Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Five Minute Free Write... on Pussy *cough* Cats

As per Dani's prompt: a five minute free write based on the phrase "I can't understand the ways of a cat," I give to you a short exploration of the things I think about when I think about the kitties.

They are fucking disgusting!  They are the filthiest, nastiest creatures I've ever seen in my life.  I love them muchly to be sure, but that doesn't mean that they aren't gross beyond measure.  Poop cruts hanging off their fur as they hop up onto your lap or onto your fucking pillow!  Spasmodic coughing fits that produce hairballs and fluid of varying staining quality.  And kitty litter in the bed, always in the bed!  They lick their genitals for hours and hours and then, in the case of Ellie, they come over and cuddle up to you and lick your face.  They stick their kitty feces tainted paws on your mouth and do all these cute things so that you make sure to touch their nasty little bodies.  And they lick your ice cream and if you're Hannah, you shrug and continue eating.  I'm even getting this lax now, thank you very much, you wicked, patience obliterating, balls of fur.  But none of this is as bad as the mewling because they want more food and the bowl is already half full - so you give them more food and they scarf it down quickly and then promptly find the nearest electronic device that you cherish and they puke on it.  Hannah's cell phone was one such victim.  Computers, cords, remotes... you name it and they'll puke on it.  They puke in the bed.  And with kittens sometimes they even pee in the bed.  They're marking you because they love you.  No.  That's bullshit.  They're peeing in the bed because they are assholes and they are gross.

Believe it or not, I'm a complete cat person, but I stand by my reasoning that they are deceptively filthy.  Everyone thinks they are so clean and so easy to deal with, but what they don't tell you is that cats are liars.  Cats are beautiful and graceful (some of them) and they seduce you.  They are the prize wife that you marry so that you have a gem to parade around on your arm, but shortly after the nuptials you discover that she belches and farts and scratches her crotch.  All I'm saying is, don't be taken in by the 'cute;' they are just as nasty (and lovable) as any dog or younger sibling.  That is all.  On a positive note, Purina One (a recent food change) has all but cured our disgusting little babies of their puking, so there's that at least.

Amanda LaFantasie © August 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What I did and did not do...

I accomplished something today!  I didn't get the MFA issue of 'Poets and Writers' as the only one that Hastings has did not have what I needed in it (the low-res comparisons) but I did manage to get ten post cards made and addressed.  I also wrote to each of the addressees.  The manual writing is one of my many writing goals.  It's important to keep in touch with people in a tangible way, more so than via texts and emails and Facebook tags and messages.  Those are all important and I enjoy them but it's also very important to me that people know they are worth my time and worth my creative efforts.  The post cards aren't the most amazing things in the world but I am proud of them and also, the fact that I set out to make a certain amount and get them ready to send the off and then accomplished that all in one afternoon of cutting, gluing, labeling and writing, satisfies another one of my goals: to finish things.  I often start tasks with good intentions and then they get put off or other things get in the way or I just peter off emotionally.  But today I set out to accomplish something and I did.  It was a successful writing day.  However in finishing one goal (or two rather)  I did put off the overall grad school goal.  I have managed to limit the list down some but I would like the P&W magazine to help me in my further trimmings.  Right now the list looks like a train wreck and that's about how I feel about the entire process.

Address Book & Goals

One of my goals as per the Detangled Writer's blog, is to write more letters and revive my ability to make words using pen/pencil and paper.  In an effort to make this goal a bit easier, I am going to compile a list of updated addresses of all of my friends who I keep in touch with and who would enjoy a hand crafted card with various little updates contained within.  This is a goal that I am going to try and accomplish today in conjuncture with the goal of purchasing 'Poets and Writers' at Hastings and narrowing down my MFA search to about five or so.

Also today is a day for crafts.  The plan is to put in some movies or listen to music and go to work making Holiday (Autumnal and Halloween and Birthday) cards.

