Wednesday, August 17, 2022

masks for me and you

😷😷😷Here's a list of businesses that require staff and customers to wear masks. Please add more in the comments and I'll vet and add them. 

Also looking for places in DC, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Boston, Cape Cod and LA. 😷😷😷

So far it's mostly bookstores, but is that really a surprise?
Vulnerable people should have friendly, rational places to go!

Anthology Film Archives--the best movie theater? 2nd st & 2nd Ave.
Bluestockings Cooperative-- new books, zines, beverages and more, 16 Suffolk Street, 10002


Bicycle Habitat- Bicycle repair store, 560 Vanderbit Ave. location
Brooklyn General Store--knitting supplies, fabric, sewing supplies, local goods, 128 Union St.
Community Bookstore--new books with a large children's section, 147 7th Ave, 11215
Greenlight Bookstore--new book stores, 686 Fulton Street 11217 & 632 Flatbush Ave 11225
Park Slope Food Coop--members-only cooperative food store, 782 Union Street, 11215
Unnameable Books-- my favorite used bookstore with some new titles, 615 Vanderbilt. Ave

Cold Spring:
Split Rock Books--bookstore, 97 Main Street 10516

The Spiral Bookcase--mostly new book store with gifts, currently a six (6) person limit in the shop, 4257 Main St. 19127 

The Wooden Shoe-- Anarchist bookstore on 704 South Street, 19147. Call for hours ((215) 413-0999)

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Reading Jayne County

I was trying to find a 70s German movie set in the US desert. Juggling search terms, I ran across a film starring Jane County (the chaotic beauty City of Lost Souls (1983)). This took me back. I read Man Enough to be a Woman when I was 19 or 20 after finding it in the back of the Friends of the Free Library bookstore where I worked. It had come in as a donation, as most of the books did, and was priced under two dollars. With this cover, I had to have it.

Man Enough to be a Woman came to me before my first great lesson in mortality but after suffering from depression for many years. I was generally joyless and too young to know how to change that. Though my memory is fuzzy on the text, I now realize that this memoir was part of my lifelong search for examples of happy lives from people who do not follow the rules.

The book's title comes from an album title from County's band Jayne County and the Electric Chairs. She is a US born, Berlin based musician actress and artist. She was a huge part of the 70s Berlin music scene and seems to have met or worked with everyone, while also simply surviving in a cruel & boring world. This book made me want a time machine. Failing that, it further bolstered my belief that one can create spaces to be and just sort of living the idea that life is very short.

Reading queer and trans history helps remove the confines of the banal evil of heteronormativity and white supremacy and makes suspect the myth of queerness being a uniformly miserable time until recently.

Man Enough... got rereleased in the UK in 2021 by Serpent's Tail. I was too busy attending to my living death this year to hear about it, but now I’m keen to find this book again. I especially want to read the new afterword by County herself.

Here's a review of City of Lost Souls (1983) by Caroline Golum. Link to youtube rip above.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

This winter has been testing my resolve to not recede entirely into the spaces between the radiator coils. I'm always craving the lightness of summer, the feverishness of a summer night's impermeability.

There are places that can capture a little piece of that feeling and I am lucky enough to live close to one of them: Unnameable Books. So, on a recent cabin-fever evening, I put on my big coat and went out in hopes of a little heat.

Another Brooklyn definitely gave me what I was looking for. It weaves  a delicate story about childhood friendships and becoming an adult. The novel exists in the sticky land of memory, of hindsight, of lost moments. The book opens with August, the protagonist, giving the reader a deceptively simple take on her past: "For a long time. my mother wasn't dead yet. Mine could have been a more tragic story... But this didn't happen. I know now that what is tragic isn't the moment. It is the memory." And, oof, isn't it?

