Sunday, October 20, 2013 | By: Brianna

"There's a poem in that..."

I was thinking recently.  About poetry.  Specifically the writing of it.

I've been having difficulty coming up with new ideas for each day's poem, and it's been enough of a struggle that I'm pretty sure I've written about the carpet in my apartment at least twice, and cornfields more times than I can count.  This lack of variety strikes me as disturbing if only because in my first year of The Poem-A-Day Project, I stumbled upon some new topic every single day and that created some sort of variety in and of itself.  Maybe it's because my life has settled into some sort of routine that doesn't allow for exciting poem topics, so I have to make them up myself.

Or maybe I'm just not paying attention.

That first year of my poetry writing, I was surrounded by people who would stop mid-conversation and say, "There's a poem in that..."  Maybe not surrounded, but I definitely spent a good amount of time with the small number of people who would make that observation.  Of course there was a poem in that.  There was a poem in the epic battle between humans and zombies, there was a poem in the dining hall's lack of Sunday dinner, there was a poem in the sidewalk cracks between my dorm room and my first class of the morning.  Sure I revisited some of the same topics over and over again, but the images that showed up in each new poem were different because I was doing something different almost every day.

Now that I'm not physically around people who can make observations about finding poems for me, I'm coming to the slow realization that I have two options:
1.  I can go glue myself to the sides of the people who can find poems for me in conversations and daily life.
2.  I can start paying attention.
Part of my willingness to glue myself to the side of poem observers comes from missing them so much, but I think there's also a level of laziness there too.  So that leads me to conclude that paying attention is really my only option for writing some wonderful poem that isn't about how Nebraska isn't Chicago, because let's face it, that's been done about eighty times, and people are going to start to get bored if they ever read my Project from beginning to end (then again, won't they get bored with parking lot poems or "It's my senior year of college" poems?  Oh well.).

So here it goes, my mid-October resolution to pay attention in order to write more interesting poems.

Ready?  GO!

"Every day you play with the light of the universe."
- Pablo Neruda
Tuesday, October 1, 2013 | By: Brianna


I'm having a problem.

I feel like I depend on other people far too much.  I have a couple examples, but the most glaring example is at work.  Yes, I'm learning how to do things and I'm getting into the groove of things, but I feel like I'm probably asking questions before trying to figure out the answer on my own because it's easier to ask the question first.

I spent a lot of my first semester of my senior year of college asking my boss what I should do in nearly every situation.  Having trouble with a desk aide?  I asked my boss what I should do.  Hearing RA gossip?  Talked to my boss, asked her what to do.  Not sure if it's a date?  Asked my boss.  I'm not kidding.  And every single time I came to her with a question, her answer was, "Brianna, what do you think you should do?"  I don't know if it's because she secretly didn't have the answer, but I like to believe that my boss knew exactly what should be done, but she wanted to see if I could figure it out for myself.  Because that question irritated me so much and because I got frustrated every time I had to tell her, "I don't know..." I started coming into meetings with my boss saying, "So I'm having this problem, I'm thinking of doing this, is that right, or am I missing something?"

This might have something to do with my need to have the right answer.  It's not that I need to be right, it's that I need to get an A on that paper, and get every quiz question right.  For some reason, I depend on the people around me to affirm my actions and pat me on the back.  I'm not sure if this is a normal thing or if it's some form of self-esteem issue, but I'd really like to pretend that I don't have self-esteem issues.

I'm not saying that I don't want people in my life, it's just that lately I'm starting to feel like I put a lot of stock into the opinions of others.

Which feels like a bad thing.

Right now, I have a Post-It stuck to my office computer monitor that asks me: "Brianna, what do YOU think you should do?"  I kinda feel like I'm starting from scratch again here, but I'm hoping that this Post-It and my awareness is going to help me figure things out.  And I know that sounds silly or trite, but there it is.


I'm still doing my Poem-A-Day Project.  This should come as no surprise considering I've gotten into the habit of writing every day, and now it's a habit I haven't yet broken.  Strange enough, I wrote today's poem yesterday.  Which is almost virtually unheard of...but I still feel like I need to write right now, so there may be two October 1st poems.  Unfortunately I don't have a challenge for this month, but I'm sure I could tackle more Halloween poetry if the occasion calls for it.  So yeah.  Poetry.

Lame Brianna.  The end.

"You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy.  So let them go, let go of them.  I tie no weights to my ankles."
- C. JoyBell C.
Friday, September 20, 2013 | By: Brianna

The City Slicker

It was a while ago in the dining hall over plates of lukewarm chicken and waffles (mine with maple syrup but sans the hot sauce because I forgot and wouldn't have known where to find it anyway) that a student staff member asked me if I was writing a blog about myself being "a city slicker in Nebraska."  [This is where I remember that it's Friday and that I could totally do a Poetry Friday thing.]  I told her that I wasn't, thinking that I am writing a blog...kind of...and that was a kinda mishmosh personal blog mixed with poetic things and writing things, all of which no one reads.

So this leads me to the question "Should I start a new blog exclusively for my Nebraska adventures?"

But maybe I should rewind.

A long long time ago in June, I interviewed for and got a position at a college in Nebraska.

Things you should know:
1.  I'd never been to Nebraska.
2.  I'd never heard of this college.
3.  When I looked up the town on a map, there were two major roads that intersected in town and the rest was blank open space.  Presumably, cornfields.

I had three weeks to pack up my worldly belongings, load them into the rickety gray mini van that my brother and I grew up in, get my affairs in order, and voyage to small town Nebraska.  The stress of preparing for my voyage was more personal than it was professional--for instance, I discovered that the only dress pants that I owned no longer fit (because I lost weight).  I also discovered that a very small amount of my make-up was work appropriate.  I had a second stage break-up with the boy, and every single one of my friends made fun of me for moving into the middle of a cornfields.  In fact, my friends wrote a scavenger hunt for me of things that I need to find while I'm in Nebraska.  Unfortunately, I'm not doing very well keeping up with that.  Oops.


When I told people that I was moving to Nebraska, they asked me, "Oh yeah?  Omaha or Lincoln?"  My answer?  "Neither."  For people who don't live in Nebraska, Omaha and Lincoln are the only two names you'll probably know, and both of them are on the far east side of the state.  Everything else (just about) is small towns and cornfields.

So I've been here in small town Nebraska for a little over two months.  Based on my observation that I get restless weekly on Sundays, and the tendency for business establishments to be closed on Sundays, I have begun to learn that the pace of life is indeed slower here.  I'm not pretending to know everything about Chicago, especially since I only just started exploring and meeting the interesting people right before I left the city, but I do know that on a Sunday, it wasn't really a question of "Oh, is that place going to be open?" unless we were talking about Hobby Lobby or Chick-fil-a.  I'm not saying that being closed on Sundays is a bad thing, I'm saying it's different and it's an adjustment for me.

It also occurs to me that I don't really know what a "city slicker" is.  But thanks to Wikipedia, I now know the technical understanding of the term.  I like to think that I don't fit this type.  But that could just be me.

Small town life is interesting.  I'm not 100% enmeshed in the town life because I work at the college, but I do frequent the same grocery stores and coffee shop as the locals, and I like to think that maybe one day the checker at Pac 'n Save will recognize me as "the girl who buys SO MUCH TEA" or "the girl who buys plain yogurt and asks about jasmine rice because she's dumb."  I'll take what I can get, frankly.

For now, I'm still getting used to Nebraska life, but according to the welcome sign on the highway, Nebraska "...the good life."  (and it's also the home of Arbor Day)

"One of these days I'm going to leave Nebraska, cut all those strings and ties and travel to the other prairies of this earth.  I must know if the people who live on those other prairies feel the same way about their horizons as we do about ours."
Saturday, August 17, 2013 | By: Brianna

Les Croissants!

Tonight I was seized by the sudden urge to bake something.  Consulting my Pinterest board that tells me all about the things that I want to learn how to make, bake, and cook, I settled on chocolate croissants.

This necessitated a trip to the local grocery store, Quality Foods, to fetch crescent rolls, chocolate chips, and cheese and salsa.  Just kidding, the cheese and salsa are for something else, but who knows, chocolate and just about everything tastes good, so maybe chips, chocolate, and salsa might be kinda neat.  I also got to stop in at Shopko to get a cookie sheet because I should have one anyway.

I didn't quite follow all the instructions, but they did turn out!

Just look how pretty they are!

