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From where I’m sitting tomorrow is looking a lot like Judgment Day. I leave tomorrow to take nearly all my belongings and move 450 miles away to Roanoke, Virginia. This is all I’ve wanted since I was 13 years old; I just wanted to get out of Ohio. Now that it’s here…I…I feel a little sad, nervous and apprehensive. What if this really isn’t what I want? What if I’m wrong? I’m plagued with second guesses!

There’s a few specific things I’m worried about the most:

1. Friends. Mainly, will I find some. I mean, I know I will find SOMEONE whom I am friendly with but what I mean are the main people I hang out with three or four times a week. People in the program and I already have at least one thing in common. I’m a very nice person, if not a little shy when I first meet people. I’m just flashing back to freshman year at Otterbein where I feel like I was so uncomfortable with myself. But now, at least, I can firmly say I do indeed love who I am, though I know I have a ton of improvements to make (who doesn’t?).

2. Money. Enough said. The loans don’t come in until the first of September. Which reminds me: I forgot to pick up my checks from the bank today. CRAP. That’s gonna set me back tomorrow.

3. Being unable to keep up with the pace of my program. I am a good student. I work very hard and am extremely dedicated to my writing. I’ve only turned in one thing late in my entire life and that was because it got buried in my papers, not because it wasn’t finished. But this program is more about creativity than being timely. Is my quality of thought up to par with everyone else in the program? Am I in over my head?

We’ll see what happens. I’m predicting I cry within…2 weeks.

I just wanted to make a short post plugging a new blog where I am a contributor. It’s called The MFA Chronicles and it follow 15 some MFA students through our first year of our respective programs. I’m really excited to be a part of all these cool kids. We’re hoping that it will be useful to people who are thinking about the MFA in creative writing, not to mention be a huge opportunity to interact with other emerging writers.

On a personal note, I feel like I’m in some sort of secret club. Well, it’s not so secret obviously, since there’s a very public blog about it on the internet! *sniff* I’ve always wanted to be a cool kid!

I’ve done this for three years now, starting in the year of 07-08. I decided to start a new one around June because as long as I can remember this time of year has marked some odd transition in my life. So instead of starting it in January at the beginning of the real new year, I’ve decided to do it in June when I feel like a new phase of life has begins.

Here is the 2008-2009 version of this yearly playlist, featuring 27 songs from the likes of Billy Joel, Coldplay, Hanson and The Format. I’ve also included some fun (and odd) youtube links featuring the songs. Oh joy!

1. Generosity, Mirah youtube link
We’ve eaten unrestrained/But now these green fruits will remain sour/These clouds we’ve made can not make rain/I gave you all of my energy/And you took it without thanks/You once showed such promise/But now I won’t give more Frustration. Anxiety. Hope that I will not be in this same place again.

2. River of Dreams, Billy Joel
I don’t know why I go walking at night/But now I’m tired and I don’t want to walk anymore/I hope it doesn’t take the rest of my life/Until I find what it is I’ve been looking for Wandering in circles. Will I ever get to a place that feels like home?

3. Death and All of His Friends, Coldplay
No I don’t wanna battle from beginning to end/I don’t wanna cycle, recycle revenge/I don’t wanna follow death and all of his friends No more hate. No more war. Acceptance. Wonder.

4. Suddenly I See, KT Turnstall youtube link
She fills up every corner like she’s born in black and white/Makes you feel warmer when you’re trying to remember/What you heard/She likes to leave you hanging on her word/Suddenly I see/This is what I wanna be Jealousy. Reevaluation. A desire to be desired.

5. The Towering Inferno, Lucky Soul
The towering inferno inside me/may one day consume and devour me/well I say let burn/let it burn/you’re never going to satisfy me…they’re never, never going to save me Feelings are boring and kissing is helpless. Just let the emotions roar through words.

6. Do You Feel, The Rocket Summer youtube link (highly recommended video, despite it being somewhat gimmicky.)
Can you feel the souls behind what’s going on/Do you feel/The weight of the world singing sorrow/Or to you is it just not real/Cause you got your own things/Yeah we all have our things Participation in the world again. Trying not to navel gaze.

