Thursday, March 29, 2012 | By: Brianna

Write Bloody

So I submitted to the open submission for Write Bloody Publishing.  Lots of stress about that, I had to re-write three poems and submit them along with a paragraph about why I would fit in with their writers.  But that was just the first round.  If I make it to the second round, I need 40 poems.  Granted, I have over 40 poems from my Poem-A-Day Project, it's just a matter of picking them.

I'm trying to figure out if I should pick a certain number from each month or if I should treat them all the same and just pick the best overall.  It'd probably be better to go with the latter idea because I'm more likely to come up with the best poems ever that way because I can't really say that each month was created equal...some months were just bad.  Whole months, yeah.

What I'm thinking now is that I should consult my Poem Keepers.  They read my poems for those months, so why not ask them what were their favorites?  I'm thinking that I might ask them to read a month that they didn't collect because that might be interesting.  They would get to read new things anyway that way.  Hm.

September -- K80sill
October -- Melbourne
November -- Boomerang
December -- Me
January -- Bairfanx
February -- Samuel
March -- Mama Bear

At the same time I don't want to overwhelm people with one more thing to do for me.  I mean, reading poetry and picking your favorite poems isn't exactly the most difficult thing in the world to do, but at the same time it's an obligation that I don't want people to feel if they don't really want to read poetry.  And I flatter myself that my poetry's fun, so it should be okay to read, but you know...I could just be crazy.

"At high noon
outside the saloon
was a gun-slinging raccoon
named Charlie."
- November 15, 2011 from the Poem-A-Day Project
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 | By: Brianna

Shakespeare and Boccaccio

Q:  So what are you up to nowadays?

A:  Well.  I'm sitting around worrying about The Future, spending time worrying about my business stats test instead of actually attempting to start studying for it, agonizing over my management "double-weighted" quiz that'll be on the same day as my stats test, and then I'm thinking a lot about Shakespeare.

Q:  That's nothing new, you might as well stop typing now.

A:  Yeah okay.

So I have a paper for my Shakespeare class.  I'm going to write it on Cymbeline, which I'm really excited about because it's a really weird play.  Not even the critics really know what to do with it because no one really knows what genre it belongs in.  Our book classifies it as a romance, so that means there's going to be love and shenanigans, no one's going to die, and everyone's going to live happily ever after.  Right?

Wrong.  There are at least two deaths, one of them being a suicide and the other one featuring a headless body that stays on stage for a little bit to cuddle with the female lead.

I also have a huge problem with the play being called Cymbeline after a secondary character because I'm still trying to figure out what his significance to the play is.  Mostly because I've given myself permission to not think about him up until now.

But I'm writing my paper about women.  And Shakespeare's source material.  Because it's a little known fact to people who know Shakespeare's stories but aren't familiar with the history behind them that Shakespeare never really came up with his own plots.  Due to copyright laws being nonexistent in Shakespearean times, he could pick and choose plots that struck his fancy from other people's works, and no one could say a word about it.  Better than that, if people recognized the source material they could gloat and talk about how clever they were that they actually knew where the plot came from.

A large part of Shakespeare's plot for Cymbeline centers around a wager that Posthumus (what a horrid name) makes with Iachimo based on the chastity of Posthumus' wife.  Because yes, you can be chaste when you're married.  So this plot actually came from Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron, which I learned through a very quick Google search while my school's library website wasn't working for me.  It's interesting that in the original story, the character upon whom Posthumus is based brags about how his wife possesses all of the best virtues that a woman can possess, and additionally the virtues that a knight or squire might possess.  Whoa, crazy!  I'm not sure if Shakespeare keeps this comparison, but if he doesn't, this is going to be perfect for my paper.  It's interesting that Boccaccio would go so far as to allow a character to bestow the virtues of a man upon his wife because I highly doubt that Boccaccio was a feminist in the contemporary sense.  Maybe he's saying that to show how absurd the character's bragging is.  "Anyone who would think to claim that women have the same virtues as men is clearly addled."  This seems plausible.

So it begins.  My lovely to do list unfolds:
- study for business stats in any manner possible
- study and read for management, pray that the questions aren't absurd
- write a paper for Shakespeare
- critique fiction

"I thought her
as chaste as unsunned snow."
- William Shakespeare, Cymbeline, 2.5
Sunday, March 25, 2012 | By: Brianna

A Major Challenge

So at my school there's a conflict between Business majors and English majors.  I'm not sure the Business majors know the disdain we harbor for them, but we do.  Because we don't understand why they're studying what they're studying.  I know enough English majors who dislike Business majors enough that even if you're a double get teased.  I'm just a minor...this should be better, but it's not.  I wrote this poem and submitted it to my campus' literary magazine, and it got in!  :^)


A Major Challenge (rough draft)
(September 29, 2011 from the Poem-a-Day Project)
Says the Business major
to the writer:
“What are you going
to do?”

I’m going to work,
make money,
I’ll work in some business
that makes things
I don’t understand.
I’ll sit at a short desk
and push papers
till my paper pusher
pushes back.
I’ll work in television,
write snappy quips
in the first draft
and revise them out
before filming
but encourage the actors
to improvise.
Or maybe Hallmark,
writing the insides of cards
for Arbor Day
because paper cards
make sense for a tree day.
I’ll travel around the world
taking pictures
of people’s elbows,
and when I’m done,
I’ll journey to the moon.

