college

Writer Out of Genre

^ I pray my chapbook cover is half this killer.

This semester, much of my creative energy has been going towards a chapbook I’m working on (for those who don’t know, a chapbook is a small book of poems). One could reasonably be wondering when I became a poet, and the answer would be never. I have to turn in a chapbook for my Intro to Poetry class’s final, and I want to make it as good as I can. It’ll suck since I’m not a poet, but hopefully I’ll learn a lot. I’ve been compensating for my lack of poetic talent by learning from other things, namely reading and listening to a lot of music. Fingers crossed for a decent product.

Other stuff:

  • In less than a week I’ll be eating and shopping and chilling in Chicago. Leaving two days early and taking the zeroes in the classes I’ll miss because I’ll be damned if I’m gonna sit around in class like a sucker. No idea how I’ll make it till then though.
  • Been doing a lot of internet shopping lately. Lots of artwork, a new backpack since I’m tired of using a tote bag, and some sweaters. Haven’t bought anything though since I have no money, so hopefully my parents help me out with that.
  • I got into the English Honors program 🙂
  • In other writing news, I wrote a ten minute play, Hosting With Holly, and sent it off for a few contests. It’s about this woman who has a YouTube channel where she gives tips on hosting parties, and how her first live broadcast goes horribly wrong. Hoping for a production and also need to stay on myself so I don’t get complacent and stop sending it out.
  • Spent my weekend watching vlogs, namely CatCreature’s vlogs (she goes to RISD and her life seems much more interesting than mine).
  • Finally watching Freaks and Geeks. So. Good. Also hyped about The Crown since I’m in love with period pieces (please talk to me about Downton Abbey).
  • Carmilla Movie!
  • I need a job 😦

Blooming

You know the feeling you get after a healthy dinner or an invigorating workout? I don’t, but I’ve heard these and other self-improving activities feel pretty great. Like you’re growing in real-time or something. That’s how I feel right now. Finally taking more writing classes and getting to know people in my major, have a talented writing partner who gives useful feedback, and went from knowing nothing about poetry to writing some pretty solid poems in just a few weeks (thanks to some excellent instruction). I’m even working on a chapbook (for class, but still!). And nothing is quite so beautiful as my house on a Saturday morning, when the living room is soaked in natural light and the smell of cinnamon french toast wafts through the house. This sort of luck almost makes life seem charming.

Other stuff:

  • Blonde by Frank Ocean has been on heavy rotation lately. So good. Other musical finds: nostalgia,ULTRA by Frank Ocean, Blue and Court and Spark by Joni Mitchell, and Liz Phair’s Girlysound Tapes (the demos she recorded before Exile in Guyville).
  • Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back and I can now die happily. When I saw them on the menu the other day I literally gasped in line.
  • For a while I refused to watch anime. In middle and high school I was deep into that life, so as part of my attempts to erase that part of my background, I’ve avoided anime like the plague or calculus. But today I finished Puella Magi Madoka Magica and it’s amazing. Thankfully I remembered the most important rule of anime watching: always subbed, never dubbed. Just praying I don’t go full weeb.
  • CARMILLA SEASON 3 ACT 1 IS OUT! Dominique and I binged it on Saturday and it was definitely worth the wait. That said, if they make me wait another million years I’ll slit my throat and drink my own blood.
  • Got coffee with one of the aforementioned cool new writer friends and it was really fun 🙂 They had the farmer’s market on campus so I bought 9 churros for $3 and we split them with our drinks and talked for a few hours. Hoping we’ll hang out again.
  • If you’ve never read Eve Babitz, you need to read Eve Babitz. I’m reading Slow Days, Fast Company and she’s funny, entertaining, charming, and an excellent writer. And, like much in her life, she makes it seem so easy.

Gabery

Noun:

The feeling that, though things are good, one is somehow at risk of ruining them.

