Sunday, December 27, 2015

wintertime hibernation

As people cooler than me sometimes say (pushing up my glasses), this is my jam.

I know wintertime hibernation is settling into my bones when I find myself hovering above a mug of tea, savoring the scalding sting of aromatic steam, while listening to the baritone voice of frontman Matt Berninger from The National.  The National is my official wintertime band.  I love these guys, but you just can't swing them during summer, because there is something undeniably grey-skies-scandinavian about their somber songs.  BUT STOP BUT tonight my intention is to focus on another team of creative white men:  Matt, Casey (or "The Better Affleck" as I call him in my head), and Gus.

This is how Gerry opens, and for the rest of this movie
the desert landscape remains one of the primary characters.
I got myself a holiday gift:  the indie drama Gerry - by Gus Van Sant starring Matt Damon and Casey Affleck.  I first watched Gerry ten years ago, and I saw it only once in its entirety.  I never forgot this film, and I'd often watch its opening on YouTube.  So many reasons I appreciate it:  I'm a sucker for films about friends traveling together, and these friends travel through breathtaking landscapes. Also - I enjoy suspense as a genre, and there are ultra tense moments in this movie.  I don't have the word water tattooed to my wrist for no reason!  I'm aware of my reliance on drinkable water to stay alive so, when the boys in this film barely survive in the hot desert without any H2O, it's harrowing to watch. ... Anyway, here's a summary of my Christmas wknd:  Returning to Gerry one decade later felt like reuniting with a friend.  In the past twenty-four hours, I've watched this movie three times. It's so fucking hilarious and simultaneously heartrending.  A mesmerizing and meditative movie, I know why I've never forgotten Gerry.  I had a good Christmas wknd, and I hope you did too. (wink)

"And Sajak was like ... 'NOOOOOO.'"  That line gets me; so funny!

OK - money.  Some expenses loom large from now through the month of January.  With $37 total in my bank accounts, I'm not sure I'll be able to pay off this score over the next five wks.  But the transparency of this blog forced me to be accountable before - maybe it can fiscally inspirit me again:

RENT - This week I owe my landlord $348 for Jan rent. The direct deposit I get on Wednesday will be much less than $348 - because I work an hourly rate, and I was out sick last week.  I'm gonna give my landlord a check and ask that he wait to deposit it until the first week of January.  This might set me back the whole month, and I gotta mentally prep for that, but tomorrow I'll ask if I can work remotely to make up the time I was sick.

EGGS - While my housemate was away this wknd, I fried her last three eggs because I haven't been very good about food shopping...  This should cost me about $5.

ILLUSTRATOR - This score I feel guiltiest about.  Regular readers may've intuited from the chest-beating and heartfelt apologies to my talented illustrator, my favoritest english muffin, that I still owe her for the Depressed Dentist image, and I've sworn to send her payment by the end of January. Next month I will be sending a few hundred pounds across the pond to the British Isles.

In total, this score adds up to an average $750.  If I make these expenses my top priority, not spending on anything else except for food and beverages, then I should be able to pay these dues.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

In 2016, I will glare at you.

Meet my cell phone.

For about the past five years, I haven't had a phone bill.  I think it was 2010 when I was having my taxes done at a local community center, the City of Somerville found out how poor I am, and I was put into their SafeLink Wireless Program, which provides a free phone with free monthly minutes.

I'm pretty ashamed of my phone, because it isn't fancy like other people's mobiles.  It has really crappy reception.  When I try to chat with friends while lounging in my bedroom, calls usu cut out. Then I have to call back - apologizing and hoping with all my might that I don't lose reception a second time.  When someone says "Okay - I sent you a text so you should have my phone number now," I think "Nope - because it can take up to five minutes for texts to get through to my phone," which is a long delay in 2015 tech time.  The worst is when someone just points and starts laughing.

SO why am I sharing this, and why am I choosing to share it now?

I started A Broke Bridget last May and, in a way, our blog's been for me what AA is for alchies.  I come to this electronic space.  Stand up.  Say "My name's Bishop, and I survive everyday in poverty." Smile. Wave. Then sit down.  Over these past seven months, I've come to own this part of my life more completely and peacefully than ever before.  I'm openly poor, which is rather anti-American.  And in this vein, as 2015 ends, I wanna move into 2016 without shame surrounding my cell phone.

SO starting in 2016 I will phone my friends from my apartment's reliable landline.
In 2016 I will stop apologizing about my free cell phone.  I'm grateful to have it!
If someone laughs at my phone, I'll glare at them til they stop.  (A Kaitlyn Greenidge glare.)
In 2016 I will not awkwardly text while simultaneously trying to hide my phone in my bag.
In 2016 I'll explain that, as I am low-income, the City of Somerville gives me a free phone.
And all of this will be me continuing to accept, embrace, and enjoy my life for what it is.