Don’t believe me?
I’m serious.

I’ll paint my face
and study mime,
trapping myself
in a glass box
with a trapdoor
I can’t see.
Or collect pencil
shavings and sell them
on EBay.
I’ll make more money
than the Jesus toast.

Says the writer
to the Business major:
“What kind of business
are you in anyway?”

Posted for Poetry Pantry #94 from Poets United.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 | By: Brianna

Make-Up Post

Because I didn't write a post yesterday.  Or Monday, I figured I should write an extra post today.

Some people might notice that there are no other people in my Life as a Poet post.  There are, but they're all strangers like coffee shop workers or sandwich shop men or shoppers or hobos or street performers.  That's not to say that I want to alienate myself from people like my family and friends and loved ones, but it's this thing I do.  When I picture The Future, I don't really think about the people who will be there because those who will be I take for granted that they'll be there, and those who won't be, I don't want to think about why they won't be there.  Like my parents?  They'll be in my future, no questions asked.  But who's to say that the random person from my Shakespeare class that I'm friends with on Facebook but don't really talk to outside of class will still be in my life when I'm a poet?  Not that I would purposely want to cut them from my life, but I feel like they would be of the group that would just fade away.

And I don't want to think about that.

So I don't write people into The Future because I don't feel right fictionalizing other people's futures like I do my own.  If they're important now, they'll probably be important later.  If not, that's life, right?

My Life as a Poet

So this morning I saw on my blog feed list thing that Poets United has a feature called "Life of a Poet."  Though this is an interview type feature, I decided that I should do something similar for my blog and talk about what I'd like my life to look like if I was just a poet.  Here goes some fictional imagining.

If I was a poet and nothing else, I would live in a city.  Probably Chicago because I don't think I could get myself to move to New York, just because it's a matter of principle that I should display disdain toward the "big apple."  I would live in a tiny apartment with one bedroom and a drippy ceiling in the kitchen.  My living room window would look out at a tree-lined one-way street.  I would have to sleep on a double bed because anything bigger wouldn't fit in my bedroom comfortably, and I would have an east facing window so the sun will slant over my face and wake me up when the heat gets uncomfortable over my eyelids.

In the morning I'll wake up and pull on whatever t-shirt and pants are within arm's reach.  I'll pull my hair up and off my face by twisting it up with a pen.  I'll wear my glasses, of course, and pull my beat up messenger bag that's already packed and walk out the door, taking to the sidewalk.  The walk will always be nice, even if it's raining because the people I'll pass will be friendly enough to smile and sometimes stop to chat, but not that weird middle ground where you just mumble "hi" and keep walking.  They'll all understand that when they ask "how are you?" I will answer honestly and sometimes at length.  And that I'll really care when I ask the same question back.

I'll go to my favorite little coffee shop where I'll eat a blueberry muffin and drink a mug of hot chocolate every morning, but sometimes I'll shake things up and drink chai or order a cinnomon roll or maybe a freshly baked croissant.  I'll sit at the same table every morning and all of the employees of the coffee shop will know who I am, even the owner will come over to say hello.  I'd have the same tattered notebook every morning, maybe it'll be leather bound or maybe it'll be a composition notebook that's frayed around the edges of the cardboard cover.  I would write with a Bic crystal pen because fancy pens would just get smashed in my bag.  Visitors to the coffee shop would muse about what I was writing, and they would even make up stories about what they thought I was writing, some of the regulars will know my name, but will be too bashful to talk to me.

After breakfast, I would probably wander the streets looking around and window shopping.  I'll take a different route every morning.  Maybe I'll even ride the El all day one day.  I'll spend time in the museums, taking notes on things that I learn, and visiting some exhibits so often that I memorize what the little placards say.  I'll sit on a corner of State street and watch the shoppers, taking special note of who frequents which stores and following around the most interesting people.  I'll go to a tourist spot and observe non-Chicago-natives.  On nice days I'll even visit the beach and draw sketches of pigeons and waves and maybe some stick figure sun bathers.

I'll eat a proper lunch at a small sandwich shop or a diner that I pass on my wanderings.  It'll be a surprise every day, and I'll try whatever the man at the counter suggests even if it features sauer kraut because lunch should be spontaneous.  I'll sit in a park and eat whatever I bought and skip rocks in fountains.

In the afternoon I'll run errands.  Pick up dry cleaning if I have it, buy another gallon of milk because I finished off the last of it at midnight the night before, replenish my stock of honey sesame sticks because I always manage to run out at the least convenient times, and maybe meet up with a friend for coffee.  By this time I'll probably drink coffee because I'll be all grown up.  I'll listen to speakers and go to free events mostly because I won't have any money to spare, but also because I'll want to keep learning forever.

In the evening I'll read with a glass of wine under the glow of a single reading lamp.  The rest of the room will be hidden in shadow.  I'll eat dinner on my own and maybe dance a little while I'm making it.  And after watching a movie or a random television show on my TV that has a dysfunctional color tube or whatever, I'll settle into bed to cuddle and fall asleep.

