All posts for the month March, 2013

Book Review: The Difficult Farm

Published March 29, 2013 by pipsqueak

       (via spdtoday)

Heather Christle’s poems are full of emotion, conveyed in oblique ways involving pioneers and assassination and yelling at forests.

Some of her poems sound like the beautiful babbling observations of an omniscient magical alien. The poems change emotions as unexpectedly as a finicky toddler, so you’re never bored. Christle’s work is mostly very exciting to read, full of novel phrases and shiny metaphors. Some of her poems contains snippets of fairytales, historical references, or bits of dialogue snagged from a stream of conscience. It’s these expertly-joined bits that forge such exquisite little stories.

Dear stupid forest

Dear totally brain-dead forest

Dear beautiful ugly stupid forest

full of nightingales

Why won’t you shut up.

-“Acorn Duly Crushed” by Heather Christle

Heather Christle is a young poet, pretty much free from the norms of traditional poetry.  Not a rhyme scheme or iambic foot in sight anywhere. Her poems are full of vivid, unorthodox ideas and images. However, many of them do have a sort of hypnotic rhythm when read out loud. There’s also something about them that, even though many of the poems are somewhat uncomfortable, seems very humane.

When they say nobody rides horses anymore

what the mean is: look, the ineffable sadness

has returned

-“Pale Lemon Square” by Heather Christle

I’m not really sure how to describe Christle’s poetry. It’s zingy, it’s full of surprises. Every poem contains 2-4 phrases that will make you feel strong emotions. Go read it.


Letting go of innocence

Published March 28, 2013 by pipsqueak
(via latimes)

quintessence of innocence (via latimes)

A long time ago, in the dark days of middle school, someone called me innocent. She meant that I had never touched alcohol, had sex, or done anything remotely rebellious. Which was… really really true. Still, it struck me as kind of the wrong word to use. Call me geeky, call me socially awkward, call me a huge fucking nerd! These are all true. But innocent? Of what?

I haven’t subscribed to any doctrinal belief in years, but I do have a kind of concept of sin, or “badness”. I don’t really believe that alcohol and sex = INHERENT BADNESS.  Sex is natural and good for you, as long as it is safe and consensual, after all. And alcohol is an enjoyable recreational drink for many people.* I have a much vaguer morality, a kind of rule of thumb that I do my best to uphold. Here it is:

It’s our duty, as human beings, to not hurt each other or ourselves.

It’s kind of minimalist morality, but there you go. I’m a modern gal. And obviously there are a zillion occasions where it’s impossible to uphold, of course there are conditions every day where we cause each other pain with offhand comments, or are forced to do something painful for a greater good. As we go through the world, we hurt each other. We also inspire and heal and love each other, but we also cause each other great amounts of pain. 

Innocence, to me, doesn’t mean that you’ve never had sexy thoughts or drank a Pabst at a college party. What is means to me is that you are free of the knowledge that your existence has caused someone pain. Or maybe you are free of intention to hurt anyone. All I know is that nothing makes me feel more ugly, less innocent, than the knowledge I have hurt someone.

This is why innocence belongs to children. We can’t retain this because the world, for all its beauty, is also a place where you will be hurt, painfully and sometimes permanently. Although seeing ugliness in other people is awful and hurtful, I kind of think that it’s harder to deal with ugliness you don’t want to recognize in yourself. We all start out believing we are the good guy, after all. Very few of us like to believe they are the antagonist in someone else’s story. Let me make an example here:

Best friends, who know all each other’s weaknesses and insecurities, get into an argument. In the moment, one of them tells the other one that she [fat, a slut, or anything other wounding word]. Not only does this hurt the person that was insulted, but unless her friend is utterly remorseless, she now has to live with the fact that she hurt someone she loves.

Do you see what I mean? As I grow up, I’m finding ways to get along with people better, to mend problems with people, but I still don’t know how to live with the guilt of my selfish actions. For those of us who do not have a confession booth to go to, how do we live with ourselves? 

*Although I don’t deny they can be problems that get out control for some

Dream Triage (or: I’ve got 99 problems and they are my career options)

Published March 26, 2013 by pipsqueak

all hats and no naps makes jack a dull boy (via vicki caruana)

Today I felt so frozen with indecision and anxiety that I just shut down. I crawled into my bed, the possibilities for my future whirling around my head, and realized that I just can’t do everything I want to do. I just can’t.

I want to do so many things, after all! I want to direct movies, go on tour as a musician, start a non-profit, run for office, plan amazing queer dance parties, write a series of novels, go traveling, be a baker of tiny cupcakes, be a scientist on a boat floating through Antarctica. In all my dreams, I am super good at what I do. In fact, I exceptionally wonderful. I’m some sort of Natalie Portman-style wunderkind, writing beautiful poetry and feeding adorable vegan cupcakes to my crew of Arctic explorers as we circumnavigate the globe.

I’ve been a chronic dabbler my whole life, trying out every hobby and taking the most unrelated smattering of classes I can, searching for the perfect subjects for myself. And everything gives their own pleasures – the bubbly jubilance of dancing, the hard-won satisfaction of writing, the cool thrill of puzzling out a math problem. It’s great to try things out, and I’ve had a lot of fun.
It famously takes about 10,000 hours to get really good at something. And like all Plucky Young Things, I want to be really good at something! Life is hazy and directionless and difficult sometimes. If I’m going to slog through all that, I at least want my struggles to build towards something. I don’t wake up in the morning and think “gosh! how can I make myself even more milquetoast today?” Life is hard enough without the guilt of your wasted potential hanging around your head like a murky, smelly fog.

Some people are naturally really excellent at everything. You know the type, those intuitive geniuses? They treats new concepts like a Rubic’s cube: they turn it between their hands while staring intently and murmuring “hmm…. I see…”  for about two minutes and then toss it on the table, solved.

