Five Extraordinary Things

Welcome to my first Monday Regular: Five Extraordinary Things

1. You can sing practically any song on Karaoke.  Here’s the one I’ve been choosing over and over and over again.  I’m in the girl band: Too Many Directions.

2. IMG_1388 @Samanthaventer posted this on her Instagram story and it gave me all the grandma crochet feels.  And I mean, what a beautiful sentiment.  Let’s all keep it, I’ll give it out like Oprah gives out her favorite things.  Except mine are made of air and hers you can actually eat and drive.

3. Bitch Magazine’s story about Kathrine Switzer, the First Woman to Run the Boston Marathon. I just love the part when her dad says, “life is for participating, not sitting on the sidelines watching others do things” when she wanted to be a cheerleader.

4. Conversations with my Mom about creating, birthing, and raising a they-by (gender neutral babies) before a modern Alice play we saw at Raleigh Little Theater. Read more here, here, and here.  Try to hold your judgment like you hold your breath — tightly inside your closed mouth. 🙂

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 9.06.10 PM5. “First Day of Lent” by Jenny George in her book The Dream of Reason from Copper Canyon Press.  Shared by Emilia Phillips on Twitter.


Gothic Fangirling

The official trailer of the Mary Shelley biopic is here.

Percy Shelley immediately reminds me of a hybrid Oscar Wilde come from the grave AND starring in Penny Dreadful, meshed with the fuck boy who always smirked at you while he leaned like a half moon from dorm room doorway.

Arya says, “That’s Shelley.  Beautiful isn’t he?” And all the girls are like “write me a poem, Shelley, write me a poem!” It’s Coachella for girls who scribble on napkins in coffee shops, and believe men in velvet jackets and petticoats do exist. As I wrote this, I imagined why every single boy has Peter Pan syndrome.

Elle Fanning is a perfect collarbone in the preview, although she looks nothing like Mary Shelley.  My favorite part of it is definitely when a woman pulls the laundry basket from her hands and says, “Are you really in love with that whoremonger?”  I just hope that Percy doesn’t take all the elegance away from Mary in the actual film.  Mary Shelley definitely deserves her own film and frankly, Percy Shelley doesn’t really.  While I love that idea that the sick mind of Victor Frankenstein in all his hysterical glory is based on Percy, I think Mary Shelley would scoff at this.

I want to see this one in theaters.  However, I can’t help but mourn the girl who kept Percy’s calcified heart (or liver — evidence is murky) wrapped in his poems in her side drawer until she buried it with her son.  I don’t know if there’s as great a love story as this in our time.  Maybe the two storks?

If all else, Mary Shelley would be someone I’d invite to a dinner party, dead or alive.  Maybe it’s time I threw a literary dinner party and issued a similar challenge that got Frankenstein penned.  The next great novel awaits with Moscow Mules and vegan cheese.

PS. How Percy died is an essay waiting to happen: mysterious, on a boat, middle of the ocean, called the Don Juan.  Do we really think the Don Juan could drift without any foul play?




A poem and prompts for National Poetry Month

The Literary Magazine, Winter Tangerine, has been posting the most beautiful poetry prompts for National Poetry Month.  They’re designed by Tiffany Mallery.  Some of my favorites so far for the month are below as well as a poem I wrote for my MFA packet after the death of teenager, Jordan Edwards, when he left a party in Texas.  A lot of my poems are just a sidewalk crack away from education.

This poem represents the first and last time I wrote about baby teeth.  It’s one of my favorite poems from my packet.  They say don’t share a poem on a blog, because then they can’t be published, but I’m too close to this poem already, so here’s a home for it.

Because a mother always:

After Edna St. Vincent Millay


May the wound

that is open

even this morning

enter the house

like a missing glove,

a found tooth

in the mother’s

half-broken, but


music box.

Given to her

on her wedding day

glass over




housed in the center

of the governor assembly.

The key

even nudged

plays two

single notes

of a wedding soundtrack.


May the teeth

be counted

one more time

each one

placed at the fold

of a pillowcase

for spare change


from a father’s

clay paperclip holder

made in first grade

art class.


May the wound

that confused the act

of blinking

lit with

a stranger’s match,

leave a hole

at the temple

of a mother’s

only heart,


over —

a succulent

cut, rooted

in sink water.


May the wound

the teeth

an unpaid bill,

last night’s casserole

made on the breath

of a last amen

be done,

left to a hole

seen clear-through

to another



May the wound

have a name too.


May the teeth

grown old

with remaining

tic four syllables

over and over

Jordan Edwards

Jordan Edwards

Jordan Edwards

six clicks behind

the front gap

and it spills out.

Only once

a tangible



A collection of foliage

‘We can talk,’ said the Tiger-lily: `when there’s anybody worth talking to.” – Alice in Wonderland, “The Garden of Live Flowers,” Lewis Carroll

For me, flowers know their beauty, their worth.  This gives reason to the way they preen to be picked or they huddle together on their bush, tidying their thin petals, their wilted smiles.

I take pictures of flowers at least weekly.  I thought I would just share some because I love them so and to have them collected together creates something of a flower diary. It’s like the girls that would pick and tape pressed flowers to their diaries.  A technological age of foliage documentation.


Art as INSPO for other creative outlets

Man, inspiration really shoots out of some people like a BB Gun from childhood. Actually we totally played with potato guns.  Those welts sting because you’re like, “and what I am creating?”  I can usually tear myself away from that jealous twinge with the satisfaction of seeing someone creating an image of what’s just spilling from their brain.

My best friend Nat is a doodler, sometimes I’m just fascinated looking at the lines she creates, the space.  This artistic development might sound like something that makes shitty people say, “don’t quit your day job.”  Creation isn’t tangible though, so screw those people.  I’d buy that girl’s greeting cards and coffee mugs in a second.

