Beastly Be (A Poem)

balrog

Last night, I got to attend a delightful event put on by Hyacinth Girl Press for their release of “Free Monster Poems About Monsters.” It was very awesome and featured a number of extremely talented writers and performers. During the open mic section, I read the following poem that I wrote for the occasion.

Beastly Be

I see you there. I’m not afraid.
Your thick skin, the webbing between your fingers and toes.
The soft moon pale of your teeth, the shimmer of your scales,
And I count five tentacles and the remains of one more, only a stump
Your eyes, bright crimson lava when I come to bed
And the almost gray cracks of gold coals when I awaken
You were there, so full of mirth and bemused age, when I would drag my mother to stay with me until I fell asleep,
You were there, silent guardian of the underbelly of night, when I cried alone when she was gone
You were there, trying to decipher this curiosity, when I woke up thighs thick with first blood
You were there when I was on top, crowing yes
You were there when I was on my back, saying no
And that was when I hated you
I couldn’t get away from the stink of you, the wretched ragged in-out of breath,
Ugly dog that followed me to school, from apartment to condo to house
I left my hand over the edge, waiting for you to grab it, pull me to hell with you
But you didn’t
I found you redeemed the day that a man I had in my home one too many times
Who always used his words like a bat, the drink for his brazen fists,
Then, only then, there you were
All balrog, all manticore, all demon, dark and furious
The blood on my hands was hot enough for both of us
We had our fill
Now, I invite you out freely
You’re too good for the cobwebbed bed
You are my personal monster
The clack of my heels compliments your claws
My eyes shine now in the dark as well
We slither through this darkness as one
And we feast on this world together.

2014 was a Year to be Brave…2015 is a Journey!

So last year, I created a word for 2014, and that was Brave.

And I was. I tried taxidermy for the first time. I lost my wallet in NYC. I took my first bus and train trips (trains are better). I hit all the zombie hotspots in Western PA, and I drove from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh in the middle of the night.

I made bread from scratch. I created a chapbook of poems. I laughed a lot, cried a bit, and made some new friends. When I would start getting anxious or, worse, bored…I said, “What can I do now?” It was a great year, which is contrary to what I’ve heard from a lot of people.

This year, as I sat on my couch re-watching season 2 of Hannibal on New Years Eve, I doodled trying to figure out what I wanted to do with this next year. I have a few goals – to visit Canada, to get comfortable playing the ukulele, among others – but I wanted another word. I wanted a theme.

I messed around with several words, including:

  • Adventure (too broad)
  • Dream (too abstract)
  • Finishing (too narrow)
  • Content (too slow)

Then, as I was writing about who I wanted to be by the end of 2015, I wrote a note about how I wanted to “document the JOURNEY.” And that’s what stuck.

I want this year to be a Journey. I want to ride through it and stop at the places that appeal to me. I want to try new foods and see new people and live so presently that all I’m thinking about is this moment, second, instant. I want to turn off regret and nagging and stuff that bothers me and drive.

And I definitely won’t stop believin.’ Or holding on to that feelin.’

Did you really think we’d get through this without a Journey reference?

How about you? Do you have a theme for this year? Any spiffy goals or ideas? Resolutions? Tell me!

Chill

If there is one thing I always feel like imparting to people, that I try to tell people that they can do, that I wish I could have told myself some number of years back, it’s this: chill.

It’s December, and I live near a very popular mall in the Pittsburgh area. As I was driving home from getting my car inspected, I watched a long line of cars get progressively longer on the way down the highway, heading toward the exit. I could read in the way people were driving – with stiff jerks, quick breaks, and wiggly swerves – that tensions were growing between two groups: the people trying to get to the mall and the people trying to get away from it.

If you let people get under your skin, you’ll never survive. Not right now and not in the future.

If you allow the persnickety voices in your head to snipe at you, you’ll lose your mind.

If you refuse to take a breath and remember that none of this will kill you and all of this shall pass, you’re going to die.

Okay, that last one is a bit dramatic. But have you seen the studies about getting stressed to death? Scary stuff!

And don’t think me a paragon of virtue (or do — and tell me all about it, in flowery detail!). This topic came to me because while I sat in the Ford waiting room – one of my favorite waiting rooms; does that sound crazy? – I took out a notebook to try to diagram out what was making me feel so overwhelmed recently. I had been feeling aimless. Stuck. I didn’t know why. So of course I was expecting needing some great amount of time to dissect all my inner turmoil and problematic scramble of ideas, mismanaged priorities and opportunities that had fallen to the wayside.

I was done in about…twenty minutes. And I was left, laughing to myself as I loaded up Hulu, going, “Uh. I was really built up over nothing.”

None of it is a big deal.

So there we go, folks. Which are you going to be? The serene Ford Focus that passed its inspection and is taking its time heading home while listening to Pinkerton, even if it make take an extra ten minutes? Or the honk-happy Buick who almost slammed into an elderly couple because if it had to wait through the light one more time, it was going to have a hernia?

