Friday, June 22, 2012 | By: Brianna


So today's my birthday.  My golden birthday.  What does that mean exactly?  Well, it's a thing that little kids like to figure out based on your birthday.  It's really not an in-depth sort of analysis of personalities and dates or anything, it's merely based on the day of the month upon which you were born.  So.  For all of you who were paying attention or just extrapolating while I rambled, I'm turning 22 today.

After spending the majority of my childhood lamenting my golden birthday's distance from whatever present year I was at, it's finally here.  I'm finally turning 22.  I'm finally experiencing my golden birthday while my other friends celebrated their's earlier.  Figures, considering how close to the end of the month my birthday is.

Born on the 22nd as I am, I'm actually on the cusp of two zodiac signs.  Gemini and Cancer.  Although I identify myself as a Cancer (don't get me started on that whole "there's an extra zodiac sign" thing because if I have to call myself a Gemini, I may just expire from exhaustion).  As the beginning of this paragraph illustrates, I'm obviously extremely serious about the zodiac...only not.  I'm just a little superstitious.  Sometimes.  So far my horoscope hasn't predicted anything traumatic, so I'm okay with that.

My mom did send me this yesterday:  So I read it, because these things interest me.  It's fascinating to look at things that explain your personality based on your birthday or your zodiac sign or the number of letters in your name, or whatever it is.  I find this intriguing.  Plus it's perfect fodder for coming up with characters.  Haven't done it yet, but it will happen!  It must happen!

I would definitely agree with this little linky that my humor may be a defense mechanism.  It goes along with the idea that I'm an introvert and every time I explain that to someone they laugh.  Because I look and act like an extrovert most of the time.  I'm really quite shy.  Promise.  Also, I am an idea person, so I like getting things started.  But with my writing endeavors, I sometimes leave projects unfinished.  Yeah...  The mention of money made me laugh out loud when I first read it because I'm so cheap.  It's kinda ridiculous how cheap I am.  But I'm not even as cheap as some of my family members.  Trust.  Yeah.  I don't know what's up with that, but I don't trust myself.  And it takes me a really long time to open up to someone and come out of my shell.  Half the time I don't even realize that my shell's there being all imposing and stuff.

Oh!  AND I have also resolved to look at the world from hereon out for exciting things.  I want to resolve that I will look at the world in wonder and be filled with interest for the things around me.  Because lately I've just been hanging out at home jaded and disillusioned, believing only somewhat jokingly that I have no friends.  That ends today!  I will find joy and wonder in the everyday!

Happy Birthday to me...happy birthday to me...
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 | By: Brianna


I found this on Pinterest, and I was really excited to use it, so here I am.

  1. Listening to my entire itunes library on shuffle (specifically Paramore's "Born for This" right this instant), because sometimes I like little surprises.  I'm also listening to the squeaky spray bottle that my mom's using to clean out in the hallway.
  2. Eating nothing because I just brushed my teeth, and you're not supposed to eat 30 minutes after you do that.  Although now that I think of it, I brushed my teeth over 30 minutes ago.
  3. Drinking nothing at the moment.  Though if I had something to drink, it would be water.
  4. Wearing white and neon orange striped socks, my black cargo-ish skirt, a white cami, my blue/green/teal...plaid (?) shirt-y thing, and a Japanese yen necklace.  Oh, I'm wearing my purple glasses too.
  5. Feeling pretty okay, considering it's Tuesday and I hate Tuesdays.
  6. Weather is unknown, although when I checked what it would told me that the weather would be disgustingly hot and humid.  Yay.
  7. Wanting a clean desk.  Because I just piled a bunch of crap back on it...and I just cleared it off last week.  Gr...
  8. Needing to move from my room to some place downstairs to escape the heat.
  9. Thinking about all the wonderful shenanigans bound to take place during the mini road trip I'm going on with friends today.
  10. Enjoying the new Brave wallpaper I put on my computer in preparation for the movie's release and my birthday on Friday!
Monday, June 18, 2012 | By: Brianna

Home Alone

Q:  Home Alone, eh?

A:  Not the one you're thinking.

Q:  What's that supposed to mean?

A:  I mean that you're thinking about a movie about a small child left home alone while his family goes on vacation for Christmas.  I'm not talking about that.

Q:  Well fine then.

A:  I'm talking about how when I'm home alone, I like to pretend that I'm on my own.  I know that it's my parents' house, and I know that they still live there and all that, and it's really just a temporary situation of my being home alone, but I still pretend.

