Friday, October 28, 2011

Triads and Quadrangles: On Being Not-Skinny and Pajama-Envy

It was a good date. We went to The Academy of Natural Science for Mega-Bad Movie Night. I forgot how much I loved watching a bad movie while a panel makes snide comments about it, MST3K-style. Also we got to visit the butterfly garden.

He was cute, tall, and had a million pictures of his little son in his phone. I just go bonkers for dads, in case you didn’t know.

Anyway, we’d just had some post-movie pie in a cute little diner and he was walking me back to my 11th and Walnut bus stop. He’s a shy guy, so he surprised me by talking about a clothing-optional beach he likes to go to. That’s when this conversation happened:

She: “Oh, I would be much too shy for that!”

He: “Well, you’d be surprised, there are more not-skinny women there than skinny women. I know I don’t have the best body-image either.”

She: “………………Um, I have a good body image……………”

I’m sure I said wrong things too, but sheesh, that’s hard to come back from.

I admit that I am heavier than I want to be and that a scale has once again joined the household. Being unconditionally loved and kind of a sensualist, I do tend to gain weight if I am not paying attention. And I’m sure my size is part of the reason guys generally just want to be friends, BUT.

I do love my body. If I can look at it objectively, I can see how someone, even a male someone, might think it’s beautiful. And I always want to be on my body’s side. I don’t want anyone to settle for it, or tolerate it. I just want someone to love it.

At the moment he made that assumption, I felt how cold out it was. I’d had fun but I’d also missed Thursday shows AND the Project Runway finale. I called Amy and she told me she was in her monkey pajamas and very fuzzy socks. I just missed the warmth of my home. I texted her when the bus was ten minutes from home and she had tea waiting for me. I snuggled with her and the cats and felt like the luckiest person in the universe. Who could measure up to that? I feel for the gentlemen, I really do. I wish that everyone could always feel as cozy and loved as I did last night when I got home.

Friday Love Poem: John Beck!


You’re asleep in the passenger seat, so it’s just Orion and me and the long empty highway stretching back to New Jersey. No ballgame, no radio, no cell phones; although the tower lights beckon down 81 South. They twinkle at me, a constellation in reverse, too close to be any more than they seem.

Orion and I wonder whether you’re dreaming big or little dreams?

I dream of stars some nights, of their spinning song, sung although sound cannot carry in vacuum. Like your dreaming, I’d have to get so close to hear that I’d be destroyed, combust and scatter as star dust scarred with the single truest note ever roared in the fission furnace, and race through the void on a solar flare as testament to brilliance; I think it might be worth it, but that doesn’t seem like the sort of dream you’d have.

Maybe it’s the dream of a girl being carried home again, to be woken with kisses when we park near our apartment, to stagger sleepy-eyed through the first hints of frost and up those stairs, to fall contented into my radiator arms and bury her face in the familiar pillow.

I follow Orion in the rear view mirror while the tires sing their homeward song, and I know Orion sings too, the constellation’s dream song of greatness in parts, of dots to be connected, of harmony achieved through balance and imagination, of being more than a single star.

 John is newly married, and this poem was part of a chapbook gift to his bride. He believes in the communal power of board games, and of baseball. After years as a baseball blogger, he’s begun an art and life blog at

Poetic License Horoscopes for October 28-November 3

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): Like the characters in the pretty good but maybe not so long lived new show Once Upon a Time, you might feel as if time is standing still. If you pay attention like the little hero of the story, though, you’ll see the town clock start to move.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Enjoy your homecoming, brief though it may be. Settle into your bones, you childhood bed, the cats you used to sit for. Pray to the light-up subway map in your heart, think how all the trains are always just going back and forth, back and forth.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): Though our ex-therapist advises us against black and white thinking, the starts sometimes think grey areas are overrated. This week, your favorite things are either this or that: friend or sweetheart, vanilla or kink, sky or ground.

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): This week you may think you feel an urge to submit, but it could simply be a wish to surrender to unabashed affection, to be adored beyond all control, which is what you deserve. Or it could be an urge to submit to literary journals, who knows?

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): “If I was an old school, fifty pound boombox, would you hold me on your shoulder, wherever you walkWould you turn my volume up in front of the cops, and crank it higher every time they told you to stopAnd all I ask is that you don't get mad at me when you have to purchase mad D batteries…” (Gym Class Heroes)

Aries (March 21-April 18): Your Halloween costume is decidedly an angel—you are all feathers and harp, all tinsel halo and iridescent glitter. You are sparkling, translucent, eternal, floating like crepe paper blessings, ready for all the candy.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): In David Sedaris’s story, Us and Them, he tells about the time that, as a child, he tried to cram all of his Halloween candy into his mouth at once rather than share it with the weird neighbor children. You are the opposite of that. Share everything, pumpkin, even your mini candy bars, even the Milk Duds.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): To my Gemini brother, who is addicted to road trips: Drive forever, all over the nation. Post pictures of rich vistas and every brightly colored tree. Your sky is a perfect blue, your mountains emphatic, the engine a holy hum.