These are Brianna-made croissants!
This is really quite exciting because now I have something delicious to eat for breakfast for the next week.  Chocolate croissants and tea, it's going to be absolutely delightful, that's for sure!  And I'm so proud that I didn't burn the croissants or the building!  YEAH!

“Remember the days when you let your child have some chocolate if he finished his cereal? Now, chocolate is one of the cereals.” 
- Robert Orben
Monday, August 5, 2013 | By: Brianna

What's a Shiv?

"Don't worry, Anna will protect you in the dark across campus."

Anna looked up from her half-painted fingernail at the expectant face of one of the younger girls and the sarcasm traipsing across the face of her co-worker.  Being one of the shortest and scrawniest people on staff, Anna was probably the person least likely to be able to defend anyone much less herself, if the occasion called for it.

So she nodded solemnly.  "Oh yeah, of course!  I've got pepper spray.  And a shiv in my purse."

The girl asked, "What's a shiv?"

Anna laughed in that Pssh, you don't know? sort of way and explained that it was a makeshift knife that could be used as a weapon.  The girl's eyes widened while Anna's co-worker smirked.  Of course, if this were a real rather than fictional shiv, it probably wouldn't have been allowed.  Anywhere.  Outside of prison.

"Have you ever used it?" Anna's co-worker asked, feeding the story but interested to see where it went next.

"Of course I have, on my ex-boyfriend's car."

Anna's favorite part of the whole storytelling experience was to watch the faces on her audience.  She could tell that the younger girl immediately believed in the maiming of a car but wanted to figure out for sure if it was true.  And her co-worker was giving her a look that said, Okay, but seriously now.

"Did he have leather seats?"

"Not anymore he doesn't."

"Did you carve your name into them?"

"Of course," Anna said, grinning wickedly.  Her audience went quiet, a mixture of skepticism and respect floating in the air while Anna bent her head down to finish up painting the nails on her left hand.  It was a couple minutes before anyone spoke again, and by then the conversation revolving around Anna's destructive streak could have dissipated.

A pause.  Then, "Did you really do that to your ex-boyfriend's car?"  Not the younger girl, but Anna's co-worker.

Anna just smiled and shrugged.  So what if I did?

"And though she be but little, she is fierce."
- William Shakespeare
Thursday, July 18, 2013 | By: Brianna


"I haven't seen one of those in forever," she said, smiling and pointing at the neon orange and cream bead gecko I had attached to my car keys.

I stopped fumbling in my purse for my wallet and the correct change for my Tylenol and looked up to smile back.  I explained that I just found the gecko buried in a closet, but I loved it, which was true.

"I used to make those all the time," she continued, taking the ten dollar bill, the only thing I had in my wallet under twenty and above one.  She was quick about ringing up the change and handing it over, not even glancing at my penguin boxer shorts or the pink and white socks I had chosen to wear with my black clicky flats.  "Have a good night!"

I pushed the door open and left the building, shaking my head.  At 1:30 in the morning, this woman was not only awake, but smiling as she worked the front counter of a gas station and served nacho creations to the night owls in town who made comments about how a "pog would really make my day right about now."  As I turned the key in the ignition of my beat up mini van, I shook my head, still awestruck that I hadn't been judged for my strange apparel, my appearance in a gas station well after daylight hours purchasing only painkillers, or the fact that I was quite clearly not from around here.  Pulling up to the parking spot labelled specifically for me, I thanked whatever guardian angel had chosen to watch over me on this not-so-great night, sending me someone cheerful, positive, and even a little nostalgic.  Because just as much as the Tylenol, that was something I needed.
Thursday, July 4, 2013 | By: Brianna

More Things I've Learned at Home

Even when you're at home, out of school, you learn some things.  And seeing as I'm going to be leaving home for a job in Nebraska, it seems fitting to post this now.

1.  The people who go to free library or community events are typically the same age as your grandmother.
2.  If you knit for long periods of time, your fingers can seize up.
3.  Marshall Field's will always be Marshall Field's.  The walking tour guide said so, so it has to be true.
4.  You may follow your stomach down Epic Lane, and find yourself on an Epic adventure you didn't expect.
5.  Go to the House on the Rock in the summer.  Or go in the winter, freeze your toes off, and get a personalized tour.
6.  The creepy people will find you.  And they will talk to you.
7.  "Oh, you must have a teen at home.  Oh--oh, you just like reading...well keep reading..."
8.  The day you want to go to the library to get a movie, they will be closed.
9.  Sometimes you need to bring a bodyguard.
10.  There are significantly more interesting things to do around the city that aren't necessarily advertised or Google-able.
11.  Storytelling is beautiful.
12.  Pre-screening interview?
13.  They're your parents, so they're going to ask you where you're going and when you're going to get back.  You'll be lucky  if they don't ask who you're going with so you don't have to say, " one..."
14.  The days when you write a to do list and accomplish all of your tasks will be your more fulfilling days.  Make more of those.
15.  The cheese curds are good.  The service, not so great.
16.  "Don't mess with her, she doesn't have a pancreas!"
17.  Right hand turns on red lights are more important than the life of a pedestrian (she says after basically being hit by a car, thanks lady!).
18.  You've been to this building multiple times, you know that the elevator goes to the 8th floor, and yet you still insist on taking the stairs up to a locked door and getting lost.
19.  Not all people will understand your sense of humor and you need to be okay with this.
20.  Sugar does not alleviate caffeine jitters.
21.  Keep on writing your e-mails the way you do, because it's awesome.
22.  Sometimes being 22 is rough.  Other times it's great.  Find the in between.
23.  Demon wine.  Never again.
24.  Irrationality.  All over the place.  All the time.  And that's okay.
25.  I can't remember what I did for fun when I was 12, and I guess that's going to have to be okay.
26.  Trekking up and down all the stairs in my house is an ordeal.
27.  Interesting people are few and far between.
28.  If you bring someone to a party with you and share a drink with them, chances are the people around you will assume you're "together."
29.  NaPoWriMo exposes you to interesting poets and poetry sites if you're inclined to take a gander.
30.  Always be prepared to cry during a Doctor Who episode.
31.  Okay, so insufferable and cruel characters can turn out to be endearing and clever.  Thanks for proving me wrong, Logan Echolls.
32.  When given a number of songs to include in a playlist, you may exceed this number.  By a lot.
33.  Make change.  Yeah.  That's a pun.
34.  Carry cash.
35.  The El is awesome.  The end.
36.  Chances are there is parking where you're going.  Although 95% of the time it will be permit only parking or you'll have to pay.
37.  You'll remember the knot when you get there.
38.  You may expect to see a lot of slave Leias at the comic con, but chances are you'll only see one, and her boyfriend will be dressed as...himself.  Disappointing.
39.  Be careful who you're talking to when you joke about stealing something off a person's table.  That person just might be the writer.  Oops.
40.  Stairwells.
41.  Honesty and a lack of secrets bring you closer to a person you didn't think that was possible for.  If that makes any sense at all.
42.  "We deserve to be more than 'just' anything."
43.  Painting yellow over gray takes far more coats of paint than you originally anticipated.
44.  The thing you will miss most about college is the community.  Specifically the creative community, but also the school family.
45.  When you come home, you'll realize that having a roommate was really kinda nice.
46.  Sometimes there is an unspoken deadline.
47.  Poems sold from a gumball/vending machine are the best poems.  Well, best poems for the fifty cents you pay for them.
48.  That person you met once is now following you on all social media outlets, and you just want them to go away.
49.  There are some people who you really want to be friends with, so when you finally do make friends, this is a huge and worthwhile accomplishment.
50.  The opinions of some people matter more than the opinions of other people.
51.  Poetry readings in an apartment or a bookstore, infinitely better than poetry readings in large spaces.
52.  The poet recognized your face too, you don't have to feel dumb for not recognizing him at first.  Oops.
53.  "Are you sure you can live in a small town?  I mean, you are from Chicago..."
54.  My room will always get significantly worse before it's even close to being clean and straightened.
55.  Sometimes doing the right thing is more difficult and hurts more than doing what's easy, but in the long run, it'll all be okay.

"Puttin' on a cowboy hat and a pair of boots doesn't make you country; Like puttin' on a ball gown and heels won't make me Cinderella."
- Kellie Elmore
Tuesday, June 25, 2013 | By: Brianna

What Can I Do?!

