Tonight (last night? What time is it? ...oh. Yeah ....um, last night), I got to experience something awesome. I went to a reading/showing of Craig Thompson, cartoonist extraordinaire.
He does really awesome stuff, like this:
To be honest, I had never heard of his work before I went to the reading. Not that I have anything against graphic novels as a genre - I've dabbled here and there - but, I'm certainly no expert. In fact, I wouldn't even claim to be a guesspert. But, to see his work and to hear how he came to draw those works was pretty phenomenal.
I mean, as he explained, Good-bye, Chunky Rice was his earliest work (the adorable turtle), and after that he wanted to do something more serious (Blankets). But to do something as personal as Blankets, as it is based off of his personal life, is tough work. To be a good writer, one must step on some toes here and there, and I suppose he did so there. But, what really enthralled me was how he managed to draw Carnet de Voyage, perpetually on the go, in France and Morocco. I mean literally, on the go. As in, he showed us pages that he drew while he was walking, on the train, on the streets, never stopping, never at his desk.
Talk about a work ethic.
And then he showed us pages from his soon to be published Habibi. World, (aka, the two off-the-cuff people who happen to chance upon this blog) Habibi is gorgeous. It is visually gorgeous. I'm buying it when it becomes available. And I'm going to get Blankets too.
You should have seen the way he signed books. He took out his illustrator's pen and he DREW the person he was dedicating the book to on the first page of the book he was signing. It was stunning. Mucho gusto.
Luckily for me - I who did not have a book for him to sign - he works at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, which is maybe 30 minutes away from here. Guess who's going to show up at his office all stalker-slash-screaming-teenage-girl-ish?
When I was in undergrad, I would go to school full time Mondays through Thursdays, then work part time Fridays through Sundays. Mondays were my admin days - the day when I would go grocery shopping, change my oil, go to the beach (um...I mean, do local research?), and the like. But then, to offset the costs of graduate applications, I started working Mondays before school. It was tough, but I did it.
Now that I'm in grad school (thankfully), I still go to school full time, Mondays through Thursdays, but my part time job is grading papers for the school. Officially, this is called an "Assistantship". Officially, this is also what friends and family call "When are you getting a job?"
In case you are one of them, or are dangerously close to becoming one of them, I will take this moment to let it soak through your unusually troubled scalp that my assistantship IS my job.
....no, trust me, you still need more time.
Are you with me now? Same page? Same page. (s'allright? s'allright.) The trouble that arises with such a flexible, yet equally demanding part time profession is that - when your family and friends come to the conclusion that your weekends are free and that you have absolutely no homework despite a full time course load - they start to plan your weekends for you. And the worst part is that it's almost always stuff that I can't say no to without feeling guilty about it later. I mean, it's one thing if it's a party with friends - in fact, I look forward to taking those breaks from the monotonous drudgery that is my monastery-style life at the moment (at least Quasimoto's friends sang the occasional jingle, even if they were made entirely out of stone and bird droppings). But, it's usually some other somber event that I would typically rather avoid - that I somehow successfully avoided in most of my undergraduate years.
Meanwhile, everyone's surprised that I'm not making a ton of friends here. They're actually shocked that I have my plate full with school and family obligations. They just seem so far left field in their assumptions about my life and my free time that I hardly even know how to begin to redirect them.
School is hard, I say. I have no free time.
Oh. That's too bad... is the reply. Can you come for dinner next week? I need you to x/y/z for me because a/b/c prevents me from doing it myself.
It is truly by the cruelest twist of fate that the only graduate program that accepted me was in-state, instead of 1,500 miles away, as it should have been.
Every once in a while, I just kind of forget. I wake up late in the mornings, scratch my ass, and stare at the clothes I ripped off of myself last night, wondering if I could get away with wearing them again today. My life is not pretty.
So it's easy to forget. But then, I find myself daydreaming about escaping the drudgery that is my life, and heading somewhere else. And my daydreams don't just consist of a rusted old boat in the middle of a pond where I fish between hours of drinking. Oh no. They're full of art galleries and women in expensive dresses and - dare I say it - glitter. GLITTER, people.
That's when I start quoting Barbra Streisand in the only song of hers I'd allow myself to listen to. I have got to move.
It's tough being a grad student. I don't have time for...well...anything these days. It's like this - being a full time student doesn't mean I spend half of my days loafing around and all of my evenings out drinking; being a full time student means that when I'm not in class, I should be studying/doing homework so that it balances out to 40 hours a week of my time (people forget this). Then, as a TA, I'm working 20 more hours a week.
These numbers are guesstimations, of course.
