2013: The Retrospective

I might say 2013 was the first year I felt my age, even though I didn’t feel that way in the beginning. High school drama has faded. College was a blur, a TV channel blinking scenes in and out. Coming of age might just be a cough. The throat is cleared, the page can close.

Maybe it is also because more people in my life call me Joseph now, instead of Joey.

There were firsts, coming late: first nosebleed, first time travelling alone, first full-time job, first Pushcart Prize nomination, first romantic interest.

I read mostly women writers to level the playing field. By now, you all know it’s still a problem that half the human population is being overlooked in publishing. It’s surprising. What wasn’t surprising was how easy it was for me to take it to task, a simple lesson in being more mindful of what we consume. And I still have plenty left over sitting on my shelves for the upcoming year.

A few:

bookhaul1

I got more into podcasts because my job allows plugging in as long as we are plugging away. There is Other People, as usual, but also Literary Disco. Books can, and should be, funny. Books can be a party. And of course, there’s Welcome to Nightvale.

I started thinking more about how video games and writing are both important to me, how integral to my formative years. How I grew up with both, alongside each other; how they informed my imagination and creative endeavors. I thought about how they can intersect, how they can both be very important to identity. There are games being made like dys4ia and Depression Quest and Gone Home. I wrote an essay for Sundog, which is maybe the most intimate thing I have published. I am still getting used to this nakedness.

For the new year, Melissa gave me the idea of keeping a memory jar. I don’t think anyone who knows me would consider me a very sentimental person, but I like this idea very much. Getting a big jar and collecting bits and pieces throughout the year to remember it by. Ticket stubs, seashells, pictures, buttons, quotes. It’s like keeping another kind of journal. Maybe it would also force me to be more of observant and aware of what is happening around me, kicking me out of any bubble I am prone to curl up in.

I wrote down resolutions too, which is not something I believe too strongly in. But, as I mention, I’ve already begun working on them. I’ve set myself a Goodreads goal.

I need to make a new mixtape. Maybe my throat has cleared of those days of advanced placement classes and aggressive acne, but the music stays.

Books:

Quiet by Susan Cain
Rise of the Videogame Zinesters by Anna Anthropy
Summer by Edith Wharton
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Heroines by Kate Zambreno
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Stigmata: Escaping Texts by Hélène Cixous
Bluets by Maggie Nelson
The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls by Alissa Nutting
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
Mother Ghost by Casey Hannan
Light Boxes by Shane Jones
Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell
We the Animals by Justin Torres
The Marbled Swarm by Dennis Cooper
My Vocabulary Did This to Me by Jack Spicer

Films/TV:

Downton Abbey
Upstairs, Downstairs
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (again)
Ghost World (again)
My Mad Fat Diary
Girls
Black Books
Parks and Recreation
The Royal Tenenbaums
North Sea, Texas
Bridegroom
Battle Royale

Music:

“Hot Knife” and “Daredevil” by Fiona Apple
“My IQ” by Ani DiFranco
“Closer” by The Tiny
“Royals” and “Tennis Court” by Lorde
“Don’t You Touch Me” and “I’ve Been Alone Too Long” by Soko
“Mother, Mother” by Tracy Bonham
“Lights” by Ellie Goulding
“Lungs” by Chvrches
“All Your Gold” and “Lilies” by Bat for Lashes

Misc.:

Lady knights
Boy witches
Haunted doll houses
Praya dubia and deep-sea creatures
Satin bowerbirds, salamanders
Confessional and fantastical poetry
First-person point of view
Self-destruction as renewal
Memoir-criticism and essay-reviews


2012: The Retrospective

It’s winding down and I can take a breath. Unlike the past few years, I feel like I’ve charted out some kind of evolution through what I’ve collected. I feel as though there has been more progress than paralysis. I’ve gotten better and bolder. I’ve grown more confident in my words, to the point of where I could allow myself to submit them to magazines for the first time. I learned about the process of waiting and the subsequent sting of rejection, but I didn’t let that deter me. I kept at it until I found good homes. I’ve published short fiction, reviews, essays, and poetry – both online and in print. Some bookstores in Austin have a poem of mine on the bookshelves. And I still have more writing forthcoming in other places after the new year rolls around.

