Sunday, October 10, 2010

"It Catches My Heart in its Hands"

I have the intense desire to read Bukowski in copious, unhealthy amounts.

So I had my first session with the Chapbook Class. I arrived late, which I hate, because I got lost by the river on my way. There is just something about me and rivers that instantly turns me dreamy and distracted. Our assignment this week is to choose a specific time of day and write at that time every day for the entire week. Sounds simple. This is the website of the experiment that inspired this assignment. So on the first day doing it, I was shopping for sweaters in Union Square, since it's getting chillier, and my writing alarm went off. I rushed down the street, trying to find a place to write, and decided to head over to the park. Once I'd gotten a table there, I opened my notebook, got out a pen, checked my clock [I had 20 seconds to go before I had to start writing] took a deep breath, and then a pigeon pooped on my head. I panicked, because I had to begin writing-- I couldn't mess up on the first day! So I, disgustingly, just wiped it away [I apologize for the disgustiness of this all] and started writing. As it turns out, the pigeons unsavory behavior is a sign of good luck, and so I got excited about what good things would be happening to me. I bought a lottery ticket, even. A few hours later I checked my e-mail and learned that two of my [most beloved] Alice poems would be appearing in the Spring issue of Bat City Review. I now feel a huge sense of relief, because I hadn't gotten a single publication all summer, and was starting to feel like my fellow poets were taking off like rockets and I was left behind in the dirt. Enormous weight off my shoulders.

On the second day of the assignment I had to run at full speed 1.5 blocks to make it in time to write in a Dunkin' Donuts. I began breathless and nearly snapped at a small child halfway through. However, today was the third day and I made it to my writing location with 2.5 minutes to spare, and no animals emptied themselves onto me, so a definite improvement.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I will admit that I've had a hard summer. A lot of things hit me all at once, and I have to figure out what to do with my life. I ran into a guy I used to date on the subway the other day, and within 2 stops he managed to ask me a round of missile fire questions on what I was doing with my life. I have so many ideas as to what I want to do, but when it comes to stepping off the cliff to do one of them, I just can't do it. My father took me out for coffee the other day, brought me back perfect presents from his journeys across America [sweet wine, a pearl necklace and books-- there is no more perfect bundle of gifts for me]. As I was finishing up my last few sips of burnt coffee he quoted Goethe, as he often does, a quote that was meant to say "just take a step and get going already". At that moment a [different] guy I used to date walked past the window, and I got distracted. How am I supposed to take big leaps forward into this startling new life, when my old world is a constant ghostliness peering in?

A few weeks ago I went to Montauk, and I've wanted to go there ever since I saw the frozen winter scene from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind [one of my favorite movies]. Even though I didn't go during a winterscape it was just as I pictured it: abandoned and romantic and lonely.

Speaking of ghosts, I am getting somewhat excited about Halloween this year. I hated the holiday for the majority of my life, clipping on some kitten ears or some half-hearted leaves to say I was a "plant", but this year I'm 10% more excited and that's mainly because I will be having a small [guest list of 4] Halloween eve party/movie night. I decided we'll watch 2 "spooky" movies. I am a HUGE anti-horror movie person. It's not really that they frighten me, though some of them definitely do. But I have this weird experience if I'm eating food and watching a horror movie, it terrorizes my stomach and I subsequently feel nauseous anytime I try to eat that food again. I will leave the room if I'm eating and a commercial for a horror movie comes on. When I was 8 years old I watched a spooky flick whilst eating strawberry syrup over ice cream, and I still have never eaten that dish again. But anyway, I chose the movie "Casper" for my get together, and plan to do an entire app/dessert/drink menu surrounding that theme. The reason I chose this movie is because I had a half-awake dream about the movie Casper, and then watched some scenes on youtube from it and it brought me back to my youth. When I was recalling the plot for the movie I realized that it had planted a seed, in my tiny child-sized brain, that would eventually meet with other seeds and bloom into my thesis. Because the movie deals with this man who is a widow and he devotes his life to finding a scientific way to communicate with his dead wife. Sound familiar?

