Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Love Poems: Courtney Bambrick and Peter Baroth


From one of our favorite supertalented couples. Happy New Year, you two!











Morning Under Water

by Courtney Bambrick

You might know things, but
who told you what to remember?
When the summer ends in a rainstorm
and the nights are cool again
and your lover keeps his arm
over your body in sleep,
think of what you sacrificed
in order to keep from sweating.
The diamond small kernel of heart
twitches within you – as if a
thumbtack had been thumbed
into your sternum.
So precise and so painful
the moment we give up.
I have water boiling for tea
downstairs and I have
three folders of essays about language
to read before tomorrow,
but I also have a thick ache
for your soft fingerpads
and respiration.
I’ll turn the radio on and hope
that you wake up happy.
My tea will be sweet and milky
like I haven’t had tea in months.
The rain will soak the ground
and the flowers
that pretended to die rather than
scrounge for life will reclaim their green.
Some Sunday we will wake up
and eat brunch somewhere fancy,
then go sit through three movies
at three different theaters.
It will be a vacation.
Today is just this Sunday and it isn’t
fair to stretch expectations.
My alarm will go off again at 5:30
Monday morning. Now,
it is raining and will rain all day.
Maybe I will settle back into bed, slip
your eely arm back around my
sunken-ship body. I cannot tell
anymore if I love you more or less than
your body. I cannot tell if I
need the touch of your tongue as much
as the warmth in your eyes.
Either way, you will do the laundry
and I will cook a disappointing supper.
Sunday will be Sunday, and so the week
begins again.

Summer Smile
by Peter Baroth

The Rehoboth sunset ushers in turquoise twilight
as I find myself on the boardwalk
with its enchanting summer smiles
perhaps luring me in their ultimate conclusion
to some quiet jazz club or beachside bungalow
where the morning mist might slowly lift
to reveal the endless, pulsating,
blue expanse of the Atlantic.
I slowly walk away from the arcades
with their adolescent noise
onto the somnolent dunes
where the wind plays its pianissimo upon the reedy grasses.
Now, just feet from the passing fray,
I am in another world,
nature’s demi-monde,
halfway to the sea.
I think about those luring summer smiles.
But the next moment my mind turns
to the promise of much more.
A woman I’ve come here with
and will leave with as well,
will wade through the traffic with back to Philadelphia,
in whose eyes I will always see
the infinity of the sea,
the flight of the gulls,
and in whose arms
I will always feel the fine summery buzz of the Sun.
Yes, deep into February
I will look into her face and see the soughing dune grass
on the bright lip of a summer day
and I will smile like some wizened beach bum
who, in his day, has recovered his trove of pirate coins
from the shifting sands.

Poetic License Horoscope for Dec 31-Jan 6 : Your 2011 Resolutions


Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): Count your success in the gregariousness of your children, the sparkliness of your kitchen, the way you remember the origin of every ornament. Your lucky day is always.

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): Resolve to be less arbitrary. Decorate your nest as deliberately as a bowerbird does. Never mind David Attenborough murmuring nearby.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): Resolve nothing. January for you is about pajamas, fluffy flannel bedding, and cups of tea. Feel free to light ladies’ magazine amounts of candles. Rest as much as you can, until the daffodils come up.

Aries (March 21-April 18): Listen to more comedy albums, but not that Louis C.K. (Really dude? The six-letter f-word? Over and over? What a jackass.) Stick with Mitch Hedberg, Paula Poundstone, Demetri Martin, Aziz Ansari, etc.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): Resolve to frame every piece of kid-art that comes your way. Carry scribbled Post-it notes like talismans. Frame swaths of ruined wall. Amazing.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): Resolve to ask for help, with the dishes, with the yard, with the blues. Get back some of the riches that you’ve handed around, with your heart like luminarias.

Cancer (June 22-July 23): Get a whole bunch of really optimistic magazines and spend an afternoon perusing them. Take the resolutions that sound the most fun, then cut the rest up for collages. (Bonus points, as always, for glitter.)

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): You’re winning. Resolve yourself a trophy room, full of blue ribbons and statuettes. You made the best pie. You bowled a mostly-perfect game. Your My Little Ponies have the most perfectly braided manes. Be sure to reward yourself for anything, everything.

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): Resolve to remember, you’re not the only one who identifies with this excerpt from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: “Luna had decorated her bedroom ceiling with five beautifully painted faces: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Neville. They were not moving as the portraits at Hogwarts moved, but there was a certain magic about them all the same: Harry thought they breathed. What appeared to be fine golden chains wove all around the pictures, linking them together, but after examining them for a minute or two, Harry realized that the gold chains were actually one word, repeated a thousand times in golden ink: friends…friends…friends..”

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): Take off all of your costumes. Hang them neatly in your closet. Get some copper polish for your steampunk gear. Repair everything and go out unadorned.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): Like the Philadelphians who drag out chairs to reserve their parking spaces, resolve to claim yourself a little bit of space, either metaphorically or by dragging out furniture.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Make a list marked “Bigger Dreams” for 2010. Be very specific and use a LOT of adjectives. Cut the list into snowflakes and fold the snowflakes neatly into a Godiva box. Tie with a bow and hope for the best.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wishes for 2011


Usually I fold up my New Years Wishes in a pretty package and put them in the Box of Things to Be Worked Out Later by Unseen Forces, but this year, I have you.

I tried to be ambitious and very specific.

Also I wish you everything win the world that you might accio. (You can’t always get what you accio, but if you try sometimes…)

***Altruistic wishes like peace on earth, the end of racism, etc, are implied.****

1. I wish for a good, happy, well-paying job IN PHILADELPHIA for Amy.

2. I wish for a book with a spine, published by a nice press; a real home for For the Comfort of Automated Phrases at last.