7. Section 12 (Hold Me Now), The Polyphonic Spree youtube link (two words: crazy puppets)
Everyone thinks they’ve got a new phrase/But you’re still miles away/You’re still miles away/I said, “You’re still miles away.” Still a million steps away from the future. Nothing new comes from the old. Stepping out.

8. Pigeon Song, Patrick Wolf youtube link (crotch shot!)
What you wait for never shows/what you’ve always wanted holds you down just like a stone/Now I feed the birds day after day/only they can hear me pray for a lighter heart/a lighter load/to be moving, moving, moving/my way home Praying to feel good again. An appeal to my senses to wake up again.

9. Get Better, Mates of State
You are never ahead of, never behind us/Floating in circles, there’s more to remind them of less/Everything’s gonna get lighter, even if it never gets better/Forget your politics for a while/Let the color schemes arrive Don’t worry. Don’t you worry your pretty head. Forget. Let the color fill your cheeks again.

10. America, Orphan Songs
America is lost…fairy in the dark/some of the good things I recall/He said America is lost/but the kid in you is still so young (note: I added this song around election season when I was afraid that Obama would lose and I’d have to live out another 2 years in a country that hated me and everything I believed in)

11. A Change is Gonna Come, Sam Cooke youtube link
it’s been a long time coming/but I know a change is gonna come(note: and this song is in celebrate of Obama’s election and magnificent election night acceptance speech.)

12. Vienna, Billy Joel youtube link (a capella group’s cover)
you can see when you’re wrong but you can’t always see when you’re right/won’t you realize Vienna waits for you..slow down you crazy child/take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while… Vienna waited to show me how to be alive again. God was present in stones. I touched art and men and wine and beer and ancient walls.

13. Aria: Der Hollie Rache kocht in meinem Herzen, from Die Zomberflote (The Magic Flute), Mozart youtube link
(note: saw the opera preformed live at the Osterich Saatsoper December 10th, 2008. You never forget your first.)

14. Be Alive, O.W.L.
have you ever tried to be alive/opened up you gentle eyes/and smile for a while/dream what you might have been/in another time… Keep my spirit brewing after being boiled so hard.

15. We’re All in the Dance, Feist youtube link(from the end of Paris, je t’amie) We’re all trying. We’re all turning and turning (in the widening gyre…the center cannot hold)
We all go round and round/Partners of lost and found/Looking for one more chance/All I know is/We’re all in the dance

16. Watch Over Me, Hanson
She counts the time ’til her heart breaks/Just waiting for her next mistake/And I said please/and she says please/And she says please/watch over me Yet another appeal. Save me. I fell out of the life boat.

17. Chicago/We Change the World, Graham Nash
Somehow people must be free/I hope the day comes soon/Won’t you please come to Chicago/show your face/From the bottom of the ocean/To the mountains of the moon/Won’t you please come to Chicago/no one else can take your place
(note: I went to Chicago to the AWP conference; though the protest song is also appropriate)

18. Fiery Crash, Andrew Bird youtube link(high recommended! Beautiful shot and edited concert footage!)
beige tiles and magazines/Lou Dobbs and the CNN team/on every monitor screen/you were caught in the crossfire/where every human face/has you reaching for your mace/so it’s kind of an imposition/fatal premonition
(note: I was in and out of a lot of airports in general this year. I still am mildly afraid of planes.)

19. Right Direction, Jake Troth
one foot on the curb now honey/the other in the road of life/I can’t stand on both/I can’t stand on both/I know I know/I can’t have both/but I’ll do what I’m told/show me in the right direction…you’ve always got the right direction/and I’ll go Choices. Decisions. I chose the green instead of the red. Both are good.

20. At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used to Be), fun.
at least I’m not as sad as I used to be/and they said…are you gonna stay?/I began to smile and I say/boy you should have see me/a couple of years ago…it’s such a gas when you bring up the past Going home kills me in ways I still cannot name.