Today I'm trying to clean my room and bring the rest of my things down into the dungeon, and I found this list folded up in one of my desk drawers.  This is the exact order of this list, and I haven't changed anything past the title.  I may have been on to something here...

What can I do?!
- actor
- writer
- librarian
- stage manager
- set designer (scale...)
- lighting designer (possibly science...)
- director (stage/screen)
- historical consultant
- dramaturg (I don't know what this is...)
- mime
- French translator
- teacher (eh?)
- playwright/screenplay writer
- pirate/sailor
- something GS related
- Creative Writing Teacher
- professor
- speech writer
- waitress
- book shop owner
- Disney worker (imagineer?)
- worker at the Renaissance Fair
- governess
- nanny (like Mary Poppins!)
- professional turtle tosser/letter writer/ (galactic) hitchhiker
- journalist (or not...)
- zoo keeper
Sunday, June 16, 2013 | By: Brianna

You're Such a Doll

Last night I went to the Dollhouse Reading Series in Chicago because when I saw the name Matt Guenette on the list of people who would be reading, I geeked out.  Like a lot.  Because this is the type of person I am.  I love poetry.  I also really love this community that I've stumbled into, the community that gathers in an apartment and settles onto hardwood floor to listen to some fantastic poets read their work.  When my friend tells me, "You've tapped into the Chicago artistic community," I can no longer deny that that's probably true. Plus I now own an autographed copy of American Busboy.

Also last night, I realized that I'm getting a little behind in Poem-A-Day poems.  Again.  So...I tweeted about the poetry reading and received a challenge for a poem.

And I never really can back down from a challenge.  So here is a draft of a poem about a poetry reading for Polly Yukevich.

June 15, 2013

The dolls come to the dollhouse
where they gather in clusters
on the dusty hardwood.
All facing the same direction,
toward the empty picture frame
clinging to the plaster
with a determination rivaled
only by the doll in front of it.
Her painted on mouth smiles
at the gathered collectibles
as she clutches at her paper
with the left-aligned text
and no stanza breaks.
She speaks
into the silence,
a glassy-eyed attention trained
upon her.
The dolls are supportive,
welcoming of the new
with porcelain fingers snapping.
She exhales a sigh
after it's read
and settles down
with the teddy bears.

And tonight I'm going to the Poetry Made of Diamonds reading series, which I'm also really excited about.  I'm particularly interested to see how many people overlap between readings during this poetry packed weekend.

I think this just might be heaven.

"Dolls with no little girls around to mind them were sort of creepy under any conditions."
- Stephen King
Friday, June 14, 2013 | By: Brianna

Things I've Learned and Some Things I'm Grateful for...

There's a lot that's been going on in my life right now, which would be a pretty good reason why I haven't written a blog post in about a week.  I'd say that it was because I got a job, but unfortunately that would be a falsehood.  But really, lots of good things and lots of just things have been going on, and so it feels about time for another list.  I have a list of things I've learned at home...but I'm thinking I'll post that after I've been here for six months.  One more month to go.  Well, half a month.

Anyway.  Here's a list of things that I've learned recently, and a couple of things that I'm grateful for.

1.  Everyone in the Chicago artists community knows one another.  I'm convinced that if I mention the name of somebody artistic and based in Chicago, my boss at Here's the Story will know them.  (See: Robbie Q. Telfer)
2.  You really should drink that super tall glass of water and swallow some sort of painkiller after a night of drinking, and then your hangover will magically either not exist or be manageable.
3.  Superior is the name of an ambulance company and they like putting their name on the backs of their EMTs.
4.  You shouldn't be surprised if you make someone feel/look awkward if you ask them if you can write a poem about them.  This is not a normal question!
5.  The most actively energetic booth at a street festival will be the one that performs literary related things rather than the people selling books.  Go figure.
6.  "Where are all the college aged people?"  Oh wait.  It's summer.
7.  Knowing that someone (for example, your boss) appreciates your writing abilities is really awesome.
8.  Apparently Tuesday evening is a popular time for traveling by train.
9.  It doesn't matter what it's for, being asked for an autograph will always make me feel like a rock star.
10.  Oh, you want me to read the poem I wrote aloud?  Why yes, I will do that for you.
11.  Poetry dispensed from a gumball/vending machine will be the most popular poetry.
12.  "I read your poem yesterday, and it was the most beautiful thing I've ever read.  And I'm a librarian!"
13.  You will get hugs when your poetry is deemed good.
14.  The most terrifying experience is watching someone read your poem while you're standing right there.  ("Do I watch their face for a reaction?  Do I pretend I'm not here?  Do I ask them about it when they're done?")
15.  There are some people that you make friends with and you just want to punch your fist into the air over your head in triumph when you succeed.
16.  Third party outsiders are usually the best for relationship advice.  Even better when the asking for this advice or the venting doesn't make them feel awkward.
17.  Spontaneity.
18.  You have no idea how many different interpretations can result from the instructions of "eat lunch with a stranger."
19.  I am not hitting on you if I ask how old you are.
20.  When you manage to pack three days worth of clothes in your purse that can apparently eat the world...this will be a gigantic accomplishment, and you have full rights to gloat.

So Saturday and Sunday I participated in the Printers Row Lit Fest where I stood at the Here's the Story table and sold poems from my Poem-A-Day Project out of this gumball/vending machine that I'll have pictures of soon.  It was a really neat experience because so many people walked by and commented about how cute the idea was, and a TON of people stopped to buy poems.  Some of them asked me to read them aloud, so the performer in my obliged, and some asked me to sign them in case I ever get famous.  I was overwhelmed by the people who told me they were good or beautiful or fun or funny because, well, for some reason I didn't expect to get much except a couple quarters.  I set my expectations low so I don't get disappointed.  Another thing that came out of Lit Fest was the experience of hanging out with other people from Here's the Story, and talking to them really made me feel more a part of the Here's the Story family.  Strange how hours under the sun out on the street can bring you closer to people.  Shared experiences for the win.

One thing that disappointed me was a father tugging on his son's hand at Lit Fest and telling the little boy, "No, those aren't candy, they're poems.  You don't want those."  I'm not saying that because I wanted to sell a poem to a small child, I mean to say that I was disappointed because to me, being at a lit fest means exploring new literature, new ways of reading, or creating written work.  If an 8-year old kid wants to buy a poem out of a gumball machine, he should.  If he wants to read a poem at all, he should.  It's stuff like that comment, that tugging arm, that make me sad.  I was surrounded all weekend by people who love the written word and who love writing or reading, and so to stop someone from reading something feels like one of the worst and most violent actions you can take towards a person.  We're not really talking literally, so we're ignoring maim and torture.  I just kept thinking that if that kid had bought a poem, what would have happened?  Maybe he would have thrown it out at the next trash can (though I would hope he would recycle).  Maybe he would tear it up and use it as confetti.  But maybe he would have read it and it would have inspired him to write something, whether it be a poem, an essay, a story, or a grocery list.  Maybe, just maybe, that little kid was a writer in the making but he had a father telling him that he "doesn't want those" poems.

"My hour for tea is half-past five, and my buttered toast waits for nobody."
- Wilkie Collins
Thursday, June 6, 2013 | By: Brianna

The Poem-A-Day Project

The Poem-A-Day Project started on a whim in September of 2011.

(BRIANNA and KATIE are two college students, walking back to their residence hall on September 1, 2011.  It's a beautiful day, and they're crossing a parking lot.)

KATIE:  Hey, you know that challenge where you write a poem every day for a month?

BRIANNA:  Yeah, that's crazy.  I don't know if I could do something like that, I'd probably give up the first week.

KATIE:  Yeah...


BRIANNA:  Wait a's September 1st!  Wanna give it a try?

KATIE:  Yeah, okay!

On that day, it began.  Every day I put a poem in Katie's mailbox, and she became September's "Poem Keeper."

It didn't stop after September.

Each month I had a different Poem Keeper who I gave the month's poems to in order to keep myself from reading the poems and judging them in their rough and initially unpolished forms.  Poem Keepers could read the poems, but they couldn't talk to me about them until the end of the month when they returned the entire month's worth of poems and I read them from the perspective of never having read them before.

I thought I might stop after six months.  And then I thought maybe I would stop after I graduated from university.  Then I figured I might as well finish up the calendar year of 2012, but it didn't stop there either.

At this point, I've been writing one poem every day for almost two years, documenting my life and writing some really weird or fun things in a poetic form, and I have no idea if there's ever going to be a point at which I say that I'm done with this project.