Cancer (June 22-July 23):  Whatever hurts your heart, press “hide.” Press “unsubscribe.” If it comes down to it, press “unfriend.” You’re making room for something bigger and softer and warmer. Take fear and loss and self-consciousness out of your field of vision. One million points for every day you succeed in not thinking of it.

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): To my dear wife, who played Scrabble with me at Occupy Philadelphia: I’ll always spell out “love” for you in tiles, four points to your 78 points for “biscuits.” When it comes to you, I have a single clear message, and will be happy to marker it on signs and tape it to the cold walls outside city hall. You are a one woman Occupy My Heart.
Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): “(Reality is infinitely perfect/ but we are blind, / for we give value/ to things that/ are not ours.)” (Azwan Ismail) The moments where you settle into your skin are the happiest, and they will be most of this week. That little remaining envy means you’re breathing.

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): See Cancer and do the opposite: Buy nice little presents for the sadness just below the surface. Wrap it in pretty blankets and make it some Tension Tamer tea. That’s what healing is, darling. (The stars are working on it too, we promise.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Arts and Crafts: Make Your Own Monster!

As some of you know, I have a really adorable job: I work in the after school program at my local library. I thought it would be fun to start sharing some of our activities. You can also follow the kids' blog here. 

Make Your Own Monster is the most fun ever. The kids pick 5 slips from the list of possible monster qualities, create a monster with all of those qualities, then write a story from the monster's point of view. The list of possible monster-qualities is I think my favorite thing that I have ever written.

Your monster has a red tail with ten spikes.

Your monster has a hundred slimy eyes.

Your monster has pink pigtails.

Your monster has turquoise scales.

Your monster is lachrymose. (crying)

Your monster is elated. (very happy)

Your monster is excited.

Your monster has purple and green gills.

Your monster has puppy feet.

Your monster has banana hands.

Your monster has twenty pointy ears.

Your monster has a scaly torso.

Your monster has green nostrils.

Your monster has sparkly toenails.

Your monster is a ballerina.

Your monster has a fire-snout.

Your monster has blue fuzzy earlobes.

Your monster has nine shoes on.

Your monster has potato hats.

Your monster has red flowery elbows.

Your monster is an accountant.

Your monster works at the library.

Your monster has artistic talents beyond compare.

Your monster has a lot of money in her backpack.

Your monster has a sweet tooth for cookies.

Your monster likes music.

Your monster has six toes on each foot.

Your monster has a history of sleeping in class.

Your monster has no idea what time it is.

Your monster has five pairs of jeans.

Your monster has a fancy car.

Your monster is afraid of lightning.

Your monster likes books about monsters.

Your monster is a celebrity chef.

Your monster has shining yellow eyes.

Your monster has a lot of work to do.


A Monster’s Tale

My name is ___________________ The Monster. Today I________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Song of the Week: Billy Joel as the 99%

A mixtape pal of mine from Allentown pointed out that this seems pretty Occupy-ish, and I agree. Plus, Billy Joel!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Motivation Mondays: Paper on Critical Literacy

I apologize for the academic language, but I thought this might be interesting to readers who are interested in teaching as social justice. It' must be an okay paper, since I got an "A" on it. :) I'm not sure why it wants to be in different colors, but I hope that's not too distracting.


“Questions such as "Whose story is this?" "Who benefits from this story?" and "Whose voices are not being heard?" invite readers to interrogate the systems of meaning that operate both consciously and unconsciously in texts, as well as in mainstream culture, to privilege some and marginalize others. Thus, a critical literacy approach includes a focus on social justice and the role that each of us plays in challenging or helping to perpetuate the injustices we identify in our world. In this sense, critically literate individuals are capable of taking social action to fight oppression and transform their communities and realities.” --From “Out of the Box: Critical Literacy in a First Grade Classroom,” by Christine Leland