Once Mom's out to work and Dad's on service calls, and my brother's in summer classes, I just revel in the silence.  Everything feels stiller when the house is empty.  It's just me and the dog.  Even the dust bunnies speak in whispers.  Not that I hear them...because that would mean that I was insane...heh.  Anyway.

In high school when I had the house to myself, I used to blast show tunes and sing through the entire Wicked or RENT or Phantom of the Opera soundtrack.  At the top of my lungs.  It was glorious because I could hear myself echoing throughout the entire house and I could dance up and down the hardwood floors without anyone judging me or telling me to be quiet.  I could be as loud as I wanted to be.  I could belt out the high notes, and if my voice one knew.  I miss that.

Nowadays I spend my alone afternoons pretending that I'm living in my very own house, but I'm quieter than I used to be.  At least, that was the case today.  I made myself a cute little sandwich lunch and I settled down to watch a movie with the surround sound on.  Not that it mattered, because Seven Year Itch didn't really have much in the way of sound that should surround a person.  But anyway, after that I did dishes and threw in the laundry, because that's what I would do if I was on my own, I would never leave the sink full of dirty dishes, mostly because that's gross.  Even though I've been lazy at school...we're not going to talk about that.  And then I read.  A little bit.

But all of this is really exciting because I'm set to house sit for my aunt soon.  For a whole week.  I think.  Maybe it's ten days.  I should probably look that up...  But I'm excited because I'll get to scare their little dog with my show tune belting, curl up on their couch and watch a movie on their big screen TV, read and write outside on the covered porch...hell, I could even hang out outside while it's raining.  And it'll be like I'm living out on my own.  Just like a mini adventure.

"The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned."
- Maya Angelou 
Sunday, June 17, 2012 | By: Brianna

A Letter to My Brain

Dear Brain,

Hello.  I'm not sure we've been formally introduced, but my name is Brianna.  I'm the one who's got the cranium you're currently residing in.  At least, I'm pretty sure you're there.  Not sure how I would be typing this if you weren't...  Anyway, if you're reading this letter, it would appear that you're home, and that's nice.  Welcome.  It's good to have you here.  I appreciate it.

First off, I thought I'd start with some apologies.  I'm really sorry how hard I worked you during the past four years with little to no outside stimulation.  I really should have tried harder to read fun things in addition to all the other stuff I was reading.  I'm also sorry for depriving you of sleep every now and again.  Then again, you have to admit that there were times this past year when you went without sleep and you actually felt more rested than you would have if you had slept.  I know that was weird, and I promise I won't try that again, but you have to admit that that was pretty cool.  I'm sorry for watching Breaking Dawn: Part 1 earlier this month.  It was a rough day.  You needed a break as much as I did.  Sorry not sorry for reading those romance novels (by the way, there are two more books in that series).

Thank you for getting me through Senior Sem.  I know I worked you really hard, but in the end you really pulled through.  I was worried there for a little bit, but I know how you like to make a dramatic win at the end.  Oh, and thank you for helping me with Econ.  Going to the professor for help?  That was probably one of the greatest ideas you've had.  Like ever.  Right next to "Hey, let's go draw with chalk in the parking lot at night."  But I'm not sure how you would out-do that one.

But can I be frank?

But your name's can you be Frank too?

Oh shut up.

That's what I really want to talk to you about.  It's essential that we figure out a system for when you're allowed to interfere and when you need to shut up and take a seat in the corner with the Briannas we're not listening to.  For example, Angsty Brianna is currently in the corner.  You need to go over there because you're getting taken over by Apathetic Brianna, and that's a huge problem.  You spent the majority of today being all blah and mush, and that's not okay.  You didn't want to write, you didn't want to read, hell, I couldn't even get you to watch a movie.  It was a disaster.  We can't have that anymore.  I'm putting my foot down.
There are also other times when you need to shut up.  Specifically, I'm talking about those times when you step in and Brianna gets paralyzed.  I mean "paralyzed" with fear and indecision and not-okay-ness.  You know the time I'm talking about.  I can actually point to a specific date.  Does October 28th ring any bells?  Yeah.  Then.  You should have gotten out of your own way, swallowed your pride, and not let Brianna get paralyzed.  You great idiot.  So really.  Just.  Stop.  Thinking.  Every now and again.  That's all I ask.  Don't mess things up for me, don't make me freak out and don't make me alienate people by jumping to eight different conclusions before they've even thought about the starting line.  So stop that.  Please.  My life will be significantly easier, simpler, better...if you would do that one favor for me.  So the signal?  "Pineapple."  Ready?  Go.  Or...stop, I guess.