I addressed my issues with crippling anxiety and sadness, which is hard if you’ve become so used to a cycle. The help I received loosened the tightness in my chest and gave me the space I needed for myself.  There was less static and it allowed me to ease into my own skin, slowly. I didn’t know things could move forward. I reached out and made new friends. I talked to more writers and people who were interested in what I was doing. I found myself stepping outside and not being as afraid to see what might happen.

Usually my New Year’s resolution is to simply not have any resolutions (in fact, you can read about last year’s retrospective here, in which I bring this exact thing up) because they are usually silly or unrealistic, but I’m going to break that tradition for this upcoming year. Instead, I’m going to try to think of it as just another one of those short-term lists in order to keep my head together. It is not so hard and not so unreasonable.

Goals:

  • Read more books than I read in 2012
  • Publish more writing than I published in 2012
  • Try out internet book trading via something like Paperbackswap, which seems fun
  • Start a new online literary magazine, inspired by places like >kill author and PANK
  • Become a Goodreads author and/or librarian
  • Maybe get a very small tattoo, if I can finally decide on something
  • Move more, before my muscles completely atrophy
  • Update this blog with a snazzy new theme
  • Find a better near-future amidst the economic uncertainty of the far-future

And now, this year’s collection.

Metropolis Night by Jacklyn Laflamme

Books:

I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Niimura
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee
Demian by Hermann Hesse
Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim
Zazen by Vanessa Veselka
The Writing of Fiction by Edith Wharton
The Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich
If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino
4.48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane
Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman

Films:

Barton Fink
Leon: the Professional
Masculin, Feminin
Une Femme est une Femme
Mary and Max
Amarcord
8 1/2
Melancholia
Public Speaking
All About Eve
Citizen Kane
Kiki’s Delivery Service
Brave
Norwegian Wood
Grey Gardens
Shame
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
The Secret World of Arrietty
The Borrowers
The Hunger Games
Misery
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Submarine
Paradise Now
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Clueless
Moonrise Kingdom

Music:

“Oblivion” and “Genesis” by Grimes
“Every Single Night” by Fiona Apple
“Teen Idle” and “Oh No” by Marina and the Diamonds
“Soft as Chalk” by Joanna Newsom
“Catgroove” and “Booty Swing” by Parov Stelar
“Je Veux” by Zaz
“24” by Jem
“Air War” by Crystal Castles
“Strict Machine” by Goldfrapp
“Obedear” by Purity Ring
“Old Friend” by Sea Wolf
“Gallows” by CocoRosie
“These Days” by Nico
“Turn the Wolves” and “Halo” by Lotte Kestner
“Rid of Me” by PJ Harvey
“Human Behaviour” by Bjork
“Into Black” by Blouse
“Sunshine” by Little Dragon

Misc.:

750words
Duotrope and Submittable
My 8tracks, always
Going back to paper and letters and writing in little brown notebooks
90s reminiscing: point-and-click adventure games, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, Sakura Gelly Roll pens
Pumpkin pancakes
Anxiety workbooks
Nathaniel Branden’s “scandalous” relationship with Ayn Rand
Watching Divorce Court after school with my sister
Writing Spaces
Bright Wall, Dark Room
ReadLearnWrite
Underground NY Public Library
Kickstarter indie projects
Feminism, gaming culture, and Anita Sarkeesian
The Prisoner