"A poet looks at the world the way a man looks at a woman."
- Wallace Stevens
Sunday, March 18, 2012 | By: Brianna

Lost Words

Lost Words (rough draft)
(January 8, 2012 from the Poem-A-Day Project)

Only words.
Just words.
Floating on air
currents kite-like
or flutter bug-like.
Only words
that sink stones
or bury thought.
Words that taste
like a summer day
when all the sprinklers
turn on but feel
like the torn up
soles of bare feet
that sprinted
on sidewalk.
Words that turn shadows
into monsters or worse.
Words that paint
with messy fingers,
pigment underneath
close-bitten nails.
Words with triple
definitions that tango
with antonyms
or hyphens.
Some words traipse
through trysts
and tiptoe around
tyrants but these
words loathe alliteration.
Best are the words
lost in plain sight.
The ones perched on
your bed post
wearing neon
or stripes.

Posted for Poetry Pantry #92 from Poets United.
Saturday, March 17, 2012 | By: Brianna

St. Patrick's Day

Today is the day when everyone would like to pretend that they're Irish.  And if they're not pretending, chances are that they're probably Irish.  And when it comes to living in Chicago, there's an even greater chance that the people you're talking to are Irish.  Mostly because Chicago is notoriously Irish.  I say "notoriously" because of our former mayor, both of the Daleys, but I have to be able to acknowledge that we have a large Polish and Mexican population as well.  I'm not going to swear on that mostly because I can't promise that I know what I'm talking about.

In Chicago, there's a tradition of dying the river green.  The Chicago River.  Because yes, there's a river through Chicago (I have a friend who didn't know that there was a river in Chicago and got confused when I told her not to cross the river or she'd get lost).

I take no credit for this photo, I found it on Google.
According to the Story Behind Dyeing the River, other cities have attempted to dye their rivers...with no success.  Clearly there's something special (or sinister) about the Chicago River that allows the dye to take hold and refuse to let go for a couple days after the St. Patrick's Day parade.  I've never seen the river get dyed this special shade of emerald, but apparently the powder they use is orange...and it turns the river green.  It makes so much sense now.

Thank you again, Google!
I have had Green River.  It's a lime pop drink that's all bubbly and delicious.  According to Wikipedia where I get all the best information, Green River was created as a non-alcoholic alternative in Chicago during the Prohibition Era.  Although after Prohibition ended, the brewery that created it made Green River a second priority to making alcohol, which would make sense considering it's a brewery.  I remember that I had Green River for the first time at my uncle's house, and I loved it.  I was probably around eight when I first had it, and my brother and I loved it so much that I'm pretty sure my dad brought home some cans of the stuff from his brother's house.  And then there was a period of time where I had no Green River.  I suspect that's because my uncle stopped buying it, but since then it's come back into my life and it's pretty much glorious.

"There are only two kinds of people in the world, The Irish and those who wish they were."
- Unknown
Friday, March 16, 2012 | By: Brianna

Cutting Hairs

Today...I got my hair cut.  This was kind of a big deal for me if only because I hadn't gotten it cut since late June, early July, and at that time, it was a pixie cut.  Super short.  Like really a lot short.

Kinda exactly like that.  This was a new and daring thing for me to do because I figured it was my last chance to experiment before I got out into the big bad real world.  Fair assumption.  I spent all of last summer making sure that I wore mascara or bows or something distinctly girly because as I said at the time, "I don't want to look like a boy."  I still find this amusing, and realize that it plays into gender stereotyping, but we're not going to go there because I was really just having fun at the time.

So.  Brianna hair got all shaggy (I know anyone who reads this is going to be EXTRA thrilled to know the history of my hair, but hey, it's a daily blog, and I'm writing, and I wasn't too pleased with it.  My friends said it looked fine, but I maintain that the bottom most layer decided that it wanted to be straight while the rest of my hair decided it wanted to be wavy/curly.  So craziness ensued on my head.  It was good times. I was just musing about different ways I could wear my shaggy hair when I got it cut today.

So now it looks like this.  And it also looks like I'm strangling myself, but whatever.  I'm a little nervous about the bangs which my mother insists aren't "bangs bangs," a term which I'm not sure I fully understand, but the point being is that I'm mildly interested to see what my bedhead looks like tomorrow morning.  Oh the thrilling life I lead.

"The American character looks always as if it had just had a rather bad haircut, which gives it, in our eyes at any rate, a greater humanity than the European, which even among its beggars has an all too professional air."
- Mary McCarthy
Thursday, March 15, 2012 | By: Brianna

What a to do... die today.

This is my 200th post.

It's also going to be a throwaway post because I have a lot to do today.  At least, I just realized the magnitude of the things that I have to do before Break is over hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.  So that's what I'm going to be doing instead of writing a pretty blog post.  Sorry!
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | By: Brianna

4 Things

(in no particular order…)

Four dreams I’ve had about my life:
1. Be happy.
2. Be able to write whenever I want.  Read as much as I want.
3. Become fluent in French.
4. Open a café/book shop where all the drink names are literary references.

