Saturday, August 1, 2015

Thank You, July! And August Goals

I found jobs too quick to do much job hunting, but other than that it's been a checkmarkful month! Go me.



Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Love Poems: Emily Bernstein!

Happy Friday, dears! Feel free to send me love poems at any time! Here's how: http://theserotoninfactory.blogspot.com/2015/07/call-for-submissions-friday-love-poems.html

This week I welcome a new friend, a girl who gets as emo about gadgets as I do:



Ode to my 2007 MacBook
By Emily Bernstein

Processor like an ’88 Ford, what have you not taught me
– when the Hepburns were born, how to cut a
mango, where to call for help? O the months you’ve seen
with me – the rebellious ones, the months of the rabbit,
the first heartbreak, and the multiple obsessions of public figures –
stories, and all my first lines shared, the final ones, too,
like bottled blondes who are making it big now but will
just be girls of failure parents in five years.
Miley Cyrus was innocent when you were still actually
white and I first carried you home from school like a
new baby from the hospital. Remember the months we
sang along to Broadway musicals top notch?
Those were simpler times. Sometimes, all I thought about
was lugging you up the hill and watching the sunset and
not going home. Would you make it through a thunderstorm?
What would life be like if I actually liked lightning? I had
forgotten what home meant. Thank God, I remembered.
That saved us both. We were young together. It’s different now.
You’ve seen poetry with me – the good and the bad, you’ve
carried me through nights of no sleep I never thought I’d see the
end of with streams of movies and music.
I would have missed so many summers without you –
the beaches, books full of love and murder, naps covered in
green blankets, and rainforests full of adventure –
through the window I’ve seen day in, day out. How many pages
of novels have I thrown into the garbage from you?
How did the memory of Grandma get into your background?
Why do I have to grow up, and why are we slowly dying,
with you going faster, your lights getting dimmer night by night?
With you, we could go anywhere. I’ll pull the reins,
you can blast the theme song, we can streak along the stony atmosphere,
the dreams of some toddler in too small pajamas,
who knows exactly what is for breakfast tomorrow.



Emily Bernstein is a young, aspiring poet who is a rising sophomore at Chapman University, where she is getting a BFA in Creative Writing and a minor in Business. She has been published in Ampersand Literary, and can't wait to see where the stars take her next.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Love Poems: Zipora Schultz!

Gold star to another member of my poetry class! Don't forget, I'm always taking submissions for Friday Love Poems, any and all forms of love are welcome. 

Love Poem to my Ollie
by Zipora Schulz, July 9, 2015

I knew I was in love
the minute I saw him cross that busy street in Brooklyn.
Unafraid, waddling, a shining aura around his little round body.
The cars shot around him, both ways. No one stopped.
•••
He crossed over and beelined it to me, miraculously unscathed.
He stood on his back legs and 
I swear
gave me a “High Five”.
I looked around, thinking there was some sort of mistake.
Why me?
What was I to do?
He was young, he was soft, he was yellow-tan
His ears flopped as he moved his head
He licked every finger on my hands.
What was I to do?
You know what they say: (was it Goethe?)
that when the purpose is clear (I’m paraphrasing)
all the doors will open?
The purpose became clear that, although I didn’t need another dog,
 I had been chosen by this one.
•••
Folks came out of the woodwork to help.
One person brought some string to tie around his neck.
One person brought a cup of water for him to lap up.
One person hugged me because they said he had been tied up and left outside 
in all kinds of weather by the garage down the street
sometimes without  water for the last few months. 
They asked if I was going to return him (my little escapee).
Why would I return him to that, I said. I was already in love.
I looked and saw he had long outgrown his metal-linked collar.
It dug into his soft neck like a vice. No one thought to upgrade him as he grew.
•••
I called him Ollie, after Oliver Twist: 
the orphan who makes good by simply asking for “More”. 
By escaping his fate and finding me on a busy street, Ollie asked me for more. 
I gave that to him for fifteen years with complete devotion and heart. 
And he returned the favor.
My soul-mate dog-friend, my furry son. 
I can still feel the outline of his perfect ears and the texture of his snubby nose, 
although he passed six years ago.
Love? Yes, the truest of loves, my friend.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Love Poems: Patrick McGhee!

I am delighted to relaunch Friday love poems with a friend and former student, Patrick McGhee. Don't forget, you can always submit to me!
 http://theserotoninfactory.blogspot.com/2015/07/call-for-submissions-friday-love-poems.html


Open Letter From Eros to Dr. Helen Fisher
I thanked you.
I thanked you, because I thought you had set me free from
The broken hearts that are still un-mended
The abusive relationships that are never ended
The unrequited lovers that have always pretended to be nothing more than friends.

I was so tired, so I gave you the power and said,
“Show them love exists.”
But you resist, hiding behind computer screens
Trying to glean which chemical shoots up which neuron.
Doctor, you have misdiagnosed every single patient as an addict
To the endorphins you say are morphing their brains
To copulate to populate the world.
And I ask you.  How did this happen?

They used to love.
They used to be addicted to nothing but the beating of their lover’s heart
Pumping love from one chest to rest of the other’s body,
Because they were human beings, and I was around long enough to know
That that’s what they were designed to do.
Poets would fall in love ten thousand times before noon
Lovers remarked that the sun’s light at night made love to the moon.
And I ask you.  How did this happen?

Making them addicted to your anthropological theories
Infatuated with your biological technology
In love with the drive to your office.
All this for what?
But the madness of the gods is not something
You can shove in a drawer and move onto more
Important tasks

So I ask you.  How did this happen?
How can you sing the praises of science
When it is your self-reliance that has taken the mystery of love out of our history books;
Muffled the flutter of hearts who see without eyes their lover’s face
Or taste without lips the salt the slips into the dimples of their hips.
But you don’t see any of this.  Do you, doctor?