Your choice.

Attitude of Gratitude 2014: Day 1

This week, I’m sharing five things I am grateful for each day until Thanksgiving. Do it and share with me!

IMG_20141124_160852

1. It’s almost Christmas. Is that a cop out? I love Christmas. I even went to the post office and bought Rudolph stamps. It doesn’t count as getting into the spirit too early (read: before Thanksgiving) because we needed them anyway!

2. We’ve gotten to the time of year where I can go out on my porch, look across the horizon through all the now-naked trees and just see the UPMC building in the distance, sparking against the sky.

3. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It makes me feel like I have a pretty good understanding of my life, because I meet those things.

4. A great collection of books.

5. Prayer. Meditation. The ability to find peace in a world of chaos. Not all can do such a thing.

August Favorites!

I know, it’s been radio silence. I went home to see my family as a big surprise, and then I got back, we had a day off, yadda yadda.

So, since we’re heading into September, a land full of crunchy leaves, pumpkin spice lattes and the calm before the storm of winter, I thought what better way to say adieu to heat and humidity like my top five favs of August.

august2014favs1. Guardians of the Galaxy: I had a feeling this movie was going to be awesome. Just how awesome, though? For this I was unprepared. Favorite lines that I didn’t see coming:

“They got my dick message!”

“Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast. I would catch it.”

“I am not some starry-eyed waif here to succumb to your…pelvic sorcery!”

Also, the day is sort of saved by the power of dance and friendship, so there’s that.

2. Skin Drink by Lush: okay, I can hear you in the back. “Katie, nobody cares about your expensive body products.” Well, naysayers, sit down and let me give you some perspective. Two weeks ago, I did a very stupid thing: I went out to a softball game that went from 10-3 – the peak sunlight hours – without any sunscreen. Didn’t even occur to me. Now, yes, I like feeling like a marshmallow mermaid, but this one product helped me go from this:

   to this  

in 5 flipping days, y’all. So there we go.

3. Meat and Potatoes: Josh and I had super fancy brunch there. And I was feeling a little afraid because it had been hyped up so much, but it was the bomb. I would go back. Well worth the reservation.

4. PEOPLExpress: I love traveling. I also love traveling on the cheap. I really, really love traveling on the cheap, quickly, with friendly people who don’t make me want to die a thousand deaths. And if I can get all that with no layovers? Sign me up. This new, small airline has a nonstop flight that goes from Pittsburgh to southern Virginia, where my family is. It’s, like, an hour. I sat in Pittsburgh Airport longer than I did on that plane. There’s a great sense of community amongst the people you’re traveling with — the staff you see in the airport from start to finish run the whole show, there are no frills, no fancy crap, they just want you to have a fast, comfortable trip to wherever you’re going. Also, free pretzels.

5. Virginia: as I mentioned in my intro, I went home to visit my folks as a surprise over Labor Day weekend. I got to spend time with my puppies, meet my baby niece, spend a lot of time with my Mom and party with my Dad. And I bought lots of crafting stuff. It was awesome.

What were your favorite parts of August? And what are you doing in September?

Monday 8/25/14: What Am I Doing?

mondaydoing08252014Watching: The Leftovers – So far, I’ve only watched the pilot, and I’m at least intrigued enough to keep going some more. Although this cult has been dubbed The Most Boring Cult in the World. And they follow around Some of the Most Boring People in the World. But, like I said, I’m going to keep watching a bit. It could all end up being the Misadventures of the Interesting People and an Interesting Cult!

Loving: Baseball – I went out and played softball on Saturday. I had so much fun, you guys. I felt like a kid again. It brought back a lot of old memories of playing baseball with my Dad, and it honestly made me miss doing sports. How do adults even do sports?

Reading: How to Be Interesting by Jessica Hagy – This topic is very important to me! Can you imagine how awful I would be if I were boring? I’d be the worst.

Hearing: Sparks by Imogen Heap – I have been a diehard IH fan since I graduated in 2007. A friend of mine gave me the soundtrack to the Last Kiss with Zach Braff, and I was hooked. This album is a great continuation of the style from Ellipse, but with some awesome electronic sound to it. Favorite track: The Listening Chair.

Doing: Poetry – No matter how serious I am about poetry, there’s a part of my brain that just imagines Dot from Animaniacs in the Dot’s Poetry Corner skits. But no, listen, I’m getting in the mode for this event on September 14 in Pittsburgh. City of Asylum will be hosting their fifth annual all day outdoor reading, “I Don’t Know What I’d Do, If I Couldn’t Speak My Mind” and I’ll be actually reading stuff. You should keep an eye out on my Facebook page and click that Like button so you can find out the deets. To get ready, I am dedicating my writing work for the next few weeks to poetry. Cool, right? I hope so.

It’s Monday. What are you doing?