Four careers I have wanted:
1. Teacher
2. Broadway actress/director/playwright
3. Veterinarian
4. Writer (particularly a novelist, but I’m branching out into “poet” as well)

Four favorite animals:
1. PENGUIN!  (Because of the family penguin joke)
2. Flamingo
3. Unicorn
4. Phoenix

Four movies I’ve watched more than once:
1. The Princess Bride
2. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
3. The Star Wars trilogy
4. Love Actually

Four TV shows I watch:
1. Doctor Who
2. Glee
3. Once Upon a Time
4. Castle/House/Bones (occasionally)

Four places I have lived:
1. Des Plaines, IL
2. Chicago, IL
3. Bloomington, IL
4. London/Edinburgh (while on a school trip?)

Four places I’ve been:
1. Disneyland
2. The Globe Theatre
3. London Bridge (not in London)
4. The Grand Canyon

Four favorite drinks:
1. Lemonade
2. Chocolate milk
3. Grape Kool Aid
4. Orange juice

Four of my favorite foods:
1. French toast
2. Pizza
3. Macaroni and cheese
4. Green bean casserole

Four of my least favorite foods:
1. Carrots
2. Lima beans
3. Mango
4. Papaya

Four places I would like to be:
1. Home (amongst family)
2. IWU (amongst friends)
3. Scotland (amongst history)
4. In a library (amongst literature)

Four things I’m looking forward to this year:
1. Going to Disney World to participate in the Disney College Program.
2. Being able to read whenever I want.
3. Continuing the Poem-a-Day Project at least into September.
4. The Summer (Paris, house-sitting, and camping!)

Four favorite hobbies:
1. Reading (anything, but I draw the line at street signs)
2. Writing snippets of things and poetry
3. Knitting square flat things
4. Crafting

Four favorite quotes:
1. “Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, it is that we are powerful beyond measure…” – Marianne Williamson
2. “The knack of flying is learning to throw yourself at the ground and miss.” – Douglas Adams
3. “It’s not my job to be right.  It’s my job to be wrong in new and exciting ways.” – James Kennedy
4. “Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 | By: Brianna

The Notebook (but not the one you're thinking)

Today I thought I'd free write based on a first line that I had to write for my fiction class.


The notebook was wedged between two editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica and it looked like it hadn't moved until years.  Until now.  I didn't even notice it until I pulled an encyclopedia off the shelf and it attacked me.  When I say "it," I mean the notebook.  It propelled itself at my face and the corner hit me square in my forehead.  No doubt I would have a bruise between my eyes.

Rubbing the spot, I bent down to pick up my assailant, taking special note of the marbled cover.  It was a classic Mead composition book that was worn around the edges.  The binding seemed to be detaching itself from the cover and the majority of the pages were covered in a spidery spindly handwriting.  It looked like a line of spiders had been smashed between the pages, and on nearly every page.

I'm not one to intrude upon a person's personal affairs, but when faced with a notebook that was in a public library, I could definitely argue that it was public property.  At this point, I could consider this notebook just another library book.  Public property.  So basically, I was completely within my rights when I opened it and read a couple pages.

It was good stuff.  As it turns out, it was a personal journal about someone's life.  Some girl talking about her break up with some guy and how she was coping.  There were even a couple of really good lines describing her make outs with various men in bars.  And every now and again there were sections where she made out with other women.  Apparently this writer was a wild woman after she got rid of that ball and chain of hers.  But she kept going back to thinking about her old guy.  When she had been having so much fun with her random hook-ups and nights out with the girls, she kept thinking about the guy.

I sat down on the floor of the aisle, leaning up against one of the bookshelves.  Barely anyone came down this aisle, so it wasn't like I'd be in the way.  I felt like I should have had a bowl of popcorn to go with this fascinating read.  The writer was starting to have difficulty with her job when I realized that I should probably get home before my roommate started calling the cops and my parents (in that order) to report that I was missing.  I shoved the notebook into my bag and bustled out of the library, walking the half a mile to my apartment.  At least back home I could have some of that popcorn.

"You ask me if I keep a notebook to record my great ideas.  I've only ever had one."
- Albert Einstein
Sunday, March 11, 2012 | By: Brianna


Yesterday, David and I played tourist in my hometown, Chicago.  And when I say "we," I really mean me, I was a tourist, because I walked around the streets taking pictures of everything.  First, because I now have a camera that's pretty and not ancient and second, because I don't go downtown very often and third, because there were things that we saw that normal tourists probably don't think to go see.  Though we were right by the Art Institute, we avoided going there because admission prices are outrageous and we're poor students.

We did get to see the Chicago Model City.

Picture provided by me!  This is a view from the North Side of the city.
I didn't know that this or that the Chicago Architecture Foundation existed, but they had a really cool gift shop deal where they had really neat toys and books and bags and interesting things--but the model.  I tried to find where my house is, but they didn't go that far north or west.  Because apparently Chicago's too big for that.  Silly.  Anyway, I did find the Kennedy expressway which is what I would take to get to downtown while driving, and so I ended up taking a picture as if I was coming off the highway.  There was also information about how the lighting changes every so often to simulate the path of the sun on June 21st, the longest day of the year.  I'm a little unclear as to why they chose that particular day, but I suppose it might have something to do with the amount of sunlight...and that the sun's out for the longest on that day?  I guess that makes sense.

We also saw the Chicago Cultural Center which had mosaics EVERYWHERE.