3. I wish for a clear path to teaching certification, including good GRE scores, a welcoming program, and fruitful student teaching.

4. I wish I could look at pictures of myself and not be ASTONISHED by how fat I look. I think that might take about 40 pounds.

5. I wish for more opportunities to perform poetry outside my own venue.

6. I wish that my horoscopes would be in LOTS more places, so I’ll be closer to being the barrette-wearing Rob Brezny by next year.

7. I wish that I would develop more faith in people, so I’d trust them to stick around and not worry so much about losing them all the time.

8. I wish to spend a WHOLE BUNCH more time with the people I really really love. (Leaving plenty of time left for the couch, of course.)

9. I wish I’d get good at taking care of money, so our savings would keep growing and we can someday soon start planning our dream-trip to Paris. I want to see cathedrals!

10. I wish for good concerts, lots of dancing, and a million mix tapes by mail.

11. Plus some secret wishes.

Light Bulb Friend/ December Check-in


If you feel like you need more light in your life these short days, full-spectrum bulbs are really easy to get these days. I always pictured Seasonal Affective Disorder treatments as these fancy lightboxes that I probably saw on 60 Minutes in the Eighties, but Amy got some in the regular light bulb aisle. There’s one right next to my writing chair, and it’s cut down my dark thoughts ratio considerably.

This month’s resolutions mostly fell by the wayside in favor of house cleaning, mixtape making, and many activities involving envelopes. That’s a pretty successful Happiness Project, right?

Resolution 1: Use vacation time to move my life forward.

So far it’s been mostly envelopes, math, and merrymaking, but that’s its own kind of forward motion, I think. Before I go back to work next Tuesday, I intend to have all poems submitted and a new version of my manuscript started.

Resolution 2: Evening walks with Amy.

Pretty good, but there could always be more.

Resolution 3: Avoid emotional eating.

At no point this month did I walk over to the Walgreens and buy a bag of caramel creams because I felt bad. Progress!

Resolution 4: Submit, query, apply for stuff.

Is the main theme of 2011.

5. Pass math with a C or better.

Holy crap, I got a B! This was thanks partly to being stuck in a doctor’s office for hours wanting to be distracted from fretting my head off about the spots in Amy’s vision. Also I did a lot of quality studying to Christmas movies.

Web-Adorable of the Year


Sorry, "Kittens Inspired By Kittens"! You had it right up to the very last minute. Up until this one dominated the quote-count at not one but THREE Christmas dinners.

Song of the Year: Home

This song makes me so much more optimistic than maybe it's meant to. It wasn't exactly "A terrible year," but I love the combination of leaving things be and hanging onto what matters. Like so many LCD Soundsystem Songs, its about the kind of adulthood I aspire to.

Does it get any more romantic than: "Look around you, you're surrounded, it won't get any better"?

There's an official video that's good, look it up, but I like it better with my own images of "home" in my head...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Teaching Anxiety Dreams




I hope it’s just a matter of my subconscious burning off some worries in time for the New Year, but I’ve been having bad teacher dreams all week. Either I’m late and unable to find the number to call in, or the kids keep getting louder and louder, and no way to simmer them down, even on Movie Day. All the time, my ex-boss is in the background getting sharper and sharper-voiced and judging my every move. This morning’s dream ended with my voice being drowned out by 40 kids as I mimed at them helplessly to put their heads down.

That isn’t what my current job is like at all. I almost always feel calm, supported, and productive. But I still do have mixed feelings about working towards being a school day teacher. I’m afraid that it’s be nothing but stress, that I’ll never know how to mange a classroom.

I also worry that I might have to give up all of my writing dreams-having a day job that I care about has already changed my poet schedule so much, and things are only going to get more demanding.

Last Fall and Winter, I wanted to prove that I was worth something. I also wanted to do something with this mountain of frustrated ambition. The urge for my own classroom came partly out of a craving for order, for safety, for a place where I’d be able to follow my conscience as a teacher.

Though I’m now one math class closer to the goal (Just checked: I GOT A B!) I’m still not sure it’s the right one. I don’t know if teaching is the right thing for me to do, but I also don’t know if one gets to worry about what one’s “Meant to Do” at 36.

I had lunch today with a favorite student and her also-a-favorite student mom. It reminded me about the nine thousand poems that little girl wrote over the summer, about that unequivocal win. So there’s that. Plus, we played Scrabble.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Favorite Posts of 2010: Music Music Music!


Favorite Blog Posts of 2010

As much as I miss Christmas, it’s good to be back in the regular writing routine, doing New Yearsy things like reading optimistic magazines and buying lots of produce.

Given that my five favorite posts are all music-related, it seems like “Music Music Music Music Music!” was the most fruitful resolution so far!

The Rally to Restore Sanity—Does?

We Have Been Known to Rally (About seeing the Roots open up for the President at Fulton School)

Feeling a Little Bit Refurbished (Going to see my childhood home inspired by Arcade Fire's The Wilderness Downtown brilliance...)

Arcade Fire and Collective Effervescence

Love Letter to a Rock Show (Seeing the New Pornographers at the Trocadero on our 7 year anniversay!)

Being Luna Lovegood


From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:

“Luna had decorated her bedroom ceiling with five beautifully painted faces: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Neville. They were not moving as the portraits at Hogwarts moved, but there was a certain magic about them all the same: Harry thought they breathed. What appeared to be fine golden chains wove all around the pictures, linking them together, but after examining them for a minute or two, Harry realized that the gold chains were actually one word, repeated a thousand times in golden ink: friends…friends…friends..”