So I guess I cannot live without workshop. I enrolled in one at the Poets House, with Anna Moschovakis, and have my first class tomorrow. I feel like I have this unbearable urge to be in a classroom setting, it's so familiar and comforting to me-- ink pens, taking notes, a syllabus, it's heaven. I need to get over this because I ought to be an adult by now, shouldn't I? But for now I will delight in this class and complete a chapbook.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monsters on the Outside and Monsters on the Inside

I haven't been to a church in years, and last night, at about 10 p.m. I decided to go. I was/am in such a confusing place that I wanted to pray about, and find some kind of guidance. It was an extremely atypical decision for me to go do this, since I'm not religious. I walked over to a church nearby that was lit up with strings of lights and seemed inviting. After trying all the doors I realized I was locked out, and this made me sad. I thought churches were places that were always open when you needed them?

Victoria came over this afternoon and she magically got me to write. I always feel so inspired after spending time with her, and it was just the creative boost I needed. Right after she left, a storm hit, and the mood for writing was perfect. I made a drawing of my "pain-body" and what it would look like. This was based on a poetry exercise from Ordinary Genius by Kim Addonizio. We were supposed to think about things inside of us that caused us pain, and visually imagine this monster. This is how mine came out:

That is mainly how I spent my evening, until deciding to bake: a chocolate cupcake with fresh berries baked in, and a cream cheese frosting topped with sugared raspberries. I'm calling it "Falling in Love in a Berry Field is Messy". I was excited to use my new food coloring set, so I made green leafy-grass swirls.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cupcakerie + Domestic Loveliness

At the beginning of this month I moved into a strange new land, a magical place they call 'Brooklyn'. Here, poets run wild, fire hydrants create tiny waterfalls on every street corner, and sunsets set the sky on fire:

[Bushwick, New York. August 18, 2010]

The sunlight that pours into my bedroom is almost unreal, I'm sure it'll be all the anti-depressants I'll ever need. Also, It's a new building so everything is pristine and it really feels like a fresh start. I created a *baking section* in the kitchen where I keep all my cupcake supplies and cookbooks. I labeled all the jars and boxes with these neat metallic stickers:

Having this baking section is something I've always wanted, and it's inspired me to try out more cupcake recipes from my beloved Martha Stewart's cupcake book. So far this month I've made the Banana-Pecan Cupcake as a birthday gift, which I adorned with puppies woofing out various messages:

You'd think these are far to cute to consider eating, but you'd be wrong. I've started using proper cake flour and real vanilla extract when I bake, and found this to make a noticeable difference in taste and texture.

I also made tea cakes which I diversified with little treats baked inside for my Buddy's birthday. I mailed them and they've been sitting in the New Orleans post office for over a week. She finally was able to go pick them up, and amazingly they were still edible (though a little dry). She gobbled them up right there in the middle of the post office and everyone around her laughed.

Yesterday Alice came over for a picnic lunch on my new roof, and for dessert I made the Tres Leche cupcakes, which require, as the name implies, a lot of milks! After the little cakes get baked they get poked with toothpicks and then swabbed luxuriously with the sweet milks. Though they were delicious, I don't advise anyone to bring these on a picnic, as the hot sun melted the whipped cream topping quite easily and it became a mess! Our rooftop picnic was so relaxing and I got a nice sprinkling of sunshine to add to my summer tan. We drank white peach sangria and ate roast chicken with our bare hands! As a housewarming gift she brought these cheery pink gerbera daisies:

She also brought fruit, including strawberries, which I gobbled up for breakfast this morning. They were so sweet, I decided to make the Strawberry Cupcakes:

And since my oven was already toasty, tried out the recipe for Orange-Vanilla Cupcakes as well:

The recipe called for candied slices of oranges, but as you can see in my picture I opted for slivers of lemon zest instead. This is because when I candied the orange slices they seemed overcooked and smelled marmalade-y and didn't seem too delicious. I was never a big fan of marmalade and surely wouldn't disgrace a cupcake with some.