Death in the Bathroom

There was the spider first.  He was little and black and by the time I arrived to the scene of the crime it was too late.  Mom has squished him and his crime, beyond that of being a spider in the first place, was that he was in the bathtub, trespassing as it were, in the territory in which she intended to make use of.  Mom needed a shower.  But why did the arachnid have to die?  He was so little.  Maybe he was full grown, maybe he wasn't, but we'll never know that now.  And maybe he was even smaller than I can fathom as his squished state made him all the larger with bits and pieces pressed here and there, his innards pressed outside his body and his legs spread long and splayed out in the submission of death.  Poor little thing didn't have a chance and shortly after his squishing he was wiped up unceremoniously with a square of toilet paper and flushed.  There was no circle of life for him, just death in the bathroom.  He was just a casualty of humanity.  Oh, humanity.

I won't lie.  I've killed my fair share of spiders, but I've saved more than I've killed.  I give them a fighting chance.  Same with all the bugs.  I scoot the earwigs out onto the patio, I shoo the moths and butterflies (have we ever had a butterfly inside the house, I wonder) out through the door, and I scoop out with cup and paper plate each and every hairy spider that Hannah or my mother, inevitably, discover.  Sometimes ignorance truly is bliss.  If you don't notice the spiders and the little beetles when they make their random and rare appearances then you don't go through the panic and the fits and the screaming wildly for your daughter, your girlfriend, your father, your uncle, any passing good Samaritan with a cup or paper towel or - grotesquely enough - a shoe to come and end your torment.  Ignorance is bliss.  But when you look down into the tub and see the little black spider, ignorance is not an option and that is why there was a death in the bathroom.

Amanda LaFantasie © August 2012

This was a 10 minute free write based on 'Death in the bathroom.'  It is one of the prompts from the Detangled Writers blog.  Please forgive any errors; I am not going to edit it, as it is a stand alone exercise.

Monday, August 27, 2012

MFA Low-Res Options

I hate the idea of online schooling, absolutely despise it.  But it seems like such a necessity in this day and age (for me and for my SO) because I honestly don't know where I'm going to be in a year or two years.  So much is up in the air and it feels like the world just keep spinning around and around and sometimes I'm utterly lost.  I make tiny breakthroughs such as the decision to go back to school.  This feels right and necessary.  But I want 'in class' and 'in your face' experience and since the closest college that offers an MFA is in Moscow, I would have to move to get that.  At least I would for a full residency.  But low residency options are also out there.  In online schooling, you can do everything from home but there are no assistanceships,  fellowships, or scholarships to help you; in residency schooling you have to live on or near campus and attend regular classes but there are a great deal of financial aid options.  In low residency there is both.  I can go to the school (and the school often provides the residency under a blanket fee) for about 10 days once or twice a year depending on the program and meet all those associated with the program as well as receive the intensive 'in your face' atmosphere that I crave.  The rest of the semester is spent at home (wherever home may be) working online.  Also, low residence programs often offer fellowships, scholarships, assistanceships and more.  I think low-res is the best of both worlds in my situation and I have a great deal many phone calls to make tomorrow in trimming down my choices.  For online there were only three choices: SNHU, UTEP, and U of D.  Of those, I felt that UTEP was the best option.  If I do decide on online in the end, it will be UTEP that I cast my lots with.  For residency I was interested in WSU (Wichita) and U of I (Idaho).  Both require a move and one would be hard to accomplish (financially and emotionally speaking).  If I were a single person with no cats, this would be a somewhat easier task because I could decide on pretty much any school, any where and just go.  But I'm almost thirty and I like having an SO and I like having my kitties and I don't feel I should have to be separated from or lose that entirely just to continue my education.  So, here follows a long list of low-res programs that I am going to trim down to three between today and tomorrow and, by the end of the week, hopefully, I will be nice and applied.

Some of these are total pipe dreams and simply won't work such as the Bard College which requires eight weeks of residency each summer.  I would love this, but SO and kitties would not.  Others are much more feasible because their residencies are close enough that I could drive rather than have to purchase air fare.  Others have their residencies in other countries and this is extremely appealing to me.  There are a few on the list that are rather selective and others that are as close to an open door policy as one can be in a graduate program.  The main factors in my consideration include: length and frequency of residencies, financial assistance from the university/college, length and flexibility of grad program, application fees, application requirements, and selectivity in grad student acceptance.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Philosophy Class Nostalgia