What's in store for the Poem-A-Day Project now?  I'm looking for a way to bring my poems to the world.  At Printer's Row Lit Fest, I'll be at the table for Here's the Story with a gumball machine that'll dispense poems in little capsules.  And I'm working on putting together a manuscript of my favorite poems from the project.

Thanks for reading!  I'm always looking for tips, guidance, advice, or shouts of encouragement, so feel free to leave a comment, I will read them all!

"That night when you kissed me, I left a poem in your mouth, and you can hear some of the lines every time you breathe out."
- Andrea Gibson
Monday, June 3, 2013 | By: Brianna

Free Books!

Parts of this are true.  Can you spot the fictional parts?


Just the other day I got a text message from a stranger: free books at my house.  As I was typing out my response, it occurred to me that clearly this person knew me...because this was the most perfect way to kidnap me.  But when I sent my response, it was: where do you live?

I hopped into the rickety gray mini van that my brother and I share, and I cruised around the block as I waited for an address.  It wasn't long before I got a response that sent me a couple blocks south of my home, and around the block to a garage sale.  It was the garage on the corner, and I figured I would just drive past and look to see if the books were any good because I didn't need to get out of the car and talk to the creeper who texted me.

When I drove past in the wheezing gray mini van, I took a good look at the garage, and at the people who were running the joint.

The garage was full of books.  I kid you not, I'm fairly certain that every inch of the shelving in that garage was covered in books.  And the people who were running the garage sale were this cute old couple, neither of whom were bent over a cell phone and texting like mad.  In fact, from that distance I could tell that this couple's thumbs were probably not quite nimble enough to text with the speed required to have gotten me here so soon.  I figured I was safe, so I parked the mini van around the corner and strolled up to the garage sale.

"Hi," I said, smiling timidly.  "I heard there were free books here?"

The man looked a little grumpy about this announcement, but the lady was cheerful as she smiled at me and gestured at the shelves stuffed with books.

"Of course, take as many as you'd like!" she said, the very picture of a grandmother presenting her grandchildren with a bowl full of fresh Halloween candy.

"Take 'em all," the man growled, crossing his arms over his chest like a toddler in time out.

"Just ignore him, he doesn't understand the romance of a good book," the lady said, waving her hand at her husband.  I nodded sagely and plunged into the garage in search of a good book.  Or five.

Now keep in mind that I had just gotten home from the library where I picked up three books that were on my list and one book because the title Alien Tango intrigued me in an absurd sort of way.  So I had plenty to read.  There was no reason for me to pick up a new couple of books.  But I kept finding books.  I had my arms full of books within fifteen minutes because I decided that my best tactic was to be picky.  I could probably have fit a garage full of books in the mini van, but the problem would be when I got all those books home.

Smirking that I hadn't fallen for the free books trap just to get kidnapped, I thanked the couple profusely and made my way back to the car where I examined my finds.  I was halfway through my stack when I found a book that I don't remember picking up.

"That's weird..." I mumbled, slumping in the backseat of the mini van and paging through the unrecognized book.  As I flipped through the pages, it felt like the pages were starting to stick to my fingers with a velcro kind of urgency.  By the time I got to the end of the book, I felt my fingers sticking to the pages, the very tips of my fingers disappearing into the paper.  "What the hell..."

And with a gigantic slurp, the book swallowed me whole.  It was in that moment that I realized that I had been kidnapped after all.

"Be awesome!  Be a book nut!"
- Dr. Seuss
Thursday, May 30, 2013 | By: Brianna

Challenge Day 10

In the flurry of job applications and good news and bad news and no news and multiple rejections in the course of a couple days, I've kinda neglected my blog.  I feel not too bad about it though because there haven't been any verbally angry outcries missing the randomness that belongs here, so if there's anyone out there missing consistent blog posts here...speak now or forever hold your pieces.  If not, I'll just stick to my non-existent schedule.

After writing today's poem for my Poem-A-Day Project on the actual day to which it belongs, I've decided to tackle another prompt from the daily writing challenge.  I'm making such progress.

Day 10: Start a story with: "She touched the little box in her pocket and smiled..."

She touched the little box in her pocket and smiled, running her fingertips along the edges and scratching at the hinge at the back of the box.  There was a certain amount of triumph to be felt when in possession of a box such as this, and it's true, Adelaide felt all the triumph and satisfaction that came with having a box just like this stowed away in her pocket.  In fact, as she walked away from her lunch break with Stan, she was downright smug.

Stan was a nice guy with calm brown eyes, he had a steady job and a nice apartment in a good neighborhood, and she enjoyed spending her weekends with him.  He'd even made a good impression on her parents, and he couldn't take his eyes off of Adelaide's little sister.  But he was always faithful.  A nice guy.

And Adelaide herself had a pretty decent job as a paralegal with the promise of advancement sometime in the near future.  Provided she keep smiling at the elderly boss who was always nice about complimenting her sweater set.  He tended to notice the best of everything.

Adelaide shifted the strap of her purse on her shoulder, and found herself drawing the box out of her pocket.  She couldn't help herself, she had to take another peek before she had to go back to work.  Slowing to a stop off to the side on the walkway up to her office, she held the box on one palm and carefully opened it with her other hand.  Nestled inside the box were two calm brown eyes that wouldn't get another chance to look at her sister again.


I really hated the idea of going with the very obvious "engagement ring" here.  Maybe that's just where my mind goes, but that's where it went when there was a female touching a box that was pocket sized and smiling.  So if I'm the only one that thinks engagement ring when that happens, I'd like to know.  So there you go.  Hope you didn't lose your appetite.

"People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order so they'll have good voice boxes in case there's ever anything really meaningful to say."
- Kurt Vonnegut
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 | By: Brianna

A Common Household Scene

(It is a Tuesday afternoon, and BRIANNA returns home after spending time at the local library (not the one she planned on visiting), applying for a job.  Note, "a job" because the application for that one stinking job took an eternity to fill out.  When we find BRIANNA, she is laying on her back on the hardwood floor of her family's kitchen while her father passes by to get to the family's computer room.  DAD is not paying attention, but doesn't step on her because that would absolutely awful.  MOM is chopping onions on the counter nearby.)

BRIANNA:  (undisguisedly pleased with herself) I applied for a job today!

DAD:  And?

BRIANNA:  And...I applied for a job today!

DAD:  And?

BRIANNA:  It's not--

DAD:  Did you get it?

BRIANNA:  It's not an instantaneous thing...

MOM:  Now's the waiting game, dear.

DAD:  Oh.

MOM:  You're starting to sound like a Millennial.

BRIANNA:  Ouch.  On behalf of my generation, I am injured that you would call him one...

MOM:  Isn't it the Millennials that want everything to happen right away?

BRIANNA:  Maybe?  Did you also know that the older generations think we're shitty?  Thanks...thanks a lot.

(BRIANNA lays back on the cool floor as DAD heads over to play on the computer and watch drum solos of Katy Perry songs.  MOM continues chopping onions.


If I told you that this is a common conversation in my house, you probably wouldn't be surprised.  Well, if you know myself and my parents at all.  Okay, maybe the Millennial comment is unusual, but the rest of it is right on.  I just thought it was important to include everything in the conversation if only to get a decent length for this post.  Yup.

I really wish that this wasn't a common conversation.  What can I say, I'd like to be lauded for my single job application because it was for Walgreens, and it took me two hours to do.

So...what am I really supposed to say to that single word question: "And?"  I guess I can think of a couple things:
-  "And I heard that the Blackhawks lost, that's a serious bummer, right?"
-  "And the weather's pretty nice, did you need me to pick up sticks in the backyard?  I'm just going to go do that..."
-  "And I actually heard back from them at the exact moment that I pressed the submit button, and good news, I'm moving out and I'll have a pay check that's six figures!"

Really?  This is going to be a recurring rant until about the time when I get a job, and by then, it's going to be a rant about how my parents hate my job because it makes me poor, or how I hate my job because it eats my soul.  So anyway, I understand that my father wants me to have a job.  At least, that's the only assumption that I can make from this single word question, because it doesn't really sound like he's saying, "Rah, rah, good job, Brianna!  Go you for applying for a job!"  I mean, I would know how to respond to that, I would just beam happily and preen.  Why yes, I did apply for a job, thanks for noticing, would you like my autograph too?  So...why exactly is my father demonstrating more impatience with my situation than I am?  Is he really that eager to get me out of his house?  Just curious.