I’m realizing that I’m not the only person I know who’d identify with that paragraph. I resolve to remember that.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas: Best Magic Trick Ever, Plus Tons o'Sequins


I hope that everyone has the sweetest, most adorable Christmas ever. Thanks for reading me, it means a lot. Here's a present: My niece and nephews doing the very best magic trick in the world.

Merry Christmas to all and tons of fucking sequins, Jane

Poetic License Horoscope for Dec 24-30:Holly Jolly Edition


Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): Emulate Buddy from Elf: Expect people to be nicer, shinier, jollier than they really are. Be amazing and prolific at cut-paper decorations.

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): Like Brittany from Glee, you still believe in Santa Claus. Celebrate elaborate ruses, spurious physics, and carrots left out for reindeer. The stars believe, too.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): All of your far-away friends are thinking of you, their thoughts jingling through the night air in your direction, keeping the children awake.

Aries (March 21-April 18): Edward Scissorhands is a very sad Christmas movie. Make a place for your inner misfit, not hidden in the castle making snow, but down among the houses, cutting everyone’s hair.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): You are the Glee version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” groundbreaking and old-timey, all at once.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): Decorate all of your cookies in the shape of your New Years resolutions: the books publishes, the apologies cut down on, the energy conserved.

Cancer (June 22-July 23): In the Muppet version of It’s a Wonderful Life, Kermit and Gonzo sing a duet called “Everyone Matters,” and it’s true! Think of all the good you’ve done this year, for everyone. The stars would like to thank you.

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): Like Fred Claus, you have a heart the size of Chicago, the gift of gab, and the propensity to dance to Elvis while disrupting elf productivity. You’re sometimes outshined, but never outloved!


Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): Your Christmas card list is expanding. Sit down and write love letters for hours in front of a Top Chef: Just Desserts marathon. Make mix tapes for all of your sweethearts. Use every single stamp.

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): Last night during a holiday dinner, a favorite couple of mine performed “Sisters” from White Christmas, as voiced by two rosemary dinner rolls. Get it, rosemary? Like Rosemary Clooney? Be as silly and perfect and awesome as that.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): In Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas, family togetherness triumphs over poverty, greed, and The Riverbottom Nightmare Band. You’ve overcome so much this year. I wish you hugs from Muppet otters!

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): “Charlie Brown is a blockhead, but he did get a pretty nice tree.” Put aside all of your complaints. Forget everything but singing.

Friday Love Poem, A Little Early


Before I go finish the cookies and get packing, I'm doing all of my Friday internet-ing today.

I've got a bunch of pals' love poems lines up for y'all in the coming weeks, but this one's mine. This is a little less holly-jolly than I am these days, but still. :)

Burnt Offering to a Southern Christmas Poem

The weather there doesn’t lend itself to paper cutouts,
can’t be folded and sent--
that’s too bad, ‘cause it’s dark here.
We have no choice but to submit to somnia.
All narratives take place under fluorescent hum
or desperate candle.
We sleep two dozen hours,
schedule walks during the pinch of daylight
or turn into turnips.

Some get prescription light,
but most find it insincere,
prefer pessimism till spring.
Plenty of time for reading
when you’re paralyzed by the 4 o’clock obscure,
something lurking in the curtain-drop.

I try to solve it, string tiny lights
around the mantel and houseplants,
think of what might inspire us to get a tree.

I sit in non-denominational folding chairs
feeding the paper snowflakes into the non-denominational chalice of flame,
remember before I knew the Church could hurt me,
in Mary Janes and velvet dress, the children’s procession
the lights from our red and green candle flashlights
make their way up the aisle ceiling,
then, miracle of miracles, the shortest night.

Songs of the Week: Merry Christmas Mini-Mix!


Remember when Bert and Ernie did Gift of the Magi? Sniff!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Quinn-derdoodles! Gluten and Dairy-free!


1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup Crisco
2 eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla
2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour
3/4 cup soy flour
2 t cream of tartar
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
Mix and roll into balls.
Make cinnamon sugar:
1/4 cup sugar
1 t cinnamon
Roll the top of each ball in the cinnamon sugar.
Bake for 12 mins @ 350 degrees

Aunt Patti’s Gingerbread Cookies (Extra Spicy Version)


Aunt Patti's gingerbread have always been my favorite. My own twist is adding a little cayenne pepper.







Gingerbread Boys and Girls (And Heart and Trees and Dachshunds)

Preheat over to 375 degrees.

2 ¾ cups flour
1 T baking powder
¼ t baking soda
1 t allspice
1 t ginger
1 T. ground cinnamon
½ t salt
A hearty sprinkle of cayenne pepper

Mix together dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl, cream together:

1 egg, beaten
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup dark molasses
1 stick softened butter.

Gradually add dry ingredients to form stiff dough.

Refrigerate until firm.

Roll between two sheets of wax paper. Use lots of flour to keep it from sticking as you cut out your shapes.

Bake 10-12 mins, until lightly browned.

Aunt Patti does hers with all these beautiful white piped outlines. We do ours with crazy sprinkles.

Friday, December 17, 2010

For the Kitten Collection

Friday Love Poem: Daniel McGinn!


THANKS SO MUCH to everyone who's submitted to Friday Love Poems! Keep 'em coming. Submission info is here.

Daniel McGinn is your favorite poet's favorite poet. He and his wife Lori are the beating hearts of the Southern California poetry scene. I pretty much owe them everything for the sanity, inspiration, and care that they've given me for the whole time I've been writing.