Recently we haven't had much focus on my chronically meager finances, so the purist within me thought it was high time we reviewed just how broke your Bridget remains...  However, tomorrow Christmas officially commences, so let us quickly conclude with some lighter and brighter tidings:

#3  -  As I proceed to produce my movie, the filmmaking process is becoming mine.  I set out to complete a business plan by the end of this month...  womp womp, that's not gonna happen.  Not because I'm not working away at it.  I am working a lot.  I am exhausted.  It will be a glorious day when I connect with an associate producer.  But there are endless websites that advise this and advise that.  They are great starting points - for me to ignore.  Something I didn't read about, but something I plan to do regardless is include the compensation of paid cast and crew in the budget before I begin raising capital, so that their piddly payments are part of the fundraising drive.  This means assembling a skeleton cast/crew now.  I've continued to contact folks.  What I am discovering - and it's more amazing than I can articulate artfully - is that this isn't a project to hold back on.  When I haven't held back; when I've flailed my arms and passionately yelped "AS AN ARTIST, YOU'RE STUNNING BECAUSE YOU CAN EXPERTLY EXPRESS X Y AND Z.  OR YOU CAN EDIT LIKE NO OTHER HUMAN BEING!  I APPRECIATE YOUR WORK SOOOOO MUCH," the surprising response is affirmative. (stunned expression)  Sometimes I overwhelm others.  Or they think I'm a mouthy showboat.  Or my friendliness is confused for subtle flirting.  (I don't flirt subtly, as regular readers know...)  In short, I am no longer surprised by crossed wires!  And I am constantly measuring how to appropriately interact or respond in a circumstance.  BUT there was someone I approached, and I wasn't really sure about their place in this film project.  Even as I contacted their agent, I was aware that my approach was politely tentative, and they passed; said no thanks...  In my everyday life, tentative works. With filmmaking, hesitancy sinks my ship.  During this filmmaking process my strong personality actually helps me, and I want to believe that I'm gonna connect with equally high-energy collaborators who thrive through creating.  Who want to pour passionate carebear love into something super special.

Oh crap!  It got late.  Let's skip #2.  Here's #1:

merry christmas to YOU, whom i heart.  sending a huge hug.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

fellowships and heroin

Howgh, hasi.  Hello, darling.  Wassup, boobie.  How you hangin', kitten.  What's your word, birdie.

I am well.  Bridget has gone neglected, but I've still been typing lots.  Mostly my mind has been on fellowships and, although I'm very broke, I have still felt fulfilled because I have more time to write.

The magazine Bitch has Media Fellowships, and I submitted an application for that.  There are four categories applicants can choose from.  I picked reproductive rights & justice.  If you are interested, then here is the link to that webpage, and their deadline looms large on Sunday, 1 November 2015.

My app to Bitch was earnest.  I briefly proposed exploring beds as pieces of furniture that are art objects - expanding upon Tracey Emin's installation.  But in the bulk of my app, I pushed for analytical pieces that would motivate women to transform the national government, which is 80 percent male and 80 percent white, so that it becomes more diversified.  I cited newspaper articles and books. The left hemisphere of my brain was tired when I submitted and climbed down from that soapbox. It was refreshing to move onto an application exclusively employing the right hemisphere of my brain.

Tracey Emin is an English artist.  This is her installation titled My Bed.

The next app was for a script that I wrote last spring.  I mentioned it in an old blog.  It's a strong piece but, not identifying as a producer or director, I haven't known what to do with my adaptation. (It isn't an original work.)  UNTIL I submitted the script to the Drishyam-Sundance Screenwriters Lab.

I have to say I really enjoyed completing this application!  I really really love the story I've adapted for my script.  I love the characters in the way one loves close relatives.  It excites every fiber in me to daydream about working on this story with other writers, who may be able to help me make it even better.  PLUS, for the application, I had to do something that I've never done before in my life - which is post a Youtube video!  During this applying process, I learned that skill:  I learned how to manage videos on Youtube, and I really like learning new technical things, and I really like Youtube.  So during this entire application process, I just had a ball.  It was so much fun.  (big smile)  The Lab emailed a confirmation that let me know they will send their decision before or on 20 January 2016.

Here's the vid I sent to the Lab.  I know it could be the weakest link in my application but (shrug and slight cringe) I sent it anyway.  When I respect a writer-director, like Lawrence Kasdan and Miranda July, I watch their works again and again and again.  I hope this respect and tutelage came through.

