I need to talk about Katy Perry's Firework. This song is terrible but I love it. I love it because it has an anthemic quality but the song is a hollow anthem, one without grit or substance or meaning. Perry uses her limited vocal abilities to their fullest, filling a rather empty song (do you feel like a plastic bag?) with a certain sad and somehow evocative quality. When the score rises, her voice strains to meet the challenge of those huge notes and when she falls a bit short you cannot help but forgive her because she had the temerity or the sheer ignorance to make the attempt. About half way through the song, the techno beats start pumping and it's a kitschy moment that is simply extraordinary. Yes, Katy Perry. I surrender to your terrible awesome music. In the video, her hair color changes and at one point, fireworks shoot from her bosoms. I find it all thrilling.
While most of the rest of the country freaks out about snow in winter which is when snow typically tends to fall, I am in South Florida where it is sunny but cold. That cold, however, is not so very cold, all things being relative. Christmas was a family affair with my aunt and uncle and cousins and significant others. My mother made a crown roast and there was black rice and frog eye salad and green salad and stuffing and my uncle's special sauce the ingredients for which he would not divulge. After dinner, there was a lot of conversation. There is always a lot of conversation where my family is involved about matters great and small. These people can talk about any topic intelligently for seemingly any amount of time.
Coming home is always an interesting thing. My family is wonderful but I often feel like I don't fit in. They are attractive and I feel like the ugly one, the fat one. This perception is about me and my hangups, not anything they do. The city where they live is full of thin, beautiful people. It's Beverly Hills, only in Florida. Everywhere you go, fabulous people mill about in their bubbles of perfection. It's a pretty self-esteem destroying place when you're not a size 2. Most people look at me like I'm their worst nightmare, personified, OMIGOD A FAT LADY, and then they return to their bubbles of perfection. I went shopping with a hot skinny girl who has a killer body who is a member of my family. We went to bebe and I marveled at all the tiny dresses constructed in ways that seem to defy gravity. Very skinny women preened throughout the store, holding these dresses in front of their impossible bodies or they tried on towering high heeled shoes that seemed more like stilts than shoes and it depressed me thoroughly because I would not mind being that girl. The hot skinny girl I was with bought everything she wanted because everything fit. She's a single digit size. My self-esteem, already in Florida mode, plummeted. At this point, I feel like I belong in a dark, damp cave. Do not look upon me. I am a wretched, overly dramatic thing.
I have pretty much had the same tattoos for 16 years and yet every time I see my mother, there is an intense discussion about these tattoos as if they are a new development. I saw her very recently, mind you, this past fall even, so to have this tattoo discussion again, in December, was certainly frustrating. In 20 years, I'm convinced we will have the same discussions. Yes, the tattoos are there. Yes, the tattoos are big. No, I am not having them removed. No, I should have not gotten them on my arms. Often times, being with family feels like being frozen in time.
2010 was a busy year. I worked hard. I have to admit that. I finished and successfully defended my dissertation. I graduated. I got a tenure track job. I started that job. I sold a book without an agent. I put together a full length short story collection. I got an agent to hopefully sell that full length short story collection. I started a novel that will also hopefully be sold. I wrote 130 posts for HTMLGIANT and and sometimes ruffled feathers though that was not my intent. I feel like I wrote some really good things for them this year and am proud of that work. I started a Literary Magazine Club that, with some effor
t, will be awesome. I wrote 12 posts for Barrelhouse all of which crack me up. Yes. I make myself laugh. I started contributing to Vouched Books. I did 3 readings and was terribly nervous before each one but I also feel I did well at each one. I published several stories though I do not keep count so I don't know how many, exactly. I feel proud of these stories but especially this one and this one and this one and this one and oh hell, all of them. I received four Pushcart Prize nominations, a first for me, being nominated for a Pushcart. Six stories were named notable stories for the StorySouth Million Writers Award, and one was a top ten story. I made the concerted decision to write smarter and submit smarter and to focus more writing stories I could feel good about submitting to top magazines I read and love. This has started working out in the last months of the year. Overall, I made 99 submissions to various magazines and had 21 acceptances. I was solicited quite a bit which was very flattering and remains a thrill. I have 11 submissions currently outstanding. I moved. I tried to move on from a loss, from myself. I had a boyfriend. I had a fling with a writer. I had a fling with a non writer. I had a fling with a non writer. One man was a raging asshole. If you're reading this I'm not talking about you. The sum of these experiences gave me a great deal to write about. I have no regrets where these affairs are concerned. I watched less television and read more. I saw many, mostly terrible movies, the best worst of which was Skyline and the best best of which was a tie between True Grit, Burlesque and I Am Love. I started a micropress I haven't told enough people about and picked the first book I am publishing. I joined three writing groups, two virtual and one in the town where I live, one prompt-based. I gained a niece who is a perfect beam of light and joy when I needed such energy the most. She's also, I am pretty sure, the smartest, cutest baby ever. I read many many beautiful brilliant books that made me want to be better and a few mediocre books. I read countless submissions for three magazines some of which took my breath away and some of which made no impression and some of which made me sad or mad or irritated. I passed the baton for Emprise Review to Amber Sparks. I become Fiction Editor for Bluestem Magazine. I continued to do what I do for PANK. I visited Indianapolis for the first time and a second, third, and fourth time and then I stopped counting. I met many, many writers at AWP and at readings and other events throughout the Midwest, mostly. I enjoyed meeting these many, many writers. A bartender gave me his phone number and I never called. I grew a shocking number of gray hairs. I attended a parade and watched fireworks from the bed of a pickup truck. I ate a perfect steak. I wrote a letter to a stranger who wrote me back, in a way. I reviewed several books. I interviewed several writers. I was lonely. I walked pass an empty cornfield filled with deer. I saw a buck running through the field behind my apartment three times. I started writing more personally on this blog. I expanded my musical horizons and got into bands like The National and Black Keys and Girl Talk and This is Deer Country and Miike Snow and many more. I got closer to a friend who became a best friend and then something more because best friend doesn't seem adequate for describing the depth of our friendship or her place in my heart. She is my deserted island person. I could write something more poetic but basically, if I had to pick one person to hang out with until the end of time I'd pick her and send for you next. Please understand. Next year, I want to be happy. I do not want to look back so much, dwell so much, remember so much. I want to weigh less, write more, be more, do more, say “no” more. I want to meet you.