(via nj)

That’s not me. Nope. I’m the two-steps-behind student. I’m the one who gets hit in the first 25 seconds of the dodgeball game. I’m not naturally good at anything. If I’m going to make myself good at something, I’m going to have to basically slam my head against the books for multiple hours a day, for weeks on weeks on weeks. Then I might manage to get a vague feel for it. And I still have to exert massive amounts of effort in order to get any sort of finesse. This means that I have to be careful how I spend my time. I know I can go after something wonderful – the goal of learning to write powerfully and beautifully, for example – with everything I’ve got. But I don’t have time to pursue all my other dreams with equal gusto. 

I propose a sort of Triage system for dreams. I will allocate time carefully. I like writing. It seems to be my primary interest right now. So I will spend a good amount of time on that. The nice bit about writing is that it allows me a lot of flights of fancy. If I can’t pilot a boat to Antarctica, I can write about it. The other things I like to do will receive attention, but necessarily less attention, since I do not plan to pursue them as a lifestyle. This time that I’m spending on writing is time spent well, because with each clunky sentence and stillborn idea, I get a little closer to getting better at something that I care ab0ut. I want to one day write something beautiful. Until then, I will try again and again. That’s all I can do.

Things I (Almost) Never Regret Doing

Published March 25, 2013 by pipsqueak

now that’s what i call texting (via wikinut)

1. Writing a letter to people I love

2. Going for a bike ride where I get lost and find unique little places I’ve never visited before

3. Not waiting til midnight to start my math homework. It’s at less of an advantage when I’m in a mental state of steely levelheadedness, anyway.

4. Asking someone cute out. You never know! A little asking never hurt anyone! And even if you fail, you get Bravery Points. Or something. Just try.


worst case scenario, this is you! (via cbc)

5. Having a conversation with a friendly-but-not-in-a-creepy-way stranger

6. Doing exercise. Or anything at all to prevent my muscles from atrophying.

7. Cooking something that is delicious and nutritious. Or just delicious.

8. Speaking up about something I care about.

9. Publishing a freaking blog post


Sea Song

Published March 24, 2013 by pipsqueak

Are you surprised to find yourself still alone?

just as you were moments before?

and as you were yesterday?

and last week

as well?

Once he hunched up under his workdesk

and carved into the most fragile membranes of his wrist

Not trying to empty his heart out, no

Just to change the dull direction a bit

Give new bearing to his bloodflow


Stranger, do not attack your skin

Instead, walk from room to room,

Opening closets, greeting the hunched and gnarled creatures within


Pain is the Siamese twin of joy

And you must accept its thorny bear hug

Throw yourself into the stinging waves of uncertainty

You are tossed in the frigid surf of it

It is nothing more than  motion

It will burnish you soft as misty sea glass

And throw you, naked, back on the shore

After College I’m Basically Screwed

Published March 23, 2013 by pipsqueak

As my freshman year of college draws to a close, I am rudely reminded of the fact that time is carrying me on a ruthless and irreversible line to The Real World.

Although, what does that mean? I’ve been in institutions of education since I was two. When I finally left the public school system, I felt like I had just finished a 12-year process of pulling myself out of a swamp. When I emerged, I was grubby, confused, and only had a few basic survival skills. I knew how to write a paper, how to raise my hand in class without having a panic attack, and how to make friends with someone who is also bored in math class. Having emerged from this exercise in endurance, I wasn’t sure what to do with myself.

Never fear! shout a zillion people in college. They are whispering hellions, darting forth from out of nowhere to hiss something about job markets and then disappearing into the mist. Each of them carries wisdom that would seem to be crucially important to my future as a Person Who Has Money To Buy Food, but at the same time, I just don’t know who to trust.

Don’t get a liberal arts degree. You’ll just end up working at Starbucks.

Ethnomusicology absolutely has a job market. Come to the Careers in Ethnomusicology Mixer so you can placate your parents!

Business school is the best way to a stable livelihood.

Undergraduate law degrees are a waste of time. Lawyers don’t even do pre-law. 

Your major doesn’t even affect what job your go into. You’re probably going to work at STARBUCKS.

What did the business student say to the English major? I’ll have a venti caramel latté, please.

And so on, ad nauseum. The only common theme is pervasive foreshadowing of a career in Coffee Artistry.

Here’s the thing I would like to say to the crowd that’s been telling me, basically, that the world is a hard place and that I am kidding myself if I think I will make money with writing. I know! I’ve been informed how screwed I am! Please, leave me to blindly row off the waterfall that you insist is my future!

pictured: a more successful cat than me (via ichcb)

this cat must be a business major.  (via ichcb)

I remain hopeful that my decision to opt out of business school has not doomed me to a life as a barista, that my interest in writing will be used for hashing out the symbolic resonance of those weird hanging cardboard ads at Target whilst scanning people’s groceries for all eternity. I would be incredibly grateful if I can make a living, at least part-time, doing something that I enjoy, something that is meaningful to me.

But hey, I know where I’m headed. No one is clamoring, or even vaguely trying, to read my work (except you, gentle friend). I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that:

a) a life in engineering or pharmaceutical testing or (insert other practical, lucrative, non-creative job here) would probably make me want to die


b) this means that  I’m gonna have to work an unremarkable day job and live off rice and probably not succeed at getting anything published until I’m about 40, if ever

But all isn’t lost for the artists stuck working boring day jobs, I think. Matthew Dickman, one of my favorite poets, works in a bakery. In the heyday of my high school career, I went 14 hours a day from school to work to extracurricular activities. Although the fogginess of the future is scary, I feel my pessimism has ensured. And as I mentioned before, high school taught me how to slog through the boring and difficult times.