Lots of joy living as an artist, but I'm shit broke.  It's more serious than I'm making it seem.  Last night I was with two of my fave humans - Notorious P.A.M. and the Sloane Ranger - and I just quickly mentioned that my life is about to crumble around me.  Notorious P.A.M. understood: "You mean like your writing is your heroin."  Right, just like that!  No but really, in all seriousness, just like that...  I could end up homeless with a stench, living in a box, but my desktop would be on stacked up books mascarading as a desk and plugged into the side of a building.  I'm applying for jobs, but nothing is coming thru.  As I'm no longer willing to whore my soul out to exploitative employers who have me work my ass off for slave wages, I'm not applying to crap jobs where I'd be unhappy at work.  I would like an employer who wants me; who utilizes my skills; and who is a pleasant person.

Nov rent is taken care of, and I am grateful for that.  However, if I cannot come up with Dec rent, then I have begun to prepare myself:  I might need to say goodbye to my lovely landlord, notifying him I gotta leave my cozy amazing home.  It'd be another home lost.  But I don't want to get sad yet.  I'm still applying for jobs!  (big smile)

I heart you almost as much as I heart Jeff Goldblum.  Thanks for reading, and thanks for being YOU.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Russia & Leonard Bernstein


Over the past four days, there've been a high number of visits from the world's largest nation. There's a cutie in Moscow I shared some fun times with, and last wk I was googling a bunch about Edward Snowden who's supposedly hiding out somewhere in Russia, but those are moot factors.  Ultimately, the surprising readership from Russia motivates me to simply say Добро пожаловать!

So I did hear back from that local author.  She called me early Sunday evening, and I was right:  My artist résumé is just fine.  She is worried about hiring a fellow writer, which was both heartening and disappointing.  A colleague has acknowledged me!  ...  But that might be why I don't get the job.

I decided that if I get this job, to honor the privacy of this author, I'd give her a name for our blog.  I've chosen Leonard Bernstein, which would be easier than repeatedly typing "the author I assist..."

I don't think our phone conversation went too poorly.  At the end, Leonard Bernstein said that I sounded interesting, that I was going to make it [as a writer], that she was never wrong about this prediction, and that she would notify me with a decision on Thursday (today).  I'm waiting for her call.  Fingers crossed - if this does not come through, I'll be submitting applications to coffee shops.

And lastly, today's blog is going to wrap up with a humongous HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the marvelous Jeff Goldblum.  My older sister introduced me to Jeff when I was eleven years old.  We were watching television together when she pointed at a tall drink of sparkling water whose voice was purring, and she informed me that "Jeff Goldblum is so cool."  From that day on, for these past 21 years, I have openly adored Jeff's effervescent smile and happy spirit. Don't even get me talking about his voice and his animal sounds and his LAUGH and his style and (here's the biggest swoon) his breathtaking gestures.  I love how he moves his hands when he speaks.  I love Jeff.  I love him so much that I once dreamt I was his hospice caretaker during his last days.  Because that's how much I wish for Jeff to always be his smiling and  gorgeous Goldblum self.

look at those gestures.  uff, heavens!  they're lovely.
So a very happy birthday to fabulous Jeff Goldblum, who seems to be having great year with his wife and their infant sonny Charlie Ocean Goldblum.  Wishing Jeff a joyful 63rd chapter of life.  Cheers!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

the comfort of apes and knapsacks

I woke up wanting comfort.

I slept well last night.  I've been having episodic dreams of taking epic walks under midnight blue skies.  In these dreams I have my backpack, which I do regard as my blankie, and I'm walking alone in neighborhoods some would consider "dangerous," but I don't feel scared at all.  I feel only intrigue. And there is little artificial light.  (One of the complaints I have about Boston is that there are too many streetlamps.  I know this is part of the urban design but, still, there are just way too many streetlamps.)  In these dreams there are stars and a moon, illuminating outlines of people and limestone buildings.  Recurring explorations over these past two weeks, last night I roamed again.

I have been really enjoying these dreams, and waking up this morning was a bit of a disappointment. Because waking up meant another day of dead-end job searching, reading more books without having anyone to discuss them with, another load of dirty laundry to stuff into our washing machine.

So I rolled out from under the blankets, promising myself some comfort.  FIRST, I took myself to my favorite neighborhood cafe where I sipped a frothy cortado - the special caffeinated beverage. Cortados are the espresso drink reserved for whenever I need an extra boost.  Plus they are sooooooooo damn tasty, uff...  That was slowly savored and thoroughly appreciated.  SECOND, once I had returned home, I watched a few episodes of my favorite sketch comedy show - Mighty Boosh.

warning:  totally goofy and totally campy.  i love love love it!