Tasty Grapes

After Shira Erlichman

comfort poem:
Your hair is a silver stream
cutting a passageway
across a
midnight pillow

You dream of coins cascading
down a water slide into the pool
of your throat

Your breathing fills the room sparkling
like fish scales. What a beautiful night.
The curtains gleam like wishes.

awe poem:
touch my beating heart
rub the scar
I am bruised fruit

silent poem:
Suddenly, even the wind
stopped breathing.

bowl poem
soup super rice rose
dust clay beggar’s pipe
bong cereal strike spare
toilet

kite poem
string the edges of a crucifix into a diamond,
the skin, paper thin, is folded over taunt twine
like a single slice sandwich, tear your old clothes
into swaddling strips and weigh it down, keep it
centered, keep it from spinning. Tie a string to the
center of the cross, where the chest would be
if there were a man on the cross, if he had not
risen. Run as fast as you can, run with all your might
slowly release the spool of string, feel the sky pull
on your hand as the kite grows smaller and smaller.
You look like a bug. Hold on to the string, don’t
let it go down, learn to control it, teach it to fly.

always poem
We are here, growing old, just like we said we would.

good morning poem
How many eggs have we eaten in all these years together?

together poem
My breastbone is divided and held
open like butterfly wings with a shiny tool
called a retractor. The surgeon will expose
a bloody beating heart. He does this every day.
This time he will go to work on me. He will crack me
open
like a clam and replace my leaky valve and undo
the damage I was born with. My sternum will soon
be closed and stitched back together with stainless
steel laces. These will stay in my chest and be buried
with me. My flesh incision will be closed with clear
sutures that resemble fishing line. Tubes will be placed
in my chest to drain the cavity of normal post-operative
bleeding. I will carry a bag of blood and water like a briefcase
up and down the hospital halls. It will be difficult to breathe.

I will be sent home three days later
a poodle will sleep on my wound until it is healed.
I will talk to the poodle, a lot, until the poodle
is no longer a dog, the poodle is my nurse and my surprise
companion. The poodle will know this and be fulfilled
she will begin to strut like a small pony and the two of us
we become inseparable, like Mary was, with her little lamb
the one with the waggity tail.

love poem
your sleep was a warm puppy
your skin was full of highways
we drove all night, side by side
I feel asleep at your wheel

whole poem
the earth
the moon
the stars
you

butterfly
Lady Gaga of bugs.

fart poem
It wasn’t me
it must have been the poodle.

cosmic poem
the ocean forms a circle and sings to the island

wake up poem
the stream resurrected
is dragged across the pillowcase
it ripples like water down your perfect back
shake your silver hair, it sparkles like coin
your feet touch my floor and my floor is blessed
the sun appears over your shoulder as you sip your coffee
I watch your lips, like a deer frozen your headlights,
I watch your lips.

disappointing poem
a car pulls up to the curb
l look out the window, once again
it isn’t you.

exciting poem
you

real poem
Our hearts beat in perfect time.
Music is playing in our bones

Poetic License Horoscope for Dec 17-23


Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Is there any creative gift you’ve put off giving? Any songs you’ve been rehearsing for open mics, for instance? The starts have opened their ears and are waiting to hear the ring of your bell-voice, shimmering the air.
Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): My friend Sarah, like at true Unitarian, asked me which December holiday I’d like a card for, and, also like a true Unitarian, I said, “all of them.” Celebrate early, loudly. and often, Capricorn, your birthday is coming!
Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): Remember the gift of welcomeness. throw open your doors to everyone, light every little lamp, cover all of the tables with Italian-Grandmother amounts of food. People get lonely this time of year, and you can help.
Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): Your heart is like a Cracker Barrel restaurant, full of corn muffins and vintage candies. Spend some time contemplating the weird old-timey wall decorations in there. Bundle up, sit in those nice Adirondack chairs, and wait.
Aries (March 21-April 18): In the movie Funny People, Eminem plays the devil on the shoulder of Adam Sandler’s character, telling him that he can’t change even as he is mid-breakthrough. Don’t listen to your inner Marshall Mathers, Aries. You can do it.
Taurus (April 19-May 18): If you’re having one of those days where you feel like your life doesn’t amount to enough put away Kanye’s new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Turn on Girl Talk, It’s upbeat and emotionally neutral. Dance around the room.
Gemini (May 19-June 21): In the words of Marcel from Top Chef, “You don’t fuck with someone else’s mise en place.” Also, trust your friends and frenemies to decorate their banana purée however they see fit.
Cancer (June 22-July 23): Oh, Jen from Top Chef, I so much hated seeing you go, but I loved hearing your Philadelphia swearing on the way out. If I could afford it, I would go straight to 10 Arts by Eric Ripert and give you a hug.
Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): “You don’t need to know. That’s between me and Santa,” said a fellow adult writing a letter at the Macy’s Santa Mailbox. What would you ask for, now that you can write cursive and afford your own stamp? In the words of Monsters of Folk, “Hold out your hands, say please.” Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): Listen to Too Beautiful to Live’s Fascinating People Episode. (Jen and Luke interviewed each other!) What’s your answer to this question: “What’s the happiest part of the week for you?” Do that, ten-fold.
Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): You are a CATCH, Libra, and don’t forget it. Make ornaments of all your fine traits, cover them in glitter and spangles, and hang them on the Christmas tree with UNBELIEVABLE amounts of tinsel. You are very shiny.
Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): You can have anything you want this week, so make it good. Stock up on produce, spices, music, and candles. Update your wishlists and library reserves. You’re that kind of rich.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Song of the Week: Sufjan Stevens Plus One


I actually couldn't find a listenable link to my FAVORITE Christmas song this week: The Walrus in Hollis, by Kufi Knotts. (Can you believe there's more than one mashup version of Christmas in Hollis+ I Am The Walrus? CRAZY. The man does amazing things with sirens.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Year-End Heart-Inventory


1. I started this blog after a June day where I couldn’t stop crying, even while walking in the woods. I sat on a rock next to Wissahickon Creek and just bawled my eyes out, feeling this deep, nasty, desperate sense of unwelcomeness in the world. I realized that if I didn’t want to go on anti-depressants (nothing against them, it’s just always been a goal not to take them.), I was going to need to become a serotonin factory. I bought The Happiness Project and proceeded to do what it said. It took a while, but I do much less sobbing lately. I’m inching towards self-worth, as well.

