Thursday, September 30, 2010

Twenty Things that Made Me Happy in September 2010

1. My awesome birthday beach trip, getting pummeled by the waves.
2. My awesome birthday games night where I got everyone to answer really personal questions.
3. Making myself a birthday mix.
4. Starting Intermediate Algebra. (Math credits so I can apply to teacher-certification programs.)
5. Starting my new job at the LIBRARY.
6.Two of my favorite poets moved into town!
7.Two great features at the FUZE.
8. Writing a lot.
9. I graduated myself from therapy.
10. Reading Bright Sided, Blue Bird, and Freedom. Curmudgeonly goodness.
11. My pretty new chapbook, Adventures of a Lazy Polyamorist.
12. Said adventures.
13. Light and Honey Festival: got to perform with and hear some great writers.
14. Getting my copy of Apiary, with my poem Twilight Meals in it.
15. Addressing all of my chapbooks and putting (mostly) love letters in them.
16. It smells like Fall.
17. The new Radiolab about falling.
18. I’ve got a great poetry tutoring student.
19. Pumpkin Pancakes!
20. Making a Thanksgivingy dinner for some poet pals.

Three Songs of the Week: So Gorgeous/So Silly/So Not Looking Back

One is a gorgeous standard. One has a puppet. And the third has this:

"I don't have to see you
every day
but I just wanna know you're there."
Which is the dedication of my new book.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Post-Therapy Thoughts

*****This Marc Maron interview with Judd Apatow has one of the most brilliant and helpful mental heath discussions I’ve ever heard!

• The best advice I got before I graduated myself from therapy: “Don’t fight with yourself. Let yourself be wrong or even stupid.” What was really crazy-making, though, is that this particular lady contradicted her advice for the rest of the time, auto-correcting or trying to breathing-exercise away any thought or emotion she didn’t approve of. Being emotional is unwieldy and sometimes inconvenient, but it’s who I am. They’re just emotions, not poisons or monsters.

• The other really helpful thing was “Find creative ways to think about space.” And now I have the space to do that.

• I meditate every day. I go to a very breathe-y church. I’ve taken Qigong and Yoga. If things could be solved by breathing, I would’ve transcended by now.

•My brother is studying to be a psychologist, and I can see him fixing some of the stuff that's wrong with the field.

• I’ve been experiencing bursts of anger that are almost comical in their bluster. They are embarrassing but I think it’s actually a good step—allowing myself to express anger instead of internalizing it and letting it become more self-loathing. A lot of the things that piss me off happen to be things I can change or avoid so there’s no need to wrestle myself into having a good attitude about them. It feels like a phase, a way through, and I hope it is.

• When I was a teenager, a therapist told me I’d be happier if I wore more normal clothes to school. Since then, I’ve suspected that the goal of Psychology isn’t happiness or fulfillment, but conformity. Is 36 too old to re-realize that I’m a non-conformist? Albeit one who watches a LOT of TV?

• I still think that knee-jerk use of antidepressants is insidious, covering up the symptoms but not seeking to solve the CAUSES of depression and lulling people into complacency with the status quo.

• I thank therapy for taking me this far from being the jittering lump that I was back in March. I think I would have benefitted from a slow, supportive unpacking of my bedraggled narrative, but I’m not sure that that exists within my price range or anymore. Maybe therapy has been irrevocably sped up by prescriptions, or maybe Positive Psychology is just too uncomfortable with the amount of ruminating that I feel I need. (In addition to practical changes, of course.)

• In trying to define myself as separate from my past, I think I was as dismissive as these maddening ladies. It’s safe now, I think, to let the traumatized parts of my story come out, even come out obsessively till they’re done. Once I can integrate those parts of myself, on the page at least, I think that things might be alright.

• I’m glad to be guru-free at the moment. Running my life by committee, with my pathological wish to please, was getting exhausting.