The practice of critical literacy can be a good way to validate different points of view and promote cross-cultural and cross-language learning. This is especially important for English Language Learners and for students in poor urban schools. Arlette Ingram Willis’s “Critical Issue: Addressing Literacy Needs in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Classrooms” is a summary of best diversity practices and the challenges thereof. “Literacy Education, Equity, and Attitude,” is a study on how Caroline Shockley, a white middle class teacher-in-training, used critical self-reflection helped her better serve her urban students. In “Out of the Box: Critical Literacy in a First-Grade Classroom, Christine H. Leland explores rural teacher Kim Huber’s use of critical literacy in Huber’s first grade classroom. In They Didn’t Have Out There Gay Parents—They Just Looked Like Normal Regular Parents”: Investigating Teachers’ Approaches to Addressing Same-Sex Parenting and Non-normative Sexuality in the Elementary School Classroom,” by Wayne Martino and Wendy Cumming-Potvin, we learn about the challenges and benefits involved in adding LGBTQ reading material to the critical literacy conversation at the elementary school level. “Writing Wounded: Trauma, Testimony, and Critical Witness in Literacy Classrooms” is Elizabeth Duotro’s reflection on the ways in which the sharing
of painful experiences helps the teacher-student relationship and engages students in reading on a deep and personal level.

According to Arlette Ingram Willis, “Effective literacy instruction builds upon the cultural and linguistic backgrounds, ways of making meaning, and prior knowledge that
all children bring to the classroom.” (Willis, 2000) That is, it is very important that English language learners’ own culture be shared in the classroom; the better acquainted the teacher is with those building blocks, the better he or she can formulate language instruction. Willis argues that “when teachers build on students’ prior knowledge and skills and then provide appropriate scaffolding, students can move more easily from what they know to what they need to know.” (Willis, 2000) She says that ethnographic inquiry is a good way for teachers to gain knowledge of all categories of students and their home and community lives. (Willis, 2000)

The sharing and discovery of identity, both of self and others, is a cornerstone of critical literacy. Willis quotes Tatum, another educational researcher: “Dominant groups, whether by race or by class, often are unaware of their identity because it is in sync with the internal and external images they hold of themselves.” As a queer-identified person, I am familiar with this phenomenon because my heterosexual colleagues rarely consider themselves to be “out,” regardless of how many wedding pictures they may have displayed in the classroom. Willis goes on to say that “Subordinated groups are much
more aware of their identity because internal and external images often do not reflect their ideas of themselves or their world. (Willis, 2000) Teachers need to validate and understand these identities in order to create a scaffolding, create a safe, inclusive classroom environment, and teach students to subvert the power and resource imbalances present in our current school system.

This process of identity-examination and cross-cultural understanding begins with teachers’ own self-reflection. Willis says that “Before teachers can address the cultural and literacy needs of their students, they must become aware of the influence of their own culture,” (Willis, 2000) as well as reflect on any preconceived ideas he or she has regarding non-English languages. (Willis, 2000) In “Literacy Education, Equity, and Attitude,” Caroline Shockley agreed to a journaling project that helped her reflect on her identity and her relationship to her students. Through her journal discussion with the other members of the study, she learned how her own expectations and rigidity might be putting limits on her students. As Harste and Leland wrote to Shockley in her journal, “literature discussions often thrive on what teachers narrowly define as “Tangents.” If you have negative feelings about allowing kids to use the discussion to make personal connections, they will sense that, and you will end up with a pretty boring discussion.” (Leland et al, 2007) By the end of the study, Shockley had learned the importance of “turn(ing) assumptions into inquiries.” It’s troubling that the open-endedness recommended by so many literacy experts seems to be undermined by the curriculum-limiting effects of No Child Left Behind.

By the end of her journaling project, Shockley ended up with a classroom filled with “children’s books that focus on justice, equity, and the need to take social action.” These alternative texts are a cornerstone of critical literacy. When Kim Huber began using a book about homelessness called The Lady in the Box, Christine Leland says that “in some ways, Kim was also in a box at that time, but her box was conceptual; it caused her to think about literacy and what was appropriate for first grade children in specific and somewhat narrow ways. This box positioned her to choose "happy" books to read at story time and to focus book discussions more on story elements like beginning, middle, and end than on more abstract topics like equity and social justice.” (Leland, 2005) the questioning of traditional conceptions of what children can handle is a persistent theme in critical literacy discussion, and teachers are continually encouraged to reflect on and question their assumptions. As Leland et al say in “Literacy Education, Attitude, and Equity:” “Teachers who are always asking questions and are aware of the limits of their own knowing have a far better chance of making a difference than those who think they already know everything.” (Leland et al, 2007)


