Have You Found What You’re Looking For?

Photo courtesy of elitetrack.com

Photo courtesy of elitetrack.com

A while back, I read this post over at Radio Silencer. It’s so funny what people look up…and how it all can somehow lead to your blog.

When I look at the search terms now, I mostly see “unknown search terms.” Boring! So this post is dedicated to the good ‘ole days when I could see what hilarity led people to my blog:

  • Presidential badassery – …I…what? I mean, it seems like two words that don’t necessarily go together, unless you are referring to Ronald Regan riding a velociraptor. Then that all makes sense.
  • Distomance – A fun word that combines dystopia and romance. And I did write about Divergent, so yeah, this one makes sense.
  • Joe Weil poems – Another that’s reasonable. I have read a poem by Joe Weil on this blog.
  • комиксы predator – I can’t even. A Russian predator? As in, Predator wearing a fuzzy black hat and kicking out his feet to folk tunes? Now that I can get behind.
  • My 2014 new year – Another one that makes sense. My resolutions posts usually get good traffic.
  • Wesley Mcnair – *shoulder shrug*
  • Barefoot business – Ah yes, always be businessing…barefoot, if possible.
  • Dr Who and Jesus – Did I write a post comparing Jesus to Doctor Who (the tenth to be exact)? Yes, I did. You’re welcome.
  • How tall is Rachel Frederickson – I weighed in (see what I did there?) on this controversy because people bashed her because she was thin. I know that feels. Apparently many other people wanted opinions on this as well.
  • Dear Sister AK Press – I end on one I’m the most proud of because it was a huge step for me in a lot of ways not only to send my work to the Dear Sister anthology, but also to be published alongside some great artists.

 

What are some odd search terms that have led to your blog? Or what are random search terms you’ve entered?

Taking the Flower: A Review of Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking”

Photo courtesy of brainpickings.org

Photo courtesy of brainpickings.org

Amanda Palmer shows up in my dreams.

I don’t mean this in the weird-creepy-stalker way. She shows up almost like a fairy godmother…if fairy godmother’s were kickass ukelele-toting chicks in combat boots and kimonos.

Just last week, I dreamt that my husband and I had dinner with her and Neil Gaiman.

All this to say that I love her and what she does. Amanda, as far as I can see, is living authentically. That is rare. And it is so beautiful.

This beauty is captured in her book The Art of Asking. Here is my video review of the title:

Cliffs Notes on the video:
– This book is not a guide on how to ask for help, as I thought it might be. Rather it is a memoir where she tells her story of how she learned to ask through her adventures as an eight-foot bride, a musician with oodles of Twitter followers, and lots in between.  She leads by example, all while being honest with her doubts and vulnerabilities.

- I really dig what she does.

- This book came to me at such a great time, what with being a newlywed and starting to get my poetry and art off the ground and to the eyes of the public.

- I read an excerpt from her book that really stuck with me. Take the flower = take the donuts = graciously receive help in whatever form it takes

- Even if you don’t have tons of Twitter followers (I certainly don’t, and that’s OK!), you still have a community. And we all have enough when we pool our collective resources. If that’s your kind of message, then read The Art of Asking.

- If you are not able to afford a copy of the book (it can get pricey in hard cover), head over to Mass Mosaic. Tons of people are making copies available (myself included) and asking for copies. See? We have enough when we pool our collective resources :)

Inked: Checking Off a Bucket List Goal

For the past month, I’ve been caught up with the wedding and living that I didn’t realize I crossed off another item from my bucket list (well, three, but more on that in the parenthetical aside at the end of this post).

One thing I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time is get tattooed. A very generous friend of mine paid for my first tattoo as a wedding present.

The day of, I was super nervous, but everything went so well. The artist, Donny Manco, was fantastic! We kicked around two ideas and settled on the one I’ve had in my head for the longest amount of time—a dove leaving a trail of fire.

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Ink!

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The artist at work, making a stencil

The tattoo hurt way less than anticipated…except for the last half hour or so. The result was so worth it!

The finished product!

The finished product!

