it’s that time of year again

Creed ’10-‘11

I believe in karma, but sometimes I go out of my way
to stomp on ants. I believe it’s generally unhealthy
to miss those who don’t miss you.
I believe that there comes a point every year
when this poem writes itself,
and that is when I have to sit down and do it. I believe
there is constancy and profluence in my evolution.
I believe that I am self-aware only as much as I am
self-absorbed, and that keeps me from knowing
when I am embarrassing myself. I believe I’ll always be that way.
I believe I am happiest among people who don’t belong.
I believe that the most complex relationships are between friends,
but maybe that’s because I am never in a Facebook relationship. Unfortunately,
I believe in Facebook. I believe I take things too far sometimes,
but there’s no point in regretting anything,
so I just move on from there. I believe travel is hedonism,
and if you can acknowledge that, you can be guilt-free abroad.
I believe that I am tense inside my body but that
there is a bashert for me out there, somewhere, to shake me free of it.
I believe words are kinetic, that I feel keyboards and phone pads
in my fingers. I believe one language alone is never enough
to express yourself. I believe I am a writer first
and a musician second, and it took a lot of books and theory classes
to figure that out. I believe I am that cliché caged bird
whose body is not free. I believe mostly
in myself.

Last year’s. This year makes the seventh one I’ve written.

my annual summer reading review

I read 42 books/plays/bound documents this summer, plus 10 stories (some with essays and criticism attached), plus a smattering of other essays, magazines, poems, etc. I will list them here with a vague detail regarding “genre” in that broad, stupid sense that I hate, which defines style and audience more than actual genre.

1. Ampersand: Stories by Rachel Richardson (literary fiction)
2. Swimming by Nicola Keegan (literary fiction)
3. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (this was a reread) (YA, literary)
4. Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace (this was a reread) (children’s, historical fiction)
5. Betsy-Tacy and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace (this was a reread) (children’s, historical fiction)
6. Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown by Henry Box Brown (memoir, history)
7. Cum Laude by Cecily von Ziegesar (general fiction)
8. Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill by Maud Hart Lovelace (this was a reread) (children’s, historical fictio)
9. Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace (this was a reread) (children’s, historical fiction)
10. Fairy Tales by e.e. cummings (children’s, fantasy)
11. Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay by Annie Proulx, Diana Ossana, and Larry McMurtry (short fiction, literary fiction, screenplay, essay)
12. “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston, “Characteristics of Negro Expression” by Zora Neale Hurston, and criticism by Cheryl Wall (the first story was a reread) (literary fiction, short fiction, essay, anthropology, criticism)
13. A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb (general fiction)
14. Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill (play)
15. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke (non-fiction, on writing)
16. Granta: Sex (literary fiction, short fiction)
17. Home By Now by Meg Kearney (poetry)
18. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce (YA, fantasy)
19. How to Keep a Sketchbook by Michael Woods (non-fiction, art)
20. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams (play)
21. John Hedgecoe’s Complete Guide to Photography by John Hedgecoe (non-fiction, art)
22. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (literary fiction)
23. Daisy Miller, A Study by Henry James (literary fiction)
24. “The Beast in the Jungle” by Henry James (literary fiction, short fiction)
25. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (literary fiction)
26. “The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (literary fiction, short fiction)
27. “Editha” by William Dean Howells (literary fiction, short fiction)
28. “Chickamauga” by Ambrose Bierce (literary fiction, short fiction)
29. “Petrified Man” by Eudora Welty (this was a reread) (literary fiction, short fiction)
30. “The Magic Barrel” by Bernard Malamud (literary fiction, short fiction)
31. “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker (this was a reread) (literary fiction, short fiction)
32. “Recitatif” by Toni Morrison (this was a reread) (literary fiction, short fiction)
33. Dutchman and The Slave by Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka) (play)
34. Heaven to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace (children’s, YA, historical fiction)
35. Betsy in Spite of Herself by Maud Hart Lovelace (children’s, YA, historical fiction)
36. Other Electricities by Ander Monson (literary fiction, essay, experimental)
37. Gypsy Hearts by Robert Eversz (general fiction, thriller)
38. Waiting for Leah by Arnost Lustig (literary fiction, historical fiction)
39. Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros (literary fiction, short fiction)
40. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (YA, sci-fi)
41. Betsy and Joe by Maud Hart Lovelace (children’s, YA, historical fiction)
42. Betsy Was a Junior by Maud Hart Lovelace (children’s, YA, historical fiction)
43. Blues for a Pretty Girl: Poems by Paulette Beete (poetry)
44. Betsy and the Great World by Maud Hart Lovelace (children’s, YA, historical fiction)
45. Betsy’s Wedding by Maud Hart Lovelace (children’s, YA, historical fiction)
46. Fear of Flying by Erica Jong (literary fiction)
47. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (general fiction, thriller)
48. The Wild Things by Dave Eggers (literary fiction)
49. Winona’s Pony Cart by Maud Hart Lovelace (children’s, historical fiction)
50. The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby (non-fiction, essay)
51. On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner (non-fiction, on writing, memoir)
52. The Every Boy by Dana Adam Shapiro (literary fiction)

