Thanks for stopping by! I’ll be keeping this blog during my writing residency with the Edward Albee Foundation. Not sure what that means? Slide over to FAQ aka What am I doing? Otherwise, look out for new posts daily about what I’m doing here! I’m just as confused as you are!!! Or, if you want to see more of my published work, head to my website. I’m also sending letters, so if you’d like one please send me your address, or get in touch with me to ask for mine.
The mornings and evenings are chillier now, and the days are ever so slightly getting shorter. The transition, truth be told, will make it easier to go home, I think. We’ve been here for the filet-mignon of summer, and now we’re down to less than a week. The leaves are starting to change. The sky is overcast more often now. The time here is coming to an end.
But, five days is still substantial time to get a lot done. I certainly am not letting up on reading or writing.
I’ve been really digging into translation. I recently had a great day of research. One of the poems is dedicated to Hugo Mujica, a lauded Argentine poem (whom I met and interviewed!). I started researching some of Mujica’s work and found he wrote an essay whose title is also the title of the poem dedicated to him. So, I started reading that essay. Mujica’s essay is about the poetics of Martin Heidegger’s work, so I started reading a translation of Heidegger. Now I’m going between English, Spanish, and German (which I don’t know at all). However, this research made me get back in touch with a wonderful college friend who would mention Nietzsche, Heidegger, Hegel, etc. in casual conversation, and he helped me a great deal.
Reading Speak, Memory, Vladimir Nabokov’s autobiography, is like eating an extremely rich, decadent brownie: You can’t go too fast, you need to savor it slowly. So much of the pleasure of reading Nabokov is in his language – his first language wasn’t even English, and most native-English speakers will never write half as well as he did – so I need to slow down. This book definitely isn’t a page turner. It’s extremely contemplative, a little melancholy, very nostalgic, so it’s not about moving fast but slowing down and spending time with memories. I’m a little sad to think I won’t finish this book before I leave the Barn; I brought several others with me that I haven’t so much as cracked open. But they’re coming with me.
I’ve got a new humor piece published on Points in Case, my first byline there! Anybody who knows me even a little knows I’m a huge fan of stand-up comedy, and that I love most of the comedians listed in my published piece.This is the third place I’ve submitted this piece, and I’m glad it found a home.
Yesterday I woke up feeling very sleepy. I forced myself to work for half an hour, waiting to see if I’d snap out of it and get into a rhythm.
I did not.
So, I let myself have a lazy, lazy day. I left the Barn to go for a walk when I realized I hadn’t used my legs for like 10 hours.
Today I’m happily back to work.
Two days ago, we all went to Camp Hero, a former military ground whose weird story is the basis for Stranger Things. Then we went to the lighthouse and watched the sunset, and made s’mores. It was a good, good day.
Ashley is the other writing resident. She’s a playwright originally from outside of Philadelphia. She works as an ESL professor at John Jay College, and lives in Harlem. So far, she’s written two short plays that will go up at a festival in a month or so, and I’m going to that festival. These two plays are based on photographs that she chose, knowing nothing about their context. One play is about three young women on vacation after a natural disaster, and the other is a conversation between a woman concerned with social justice and her brother-in-law who has the hots for her. The four of us read the plays together aloud and it was fun. I like watching movies with her because she can speak to the story and character structure.
She speaks a little French, and has lived in France teaching English. The theme of her shelf in the kitchen is “Goya black beans,” as she has said. The other night she shared some of her dinner with me, on a night when I really needed it – zucchini with tomatoes and white beans over rice. It was perfect.
Keenan is one of the visual artist residents. Born and raised in Worcester, MA, he got his degree at RISD and then returned to Worcester to be an art teacher at a public high school in Fitchburg.
He’s a multimedia artist who works with collage, sculpture, paint, and other media. I got to see some of his work the other day during an open studio. He’s doing an homage to Janet Guthrie, the first woman to qualify and compete in both the Indy 500 and Daytona 500. He chose this subject because he was having trouble committing to a project here, so he was going through his phone and remembered he took some screenshots of an ESPN feature on Guthrie. That, in fact, had been his first time looking at ESPN on purpose. I’m impressed by his ability to force himself to a choose a seemingly arbitrary subject. It’s definitely something that mature artists have to do.
Recently he asked me for a Sharpie, and there had been one in my closet. We went to get it and I found some cloth balled up in the little dresser in the closet. It turned out to be a musty sarong that someone had left behind, something of indigo and magenta with white tassels. He put it in the laundry and hasn’t taken it off since. Even though he said I should have it because it was in my closet, I insisted that he keep it because it really suits him. He also is the one who most readily suggests wine, so we have dubbed him the Wine Mom-in-residence. Last night I made a roasted vegetable dish (called a “tian” in Spanish but I still don’t know what that means) and he made an accompanying risotto. When he hears music he enjoys, he calls the music “tasty.” When we were cooking last night, he said we were listening to some tasty music and making loud food.
More than halfway through, I’m thinking about what I will do once I return home. Unfortunately, I will have to leave this universe and rejoin civilization, though it would be nice to stay here.
Actually, I don’t have a job lined up for when I get home. There are a few possibilities floating around, but I’m actively job searching now (and will ramp it up once I’m not writing fulltime). I thought the blog would be a good place to put out feelers, and communicate to whoever reads this that I’m looking for entry-level work in New York City, and can start the day after Labor Day.
I picked some of the blackberries growing in the backyard. They looked ripe but were quite tart. And blackberry bushes are really thorny. There’s a great description of a man gathering blackberries in Beloved, which I finished, by the way. Now I’m reading Speak, Memory, Vladimir Nabokov’s autobiography. The other night we watched A Serious Man, my favorite movie, and then Spotlight. Tonight I’m planning to cook a roasted eggplant-zucchini dish, and we’ll make s’mores. I’m going to miss this.
Bronwyn is one of the visual artist residents. She’s from Long Island originally, and now lives in upper Manhattan. She has a beagle named Bagel. She has cooked ratatouille for us, and is going to make a French custard I forgot the name of. She’s getting her Masters in art history at Hunter. When she was in high school, she met Harry Belafonte.
I got to see some of the paintings she’s working on. Water color on these big canvases. Some self-portraits with a Frieda Kahlo vibe – self looking at self, eroticism, some surreal horror. Her people look extremely fleshy, heightened realism, uncanny valley. She paints many self-portraits.
She has a tattoo of a Cocteau image, and of a seal, and of a word in Arabic, and of a dark, solid block. She also has a dress with the image of a mushroom-cloud explosion on it. The other night, she and I and one of the other visual artist residents did a maternity photoshoot and used a massive zucchini as the baby. We had lots of fun.