Last week I came across this amazing shop near Union Square. It's a bakers dream land! I found so many things I've always wanted, plus some supplies I never knew I wanted! Like a teacupcake mold! I exercised amazing self-control and only bought a few necessary things, and my definition of necessary includes these zebra printed cupcake wrappers [photo care of]:

I've gained a couple pounds this month, basically from all the "taste-testing" I've been doing. I'll have to start going to the gym a bit more to offset the frosting-weight, but that's a sacrifice I'll gladly make in the name of sweets.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Balloons, Stage Fright, Fireworks

I had planned to spend the summer after grad school quietly contemplating my future by the river, but instead it has been hurricane jenny, whirling around and being productive. Since I haven't been able to write much (good) poetry at all, I've been trying to be productive in any other way possible. I have been able to enjoy some sweet leisure though, in particular the week-end of July 4th, I spent half the week-end with the British, and half with the Americans! I'm nothing if not fair. I spent a perfect Saturday at my friend's house in Long Island-- got to swim in a pool, be surrounded by nature, daydream in the grass with an adorable dog named Truffle, sunbathe, eat good food and have great conversations with smart, kind people-- we even napped in the middle of the day! The whole experience made me badly want to one day have a summer home myself. Here I am showing off my summery white dress in their house:

The next day I watched the fireworks on the West Side with my family. It was the most adorable thing in the world to see how excited my mother was over the fireworks, we were late to catch the show and she started running-- she outran me! As the show went on she had a smile plastered on her face and kept cheering and clapping loudly. She talked about how there was absolutely nothing like this in the Philippines, where she grew up.

Last Thursday I co-curated my first ever poetry reading for Opium Magazine. It was held at the Bowery Poetry Club, and I was so delighted at all my darlings who showed up to support the event. It was a great turnout and an incredibly fun experience. I did have to be onstage to assist with the finale, which I was a bit nervous about because I have extreme stage fright, but once I was up there the energy and momentum was thrilling, and reminded me what it was like to be onstage (as a child I was onstage often for choir, band performances, high school plays, gymnastic performances, cheerleading etc.)-- what an absolute rush it is, and how you become a different person when you get up there. This has greatly motivated me to take a small step towards reading my poetry in public-- I'm going to find a place out of town where I can do a reading (I would feel more comfortable not knowing anyone in the crowd). I will have a lousy career as a poet if I can't get over this and start doing readings, so this is an important step for me. For some reason (perhaps to make myself even more anxious) I decided to incorporate balloons into the finale (I have an irrational fear of balloons popping in my face) and spent the first half of the show backstage drawing the faces of French and American poets with a sharpie onto balloons, quietly begging them not to pop in my face.

Anyway, I learned a ton about how to put together a reading by doing this, and am so grateful for having been given the responsibility, and for the woman I co-curated with, she taught me a lot and was so motivating to work with-- a great role model for me. She reminded me of my older sister a lot, which is perhaps why I was so instantly fond of her.

Read about how the event went here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"I confess, I do not believe in time."

It was the first day of summer, and I was waiting out a sudden rain storm in the South, in a creaky old bar, in a bad neighborhood, writing prose poems about ghosts.

Things have been a bit rough for me lately, so to restore my cheer + health I booked a last minute trip to New Orleans to visit my beloved buddy. I spent the week-end there (and my definition of week-end includes Mondays and Tuesdays) and it was an unbelievable experience. I'd always wanted to go to the South-- I had such romantic and gritty ideals about it, and it lived up to them all. We spent the days walking in the heat, wetting our beaks at various watering holes, and spent the evenings listening to live jazz and eating alligator nuggets (like chicken but more threatening).