Right.  Now that we've gotten that settled, I hope you have a lovely summer resting yourself and reading some awesome books and taking breaks every now and then to not think.  And remember that there are some times when I really want you to think a lot (like when I'm writing, for instance).  So it's going to be tough, but I hope we can continue our friendship.


"Agitation is the atmosphere of the brains."
- Wendell Phillips
Thursday, June 14, 2012 | By: Brianna

Is This Ironic?

I don't know how many times I've gone through the story of my writing history, but I do know that I know it like the back of my hand.

All through grammar school, we were required to do something that was called Young Authors.  It's where you write a story and have your mom type it (because what 6-year old can type?), and you illustrate your own story.  You have to figure out how you want to set up each of the pages and you create a cover page and all that, and sometimes you even write an "author's biography" if you're feeling extra creative.  Needless to say, I always loved this project.  In 3rd grade we started having an outside teacher come in and take us from our regular class to teach us creative writing.  3rd through 6th grade creative writing was spent in a circle in the lunchroom where we read stories aloud, "recalled" what we had read the previous week, and doing writing exercises that resulted in story beginnings or full stories.  I don't remember if we ever had to re-write any of our stories, but I do remember that we had to finish a couple and turn them in.  Well, we turned a lot of them in, but--never mind.  At the end of 6th grade we had individual conferences with our creative writing teacher.  I still remember my conference because my teacher told me that I had a huge vocabulary for my age and that it was probably from all the reading that I did.  Oh how I wish that was the case now.  She also told me, "All things in the world have already been written.  Bad writers borrow.  Good writers steal."  Which I still use as my mantra.

In 7th and 8th grade, I was at a different school.  There was one English class that had us write stories for our vocabulary words, and needless to say, I always managed to write really creative stuff.  Considering it was a generally loathed assignment.  At least, by other people.  Put a lot of my creativity into my class projects, and that's about it.  Oh.  But I almost forgot.  In 7th grade, during our speech class, the head of our little middle school decided it would be a good idea to bring in this creepy poet man to teach us poetry.  I immediately hated writing poetry.  Mostly because this poet man was super creepy and overdramatic, and I wrote horrible, awful, terrible poetry that the head of our middle school actually thought was good, how wrong she was.

In high school, I did a lot of theatre.  So I wrote scenes and one act plays.  Generally considered myself a fiction writer because of my loathing for poetry.  I kept a notebook in my backpack at all times and used it to jot down ideas and words and the like.

Senior year of high school, I took a creative writing class because I had room in my schedule.  When you take creative writing, you usually have to write poetry at some point.  I hated it, but I took pride in my ability to write poetry from the perspective of a backpack or weird things like that.  That's when I wrote a love sonnet to a book and my teacher liked it so she suggested I submit it to our arts magazine.  It got published.  I didn't think it was a big deal, I hated poetry and I wrote fiction.

College, and I entered undecided as far as major but spent the majority of my first year finding things that allowed me to say, "This is why I should be an English major."  So I declared an English major and took a creative writing class.  Guess what?  Had to write poetry.  Really didn't like it, though I wrote a couple poems that my professor really liked.  No idea why.
Sophomore year, I took a fiction class in the first semester and wrote a really awful story about a juggler and pickles, but the rest of my stories were pretty decent and well received.  Thought I would take a creative non-fiction class in the spring and couldn't get into the class, so ended up in Writing Poetry.  After class registration I spent the rest of the semester complaining and moping that I would be forced to write poetry and how much I would hate it.  Then I liked the professor and she actually got me thinking about poetry.  Took myself WAY too seriously at the beginning and wrote an awful poem about a photograph, but then loosened up and wrote about lawn flamingos.  Left the class liking poetry significantly more than before.
Junior year, I took Stand Up Poetry and the Lyric Essay, both more poetic than traditional fiction.  Loved Stand Up, iffy on Lyric Essay, did really well and wrote some awesome things.  (Yes, I'm modest, whatever.)  Spring semester, I took a short story cycle class with the same professor I had written the juggling pickles story for.  He told me to "Let the Real Brianna write."  No idea what that meant, still no idea now, had a major identity crisis, produced a lot of shit fiction.
Senior year, I started the Poem-A-Day Project to keep me writing and took a re-do of Writing Fiction so I could write more fiction.  I'd like to think that I wrote better fiction in that class than I did in the short story cycle class...but who knows.