On another note, I had a really awful dream about our house burning down, and my thought in my dream was "Shit, I only have one copy of every poem I've ever written for the Poem-A-Day Project."  Because part of me fears this is my seer potential tapping into prophecy that something terrible's going to happen to my hard copies, I'm typing up every single poem I've written and uploading them to Google Drive!  Who's excited to read all of these poems again and get them into some cohesive order?  THIS POET!  Yup.  That's the plan.

"What good has impatience ever brought?  It has only served as the mother of mistakes and the father of irritation."
- Steve Maraboli
Saturday, May 18, 2013 | By: Elizabeth

Guest Post: Elizabeth vs. Miss Hudson

Ok, so, Brianna offered me the chance to do a guest post on her blog. Now, Brianna is epic, which makes her blog pretty epic, so really any posts on her blog should also be epic. I have to live up to transitive property.

(Am I off to an awesome start?)

In any case, I spent all day trying to figure out what I wanted to blog about. And while I was helping various students, I was struck by the realization that, while my friends know me as Elizabeth Hudson, they haven't met "Miss Hudson" -high school English teacher at Lowpoint-Washburn High School.  And just as my friends don't know Miss Hudson, my students don't know Elizabeth.

So who is Elizabeth, and who is Miss Hudson?

Elizabeth (n): 1). a reflective, introverted individual who opens up to people over an extended amount of time. 2) a middle child with a strange sense of humor but fantastic laugh. 3) a surprisingly morbid individual with more talents than what meets the eye. 4) an perceptive listener who weighs words wisely before offering advice. 5) a great lover of sleep, cats, books, and the color blue. 6) 7) me.

Miss Hudson (n): 1) first-year LWHS English teacher (10th-12th grade). 2) A supporter of dreams, artisan of intellect, and innovator of minds. 3) a weirdo with a creepy/awesome obsession with death, cats, and purple pens. 4) A beautiful individual in a skirt whom all the boys try to impress. See also: THE QUEEN. 5) A hilarious individual with a contagious laugh. 6) a stressed individual who tries to take everything in stride. 7) me.

And it's interesting to me to see the balance between the two.

(NOTE: I rarely if EVER refer to myself in the 3rd person, so don't judge me too harshly for the rest of this entry.)

I'm Elizabeth when I wake up and wish that I could still be sleeping. I stay in that mode while I put on make-up and dress professionally in preparation of being Miss Hudson (yes, I have purple and silver eye-shadow on, and hell DIDN'T freeze over. What. has. happened?!!??) The entire drive to school, I'm singing and waking up to my music, which brings me to the first clash of selves. Allow me to explain:

There is a male student who lives in Peoria with his mother, and has the same drive to school as I do. He's one of my favorites, but I'm fairly convinced that he has a crush on me (who tells their teacher that they "<3" them?). And since I'm still Elizabeth while driving to school, I find it really awkward to acknowledge his presence in any way. But since he's so used to Miss Hudson, capable of being beckoned simply by raising a hand, being ignored is totally weird...which is no doubt why he honked at me the other day. To get my attention. "I was waving like crazy but you were just singing away to your music with your little sunglasses on!" When he told me this, I smiled. What I didn't say was that I HAD noticed, but chose to speed up instead of wave back. (Which is why I also have to keep an eye out for cops as well as students).

This clash continues when I first get to school. The kids all stand in a line outside of the building before the bell rings at 7:50. They chat and mess around and whatnot...but they also have a tendency to STARE and maintain eye contact as you walk up towards the building. I find this to be especially true if I'm wearing a skirt or a dress. And, being an introvert, I like to have a little bit of time to mentally prepare for conversations. I can't tell you how many times a student has tried to greet me in the morning, only to get a half mumbled grunt back.

But the moment I enter my classroom, my domain, Miss Hudson is in control. Somehow I can make quick, witty comments on the fly. I can make small talk like none other. The boys try to impress me, the girls love talking to me, and they all try to make me laugh and smile (which, let's be honest, really isn't that hard). I make fun of myself, which they find fantastic. I'm patient and caring and genuinely concerned. They call me beautiful and a good teacher, and they truly believe it.

As of late,I believe it as well. It feels like my two selves are coming together as one. Maybe this is just what growing up and becoming an adult feels like. Teaching as Miss Hudson has done wonders for Elizabeth's self-esteem, which shouldn't surprise me as much as it does. My self and personality existed before I started teaching, so clearly it was in me all along.

I remember taking an education night class with a professor/high school teacher whom I wasn't too fond of during my time at IWU. What really destroyed my respect for her was a conversation in which she told me that she was surprised that I did so well in her class, since she thought I would be "too quiet" to become an effective teacher. And that's not the first time I've heard that comment. When I first applied to be a RA, I was put on the waiting list, because they didn't think that my personality was forceful enough to take control over a stressful situation.

If there's any point to my ramblings, I guess it's just this: don't underestimate the introvert. When they do finally speak, you'd best believe that they have something worth listening to.

And this introvert has had her voice all along.
Thursday, May 16, 2013 | By: Brianna

Fowl Play

Remember that time when I told you that I was going to write a poem based on the prompt "foul play" for a writing group?  Remember also that I said I was going to write about theatrical chickens?  Well, I came through.  We're not going to talk about syllables and verb tense though...but if you really want to talk about it...send me an owl or something.

Fowl Play
By: Brianna

The chickens casted a comedy
to perform out in the yard.
The rooster wrote out the melody
(it really wasn’t quite hard).

Rehearsal was held in the henhouse
with hens dancing around eggs.
They were directed by the ruffed grouse
who told them to shake a leg.

Opening night, the cast was nervous
as they gathered out on stage
to do the author a disservice
would certainly cause outrage.

The field mice crept in for the curtain
and brought with them their fine cheese
twould be a good show, they were certain
as long as nobody sneezed.

When they fin’ly reached intermission
the play was going quite well
without a last minute addition
of anything that might smell.

Lovers kissed for the happiest end
and all came out for a bow
by then the poultry death blade descend…ed.
It’s chicken for dinner right now!

A Letter to Tan Lines

Dear Tan Lines,

You know me.  We're pretty close.  I mean, you're attached to me, and I'm a little attached to you by virtue of your being branded into my skin.  But in case you're not familiar with my name, I'm Brianna.  Hey, how you doing?

Back in Florida, I noticed you existed because when I wore tank tops, you were there marking our the sleeves that I wore for my costume.  That costume was adorable, but the sleeves were just too darn long due to the unisex nature of those yellow and white striped button downs that we weren't allowed to roll up.  And then there were the tan lines that reminded me I had to wear socks that covered my ankles, leaving the knobs of my ankles down to my toes a pale Elmer's glue white.  Luckily you didn't mark out my skort because my thighs are always pale anyway.

Well.  I noticed you yesterday.  I thought you'd faded away completely and that I was back to my usual pale and fairly even self, but when I donned that tank top and went out into the sun yesterday, there you were.  Yes, you had faded during the winter months when I covered you up in sweater sleeves and long pants, but you're still there.  I could tell you were still there when I bared my shoulders to the sunlight yesterday afternoon.

And don't get me wrong, I'm really glad that I got tan rather than burned in Florida, but I'd really like the evidence of my shirtsleeves to go away.

So basically, I love you...but please leave.



Brianna Life Update:

The job search continues.

My internship has me doing a lot of things, and I'm still really excited about it.  A bunch of stuff that I wrote for the site has even been posted, and you can read all that here:

I'm still doing my Poem-A-Day Project, but for some reason I keep leapfrogging.  I keep forgetting to write a poem every other day, leading me to write two poems in a day...multiple days "in a row."  I don't know what's up with this, but it's something that I'm going to have to figure out before next month, because it just can't go on like this.

I'm still working on revising poems that I'm sending out to people as part of an artistic pay it forward type deal from Facebook.  I actually wanted to commit to doing that, because I know lots of people post those statuses, collect things from people, and then never actually send out art.  So...I'm doing that, but I'm having difficulty picking poems for people and making sure that they're pretty.  The only reason I'm posting this on my blog is because I'm fairly certain that the people I'm talking about have either forgotten that I owe them a poem or they don't read this blog.  So...I win.

I'm reading too many books at once.  Right now I have bookmarks in Act of Will and Wonder Boys, and on the almost immediate line up after those are The Handmaid's Tale and Beautiful Creatures, both of which I've borrowed from friends.  Though one of them I'm going to hold hostage, so go ahead and try to stop me!

