roasted vegetables 

Goodbye, National Poetry Month! See you in another 333 days. This piece is from April 2.


at the chopping block
slicing brussels sprouts
i think about how roasting vegetables brings out their sweetness
and then about the high heat needed to forge steel

the crucible makes us sweeter, stronger,
more alive

always searching for that next line of poetry,
i think of myself
and what fires i have passed through

and i don’t regret them, of course,
but i remind myself not to glamorize them, either
the pain was real,
fresh and sharp like the nick in my thumb from the paring knife
full of heat, like the skin at the top of my knuckle
holding the memory of a recent burn

burns renew themselves this way
heat seeking heat like a body returning home to itself
when you run your hands under hot water, you remember
the hurt sprung forth from your own carelessness

a dear friend once wrote
do not destroy yourself for poetry
a much needed reminder
that being broken may lead us to art

but there is no need for us to seek out the breaking
(there is enough, always
coming our way)
it is enough for us to seek the sweetness
and to carry that taste, on the tip of our tongue
savoring this memory
for the heat that we know will come


do not destroy yourself for poetry from “the poet you need to be” by narinda heng

Public declaration of mediocrity

Look, I’m blogging! Syd says I’m not allowed to keep blogging about how I’m going to blog more, so if she is reading this over your shoulder, please skip down to the next fourth paragraph. 

I finally took up carrying my notebook around again; I usually bring my journal around if I know I’m going to have down time and could conceivably want to write, but it’s kind of conspicuous to pull out in public. My pocket notebook — because it is pocket-sized — gets much more use, because I can pull it out and write all stealthy-like. I realized that I keep thinking of things I feel like blogging and/or poeming about, but not writing anything down. (Also, having the work iPad around all the time makes me much less inclined to turn on my laptop, and the WordPress app isn’t exactly enticing.)

So. Now I am carrying a notebook, and filling it with such profound notes as: “accepting imperfection / Jeopardy quote / imperfection becomes an excuse for inaction / resumes + cover letters / copy edit, please / scheduling time for writing / chapbook deadline / Anna D. Smith / free things / community / media representation.”

Ugh, I used to lecture Daily Bruin columnists all the time about using the first third of their columns to describe how they come up with the topic of their posts (generally a series of non sequiturs and descriptions of college kids doing laundry and thumb-twiddling in front of computer monitors. But now I’m doing it! Yay! I’ve been basking in live poetry and music for the past few weeks, and it’s made me want to write and create things and dance through downtown singing off-key.

I realized, however, that I have become one of those people who needs to start putting everything on a calendar if I ever want it to happen. Le sigh. But now I have Wednesday nights and Sunday afternoons blocked out for writing, which means I will be doing this (thanks, Miranda July! h/t HBR):

So top of the rambling list of notes: “accepting imperfection.” That was my New Year’s resolution, which I kind of forgot about, until my friend Jessica reminded me a few weeks back. (But I don’t feel bad about forgetting, suckaz! I am busy, and sometimes I forget shit, get over it.) I don’t know how you actively accept imperfection, so it’s a kind of recursive, self-informed imperfect resolution. I was reminded of it last week when meeting with my boss’s boss, and we started talking about Jeopardy (which naturally comes up in any good discussion about fundraising, duh). Boss’s boss said she would never go on Jeopardy because she doesn’t want to be on television where people she knows could see her getting answers wrong. As I’ve said before, my co-workers are both crazy supportive and crazy competitive. But there was a level of intensity in boss’s boss’s comment that caught even me off-guard. I actually think she would win, a lot, but I guess we’ll never get to see that.

I was talking to Syd and Lorena about blogging this weekend, and I realized that part of the reason I post so sporadically is because I don’t want random half-formulated thoughts all over the Internet. But, hey, too late! Years of copy editing die hard. But I also realized during Writers Workshop that I was posting a bunch of really mediocre fiction, but on good days, I also wrote things I liked. So, you  know, writing is a process — bet no one ever had that realization before.

I suppose this post is a manifesto for the stunning potential of mediocrity (as a transitional phase). I’m getting back into the habit of writing, and I accept that it will be a messy, imperfect process. And soon there will be messy, imperfect posts about free things and community and chapbook deadlines.

Do we make history, or does history make us?

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Two of my math students mentioned today that their essay tutor had assigned them the topic “Do we make history, or does history make us?” They said they didn’t really understand the “history makes us” part of the prompt, so we discussed it a little during our break; I asked them if they keep journals, … Continue reading