Point being, somehow after loathing poetry for about four years, I established myself as a poet on campus.  I got poetry published in our literary magazine, I performed poetry at open mic events, and with the Poem-A-Day Project I got people who knew me talking about my poetic pursuits.  After considering myself a fiction writer for approximately forever, I've become known as a poet, and I don't know what to call myself.

I'm flattered by the idea that I can call myself a poet and that other people do.  And generally "poet" is significantly more romantic than "fiction writer."

My biggest problem has now become the question: am I a one trick pony?  I've talked to my friends who are writers, and the general opinion is that you're usually good at one or the other: fiction or poetry.  After years of believing that I was good at fiction, I'm not really ready to admit that I might not be anymore.  Can you really just lose an ability to write decent fiction?  Or is it that I'm surrounding myself by people who will forever be able to compare my fiction to my poetry?  But would it really be fair if I asked someone to judge my fiction without reading my poetry?  I don't like thinking that I have to choose.  I don't do decisions, and I don't like being boxed.  I don't want to have to say, "Oh, I write only poetry in free verse that involves lots of similes and sometimes smatterings of concrete imagery."  Do you know how small that box is?  I can't even turn around in this box.  Just thinking of this box makes me want to scream and cry and tear carpet squares into tiny bits of fluff confetti.

What I'm saying is: Now what?  How can I convince people that I'm equally good at both?  Or how can I reconcile the fact that I'll never be as good at fiction as I am with poetry?  Do I have to?  Or can I delude myself into believing that I'm the Grand Master of Awesome as far as writing goes in any form?

"Poetry is prose, bent out of shape." - J. Patrick Lewis
Friday, June 8, 2012 | By: Brianna

Poetry Friday -- I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl

It's been a while, but it's about time that I bring back Poetry Friday and some modicum of structure to this lackadaisical project that is this blog.

Because I'm out of school, that means my interaction with people of a poetical bent is limited to Facebook and StumbleUpon accidental encounters, sprinkled with the occasional text from people who feel like being poetic. This means that I'm at home and my family don't really do poetry like I do.  If at all.  So in an attempt to get myself back into a poetic mindset, I've been looking for books of poetry at my local library.  After reading Mary Jo Bang's Bride of E, I picked up Karyna McGlynn's I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl.

Thank you, Google!
This title was suggested to me by my Stand Up Poetry professor when I asked him if there were other things outside of our anthology that I should be reading.  Because of the recommend-er, I figured that the subject matter would be humorous.  Judging the book by its cover, I realized that I was mistaken.

(Brianna enters her local library and retrieves her poetry books from the inter-library loan shelves.  On top of her pile is a book of poetry by Karyna McGlynn.  She slides her stack of books onto the check-out counter.)

Brianna: (rain-soaked but cheery, carrying a large duffel bag) I'd like to check out these books, please!

(Librarian, who knows Brianna, looks at the cover and the title of the book on top of her stack and gives her a look that says something along the lines of, "Trying to tell me something, Brianna?  Is this a confession?")

Brianna: (realizing what the look must be about) Oh!  I've been writing a poem a day since September, so I needed more poetry to read.

Librarian: (raises his eyebrows) Good for you, Brianna.  But you know copying poems from here doesn't count...

(Brianna chuckles nervously and stuffs the books in her duffel, leaving the library hastily.)

I have no intention of copying poems out of this book, but I had hoped I could use it as some sort of inspiration.  On a whole, this book is nothing that I had expected.  Significantly darker and more sexually charged than I would have expected, Kill a Girl is a fascinating read.

The way McGlynn formats the majority of her poems is really interesting.  A couple poems (for example, "I Want to Introduce Myself, Not Quite Human," "The Thing in the Middle Which Has No Corner," and "Somebody Shook Me: Wake Up It's Raining Oil") use multiple columns, most commonly two or three.  While I was reading, I wasn't quite certain if I should read straight across left to right or if I should be reading the left column and then the right column, so I tried it both ways, and I found out that most of the poems could work either way.  Granted, you get a different poem depending on which way you read it, but I thought the effect created an shakiness within the structure of the poem that was both thought-provoking and alluring.  In addition to her column structure, McGlynn also uses a sort of woven formatting that you can see in "The Poem with Its Teeth Caught In the Carpet."  Kind of like this:

3333333333333                    3333333333333

So I wasn't sure if I should read the first line then the first half of the third line and go from top to bottom following each semi-column or if I should read the first line, the second line---you really don't need to know all of how I was thinking through this, but point being, I thought that the effect was really neat.