21. The Walk, Hanson youtube link (highly recommended! just one man and a piano. beautiful.)
On the tightrope/Everything’s bare/All that there is is from here to there/On the tightrope/The goal is quite clear/Don’t lose yourself in your fear/Everyone waits on the walk/Some are long and some small/But all of them tall/Everyone must make a choice/Will I go for it all/And possibly fall/The tightrope is thin/I could possibly win on the walk/Well high on the walk/The tightrope it bends/And nobody knows where it ends/To win or to lose/You’re all on your own/Everyone must be alone I have to do this alone. I have to be real.

22. Help, I’m Alive, Metric
Help, I’m alive, my heart keeps beating like a hammer/Hard to be soft/tough to be tender
Come take my pulse/the pace is on a runaway train/Help I’m alive/my heart keeps beating like a hammer/beating like a hammer
I signed my name in a hurry and my heart took off without me.

23. Gooan daginn, Sigur Ros (translated title: Hello, Good day) youtube link
Lyrics are in Icelandic so I don’t even know what they mean. Pretty song full of hope and goodness.

24. Much More Than That, Sharon Van Etten
One day I’ll be a better writer/I’ll make every face that I’ll never perfectly phrase/that I’ll never perfectly phrase…I don’t think I need much more than that…you look at me so slyly/but only when I’m smiling…I write this moment/as I can not paint pictures with my tongue I was trying to finish my senior project. I was losing my inspiration. Frustrated with style and voice. Writerly woes.

25. Happiness, Church
Don’t be afraid/let out your heart/happiness is alright/happiness is alright it’s ok to be ok. I know that now.

26. Our Last Days as Children, Explosions in the Sky youtube link
instrumental; the last days before we took leave of each other were so simple and so honest.

27. Give It Up, The Format youtube link
We were kids back then, as if we could progress/Sometimes I just can’t sleep/Thinking of everything we could have been/So give it up, throw your hats in the air/And change just as they land/You’re saying, “We’ll get out of here”/Something tells me that you’re too scared to go I mourn the loss of potential in my friends; I mourn the loss of time I spent trying to be someone else…

Oh my god. So much stuff happened this year. So much more stuff will happen next year. I swear I wasn’t as sad as these songs seems to say I was. Well, maybe I was. But it was the best year. I went to Scotland, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Chicago and New York two times each. So perhaps it was full of growing pains.

my haircut saga!

So this weekend I decided I needed a hair cut. I wanted about two or so inches cut off because my hair was gross on the ends from a two year old bleach whim. I walked into a fairly well-respected hair salon here in Westerville and asked if there’s any openings. Luckily there was one, and I was able to get in right before they stopped accepting appointments. Little did I know that this decision would CHANGE THE FATE OF MY ENTIRE HEAD.Okay, so I’m being a little over dramatic. But guys, this hair cut IS dramatic. For comparison’s sake, here are some older pictures of my recent hair history.

Sophomore year I got an uber short cut as you can see in this pic:

It was cute, but also ticked off my entire family because I was due to be a bridesmaid in a wedding in four months and ZOMG, BRIANNA, HOW COULD YOU BE SO SELFISH, YOU’RE GONNA RUIN EVERYTHING WITH YOUR SHORT, BUTCH HAIR. Which, clearly, my hair was not butch, but as pixish as one can get with curly hair. I let my hair grow out over the rest of the year all throughout junior year and the summer. This is the most recent photo of the length before Saturday’s chop:

Not too much of a significant growth, but I have uber curly hair, people. It bounces. Anyway, here is the photo that was taken about an hour ago with the new hair cut, pulled back with a little black headband:

UNFORTUNATE. WAY TOO SHORT. How did it get this short without my consent, you ask. Well, as I’m sure you’ve all had experience with, stylists can get a little…scissor happy sometimes. During the consultation I asked her for a shorter style that would help my curls lay nicely and not give me the dreaded triangle-head as short, curly cuts are want to do. She assures me that she has just the idea of what I want and to not worry, she herself has curly hair (though it was straightened that day) and that I was in capable hands. We start to make chit-chat and all of a sudden I see her lop off AT LEAST four inches in the front. I started to get nervous and I voiced my issues. “Don’t worry, you’re gonna love it in the end.” “Oookay…” I said and sat back and just let her cut.