Love is not enough, though, is it?
You want to prove that I don’t exist as well,
Well, before you finish the job
I use my dying power to curse you:

You will never experience love again. 
                                                                Find a substitute. 
                                                                                        I dare you.
You can read all the Inuit poetry you wish,
But you will still miss that surge passion while you witness
Every single person finding love
While your conclusions will only find that human beings are complicated—
More complicated for you to measure with the physical volume of their hearts

And until you accept this treasure as truth to ideal
You will never begin to understand love


Or calculate what lovers can feel.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Call for Submissions: Friday Love Poems!

Hi friends! Inspired by the rainbowy summer we're having and the fact that I'd like to devote some time to researching love, I'm bringing back Friday love poems. Obviously, any and all kinds of love are welcome.
Here are some samples of past poems accepted, enjoy!

Wonder Dave: http://theserotoninfactory.blogspot.com/2011/08/friday-love-poems-wonder-dave.html
Rachel McKibbens: http://theserotoninfactory.blogspot.com/2011/03/friday-love-poem-rachel-mckibbens.html
Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz: http://theserotoninfactory.blogspot.com/2011/01/friday-love-poem-cristin-okeefe.html 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Thanks Bookstore! And What Comes Next



Yesterday was my last day at the bookstore. It’s hard to overstate the gratitude that I feel for the place—what I took for a straightforward and undemanding job ended up, of course, meaning so much more.

The day back in February when I emailed the OM to see if I could pick up some hours, the email was the only thing I was able to accomplish that day. I was still panicking hard, trying for an hour walk each day, writing down my dreams and not much else. After I sent the email, I was petrified that I would let everyone down, especially Amy, who’d be one of my supervisors.

I was worried that I was so broken that I couldn’t even do my old standby day job, which I love and which has brought me so much comfort over the years. I was still having panics in the grocery store sometimes, feeling unworthy of groceries I knew my former students’ families couldn’t afford. (Once a lunch-party guest, the brightest and most determinedly positive girl in the class, expressed envy of my baby carrots, she said her dad couldn’t afford things like that. I gave her all of my carrots and was never the same again.)

It was hard. For the first few bookstore weeks, I could pretty much only work and sleep. I rode with Amy to work most days, which, like the job itself, ended up making me feel both comforted and trapped. The shadows of school life lurked around with me, I was never sure if I was acting normal or like a mental case.

Sometimes, the young people who worked with me wanted to talk about Important Topics, and I would feel the fear and self-loathing and self-consciousness that precipitates a panic well up and I would have to stop them, but I found their existence so comforting—the wild-haired blogger who declared herself “sick of corporate America” and just stopped showing up, the philosopher who used the phrase “patriarchy as death machine” in casual conversation, they give me hope that everyone’s going to keep fighting evil, even as I move on to cozier ways of doing so.

But what I loved the most, what I’ve always loved the most, is idle work conversation. (This is why Clerks is one of my favorite movies, in spite of my brother’s complaint that nothing happens in it.) (see also: the season three OITNB conversation about the Black-Eyed Peas)
I love the genial, jokey exchanges of near-strangers, the kind that arises from the most exquisite boredom: parsing the intentions of cable radio pop singers, punning on book titles, eventually finding out what creative projects are lurking just beneath nearly everyone’s surface.

And in that spirit, another miraculous thing happened—I got a crush. One day a few weeks ago I was startled to realize that I’d flirted my way through eight hours, with only a break for lunch, and with a mix of embarrassment and exhilaration, I felt a return to myself. Another day went by like that, complete with him recommending an album and me typing while listening to it and settling back to the part of me that has muses, that gets a little giddy and then makes more things. He’s not a viable option, this isn’t that awesome of a story, but just to be off the rails a little, kind of dizzy in the head for someone, it gives me hope that I might still be capable of happily falling when the time comes. Also, it makes me just an eensy bit impatient for that time to happen.

I told someone yesterday during the process of goodbyes that I was broken when I started, and he asked if I was unbroken now. I’ll go with less broken—last week, I wasn’t sure if I had Lyme disease or was sick from all the racism news. I’m better able to engage with the world now, easing back to the Important Topics. It’s still hard to fight the sense of failure and the crippling self-consciousness that got exacerbated in the classroom.

Even though my poetry class is very fruitful and camp seems promising, it’s so hard not to feel like a failure about teaching. Talking to my brother-in-law, a born teacher, over the weekend, it’s hard not to envy the confidence he has with his career, with his place in the world. I envy my friends who all seem so settled, so at home in the world, in their families, in their work.

But playing Mario Kart with my nephew, I wondered aloud why I ended up off road so often. He said “Maybe you’re a…criminal? No, that’s not the word.”

“Outlaw?” I asked, and he heartily agreed.

Outlaw sounds about right. I hate the way that the school system is set up, the way it focuses on data and saps the creativity of teachers and students alike. I feel desperately jealous of my friends who slot so easily into their classrooms, but I have to sympathize with the intensely talented friends who’ve had their love and inspiration sucked right out—that waste isn’t okay with me. It’s not a sacrifice it seems right to make.

Somewhere in my love of connection and my madness for protecting creativity, I hope to find my next line of work. It may be in a nicer school or in homes or I don’t know where. I take comfort in knowing that summer art camp is a job that makes sense, that pays well enough, so maybe that can give me hope for the jobs that follow. My brain is still fragile, but I’m so grateful for the healing that the past four months have brought—thank you, self, for making summer come in February. Thank you, friends, who’ve supported and loved and written with me. Thank you, work, for bringing me back to myself. I’ll do my best with the road less traveled, and I’ll always choose the Kart with good offroad capabilities.