For the past two years, on the quest to secure meaningful work, I've sent out an average of ten résumés a wk.  I'm starting to feel like a woman who has ten failed attempts of IVF; or a scholar who has ten apps rejected by graduate schools; or a teacher who has ten students drop out of school.  Yet today, between cortado and Mighty Boosh, I sent out *another résumé* (a frustrated head droop).

It's on me to continue this tedious quest of securing meaningful work that provides a livable income, while creating excitement in my life.  I guess I awoke this morning, wishing I were in some beautiful landscape - able to hike this autumn day away, with my knapsack reassuringly resting on my back.

Frida y Fulang
I've always thought that a monkey would be perfect for me, like Frida Kahlo.  As a little girl, whenever my mother asked me whom I'd want to marry one day, I'd jokingly respond that I would like an accountant who has a monkey, and there's nothing more pleasurable than lying on a clean carpet in prone position and having a friend lay on top of my back.  Which isn't at all smutty as it seems.  The weight is comforting, like lead bibs at the dentist when you get x-rays. Something nice about the pressure.  

OH, a local and established writer contacted me about working as her personal assistant.  I submitted my résumé - which is not the problem, I am sure - but I haven't heard back from her, so that's that...

Friday, October 16, 2015

Hey girl. Enough with that bullcrap.

This has been my favorite Ryan Gosling meme for a few years.

Yesterday I left my job, and I am not going back.

I'd been mostly assisting one teacher, and yesterday she did something, so that I just said "Enough. Enough with this bullcrap."  I hadn't been complaining about my last job, partly because the main complaint is kinda controversial.  It's not a complaint that can be quickly mentioned on a blogspot...  I'll just say that, as I get older, it becomes more of a challenge to interact with young white American women who are in their twenties.  There is a phenomenon that I call the "giggly white girl group," of which I am not a member nor do I wish to be a member but, when this demographic dominates a space, I stick waaaaaaaaay the fuck out.  It's like this:  Take beautiful and amazing Alfre Woodard and say "Alfre darling, over there are a group of bouncy giggling young white women who will say 'oh my gawd like...' very very often.  Please assimilate to the culture of this group.  And you can be rude.  Being rude and then calling yourself a jerk while you giggle is IN.  Okay, Alfre?"  (shaking head)  We should never ask Alfre to mindlessly giggle, and I don't giggle as a habit or nervous tic.  Also, when interacting with someone, I don't immediately assume I am the primary / dominant party in that interaction, and more and more I'm coming to realize that during in-person conversations I do not make this assumption because I am a woman who is a minority - three things that I like a whole lot about myself, by the way: [1] I'm a woman.  [2] I like my brown skin in the same way I appreciate my small hands, arched eyebrows and other features.  [3] I try to considerately recognize that someone else may have a different reality / culture from me, yet I don't require them to adopt my tendencies and language.  They can remain them, and I will do my best to understand and respect them.  In short, to conclude, I worked with a teacher who was a major jerk due to, I believe, white privileges and assumptions that society serves to her on a silver platter.

the regal stunner, Alfre Woodard
More and more, in the construct of contemporary North American society, I am adding to my self-definition:  I used to call myself an American, which is an identity with its own bag of privileges, but I've been coming to see myself as a brown woman who is North American.  When I grew up, I had strong aunties surrounding me. Brazen brown women who looked into your eyes while speaking and, with hands on hips, made it completely clear they weren't going to accept any half-ass excuses.  There was no giggling and, if I didn't do something well enough, then I had to go back and do it again.  When something was worth genuine praise and positive reinforcement, then and only then did you get a teethy smile.  My aunts are tough, and people LOVE them. Since my Grammie's death three years ago, my family has scattered, but I have to say that I miss spending time with my aunties who could set you straight with the hiss of "Giiiirl, you know you better..." and they didn't even need to finish their sentence.

The more I mature into myself; the more I grow into a collector of dresses (yellow or striped); the more I figure out that my natural pace is that of a detail-oriented turtle (not a caffeinated hare); the more I reflect on the black culture I grew up in, which I appreciate as only one of the fundamental cornerstones of America's multiculturalism - it will become more and more impossible for me to tolerate racist microaggressions in white-dominated workspaces, esp from entitled white women.