Woodson deftly addresses how trauma, grief, and mental illness affect generations. A middle chapter of the book opens with "We came by way of our mothers' memories." It sounds neutral, perhaps. It is, in fact, a curse. The stories we are told about our family (and where we fit) have a powerful shaping effect on our lives, and often dictate at least the structure of the stories we tell about ourselves. Another Brooklyn allows in so many of the big things--war, addiction, faith, the body, betrayal--but never pretends that these are either exceptional or simply mundane. The book also gives sibling relationships a gorgeous weight.

And when Woodson describes the city summer, the neighborhood summer, you can smell the sweat and anticipation. Also present is the adolescent fear that lingers in those long nights, fear of going too far in the heat and not being able to find your way back to yourself.

Just read this book, and if you get a chance, see Woodson read in person. I've been lucky enough to see her twice and her presence and voice are truly compelling.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

"I was fourteen and didn't want to be involved in any of this, but I was part of it as always, and as always, everyone kept asking me, What's wrong? Are you okay? Is something bothering you? At night I flung my pillow against my mattress and prayed to my fake jade statue of the Guanyin goddess to give me a different face so that people would stop looking at my current one and asking me what was the matter."
--> “You Fell Into The River and I Saved You!,” Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang
I read Sour Heart for a (forthcoming) review, and because of word count and sanity, I didn't get to cover all the things that the book brought up for me. On top of the often fucked-up circumstances of their lives, many of Zhang's characters are sad, feel like nothing, and are constantly battling big, bad emotions. In the background of several of the stories is childhood depression and the way the world treats sad and/or angry girls. I appreciated that Zhang explicitly included the pressure to be happy, which often degrades to the pressure to look happy,  in her stories about identity and family. Also included is the reaction to wish to be simply left alone, make the slide through life as easy as possible, already knowing that no one, even those that love you, are likely to help. That deceptively mild feeling of wanting to change because the world isn't going to and you are tired, even though you are a kid.

Sour Heart comes out on August 1.
ETA:  Here's the review!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Driftglass by Samuel R. Delany

I had a comically hard time finishing the ten stories that comprise Driftglass. Each is basically a dude using a lot of words to tell a story where very little happens. I took it as a challenge to read every story in the collection, enjoyed much vigorous eye-rolling, and got to think about some interesting things along the way.

I read Driftglass in bed and had trouble staying awake through more than a few pages a night. Most of the narrators have a world-weary voice that doesn't quite feel earned, possibly because Delany was in his twenties when these stories were published. Each has a huffing and puffing about them that maybe once read as energetic, but makes the characters incredibly hard to connect to. When they are not explicitly prisoners or thieves, the main characters are mostly workers of some kind, like a disabled utility worker, a grieving mechanic, or a cable-laying widower. These jobs give access to the underbelly of the future, full of fucked-up kids and hustlers. The plots often hinge on these characters--definitely a reflection on the fear and fascination with youth that happened around that time as well as a reaction to the idea that damaged, poor, or weird people are to be used and disposed of.

The stories of Driftglass are from the mid-to-late 60s which came through in many ways: newspapers being a thing, schizophrenia as metaphor, everybody is still basically straight but the family is mutating, bikers, drug-induced powers, name-checking the Moog, and even some silver jumpsuits. What's wild is that even in such superficially dated tales, Delany's made some accurate predictions of future developments like the internet, fake news, surveillance and "pics or it didn't happen" culture: "While Tri-D and radio and news-tapes disperse information all over the worlds, they also spread an alienation from first-hand experience. (How many people go to  sports events or a political rally with their little receivers plugged to their ears to let them know what they are seeing is really happening?)." ["Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones"] Each story ends with a date and a city, which feels like a slightly precious celebration of the stereotypical roving writer's life that added an additional patina of a past era.

