2015: The Retrospective

That picture is how I handled 2015.

It seems the past few years have included a lot of firsts for me and this year was no exception. I’m grateful for this trend in my life. Looking forward to beginnings is a good way to go about it. It seems the late twenties are a fruitful time for journeys with tangible goals, versus the early twenties when there are vast stretches of wasteland and nothing in sight. Just a few of these firsts: yet another new job (one that I’m leaving soon to return to my previous job in a different role), my first long-term relationship that isn’t long-distance, a group of new friends (which led to my first “Friendsgiving”), a new car, my first smart phone (I know), a new living arrangement, a coming out to my father, and my first (and hopefully final) masquerade of extroversion.

There has been a lot of literary magazine scandals (the best kind!), more racial injustice, more misogyny, more evidence that the apocalypse is nigh. South Florida will become the most populated state in the U.S. and then will be swallowed by the sea.

I didn’t read or write nearly enough this year, but I watched a ton of LGBTQ movies. I played some long RPGs that people my age complain they don’t have enough time for. I watched a few TV series, as opposed to never watching TV at all. I ate out more. I did not go to my ten-year high school reunion at some trashy club. Goaded by my sister, I started taking pointless pictures on my new phone and applying filters to them.

One of my stories was anthologized in Best Gay Stories 2015. I realized I need to submit more to magazines. Even if it is a lottery, I still have a better chance than not submitting at all. I published some stories about bodies and how they’re horrifying. I underwent skin therapy in a study that didn’t do anything. I realized how much I’ve used the first-person. I realized how a lot of editors seem to be very picky about point of view (second-person especially), whereas I am much more open to exploration in terms of perspective.

And here we come to everyone’s favorite part. Lists!

Books:

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx
The Burning Library by Edmund White
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild by Catherynne Valente
Closer by Dennis Cooper
War of the Foxes by Richard Siken
Hum by Jamaal May
Flood Bloom by Caroline Cabrera
Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso
Crystal Eaters by Shane Jones
Goddessmode, edited by Cool Skull Press
On the Edges of Vision by Helen McClory
There Will Be No More Good Nights Without Good Nights by Laura van den Berg
Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
Frequencies, edited by Two Dollar Radio
A Field Guide to Surreal Botany, edited by Janet Choi

Literary Journals:

Indiana Review
Sugar House Review
Quaint Magazine
The Offing
DIAGRAM
Threadcount

PANK Magazine (RIP)

Movies and TV Series:

Shelter
Redwoods
Ma Vie en Rose
Brokeback Mountain
Latter Days
Girls
Bob’s Burgers
The Muppets
Scream Queens
American Horror Story: Coven
Grace and Frankie
Please Like Me
Inside Out
Edge of Seventeen
The Hundred-Foot Journey
Pride
Long-Term Relationship
East Side Story
I Can’t Think Straight
XXY
Pariah
The Way He Looks
The Normal Heart
The Devil’s Backbone
The Babadook

Video Games:

Papers, Please
The Last of Us
Starbound
Hand of Fate
Mortal Kombat (9)
Legend of Legaia
Broken Age, Act 2
Windward
Viridi
Rune Factory 4
Emperor’s New Groove

Music Albums:

Nabuma Rubberband by Little Dragon
I Am a Bird Now by Antony and the Johnsons
The Hissing of Summer Lawns by Joni Mitchell
Froot by Marina and the Diamonds
Bloodletting by Concrete Blonde
Garbage by Garbage
Tango in the Night by Fleetwood Mac
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful by Florence + the Machine
Love Stuff by Elle King
Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morrisette
Fumbling Towards Ecstasy by Sarah McLachlan
Hormonally Yours by Shakespears Sister
Piece by Piece, The House, Ketevan, pretty much everything by Katie Melua
Finally Woken by Jem
Bigger, Better, Faster, More! by 4 Non Blondes
The Burdens of Being Upright by Tracy Bonham
Art Angels by Grimes

Resolutions:

  1. Do some writing collaborations
  2. Read more, write more, edit more, submit more
  3. Submit paper submissions to paper-only journals
  4. Go to the gym more (of course)
  5. Learn to cook more

Queer Bodies

The end of the year posts are coming, I assure you. There’s still the retrospective, resolutions, and uncapping the memory jar. Let’s just say that I am optimistic about the new year and that is coming from me. Where are my Daria glasses?