Shortly after my arrival, buddy declared that New Orleans was the #1 murder capital in America. I think they could come up with a better slogan, personally. Later that night, an old, old man came up to me and said he was very lonely, he had no one to spend time with, and could he be my sugar pa for the night? I almost said yes, out of sheer sadness at the thought of his extensive loneliness, but then the creepiness of the situation won out. I still feel bad, it wouldn't have killed me to spend some time talking with this old man.

On my last night there, we went down to the Mississippi river and my head stopped pounding, my neck stopped hurting, and I could see in my peripheral vision again. It seems as though maybe, wherever I am, all I need to do is go down to the nearest river and I'm okay. We sat by it for hours, on the rocks, watching the occasional boat go by, just listening to music together and barely talking. I've rarely felt so close to another human being in my entire life.

One night we passed a "poet for hire" and I commissioned her to write me something. I told her to make it about "water birds" and she composed this in about 10 minutes:

I flew back into New York late Tuesday night, and since there was some storming, the sky was magical and tumultuous. My descent back home was in this lightning filled cloudscape, the airplane rocking badly, and I thought I ought to be terrified for a moment, but I'm not afraid of flying, at all. I unbuckled my seat belt and leaned over to get a better look. Strangely, I feel more comfortable flying than any ground transportation. I feel like I have flying in my blood-- my grandfather was, after all, a pilot.

[sky before the storm]

I spent most of today trying to write but was having trouble. Instead I started drawing map-like things, which I termed "visual poetry supplements". Here is one such creature:

And then taping up and taking down cut-out quotes from my favorite scientists/inventors. I can't tell yet, if that's the first thing I want to see when I look at myself in the mirror.

[Blog post title is Nabokov, and probably too beautiful for me to understand, yet.]

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"there is always soma, delicious soma...

...half a gramme for a half-holiday, a gramme for a week-end, two grammes for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon..." [Aldous Huxley, Brave New World]

I woke up this morning with an intense desire to write, so I went down to Borders-- they have majestically large windows where sunbeams flood you if timed correctly. While there I decided to send my work out to a magazine. Upon checking my records I realized it's been a year (almost exactly to the day) since I last sent out any of my work. What did I expect, that editors would break into my apartment and smuggle out poems from my pink binder? Fairly unlikely.

I (re)pulled a muscle in my neck last week after being startled by a mouse. I haven't been able to sleep well because it's been quite painful, but am thinking of taking the muscle relaxant my doctor prescribed me. After I described how I sustained my injury, my doctor looked at me with his serious face and asked "what was the mouse doing at this time?", his pen poised above his notepad as if he were going to write down the details of the mouse's comings and goings.

Why must I live in a house with a mouse? I see him leave the apartment late at night, but then he comes back, as though he just went out for a midnight stroll or caught a late movie. It's likely my own fault-- I have a penchant for baking but do not have a sweet tooth, so cookies and sweets are often left lying around, which I've realized equals mouse heaven. But the last time we had a mouse we kept a very tidy household and this caused Teddy to commit suicide in a small blue bowl, my roommate got very sad at this and encourages me to make sure I leave enough mouse snacks around.

I read an amazing new poem, My Octopus Orphan (complete with a darling illustration) by Matthea Harvey today, here's my favorite part:

"...his ink sac predictably empty after
the hundreds of gloomy telegrams
with which he's muddied the walls
of his glass world."

Read the rest here.

Monday, June 14, 2010


On Friday, I found myself lying in a hospital bed surrounded by doctors and nurses yelling at each other, with numerous electrodes attached to my body as they prepared to jump start my heart. I had accidentally ingested a bit of peanut and though this was not the first time I've ended up hospitalized for that mistake, it was by far the scariest. I was alone, and I didn't want my heart to give up on me, not when I was surrounded by strangers. I felt my heart beat in my knuckles, my tongue, my eyelashes -- it was begging to escape from my body, but I didn't let it. Then, things calmed down.