In Martino and Cummings-Potvin’s article, teachers engage in just that kind of self-questioning, on the subject of whether social justice themed reading material should include stories about families who are not gender normative. Critical literacy resources

routinely include discussions of racial, religious, and class inequity, but discussions of non-normative gender do not seem to be part of the mainstream conversation yet.  This is an Australian study, but it is especially pertinent to United States schools, where bullying regularly disrupts the education rights of gay or gay-seeming children and children from non-gender normative families. In the study, Martino and Cummings Potivin discussed the possibility of using resources such as Sticks and Stones, a documentary on the mistreatment of non-gender normative families, and Mini Mia and Her Darling Uncle, a story about a little girl and her gay uncle. (Martino & Cummings-Potvin, 2011) The concerns voiced by teachers included the possibility of complains from parents, the threat that GLBTQ subject matter would inspire disruptive behavior, (especially in little boys) and the personal opinion that a person could not grow up to b well-adjusted in a home with same sex parents. After voicing some of these concerns, one teacher mused: “But having said that, what do you do about the poor child who really does have two dads at home?” (Martino & Cummings-Potvin, 2011) As someone who was not taught to think about my gender identity as a child, I wish that texts like this had been part of the classroom culture. I think that that feeling of visibility and self-reflection would have helped me not just as a reader, but as a source of self-esteem and even a sense of physical well-being.


As a queer educator, the question of the benefits and costs of self-disclosure are a frequent source of concern for me. The difficult discussions that are part of critical

literacy are a big emotional risk for teachers and students alike. Elizabeth Duotro speaks to this risk, not in terms of gender but in terms of sharing stories of personal trauma. In “Writing Wounded: Trauma, Testimony, and Critical Witness in Literacy Classrooms,” she reflects on the “sharing of personal hard times as purposeful pedagogy. (Duotro, 2011) She feels that, especially in under-resourced communities, personal trauma is a resource that can be responsibly shared as a way of reflecting on social justice and personal meaning. She believes that sharing her personal hurts in a responsible way helps to narrow the gap between herself and her students. (Duotro, 2011) She calls the sharing of personal trauma “witnessing,” and says that I want to consider the potential of such experiences to serve as a resource for building the kinds of visceral connections-and awareness of disconnections-that call into question the impulse to speak as though we know about a life or an entire community of lives, when all we know is the facade that has been narrated and re-narrated in the image and voice of the materially privileged.” (Duotro, 2011)


As Leland et al say in “Literacy Education, Equity, and Attitude,” “Most textbooks don’t make an effort to describe (or evaluate) a situation from multiple perspectives. More often than not, the voices of the winners (members of the dominant cultural group) are heard and the voices of the losers are absent.” (2007) Critical literacy practices can help to bring voice to the less-resourced students in our schools by helping to bridge language

gaps, introducing alternative perspectives, encouraging students to question, reflect on, and engage in what they read. In order to accommodate the flexibility mandated by these practices, I hope that curriculum restrictions can some day be loosened to make way for helpful digressions and diverse points of view.


Duotro, E. (2011) Writing Wounded: Trauma, Testimony, and Critical Witness in Literacy Classrooms. English Education. 43.2, 193-211.

Leland, C. H. (2005) Out of the Box: Critical Literacy in a First-Grade Classroom. Language Arts, 82.4, 257-268.

Leland, C.H, Harste, J.C, & Shockley, C.J. (2007) Literacy Education, Equity, and Attitude. Language Arts, 85.2, 134-143.

Martino, W & Cumming-Potvin, W. (2011) “They Didn’t Have Out There Gay Parents—They Just Looked Like Normal Regular Parents”: Investigating Teachers’ Approaches to Addressing Same-Sex Parenting and Non-normative Sexuality in the Elementary
School Classroom. Curriculum Inquiry. 41.4, 480-501.curi_557 480

Willis, A. I. (2000) Critical Issue: Addressing Literacy Needs in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Classrooms. North Central Regional Education Lab.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Teacher Classes and Other Updates

By way of letting you know that I do think about things besides kissing and music, I thought I’d write some updates about other stuff.

This is my second semester of online teacher certification classes. It’s really hard, and I still feel ambivalent about my decision to go back to school. My financial aid doesn’t quite cover all of the classes that I need to take and being alone on the computer makes my soul feel gray sometimes. Superthanks to my pals who have counteracted the grayness by sending me songs!

I started this semester’s classroom-observation this week, and whenever I’m in a classroom, I feel hopeful. Yesterday I got to help a group of second graders with reading and re-reading their books for fluency. They were practicing inflection and pauses and the “f” sound. We spent a good amount of time practicing the word “humph!” I did my best to help them break down the words into sounds and point out the differences and similarities between words they kept mixing up.

I don’t know what I would do with the rest of my life if I didn’t get certified to teach, but the money kinda weighs heavily on me. Amy’s student loans are something like $189, 000 and mine will be over $100,000 by the time I am done. Amy is still commuting to Delaware and our car needs a fancy part replaced and the passenger-side door needs fixing from a dumbass parallel parking mishap of mine.