For my creative art, I’m a mind-mapper, the way my brain patterns connections for me to write essays is unique to me only.  Lots of writers talk about process, but recently I read a tweet (that I can’t find) talking about how writers fumble around when they’re asked about process. The tweet said something along the lines of — most writers don’t even know they’re process, they’re just doing what comes naturally to them.  To talk about your own evolution from point A to point B is doable, but to talk about the trench of matter that you tousle daily is a whole other conversation.  It’s difficult to possess, let alone explain.

A way to combat trying to explain yourself, your art, is just to share it.  Let the interpretation be the explanation.  I prefer saving other people’s art to an inspiration board on Instagram.  I love following artist accounts on Instagram because not only do I get to watch process and progress videos, but I get to see the evolution of their art, their color and shape choices, the way their mind works across a blank page.  Watching someone else create can stir something in our own creating. Maybe that is where explanation can be found — in finding semblance in your choices and another artist’s choices.

Here are some of my saved photos on my inspiration board:


It might sound strange, but I also love reading how artists describe themselves — what they name their skillset in labels and spaces.  If I was asked about where I fit writing-wise, I don’t think I could label myself as an essayist, poet, or novelist. I like to think I’m someone that strings words together like candy necklaces; I can just as easily chew them up into powder in my hands — watch them waft away.

he Church in Auvers-sur-Oise — Vincent van Gogh, Musee D’Orsay

I tend not to read a lot of artist biographies, but I do love reading comics, and art books by authors like Lynda Barry, Austin Kleon, or Keri Smith.  Coming up in my TBR pile,  I found The Secret Lives of Color in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam — definitely ordering that with my next Barnes and Noble Gift Card.  It tells the anecdotes and moments in history behind certain colors. After going to the Musee D’Orsay while in Paris, I’m ready to pick up the Pulitzer Prize winning biography of Vincent Van Gogh by by Steven Naifeh (Author), Gregory White Smith (Author).  

Where do you find inspiration? Where next should we all scour for a creative outlet, or search the jingling bells?


Faj’ Letter

We got to open all the curled notes from our wedding this morning.  My Faj’s note was the one that most crippled my heart over coffee.

Not only because of the words he wrote, and his discussion of faith beyond the years that he goes from an “is” to a “was,” but because his handwriting is forever on this yellow folded paper.  For the record, when I tell stories about my Dad, he will always be an “is.”  It immediately brings forth the memory in seventh grade where I bought a book and studied handwriting for the science fair.  My dad ready to be the first to sign my vocabulary flashcards for my study.

Since I was little, my dad has kept a ledger of his finances and notes on a yellow legal pad.  He has hundreds in a closet, or so I believe.  It’s like Nikki Finney’s pencils.

When I think of my father, these yellow legal pads; everything he has taught me about financing and writing words, keeping track — recording — taking life to a page, to even a single line when you’re lost, this is the symbol.  While this crisp yellow, the kind painted parallel on the roads where you cannot pass, is different from that post-it pad yellow of my childhood experiences at his desk, it conjures the same experience.

It’s just me and him.  I’m in a tweed suit coat that still fits his broad shoulders, an old hat over my blonde hair.  Leftover cigarettes in a black marble cup, each stick could still fit between his fingers, between his lips, but he is too busy letting me point at things, telling me the answers to questions I wasn’t yet sure how to ask.

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My dad’s letter from our wedding day taped into my current journal.



Spring 10 x 10

“I’m going all Pinterest on yo’ butt today,” said the cult of white women bullet journaling their way to productivity.

Okay, not quite, but I’ve decided that I seriously need to minimize my wardrobe.  Most people break bread and find communion through eating, wait for my Self-Help series on why food should be the non-negotiable on your dating list, but my Mom and I always found it through shopping.  This has resulted in an industrialized wardrobe.  If I was a fashion consultant, or an editor for Vogue, this probably wouldn’t come as a problem, but I’m just a small-town girl with an overcrowded closet.  My husband needs closet space, ya’ll. I also really want to focus on buying sustainable clothing. I taught this Huff Post article recently, “The Myth of the Ethical Shopper,” and I want to focus on two small things in our life to start bettering the earth, among composting:

  1. Ridding ourselves of plastic and paper bags in stores (aka bring out own bag).
  2. Buy clothes that are sustainable, and created ethically, and hopefully locally.
  3. Maybe once we conquer these two, we can work on bringing our own straws and cups to restaurants.

In order to do this, I need to better understand what clothes I really need and which can be let go.  I’ve read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, afterwards I binged my entire closet. It was a double wall closet, so gutting it gathered fourteen trash bags of clothes. I don’t remember any of them specifically, so what did I really value in each t-shirt, each left sandal?

This new mission starts with something small and simple.  My friend Christine recently wrote in her blog, Better Than Never, about changing small things to lead to big successes. She uses this epic habit tracker that I downloaded thanks to her, you can read more about it on her blog. My small change is to style a 10×10 wardrobe for my ten-day trip to Europe, in a week. I learned about the 10 x 10 challenge from two blogs: Un-Fancy by Caroline and Style Bee by Lee.  I’ve endlessly scrolled through the tags on Instagram, and explored Pinterest’s endless attics to find inspiration.  I think I’m ready to follow the crowd, and with that, learn how to minimize my closet to pieces that I can literally track their journey and creation.

Here’s what I’ve chosen for this jump start:

tips fortidyingyourcloset

tips fortidyingyourcloset-2.jpg

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This is my journal for planning what I’m packing to Europe, but it definitely helped me narrow my luggage.