SO yesterday I left my job, and I won't be going back.  This is an important transition for me.  Just as one secures a stable homespace for themselves, I really must find the right workspace, and it really should be an arts-related environment, where I can keep busy on creative projects. I like doing.  I'm always doing - something, responding to email, clipping my split ends, sending out a resume, cooking, going to CVS, I'm always doing something!  I enjoy feeling productive, and I haven't had many bosses who utilize my eagerness as an employee.  ...I remember several months ago asking a boss if I could look into professional development trainings, and he sort of mumbled that oh you know that's okay why don't you ... tidy the staff room?  (sigh + rolling eyes)

But the time files in my art studio, where I'm always working on something; making something.  I could spend infinity lost in creative hibernation.  The manuscript is coming along.  Also, I found a short story I wrote several years ago, which I feel is ready to be submitted to zines.  And speaking of zines, earlier this week I was corresponding with the editor of the literary journal Sinister Wisdom, and she wrote > a short blog < about the emails we had been exchanging.  It's incredibly satisfying to be part of a supportive network of women artists, and Julie Enszer's blog means a lot to me, so I recommend you take a look, especially if you too want to move more deeply into your creative life.

I end to call my Auntie Darlene and to wish her a verrry happy birthday.

Happy birthday to you too.  (Go with it.)  Hope your wishes come true!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Bridget sought help. Apollo was her therapist.

It's not the thing you fling.
It's the fling itself.  
-Chris Stevens

Welcome, O LIFE, welcome.  I continue to grope along, and tonight I had the help of a therapist.

I was thinking about last Thanksgiving, in November 2014:  I had dinner with a friend who raved about her new analyst.  She said the analyst had creative approaches to improving mental health, like making family trees with pictures and having clients bring a doll to their sessions.  The analyst had given my friend a pass allowing somebody a free hour of therapy, and my friend gave me this pass.

That dinner was last year and, in fact, I've been sort of interviewing therapists over these past few years.  I had a really amazing counselor during my sophomore year at Bowdoin College.  We met twice a week for the entire academic year, and it was a supremely positive experience for me, but since then I have not met a clinician who connects as well with me as that counselor during college.

Fast forward 10+ years to this past weekend, when I cleaned up a messy corner of my bedroom where I will put my electric typewriter, and I found that pass my friend gave me last year.  So I contacted the analyst whose practice is located here in Cambridge and went to speak with her today, and it was great.  It was the standard hour session, and I heard my voice mostly ramble about how I surprise myself when I financially make it through a month; whenever rent time rolls around - always much too quickly - I hand over a molehill of money for the next four wks, and there happens to also be food in my kitchen.  I silently marvel, "No way.  I cannot believe that I made it through this month...  Alright baby, good job, and now it's time to focus on the next month.  (a resolute sigh)"

it may not look like much, but this corner had been VERRRY messy.
tomorrow my typewriter will go here - the highlight of my week!

I cried because I don't know how this month is going to unfold.  I rambled about grappling with my big emotions.  About private work I've done to tone down my strong personality. I expressed my frustration that despite maturing into a calmer person (I hope), there is This Thing inside of me that I have not been able to tame, and it's This Thing that compelled me to submit a letter of resignation officially stating that Friday, 30 October, will be my last day at my job.  And I talked about our Broke Bridget blog.

When I started A Broke Bridget, another friend joked over another dinner that the blog was my ploy to have people give me money and I remember that, after she had said this, internally I decided not to put a paypal button on the blog.  The purpose of this blog isn't fundraising.  It's the outlet that saves me from suffering in silence.  Before this blog, I remember the façade I faked of being financially strong.  People would suggest a restaurant that was beyond my budget.  I made up excuses for not owning a winter coat.  Employers cut my hours and I had to keep a stiff upper lip.  Sometimes someone would discover how deep my poverty is and begin power tripping - because I was ashamed.  I was struggling alone, unable to declare that I may be poor but that does not make a bad person.  And that's why I thank YOU in every blog - because you are my witness, a confidant, maybe a regular reader whose return visits make my financial challenges less of an isolated burden.

I am, with every grey hair on my head, completely grateful for YOU right now.
And this generosity has been more than enough for me.  Gracias takk og merci.

But the analyst I saw today suggested that maybe I continue to harbour some shame around money.

That lunacy blog, the one about me being pregnant and either jumping off a cliff or moving to a cabin, raked in more than 100 views.  I found this to be SUPER EMBARRASSING. However, the analyst suggested that rather it was super authentic in a way that was also validating - of temporary insanity that any chronic burden can trigger within my life as well within others' lives.

This analyst - whom I may continue meeting with once a month - said creative passion and rent payments are most definitely connected and, if I stop deeming donations to be dirty, there will be absolutely nothing wrong about possibly generating income from something that I really love doing.

young struthers with a gun, before the christian children's fund

And so, in the pillowy soft voice of Sally Struthers, you'll find a paypal button in the top right corner of our webpage, ladies and gents. If the plane loses oxygen pressure for any reason, then oxygen masks will... 

