Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Conspiracy Theories: Apartment Complex Version

I swear they're gunning for me.

Maybe that's extreme. Maybe the property management people don't have a problem with me at all. Maybe my townhouse is just trying to forcibly evict me. Maybe.

Grievances? O, let me count the ways:

  • Water heater went out. Twice. In a week.
  • Constant water damage. I can chalk this up to living in the East coast's version of Seattle.
  • The time we had a 16x16 hole in our ceiling for a month and a half. 
  • Property management painters telling me the had a one-day job at max, and then invading my home for three days. 
  • Today, while I sat trying fervently to write, they jackhammered. Right outside my window. All day. ALL DAY.
  • The time my ceiling fell down. No, really.

And you thought I was exaggerating.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Publishing Online

Recently I read an article about whether or not to post your work on a blog, forum, etc.

The article made a pretty good point for posting your work online....until they got to we few, we happy few, we band of literary journal writers.

"It’s true that the literary market is stuck in the Dark Ages. All of you poets and short story writers who want to strike it rich in the literary journals or academic presses? Sorry!"--Jane Friedman

Like the good little internet reader that I am, I decided to fact check with working poets. The consensus?

Yep. Even posting things on your little old blog can count as being previously published for a finicky literary journal.

Hear that whooshing noise? That was the sound of Nicki deleting all of her poetry from the vortex of the internet.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Poem of the Day: Jon Pineda's "Coma"

Every now and then a poem sneaks up on you and punches you in the stomach.

Then that poem haunts you for weeks, replaying in your mind like the lyrics of a catchy song.

Seriously. I can't tell you how many months I went with lines from Edna St. Vincent Millay's sonnets stuck in my head. Whenever it rained my brain would start going "the rain is full of ghosts tonight that tap and sigh upon the glass and listen for reply."

Today's Poem That Haunts You (In a Good Way) is Jon Pineda's "Coma." Short and brilliant. Give it a listen (or a read) at "From the Fishouse"

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Bullfighter Checks Her Rearview

I love it when you read something by a writer that strikes you right in your self-doubt's jugular.

From the introduction to Susan Orlean's The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup:

"The subjects I was drawn to were often completely ordinary, but I was confident that I could find something extraordinary in their ordinariness. I really believed that anything at all was worth writing about if you cared about it enough, and that the best and only necessary justification for writing any particular story was that I cared about it. The challenge was to write these stories in a way that got other people as interested in them as I was."
I'm going to print these up on little business cards and hand them out to people who ask me what I want to write.

Then I'm going to tell people what I really care about is soybean farming.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Table for One

I love to cook. When I'm cooking for someone else, nothing is off-limits. I've whipped up tilapia. Cornish hens. Calamari. Homemade spaghetti sauce. Risotto. Stews. Steaks. Wings. Couscous. Every imaginable casserole known to mankind.

But now that I'm living alone for the first time in my life, my dinner selections include frozen vegetables, pasta (with JARRED sauce--sacrilege, I know), canned soup, and the occasional Boca burger. This is largely due to:
  1. Proportions. Any savvy shopper today will tell you family size portions are where the savings are at. Plus, almost every serving of protein is packaged for a family of four. I mean, I love stir-fry as much as anyone, but I don't want to be eating it for four days straight.
  2. Laziness. When I get home, it's easier just to pop a package of mixed frozen veggies in the microwave than get the creative culinary juices going.
  3. Satisfaction. Nothing puts a faster smile on a cook's face than to see someone go back for seconds.
  4. Freshness. I can never go through a container of strawberries or package of spinach before it goes bad. I even have trouble using up garlic. GARLIC. And I throw around garlic the way most people throw around salt.
  5. Time. Who has time to hunt out recipes if no one's going to enjoy them? Who has time to marinate chicken, to dice onions, to bake until bubbly? Who has the time anymore to dance to Ella Fitzgerald or Glenn Miller in the kitchen, to let the meat rest before cutting, to linger over a home-cooked meal with a glass heavy with wine?
Sure, I used to. Ella and I, we're old friends in the world of the kitchen. We used to spend many a night together, stirring sauces with the same wooden spoon my grandfather gave my mother when she moved out. But now deadlines call, phones buzz. Ella's been effectively pushed out of my life..

But look at the first thing I saw when I entered the grocery store yesterday:

Artichokes. On a bed of ice. In season. ON SALE.

Artichokes are my favorite vegetable. No one I've lived with has shared my artichoke obsession, so on the rare night alone I'd steam them with bay leaf and lemon and settle down with a giant bowl for the leaves. I'd put on a movie and spend the night laboring over my artichoke, peeling each leaf back slowly until I got to the big finale: that big, beautiful heart.

After those artichokes, I was a goner. I bought fresh meat for the first time in months. Last night, I kicked back with my giant bowl of artichoke, a thick pan-seared steak and a cold beer. I watched my DVR'd Evita.

And after that night of pure self-indulgence and Andrew Lloyd Webber, I swore I'd somehow make this cooking-for-one thing work. 

Now, to reconcile my new vow with my intense hatred of dishes...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Obligatory Opening Post

So this post, like 96.8% of all opening posts, is the post where I yammer on about Why I Decided To Start This Blog and The Meaningless Details I'll Use to Introduce Myself and maybe I'll even introduce My Constant Need to Use Capitals.

 So I'm Nicki. I write. I'm a dog lover, a beer enthusiast, and a published poet. In that order.

I used to blog. I then turned to journaling. Recently, while pouring over my old blogs in research for a creative nonfiction piece, I realized that I, like most of my needy & narcissistic generation, missed having a public outlet for my incessant whining, raving, and ecstatic reviews of new Apple products or 7-11 Icee flavors.

Enter The Loaded Handbag.

So here are my meager predictions about this endeavor:

  • At least three times in this blog's history, I will post a poem/story/creative nonfiction piece, get nervous or decide It's Not Ready, and pull it down.
  • I will quote Shakespeare and Tennesee Williams two times in the first year.
  • I will slip in a sly reference to one of my favorite shows/movies an average of once every 12 posts.
  • I will make a self-deprecating remark at least one out of every three posts. Really excited to do the statistics on THAT one.
  • An excessive use of capitals will occur at least once a month. 
  • Ryan Gosling will see this blog while randomly browsing the internet and fall madly in love with my winning prose and charming style, use his extensive network of celebrities and Other Important People to cyberstalk me, track me down, and offer me a ring and a contract. 

I'll check in on these predictions and statistics every so often to prove to myself why I shouldn't follow my dream and become a gypsy fortune-teller and travel the country in a brightly painted caravan. I think that dream really hinges on my love of jingly coin skirts. Because let's face it, gypsies are awesome in theory, not in practice. Gypsies in practice are toothless and terrifying.

Well, with that tangent, I've surpassed the acceptable blog length and delved into the Epic Blog. The kind that people only read to say they read it, like Tolstoy or the complete sexual history of Tila Tequila.