Next thing I know she starts pulling down the bits from the top that she had pinned up. She pulls out a long section and cuts off what appeared to be EIGHT OR SO INCHES. Now, I got immediately vocal. “Whoa! That’s a lot of hair!” She laughed and says “Look how cute you are with short hair. Seriously, you look great.” It was too late to go back now. I let her finish the cut. In the mirror I was confronted with roughly the style in the photo above. AHHHHH! HORRIFIC. Whatever, I looked at it and said “Well, guess it’s good to start my senior year on a new foot…” And I paid for the cut. I went about my business and ran the rest of my errands.

As soon as I came home I fired up my straightener. This is what the cut, thankfully, looks like straight:

BETTER. MUCH, MUCH BETTER. In fact, I really like it straight. It makes me look older and more polished and a little HOT. When I wore it straight one of my guy friends swung by my apartment just to say hi and his first reaction was “Whoa, you look fantastic! Are you going out or something?” This is always an excellent response. The little itty bitty bits in the back help create some diva-esque volume when flipped the right way with the straightener. However, since it’s so short there is no way I can get it up in a pony tail. My only option to get it up off my neck is two little springy pig tails at the top of my head. Not so attractive.

So, uh, that’s my saga. Looks like there’s a future of daily straightening in my future until it grows out a little and looks less stupid curly.

Every year, for the past 3 years, I have made a yearly playlist that goes from June to June. I pick June just because, for me at least, has been the end of an era. School’s out, summer’s begun and life takes a turn for the bright and sunny. I just put songs on the list that I feel like reflect the time I’m going through in my life. So here it is, all 35 songs. Ranging from the uber indie to pop to classic rock, here is my life for the past 12 months in sonic form.

ps- a few mp3s are linked in here. I’m not sure if they are still working, since they are time-sensitive upload links. If they aren’t, I’ll reup them if you would like.

1.You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away by The Beatles; lyics
How can I even try/I can never win/Hearing them, seeing them/In the state I’m in

2.Four Winds by Bright Eyes; youtube link
And it’s the Sum of Man/slouching towards Bethlehem/A heart just can’t contain/ all of that empty space/It breaks. It breaks. It breaks

3.26-Hour Day by Jay Brannan; lyrics, youtube link
Is this democracy or a monarchy/What do we hold elections for/You write your personal agenda on a post-it note/And leave the constitution lying on the bathroom floor

4.Brandy Alexander by Fiest; lyrics
Though you know what I love most of him/I’m walking on needles and pins/My addiction to the worst of him/The low moon helps me sing

5.My Heart by Paramore; lyrics
I am finding out that maybe I was wrong/That I’ve fallen down and I can’t do this alone/
Stay with me, this is what I need, please?

6.Secret Heart by Fiest, covering Ron Sexsmith; youtube link yousendit link to mp3 (highly recommended!!!)
secret heart/why so sacred/why so serious?

7.Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do by Billie Holiday; lyrics, youtube link
If I go to church on Sunday/Then cabaret all day Monday/Ain’t nobody’s business if I do

8.I’m So Tired by The Beatles; lyrics
You’d say I’m putting you on/But it’s no joke, it’s doing me harm/You know I can’t sleep, I can’t stop my brain/You know it’s three weeks, I’m going insane/You know I’d give you everything I’ve got/for a little peace of mind

9.That’s What You Get by Paramore; lyrics
I wonder, how am I supposed to feel when you’re not here/’Cause I burned every bridge I ever built when you were here/I still try holding onto silly things, I never learn/Oh why, all the possibilities I’m sure you’ve heard

10.Campus by Vampire Weekend; lyrics
Then I see you/You’re walking cross the campus/Cruel professors/Studying romances/How am I supposed to pretend/I never want to see you again?/How am I supposed to pretend/I never want to see you again?