I spent the rest of the week-end resting and watching movies I've been meaning to get around to. I finally saw Bright Star and it was better than I expected.

"There is an electric fire in human nature tending to purify - so that among these human creatures there is continually some birth of new heroism. The pity is that we must wonder at it, as we should at finding a pearl in rubbish." -Keats

Also, letting this song break me over and over.

*defined as: "a long, narrow knife, used in medieval times to deliver the death stroke (the mercy stroke) to a seriously wounded knight. The blade was thin enough so that it could strike through the gaps between armour plates." It comes from the Latin word for mercy: [misericordia] and included in that: [cor] the word for heart.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Loose Buttons

10 things in my kitchen right now:

1. Eye shadow
2. My thesis
3. Bouquet of dead flowers
4. Unopened mail
5. Panties
6. Blueberry mini muffins
7. Polaroids of people I adore
8. Half bottle of champagne
9. Records from the 1980's
10. Book of Miranda July short stories

I have only one day left with my darling buddy. She is leaving for the south and won't be back for 3 months. We have mainly been spending our time left: 1) playing in lingerie, stockings, high heels. 2) Watching our favorite movies 3) Walking in the neighborhood and down to the river 4) Drinking copious amounts of wine 5) Eating overpriced frozen yogurt 6) Sunbathing in our underwear 7) Eating cherry popsicles out on our balcony 8) Coming up with silly dances.

In other news, my sweet Canadian visited me. Some memorable quotes that she spoke whilst in my bed: "If it starts to hurt just let me know and I'll loosen it.", "Is it alright if I just take this off?", "

I'm dying to see the new Miranda July art exhibit in Union Square. I met her once, after standing in line and sweating for 30 minutes, at a book signing. She was lovely and so light I thought she'd float away, but she didn't, and when I introduced myself she told me her middle name was Jennifer, and I melted 10% of my body at that moment.

And, I bought/spent the whole day trying to understand: a record player. Exclusively because, i'd like to hear this voice properly.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

"Your letters got sadder..."

Three years from now I will be receiving some letters. When I was in high school my English teacher had us write letters to our 28 year old selves, that he saved and would mail us when the time came. I wonder what I will say to myself -- it will be like hearing from an old friend.

Speaking of letters, I spent some time this afternoon writing to an old friend of mine, one I haven't spoken to in years (photo above).

Here is an excerpt from the letter: "A fly just landed on this paper as I'm writing this letter. It was the most beautiful creature -- iridescent green wings, black lace netting over its eyes, a plump torso. It hovered over the page, and then it landed on the word "you", and, as if it couldn't stand to be away from you -- it just stayed there, and I continued writing."

Here is a picture of me in a room where women powder their noses and reapply lipstick:

"your letters got sadder. your lovers betrayed you. kid, I wrote back, all lovers betray. it didn't help. you said you had a crying bench and it was by a bridge and the bridge was over the river and you sat on the crying bench every night and wept for the lovers who had hurt and forgotten you."
— Charles Bukowski (Love Is a Dog from Hell: Poems, 1974-1977)

Anyway. I don't even know if I will send the letter, as I don't know where my friend lives anymore. I've gotten in the habit of writing letters that I keep for months or years and think about whether or not I should send them. I never do.

Monday, May 31, 2010

"I'm tired of being without you"

Finally named my fish: Bendrix. He's named after the main character in The End of the Affair.

Also, the moon has been beautiful this month:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"You look so fine, I want to break your heart and give you mine."

At 8:12 p.m. on Saturday the sun set, and I had just finished writing a tiny-short story. I've barely written any fiction at all for the past two years, since I've been consumed with my poetry manuscript, so it was nice to write something else for a change.