I almost don’t want to look back at all.

cactusheartissue14.5

Although it is nearly the end of the year, I just wanted to let you all know that my short story, “Dysmorphia,” is featured in the BODIES issue of Cactus Heart. You can order a copy for yourself here. It’s quite a diverse offering. You will find many writers across the LGBTQ spectrum, voices from the margins. Stories about self-image, gender, coping with illness. I’m happy to be in such good company.

Permafrost also wants to publish a poem of mine in an upcoming print issue. It’s dedicated to a long-time online friend who quietly suffered through drug addiction. I’ll post that when the issue is out.

If you’d like to follow, I now have an Instagram account: @lettersforburning. My sister made me get it. There will be no letters on fire, but you can look forward to books, book quotes, and probably food.

See you all soon.

Recommended Reading #3

  1. A Field Guide to Surreal Botany, edited by Janet Chui and Jason Erik
  2. “Glass Box” by Sandra Simonds
  3. “The Math Is Bad” by Casey Hannan
  4. On the Edges of Vision by Helen McClory
  5. “Smooth Body, Smooth Mind” by Paul Rusconi
  6. “Psychic in Reykjavik” by Fatima Bhutto
  7. “Anthropogenesis, or: How to Make a Family” by Laura van den Berg
  8. “A Hierarchy of Friends and Lovers” by Amanda Miska
  9. “Why I Didn’t Write Back” by Diana Spechler
  10. “The Agony of Community: an Introverted Writer’s Lament” by Meghan Tifft
  11. Read the World, a blog that categorizes literature by place and encourages more worldly reading

Tarot & Talismans

The king tides are upon us and the moon has become very prominent. South Florida is flooding worse than anticipated and people are trapped in their houses. It seems as if my hexes have been working after all.

I had started reading up on the tarot, but I got distracted by other books, such as A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (still reading) and The Field Guide to Surreal Botany. I want to keep a notebook on all 78 cards, what they can mean, what they mean to me. Worthy to note: I’m not religious, nor do I define myself as a spiritual person. I don’t believe in the afterlife, in souls, in spirits, in the divine. I know all those beliefs just act as balm or distraction from our ruminations on our own mortality. Yet I’ve always been fascinated by certain pagan rituals and mysticism—I especially appreciate how these acts encourage creativity and use of one’s own intuition. Intuition over superstition. This does not seem very prominent in other organized religions. I’ve known pagans who are also atheist, and I can understand why this wouldn’t be a contradiction.

My partner in literary crime, Melissa Dominic, has her fascination with rocks and gems. They serve her as talismans. She also reads tarot and understands my need to be my own kind of cartographer. I keep journals of brain sketchings to make sense, to do something with the buzzing in my head. This tarot notebook is just a new medium.

tarotdecknotebook

I was taking a break from writing and submitting to journals, but this didn’t last long. Writing is such unbridled bliss to me, it really is, but submitting gives me a headache. It’s homework. Or rather, it’s like applying to job interviews and getting turned down repeatedly. Who has time to schmooze on social media after all this? (Really, I just want to be a recluse and have editors magically find me, fall in love with me, and publish me.)

Recommended Reading #2

  1. Goddessmode, a small anthology of videogame writing by women and non-binary writers
  2. Corium Magazine, Issue 20
  3. “The Grifted” by Jac Jemc
  4. “There Is No Map for Grief: On the Work of Art” by Lidia Yuknavitch
  5. “Aubade with a Broken Neck” by Traci Brimhall
  6. “What Do We Have in Our Pockets?” by Etgar Keret
  7. “Beginnings: New York” by Ocean Vuong
  8. “Secretaries in Heaven” by Stephanie Lenox
  9. “In Favor of Defenestrating Children” by Saara Myrene Raappana
  10. The Blunt Instrument, an advice column for writers by Elisa Gabbert