(vigorously shaking my head)  

Every wk I spend 15-25 hours writing blog posts for A Broke Bridget, which equals a part time job.

Donations would go to rent.  Rent for where I lay my noggin.  Rent for where I keep art studio hrs.

I want to end with a scene from one of my all-time favorite television shows, Northern Exposure.

I am letting go of some cows and letting in some better possibilities.

Bye bye, muffin, and good night.  Wishing you sweet dreams.  xBish

Monday, October 12, 2015

Bridget is a bit defensive.

I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of 
the beginning and the end, / But I do not talk of the beginning or the end. / There was never any more inception than there is now,  / Nor any more youth or age than there is now, / And will never be any more perfection than there is now, / Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now. /  Urge and urge and urge, / Always the procreant urge of the world.

So wrote Walt Whitman (31 May 1919 - 26 March 1892) in the third passage of his Song of Myself.

I had no clue that exposing the momentary lunacy of one disorienting night would be so enthralling!  My last blog rant received more attention than I could have ever anticipated - off as well as online.

Friends are disappointed. Friends are worried. Friends have yelled at me. Friends are incredulous.

I don't want to ignore how you feel, but I'm not going to dismiss this deep urge stirring inside of me.

Please remember I take care of myself.  I pay my rent.  I buy my food and laundry detergent.
My father, who was born in 1920, passed away when I was baby.
My mother ... wherever she is, is doing whatever she does ...
Bottom line, I take care of myself.  It's all on me.

And I'm going to continue taking care of myself.

Everything is going to be alright.
So take a very deep breath, and
try to believe that this is a positive step forward.

I don't want to bash my current job...
But it's really not the right fit for me.

I think the questions that I've had, when I'm looking at someone whom I love
someone who is sincerely frightened for me in the midst of this professional transition
the questions I've had are:

Why shouldn't I change my life in this amazing way?  Why is there so much fear?
Why have I been deemed incapable of successfully making this professional transition??
Should I wither away in mindless, menial, 9-5 positions so you digest your meat more easily?

EVERYBODY who has cast a stone - even with the best intentions - is not in my shoes.
Everybody casting a stone doesn't pay rent, has combined income with a life partner or isn't an artist.
There has been nobody doing the shitty drudgery work of a low paying job who has come up to me and said, "YESSSS!  (Billy Connolly voice)  I agree, you're out of ye mind for wanting to escape fatally boring work and kowtowing to arseholes-who-shan't-be-named.  This is the dream, ya dumb dumb!"

My essence is dying and, if you scoff at that admission, I'm sorrier for you than you can ever be for me.  (pause)  ...I don't want to be defensive and accusatory, because I think others have meant well.

But I know how to take care of myself.
This transition needs to happen now.
And this transition is happening now.
I ask that you calm down, try to remain patient, and try to
maintain whatever smidgeon of confidence you had in me,
as I do nonstop legwork toward becoming a full-time writer.

I completed the grant application for the Somerville Arts Council, and tomorrow I'm going to drop it off at Somerville City Hall.  Next is the Wallace Stegner Fellowship application, due December 1st.

I'm bad at wrapping up a squabble.  I mumble some weirdly tangential question about a film, hoping to change the direction of our dialogue.  In that vein, did you see Black Mass?  It was really good...

If we were sitting on the same sofa, I'd stretch my arm out behind you, sniffle, gaze at the ceiling.
But for now:  THANKS for reading.  Thanks for being YOU.

Postscript:  Shout-out to director David Lombroso who, from his kingdom in NYC, has always been one of the most sympathetic artists in my orbit.  Always a phone call away, you are a creative hero.

Friday, October 2, 2015

After the summer wedding, I am pregnant.

This week I calculated that I spend about $8000/yr on my housing, averaging only rent and utilities.

Also this past week, I may've articulated my mission statement with more clarity than ever before:

I want to be a full-time, self-employed writer and literary artist who works from her home office.

I am pregnant with a feeling growing inside me, and it's like this: 

I'm about to jump off of a cliff.
I cannot handle jobs that have no connection to my creative life.
I am on the brink; on a verge.
I'm about to whisper "fuck it."
I know why Henry David Thoreau chose a cabin by Walden Pond.

I gave notice at my job, and my last day's likely to be 23 October.
There are reasons for this - that are actually small yet significant.

But in tonight's blog the sole focus is this growing feeling and how I absolutely MUST work in a creative environment.  I'm lying constantly - unless I am yapping with a reader, a writer, and/or a film person.  Today I met a cool actress who is directing King Lear, my favorite Shakespeare play, and we chatted about Lear's lunacy, Simon McBurney's playfulness, art programs and it felt amazing.