I rarely continue with books that aren't doing it for me but I'm glad that I finished this one. The scenarios were fun to think about after I cut through all the purple. I am sorely under read in Delany's catalog and this was not a bad place to start.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Canopy by Karine Bernadou

On a recent long night I decided that big eyes of the main character of Canopy had been staring out from my to-read pile for too long. A wordless comic is a tough sell to me, especially in these times of constant background anxiety, but Karine Bernadou's tale of the loneliness and violence within intimate relationships is a stellar example of the genre. The fact that this is a "translated" work only underlines the how powerfully Bernadou's images communicate--no words needed.

Have you ever searched family photos for clues about how it all went wrong? Canopy opens with a family portrait, a mother, a father and a darling stout red baby, putting us instantly on alert, pinging something that knows that portraits' posed unity rarely lasts. The next spread covers the red girl's childhood and adolescence, economically showing the ways a parent can fuck us up. From there we head out into a hostile world, where the possibility of change occasionally appears in the form of a sex partner and, well, we all know how that goes. There's a bit with sirens and a being looking to get lured away that I really liked; self-destructive partners are often their own siren song for the hurting. Each time the red woman seems to find a bit of peace, her desire to find/replace her absent father pulls her into another nasty situation. By the end of the book she's figured out a few things but the conclusion isn't sweet or even saccharine. If anything there's a melancholy to the character going on to her next adventure with wariness and more baggage than she started with.

Using only red for color, Canopy still manages to evoke a lush, if hostile, world, a forest place filled with biting animals and sentient plants. Bernadou's cute characterizations add a disquieting edge to the surreal and bloody situations she finds herself in, as do the prevalence of human features where one wouldn't expect to find them. I liked how the book played with time, especially through dream sequences. Each is like a mini battle for the main character and she usually doesn't win. Bernadou's pacing creating the sense of a long story being told in a short book and definitely rewards rereading.

Monday, February 13, 2017

CHOICES: A Pro-Choice Benefit Comic

A recent visit to Philly to wade through dead people's stuff unearthed a book that I've written about before as a memory: CHOICES: A Pro-Choice Benefit Comic. From the sticker on the front, this book was processed in 1996 and I picked it up soon after. I was in high school, doing my recently-mandated 50 hours of community service at Philly Thrift for AIDS, working on my favorite job. At the time, the store was in a huge space on South Street with a large dark basement where they kept the donated books and magazines on unruly shelves. I was down there doing my thing and something about this book grabbed my attention.

The first things that struck me were the number of male artists in the book and seeing names I had read in the Sunday funnies (Garry Trudeau and Cathy Guiswite). I remember especially Michael Jay Goldberg's tender and matter-of-fact "One Cold Night in December," an autobio piece about his friend's abortion. Howard Cruse also has a piece in the book, "Some Words From the Guys in Charge," that places the reader prone, looking up into white, male faces that represent those of absurd and punitive lawmaker. From Alison Bechdel and Leslie Ewing come lesbian perspectives on supporting abortion rights despite some perceived conflicts which feel politically outdated in some ways, but extremely relevant in others--especially balancing personal needs (i.e. "self care") with the larger fight for rights. In retrospect the book is glaringly white on both the creator and character sides; how racism plays into the abortion "debate"is only addressed as a sideline in a couple of pieces.

Diane Noomin's story of her abortion and subsequent infertility also stuck with me. "Looking back, I'm grateful to that 22 year-old for her strength. I owe my life to her choice." I couldn't imagine that future life at the time, but reading this book again in my mid-30s, with several reproductive choices in my history, I understand that reckoning with the past in a way I couldn't at 15. Noomin's comic points out how just because a choice is painful or difficult, doesn't mean a person needs to be saved from it, especially not by the government or any other big Daddy.