This is the ceiling at the Chicago Cultural Center.  Just look at that zodiac!
It was really beautiful in there.  There were quotes on the walls in the mosaics and the names of authors and scientists, and then there were writings in different languages like Arabic and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese, it was really pretty.  There were other sections of the Chicago Cultural Center, one which had an exhibit called "Morbid Curiosity" which I regret going to because it was super creepy.  Like really creepy.  The "Write Now" exhibit was a lot more of my taste because it was all word-based art.  Really cool.  (How many times have I used "really" in this paragraph?  Who's counting?)  But I liked just wandering around!

Throughout our wanderings I kept thinking that it was really cool that we were just wandering.  We didn't have anywhere in particular to go because all we had to do was kill time in between events.  I like the idea of just wandering around the city because I feel like that's how the hole-in-the-wall places get found.  That's how you can find little historic places and never even realize it until you're standing right in them.  Chicago's got a lot going for it, and I never really thought about it because I just grew up here.  I always think about other cities as having more history than Chicago, but this city has a lot more history than I ever would have thought.

"Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world."
- Frank Lloyd Wright

Poetry Friday -- Vogon Poetry

So because I'm making up blog posts today because I was a slacker before and because I'm not really held accountable for the legitimacy of any of my blog posts, I'm going to write about Vogon poetry.

Today is Douglas Adams' birthday.  If he were alive today, he would have been 60 years old.  Douglas Adams is the author of the series that starts out with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  Apparently it's called a trilogy even though it has five books because Douglas Adams was a wonderfully ridiculous man.  There's also a sixth book in the series written by Eoin Colfer (author of Artemis Fowl) fairly recently.

Fun fact: Douglas Adams wrote for Doctor Who.  Thereby further legitimizing my love for the British science fiction show.  (Even though Douglas Adams didn't write any of the episodes I've ever seen...)

Douglas Adams is one of the main reasons why I believe that the things I write might actually be considered popular one day.  If he can send a Chesterfield bouncing across an open field, then why can't I do whatever I want in my own writing?  Okay, maybe not whatever I want until I'm about as famous and well-known (because those are two different things, right?) as Douglas Adams.

So Vogon poetry.  According to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the "third worst poetry in the Universe."  Listening to it read is something akin to torture.  Honestly, I think Vogon poetry is a little amusing, but it takes the form of nonsense verse.

I think there's something to be said about nonsense verse.  In some ways I feel like it can be used effectively when someone integrates nonsense with sensical things if only to give it some context.  I'm thinking of "Jabberwocky" and the idea that "the momeraths outgrabe" (I'm doing this from memory, so please don't punch me).  Also if there's a pleasing rhythm or sound to the nonsense verse, it's more likely to be appealing.  I get the distinct feeling that that's not the case with Vogon poetry, so I'm not holding my breath.

The description that the Guide gives it is (provided to me by Wikipedia):
"Vogon poetry is the third worst in the Universe. The second worst is that of the Azgoths of Kria. During a recitation by their Poet Master Grunthos the Flatulent, of his poem, Ode to a Small Lump of Green Putty I Found in My Armpit One Midsummer Morning, four of his audience members died of internal hemorrhaging, and the president of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council, survived by gnawing one of his own legs off... The very worst poetry in the universe died along with its creator, Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Sussex... in the destruction of the planet Earth."

So Vogon poetry probably wouldn't be that bad if it had a rhyme, rhythm, or reason.  But because Vogons enjoy watching you squirm in pain and agony from hearing their verses...I find it difficult to believe that they would try to make their poetry enjoyable.

I found a couple Vogon related links that you might want to check out: (I wrote one of these, and the first adjective should not have been "cheery."  Oops!) (I'm really jealous that they have a Vogon poetry slam.  If I lived in the UK...I would be so there.)

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." 
- Douglas Adams

Excuses, Excuses

So I forgot to blog yesterday.
And the day before.
And the day before.
I think that at this point I should call it a failure because I missed three days out of my Lenten promise thingy to blog every day.  But at the same time, I feel like I should be given a little slack because I've been busy.  Sure, I'm always busy, but I'm talking about real fun busy.  I've been home.

Friday I was just so excited to go home that I spent the day reading a comic instead of packing (well, after I was done packing) and listening to Pandora.

Saturday, well, Saturday I spe---(this is when I realize that I only really missed Friday and Saturday, I didn't miss Thursday, aha!)---Saturday I spent downtown.  Doing lots of things.  Maybe I'll post pictures of the craziness that occurred that really wasn't that crazy, but might be interesting to see all the same. I'd like to do things.  Preferably homeworky things so I don't have to worry about them for the rest of break, but I'm not sure I'll be able to revise an entire story in one day.  In theory, it can happen, but I'm not sure I want to stress myself out while I'm at home.  But what would be the fun of spring break if I wasn't stressed out, right?  So...we'll see what happens with that.  I might just end up reading about politics and religion in Shakespearean era England and then that short story I'm supposed to read for my fiction class, thereby leaving all the re-writing for later like the good procrastinator I am.

So I'll do a poetry analysis thing today to make up for Poetry Friday, and I'll do something to make up for yesterday and then I'll be on track.  And then I'll catch up on my Poem-A-Day Project.  Oops...apparently being home just throws everything off.  Weird.
Thursday, March 8, 2012 | By: Brianna

Stranger than Fiction

Today after having finished all of my homework for my classes tomorrow, I decided to settle down to watch a movie and I picked Stranger than Fiction.