So yeah - I've given notice at another job, and it's like this:

Someone snatches away your beloved spouse.  Legalized or not, you're married to somebody who makes you happy.  This is the love of your life, and they're being ruthlessly snatched away.  Then this Someone says that you have to eat sleep do everything else with a stranger who shares none of your interests.  You'd probably think it was a downgrade.  You'd be disappointed.  You'd be miserable.

I'm not mainstream.  I'm not normal.  After a chat with an editor who kept asking, "You realize you and your work are on the fringe?" it's taken me the last few years [1] to examine my eccentricities and [2] to love them.  Recently I have felt like Pee Wee Herman, if he were forced to work at Gap.

i watched this nutter every saturday morning, laughing nonstop

I've absolutely nothing negative to say about my current employer.  I adore the high school students I work with.  The school itself pays me so I can financially stay afloat, and I wholeheartedly believe that my direct manager (Mister Henry) is definitely the SWEETEST man whom I've met in many years - he is a real cupcake - perhaps I've never had such a genuinely caring and trustworthy boss, ever.

And this super stable moment just, still, isn't enough.

Maybe King Lear's descent into lunacy appeals to me for more reasons than I mentioned earlier today, but here's the vision of my mission as it's been shaping up before my eyes over the past week:

I'm a fish out of creative waters, and I'm dying.  I mean it, I'm thirsty and I'm really really DYING.

I've got to have paid work, and the next gig is likely to be a shit job, but I will have rent money.

Rent taken care of, all that I can care about / invest in / be tired from at the end of the day follows:

  • finding a paid job in a creative workspace
  • getting funding for my creative projects
  • finishing my goddamn novel - must happen!
  • illustrating the depressed dentist notebook

Remember that blog about the marriage to my animus?  My writing practice is my beloved spouse.  My writing practice is my true work and, if I can get funding that covers my $8000 annual housing costs, that will feel like a small step (in the grand scheme of my entire creative path) yet significant.

Pardon the unintentional stream of consciousness.  I've just been napping in bed thinking over this Lear-like descent and so my head remains alittle dreamy...  I end to spend this wknd applying for an Artist Fellowship Grant from the Somerville Arts Council that is due on Thursday, 15 October 2015.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

two writers fellowships

As detailed in the last blog, everything's in place.  I'm enjoying the predictability - even when it gets a wee boring - and I am excited about autumn with its apples, sweaters, hibernating under blankets.

There is only one thing I'd let disturb my workaholism + domesticity, and that is a writing fellowship.

BuzzFeed Emerging Writers Fellowship  >  I started BuzzFeed's application on 1 June 2015 and, while I blogged almost constantly about Pittsburgh over the summer months, this Fellowship was my second and silent focus.  I submitted my writing resume which, honestly, is pitiful as I've been published only once.  For samples representing my work, I directed the editor(s) overseeing this Fellowship to read through our Broke Bridget blog.  On and on...  You know, any substantial application takes forever to complete but, earlier this month on 18 September, I received an email confirming that all my materials had been successfully submitted and received.

BuzzFeed Fellows are expected to live in New York City for four months, from January to April 2016, and they would receive a stipend of $12000.  If I were offered this Fellowship, I would only accept it if I could secure FREE housing in New York City for the four months.  The only reason I do not reside in New York City right now is because real estate there is a sham.  I love home too much to live in a closet for $1500 per month - no way - and this is the only reason that I don't live in New York City right now.  So if this Fellowship came thru, I'd require three things before accepting it:

[1] a bedroom of my own in a clean and maturely furnished apartment
[2] a shared apartment where everyone is already in their 30s or older
[3] free rent.  i could contribute to utilities, but definitely not NYC rent.

If I couldn't get those three things, then I couldn't do this Fellowship.

But that is jumping the proverbial gun.  While the folks over at BuzzFeed deliberate, I have turned my attention toward another Writers Fellowship with an application that seems deceptively simple.

Wallace Stegner Fellowship  >  I found the Stegner Fellowship while silently panicking in a Pittsburgh cafe, after the internship had fallen apart and triggered massive anxiety about my vagabond future.  ("Oh shit.  Oh shit.  Okay so, 2015 is the year it all might end for me.  Oh shit.  Oh shit.")  I made a note on my google agenda to start the app this weekend and, sticking to schedule, I began filling it out yesterday.  The democracy behind the Stegner Fellowship is intriguing as well as hard to believe.  It is housed within Stanford University's Creative Writing Program, yet applicants are not required to hold any degrees.  Stanford.  No required degrees?  Stanford.  Applicants' chronological age are not considered?  Stanford...  I am not going to think about it too much.  I'm just going to apply and, because images illustrating my fiction manuscript make my 9000-word sample too large to submit online, I have to print and send in a hard copy application.  So over the course of October, at my typical turtle place, I will print out two copies of the Stegner application.  Cajole two people into being recommenders.  Print out two copies of my Statement of Plans, and on and on...  Making this application as perfect as possible until I send it off October 30th.