• Amy was reading my cards the other day and she said there’s a figure at the center of the Wheel of Fortune, holding it steady so I can climb up. (She’s as awesome as I am at made-up fortune-telling.) I’m going to try to be that figure.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Poetic License Horoscope for September 24-Oct 1

A Mini Tarot Reading

(Note: If you enjoy made-up advice and pop-culture mysticism, come visit me at the Mount Airy Village Fair this Sunday, September 26th! You can get a totally made up Tarot reading, make September Valentines, and peruse my brand new book of love poems, Adventures of A Lazy Polyamorist. XOXOXOX-Jane)

(Aug. 24-Sept. 23): Four of Cups-: Gloria Steinem said “Women have a terminal case of gratitude.” I recently switched my Gratitude Journal to a Happiness List. I felt like being so grateful made me disappear and get taken for granted. Dial back the thank you notes, but still notice what you’re given.

(Sept. 24-Oct. 21): Force- A fancy lady is grasping the lion’s jaw. The lion looks kind of abashed. You are wearing infinity as hat—grasp the application process, your bank balance, your forgotten novel, any untamable thing.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): The Sun- Your egg has hatched, your community garden is exploding with tomatoes, and your tweets are retweeted to rival Rob Cordry’s. Like Lady Gaga bringing her asked-and-told soldiers onto the red carpet and into the news cycle, use your weird voice for good.

(Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Ten of Wands- If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it might be a good time to remember that gold is heavy. Delegate some of your riches; pass it on like coins along the road.

(Dec. 23-Jan. 20): The Lovers- Your interloper might not be an arrow-wielding centaur, but nonetheless you need some element of hybridizing, some alchemy, even if it only means switching to half-decaf, making art in mixed media, or being a little two-faced.

(Jan. 21-Feb. 19): Five of Cups- Something you put a lot of stock in is starting to lose some of its meaning—that very well COULD be you in the spotlight, losing your religion. Be lost. Be a little at sea and see what floats by next.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): Wheel of Fortune- I married a woman who is excellent at making paper boats. I would advise you to do the same. It doesn’t matter if you lose your crown or ascend to the seagulls; these temporary vessels keep you strangely grounded.

Aries (March 21-April 18): The Moon- Once, when I was 20 or so, I stayed up all night painting The Moon card for Joe Prisco, a boyfriend of questionable value. He dumped me that very weekend, but a least I had the painting.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): Five of Coins- In the words of LCD Soundsystem, “Drunk girls know that love is an astronaut. It comes back but it’s never the same.” Try again anyway.
Gemini (May 19-June 21): Nine of Wands- Choose nine things you can’t do anything about this week. Don’t do anything about them.

Cancer (June 22-July 23): Queen of Cups- According to heartthrob folk singer Peter Mulvey, “The trouble with shoes is they come untied. You might take a fall down the stairs. Then a poet might come along and say “Isn’t that just like life?” The trouble with poets is they see poetry everywhere.” Be like that.

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): The Magician- Intuition isn’t just blindly letting your feelings make your decisions. It’s using the information already stored in your brain. Blink like Malcolm Gladwell, Leo, and trust your decisions.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Song of the Week: Home

Last night, in the middle of an argument with my poor overworked wife, I got in the car to go to the Acme. This song came on and, after thanking my lucky stars that I live someplace where this song could come on the radio, I realized it was so perfect for how lost I was feeling/ how dumb I was being.

Hopefully I can make it up to her with lots of snuggling during Project Runway time.

Home-- LCD Soundsystem
Take me home

Just do it right
Make it perfect and real
Because it's everything
No everything was never the deal

So grab your things and stumble into the night
So we can shut the door
Oh, shut the door on terrible times

Yeah, do it right
And head again into space
So you can carry on
And carry on, and fall all over the place

This is the trick, forget a terrible year
That we can break the laws
Until it gets weird

And this is what you waited for
But under lights, we're all unsure
So tell me
What would make you feel better?