I love this movie quite a bit.  It's one of the few movies that I can tolerate Will Farrell in because he's not doing stupid and painful things, and it actually seems like he creates a character, which I appreciate.  Plus Emma Thompson is my hero.  And it's about writing.  As a writer, I feel compelled to fall in love with anything related to or dealing with writing.  Plus I understand the depths of writer's block that Karen Eiffel feels.  No joke.  As demonstrated by my blogging of late.

I'm intrigued by the idea of meeting a character that I've written.  Maybe not discovering that I've killed them, mostly because I don't think I've ever killed a character in my life, but maybe talking to them.  So I'm going to write a little about that.  We'll see how it goes.


It was mid-afternoon in Chicago, and a young woman sat in a large room, the walls lined with bookshelves.  The young woman had golden blonde hair and green eyes hidden behind black plastic rimmed glasses.  She wore an overlarge cream old man sweater and she sat in an armchair behind a large desk covered with papers.  The papers were strewn across the desk in no particular order, some scribbled on in strange corners and others completely blank.  Bent over the desk's surface, the young woman looked up only when she heard a knock at the door.

"Come in."

The young woman watched as the door opened to reveal a girl in her mid-teens who seemed to be wearing every article of clothing she could find on the floor of her closet.  The girl was clad in about seven layers of clothing, all covered by a tan trench coat.  A maroon beret sat jauntily atop the girl's mousy brown hair.  The writer watched as the girl looked around the room, taking in the stacks of books, the paper strewn across the desk, and the carousel horse standing in the corner on its wooden hooves.

"Have a seat," the writer said, gesturing to the chair across the desk from her.  The girl sat down without a word, realizing only then that her mouth was still wide open from her journey across the room to that very seat.

"Um, hello," the girl said, looking up at the writer who had been as captivated with the girl as the girl had been with the room.

"Hi, yeah, remind me again, who are you?" the writer asked, pulling a beaten up composition notebook from the haphazardly arranged papers and notes.  She opened it to a fresh page and poised the tip of her cheap pen over the white.

"I'm Marcella, I thought you knew me already," the girl replied, folding her hands in her lap.  She wore mismatched gloves, one without fingers and the other that was made from a thin material that allowed her free movement.

"Oh, uh, yeah, I do, don't I?" the writer sputtered, a nervous smile creeping onto her face as she wrote out notes about the girl's attire and general attitude towards their meeting.

"I love the carousel horse, how did you get him to follow you home?"

"Excuse me?"

"The carousel horse.  Usually they don't like being cooped up in one place for very long, and they only ever go places if they follow someone there, so how'd you get him here?" Marcella asked, blinking her midnight blue eyes.  There was no sign of jest in her face, she was dead serious.

"Oh, aaah, well I'm not really sure, actually," the writer admitted with a slight shrug.  "About why you came here..."

"I wanted to ask you for a story," Marcella said.  She delivered this statement with the same seriousness with which she asked about the carousel horse.  She blinked at the writer and nodded pointedly.

"A story."

"Yes.  You see, you wrote me, but I don't have a story, so I'm kind of stuck," Marcella explained, her face scrunching up a little as she described her predicament.  "I'm not really sure how these things work, so I thought I'd ask and see what you can do about it."

"Well, I don't really know what to tell you, I don't have a story for you right now," the writer said apologetically.  She had abandoned her notebook a couple bullet points ago and had lost her place in her own notes.  "I honestly have no idea what to do with you."

"Well, let's start from ridiculous and go from there."
- Stranger than Fiction
Wednesday, March 7, 2012 | By: Brianna

To Do over Spring Break

Spring Break starts this Friday.  Because it's a break in the middle of the semester and professors don't generally take pity on us, I'm not foreseeing a lot of free time because I'll probably have school work to do, but I can dream, right?  What follows is a list of all the things I want to do over Spring Break if there's time.

  • Write a poem about a stripper cannon (not-so-long story, but it's a "you had to be there" I'm just going to let that one lie.  No pun intended.)
  • Learn how to cook something that isn't cereal and milk, toast, French toast, oven pizza, any type of pasta, or things that Brianna already knows how to "cook"
  • Visit Chicago Zinefest with David, even though I have no idea what to expect from this extravaganza
  • Blog daily (naturally)
  • Read for fun (any number of the books that I own that I should read mostly because I own them and they're lonely having not been read, but probably Good Omens if I can remember to bring it home with me)
  • Re-write my stories for my fiction class (because they need to be re-written for class, and perhaps the home environment will help inspire me)
  • Adventure through Chicago with Katie (there's a list of things that Katie wants to see while she's in Chicago, so we're going to see if we can do that)
  • Continue the Poem-A-Day Project and give the March poems I have already to my March Poem Keeper, Claire
  • Watch Disney movies with my little brother, because he asked if I wanted to watch movies, eat popcorn, drink pop, and pretend that we're little kids again, and how could I possibly refuse an invitation like that?!
  • Work on door decs for my RAs (because they're going to be due soon, and I should probably have them done at some point)
  • Work on my April bulletin board(s) (I'm thinking I'm going to do a board on Poisson d'avril and also for National Poetry Month)
  • Think of active program ideas revolving around National Poetry Month because my residents are going to be educated if it's the last thing that I do, Poem In Your Pocket Day may have to happen...
  • Figure out something for Talk Like Shakespeare Day:
  • Figure out Disney College Program things (roommate matching, employment forms, etc.  Things like that because I keep forgetting to right now...)
"I like to do all the talking myself.  It saves time, and prevents arguments."
- Oscar Wilde
Tuesday, March 6, 2012 | By: Brianna

Writer's Block

This morning I couldn't decide what to write.  I still don't really know what to write (as shown by the title of this post).