I emailed my friend Jim a pic of my writing desk, and last month I was describing to my buddy Becca that the biggest lesson after the fast failure of Pittsburgh is how bound I am to my writing studio.  I couldn't function in PA without the horse that's my writing desk.  There was nothing for me to do in PA, because there's nothing I really do with my life but write and eat.  I just wasn't myself without my writing studio.  So I push and push and apply and apply, and hopefully one day I will land a fellowship and/or job that makes my writing (studio) my primary means of income.

voila, the writing space by night.  that picture on my computer is
of the super gorgeous filmmaker Louis Garrel ... uff, so gorgeous!

a girlie postscript:  Part of Garrel's magnetism is his self-expression as an artist.  Watch this video. I have a hard time not ... slightly sweating ... irregularly breathing ... (gulp) ... as he talks about appreciating presence.  For me, Garrel is what Brad Pitt used to be for swoony Americans.  I think Louis Garrel is SOOO beautiful!  Hence his half-nudey portrait haunts my desktop background, haha.

And on that embarrassing note, I'll say au revoir.  Thank you so much for being part of the goodness infusing my life.  I totally heart YOU - YOU beings in Boston, Brooklyn, Istanbul, Iceland, the Midwest, the UK, Paris, and other parts of our world.  I appreciate you and hope you enjoy today's sunshine.

wink + smile!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

cautiously approaching happyness

Everything is in place.

#1  full-time job
As mentioned, I'm working at a high school.  I like it a lot.  I'd even say - cautiously - I'm happy there. I have not felt that way at a job for a long time, because I've been in the crappy ESOL industry.  As an isolated job description, teaching English was fun!  Being a writer of the English language, I really love knowing our language from a surgical perspective - "there are noun modifiers everywhere.  in fact the term 'noun modifier' itself contains a modifying noun." - so I learned as much as my amazing students but, in the United States, the ESOL industry tends to be exploitative.  This full-time job may be my goodbye to the ESOL world, which definitely counts as a step forward in my professional life.
the high school

#2  part-time intership
With an energetic high-five, I was warmly welcomed by the Executive Director of Resilient Coders to research and then write a few grants for this youth program.  (I won't go into how this was a refreshing difference from the welcome in Pittsburgh.)  Resilient Coders is a program for Boston's inner city youth, promoting student leadership and preparing these youth to eventually work in companies as coders.  The internship schedule is loose:  I'm going to work on grants for Resilient Coders at home, and then once a week I'll go into the office to share my progress.  I want to work at home so bad that this internship counts as a second step forward in my professional life, woo!

#3  fiction manuscript
My creative life was slowing down, which makes no sense because I've a bagillion ideas I could be working on.  I'd like to graffiti literature passages around the city.  I'd like to adapt Fellini's 8-1/2 to novel format.  I'd like to know French so well I can fluently write in this language...  On and on. There was no reason for a lull in the area of my life that brings me the most joy and fulfillment.  I settled on dedicating this academic year to completing my six-year-old fiction manuscript.  (It might be seven years old.  I can't remember exactly.  Whichever summer it was that I spent in Berkeley, California, where I started writing it...?)  Anyway, the story is entitled In The Name of Your Baby Jesus and, in a hopefully-captivating postmodernist fashion, it whimsically meditates on the accepted racism permeating the queer community.  There is violence.  There is cannibalism - with recipes. There are angels and, after all these years, I am so bonded with my characters that it's felt like returning to complicated friendships.  ...It'd also be nice to snag an agent by the end of this year?

#4  food in my kitchen
At the moment, food isn't a problem for me.  (knocking on my wooden desk)  I have munchies in the kitch and, after writing this morning's blog, I'm going to walk to the supermarket for bananas and other fruits.  The new job pays wkly, so I should be able to grocery shop more regularly - stocking up on seeds, beans, grains, vegetables, coffee grounds - all the staples I survive on.  THANKS again to my friends Pamela and David, who gave me a gift card to Whole Foods when food was a problem.

So this is my 2015-2016 school year agenda.

After spending June, July and August reshaping parts of my life, the new routine I'm moving into has felt like the calm after a thrilling storm.  This agenda has given me peace of mind.  After the very frenzied summer, September's been a long exhalation.  A decompression plus a few steps forward.