As night has such a local ring
And love and rock are pick-up things
And you know it
Yeah, you know it
Yeah, you know


Forget your past
This is your last chance now
And we can break the rules
Like nothing will last

You might forget
Forget the sound of a voice
Still you should not forget
Yeah, don't forget
The things that we laughed about

And after rolling on the floor
And thankfully, a few make sure that you get home
And you stay home
And you better

'Cause you're afraid of what you need
Yeah, you're afraid of what you need
If you weren't, yeah you weren't
Then I don't know what we'd talk about

Yeah no one ever knows what you're talking about
So i guess you're already there
No one opens up when you scream and shout
But it's time to make a couple things clear

If you're afraid of what you need
If you're afraid of what you need
Look around you, you're surrounded
It won't get any better

Until the night

Friday, September 17, 2010

Poetic License Horoscope for Sept 17-23

Wasn't it a fun week?

Hooray! Go me.

Well, at least one of my birthday wishes come true: I've decided to graduate myself from therapy. I'll have things to say about it soon, but right now I just want to bask in it. :)

Let's celebrate with this video of the Harborfest Fireworks finale from 2008. (That's the last time we went. )

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Surly Mantras

Here are some mantras I made up and enjoy.

1. Bitch, please.
2. Courtesy of my mom: "You have to remember, not everyone is as smart as you."

(The Serotonin Factory is having a nice time being a PMS Factory this week. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Bluebird of Forced Cheerfulness

“The manufacture of happiness actually leads to emotional burnout. There’s an ironic correlation between forced cheerfulness and depression. And when cheerfulness is considered the rule, even ordinary sadness or frustration—feelings that would be considered normal in many other cultures and at many other ties in history—can easily be interpreted as illness.”—Ariel Gore from Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness.

I think that’s why Steven Slater, the Jet Blue flight attendant who called everyone motherfuckers and then slid down the emergency slide to freedom, became such a hero. It wasn’t just the release from a crappy job that we all admired; I think it was the release from having to be NICE all the time. Sometimes people are motherfuckers.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Emotional, So There.

Is this a breakthrough?

I don’t think that you can cure depression by thought-policing yourself away from bad feelings, memories, etc. They need space just as much as any other emotions do.

I just sat through another session of a therapist missing the point, glossing over the important stories to tell me to convince myself I’m strolling through the woods is I feel threatened or sad.

That seems a little crazy.

I’m going now to reserve Bright Sided from the library.
The truth must be somewhere between that and The Happiness Project.

Guest House –by Rumi
This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Poetic License Horoscope for Sept 10-16

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Song of the Week: We Used to Wait

“It seems strange
How we used to wait for letters to arrive
But what's stranger still
Is how something so small can keep you alive.”


I’ll wait…

More accurately, it’s a song of last week. I spent, like MOST of last week messing around with this thing, typing in different addresses, but nothing compares to the feeling when you realize where those birds are flying over, what you are about to see.

The first time the little runner slowed down and looked around near the first place I lived, I really did feel like that little person. It opened up some writing floodgates.

A friend of mine said that on his film, it clearly showed that his treehouse had been dismantled. Such a perfect example of the rich loss and wistfulness.

Back to Thinking About Space: I think that I might have a little different slant on The Suburbs than others might. Whereas on this album and in other works of art (The Virgin Suicides, Weeds, Douglas Coupland novels) the suburbs always represent a sort of decadent desolation, they seemed like the opposite to me. I grew up in a very rural area, like I said yesterday, so moving to the suburbs was, to borrow a phrase from a semi-shy friend, socially overwhelming. It was liberating in that I could walk to the library, but scary because there were so many people around. (It’s similar, I guess to my still-current feeling of moving from a small city to a big one.)

Every Arcade Fire album is a different way of looking at the end of the world. This particular apocalypse is my favorite because it’s the most lyrical. And because it’s causing me to write a mountain.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thinking About Space

The therapist lady’s assignment before the Labor Day break was “Find creative ways to think about space.”