After healing and on my wedding day

After healing and on my wedding day

I’m so happy with my tattoo and am looking forward to many more!

(Incidentally, during the process of the wedding and my honeymoon, I checked off two more bucket list goals—getting married and seeing a Broadway play.)

If We Were Having Coffee…Wedding Edition!

Not sure what this feature is all about? Check out the first post here!

Blowing on my hot apple cider!

Blowing on my hot apple cider!

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that the wedding went so well! Yes, I was stressed at the start of the day, but once we were underway, it was magic!

I nearly cried during the vows.

Vows

All wedding photos by Suzy Rahn

My goodness, the food was delicious!

Om nom nom!

Om nom nom!

The dancing was so fun!

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And I got to spend time with many of the people I care most about!

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Some of my closest friends. I couldn’t get everyone in one shot, alas.

Me and my husband with my side of the family

Me and my husband with my side of the family.

Oh yeah, and I get to spend the rest of my life with the man I love most :)

Dip Kiss

Ooh la la!

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that the honeymoon was so lovely. My husband (still getting used to the title!) and I went on a cruise.

The weather wasn’t ideal, but we had some shining moments.

View from the room on the first full day.

Morning view from the room on the first full day.

View on the last full day.

Sunset on the last full day.

And we met some incredible people!

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This post would not be complete without a solo of "baby face" George.

This post would not be complete without a selfie of “baby face” George.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that coming back to reality after such an incredible week is difficult. But having great people to come back to (yes, even my students) is lovely.

I’d ask you what you think the hardest part of coming back from a vacation is.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that while I enjoy teaching, I’m looking forward to the end of the semester and the holiday season.

I’d ask you what your favorite part of December is.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you I’m behind on my Christmas shopping :-/

I’d ask you how the crazy holiday season is shaping up for you.

Now it’s your turn! What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

Poetry Monday – Mark Strand

Photo courtesy of poetryfoundation.org

Photo courtesy of poetryfoundation.org

The book from which the poem is taken. Photo courtesy of oxonianreview.org.

The book from which the poem is taken. Photo courtesy of oxonianreview.org.

Too many talents have died this year. Among them is poet Mark Strand, who passed this Saturday. I’d like to dedicate this Poetry Monday to his work and memory.

“The Coming of the Light” by Mark Strand

Even this late it happens:
the coming of love, the coming of light.
You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,
stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,
sending up warm bouquets of air.
Even this late the bones of the body shine
and tomorrow’s dust flares into breath.

What I like about this poem: I first heard about this piece when I took a workshop with Jericho Brown a few years back. He featured this poem in a really cool prompt. Since that time, I’ve used this poem in a few workshops with high school students. Because of these experiences, I associate this poem with playfulness and wonder. I often think of the surreal imagery in this poem, particularly the “warm bouquets of air.”

Bonus! Prompt: Here is the prompt Jericho Brown gave us in that workshop I mentioned earlier–
What is the opposite of “up”? Down.
What about “left”? Right.
What about “green”?
What about “the”?
Starting to get more difficult, right?

The prompt is to re-write this poem. The catch is that you must re-write it word for word using the opposite of each word. For example, write down the opposite of “even,” then the opposite of “this,” and continue in this manner until you’ve finished the whole poem. It’s OK if you are not certain of a word’s opposite. Make it up! “Opposite” can be interpreted in so many different ways. This is a great exercise for letting go of expectations and being surprised!

Quotables: Junot Diaz

I read a lot. Those who know me (and those who follow me on this blog) know that. This means I often come across quotes that I find intriguing or puzzling, quotes that I want to talk about. So, I will! Every so often, as the mood strikes me, I’ll feature a quote here and say what I think about it. I’d love to hear your responses. It’s what I love most of all about teaching and blogging—discussion!

Enjoy this first “Quotable” feature with a quote by Junot Diaz!