I haven't been on any adventures recently, but I did buy new jeans (whoohoo!) the other day, and they look awesome.  Mostly because I'm wearing them, and I always look awesome, but also because they're super comfy.

And that's about it.  Happy Thursday!

"I think you are wrong to want a heart.  It makes most people unhappy.  If you only knew it, you are in luck not to have a heart."
- L. Frank Baum
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 | By: Brianna

Days Gone By

This evening I found myself thinking, "I should write a blog post" and then I promptly stared at the computer screen for a good ten minutes before remembering that I have a prompt box right next to me in a desk drawer that I can use at times like these.  I went through a good dozen slips of paper before I settled on this one.

Lots of things happening.  Internship #2 is over, and I'm sad that it's done, but you know what they say, "all good things come to an end."  Bright side, Internship #1 is now my only internship, and I'm doing lots of exciting things for that.  Like this: audition posting!  And then I have a phone interview for another internship on Thursday!  Fingers crossed!

Today's prompt: What can you do to recycle old calendars?

I spent a little bit of time puzzling this out recently because I had a stack of old calendars sitting in my closet.  On the floor.  Because that's where old things belong.  (I learned recently that I'm a "stacker."  I stack things.  Everywhere.  On everything.  Desks, the floor, countertops, tabletops, car seats, etc.  Why did I not know this before?!)

The first and most obvious answer is that you could make a collage of all the pictures!  Just think, a collage of all those wonderful Orlando Bloom faces all staring out at you at the same time rather than just one for every month!  A collage of Harry Potter characters pasted over landscapes from England and France.  (These are some of the calendars I have had, don't judge...)

What I did with a couple of my calendars, most notably a landscape one and an artsy dreamy one, was make envelopes.  That's right, folks, I made envelopes for sending letters in.  Granted, I haven't sent many letters out in them, but when I do...those letter receivers will have something special to tear open in their feverish haste to get to my profoundly awesome letter.  It's really easy to make envelopes too, you can just unglue an envelope you already have and use that as a template to trace and then glue up the homemade envelope and voila!  The only problem I've found with this is that you have to glue the envelope shut before you send it.  Or tape the hell out of it so your letter doesn't fall out.  On the bright side, that letter isn't going anywhere until the recipient opens up that envelope.

And that, my friends, is what you can do to recycle old calendars!

“Most modern calendars mar the sweet simplicity of our lives by reminding us that each day that passes is the anniversary of some perfectly uninteresting event.” 
- Oscar Wilde
Saturday, May 11, 2013 | By: Brianna

Challenge Day 9

It has been a really rough week.  Lots of things happening, lots of people being seen, lots of hearts being broken, and lots of food being eaten at restaurants paid for with money that I don't actually have.  This is my life right now.  And this is why I'm writing a response to the daily writing challenge.

Though this is going to be difficult, because I don't really have one favorite city.  Oops?  And we're not going to talk about how these are probably not cohesive "stories," but whatever.  Anyone going to call me on it?  I should also mention that these are fictional.  Just sayin'.

Day 9: A story in 250 words or less about your favorite city.


I’ve lived in this city for my entire life, I even went to school south of this city, and when people said they were from my city, I was allowed to get upset.  Because they were from the suburbs.  But I never really got to know Chicago for whatever reason.  I suspect it was fear.  Of muggers, gangs, tourists, everything.  This fear permeated my being even when you grabbed my hand and dragged me onto the El.
“Come on, it’ll be fun,” you said with the grin that always made me melt like cheese in the microwave.
“I don’t know…” I waffled, like I do.
“Trust me?” you said, raising your eyebrows and peering over the tops of your glasses.
“Never,” I joked.  But it was seeing the reflection of the skyline in your glasses that finally convinced me that everything could be okay.


“I don’t want to go with just Grandma, it’ll be a total drag.”
“Alright, I’ll go with you.”
“Thanks, Mom.”
A six hour plane ride, and we landed in Paris, France, the place I had been dreaming of since I realized French was a foreign language.  The only problem being that I never imagined I would have to cart around my grandmother who doesn’t speak a syllable of French.
“Pare—lay vooz English?” she asked, prompting a groan from me and a sigh from my mother.  Then Grandma whips out a handful of Euros and promptly informs us that she will be paying for everything during our trip.  And suddenly I can see all of my frustrations just melting away…

"Yet once you've come to be part of this particular patch, you'll never love another.  Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies.  But never a lovely so real."
- Nelson Algren, Chicago: City on the Make

Monday, May 6, 2013 | By: Brianna

What Do You Do?

I thought I had an idea for a post.  Actually, I'm fairly certain that I did have an idea, I just chose to dispense with that idea for now because I stumbled upon my friend, Susan's, blog and I was intrigued by her post today as part of Blog Every Day in May even though I'm not sure that I'll be taking that particular challenge.  I've already got one challenge with my Poem-A-Day Project, and then the whole "figure out your life, Brianna" challenge.

So, Brianna, if you couldn't answer with your job, what do you do?

I write.  Lots of things.  Most consistently, I write blog posts and daily poems.  I write scribbles in a notebook that I keep in my bag at all times.  Every now and again I write a character sketch or an idea for a scene.  Over the summers for the past five summers, I wrote stage adaptations of Grimm fairy tales.  In high school, I wrote one act plays.  My last semester of college, I wrote short stories.  I've written lyric essays, but I'm still not absolutely certain what that means.  I also write letters because when I get writer's block, it's a really great and constructive way to get my thoughts onto paper without forcing myself to write something pretty.  Plus then someone definitely gets to read it!

I read.  As a result of my reading, I also leave books lying around the house everywhere.  I read multiple books at the same time because I suspect I have an attention problem.  According to my Goodreads account, I'm reading a bunch of books that I had to return to the library a long time ago, and if I wanted to actually read them, I would probably have to restart them anyway.  So honestly, I'm currently reading The Friday Society, and I'm carrying around Wonder Boys in my bag with a bookmark shoved between the first couple pages.  I also read poetry, though I haven't been reading quite as much as I want to, apparently I'm getting distracted by novels.  Oh, and comics.  Because that's a thing now.

I watch movies.  Mostly because I adore movies.  The last movies that I fell in love with were probably Perks of Being a Wallflower and Ruby Sparks.  There was a time when I was working through all the Alfred Hitchcock movies that I could find at my local library, then there was the phase I had when I watched a handful of Marilyn Monroe movies, and then there was my F-in 80s movie marathon weekend which featured Fame, Footloose, and Flashdance.  Everybody loves a good theme, right?  I aspire to watch AFI's 100 Years 100 Movies, although I'm kinda leery about a couple of the movies on that list.  Let's face it, I just want to see all the movies.

I intern.  I know this is kinda like answering with my job, but there it is.  Too bad.  Plus now I can repeat things that I've probably already talked about.  I numbered my internships based on the order I got them.  So Internship #1 is at Here's the Story, I'm the Communications Assistant, which means that I do social media marketing, write things, and generally take on assignments from my blue-haired boss.  Internship #2 is at Chicago Kids Company, and I help out the box office manager by taking phone calls and making reservations for teachers who want to bring their classes to our shows for a field trip.

I knit.  There was a time when I got home from Florida when I went into a knitting frenzy.  I knit a Hufflepuff scarf and a failed Hufflepuff hat for my friend, Claire, I made myself arm warmers, I think I knit something else too, but it was insane.  I have a pattern for curled toe elf slippers that I really want to make, but I'm terrified of messing them up because they're not square and flat...those being the requirements for all the other things that I've knitted successfully.

What else?

I'm pretty sure that's it.  I also do other things like clean my room, occasionally, wash dishes or do laundry for the family when I notice that it could probably use doing.  I go to free events when I remember that they exist.  I go out for drinks or pie with friends, so I eat a lot of pie and drink more alcohol than is probably healthy for someone who spends time with one person at a time and doesn't go to bars very often.  I also spend an unhealthy amount of time texting and checking Facebook.   I also watch television shows via Hulu or my friend's itunes because there's no conceivable way that I could possibly remember to watch a weekly show without setting a phone alarm.  Because that's another thing I do: I forget things.  I also procrastinate.  And I guess I job hunt right now.

So...those are thing things I do.  What about you?

"We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."
- C.S. Lewis
Friday, May 3, 2013 | By: Brianna

Easy Street...