Whilst perusing my external hard drive and looking for old papers from college, I stumbled across my lengthy and elaborate Philosophy Journal.  I recall the many, many times I would put these entries off til the last minute and find myself rushing to the library to compose a one to two page paper, scour the internet for ideas/sources/creative quote, then print that puppy out and sprint to class.  I was quite the procrastinator, but, if I do say so myself, I was a successful procrastinator.  Having to think in the spur of the moment worked for journal entries because I was a great deal more honest in my assessments.  Just for fun, I selected the last dated entry from the file and decided to share it here.  It is not a fabulous example of my writing (note the date: I was twenty-one and probably sauced up on Bloody Mary's at the time) and there are many ideas that I touched on that I should have expanded upon or ignored completely, but I'm not going to edit it beyond the omission of unnecessary commas.  I still find this overall assessment to be very relevant and I'm glad that I reminded myself of them after all this time.

Where there is a lack of higher thought and drive and creativity, we fall into baseness and become mindless proponents of the biological imperative as well as pleasure addicts.  However, sexuality and sex, when used intelligently in writing, music and movies, can add volumes to plot and character.  So, I suppose, were I to have written this entry nowadays, I would say that, yes, our society is in trouble, but as far as sex and creativity (specifically writing) goes: creativity can enhance the expression of sex, and sex can enhance overall creativity; but sex for sex's sake is a waste of the author's and reader's time.

Something else I want to point out is that I was fucking brilliant!  I was on the ball enough to directly link emotionless promiscuity to an Apollonian society when such an idea would almost always be linked to the Dionysian end of the spectrum!  Interestingly enough to note, in Apollonian ideals, sex is logistical and practical; it is exercise and stress relief.  In Dionysian ideals, sex is glorified because it feels good and is addictive.  In both extremes sex becomes nothing more than a means to an end and since neither extreme allows for a healthy and happy society, it can be assumed that an overall trend of emotionless sex is bad.  Kind of makes you think.  Maybe it's not good for the government (or other forms of propaganda) to actively seek to limit or promote sex.  Maybe it would be better for us as individuals to aspire to healthy (and even creative) sex practices that lead to strong bonds and lasting attachment.  I'm just saying.

I would also say that sexual energy, sexuality, and sex itself can be very important in the creative process.  There is nothing wrong with sexual pictures, sexual books, sex scenes, sexual music and freedom of sexual expression; the problem is when such things cease to be art and cease to be healthy.  The problem is when these things become a hollow obsession.  There is indeed a difference between art and erotica and while one may nurture more than the other, I don't know that a steady diet of either is all that beneficial to a persons full creative potential.  Use sex to improve your writing; don't rely on it as your only trick in the book.

Without further ado (and scatter-brained rambling), here is my old journal entry:

Journal 4/19/05

Apollonian Sex
Amanda LaFantasie © April 2005

            I have touched on the idea of our society moving toward Apollonian in other journal entries.  Now, I am more adamant than ever that we really are approaching an unhealthy peak.  My evidence for this is the intriguingly large margin for rebellion that we, as a society, have put together.  The main issue at hand is sex.  Sex, or sexual intercourse, or any sexual act or fetish, used to be a second thought, rather than a first.  Because the first thought was always the advancement of the proletariat or at least a better understanding of one's purpose within one's society or environment.  We no longer have to worry about what our place is, because laws and regulations and social security numbers preordain our societal calling.  When we lack creativity, we turn toward sexuality.  More and more, this idea of free love and promiscuous sex creeps into movies, music, and literature, and the overlying theme surrounding the sex is that it is no big deal. 
            A few books that illustrate free love and the idea that sex is great (especially if it doesn't result in offspring) are: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and The Wanting Seed by Anthony Burgess.  In Huxley's book, which shows division of labor among the classes, promotes the idea to its characters that "promiscuity is a citizen's duty," and that sex is a great outlet for such hardworking citizens.  But this society also provided very elitist methods of contraceptive control, and babies were the product of necessity to maintain balance, and were created in a controlled environment.  The Burgess book didn't go to such lengths as to control the actual production of children, but it did limit the number families could have, as well as monitor people and force abortion on excessive pregnancy.  Also, the book, in very much the same manner as Aldous's book, put out propaganda messages about sex, including a statement that homosexuality was the only way to be if one wanted society to prosper. 
            I think homosexuality is great, and people finding love with other people, is also great, but, at this point, it seems to be the only thing we have going for us in a creative venue.  We turn everything to sex, or at least we want to.  Stanley Kubrick's intent with Burgess's A Clockwork Orange, was to show how a society stops functioning when sex is the predominant force.  Everything in the movie (set wise) was covered in phallic and yonic symbols.  I used to think that this was an overstatement, but now I realize that what Tuff said in class was absolutely true: when we lack creativity we turn to sexuality. 
            The over abundance, and supposed acceptance, of such a sexual atmosphere in today's society is what proves that we truly have moved into an Apollonian age.