White supremacism, economic injustice, incest, suicide, and religious persecution all make appearances in CHOICES. Re-reading this book has been an unpleasantly surreal experience. 27 years have gone by since its publication and women are still fighting to be seen as human beings. It's frightening to see how fragile the gains made are.  As a personal touchstone, the book reminds me of the special power of comics to convey complicated stories in an accessible way. As an artifact, CHOICES is a stark reminder to take nothing for granted.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

LA reading or not reading

Los Angeles has the best bookstores. They are big and rolling and usually have cafes. On my December trip, I only went to Stories and, feeling very used up, picked up a copy of I Am Not Ashamed, the ghostwritten Barbara Payton autobiography. I haven't cracked it yet, as the abuses heaped on Payton for being a woman are too close to the bone right now and pulp verve is not the energy I'm looking for these days.

I read Slade House on the airplane, using its quiet British horror to push away the sights and smells of the trip, but also to stall the inevitable end of After Atlas.

Los Angeles was warm-ish but cloudy and darker than expected--good for sleeping and reading, not great for pretending that you are in another life. I finished After Atlas in the vacated house of B's colleague, other peoples' things all around and citrus blossoms on the breeze. The ending felt rushed, and the book felt like it needs a sequel, unlike Newman's previous book in this world, Planetfall. But the heart of the novel, a locked room mystery, definitely held a whiff of the Britishness of Slade House, which was an unexpected connection I enjoyed.

We hit the road and went to Joshua Tree. The National Park (where these pictures were taken) was much more conducive to enjoyment than recording, though I did some drawing of the rocks in the evening, in a quiet cabin recommended by friends. Now the current government is attempting to take away these public spaces, to pretend that selling them, drilling them, sucking them dry is both sane and patriotic and December is very, very far away.

The ride home had me reading Mickey by Chelsea Martin. Though the book had many incisive lines, it didn't build to anything memorable, like the titular boyfriend so hated and desired by Mickey's protagonist. The protagonist--a young, artistic, white lady with (boring) bad behavior--interests me not at all. I get enough of that in my life and definitely don't need it in my increasingly rare reading time. In some ways it was perhaps a perfect book to read on the way back, a reminder that there are other things to do.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 reads

  • Slade House by David Mitchell
  • Mickey by Chelsea Martin
  • After Atlas by Emma Newman
  • Cyanide Milkshake 8 by Liz Suburbia
  • Laid Waste by Julia Gfrörer
  • My Pretty Vampire 1 and 2 by Katie Skelly
  • Libby's Dad by Eleanor Davis
  • We All Wish For Deadly Force by Leela Corman
  • Summerland by Paloma Dawkins
  • Travelogue by Aatmaja Pandya
  • Nicolas by Pascal Girard, Helge Dascher (Translator)
  • nevers by Megan Martin
  • In the Time of the Blue Ball By Manuela Draeger
  • Ghost by Whit Taylor
  • In Situ no. 3 & 4 by Sophie Yanow
  • Bluets by Maggie Nelson
  • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
  • Dumb 1+2 by Georgia Webber
  • Future Shock 0 edited by Josh Burggraf
  • Guillotine #10: Kat Howard/Sofia Samatar
  • Planetfall by Emme Newman

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Behold my CAB haul:
My Pretty Vampire 1 and 2 by Katie Skelly
Laid Waste by Julia Gfrörer
Enter, Holy Pilgrim by Laila Milevski (part of my Ley Lines sub)
Cyanide Milkshake 8 by Liz Suburbia
Impatience by Inés Estrada
The End of Summer by Tillie Walden
No Exit by Annie Mok
Maleficium #5 by Sabin Calvert
What is a Witch by Pam Grossman and Tin Can Forest
I Thought You Hated Me by Marinaomi (part of my Retrofit/Big Planet sub)
Lovers in the Garden by Anya Davidson (part of my Retrofit/Big Planet sub)
Lizzie's Tale by Darryl Ayo (purple page version)
Ugly by Chloe Perkis
Big Sister by Natalie Andrewson
Annotated 19 by Aaron Cockle

sometimes being left in a backpack leads to having a special, separate photo shoot
This year's CAB was difficult and lovely. Difficult because I've been so depressed that leaving the house to go be around people seemed impossible and lovely because I did it and then was able to talk with a bunch of people I like. I noticed a lot of apparel this year and wished I brought more money to get all the t shirts and sweatshirts I desire.