Carousel #6

  1. Apparently, there’s been some book banning going on in Arizona in regards to the Mexican-American immigrant experience. I’m still regularly shocked and appalled by the racism and censorship that is allowed in this country.
  2. A graphic novel adaptation of the classic children’s book A Wrinkle in Time is coming out this year. Check out the cover.
  3. I read a story about a father’s struggle with his little daughter’s cancer. It follows the family’s grieving process and how they cope with her illness. Utterly brutal and sad, but also deeply beautiful.
  4. I found a new place to get books: The Book Depository! Free international shipping, and their prices are actually pretty good too. Excellent.
  5. I discovered The Safety Pin Review, a relatively new literary journal that features 30-word fiction and shows it off on the back of shirts around town by the journal’s “operatives.” Love it. Now if only I can teach myself to write fiction in thirty words or less.
  6. I’m pretty sure I’ve listened to Catgroove over a hundred times throughout this week. I’m also pretty sure electroswing is my new favorite thing. Parov Stelar is amazing. All of his music is going on my MP3 player as soon as possible.

Carousel #5

  1. All I really want for my birthday this year is Scrivener. Sounds absolutely perfect.
  2. Have some chiptunes I came across. Music made with a GameBoy, for those not in the know.
  3. Here’s an interesting article about Tumblr as the modern commonplace book. I’ve never kept one of my own, although I suppose this blog has become a sort with the inclusion of these carousels.
  4. I recently discovered the fantastic Dear Sugar advice column. Anonymous questions (often difficult, sometimes quite strange) are sent in and eloquently answered by the always compassionate, level-headed Sugar (who recently revealed herself as the author Cheryl Strayed, by the way).
  5. While the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games enjoying a huge success at the box office wasn’t all too surprising, it was surprising to see how some fans reacted to some of the characters being portrayed as black. I haven’t read the books myself, but the response is quite shocking to say the least. On the heels of this whole debacle, here’s Toni Morrison discussing racism.
  6. Aaron Burch, the fantastic editor over at Hobart, wrote a eulogy for the closing of a bookstore he used to work at. Sad to see all these bookstores go.
  7. Something I’ve noticed when it comes to fiction novels these days: there are a ton of books out there with the titles “The _____’s Daughter,” or “The _____’s Wife.” Apparently though, I’m not the only one who has picked up on this. Maybe the titles have a nice cadence, and maybe people do pick them up because they’re familiar, but I think it’s about time we retire them.
  8. Flannery O’Connor is one of my favorite short story writers, and it was her birthday last week. A big volume of her complete works sits on my shelf. Lacy Marschalk, a writer and a teacher, recounts her visit to Ms. O’Connor’s house in Georgia and the farm. Plus peacocks!
  9. This week, poet Adrienne Rich passed away. She was one of my favorite poets as an undergrad. Read and listen to her poem “Diving into the Wreck.”

Carousel #1

So I’ve decided to introduce a new feature to this blog: carousels.

Essentially, this is where I send you on a trip around the internet. Special places that helped define my week, highlights that include fascinating things to read, look at, listen to, watch. Things to inspire and thoughts to turn over. Enjoy!

  1. I watched my first Jean-Luc Godard film, Masculin, Féminin. I’m still uncertain how I feel about it, but I liked just being able to sit down and listen to all the conversations taking place. You can watch the whole thing on Youtube, and it has English subtitles.
  2. A strange short story: The Fisherwoman’s Daughter.
  3. A short poem by Allison Titus: Inclement.
  4. I really wish Maurice Sendak were my grandfather so we could be bitter curmudgeons together. Here’s a video on his work, childhood, and inspirations.
  5. More poems to look at that left an impression: Flowers in Stone, Gender Studies, Advice for the Manic / Instructions for Grieving. You can also listen to some of the authors read their works.
  6. Watching this music video by Gotye should be used to gauge humanity. If you cry, congratulations! You’re not a robot. Not that there’s anything wrong with robots, of course.
  7. I started reading Zazen by Vanessa Veselka, which I’ve been seeing everywhere around the internet. From the reviews, it seems to be pretty difficult to define. You can read it in its entirety on Red Lemonade.
  8. I read The Depressed Person, a genius essay by David Foster Wallace, which is so powerful and convincing that it literally caused me to have a physical feeling of revulsion.

(If you ever wish to include anything in these lists – anything of yours, or otherwise – feel free to write to me and let me know.)