That’s because sometimes when I feel stressed or threatened, I also feel trapped, like I can’t get away, like I have to snarl and fight like a cornered squirrel. I haven’t thought of a way to convince myself during those times that I have any control over the situation, that I can, in fact, walk away. (not storm away or fade into the woodwork.)

But here’s what I have so far about space:

1. For my whole adult life, I’ve thought of myself as someone who leaves the past behind as a survival mechanism, but it is not behind. There’s rooms I’m trapped in unable to move, exposed and looking for my clothes or safe for the moment with nowhere left to go. I’ve been dreaming those rooms and trying to write them as they come. I’m hoping if I write it honestly enough, the trapped feeling will fade.

2. Lynda Barry says that when a loss is too painful (the example she gives is the death of a pet) we sometimes put that image away so we can’t find it.

Allowing myself to write about lost things feels like a lot of little reunions.

The United States of Tara and The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst both have lots of interesting things to say about those little retrievals.

3. I grew up in a farmhouse on 10 acres of land. The nearest town was 5 miles away. To a kid in trouble that might as well be the moon.

To a kid exploring, it was magic. There was no limit to the number of imaginary things that could happen. My brother and sister and I picked wild strawberries, walked aimlessly through the woods, had our own eensy little pond to slip around on in the winter. If two cars drove by our house, my Grandpa would say “Rush hour!” and my sister and I would say “Rush minute!” and laugh hysterically.

4. There was a time years after that, in a suburban apartment complex, when I should have fought. Should have hissed and snarled. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t move. I wish I’d told the cops the whole story. I wish that my adult self had been there to protect my teen self. It’s hard to forgive myself even still.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Love Poem from Shannon Maney-Magnuson

I love science. I love science. I love science. I love science.
by Shannon Maney-Magnuson

In 1935
When Kodak invented Kodachrome slide film
It was so photographers could capture things the way they are
In full color
To develop the film,
They used a chemical compound
Phenidone, C9H10N2O
A slurry of
Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen and Oxygen
Poured onto a picture
To bring it to life

In July of 2010
Kodak gave its last roll of Kodachrome film
to a famous photographer
It marked the end of an era
in brilliant hues of red and orange
He took that roll of film to the only place in America that still develops it.

One little shop in Kansas still pours a chemical compound of
Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen and Oxygen
To breathe life into photographs.

The same week
I read the story about the last roll of Kodachrome film
That appeared in my inbox in an email from my aunt
Captured on Kodak Kodachrome slide film
Is my grandmother
And that cute one on the right
Is my mom

Barbara Jean begat Martha Jean and Martha Jean begat me.
And I’m Shanny Jean.

I love science I love science

(new slide)

My mom does not talk about her mom

Here is her family around 1960*, captured on Kodak Kodachrome slide film. Richard, Barbara, Linda, Martha, Bill.

Soon after this, Richard leaves for Kansas City**. Leave leaves. Gets a good job. Divorces his wife. Buys a Mister Coffee coffeemaker. Marries my grandma Yvonne (not pictured).

Barbara also remarries, sort of. She starts seeing a man named Cheap Gin, who’s a bottom shelf swill and not actually a man. And he changes her. Things get terrible. Linda turns seventeen and moves to Chicago*. Bill makes visits* back and forth from Kansas City. And Martha stays. Through all of it, she stays.

Before Martha graduates high school, Barbara gets cancer and dies. Just like that. Martha blames Richard. Martha blames Barbara. Martha never speaks of Barbara again. Not really.

Daughters understand more than anyone their mothers’ insecurities.
It’s why Martha stayed with Barbara.
And it’s why I don’t ask questions.

Chemical compounds like phenidone don’t choose the properties of their parent elements that develop in them
So too it is with us

I don’t get a say in what Barbara genes and Martha genes will develop into Shanny genes

They just develop.