2. The reader who helped me think of the blog and title is no longer in my life, and as much as I hate to admit it, that still bothers me. One of the great mysteries of 2010 is, how does someone go so quickly from dressing up as Lady Gaga and singing me Paparazzi to just completely disappearing. His sister, too, liked me enough to throw a party with me and then promptly dropped away. The sister said “I’m only talking to my close friends right now, “and how could it ever come back from that? I really, really needed friends last summer, and, I guess that’s no sin, but I’m still a little ashamed of how attached I got. Of course, let’s not forget, that for every disappearing act, there’s like, a million people who stick by me. I resolve not to forget that.

3. And while I’m on the subject of poorly-navigated friendships: Dear Bookstore Bully, everyone thinks you’re a sweet, lavender scented earth mama, but deep down, you are nothing but Mean Girl, a co-op Heather. I only hope that others begin to recognize you for what you are, before you cost your business too much more money.

4. Because of all of the turn-on-dime friendship of the year, combined with my general tendency towards anxiety, I have terrible friend-abandonment issues. The moment I start to feel friend-love, I almost want to make that person go away right away, so I don’t have to feel the (admittedly stupid) fear of the disappearance-shoe dropping. Today is one of those days where I just want to call everyone I know and ask “Did I mess up? Do you hate me? It’s okay, but let me know…” All I can do is type and fight the urge.

5. Okay, so that was a lot of not awesome, but many of the important things in my life are working out quite well at the moment, especially my job. I’ve learned to be pretty relaxed with the kids and that helps us all get much more out of the experience. Today is movie day. I wonder what we’ll watch.

6. I may be a little disappointed in who I grew up to be (like, I may never end up learning to be flexible, or aloof, or very spontaneous, or good with money, or…) but I think my twenty-year-old self would be startled! to find out! that! I have a mostly successful marriage and a great relationship with my family. I feel crazily lucky to be headed toward family holiday get-togethers with nothing but joy and anticipation.

7. I’m terrible when things go a little bit wrong, but great when things go terribly wrong. Recently, Amy started seeing a spot in her vision. Her family blessedly lent us money so that she could see a doctor, but so far, treatments haven’t improved the situation. I HATE SO MUCH that this is happening to Amy, but I’m grateful for the instinct that kicks in and says, “It’s okay, this is who you love, just take care of her.” (BUT REALLY, Universe, AMY? WTF.)

8. Maybe because of that extra-lovey instinct, I haven’t had a real crush on anybody since the summer. I’m still me, people are still cute, but no one has been very distracting. I’m not foolish enough to say there’ll never be another crush, there’s room in my heart I guess, but for now it’s such a relief to stick close to home.

9. It seems that I am going to pass this math class as long as stop I procrastinating enough to study for the final. Next step, GRE prep. The path to teaching seems clearish.

10. Last February, my brother bought Amy and me a new computer. Prior to that, our computer was so old that I never even watched a video on it. The new computer (plus a Rhapsody subscription) made all of the difference in the world.

11. Writing-ambition wise, I am as frustrated as ever. I’ve got a manuscript that I love that I haven’t found a home for. I haven’t been able to work in as many features as I’d like because of shyness and teaching schedule. I’m wildly behind my friends. I try to keep their accomplishments in mind as inspirations, but at the moment I feel like I’m so far behind that I’ve disappeared. I know that when I feel like this, submitting is the only thing for it. That’s why my theme for 2011 is: APPLY FOR STUFF!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Year in Statuses: Pretty Serotonin-y

If You Are a Follower! THANKS!


I like seeing your face to my right as I add to The Serotonin Factory. It makes the whole process less lonely.

I owe you a present. Email me at serotoninfactory@gmail.com so that I can send you something cute.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Call for Submissions: Friday Love Poems!


Hi all!

As some of you know,every Friday, I like to put up a love poem. That's where you come in.

How to submit:

1. Email love poems (pasted in the body of the email is best...) to serotoninfactory@gmail.com, with the subject "Friday Love Poem". Include your bio and info.

2. To submit a video, just send me link to your You-Tubed love poem.

3. Previously published is very okay, just include where your poem appeared before so I can make a big deal about it.

4. If you've got a picture you like to go with your poem(s), email me that, too!

Also! If you go to the right and click "Follow," I will mail you a present. It will probably be a mix CD.

XOXOXOXO, Jane

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Nice Review


Just wanted to make sure I save this nice review from my new friend Fiona Chamness: "Why are Jane Cassady 's horoscopes always so eerily relevant to my life? It's like if some friendly spirit in the spoken word/nerd/wizard community started writing horoscopes for all of us. Wait, hang on."

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Lawson-Cassady Christmas Tree


Amy's home from work today. We watched Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban over lunch and then we listened to TBTL and decorated our Christmas tree.

Right now I'm listening to the Glee Christmas and getting ready for work. Serotonin indeed.

