes before running 26.2 miles.
-Luckily the rain stopped after less than an hour, but by that time I was already soaked and running in dripping clothes.
-I've only been training since December 21st. That's not typically enough time to make the magic happen, but I scrunched together the workout schedule, and it was just fine.

Good/Cool Things:
-Because I had pretty strong conviction for the past two months about my goal time, for the first half of the race, I was doin' great despite everything listed above. My half-marathon time was pretty solid.
-Then, when I realized I was really struggling to keep up my goal I asked myself how bad it would really be if I didn't make it. Answer: not that bad. I slowed down, I didn't push too hard, and I think the recovery process is going to be much easier on me. It's good to be kind to yourself.
-Bisque was at the finish line for me. This knowledge helped me immensely. Like I said, this race was boring and mental taxing. I imagined hugging my bf probably a thousand times in 26 miles. He's been such a support to me--drove to the race at 4 AM, always text pepped me up during long training runs, and finally, standin' right there as I ran through the end.
-Watching House of Cards and eating Oreos for the whole afternoon.
-CRAZY THING. 90 minutes before start I'm waiting in the cold at the top of a mountain with a thousand other runners and I sit down on a log next to two women. We don't speak for forty minutes and then when another woman sits near us she asks where we're all from. The girl on my right says California and when I look at her face I realize I went to college with her! We went to a liberal arts school of 500 students. In Illinois. But we both were running the same marathon in Arizona. And out of a thousand people to sit next to, I sat next to her. WHAT!

All in all, good race, y'all.