Photo courtesy of npr.com

Photo courtesy of npr.com

“Books are surviving in this intense, fragmented, hyper-accelerated present, and my sense and hope is that things will slow down again and people will want more time for a contemplative life. There is no way people can keep up this pace. No one is happy. Two or three hours to read should not be an unattainable thing, although I hope we get to that stage without needing a corporate sponsored app to hold our hand. The utopian in me has my fingers crossed that we haven’t quite figured out the digital future just yet. After all, the one thing we know about people: they always surprise.” – Junot Diaz

This particular interview from which the quote is taken first appeared in The Guardian. I saw this right before I taught my first college course in 2012 and thought it would be a great way to open the class. The first time I ever asked students to take out a piece of paper and write was to talk about this quote. So, as you can tell, these words have weight to me.

More than the memory, though, is the ideas this quote presents. Granted, I don’t agree with all of them, but that’s kind of the point isn’t it? The words that often speak to us the most make us wrestle in some way.

I cheer when Junot says that, as a whole, people should make more time for a contemplative life. I love the idea of sitting by a lake and then getting up and walking into my cabin to sit next to a wood-stove fire and writing. But I know that’s not for everyone. While this quote speaks to me, I’m aware that Diaz is leaving out a certain portion of the population that likes frenzy, that thrives on social media. Whether or not that’s healthy is a whole other blog post. But I don’t think people can “keep up this pace.” Our bodies aren’t machines. They need rest. America is a country of excess, yet we desperately lack down time. (America, the ironic)

“No one is happy” is a really broad statement, and I don’t agree with the broad stroke with which it paints humanity. Though I do hope there’s some discontent with the disconnecting tendencies of social media.

I have to say, I love that last line. People do indeed surprise, for better or worse. (Ah, the beauty of free will!). Many times, it seems as if people don’t react unless something catastrophic happens. I hope that’s not the case with making time for face-to-face interaction. I don’t think so. I sincerely hope not. Technology has huge advantages. I get to talk to people all over the world, people I would not have otherwise had access to. The struggle, I think, this quote is getting at is balance. At least that’s what I take from it. This balance probably won’t be two to three hours per day to read (at least not in my case), but I do hope it’s at least an hour a day (maybe not consecutively) to disconnect from media and reconnect with each other. </hokeyending>

Now it’s your turn! What do you think about this quote and/or my reading of it? What sticks out to you? Do you agree, disagree, or find yourself somewhere in the middle?

Poetry Monday – Sam Sax

The man himself. Image courtesy of samsax.tumblr.com

The man himself. Image courtesy of samsax.tumblr.com

The book from which the poem is taken. Image courtesy of www.buttonpoetry.com

The book from which the poem is taken. Image courtesy of http://www.buttonpoetry.com

“The Hunger Artist” by Sam Sax

the boy ate from my hands
then ate my hands,

finger bones making old
noises between his teeth,

my arm in his mouth down
to the elbow, the shoulder.

he gnaws through the sinew
strung up in my neck

like a white upright piano.
it sounds terrible

when he eats, all those
depressed keys

making music. each organ
forging sound. his windpipe

a well that drowns bright
boys like coins with dead

blues singers’ faces stamped
in the metal. fathomless pit,

cannibal ditch, the father,
the son, & the holy spirit

spread across his fingers
& lips.

the job of any competent
parasite is to convince

its host of the their relationship’s
symbiosis. i loved him even

as the anesthetic went in,
hatchet lifted from a hymnal,

& when i was at last inside him,
i couldn’t make a sound.

What I like about this poem: I love poems that give me the creeps sometimes, and this one certainly does! (Also, I thought it was appropriate since Halloween is coming up.) I love the coupling of both the religious and the macabre—like hymnal and hatchet, as well as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit on the artist’s lips—which I think is what makes the poem so good at being spooky. I like that this poem is irreverent (even down to the refusal to use capitalization.) Lastly, the following lines get me every time:

the job of any competent
parasite is to convince

its host of the their relationship’s
symbiosis. i loved him even

as the anesthetic went in…

It can be tempting to think that one is just entering into a gross poem, but those last lines show it’s something more—the manipulation, the love even as the lover is being hurt by the beloved. I mean, it’s just the grittiness of life!

I recently discovered an earlier version of this piece, which, I think, has a much different vibe than the one printed here. If you’d like to hear an earlier version of this poem, click here.