Friday Love Poem: In Praise of Friend Crushes


This poem is also up at The Legendary this month, along with poems by my cute-boy pals Ian Khadan and Scott Beal. You want to go to there. :)

And this week is all about how much I love my friends.




In Praise of Friend-Crushes

(From cutting and pasting the words to Lady Gaga's “Paparazzi.”)

In this dance, I'm running toward you.
We don't mind the famous velvet flashing.
We don't chase safe pictures.
Ready for the biggest room in our hotel-hearts,
we look past glamorous backstage promises.
You're like the radio, if it were unpredictable.
Chase your girl.
Follow the light until you keel over,
until you love me.
Sure as photo-flashes,
you're the glitter in my eyelashes.
I know the crowd's here,
but I can't hear them.
You're my price coming down,
and I'll need that, I'll know your famous face.
We don't have to wait at appropriate distances.
I'll be burnt sparklers,
plastic rings from gumball machines, 4-EVER.
(For eva eva? For eva eva.)

Between the true slumber party dance
and the studio sets,
I'll follow you.

And here's a nice cover:

Poetic License Horoscope for Dec 10-16


Poetic License Horoscope for Dec 10-16

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): I realized last night that I’d been reading too much Harry Potter. I woke up stuffy and was trying to work out how to magic my nose better. For you, though, there’s no reason to cut down on the magical thinking.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): “If we could gather all the electric eels from all around the world, we would be able to light up an unimaginably large Christmas tree,” - Kazuhiko Minawa. Harness your defenses for similarly festive uses.

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): In the HBO series, Bored to Death, the fictionalized Jonathan Ames has taken up detective work to help him through some writer’s block issues. Think of some inspiring side-jobs for yourself, Aquarius!

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): Happy graduation. A new network of treasure-mazes is set up for you. Keep your bright lamp-eyes and your brilliant sense of direction.

Aries (March 21-April 18): If you were a principle of Kwanzaa, you’d be Imani. You believe things into transparency, trust people into diamonds, know the weather as a series of constants. Good for you.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): It’s time to start thinking about your New Years resolutions. Yours should be lovely, small, and finite: plant more bulbs for daffodils, call instead of text. Spend more time looking at kittens.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): Meditate this week on the following question: Which Big Bang Theory character are you? Why?

Cancer (June 22-July 23): ): You are like Southern California weather: equal parts dependable and dramatic. Even if right now you’re all wildfire and mudslide, you’ll be sunny and 78 degrees soon enough.

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): Fold up today and put it in your pocket. Sit down and peruse it when you get a quiet hour. Edit or illuminate as needed.

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): In the wise words of Willow Smith, “Hop up out the bed/ turn (your) swag on /Pay no attention to them haters cuz we whip em off /and we ain't doing nothing wrong/so don't tell me nothing, i'm just tryna have fun /so keep the party jumping.” (That song is stuck in my head FOREVER due to preparations for my afterschool program’s talent show.)

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): A favorite Libra told me recently that I should never write a poem about math. I was immediately tempted with metaphors about constants and the dreamy romantic entanglements of polynomials.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): My little niece and nephew have a fantastic magic trick: Shae says “I will now make this little boy disappear!” and puts a blanket over Kieran’s head. When she pulls off the blanket and yells “TADA!” he hightails it out of the room. I hope to someday make some art as great as that.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Books I Liked This Year: Kind of a Gift Guide






Here are some book gift ideas:

If they like music and mysteries:
The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst. I was riveted, and I still wonder what really happened...

For someone who needs a practical Cheer-Up:
The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin.
Bright Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich

Funny books about religious questioning:

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance
by Elna Baker
I'm Perfect, You're Doomed, by Kyria Abrahams

For anyone who likes funny ladies:


The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee, by Sarah Silverman
How Did You Get This Number?, by Sloane Crossley
I Don't Care About Your Band, by Julie Klausner

For pop culture depressives:

The Big Rewind, by Nathan Rabin
Generation A, by Douglas Coupland
Juliet, Naked, by Nick Hornby

Smart-chick lit (also with music):

Last Night at Chateau Marmont, by Lauren Weisberger

Guiltiest of guilty pleasures:


Mini-Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella

Fun With bad grammar:

Teh Itteh Bitteh Book of Kittehs

Fun with etiquette:


Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making It Work, by Tim Gunn

For sensitive surrealists:


The Peculiar Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender

For people who enjoy (non-sappy) spiritual poetry:


Love Letters from God
, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Song of the Week: Phoenix is Christmas Music.


1. Last year my brother gave me Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix for Christmas and I listened to it almost exclusively for the rest of the winter. I guess that's why it seems like Christmas music to me.

2. The Universe is fucking with some best-friends of The Serotonin Factory way too much this week. So I'm glad for PS22 letting some light in.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Eggnog Bread Pudding!


Yesterday, in spite of a cold and a Mathapocalypse, we got our second Christmas tree ever. I used to think that we couldn't have one because we don't have kids, but that was just DUMB. Having a tree makes us so happy, and it makes me feel like my family counts, even if we're just 2 ladies and two cats. The tree isn't decorated yet, but it is smelling up the house so nicely!

I think this will be our yearly We-Got-Our-Tree celebratory dessert.I made it last year, inspired by the Eggnog themed episode of Iron Chef. Serve with hot chocolate and a Bored to Death Marathon.

Egg Nog Bread Pudding!

Preheat oven to 350.

Put 3 to 5 cups of stale bread(I used Amoroso's rolls, but a fancy whole grain is nice, too) into a round casserole dish.

Stir together:
2 cups eggnog
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


Pour the mixture over the bread, the sprinkle with a little brown sugar.