I was going to write:
- about espresso and puppies, taking a prompt from a picture pinned to a board on my Pinterest, I had this short-lived plan to write about myself as a fictional character who gives a small child a shot of espresso and tries to figure out where to get a puppy so that she can live up to the promise on the sign, but that fizzled.  Maybe it'll happen later.
- about this list I read on Flavorwire: 10 of the Most Powerful Female Characters in Literature.  I was really excited about this article because Hermione Granger and Katniss Everdeen and Lisbeth Salander are on it, as well as Jane Eyre...and I know all of those characters.  I've even heard of the ones that I haven't actually read before.  The problem here being that I didn't know what to write outside of gushing at "Oh, the cleverness of me!"  And I didn't want to brag or anything.
- about another list I read on Flavorwire, something about the most divisive characters in literature, but then I realized that the character I would have argued about would be Bella Swan from Twilight, and that's been done about eight billion times already, so not going to go there today unless I can come up with something original to say.

Why I might not be inclined to write this morning or why I'm more indecisive than usual:
- I spent the morning finishing Scott Pilgrim vs. The World instead of reading Cymbeline for my Shakespeare class, and so maybe it's a little guilt factoring in here.
- In my only class today, I'm going to get my wretched story critiqued, and I'm terrified that my classmates will like it.  Because they really shouldn't.  Trust me.
- I have a meeting today.  And I don't wanna....
- It should be Spring Break.  Right now.  Because I really want to go home.  This break is the first time my break and my brother's overlap since we were in grade school, and I'm really excited to see him.  Plus I haven't been home since January 1st.  It's been a long time without family for Brianna, and it's starting to take a toll on her sanity.  Heh.
- I can't even decide what to write for Poem-a-Day March.  This morning I wrote a poem called "Cute When You're Angry."  I may have hit a new creative low.

And Pessimistic Brianna gets sent through snail mail to Alaska, leaving Semi-Cheery Brianna to go to class this morning.  Cheers!

"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say."
- Anais Nin
Saturday, March 3, 2012 | By: Brianna

A Letter to My Bulletin Board

Dear Bulletin Board,

It's the beginning of March.  I'm going to have to change you.  Very soon.  Or live with "Cheering Charms: A How To."  Because I'm definitely going to be here to stare at it.  Yup.

Bulletin Board, you're a massive expanse of corkboard covered in newspaper, and I've learned to call you my friend.  Sure, you're a mammoth and it's a struggle to cover every inch of you in information, but it's been a welcome challenge.  This is March.  This is my eight billionth bulletin board of my career as an RA.

Because I'm trying very hard to make the theme of my hall "Harry Potter," this month's board has to be related to Harry Potter in some way.  And it is.  Because it's about Palmistry.  I'll bet you're excited to have a deformed looking hand stapled to you so people can look at the diagram and compare their life lines to the hastily drawn line on the diagram.  I'll bet you can't wait to have people holding up their hands in front of you and trying to figure out if they have a square palm and long fingers or a long palm and short fingers.

Bulletin Board, please don't hate my stapler.  The last couple times we met, you were all cranky and you made the staples bend in all sorts of ways that staples aren't supposed to bend.  So let's not do that this time.  Because that would be really upsetting.  Also, if you can, please make sure that the residents refrain from drawing strange and distorted images of appendages they wish they possessed on you.  You know what I'm talking about, I'm not going to say it because this is a classy blog.

That's pretty much all I have to say, thanks, Bulletin Board, let's be friends.  :^)


This is the board I ended up making for March.  It's about palm reading because I wanted to learn about palm reading.  Yeah, that's a hand.  I drew it.  This is why I'm not an art major.  

"Our mission is facilitating enjoyable, sustainable, and inclusive communities that support and enhance students' academic achievement and personal development."
- ORL mission statement
Friday, March 2, 2012 | By: Brianna

Poetry Friday -- Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf

This Wednesday there was a themed poetry slam at my school organized by our performance poetry group.  The theme this time came off of the list of ideas that I sent ages ago, and it turned out to be "fairy tales."  Which was perfect for me because I love fairy tales.  Almost more than life itself.  Unfortunately, due to unforeseen and stressful circumstances, I was unable to write my very own fairy tale poems so I could participate in the poetry slam.  So...I just read during the open mic and I read this lovely poem by Roald Dahl called "Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf."  It's kinda awesome, which is why I chose to talk about it on this Poetry Friday.