When I write about my car, I feel like a country song. Sometimes I think Amy and I are like our poor car—just putting too many miles on ourselves and not being able to stop driving, even as things start to break down. I guess everyone’s feeling that way, otherwise they wouldn’t be occupying everything. We are sure feeling like the 99% and I’m glad we have a date to play board games at Occupy Philly tomorrow. Come say hi to us, we’re shy, but we have Apples to Apples!

I feel bad that the name of this blog has been a bit more ironic than it should be lately, but the transition I’ve been going through, from working part-time and getting to write most of the day to working almost always and fitting in poetry where I can. Giving up working with the Philly Poetry Slam was the hardest part, and I feel like I just haven’t been myself since then.

I’ve been very, very lucky for the past ten years to have Amy support my poet dream and my teacher dream and all of the other little dreams in between. Part of the reason I want to be certified to teach is so that I can help pay off our debts and someday just tell her to quit her job until she finds something she loves. Being a poetry housewife was wonderful if a little lonely sometimes, but I look forward to some day when I am waking up every morning to go to my own classroom.

It’s hard to imagine how my book-editing process is going to fit into all of this busyness, but I got to meet my wonderful editor last weekend and the fact that he has the kindest heart in the universe is really comforting to me. I know that he will be patient and kind and also push me to have the best book possible. And there will be some miracle, I hope, that allows me to find time for the book tour I’ve always dreamed of, too.

Thank you for listening, dear readers, I feel more serotonin-y already.

Friday Love Poem: Hannah McDonald!

Emo grrrl solidarity for life, Hannah McDonald!!

It's Complicated, for Coming-Out Day 2011

The love I choose is complicated, and where some may deem it selfish, immature, too idealistic, even adulterous,
I would suppose that I see things a little differently.

Hello, I am a:
Love revolutionary.  Relationship anarchist.  Shining star of a constellation.
I have tried to deny my heart a hundred thousand times,
And yet it just keeps on doing what it does best.
My love is an artfully tangled web of silver and gold, of bandages and twine and cotton candy.

Damn you, Facebook, I cannot change my status from "Married" to
"It's Complicated" or, even worse, “In An Open Relationship” without being interrogated about what's wrong.
And that's just it.  Nothing is wrong.
My name is not Ashley Madison, this is not a case of a bored housewife and a pool boy.
This is just me, and what makes me happiest, and so yes, there is sex and romance and shameless flirting,
But also support, love, emotions, family, the good, the bad, the heartbreak that keeps you up at night,
The hope that keeps all the broken conversations alive, the fights that dissolve to tears
And our hands clenched together so tightly.

When I fell for you the first time, maybe I frightened you a bit.
Perhaps I still do--I've tried to warn you I can be almost too romantic to function in this world.
When I fell for you, when I fell for him,
when I fall for you, or her, or them at some indeterminate point in the future,
Know this:

I love you.

When I say this to you, I mean it.
It is a fact that can bind me until I no longer remember how to extract myself.
I will spend too long apologizing for how overwhelming I can be.
I fear scaring you away.

When I fell for you, when you told me you loved me for the first time,
It was a first time I had not visited for a decade or so.
The rain on the roof was just loud enough to keep you from hearing my pulse.
Your kiss took a tattered young woman and pulled her back together.
Forgive me; sometimes it was a challenge to detach myself for an hour, for an overnight, for a day.

I breathe.  I wait.  I know every day is not going to be perfect.
I hope that you will stay for the long haul, however long that might be, what that might entail, I do not know.
Yet, I promise to apologize when I can't quite get it right.
Love is not quite science, the numbers on the scales don’t guarantee equal balance.
Love will become even less stable when you'd simply like to hold it quietly in your hand.

I smiled whenever I found him sleeping, his warmth softening my side of the mattress,
wept when I unearthed his Valentine from the depths of the bedside drawer, but may never throw it away.
I blush, imagining the breath of another against my skin as he whispers poetry of sex, power, and fire.
I wash my best knee socks and skirt so I might cheer up a dear friend.
I married my best friend, my lover, and he understands nearly everything.
I love you, the plural; this is just who I've finally become, who I've always been.
I write rambling love poems to sort out my feelings, but they could just be so endless.
I could type all night.

My dear fellow Libertine, let's not debate our schedules this week.
I just want to hold your hand.  I just want us to be whatever we decide to be.

Poetic License Horoscopes for October 21-27

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): Look up and meditate on the YouTube video “Can’t Hug Every Cat.” Think about emotional honesty, awkwardness, little bow ties, and how much you love and want the soft, fuzzy things in life.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): To the Sagittarius who likes to knit at parties: may your busy hands make something glittery and magic, like rainbow socks or a scarf that is as warm as your heart is.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): You are always carrying a lot of stuff. First, learn to love what your arms are already full of. Second, let someone take a few items and carry them for you.

