Thursday, 30 January 2014

January: Grinding to a nub!

Progress and loss.
The broken record on linear time: december feels like a year ago, this month feels like it just started.

Monday, 27 January 2014

"It is good to rejoice in our commonalities."

Over the weekend, Seattle Playwright's Collective mounted the fourth of the Medicine Ball series, in which I pick some poets, Dan Tarker picks some playwrights, they write to a theme, and the audience votes on which artform is superior. We started about 2 years ago, the voting thing has always been pretty tongue-in-cheek (winners get 2 buck chuck, losers get warm PBR) but it tends to be a hook that gets more folks in. Slams, etc. This time the Playwrights took it by 5 ballots over the course of a three day run.
The Medicine Ball is consistently different from all the other things I've been involved in putting together-- essentially it's introducing poetry into a theater context. In the past we've done staged readings, this time it was full staged, costumed, propped. Though it's a bit strange to be involved in such a conceptual way in such a physical undertaking ("hey guys! here's some poets! poets! write a thing, send it to these guys. see you at the show!") each time out the dialogue between playwriting and poeting seems to get more nuanced. Especially as we've got people hopping sides-- Robert Lashley wrote an incredibly powerful one act, and playwright Craig Kentworthy sent in a strong, multifaceted poem that worked on multiple levels (kind of funny they were working from the same prompt. Hmm.)
This time we also incorporated visual cues from local artists, specific word cues, and let the writers see the faces of the actors they'd be writing for. Interestingly, this led to the most serious Medicine Ball to date. There was plenty of humor, sure, but the overall tone of the night was contemplative, desperate, and punchy. I could go on about the specific choices made by writers and directors (though I gotta drop a shout out to the way Dan turned Ryan Johnson's surrealist pastiche into a helpless shrug on the ubiquity of oppressive masculinity) but ultimately, I was just stoked on the evening as a whole, and occasionally forgot I was even involved. That's one of the better parts of organizing, when you can just enjoy something as an audience member.
Of course, you get reminded reaal quick when it's time to strike the set. . .

Friday, 17 January 2014

I'll see your "do what you love" and raise you one "that's why they call it work, kid."

So lately a variety of people have posted this article about the culture of unpaid arts and academic work, and while Slate is increasingly becoming about as reliable and readable as Salon, the article (which was originally posted on Jacobin, natch) nicely articulates a lot of frustrations I have with the culture around writing, arts organizing, and "getting involved." The writer does a decent job of balancing practical and philosophical concerns, and while the author (wisely) doesn't propose a practical solution to the free-work/dismissal of labor problem, I like the ways-of-thinking suggestions in the last paragraph.

Because while a lot of the internship/volunteer/lowpay positions came into existence because of economic realities surrounding pursuits of artistic, spiritual, or intangible value, they are increasingly re-enforced by a sorta beatific, pie-in-the-sky mentality truly available to only a few. The human soul needs to be nourished, but folks tend to nourish the body first. So unlike nurses and mousetrap-makers, most people with any type of say, humanities degree, won't always have a market for their work.
I think the do-what-you-love-and-it-isn't-work paradigm ironically creates a self-love/self-loathing hamster wheel for artists, writers, designers, researchers, who don't feel they have any "real" skills, yet also see themselves as elevated by "pursuing their passions" after years of having their professors tell them to. (or you know, years of following the blog of an oil heiress who decided to quit her job and "make a living" selling necklaces made out of chicken feathers while practicing a self-invented form of yoga and tutting disapprovingly at those in the "rat race.")

There's a longer discussion here with regards to ideas about what it means to be "serious about your art" that tends to get caught up in these pinwheels as well.

At this point I've made an evolving, uneasy peace with ways I pursue my art, ways I pursue my livelihood, and how often the two do or don't intersect. Every individual has to do that on their own; I sort of figured on getting a Creative Writing Degree that bartending, or record store working (ha!) was going to figure heavily in my future.
This is why I roll my eyes at the precious snowflackes who complain that they just "aren't being fullfilled" or feel like they "just, you know, want something more. . ." from their work. I mean, if a job sucks, yeah, get outta there, go for the promotion, etc. but sometimes work is just, you know, work. And that's fine.
Necessary, even.

Monday, 6 January 2014

2013: A recap full of recaps.

Having just spent the last forty reviewing what I wrote, and wrote about in 2013, one thing that stuck out at me is how many of the substantive posts were dealing with endings. The end of 2012, the end of the Greenwood Lit Crawl, the end of my tenure as host of Works in Progress.
There were other endings I didn't post about with as much depth; the end of my tenure at North Seattle Community College, after nearly four years of tutoring. Spending 3 hours daily on rickety buses for 5 hour shifts at a wage that hadn't raised in almost a decade had become untenable, especially paired with subsequent 8 hour shifts behind a bar.
My Grandma, who taught me to love poetry at the age of 10 years old, passed last Christmas, but it was January when the services were, when we could all get together to acknowledge loss. This was a thing I tried to keep private, but that loss definitely cast its net into 2013's waters.
I also moved. For the second time in my life, and the first time as a non-student, I live alone. It's a studio apartment, but it has its own bathroom, kitchen space, plenty of natural light, a view of the smith tower that makes me feel pretty writerly late at night. this is a beginning, but it's also an end (for the time being, at least) of me living in the South End. I've lived in the South End for the last three years, since moving back to Seattle Proper, and in a sense, its become part of my identity. Not that I never left it; contrarily, it was long trips on the 7 that helped solidify my self-identification as a South-ender. Meghan K says that technically I am still a Southender, as my address has a S in it, and I'm past Yesler. . . but I'm not in the Rainier Valley, I'm on the edge of downtown. With Rachel's recent move to Capitol District (where the CD and cap hill meet and no one knows what to call it!) that leaves my job at the best bar in the RV as my only tangible connection to the 98118.

I also noticed how text heavy my posts were this year. So here's this little bit of Pop Culture that also ended in 2013:

If you didn't watch that show, I recommend it; especially if you like romantic comedies in which a jimmy-stewart-esque every man triumphs over corruption, vice, and every day hurdles through a simple purity of spirit.

I wanted to write a proper recap-- month by month, or achievement by achievement, even failure by failure. But I feel like there's been too much recapping and looking back already. The high notes have been harped on and the low notes have been struck. I'm in a different place, physically, literarily, geographically, and emotionally. And I won't be surprised if I'll be able to say the same thing next year.

2013: Internet Stats

in 2013, I posted 58 times on this blogspot. This is down by five from 2012, when I posted 63 times, and down by 18 from 2011, when I posted 86 times on this blog. 2011, so far, is the record for posts-per-year since I started writing here (instead of Livejournal(!)) in late 2007, when blogging still seemed an artistic and expressive form instead of being Crucial to Maximizing and Maintaining a Strong Internet Presence.
The most read post this year was my Next Big Thing Interview in February, right before the release of FJGTPL. The second most read was when I wrote about the end of the Greenwood Lit Crawl, which makes me happy, since it was a piece of communication I put some work and thought into, and is perhaps my favorite of the informational blog posts from this year.
The month with the greatest number of posts (nearly a third of them from 2013) is April, due to NaPoWriMo. I still mine that repository of near-finished poems and half ideas for inspiration or pet rocks worth polishing.
Most of the traffic came from instances where I posted a link to this blog on Facebook, though some reroutes from SPLAB and Wonder And Risk came a close second.
I make no promises about whether this year will continue a downward trend in posting habits, or will reverse it. But this is the information as it stands. Deduce what you will about my life from it.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

January 5th, 2014

Rachel and I went to the catholic church where we met three years ago and then to Lindas. Rituals.