Outside of these 60 hours, I'm eating, sleeping, and showering (well, of the three, at least I shower regularly...), and dealing with social obligations. Family gatherings, hanging out with friends, etc. As things have been progressing, I've been spending one night a week devoted to each of these factors. This is odd for me, because in undergrad, I typically did neither.
And on top of this, I'm supposed to be working on my thesis *laugh*. And getting published and speaking at conferences *maniacal laugh*. Oh, and promoting world peace, while we're at it.
But tonight, between finishing Little Bee by Chris Cleave for my independent study course and starting on the 90-something book reviews I have to grade, I sat down and wrote a poem. And then another. And then another. It was like I relapsed back into compulsive writing. My sponsor will not be pleased.
I wrote 9 poems tonight. And then, I thought, oh my God, I must get published! And I started scouring the internet for possible literary magazines that would take my work. Getting published is no walk down the produce aisle; you have to find the right type of magazine, which would be a magazine that has a nice mixture of your style and its notoriety. That's when I discovered my issue: none of the respected literary magazines are publishing my kind of poetry. In fact, no literary magazines are. Of all of the past editions from different publications (from Florida to Oahu) that I leafed through, I couldn't find a single poem that resembled any that I wrote.
My poetry is purposefully childish and straightforward. All of the poetry that I read was more mature and opaque. I want my audience to "get it". Most poets don't, it seems.
So, I don't know what I'll do.
I guess send some poems off anyway and hope for the best, right? In the publication world, getting rejections letters is a really good sign, because it means that they almost chose you; submissions that are terrible usually don't get any sort of response at all. I keep a small pile of rejection letters in my sock drawer, oddly enough. Maybe some day, my rejections can outnumber my socks.
I just dropped $30 on a candle. As in, a bunch of wax in a jar. When I'm done hyperventilating, I'll explain what happened.
Last week, I was visiting my dad in Jacksonville. "What do you want to do today?" he asked. "Oh, I don't know; whatever" (my usual reply), "wait. I have a coupon for 40% off at Borders Bookstore. And that's 50% with my membership card - I need to go today, or else the coupon'll expire," I said. So, we head over to the mall....and when we get there, my dad realizes that this particular mall doesn't have a Borders; it has a Booksamillion.
It's no big deal. We walk the mall instead.
Along the trip, my dad detours us into the Yankee Candle store. It's always a little tricky going into a Yankee Candle store; at the first step over the threshold, the smell of 150 differently scented candles smacks you in the face, and you're busy trying not to wrinkle up your nose or act disgusted when a store associate rushes up to you to offer their assistance. This is the worst type of shopping experience for me; to have the sales clerk looming over your back making comments about every candle you pick up just makes me incredibly self-conscious. My dad offers to buy me a candle, and I decline, because I can't reasonably ask my dad to drop $30 on a candle, like I just did 5 hours ago.
Even though I told my dad no, I found a scent, Sea Harbor, that I really liked - one out of the hundreds, like a beacon of individuality, whispering "pick me, pick me!" I had put it back. I wanted my dad to learn that he doesn't have to spend money on me every time we hang out.
So, last night, I went to the local mall, scouting for this particular candle. In my usual (almost heterosexual) shopping style, I was planning on getting in, getting what I came for, paying, and leaving. I glided into the Yankee Candle store with my typical "I've got places to be" pace that makes people think that I'm a New Yorker. I started eyeing the shelves, row after row, looking for the tell-tale blue of the candle I was after. On my fourth step into the store:
Hi! How are you doing today? Can I help you find anything?
I returned her niceties, assured her that I was all right, and thanked her for asking. I made it to the back of the store, before:
Are you looking for a gift for someone? You know our car scents are buy one get one free, so if you need something for your car--
"No," I said, deciding to come clean, "I'm actually here for Sea Harbor, but I wanted to look around a bit while I'm here." Partially true; I wanted to make sure that I was making the right decision before I spent any money.
Really? That's an interesting choice. No one's really come in looking for that candle before; it's not one of our biggest sellers. I'm glad someone likes it.
And I do. But I don't know why everyone else might not.
So, I finished looking around the store, and then picked up a jar of neglected Sea Harbor, bought it, and left. According to the website, Sea Harbor is "a fresh ocean breeze," meeting the aroma of "bright citrus, sweet jasmine, and warm vanilla." Frankly, it reminds me of the cologne or the perfume of someone in my childhood...I think my great-grandmother. Its heady, but not overpowering.
But the whole ordeal seemed like just another page out of my life. Here I am, a paying customer with cash in hand, dropping a full tank of gas or a nice faux leather jacket (after the darling little coupons they send in the mail) from JCPenny's on a candle - a candle - and the response is "oh. That's a weird choice; no one likes that one."