Other stuff:

  • Over the weekend, I watched Blue Is The Warmest Color, a three hour movie, with Dominique. It took us eight hours. (We keep pausing and talking)
  • My school’s bookstore is like every state school stereotype mashed into one. Over the summer they changed the layout so the part that actually sells books was moved into the back corner of the store to make way for more university apparel and high-end sunglasses.
  • Finally got internet (didn’t have any in the new house for two weeks). Two of my roommates and I also got a Netflix account and I’m already watching too much 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Please send help.
  • One roommate also has Mortal Kombat X so the fact that I’ve turned in any homework at all is a miracle.
  • The house is pretty amazing though there have been some issues. Our washer stopped working and won’t be fixed till Saturday and there’s been a lot of tension surrounding one of my roommates. On the plus side it’s made for some great jokes.
  • So ready for Danny Brown’s new album, Atrocity Exhibition (singles: When It Rain and Pneumonia). He’s one of my favorite rappers right now. MIA’s releasing AIM too which should be solid. Also Carly Rae Jepsen came out with Emotion Side B which is a banger (if you haven’t listened to it, Emotion was also excellent).
  • Got an iPhone SE :O While this might not seem like big news, for those who know me and have seen the many flip-phones that have entered in and out of my life, my finally getting a smartphone may be something of a shock.
  • Met with my new critique partner today and she was excellent 🙂

Gabe’s Malibu Dream Room

 

Though I’d love to keep a good-looking house, my budget’s not about that, so my room will never look as great as Jhumpa Lahiri’s. That’s a shame, since I’m sure with a house that lovely my Pulitzer-winning book would pop right out. If I weren’t broke, though, here’s what I’d get:

  1. A wooden desk that’s weathered but in a nice way, with enough room for a laptop, notebook, and a ton of food. The kind that fits right in at a trendy coffee shop.
  2. A quality laptop (light and powerful with a gorgeous screen) and a printer with infinite ink and paper.
  3. All the books I could want, but not on a bookshelf; instead they’d be stacked on the floor or on small tables/nightstands. The sort of ordered chaos that helps a room feel lived-in.
  4. A large, comfortable chair in which I could read all these books, alongside other tasteful and distinctive furnishings.
  5. Breathtaking artwork all along the walls for my creative edification.
  6. 30 Precise V7 black pens (the only pens I write with) stored in an empty Starbucks cup with my name on it.
  7. The perfect cream sweater and dark blue jeans, in multiples since I’ll be too busy being a creative genius to choose new outfits every day. A Burberry trench coat wouldn’t hurt either.

Other stuff:

  • Leaving in a week. Getting everything together last-minute as usual but I’m pretty excited.
  • I’m applying to work at my school’s writing center 🙂
  • Music Tip 1: taking advantage of Amazon Digital sales is a good way to build up one’s music library.
  • Music Tip 2: an even better way is taking advantage of amazing and legally free albums such as Telefone by Noname and HEAVN by Jamila Woods.
  • Today I learned that while I was wrong to think eating a vegan meal would kill me, I was right to think it would be lackluster.

Summer

I’m free. I am officially done with the school year and am out of Tucson for the next three months. No more trashed residence hall bathrooms, no more troglodytes making noise at all hours, no more oppressive heat, no more smelly hallways, no more mind-numbing homework, no more lousy food, no more frat people, no more funky water, no more bad public transit, no more model-thin pillows, no more small beds, no more cacti, no more repeat illnesses. I’m free, free, free. The only good thing about student housing was that I met my friends, who are pretty amazing. We’re split up for the summer, which sucks, but overall my mood is decidedly positive. It feels like the whole world is opening up. I told Phoebe I’d make a list of summer goals with her, but my only goal is to read and write every day, so instead I’ll share a list of books I want to read. I won’t get through them all, and the list doesn’t even factor in the carry-on suitcase full of books that’s flying back with me, but I hope to get through a respectable amount of them.