Creators: like another link to your work better? let me know!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

I was browsing Greenlight bookstore when I had the thought "there are so many books I still want to read." This was a surprisingly positive thought, one I hope that will sustain me in the coming months.
When one of your favorite publishers is also a writer and writes a story that feels like it was written just for you but it is about vampires: Blue is a Darkness Weakened by Light by Sarah McCarry
In other news, a new Guillotine is scheduled to print in January, which is a new year treat I can actually look forward to.

The second Atlas book came out and I grabbed it. Reading Planetfall was such a serious, immersive experience that I'm looking forward to a similar experience. I'm never sure about first-person books, but I was pulled in hard to Planetfall and hope the same thing can happen with After Atlas.

The colors are still good out on the streets. I'm trying to go outside while I can convince myself that being in nature will be pleasant. I haven't cobbled together a winter survival plan yet. Have you?

Monday, November 07, 2016

Oh lovelies,

Reading has been tough. My mind is currently focused on bringing up all the pain of the past 20+ years and parading it around, making focus difficult and spare time unpleasurable. Today is the third (is that possible?) anniversary of my father's death. He had terrible dyslexia; he was so proud that I enjoyed reading, even though it made us further apart. This year reading has not been the refuge I crave. What interests grief hasn't flattened, depression has steamrolled.

I'm still in The Crystal Eaters, still hoping the end supports everything I love about story developed so far. Shane Jones definitely has a razor insight into the thoughts and compulsions of children, especially traumatized children. It's so difficult to get that right. Place that precision in a book also dealing with complex family sadnesses, and dang, you've just created a book I am deeply into and can barely bear to read! He also captures what pain drugs can take away while also showing what pain they can give subtly and without moralizing.

I've been reading everything from my comics subscriptions (Ley Lines from Grindstone Comics/Czap Books, Kus, Retrofit/Big Planet and Frontier from Youth In Decline), but at a leisurely pace and without the calming effect of falling into a novel. CAB was fun and I'll dive in to my haul, mostly longer works, as soon as seems wise.

What have you been reading?

Your friend,

Friday, October 28, 2016

Libby's Dad by Eleanor Davis

Recently I've had a lot of chances to experience shitty cable. Between traveling and "getting away" and tagging along, I've been watching a lot of Forensic Files. Overall this hasn't been so great for my peace of mind, but it has been a deep dive into the terrible things people do to one another, especially the terrible things men do to women. I've been marinating in not only death, but in should-have-knowns and we-never-thoughts, and it was in this state of mind I picked up Libby's Dad.

Libby's Dad is set at a slumber party at the titular characters home. Snatches of the young party-goers conversation drive the story, as well as the thoughts of Alex, a big-eyed, pig-tailed girl, the youngest invited to the birthday. This framing is what makes Libby's Dad so powerful and chilling.

The girls discuss Libby's parents' divorce, trying to come to grips with what they've overheard about violence in the relationship in the face of the fun slumber party stuff they are experiencing in the moment. Weaving in anecdotes of seeing Libby's mom around town being sad about the end of a relationship and other life stuff,  half-heard parental judgement, and an unquestioned belief in the justice system, the girls reassure one another that they are safe and that Libby's dad is no monster. The girls think what is easiest to think, that Libby's mom is crazy, rather than that her dad is dangerous. The child's POV shows plainly and with force that the simple story is usually the reasoning of a child. We know what nasties go on in adult relationships. We know that a person can be "like, super nice" to children and terrible to their partners. We know victims are often doubly victimized by having their behavior and life picked over in public. We know that adulthood offers may opportunities to cry in public, whether you're "crazy" or not.

We know.

We know, so we should know better. We know, and there is heartbreak in knowing that likely each  of those girls will know too, more sooner than later.

