I haven’t written anything new this week because I’ve been focusing all of my creative energy into a Statement of Purpose for the Writing & Publishing program at VCFA.
Yes, yes, I already have a couple of masters degrees. But who says there’s a limit? I've been out of school for over a year now and I felt really bummed about not buying school-supplies last month. I'm also aching for a change and a community and what better way to find these things than by going back to school? *wink*
The program at VCFA is super innovative and creates space for genre-hopping, craft-honing, and asks the big questions about what real life looks like post-MFA. It allows students to imagine their work moving beyond their computer screens/classrooms/file folders (my stories are all alphabetized and wrapped in satin and locked neatly in treasure chests) and into the world. They have neat internship and directed study opportunities and maybe I will be inspired to finally start that lit mag that I have been toying around with since the days of 90's rebel grrrl zines.
Trinie Dalton (who has done all kinds of rad stuff, my favorite being her tiny art/short story book, Sweet Tomb, about an angsty witch that lives in a candy house and has a goofy vampire boyfriend; basically, obviously, she is one of my idols) is the director, and after having a pretty long and totally fun phone conversation with her, I felt myself being called to Vermont. There must be some powerful sirens on that tiny little chunk of a state because I feel a magnet in my gut, pulling pulling. Really though, I have no idea if I will like Vermont, or if it will like me, but I took the chance, filled out an application, picked 20 of my favorite pages of work, packaged my little ego up in an obnoxiously-orange enveloped (which I kissed a couple times for luck) and slid it into the big, blue box of The Beyond.
The future is wide and unknown. I'm swimming in this liminal space of not knowing what’s next and being totally excited by the possibilities. With the Autumnal Equinox, the darkness is starting to creep back in. Halloween is coming, the most fertile, inspiring time of year for me. The veil between the worlds is getting thinner, and there is a crispness in the air in some places that are not San Francisco. This year I'm really into eyeballs and ghosts. In years past, I've had hankerings for black cats and vampires, tombstones and pumpkins, frankensteins and mummies and bats. But this year is all about eyeballs and ghosts. Oh yeah, and witches. Duh.
I did a quirky experiment with this book: I went to see the movie first! I ALWAYS do it the other way around and end up being super aggravated that the movie did such a terrible job of portraying my lovely little brain-burrowing friend (recent example: Under the Skin). But this time I switched it up. It was weird, and I'm glad that I did it. I have very mixed feelings about the film. There were moments where I felt like it relied a bit too heavily on shocking the pants off the audience, and then I would think, “oh, but I've never seen a movie this raw with a female protagonist, so that's rad,” and then I would think, “oh no, the message is getting swallowed by all this dirt,” and then I would fall lightly into a pit of despair, thinking about all the the boy-bildungsromans and feeling sad that girls don't have the same opportunity for cinematized mirrors.
So far, I like the character in the book a little more than her big-screen counterpart. She feels more human (vulnerable, real, scared, thoughtful) while still being brash and dirty and countercultural. I don’t want to give anything away, but I feel like at its root, this story is about growing up with narcissistic, divorced parents and finding tiny moments of rebellion on a path to womanhood that is often sterilized and manufactured and repressed.
The film actually passes the Bechdel Test—which is surprisingly rare. In case you don’t know, the Bechdel Test is this rad thing that Alison Bechdel made up to test/show gender bias in film (and therefore society). There are only a couple rules: There must be at least two (named) female characters that have a conversation with each other about something other than a man. Helen and her best friend, Corinna, have a few moments together that are only about them being together. While the scenes can get a little gory, they are still special in that blood-sister kind of way.
*Note: Alison Bechdel has written some stellar comics—my favorite being “Fun Home” a complex, coming-of-age story told through the lens of growing up in a funeral home. She has also done a lot of other neat junk and won awards and everyone should look her up and read her and know her.
Wildly enough, there is nothing material that I am coveting right now. (AND I LOVE STUFF!) What I want more than anything, though, is a right wrist that doesn’t hurt. I woke up one day (about 6 weeks ago) with a sore wrist—and the pain has just been sticking since. I don’t know if it is carpal tunnel or inflammation or what, but thus far chiropractic care and acupuncture haven’t done anything to ease the pain. I've been keeping ice pads and heating pads and stinky, herbal ointments on it. I have even forced my cats to do reiki on me by bribing them with fish and cheetos. But, to no avail. Yesterday, I took a big step and bought a super-expensive, proper desk chair. So maybe if my writing-posture gets better, it will help my wrist. Oh, writerly woes.