I spent the week-end entirely by myself, and enjoyed a distinct feeling of alone-ness. I've walked down to the river 2-3 times a day for the past 5 days. Most likely, I would have kept going over to the river except that each day it eventually got dark out, and therefore I got nervous about rape/drug muling/where birds go in the winter etc. For some reason, probably because I'm a pisces, I am always comforted when I'm by a body of water. If I feel anxious or uneasy, the best thing to do is go out on a boat/swim in the ocean. Since it's a little tricky to manage that on the Upper East Side I opt for the next best thing -- the East River. I also recently bought a new fish, and my heart beat slows a little whenever I look at him. I don't understand how anyone could maintain a sense of anxiety while looking at a fish.

I also don't understand why when I smile people don't understand that I mean I think they're wonderful, and that they're making me happy. Maybe I smile too much and it becomes irrelevant? Occasionally my eyes involuntarily "roll" when I don't mean them to, and it isn't a reaction from annoyance or anything, it just happens. I suppose I don't have much control over my body. Sometimes I wish I could forget about words, words overwhelm me and are not enough. I wish I could just communicate by wrinkling my nose when someone did something unpleasant, or by smiling when someone was being lovely, or smiling a petite/half-hidden smile when someone did something so lovely I didn't want to admit I enjoyed it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Here is my final erasure:

It reads: "Fish have just the tiniest moment to love". I'm very interested in fish, and having learned about how goldfish only retain memory for 1-2 minutes inspired this mini-poem. I'm very happy with the poem-erasures that came out of the project.

It's stunning to believe that grad school is over with, and that I now have to be apart of the "grown-up" world. I wasn't the most social of people during school, but then, I never am. I'm happy to say that I come out of this with 2 friends that I know I will keep in contact with for the rest of my life. And several more people that I would love to continue talking to. I think that's a pretty great thing.

The day I handed in my thesis was so overwhelmingly emotional. I am very hesitant to become emotional in public, and don't think I often do, but this was a different situation. The printers messed up my thesis and I ended up in nervous attacks over silly things like font or italicization. I ended up crying on the sidewalk on Lexington Ave. because of Staples. It's also become hard for me to understand that 'Nick' and 'Alice', the characters of my thesis, are not real human beings, it's interfered a bit in my day-to-day.

The day after I handed in my thesis, I flew off to Miami for some sunning and 'poetry-free-life'. I actually left all my books and notebooks at home, to make it a clean break. It was the first time I was on a plane with nothing to read but fashion magazines and in-flight brochures.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Erasures and My Future as a Poet

So I'm workshopping with the amazing Matthea Harvey, and she has lived up to every (idealistic, fantastical) expectation that I had. And on top of her teaching/guiding skills she's an absolute sweetheart. She assigned us to do a poetry erasure: I decided on doing an erasure of a book on the history of pigeons, because I've always had an affinity for them and I thought the vocabulary would be good, and as a side project I decided to combine two of my favorite things ever: poetry and cupcakes, and made a collection of a dozen erasure poems from cupcake recipes [care of Martha Stewart] and frosted one cupcake erasure onto some cupcakes as the cover:

I'm having such fun in this class, you wouldn't believe.

Also, to update my 101 in 1,001 list, I've done the following: 1. A cartwheel in a tropical location (on the beach in Mexico in January). 2. An art exhibit (The "Slash: Paper Under the Knife" exhibit @ the MAD) 3. Attended a ball (the future lawyers ball. Although this wasn't a masquerade ball I'll still count it).

Lastly, I was working out of Starbucks the other day, and for the entire 4+ hours I was there I was seated next to a homeless man who had a shopping cart full of belongings. He was reading a book the whole time, and I never paid any attention to him. As he got up to leave I glanced over and noticed the book he was reading (and all the notebooks and pens he had) and saw that it was a book on poetry craft that I was also currently reading. I thought "fantastic, that is basically my future as a poet". I guess I never will be rich or "successful" or "important" but I think I'll, at least, be happy.