Thank you, Google!
First of all, this poem rhymes.  Now I'm not usually a fan of rhyme unless 1) you are Dr. Seuss, 2) you're writing for children, 3) you're Moliere and this is Tartuffe OR 4) it's so well done that I don't even notice that it rhymed until after I'm done reading it.  Because Roald Dahl is neither Dr. Seuss nor Moliere, that leaves us at either writing for children or well done rhyme, both of which I believe this poem falls into.  Sure "Grandmamma" and "caviar" are more of a slant rhyme than a true rhyme, but the rest of the end rhymes help move the poem along.  The rhyme in this poem also goes hand in hand with the rhythm.  The rhythm is really a quite bouncy one which helps the poem move in a kind of sing-song fashion, which is fitting for the subject matter and the story that's being presented.  In fact, if this poem didn't use this type of rhyme or rhythm, it might sound odd or more foreboding, far less cheery.  Although foreboding would also be appropriate what with the talk of eating children, but that's beside the point...

Another thing that I noticed which I talked about last week in "Initiation" is the use of dialogue.  Dahl uses quotation marks and dialogue tags to signal when he's using dialogue, which is a tradition of fiction.  For instance, "And Wolfie said, 'May I come in?'"  Dialogue is absolutely essential in this poem in order to follow the "show, don't tell" rule and because of the traditional, "What great big ears you have, Grandma" that goes along with Red Riding Hood regardless of what version you're reading.  (Okay, so there are different versions, and maybe it's not exact, but we're not going there today.)  When reading this poem aloud, it's really easy to take on different voices for characters such as the wolf and Little Red because the dialogue tags alert the reader to who the speaker is going to be.  And who doesn't love a deep-voiced raspy wolf to chat with a high pitched and cheery Little Red?

This poem does a good job of riding the line of the traditional Red Riding Hood story before twisting it.  After Little Red makes all her usual observations, she says, "But Grandma, what a lovely great big furry coat you have on."  The wolf breaks the pretense of the poem by saying, "That's wrong!... / Have you forgot / To tell me what BIG TEETH I've got?"  This is particularly interesting to me because though the character doesn't explicitly acknowledge that he's a part of a story, he does acknowledge the original story by chiding Little Red for straying from the "script."  It's definitely one of the most fun things about this poem that the wolf corrects Little Red.  But Little Red strays so far from the script that she "whips a pistol from her knickers. / She aims it at the creature's head, / And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead."  And then we're left with a feisty Little Red in a wolfskin coat.  This departure from the original tale is plausible enough that the reader doesn't just throw the poem to the ground in disgust, and interesting enough that it retains the reader's attention and even earns the approval of the reader.  In short, what this poem does, it does very well.

1.  Write a rhyming spin-off of a traditional fairy tale.  Keep in mind rules of rhythm and rhyme, and try not to use lame rhymes if you can help it.  Think "Grandmamma" and "caviar"...
2.  Use some dialogue if you haven't already.  Signify it with italics or quotation marks, but probably not both.
3.  At the very end of this poem, the storyteller references himself (we're going with the masculine pronoun because of Dahl...) as "I" who ran into Little Red in the wood.  Write something in which the narrator appears in the action but as an observer or a commentator after the fact.
4.  Write about wolves.  Or what if the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood was actually...a bear?  Or a leopard?  What would happen then?
5.  Write this story from Granny's perspective.

"The small girl smiles.  One eyelid flickers.
She whips a pistol from her knickers.
She aims it at the creature's head,
And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead."
- Roald Dahl, "Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf"
Thursday, March 1, 2012 | By: Brianna

Poem-a-Day March

Today is the first of March.  If anyone was wondering, that means it's the day after Leap Day, and days before St. Patrick's Day and Spring Break.  March 1st.  The first day of a new month.

And a new month means a new Poem Keeper for Brianna.  I'm not sure if I've explained the concept of the Poem Keeper, but the idea originated with the Poem-a-Day Project because my friend, Katie, and I thought that we would write a poem every day in September.  We were going to exchange poems and then at the end of the month we would exchange back so the poet got her poems back.  This is all in past tense because we were going to exchange, but life got in the way for Katie, so she kept my poems, but I didn't get poems from her.  It was good for me to have someone to give my poems to though, because I had an audience for them and I could surrender control of the poems after I was done writing them.  They were out of my hands and I didn't have to keep myself from reading them over and worrying about them.

When October rolled around and I resolved to continue the project, I thought I would switch Poem Keepers each month.

I've found that each month I change Poem Keepers, I've changed the things I write about.  Not on purpose, at least not all of it is on purpose.  So I find myself catering to my audience to some extent.  This is interesting to me because it means that sometimes I have to get more creative if I want to talk about something in particular, and other things I can just go crazy with.  It's a challenge that I enjoy.

This month, my Poem Keeper is going to be my friend Claire.  She's a fellow poet, and she graduated from my school last year.  As March takes over, I'm going to have to start even more getting used to the idea of The Future, so asking Claire to be my Keeper this month is my first acknowledgement of The Future because she's out there in the world already.

And this month, Claire set the challenge for me to write 1 form poem a week, one of which must be linked haiku.  I was thinking of doing a challenge like this because I'm generally less confident with my form poetry because it feels so constricting, but we'll see if I can prove myself wrong on that front this month.

So here we go!  Poem-a-Day March commences today!

"If you cannot be the poet, be the poem."
- David Carradine