Summer Reading/Buying:

  •  Southern Writers: Flannery O’Connor (Wise Blood, The Violent Bear It Away), Margaret Mitchell (Gone With The Wind), William Faulkner (Absalom Absalom!), Eudora Welty (Collected Stories), Cormac McCarthy (Blood Meridian), Truman Capote (In Cold Blood, Breakfast at Tiffany’s)
  • Black Writers: Toni Morrison (The Bluest Eye, Beloved, Song of Solomon), Maya Angelou (I Know Why The Caged Birds Sing), James Baldwin (Collected Essays, Early Novels and Stories), Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between The World And Me), W.E.B. Du Bois (The Souls of Black Folk), Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog, Father Comes Home From The Wars: Parts 1, 2, & 3), Lorraine Hansberry (A Raisin In The Sun), August Wilson (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone)
  • Nigerian Writers: Chinua Achebe (No Longer At Ease, Arrow of God), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Half of a Yellow Sun, Purple Hibiscus), Teju Cole (Every Day Is For The Thief), Wole Soyinka (The Lion and the Jewel, You Must Set Forth At Dawn, The Trials of Brother Jero, The Strong Breed), Julie Iromuanya (Mr. and Mrs. Doctor)
  • Western Writers: Joan Didion (The White Album, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, The Year of Magical Thinking),  John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath, Cannery Row), Lucia Berlin (A Manual For Cleaning Women), Lauren Yee (Ching Chong Chinaman, in a word), Carrie Brownstein (Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl)
  • Women Writers: Edith Wharton (The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth), Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway, To The Lighthouse, The Waves), Sylvia Plath (Ariel, The Colossus), Colette (Cheri, The Last of Cheri, My Mother’s House, Sido), Zadie Smith (White Teeth), Jane Austen (Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Persuasion), Marilynne Robinson (Gilead, Housekeeping), Kayla Czaga (Enemy of the People), Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale, Cat’s Eye, Alias Grace, Oryx and Crake), Celeste Ng (Everything I Never Told You), Charlotte Bronte (Jane Eyre), Elena Ferrante (The Neopolitan Novels 1-4)
  • Russian Writers: Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Crime and Punishment), Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina), Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita)
  • The Chicago Manual of Style
  • As many plays on New Play Exchange as possible (namely The Kilroys’ list).
  • A million other books + short stories + essays + whatever catches my eye in the bookstore.

Have any other suggestions? If so, please comment, because I’d love to hear them.

Other Stuff:

  • God hates flight delays.
  • Expecting to keep my 4.0 which is nice. Have As in all the classes that have posted grades so far.
  • The next time I’m in Tucson, I’ll be living in one of the nicer neighborhoods there. My English teacher said it was full of yuppies, but I can handle that. And the house is so nice; it’s bigger, nicer, and in a better neighborhood than the home I grew up in.
  • Being at home for three months will be a drag :/
  • I’m gonna miss Phoebe, Corey, and Dominique. At least there’s Skype.
  • Also Kasey’s staying in Missouri to get residency, which is good since it’ll reduce her tuition, but it means I won’t see her either 😦
  • Wanna get a proper first draft of this novel done, so I’m gonna write for at least an hour every morning. Hopefully I’ll be a much stronger writer by the end of the summer.
  • Got some cool TV shows lined up for watching (My Mad Fat Diary, Freaks and Geeks, My So-Called Life) so that’ll be fun 🙂
  • Shopping! Water taxi! Sub-100 temperature! Cheap bookstores!

 

Fun In Dorms

Yesterday I was in my dorm’s library talking with a few guys, most notably Mike. Mike is a very short Asian who lives in my wing. He wears glasses, rides around on a Razor scooter, and often makes offensive, unfunny jokes. For instance, if we are in the same room he never fails to remind others to “watch out, a black man’s here, he might steal something.” It wasn’t exactly charming the first time, and it’s especially grating the 20th time you hear it from someone who’s not your friend and who you never talk to.