This morning, I watched an episode of Glee because I was behind.  I'm all caught up, except for the episode that I missed...last night.  Because of reasons unknown.  So the last episode I saw was Lights Out.

Not only did I cry when Santana rediscovered her inner child and admit that she's trying to figure out what she wants (because heck, I can relate), but I also marveled at Coach Sue singing "Little Girls" from Annie.

I was in Annie once.  Back in elementary school.  Sixth grade, to be exact.  I played Lily St. Regis.  Don't remember who that is?  Take a look at this clip.  Kristin Chenoweth, the blonde in the pink silk?  Yeah.  That was me.  In sixth grade.

For those of you unfamiliar with Annie, the basic premise is that there's this orphan, see?  She gets adopted by this fat cat from 5th Avenue.  But Miss Hannigan and her swindling brother, Rooster (along with his new gal, Lily St. Regis), figure they can make Annie's life miserable and also get some money out of the fat cat in the process.

Lily's one of the villains.  As a rule, it's always more fun to play a villain than it is to play the hero.  Because villains are significantly more interesting.  The hero has to be all pure and stuff, but the villain, well, they get to laugh maniacally and torture small animals.

I don't know if you noticed, but Lily's also a total hooker.  I knew this in sixth grade.  I'm not sure how I knew this, but I did.  I ended up wearing a boa that shed feathers EVERYWHERE onstage and off, these killer black boots with pointy toes, and a drawn on beauty mark.  Over my real beauty mark.  It was definitely the best thing ever.  I also attempted an accent and tried to sound like Kristin Chenoweth.  I don't know how well I did, but I do remember improvising a line that pissed off Miss Hannigan because well, you never learned Lily's name, and I thought that that was a major oversight of the script writers of Annie Jr.

Speaking of Miss Hannigan...the girl who played her was in my class.  She had a killer voice, but she also got stage fright.  For some reason, at that time, I didn't really have that problem.  I'm not proud of it, but there was a point maybe a month away from the show when I tried to convince her to hand over her part and I could play Miss Hannigan.  Because even as a little girl, I was a conniving spotlight-wanter.  Because of all that, I should probably add that classmate to the list of people who probably hated me at the time because I was implying that I could play her part better than she was playing it even though sixth grade Brianna just thought she was being nice and doing a favor for a friend by letting her off easy and taking on the burden of a larger role myself.  I honestly don't know what in my little sixth grade brain told me that that was okay to do.  Given the chance, I would love to apologize for being a jerk, though I probably wouldn't have the guts to do it.

On the bright side, I've grown up, and though I would still kill to play Miss Hannigan, I'm not too fond of the musical she comes from.  Maybe it's because I spent WAY too many months listening to the soundtrack on loop or going through my lines in sixth grade.  Or maybe it's because if I ever got back into theatre and landed a part in Annie, I would have to reconcile the fact that I'd probably be upstaged and outshone by a little girl and a dog.  Yup.  Because that's how that musical works.

Happy Friday!  [this is when Brianna realizes that it's Friday and she could have read a poem.  Oh well...]

"Leapin' lizards!"
- Annie
Thursday, May 2, 2013 | By: Brianna

Challenge Day 8

Remember that time when I said that I was going to do a daily writing challenge and then failed so miserably, but then kept writing based on those challenges anyway?  This is day eight.  For the record, I'm not too keen on writing this bit especially because I had no idea where the superhero post was going, and now I have to make up a back story?!  Back story is haaaaard....

Day 8: Write a prequel to that superhero.  Pre-superhero life.  Maybe their childhood.

On Electrolexi's eighteen birthday, her mother sat her down in the living room.  Electrostatic, Lexi's mother, looked like she had just swallowed a koala, and though it was fuzzy, it seemed to want to claw its way out of the woman's throat.  After the whole Iris VI fiasco a couple weeks ago, Lexi wasn't really sure what her mother had to say to her that could possibly be good.  Especially not with that face she was wearing.

"Mom, are you okay?  You look like you're going to throw up or something," Electrolexi said.  Despite it being her birthday, she was still the type of person who put the concerns of other people in front of her own.  Plus this was the woman who gave her life, and that had to count for something.

"Yeah, sweetie, I'm fine," Electrostatic replied, staring off into some space just past her daughter's head before gulping down the koala in her throat.  "But we need to talk."

"Are you...are you breaking up with me?" Electrolexi deadpanned.

"Alexandra, be serious.  This is important," her mother said, her eyebrows scrunching together in frustration.

"Okay, okay, what's this all about?"

"I have to tell you who your father is," Electrostatic blurted out.  The words sent an unintentional shock through the coffee table Electrostatic had decided to sit upon, and Electrolexi heard the piece of furniture give a little whimper.  The shock extended, of course, to Electrolexi herself, though not quite so literally.

"I, um, what?" was all that Electrolexi could really manage at that point.  "He's Superman, isn't he?!"

Electrostatic took a deep breath.  She didn't seem to be listening up until the point when Superman was mentioned, and the look that she gave Electrolexi was one that said "Come on, really?" without actually verbalizing it.

"Your father is Bad Horse."

"My father...what?  I think I heard you wrong, I could have sworn you said that he was Bad Horse."

"He is Bad Horse."

"Who the hell is Bad Horse?"

"He's...a horse.  Who's bad."

"You kinda have to give me a little more to go on than that, Mom," Electrolexi prompted.  The sinking feeling in her gut told her that whoever this Bad Horse was, he probably wasn't a cool superhero that was going to end up giving her some special superhero training when she came of age and came into her extra powers bestowed upon by him.

"He's the Thoroughbred of Sin," Electrostatic said, hiding her face in her hands.

For some reason, it was at this point when it dawned upon Electrolexi: "He's a horse, isn't he?"

Electrostatic looked up from her palms and nodded once gravely.

"My father's a HORSE?"

"A bad horse.  A very very bad horse."

Well, that explained nothing at all....

"I wanna do great things, you know?  I wanna be an achiever, like Bad Horse."
- Doctor Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog
Tuesday, April 30, 2013 | By: Brianna

NaPoWriMo Last Day

Why yes, it does seem that I'm cutting it a little close.  Although to be fair, two hours shouldn't really be considered "close" because I've cut things WAY closer than this.  Like my hair.  Bah dum chhh.

Anyway, it's been a great month, but it looks like I'm going to go back to hiding my poems in an envelope and keeping them to myself.  Probably won't be posting my dailies here.  At least not daily like this.  I realize that sounds silly, but you know what I'm saying, so hush.  Thank you, readers, for your devotion to reading my work.  I can only hope that my future antics keep you entertained.

I have no ideas for a Poem-A-Day May challenge, so we're going to hope that that goes alright without one. For now...

This last poem here is random.  And when I say it's random, I'm trying not to apologize, but here it is.

April 30, 2013

Well that was unexpected,
that turn of events
right after your venting
right before my weirding.
Because "weird" is a verb
if I say so.
I guess that maybe
the fog in this crystal ball
could have formed these shapes,
but I was too busy
shuffling tarot cards
to notice the cloud cover
which the weather man missed
by a mile
just like my failed archery
because I'm no Cupid,
but color me stunned
which is some shade of scarlet
especially when this letter
makes no sense.

Monday, April 29, 2013 | By: Brianna

Stars and Fishing

I remember a time when I wrote all my poems on time.  That was a good time.  When did I become such a slacker?

Yesterday I went to a poetry slam put on by my friend's library.  I say it's her library because she works there, not because it's her local library.  Just to be clear.  I read a couple poems that I had planned on reading, and then all of a sudden no one wanted to read after me.  I felt bad, but at the same time, I also felt kinda awesome because I killed my performance on those two poems.  Luckily, my friend whipped out her memorized Shakespearean sonnet.  And then I ended up reading again because PEER PRESSURE!  But I had a ton of fun!  It helped that there were a handful of people who complimented my poems and my reading of them, so that just made me feel all around awesome.  [this is when Brianna realizes she should purchase a thesaurus]

The poem snippets for yesterday that I wrote today came from a quote which turned up in a conversation with a friend last night (I'll bet you can figure out what was said...).  He might punch me for stealing it...but you know what...too bad.  And then the poem for today was because there were so many fish poems at the slam yesterday and I realized that I haven't written a fish poem.  And this poem also led me to learn that when I start stories about my childhood, I may start talking about "me" or "I," but then I eventually shift into "we" and "us" because I did just about everything with my little brother.  Interesting...