Put in the oven for 45 mins. (After about 20 mins, press the bread down into the custard mixture a little more and sprinkle some more brown sugar.)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Harry Potter and the Fake Astrologer




SPOILER ALERT: If you’re one of those folks who are only watching the movies, you may want to read this … next July.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): You are Mrs. McGonagall! It seems like you should be in the Order of the Phoenix, but someone has to stay at school and be academically heroic — then kick some ass at the end. You are a master of Transfiguration, use it wisely.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): Before Deathly Hallows came out, my sister had a “Trust Snape” bumper sticker on the back of her minivan. Dumbledore trusted him, and that was good enough for her.

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): You are Dobby, a free elf. You like to refer to yourself in the third person. You are loyal enough to bewitch bludgers and block the platform to keep Harry Potter from danger. You love your friends more than anything.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): You are Molly Weasley, mistress of kitchen magic, high priestess of nagging, deliverer of the swift kick of justice. Your will is titanium, your heart is mush.

Aries (March 21-April 18): You are Remus Lupin! Even though you were distracted by your own werewolf troubles, you still took time to show Harry how to conjure a Patronus. Then Harry showed Dumbledore’s army, and the rest is history.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): Like Hagrid, you’ve got a soft spot for monsters. Be careful where you hide your dragons, sure, but no need to resort to the boredom of flobberworms.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): You are Hermione Granger. You are constantly wondering, “Hasn’t anyone else read Hogwarts, A History?” Luckily, you have.

Cancer (June 22-July 23): Like Mad Eye Moody, you’re very perceptive but you tend to catastrophise. Keep your 360 vision sharp and your sneakoscope at the ready, but really, try to find dome time to relax.

Leo
(July 24-Aug. 23): You may have started off clumsy and forgetful, like Neville Longbottom, but your misfit status will mean that you’re one of the few students checking the Dumbledore’s Army communication coin thingie. You’ll be a key player in the resistance.

Virgo
(Aug. 24-Sept. 23): A friend of mine told me that I am Luna Lovegood, which makes sense because she also thinks I make deals with rainbows. Luna’s a bit more new-agey than I am, but I’ll take it was a compliment. I can be helpful with exposition and explain to Harry about the Thestrals.

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): You are Nymphadora Tonks, registered metamorphmagus. You can shift your appearance all you want, but you’ll be a constant underneath that pink hair.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): You’re as strong and as surly as Sirius Black. Watch out for shifty rats. Be ready to assume the form of a dog at any time. Remember that chocolate will offset the effects of the dementors.

Friday Love Poem: HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!


Tomorrow, December 4th, is the NINE YEAR anniversary of the night that Amy and I became a couple. Here's to many more years of sitting on the couch watching episodes!

For Those About to Plan Weddings, We Salute You

Married, you're responsible
for at least two sets of teeth.
Look around and count them.
You have to take care of (at least)
eight limbs, two hearts, twenty extremities
subject to frostbite.

Hone your gentle nagging
to the sound of snowfall
or the washing machine.
Budget fresh air and sunlight for you both.
Picture the week in front of you
like a staircase.

Married, you might say
“Let's watch one more episode.”
for the chance to lean against her heart
for another fifty minutes.
One episode may turn into seven.
It's alright.

You've doubled your books, good.
When you can lay in bed and read on Sundays
single friends might seem
a little too spur-of-the moment.
There's someone to make you into the bed,
someone to make the coffee.

You can scrapbook a grocery-list romance
or take up birdwatching,
become almost permanently still.
The weight gain is a bother,
But the honeymoons are as many
as petals on hydrangeas.

(Unconditional love is shocking,
can make you feel invisible:
look in the mirror a lot.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December Resolutions/Workout Playlist


Hi December!

1. Use vacation time to move my life forward.
2. Evening walks with Amy.
3. Avoid emotional eating. (This is a GROSS resolution, but I think it might actually bring some happiness...)
4. Submit, query, apply for stuff.
5. Pass Math with a C or better.

I weighed myself this morning and came in at 257.5--that means I lost almost 3 pounds. Maybe it's that yoga resolution.

Here's a new little workout playlist:
Ready to Start (Arcade Fire)
Le Disko (Shiny Toy Guns)
Dynamite! (The Roots)
Stronger (Kanye West)
Bad Romance (Lady Gaga)
Toxic (Britney Spears)
Henrietta (The Fratellis)
SHOW ME LOVE (Robin S.)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

20 Things That Caused Happiness, November 2010







1. Fuze events featuring Brian “Omni” Dillon, Omar Holmon, and Ian Khadan.
2. World War Cute: Otters v. Lions! (v. Kittens v. Sloths v. Puppies v. Bunnies…)
3. Indulging in bad Lolcat grammar with my little niece and Teh Itteh Bitteh Book of Kittehs. (Apologies to her grammatically correct parents! I agree with them! And yet!)
4. Family Mario Kart, even when Holden made me be Bowser instead of Peach. Also, Scrabble IRL!
5. Started rereading/re-viewing the Potters after our Deathly Hallows excursion with the Shaptowiczes.
6. Eating too many Bottle Caps during said excursion. (We’ll know we’ve made it when we can afford not to sneak candy into the movies. We’ll still do it though.)
7. Helping my pal Cristin prepare for her TED speech—so inspiring!
8. And SPEAKING of being inspired by Cristin, she won an NEA grant! Isn’t it great to see people who deserve success rewarded?
9. And! Previewing her new book!
10. Watching the rest of Veronica Mars, even if the ending isn’t an ending—somebody save Logan! Write a comic book or something!
11. Black Friday shopping with my sister and niece, and all of the subsequent napping.
12. Eggnog latte! (Decaf this year, but still!)
13. Doing acceptably in the Fuze IWPS final. Yay for getting to the second round, thanks to my coach/our IWPS rep Shappy!
14. Getting the horoscopes and some poems in The Legendary.
15. Writing some new poems!
16. Making my way through math class.
17. Awesome kid-art at work. (Plus we’re getting ready for our talent show!)
18. My ex-job blog posts were very healing.
19. TBTL’s lovable Thanksgiving-week programming. Their take on the Delilah show should be the new Thanksgiving-eve tradition.
20. Driving to Thanksgiving, and of course Thanksgiving itself!