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19):  If there is a god of OKCupid, (I guess that would be…Cupid) write him a thank you note spelled out in emphatic kisses and elaborate plans. You’re about to be a millionaire of snuggles.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): You are a busy hum, bubbling like melty caramel, and as warm. Get the heater fixed and take all of the blankets out of closets. I feel like I’ve talked to you about quilt-forts before, but this is the time for them.

Aries (March 21-April 18): “Your eyes are like search engines.” (Chuck Klosterman) The stars always trust your ability to find what you’re looking for, to type in the magic words, to find the right algorithm. This week you powers are even better and cuter.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): “Now I become myself.” (May Sarton) Among your many superpowers is the power of self-creation. Take some time this week to marvel at your masterpiece, to thank your calendar, your mirror, your taste in songs.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): To the Gemini who had his car stereo stolen with my mix CD inside: I wish that everything lost in life were as easily reburned, so I could send it all back to you in a square envelope with a setlist inventory of everything that should be returned to you.

Cancer (June 22-July 23):  Today at the post office, the lady who was helping me said that she likes to look up videos of hummingbirds, that sometimes she watches them come up and eat out of peoples’ hands. I’m prescribing this for you, and for myself, too.

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23) “Want what you have, do what you can, be who you are.” (Forrest Church) This can be next to impossible, so try it a little bit each day. Ask yourself who you are, and be whatever the answer is.

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): “Jealousy can lead you to the places where you most need healing. It can be your guide into your own dark side and show you the way to total self-realization. Jealousy can teach you how to live in peace with yourself and the whole world if you let it.” (Deborah Anapol)

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): “Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace, / feed the birds for peace, each shiny seed/ that spills onto the earth another seed of peace. / Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.” (Ellen Bass)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Song of the Week: Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)

It just shuffled in last night and hit the spot, is all.

Triads and Quadrangles: The Semiotics of Party-Kissing

If I may metablog for a moment, I haven’t written a real update in a while because I was worried that all of my emo and overthinking and things-being-way-too-big-of–a-deal might be scaring people away from getting to know me in real life. But censoring myself is never a good idea, and I guess if it’s between boys and writing, I’d have to choose writing.

Back when I was single, party-kissing was something I lamented—it meant a physical connection with no emotional one, and that felt empty. Now, it still means that to me a little bit, but party-kissing has also come to symbolize something I think maybe I want—pleasure for the sake of pleasure, without worrying if there are emotions involved. Maybe I want this because I’ve been rejected a few times for getting overly attached, or maybe I really do want it. This is a story of being left out of party-kissing and ending up questioning my whole romantic situation.

The players are S, an adorable and very popular gentleman, a close friend whom I almost dated at the beginning of last summer and B, the poly-family-man crush I’ve been trying to get over.

B. and his wife throw really good parties. They had one toward the end of the summer that was a carnival-themed fundraiser for Food Not Bombs, and one of the carnival attractions was a kissing booth staffed by said husband and wife, who at that time I hardly knew at all. I thought, sure, why not, and with Amy’s blessing I paid two dollars (I thought they should have charged more!) and kissed them both. It was very nice and I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought. I spent most of that party snuggling with S. in a platonic way, and didn’t give that a lot of thought either.

The next day I got a text from S. worrying that he’d given me the wrong idea, and telling me for what seemed like the millionth time that he just wanted to be friends, which I already knew. When I heard from B. a few days later, it seemed like we might have a connection. He flirted a whole bunch for a little while and then abruptly stopped. I think this is maybe just a normal part of dating, of course people should be able to change their minds, but it kind of got stuck in my head. I couldn’t help wondering what I’d done to make him change his mind.

That was around the time I stopped doing in-depth blog updates. It was also the time when I split up with my poetry venue, which brought on a whole lot more grief than I expected. Things seemed to be changing so fast, and B, who shouldn’t have been a big deal, got mixed up with those feelings of loss in my head.

Meanwhile, I kept getting all of this advice that I would have to relax a little bit in order for guys to find me attractive. This had the opposite effect of freaking me the fuck out, because though I can be easygoing from time to time, I’m mostly just an intense person. I felt like this might rule me out of dating guys entirely, which I guess is a long-running fear.  I was sort of split between trying to accept myself for what I am and trying to fit myself into that easygoing mold so that S. and other guys might find me attractive. I didn’t realize that I still had a crush on S. until just last week.