April 28, 2013

You said that
if all the stars aligned
and circumstances changed,
we could talk about it.
But you're forcing the stars
into this position
and pulling celestial legs
when all you need to say is:
"I want to."

You're forcing the stars
into this position
on your pantry shelf
because you already
hung the moon
on your doorknob.
I'm not saying
you can't tack the sun
to your corkboard,
but leave some warmth
for the rest of us.

You're forcing the stars
into this position
and Tom Cruise
is not a fan.

April 29, 2013

When I was little,
my grandpa took me fishing.
We stood on the pier,
and Grandpa held out
a styrofoam container
full of grubs.
I cringed
when the little white things
squirmed in the sawdust.
Grandpa speared the grub
and curled it around my hook.
I closed my eyes.
My favorite part was casting,
flicking the hook
out into the water
and listening for the plop.
Then reel it back in
before the bite.
Cast and reel.

"Writers fish for the right words like fisherman fish for, um, whatever those aquatic creatures with fins and gills are called."
- Jarod Kintz
Saturday, April 27, 2013 | By: Brianna

A Note on Comic Book Conventions

Yesterday I went to my very first comic book convention, C2E2.  To be quite honest, I had a blast.  Sure, my feet were killing me by the end of the day, but that's what you get when you wear Converse with no arch support, hooray!  But it was fine, all my toes are still in tact and I don't think I wore out my soles.

Spending as much time on the Internet as I do, I was primed to look out for people in costumes.  Good costumes.  And there were some good costumes.  But the originality was lacking.  I saw A LOT of The Doctor from Doctor Who, and the same ones over and over again: Four, Ten, and Eleven.  I maybe saw one Nine and one of the First.  And then there were a lot of superheroes and super villains.  Of course.  Makes sense.  But typical.  Lots of Harley Quinn.  The Joker.  Superman.  Spiderman.  Yeah.  So a little disappointed in that respect.

But really excited about other things.  Like the Doctor Who postcards I got.  And the Kill Shakespeare comic I bought.  That's right, my very first comic that I bought all by myself instead of getting it from a friend. There was so much to look at, and a couple costumes to guess about.  And of course, hanging out with friends.  Because they're awesome.

Unfortunately, I wrote yesterday's poem today.  And today's poem is not appropriate for this blog.

April 26, 2013

I'd like to apologize, my friend,
for my offenses.
When I turned in my chair
and asked you to leave,
that was rude.
Then allowing separation
as if breaking from the herd
and ignoring the
sheepdog yapping.
I lost sight
and wandered blindly deaf
to any pleas,
then ask you for more,
to be my cover story
to late night affairs.

I apologize
for the shrunken sweater
discomfort bred
by my frivolity
skipping through aisles
on rubber-soled ecstasy.

"Because that's what a comic is, ultimately: a collection of pages.  It's not a flatpanel or a touchscreen, even though that's where it might eventually be displayed.  It's a page."
- John Heffernan
Thursday, April 25, 2013 | By: Brianna

Aaaaand...look, distraction!

It looks like we're nearing the end of the month, which means a lot of people who are participating in NaPoWriMo will be done with their challenge to write a poem a day for a month.  I'm really excited to go through everybody's blogs and read what they've come up with, because that'll no doubt give me more ideas for my own poems.  Plus I'm really excited that I'm not the only one out there writing poems daily.  Is that selfish?  Maybe a little bit.

Anyway, Poem-A-Day April has been going really well.  I only fell behind that one weekend when I went to camp, but I caught up pretty quick because it was only a couple poems behind.  As for the zodiac challenge, that I've failed on.  I had every intention of writing them, especially because I have people who were excited to read a couple specific zodiac signs.  I'm really sorry!  I'll probably use the whole zodiac/horoscope thing as inspiration for random poems rather than a month challenge.  And there we go again, learning what challenges work and don't...

Poem-A-Day May promises to be exciting because every month is cause for excitement.  but I'm looking for a challenge.  Something that I can do weekly.  No ideas yet.  I'm thinking back to a couple older challenges, and one of them was to start one poem a week with "Where were you last night?"  That was a really neat concept because I got to play around with different ways of handling that.  Kinda similar to the challenge to write drunken poetry.  So I'm thinking I should find some sort of challenge that will be like that, because it might make me think more.  Or try forms.  Which might break my brain, but who knows, maybe I'd learn something?  Learning is good.

On Monday, I visited the Poetry Foundation downtown.  First off, I took the El into the city and then had to take another line north of the Loop.  Because I had a lot of time on my hands, it didn't ultimately matter, so that adventure was fun.  Except that I thought I could transfer at one stop, and it turns out that you can't, so after getting off the train and making my way onto the street level, I walked a couple blocks to another station where I had learned I could make my transfer.  Luckily it was a nice day.

Once I got to the stop where I needed to be, I went the wrong direction on the street and had to turn around, but I finally got to the building.  [this is where Brianna realizes that she's told this story in a previous blog post, oops?]  Anyway, it was closed until later.  So I went to Starbucks to get a drink.  That's when a woman came up to me and asked, "Did you just try to go to the Poetry Foundation?"  I shuffled my feet a little and said, "Yeah..." She was very nice when she said that they didn't open until 1 PM, and I was bashful about her having witnessed my embarrassing door-pulling from the other side of the gigantic glass windows.

Clutching my iced mocha of joy, I took the El back in the direction I had come from and met up with my friend for lunch.  He bought, because he's a nice person and knows that I'm unemployed.  It was underlined by the fact that he was on his lunch break from his job that he's pretty happy with.  I'm not going to hold that against him because he bought me lunch AND dessert.  Hey, I can't complain about a toffee cookie, that thing was delicious.  Actually, the whole sandwich was delicious.  There was cheese and vegetables and pesto, and yum.  I should have taken a picture that I could post here.  Darn.  Missed opportunity.

Yesterday, I visited my friend who's involved in drag shows.  She was looking for costumes for another show that she's going to do, so we went to a couple costume shops in Boystown and another shop that I shouldn't mention because this should be a family friendly blog, but let's suffice it to say that there was a lot of lace, silk, and rope.  Special rope.  Then we went to get food because Brianna had eaten a pocket of trail mix for lunch (and learned that M&Ms and the letter M are trademarked by Mars, Inc.  Though I feel like the letter M shouldn't be able to be trademarked...that shouldn't be allowed.).  All around it was a really good afternoon and it was really great to see her because I hadn't seen her in person for close to a year.  Craziness.

And then another friend came over and we watched Woman in Black.  It's a miracle I didn't have nightmares, but it was my idea, so...

I really should never complain about having no friends again [Brianna goes back through her post and sees how many times she mentions "my friend."].

And tomorrow, tomorrow I'm going to C2E2 with my friend (aha!) because she's going for her work.  Yeah, her work is paying for her to go to a comic book convention.  I suddenly find myself wanting a job that would do that for me.  That would be really exciting.  Anyway, I'm super excited because I've never been to a comic book convention, and I'm looking forward to shamelessly people-watching.  Because that's what I do.  Should I bring my TARDIS notebook?  Hm, the possibilities...

That's all I really have to say, so that's all, folks!

"Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."
- Mark Twain
Wednesday, April 24, 2013 | By: Brianna

Fortune Cookies

Today things happened, excitement was had, I rode a bus willingly, and shenanigans.  Adventures galore today, and even more smiles.  And commas.  So many commas in those sentences!  Anyway.

This poem comes from the prompt on Day 21 of NaPoWriMo, because I wasn't feeling the more recent prompts and my brain felt a little like it spent too much time in a blender and then was pulverized with crystalized sugar.  Because brain goo can totally be pulverized after becoming goo.  Yup.

April 24, 2013

Thank you, NaPoWriMo and Frank O'Hara for "Lines for the Fortune Cookie."

You have great potential to become a serial killer.
The people around you are made nervous by your presence.
Your ideal job opportunity will soon appear.
You will write 671 poems and never write again.
Just as your best friend gets married, you'll adopt your 8th cat.
Mirrors show us who we truly are.  In your case, nothing.
Find yourself a soup spoon.
Tomorrow's lunch will be wildly satisfying.
Your kisses are perfectly adequate.
Someone is interested in you.
Keep your eyes open.
Goldfish are drawn to your aura.
Spectacular fireworks are in your future.
You will meet a tall dark stranger.

"I just got a fortune cookie that says, 'Turn off your computer and read a book' which is odd because I'm WRITING a book...on my computer!"
- Meg Cabot