Two Poems

Mass According to Taste Buds

Little boys all kneeling, innocent taste buds suggest that wine is fire and they 
wonder how blood can be so bitter;
pierce the tongue for succor, give it real blood so it knows the difference.
It's just grapes in a glass and there's a song as they drink, harsh like horse hair scraped strings,
and do angels sing? 

A gold tuba killed them.
It's just a bass clef, all cows eat grass, and save face because it's painful sometimes
when you slit the Catholic throat. 
That's what David Bowie said anyway and his skin is perfect.

Water Balloon

It wasn't sex... it was something else.  
He was not inside me,  
Underneath but not inside.  
I felt it scratching,
But it was wet everywhere!
Like a punctured water balloon in summer.
Wet and killing me,
So much water in my eyes.

I couldn't see.  
But it wasn't black, just fuzzy.
And firm.

We disappeared into a shadow and he made a joke about death,
Then the moon came back and we were white and naked.
We were like hair, like strands in the laundry
That strangle the corners of towels,
We were like circles, like a graph with a piece intersecting, 
But it was not sex.

Something else, something unctuous. 

It stained my underwear.

Amanda LaFantasie © August 2012

Free Write Exercise

Dani submitted a writing prompt for her fellow writers/bloggers.  It is a free write with the intention of inspiring a poem.  It has been years since I sat down and wrote poetry and, quite frankly, my life is poorer for it.  Tonight I am going to attempt to rectify that and I'm not promising that the results will be all that awe inspiring or even worth reading, but they will exist and that is the first step.  I'm going to use pictures to start off the free write section.  I will look at the picture and draw words from it until those words spark my own creativity to take over and I may look back at the picture for more inspiration. It's there, I may as well use it!  Both of these pictures were selected by a friend.  I asked for one and she sent two.  Waste not want not.  I'm going to use both. I'm supposed to 'free write' for a minute only.  But alas, I can't tell time.

Lamb, horn, glow, chest, young, baby, hair, gold, glass, nothing, printing, painting, shading, piercing, hole, falling, hurting, painful, fell, scraped, blood, pool, pooling, drowning, gulping, fish, white, tail, hoof, gold, knuckle, knuckle, knuckle, chuckle, suckle, succor, frown, eye, nostrils, flaring, flaming, fire, hat, hair, balls, eyes, grey, sea foam, deep, where, table, buffet, brocade, corner, shine, live, living, promise, keep, forehead, unicorn, horse, myth, Catholic, blood, Christ, cannibalism, Trey Parker, mountains, eye, skin, eating, innocent, hanging, death, redemption, light, clothing... 

Nails, ring, lips, death, black, seductress, eyes, piercing, collar bone, shadow, dark, vulnerable, naked, contrast, blood, dripping, circles, blue, dark blue, brown, vampire, teeth, puncture, pierce, animal, tiger, lion, killing, pride, mane, bald, disdain, proper, etiquette, unknown, unruly, unreliable, undiscovered, unbelievable, unctuous, underneath, fingers, scratching, man, arm, pit, falling, death, hidden, sex, fuck, delicious....

The next part is to highlight a certain number of words (we'll say ten in this case) and use them in the creation of a poem.  I'm going to alter the text color to red.  Because red is awesome.  And so poem number one will use the following words: gold, glass, piercing, painful, scraped, succor, fire, Catholic, skin, and innocent.  The second poem will feature: death, black, shadow, circles, puncture, killing, unctuous, underneath, scratching, and sex.  I am going to try and use the words as they are, unmolested from their tense and pluralizations, but I'm not making that a firm rule.  Also I am going to make the poems separate posts so that I don't see the pictures as I write; I am going to use the words for inspiration rather than the images that spawned them.  Hmm.  Spawn is such a great word, in any tense.

Amanda LaFantasie © August 2012