We were all laughing about Donald Trump’s latest tweet when Mike asked, “So, are you and Dominique a thing yet?” Despite Mike’s history of saying dumb stuff, this still surprised me, not because of the question—most of my friends are women, so I’ve dealt with “when will your girl friend become your girlfriend?” throughout high school—but because Dominique is an out lesbian, something Mike should know. When I told him so, he looked slightly disappointed. “I’m so sorry for you,” he said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because, you two would make a cute couple.” Oh, okay. I’ll be sure to tell her so she can flip on her straight switch. The only good thing about the whole encounter was that he’d asked me when Dominique wasn’t around, though that would’ve been far more entertaining.

Bonus Mike Story: When Dominique first told Mike her name, he said, ‘Actually, I think I’ll call you Sharkeisha instead.” This was at the start of the school year, before anyone knew each other, in a large group in the Common Room.

Bonus Mike Story #2: Around a month ago Mike met Corey (my roommate) and his sister, Vanessa, in the hallway. This is how that went:

 “Oh, is she in college?” Mike asked.

“No, she’s a sophomore in high school.”

“Oh, dang it,” Mike said, with a smirk and a glance towards Vanessa.

Vomitrocious.   

Other stuff:

  • Yesterday was enchanted 🙂
  • Finished Sex and the City yesterday morning and I don’t know what to do with my life.
  • The new Chance mixtape drops May 13th! His single Angels is pretty amazing so I’m excited.
  • So close to summer. My first grade is in and I passed my internship, though it doesn’t count towards my GPA (which is actually pretty nice since it gives you room to grow). Half done with finals, just have an essay, one on Monday, and one on Tuesday.
  • This video gives me life.

A New Hope

I’ve been sick for the past week, and not some average sickness, either. I’ve coughed constantly: loud, raspy, phlegm-filled coughs that gave me sharp headaches and sounded like my bones were being sawed. For the last hour of my fiction class, my legs shook uncontrollably and I couldn’t focus. After waking from a nap, I spent fifteen minutes stumbling around my room wondering if the assignment in my dream was real or not. In short, it’s been rough. Thankfully, I’m just about healed—only slight coughing now. More importantly, I’m newly hopeful. I’d been hating school and Arizona for weeks, and if you’d asked me a few days ago, I’d have gladly given my limbs to get out of here. On Tuesday, though, I woke up feeling much better. Soon after on that same morning, I made a wonderful discovery. About a month ago, I fell in love with The Mary Tyler Moore Show and was watching the first season on YouTube when they took it down. Having since resigned myself to a Mary-less existence, I was delighted to learn that the first three seasons are free on Hulu.

It made not just my morning, but my week. The moment I heard the theme song again, I felt my heart soar, and when I hummed it on my way to class, the campus looked more vibrant. It was as if just watching Mary’s life made my life better. The moral is if you’re feeling down, try finding joy in something simple. It might seem silly, but it’s easy, and it works. Plus, it makes you appreciate the little things more. As cheesy as it sounds, you never know how much they affect you until you don’t have them.

Other stuff:

  • While I am newly hopeful, I’m still ready to get out of here, and I’m only a week and change from doing so. Done with all my major assignments except finals, so now it’s just waiting.
  • Finally have my schedule for next semester. I was supposed to register a month ago, but due to financial issues, I had a hold on my account, so I registered last week. During that time, I’d missed my chance to enroll in a playwriting class with Elaine Romero—or so I thought. Yesterday, I got an email from the Theater department advisor saying that she tried to add me into the class again but I had scheduling conflicts, and that I’d need to respond in a few days if I still wanted to take the class. Cue me immediately tearing up my schedule to fit the class over the next twenty minutes. The new schedule isn’t what I’d planned with my advisor, but I’m finally enrolled in Intro to Playwriting 🙂
  • Got an award at the Spring Fest for being a good German student. Received a certificate and a German novel (Alle Geschichten die ich kenne) which I’m excited about.