S’s Eighties-themed birthday party was at the home of the kissing-booth couple, and I had some trepidations about going. Some of the poetry venue folks were going to be there, and I still had complicated feelings about that, and B. had officially told me he didn’t like me back just three days before the party. Still, I didn’t want to let any of that stand in my way of getting to celebrate my friend and dance my ass off. For almost the whole party, I had a wonderful time. I reconnected with the venue friends, made some new friends, and, most importantly, got to dance a lot. If Amy and I had left a half hour earlier than we did, I’d have called it a perfect night.

There are two things that I should clarify before I finish the story: The first is that B. looked way too androgynously hot at that party for him to be someone I was trying to get  over. He was sort of cross-dressed in an Eighties-style aerobic outfit. Wow, that really does not seem hot when I type it, but it was. The second thing is that people make out A LOT at these parties, seemingly without rhyme or reason. The seeming arbitraryness of the kissing weirds Amy out, but it really always seemed like fun to me.

S. is a very snuggly person, and whenever he and B. were snuggling, I’d get a pang because I wanted to be included and couldn’t work out why I wasn’t. During Biz Markie’s Just a Friend, when B. leaned in to kiss S, it was really hot. I should have left the room but I just kept dancing. S. apologized and I laughed the whole thing off at the time, but the feeling of that kiss stuck with me. I’m pretty sure they were both really drunk and that their kiss meant way more to me than it did to them, but I couldn’t shake the jealously off.

For some reason, for all of the everybody-kissing-everybody-else that I’ve seen and been a part of, this was the kiss that made me feel as if things had gone wildly out of control. A husband and wife kissing booth makes INFINITELY more sense to me that a close friend making out with a crush who just rejected me three days before. It just made me feel that in order to be poly, at least in this particular context, I had to accept the fact that there are no boundaries anywhere. That isn’t what polyamory is supposed to be, but sometimes it seems like that’s what it is.

I felt left out and doubly bad because I felt like I’d been rejected as a possible party-kisser because I was too attached to both of them. I wished that I could have somehow convinced them that I wasn’t overly emotional, so that they wouldn’t have left me out.

I have been worried for a while that I might be emotional for polyamory, that I get attached too fast and need too much. I tried to master the guardedness I saw in some of my poly friends, but I couldn’t. I am not guarded. If I like someone, I like them a lot and I shower them with affection, whether they are a friend or something else or both. And apparently, kisses do mean a lot to me, even if I paid a dollar for them, even, sometimes, if they have nothing at all to do with me.

I’m not giving up just yet on being poly, though I may have to distance myself from that particular group of friends for a while. My hope is that when I meet the right person (or people) I will be able to be myself. I won’t feel like I have to prove that I’m aloof or unemotional or easygoing, because he’ll just like me for who I actually am. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a guy out there who won’t be scared away by all of the very many paragraphs I have to offer.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Triads and Quadrangles: Can't Hug Every Cat!

This is what I'm meditating on today re: being an awkward but very snuggly dater. I really want to form a support group with this girl.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Love Poems: Indiefeed and Call for Submissions!

Since I'm all out of love poems, thought I'd send you to one of my own. I wrote this poem for my nephew Quinn, and the recording was the first time I ever performed for my students. That is a lot of love. And in case you haven't subscribed to Indiefeed, you should!

And dears! I'm all!  Out!  Of love poems! You can submit them to Send as many poems as you'd like, along with a bio and picture. I have a very broad definition of a love poem, but I'll get really excited if it's on queer or polyamorous themes!

Poetic License Horoscopes for October 14-20

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): “I’m cute together with everybody.” (Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation) Feel free to get pretty and go out and put your face next to whoever’s face you choose. It’s worth the risk every time.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): Learning a lot can make you tired, so practice your napping. See how many different times and places you can snuggle in a handmade quilt and fall asleep.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Since life is brand new for you, meditate on all the words you can think of that begin with the prefix “trans:” Translate, transmute, transubstantiate, transfix, transcend, etc. Enjoy the miracle of moving from one thing to another, and back again.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): Some people are occupying cities while others are simply trying to occupy their own skin. Either way, take up space. Become an art installation, a political movement, a parade.

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): Whatever outfit you choose for the party, you will be the belle of the ball. Fill up your cup, your cake plate, your dance card, and celebrate every sparkle you have.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): I hadn’t thought about Mystery Science Theatre in years, and then this week I ended up in two separate conversations about it. Snuggle up on the couch with some synchronicity and some snarky, B-movie-commentating robot puppets.

Aries (March 21-April 18): “Leave your book and leave the mirror, ‘cause you’re already stunning. The sky above was never clearer, and the engine’s running.” (Fatty Gets a Stylist) Make yourself a mix of get ready songs and go!