I think this is probably my most successful summer yet, in terms of experiences, new friends, learning, and books read. The books I’ve read are the best group I’ve read in a summer in a long time, I think, because of the sheer scope and diversity–I read across genres, styles, audiences, and times. I am pleased with myself. I just wish I didn’t have to start reading for school quite yet.

My favorites would be, in no particular order, Jude the Obscure, Daisy Miller, The Hunger Games, Ampersand, On Becoming a Novelist, and Heaven to Betsy. But really, there are only a few that I think were ultimately a waste of my time. I feel like I accomplished a great deal of work this summer, academically, intellectually, creatively, and personally. It’s been really great. I just hope I can get through the semester.

brand new start, gonna give all my love

I think I’ve accepted the fact that the main function of my blog is not to be read by many people or to be a series of cultural analyses meant to entertain and provoke thought but simply to be a running record of my attempt to write my own autobiography. So is my journal. The more I don’t think about it, the more I think about how I’m writing it for a future audience. I won’t kid myself and think that I have a ton of followers, and even though I like to think that I want followers (because I do, and because I enjoy being the center of attention when it’s about my talents, rather than being the center of attention, say, at a ceremony or something), I clearly don’t care that I don’t have any, because I keep posting.

School starts tomorrow, but I only have one class on Mondays. It will be interesting to see how I deal with my four literature courses (Spanish, British through 1660, Victorian, and non-fiction) given that lately I am incapable of reading books as anything but a writer critiquing something for workshop.

Tomorrow I’ll do my official tally of books read this summer. It’s an awesome number, but I hope I can add one more to it if I manage to read the rest of one of the two books I’m reading at work tomorrow. It all counts until I walk into my first class at 3:30.

now i remember what i wanted to say

So last night I remembered the other thing I wanted to say when I was talking about that article. Because I really didn’t talk about that article at all.

A. I found the article interesting because I think you can relate the study of developmental psychology to the study of literature and coming of age novels.

B. I also found it relevant because lately my family has been very concerned with my wanting to do so many degrees and just study, study, study. I dunno; I think it’s pretty awesome that all of a sudden I am really excited about learning and going to school, and plus I think I am owed a good educational experience after the sub-par one I’ve had for the past three years. and my parents are teachers with college degrees, so I think they would be generally pleased with my aspirations to get educated and also go on to educate others. But now my mother and sister (also a teacher) are asking me where I plan to put marriage and a family if I want to be in school for the next nine years.

First of all, i think it’s a silly thing to ask when nobody is breaking my door down and trying to love me. And also, it is possible to go to school and be in a relationship. People make it work. So, if someone does start breaking my door down, who’s to say I won’t be able to handle it in addition to a thesis? School will be my career for the next decade, and people certainly have careers and families. I’m not saying it would be easy, but it’s silly to think that my saying “I want a PhD” means “I don’t want children.” Because even though externally, I complain all day about all these ridiculous people I know who are getting engaged before they can drink legally, because they’re absolutely crazy, I do also kind of wish I had that security. I maybe would change my educational plans (and I still might–after I finish my master’s, I might decide that a PhD is not for me) if I had someone I was in love with. It’s easy to talk shit about people who have what you want. And I think it’s good to have a life plan that doesn’t include other people, especially when you have a long history of being really bad at dating other people. And even if I did have all that, it would be pretty fucking irresponsible to have a baby instead of a degree. Because the baby’s going to want you to have a degree when it realizes that without your degree, you can’t feed it.

So again, I don’t know if I’m saying anything or just muddling things up, but maybe I do have too many options. Maybe if someone told me, no, Hannah, you absolutely cannot get a PhD because you’re a woman and you’re black and you have too many good things to do in your career as a librarian to waste time being Dr. Librarian first. But I think my problem as an emerging adult is that people are telling me not to put certain things off, but those are the things that I can’t really get even when I try, so I don’t see the problem in doing other things, but they also keep me from starting “real life.”

Gah. I don’t know why I say lots of nothing all the time.