And, of course, it's beautiful. I've always loved Davis's botanicals and they, as well as her boisterous color sense, are out in full force in Libby's Dad. Her use of colored pencil is perfect here, and makes the whole story a little more sinister for me. Pick it up now.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Nicolas by Pascal Girard, translated by Helge Dascher

After years of cramming books in wherever they fit, I finally decided to redo my bookshelves. This has led to some intense re-reading, and in some cases, reading that had been left undone. Nicolas is one of those books I couldn't not buy, but also couldn't read the past several years.

 Nicolas is an autobiographical comic about the author's brother dying when they were both children. Told in flashes, almost like scrolling through the lowlights reel of grief, this short book cut right to what the legacy of a loss does to a person and their relationships. Girard's style is like a looser, sketchier Jeffrey Brown with some John Porcellino thrown in, which works well to express extreme feelings with humor.

Despite feeling incredible familiarity with the trials of Pascal, Girard's work is refreshing. It shows so simply how the absurdity of such a loss makes you weird (and in what ways). I love how Girard gets into how the fear it instills is not easily navigated, and how it changes as you get older, with emphasis on being a jerk in bars and hurting the people who love you romantically because you know that "it" doesn't only happen to other people. The tension between trying to remember your lost sibling and living your own life is also explored here, most especially on the page where a young Pascal asks his mother if he can sled at a friend's and his mother responds, in what I can only imagine is a distant voice: "Did you realize that Nicolas would have been eight years old today?" That sense of being snapped out of the present over and over is so particular and peculiar--glad that Girard included it.
my breath caught

After reading Nicolas, I felt less alone, which is perhaps the highest compliment possible. If you have someone in your life that's lost a sibling, get this book. I hope it helps you understand them better.

Link to the new expanded hardcover here.

Monday, May 02, 2016

MoCCA 2016

MoCCA in a Hell's Kitchen that looks different than it used to: A New Yorker's lament. 
Well, not really. While I miss my neighborhood as it was, I liked the new venue for MoCCA. Not only does the neighborhood still offer abundant cheap food, but the venue itself, which I used to walk by during late night strolls to the river, is bright, spacious without the high-ceiling anxiety of the armory and has almost enough elevators.The security was overzealous, something I got to experience twice as a perpetual late-o, but not as bad as at last year's Chelsea location.

I spent nowhere enough time on the floor and saw no panels, despite being somewhat interested in two of them. I'm never interested enough though. I did manage to say hi to a few of my far-away faves like Summer Pierre, Greg Means and L. Nichols. I missed more people than I saw, sadly, but that is the way it goes most years.
upstairs snack area
Jennifer Hayden, Summer Pierre and Glynnis Fawkes , buddies and excellent storytellers
Sara Edward-Corbett, with her beautiful rat creations
The fabulous Whit Taylor making a sale, Katie Fricas, who I met at Paper Jam, and Kriota Willberg, who cares about your health
Loved the bit of Travelogue by Aatmaja Pandya I read online, had to get the book!
Loved Gina Wynbrandt's mini, Big Pussy, had to get the book!
Rumi Hara's minis grab me with their covers, and I always enjoy the fantasies she creates.

I was excited for a few books not mentioned above and was happy to grab Dream Tube by Rebekka Dunlap from Youth in Decline, Bad Boyfriends, edited by Laura Lannes, as well as What's Your Sign, Girl?, edited by Rob Kirby. The two anthologies are stuffed with work from artists I need more of--you hear that big publishing?

I'm still working through my pile of MoCCA comics and will report back on what's grabbing me.
My Haul

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

bedtime stack

What's getting me to sleep these days:
Bad Habits by Cristy C. Road
This Is Not It by Lynne Tillman
In The Time of the Blue Ball by Manuela Draeger

Monday, February 29, 2016

Paper Jam 2016

Crowd shot
After the master hyping of Paper Jam by Darryl Ayo on twitter, I decided to drag my dusty carcass to Silent Barn in Bushwick for the small comics/zine fest. I am a big fan of the space with its cheap drinks and big outdoor space and really wanted to see what a comics show there would look like.