11.It’s Tough to Have a Crush When the Boy Doesn’t Like You Back by OK Go; lyrics
Well it’s tough to have a crush/Whoever knew such hullabaloo/Well it’s tough to have a crush/When it only leaves you blue

12.Running With Scissors by Ben Lee; lyrics
well i can feel you in my bones/these are the symptoms that are shown/its always every now and then/life is unusual again

13.I Used to Think by Cars Can Be Blue; , yousendit link (it’s so twee and angry at the same time!)
my attention only holds four seconds/don’t hold my hand/if we decided to be more than friends/things would really turn to shit

14.Cold Song by Clare Burson; her myspace link
I’m too tired to go outside/wish I could just could stay in and wait for the spring time to come/ooh the spring to come/to come oh, the springtime to come

15.Diamonds and Gold by Langhorne Slim; youtube link
toss your misery out the door/what are you waiting for/you gotta learn to get a little happy along the way/it’s alright to smile/it’s alright to get a little happy along the way

16.Happy Kid by Nada Surf; lyrics
Got ink all over my right hand/Getting crushes with no chance to grow/It’s like i’ll never ever land

17.Winter Song by Chairs in the Arno; not much due to extreme indieness yousendit link to mp3
let’s go play hide and seek/let’s blow off work next week/having fun didn’t seem this hard/when I was 10 years old

18.Add Your Light to Mine by Lucky Soul; lyrics
I’ve seen you dancing like no one was looking/Beneath the fullest moon/Oh some day soon/I’m gonna find all the things I’ve been yearning for

19.Afraid by Patrick Wolf, covering Nico; lyrics
Have someone else’s will as your own/You are beautiful and you are alone

20.Never Let This Go by Paramore; lyrics
One day you’ll get sick of/saying that everything’s alright/And by then I’m sure I’ll be pretending/Just like I am tonight

21.I Do What I’m Told by Madeline; lyrics
i do what i’m told/and i’m getting aggravated/my spine has been sold/to a boy well, we traded/courage for the promise that we’ll/never be so honest

22.As Much As You Lead by Lex Land; not much due to extreme indieness, link to myspace
at least when I’m sleeping I can dream of you/but the taste is so foul when I ask you if you’ll finally stay/because as much as you lead/you know I will follow

23.Looks Like We Haven’t Learned a Thing by The Walkup; myspace
looks like we haven’t learned a thing/why don’t you look around/see that there’s no one laughing now/won’t you take a bow

24.Pressure by Paramore; lyrics, youtube link
And there’s nothing else to show/For all of the days that we spent/Carried away from home/Some things I’ll never know/And I had to let them go/I’m sitting all alone feeling empty

25.Bloody Motherfuckin’ Asshole by Martha Wainwright; lyrics
I will not pretend/I will not put on a smile/I will not say I’m all right for you/When all I wanted was to be good/To do everything in truth/To do everything in truth

26.Every Little Bit by Patty Griffin; lyrics
I stay unseen by the light/I stay untold by the truth/I’m sold by a lie/By this I am able in all of my travels/To make these memories quit/But tonight I clearly recall every little bit

27.Never So Strange by Morning State; myspace
call me on the phone/call me very late in the evening/oh oh oh/I never thought we’d be so strange/I never thought we end up this way/and what did you expect to see/a difference inside of me?

28.Viva La Vida by Coldplay; lyrics, youtube link
For some reason I can’t explain/I know Saint Peter will call my name/Never an honest word/But that was when I ruled the world

29.Shine On by The Kooks; lyrics
Shine, shine, shine on/Yes Wont you shine, shine on/Because your not done

30.Be Good or Be Gone by Fionn Regan; lyrics, youtube link (highly recommended, wonderful video!)
The range is staggering/Movement and timing/Frame by frame/It did unfold

31.Changes by David Bowie; lyrics, youtube link
I still don’t know what I was waiting for/And my time was running wild/A million dead-end streets/Every time I thought I’d got it made/It seemed the taste was not so sweet/So I turned myself to face me/But I’ve never caught a glimpse/Of how the others must see the faker/I’m much too fast to take that test

note: some songs may appear “early” in the year, perhaps even before the album they are on was released. I went back and put songs that informed that time of my life once I heard then. This is true for one of the Fiest songs.

Boy, I was sad a lot this year, well more frustrated, I guess. Yep, sounds about right for being 20/21.