Taurus (April 19-May 18): Sit down to a nice game of Apples to Apples. Remember that nothing beats unicorns or love letters, and winning is always blessedly arbitrary. The key is to know your judges.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): This week, stop making mixes for people who never make mixes back. I know a few generous souls who would be over the moon for a playlist from you, so give them what they deserve.

Cancer (June 22-July 23):  “I ask for what I want and say no to whatever I don’t want.” (The Ethical Slut) Even if a no brings a moment of discomfort, in the long run, directness will pay dividends. Even if girls cry. At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23) You are excellent at making tea for broken hearts and mopping up early-morning tears, but you deserve better. You deserve fancy cinnamon for your toast, every moonlit walk, every fall afternoon. You are so very warm and bright.

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): As I learned from a helpful sign taped to a tree at Occupy Philly, “The thing in us that we fear the most just wants our LOVE.” That thing is your naked, silly, vulnerable heart, and you really do need to learn to love it. It is the best part.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Song of the Week: Violet

Dear Eleven Years of Repression Which Makes it Urgent to Find a Guy But Scares the Shit Out of All of Them (And Me):

I don't know how to fix you, so I'll try to love you.

Embracing my inner Hole, as it were.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Helpful Sign Taped to a Tree

Yesterday I went to two marches in one day and maybe I'll write more about that soon, but for now I just wanted to share this sign that kind of choked me up, even if it was only because I was having PMS.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Love Poem: Derek Pollard!

Derek Pollard is co-author with Derek Henderson of the book Inconsequentia (BlazeVOX 2010). His poems, creative non-fiction, and reviews appear in American Book Review, Colorado Review, Court Green, Diagram III, H_ngm_n, Pleiades, and Six-Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak, among numerous other anthologies and journals. He is an assistant editor at Barrow Street, Inc., and is on faculty at Brookdale Community College, at Pratt Institute, and at the Downtown Writer’s Center in Syracuse, New York.

Poetic License Horoscopes for October 7-13

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): Happy birthday to one of my favorite Libras in the world. Your year will be full of dancing, sparkles, being bossed around nicely, long yammering walks, and snuggles. You will be free from backaches and bad dreams.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): Make yourself a theme song, like Zooey Deschanel on her new sitcom. Sing about how pretty you are, and how smart, and how charming. Sing it all day every day.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): The stars love to watch your dreams come true, it’s one of our favorite hobbies. Keep adopting lost puppies and making cute friends and getting your books all written.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20):Forgiveness needs fuel, so before composing any letters to make amends, take yourself out to dinner, buy some glossy new magazines, shop for produce, anything that makes you feel like you count. Later on you can think about making up.

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): Happy fifth wedding anniversary to one of my favorite Aquarians. Count the ways that the two of you, the constellation of you, are an inspiration to your friends. Make a list and toast every item.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): Your heart is as shiny as a Claire’s Boutique would’ve been to us when we were eight: all multicolored rhinestones, enamel roses, Hello Kitty handbags, and sparkly personalized keychains. Sure looks like riches to me.

Aries (March 21-April 18): The stars haven’t heard from you lately, but every so often we visit your facebook wall and read all the love notes from your legions of admirers. We imagine this means you are a happy busy, filled with purpose and love.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): Sometimes none of the songs in your headphones are inspiring, and you feel tired of all the music. so just take a few days and celebrate silence, birdsong, sirens. In a few days, you’ll love all the songs again.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): You may have gone overboard at the orchard lately. If your house is overflowing with apples, you have no choice but to learn some new recipes and bust out the fancy cinnamon.

Cancer (June 22-July 23):  To the Cancer who is reading for happiness, the stars predict whole libraries of joy. Snuggle up to novels and histories, maybe even a poet or two. Take a break from the nonprinted world until your soul is full.

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23) This week, consider reveling in the cheesy dialogue and pretty outfits of the new Charlie’s Angels, though the stars suspect they won’t be around for long. You are just as pretty and silly and brave.

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): A wise friend recently told me that I am great at thinking something’s not going to work and then doing it anyway—that’s your job this week, Virgo. Go ahead with everything, even if you are lacking faith.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Song of the Week: Are You Ready?

I fell in love with this song on the Risk podcast episode entitled Try.

It's the perfect combination of adorable, encouraging, and snarky. Love!

Fatty Gets a Stylist nicely lets you listen to a bunch of their songs here. 

Fatty Gets A Stylist - Are You Ready from Peter Ireland on Vimeo.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Giving Motivation a Rest--But Submit!

Hi loves,

With all of the work, both personal and educational, that I have to do in the coming semesters, writing about motivation seems redundant. However, if you've written anything particularly motivating, I would love to publish it! Feel free to send submissions to

Here's to being happily busy!