Monday, November 29, 2010

November Resolutions Check-In


It's really hard to feel positive right now: we just got back from the opthamologist. It turns out that the spot in Amy's vision is an inflammation that may or may not be fixable--she had a steroid shot to the eye and that's supposed to help in some cases. I'm just so angry. Amy is the nicest person ever and these shitty things keep happening to her--kinda makes me lose faith.

Her brother was kind enough to lend us the money to cover some of the doctor visits and treatments, otherwise we'd truly be in a horror story right now. The whole experience just really drives home the need for me to end up in a full time teaching job, so that we can pursue our crazy dream of having insurance.

Anyway, before I head out to get the ingredients for Amy's favorite meal, here's how I did with The Happiness Project this month:
1. Take reasonable steps forward.

I think I did this--I've been soldiering through math class, with the goal of applying to teacher certification programs,(You need 6 credits of math to teach in Pennsylvania. I avoided math in college by taking advanced languages--like Ancient Greek was so easy...) and I registered for next semester's math class as well. (Linear Mathematics: I like systems of equations)

I've been a little more outgoing about making friends with people, even though it makes me feel embarrassed/jinxy to write that...

I booked some good events and stuff, too, but I think I could have done more.

2.Get back into the habit of yoga.

Done, but with some fast-forwarding of the tape.

3. Submit! (Poetry)

This was one of my most successful submitting months ever. I even found another home for my horoscopes. A pal of mine just won an NEA Grant, though, so I feel like I've got to step up the effort--I think that the entire theme for 2011 is: APPLY FOR STUFF.

4.Evening walks with Amy.

This was one of my favorite resolutions but I really forgot to do it. Expect it to be a December resolution as well. Christmas light watching should help.

5. Dance more.

I was doing great with this one over the summer, but lately I've been feeling kind of old-ladyish about it. Hmmm.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Poetic License Horoscopes for Nov 26-Dec 2




Sagittarius
(Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Happy Birthday Month! Your celebratory quote comes from Leonard Cohen: “Once your life is organized so beautifully that there’s a table, and a chair, and a typewriter, that already is an incredible triumph.”

Capricorn
(Dec. 23-Jan. 20): Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One is pretty bleak, but you can enjoy it more by 1) enjoying all of the beautiful landscapes, and 2) remembering all of the badassery to come.

Aquarius
(Jan. 21-Feb. 19): Dear Lost Friend: I don’t know if you still read these, but if you do: I still think of you every time I hear Belle and Sebastian’s song, Wrapped Up in Books, AKA the song on the set list that you didn’t play. I still have the set list, too.

Pisces
(Feb. 20-March 20): A Scrabble Blessing: May you know all of your two-letter words, as well as the “q-with-no-u”s. May you never end up with all vowels or all consonants. May your seven letters spell one word, every time, and may you have someplace to put each one. Amen.

Aries (March 21-April 18): When Liz Lemon experiences a small victory, she says that she’s “high-fiving a million angels!” Prepare to have just that much to celebrate.

Taurus
(April 19-May 18): Make like the “Tons of Fucking Sequins” guy. (Google it.) Load up your arms with something decadent and swear exultantly about it for all to hear.

Gemini
(May 19-June 21): “You can get anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant/ Excepting Alice/ You can get anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant /Walk right in it’s around the back/ Just a half a mile from the railroad track/You can get anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant.” —Arlo Guthrie

Cancer (June 22-July 23): Replace all of your self-portraits with cels from your favorite cartoons. You’re almost a Care Bear anyway, so just go ahead and make the leap.

Leo
(July 24-Aug. 23: “If you have ever gone into the woods with me, I must love you very much.”—Mary Oliver. Grab someone brilliant and beautiful and go watch the last leaves.

Virgo
(Aug. 24-Sept. 23): While everyone’s out starting their holiday shopping, stay home and repair what you already have; sew buttons on neglected pants, dust hard-to-reach places, back up your files. Soon you’ll need all of your energy for stringing lights.

Libra
(Sept. 24-Oct. 21): One of my favorite family-weekend traditions is after-dinner Mario Kart. Do something that makes you laugh hysterically and fall off imaginary rope bridges: 3! 2! 1! GO!

Scorpio
(Oct. 22-Nov. 22): “What a beautiful face/I have found in this place/That is circling all round’ the sun/And when we meet on a cloud/I’ll be laughing out loud/I’ll be laughing with everyone I see/Can’t believe how strange it is to be anything at all.”—Neutral Milk Hotel

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Aunt Jane's Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Cookies




I invented these last year for my little nephew, Quinn. Gonna try to make some tomorrow!

Preheat oven to 350

Using beaters, cream together:

1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Add the following and then beat again:

1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp soy milk

Sift the following together, then add to above mixture:

1/2 cup soy flour
1/2 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
NUTMEG!

Then add:
2 cups rolled(not quick) oats
3/4 cup crasins
1/4 cup toasted pepitas