McGlynn's use of language is phenomenal.  I'm not sure how she does it, but she manages to paint images within short lines and jump to the next image almost immediately.  She doesn't shy away from words like "panties" or "crotch," but she owns them along with the sparse appearances of the word "fuck."  She is unapologetic and dark, but still you want to read on.  I was nervous that I was going to get all uncomfortable and not want to continue reading, but that wasn't the case at all.  Each one of McGlynn's poems is saturated in imagery, so much so that it would be safe to say that I would be able to go back to these poems and still find new things to think about.  Definitely a thought-provoking read.

1.  Play with line breaks.  See if you can create a "woven" or column poem that makes sense in multiple directions.
2.  Experiment with line length.  In "The Nursery with Half a Window Up Near the Ceiling," the lines alternate between longer lines and short lines.  What effect does this have on the poem and what can it create in one of your's?
3.  Many of McGlynn's poem titles lead into the actual poem.  Can one of your first lines be used as the title so you just start right in the poem right away?
4.  In "I Show Up Twelve Years Late For Curfew," the speaker's parents don't seem to recognize her, and in the last stanza she says, "This is my family, these people so inept at things like / memory and monopoly, I feel like a trickster god / hiding my funny-money under the board."  Can you create an extended metaphor based on a board game?  What simple things can people be inept at but still be forgiven?
5.  "I Want to Tell Her I Won't Need Calculus, I Want to Warn Her," doesn't have much to do with math.  What subjects are actually unneeded?  Would you warn someone?  How can you warn them without really warning them?  Or how can you use calculus to talk about something else worth warning someone about?

"why the animal stretched its neck is beyond me
it wasn't a black alpaca
it had eyes as Chinese stars but bigger
it had no chin or ears
it was peering at the sky and then at me"
- Karyna McGlynn, "In a Landscape the Color of Bleached Limes"
Tuesday, June 5, 2012 | By: Brianna

Inspiration Maybe?

So just a little while ago, David posted on Facebook that he was/is (tenses are hard!) writing a review for Comics Bulletin on a comic.  Go figure.  Anyway, when I looked at the link he posted and the name of the writer/illustrator/artist (we'll call him an artist for now because it's easiest...), I recognized the name.

Brianna: (thinking to herself as she mouses around Facebook playing some more) I'm sure it's a common name, right?  Couldn't possibly be that one kid from theatre...

(Brianna types the artist's name into Google and realizes she spelled the name wrong.  Correcting her mistake, Brianna finds the artist's official page and goes over to the biography information which has nothing on his high school days.  Cross referencing information via Facebook and creeping through a couple pictures, Brianna realizes that this is indeed the same person she went to high school with.)

Brianna: (a multitude of thoughts run through Brianna's head, very few of them coherent)  I KNOW HIM!

Or "knew."  Again, tenses are hard.  So I looked through the artist's official page and scrolled through the drawings that he had done.  I don't know anything about art or comics outside of observing thoughtfully to myself every now and again, "Hm, that's very pretty."  Or "Hm, that looks like fun."  So I can't really pass judgement, but suffice it to say that he's got a lot of material, he's created a book of sorts (published, self-published, it's all the same in Brianna's mind right now), and he's actually doing what he's wanted to do.  Studied illustration, and look at that.  He's illustrating.

So I'm sitting here on the floor of my bedroom in my parents' house and my childhood home, thinking a million things at once, but all centering around: someone did it.  Someone made it.

And that just means that there might be a chance after all.

Maybe I really an write something and put it out there into the world to read.  Maybe someone actually will read something I've written and think, "Hm, that's very pretty" or "Hm, that looks like fun."  Maybe I really can make some sort of difference that has someone saying, "I knew her in high school!"  Maybe I really can do something worthwhile, something inspiring.  Maybe I don't really have to sit around in a cubicle and proofread other people's memos.  Maybe I really can do it.  Maybe I really can make it.  Maybe I really can end up doing something that I love, whatever that is.

As I'm sitting here cross-legged and typing on a computer that's resting on a milk crate, I'm basking in the possible.  There really is a world full of possibilities out there and all I have to do is map them out.  Tonight I'm not worrying about how I'm going to get there, I'm merely reveling in the realization that there is a "possible."  And that possible can be mine, if I want it.

"Victory is always possible for the person who refuses to stop fighting."
- Napoleon Hill