I love science. I love science. I love science. I love science.

(final slide)

On July 21 2010,
On Kodak Kodachrome slide film
Developed with the chemical compound phenidone
I saw a picture of Barbara Jean Dalton Nelson for the first time in my life.
And in my twenty eight and a half years of living
It somehow never occurred to me
That she would look like me
That we would have had similar composition
That seeing my mother’s eyes on the face of her mother would someday make me cry
It never occurred to me that the pictures my mom had locked in a box
The thing she couldn’t bear to look at

Were pictures of times that were happy.
The proof of that fleeting joy.
Things as they were.
In color.

Are not chemical compounds
But we have a chemical composition
Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen (and other things)
Are poured over our paper thin skeletons
To link us to each other
To make us capable of memory
To make us come to life

I love science. I love science. I love science. I love science.

**This is kind of true, it turns out. He was in KC on business a lot, and traveled back and forth. At one point, it sort of stopped. I found out because...

*These facts were changed because my mom read the poem and corrected them. We talked for a very long time. I learned many many things. I cried and she didn't. It was, as you can imagine, cathartic and amazing. I love science. I love science. I love science. I love science.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ten Birthday Wishes (36 Seems Excessive)

1. I wish Amy worked at a good job in Philadelphia and not goddamn Dover.
2. I wish for “The Comfort of Automated Phrases” to be published.
3. I wish for a peaceful and productive year of teaching.
4. I wish for a Leeway Grant to support my memoir.
5. I wish I knew what to do about having babies.
6. I wish for less frequent blues and closer friendships.
7. I wish for health, wealth, and happiness.
8. I wish to have an art show.
9. I wish to graduate from therapy.
10. I wish for dancing at least twice a month.

Poetic License Horoscope for Sept 3-9

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Learning the Butterflies

I saw a Red Spotted Purple near Amy's work the other day.

Three Songs of the Week: I Heart 1993.

Look for a song of the week every Thursday. :)

Blind Melon--No Rain
Living Colour--Bi

Having Rhapsody on the computer allows me to recreate long-defunct mix tapes, including one that I got for my birthday in 1993. I can even rewrite history and leave out the Belly song. I still have my irrational hatred of Tanya Donelly after all these years.

Anyway this mix was given to me by one Mr. Mike Sumner, who does not (thank goodness) have an easily Googlable name.

The summer after I graduated from High School, I lived at the Jersey Shore and worked at Great Adventure. There I met Mike. I was amazed to find myself sharing a foldout couch in Cranford, NJ with this beautiful man. He looked absolutely perfect for 1993—long fluffy Eddie Vedder hair, very tidy suburban grunge outfits. We had conversations about our Dr. Martens. We made out to Ween albums. We sang “Killing in the Name of” on amusement park rides.

At the end of the Summer, I went back to live with my dad in the suburbs of Syracuse, NY. Mike’s birthday is on September 4th and mine is on September 5th- it was a Saturday-Sunday just like this year. He came to visit me that weekend. We decided we should consummate the relationship on midnight between the birthdays. It almost didn’t happen because of some snit, but when we heard the first notes of “No Rain,” our hearts didn’t just melt, they sublimated. He was the first person I ever had sex with and loved at the same time.

It didn’t last very long after that weekend… he got to Rutgers and realized how many adventures were to be had, how many girls with purple hair and striped stockings were there, right in the same dorm. I took the Greyhound to New Brunswick for the official breakup/a Dead Milkmen show. Gave him back his teddy bear.

When I moved to Philadelphia a few months later, I called him unceasingly. On Aunt Connie’s advice, I actually said a Novena over him. It worked. He called and we went to a King Missile show on South St. We were friends for a bunch of years after that.


September Resolutions

1. Write, write, write, write, write. Write a mountain.
2. Strength training.
3. Go look at art.
4. Practice the gift of spousal silence.
5. Get some money and take care of it. (encore appearance)