The show itself took place in  the performance space in the front of the building. I got there around 3:45, a little more than halfway through the day and the place was crammed with 20-something creators and fans and a smattering of us older types.

Though I mostly picked up comics by folks I'd never met before, the fest turned out to be an exercise in saying hi to the faces of internet faves including Sabin Calvert, Jude Killory, and "comics mom" Kevin Czapiewski. Ley Lines #6 author and buddy Aaron Cockle gave me a little zine featuring some risograph experimentation and we spoke briefly of chili and work.

After several trips around the crowded room, the consumption of a delicious ginger beer, and more hellos, I decided that I had spent enough money and felt low on energy so decided to head out. I was a bit disappointed in my own stamina that day, but sometimes you must bow to your body's boring needs. I missed the bus, managed to walk about a quarter of the way to where I was going before my hip started to kill and the rest doesn't matter.

The verdict? Would return to Paper Jam with walking shoes on.
Book and pamphlet haul
Prints and calendar from Courtney Menard
Walk away moon

Friday, February 12, 2016

lettermo 2, 2016

As usual, I've not managed a piece of mail a day. I tend to work better in bursts. I like to focus, perhaps too intensively, on the person that I am writing to and frankly I just haven't the energy for that sustained attention the past few days.

Today I felt the urge to make some fantasy worlds and there is no better way to get into the zone than with collage. So I brewed up some tea, busted out the new glue sticks and got to flipping through all the sloppy magazines I've hoarded for just this purpose. From the colors it is clear that I am yearning for some sunshine.

today's batch

Thursday, February 04, 2016

just friends

The other day my heart felt heavy but open. I was ready to spend the night contemplating the good things in life. I'd heard many good things about Paul Lisicky's new book, The Narrow Door, and thought I'd go feel big feelings at his reading at Community Bookstore.

The week after my friend Sally died, I started a zine about her. Collages mostly. I put them all together and stared and stared and then the dog knocked them over and then it didn't seem right and then and then and then my dad died and I still dream of her house almost every night.


After shuffling my way down 7th Avenue, I took my place in the small but crowded back room of the bookstore. The space was filling up with Lisicky admirers, many of who greeted the poet with hugs. While a clot of pretty poet boys decimated the wine, the rest of us settled in amid the fishy smell of store cat Tiny's food and the rustling of heavy coats. Writer A.N. Devers opened the evening with a short intro and then Lisicky began reading from The Narrow Door.

"It's weird," I thought as I cried into my companion's coat, "How sometimes a book comes right at the right time." How to reckon with relationships that are incredibly intimate and life-changing but not generally recognized as an important kind of love?  Even during this reading, a celebration of friendship, more audience questions were asked about Lisicky's ex, a famous poet, than about the subject of his book. I remember my frustration with trying to describe my relationship with Sally, everyone trying to name it with descriptors like "second mom" as if being friends was not enough for the grief I feel.

Devers pointed out that there are few books by men about their female friends, which is both true and too much to think about right now.

Lisicky talked a bit about the loss of his "sidekicks"--the people who know you the best and always want the best for you--to divorce and death. What does one loss mean in the midst of many? I lost my friend suddenly while my father was dying absolutely for sure. My friend lived boldly, but within many constraints. She was both incredibly inspiring and a cautionary tale. I wanted to spend years discussing life with her. Despite knowing her since I was eleven, I felt like our friendship was just beginning to take on a new form.

Because of her faith in me, a little piece of my writing is always for Sally.  That's going to have to be enough.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

lettermo 1, 2016

I am starting #lettermo this year with two collaged cards for two great people. 

I think I probably owe you a letter. Feel free to remind me in the comments.