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Category: anecdotes

2015: The Retrospective

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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
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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.

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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.

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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.)

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Oh the Periphery

It seems I’ve gone months without writing and this may be the first time I don’t feel guilty about it. Writing used to be my primary mode of communication, but now, I am learning to vocalize and interact using this alien contraption that is my body. I have a voice and I can’t keep quiet like I used to. Most of it is probably frustration. Not probably—definitely. But no guilt, no shame.

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In lieu of writing, I’ve been going out to eat at places I’ve never been to before, visiting thrift stores for alternative rock CDs from the 90s, and spending time with new friends watching LGBT films, playing retro video games, sharing dreams. No longer on the periphery, I might be participating. There are more people around me having conversations and less usernames pinging in my ear. The orbit is seeing other stars, the universe is expanding. Maybe it goes against my natural wiring, but this kind of friction might be necessary.

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Me: Why am I being so nice today?
Coworker: We can tell it’s hurting you.

I thought about making a spreadsheet of my rejections, but I figure it’s a waste of energy and I’m already angry enough as it is. I do admire something like Jac Jemc’s rejection blog though.

PANK Magazine is closing its doors soon, which is sad news. I joked with some friends about being the grim reaper for literary journals because the journals I get published in tend to fold once they have me as a contributor. Pear Noir!Metazen, and now PANK. Who’s next? It could be you! Best watch yourself. If you see me in your submissions queue, you might not even want to take a glance, actually. Just turn away. It could be the death knell. Press REJECT as soon as possible!

Becoming an active participant and being more vocal has made me realize that I cannot fake being an extrovert, however. I can fake being nice when I don’t want to, but I can’t fake where I get my energy and motivation from and how. I’m still drained after all the interaction. I still replenish myself with the solitary. My lungs continue to fill with the quiet.

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