 

I feel like I’m learning how to read again. Since I’ve become an English major, books have become a strange way of life. Of course, reading and literature has always had a huge space in my life, but now, as a student of words and paragraphs and metaphors, they have become this unsciencey-science. Books are a sort of sterile mess that I have to sort through, siphon in and then suck back out again in intro-body-conclusion form. Somewhere along this glorious road of a BA in English, I’ve lost the simple pleasure and curiosity that is inherent in sitting down and reading.

It’s spring break for me and I am about 1/4 of the way into Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins. It was given to me as a gift and I couldn’t be more grateful. It’s a dense novel (though short at only 277 pages) centering around an exiled princess of a nondescript kingdom named Leigh-Cheri. Living in “the last quarter of the twentieth century”, Leigh-Cheri is a young woman itching to make a difference in the world. Until she meets Woodpecker, a serial bomber and makeshift philosopher.

This story has a thickness that seems impenetrable, but not in a Foucault sort of way (did I just make the comparison? Someone kill me before I get even MORE pretentious). I’ve been reading on and off since Thursday and I am only on page 83. A better word is rich. Robbins folds in surprising little details that shock and amaze, but he walks away from them as if the little explosion on the page was nothing compared to the blast that will come. He definitely commits to his style of multi-layer adjectives and descriptions. In a strange way, each word seems to build from one to another until the bubble bursts and a bold, type-writer script number and decorative filigree signal the next chapter. In fact, each little chapter could function as a short story. A confusing short story, but a short story nonetheless.

I couldn’t have asked for a better book to usher my return to contemporary literature as a mere observer, instead of a unsciencey-scientist, with my stethoscope to check the narrative’s respiration a and centrifuge to mix in my own interpretation. It lifts me out of my English major consciousness. I can’t wrangle this bull. I just have to watch it buck around the ring for awhile.

Lately, I’ve been having many, many problems getting back into a a nice niche of fiction writing. I can’t say it’s writer’s block, really. No, I can write. It’s just horrible and dry. This does not happen in my scripts or nonfiction. Those pursuits are alive and well. It’s just this fiction that gives me fits until I want to rip out every one of my eyelashes and press the backspace button until everything is erased and gone.

Woodpecker might just be the salve I need. See, I think my problem is that after a while, my vision gets blurry. And by vision, I mean my writerly vision. Or as my Indian professor would say, “wision”. I lose track of where my story is going. I drag everything behind me like a criminal’s body through cobblestone streets. I just need to let things roll. Do some push ups. Turn some cartwheels. Shake it like a Polaroid picture. And most importantly, I need to be less critical.

Annie Dillard has an amazing point in what I like to call her writing textbook, The Writing Life. She, in a less trite way, say that your audience for your books should be the terminally ill. You can’t waste their time with a story that is not your best. Don’t put it away for another day when you’re “better” or less busy. Do it now. Work.

Tomorrow, I am devoting the day to writing and reading. At night, when my eyes are tired, I’ll sew. But in the afternoon, I am going to sit in a chair and write until I don’t want to pluck my eyelashes out. Because someday, I’m going to be terminally ill, and I don’t want there to be ink still left in my pen.

I have a hard time letting go.

I needed to write that down. Confess it. I like to think I welcome change and growth in my friends, family, the world and in myself, but it’s not necessarily true.  I cling to my past like a life preserver in knee-deep water. All those thoughts, all those feelings…sometimes they are just excuses for me keep clinging, pretending like I’m drowning, even though I’ve swam all the way from the deep end to the shallow.

Throughout my first two years of college, many issues plagued me. Self confidence, body image, my faith, academics, anxiety/depression, my big personality, my likability, etc, et all, the list could go on for miles. There has been a lot of progress made in many of these areas, and a few have even proven to be healed over, sealed with new, pink skin. Some have been given a band-aid that has been ripped off, the scabbed picked, just to discover the wound was just as sour and painful as ever.

But I look at myself in the mirror and there’s no pain in my heart, no laments to God in the middle of the night because I was scared and shaking, no hiding from people, no lying about when I’m not okay.
Today is Easter Sunday and He is risen. Why am I refusing to rise out of the dirt? He took it all for my right to turn my back on the old and run without fear into the new and better. Focus on the new. New life. New covenant. New legs to swim.