The Picture of Success

Month: February, 2012

Accidental Joy

I am worried I will be a terrible bride.

Exacting, obsessive, overly concerned with unimportant details, I have never been good at letting anyone else run the show. It’s not that I’m mean; event planning doesn’t inspire murderous thoughts within my frame. I just don’t trust people to follow through. Or to do a good enough job. At least, not as good as the job I could do. If I had a wedding my way, I’d probably make all the food, decorate, buy all the gifts ahead of time, and act as minister.
Then I would marry myself.
Why risk that job on someone who wouldn’t be as good a husband as me?

I might need to work on my control issues.

My book release was probably the closest thing to getting married I have ever experienced. I needed it to be perfect; I had a very particular vision for how the night would go. So, I started to delegate. Everyone had jobs. Monique’s job was to make me look good, to cut my hair and attack my eyebrows. Hanna was in charge of selling the books, and then not letting me spend the money. Croyle was in charge of bringing me booze and checking on my family. Anna worked the tip jar; an easy choice, I knew she would have no problem sweet talking dollars out of any person in the place. Sarah was in charge of music, an element that added so much to the evening, I can’t imagine my poetry without her now. Troi warmed up the crowd with glorious and powerful poems.

It went off without a hitch!
I sold all but two of my books. The audience supported the venue like champions. I gave a ten minute soliloquy about the relationship you have with Mr. Rogers when you’re in your twenties, and seriously considered switching careers to stand-up comedy. (Do you know how good it feels to make people laugh?) The performances were strong, and I was really pleased with how it all turned out.

This past week, an interviewer asked me what this book was about. I answered tactfully, told them it was focused on the “awkward transition that comes with graduating college.” True enough, but to be more honest? It’s about the absolute worst year of my life. It’s about being an absolute mess. Losing love. Losing sight of what you’re capable of. Choosing chaos because you’re more comfortable with it. It’s also about the greatest friends a girl could have. Coming out the other side, probably still depressed, probably still eating too many carbs, but definitely improving. Last Friday, I stood in front of a room of people who’ve loved me despite it all, even because of it. Friends and loved ones who offer me nothing but support. I decided in December to put out a book. I still can’t believe it’s all happened.

I woke up today, and this was the life I wanted. I got it, without even meaning to.
I am filled with gratitude.
So, with whatever you’re drinking right now, a wedding toast.
To accidental joy.


One-sided Relationships

I can tell the book is almost done. I hate all of the poems.

Not because they’re bad! Or not ready! But because I’ve officially reached the stage where I absolutely loathe even the sight of this thing. My friend Robert described the relationship like this, “Listen. These poems have been having the time of their life, kicking their feet up and resting on your couch. They’re eating all the food in your house. It’s time for them to get up and off the page, and start making you money!” I am so ready for them to get off (and then back onto) the page. I want it to be the end of February, a place where future Jessica has everything lined up and just gets to read them…it’s sunny there. I’m so relaxed! Where did that mimosa come from….

But for now, I wait. I have been so engrossed in this project that another friend has begun to (lovingly) refer to the book as my “boyfrienduscript.” I like that. I wouldn’t be much of a girlfriend right now, as it is. I came home from the computer lab yesterday, forearms covered in ink, eyes bloodshot. All I had eaten was a bagel with cream cheese and a peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie bar. I’m pretty sure I rounded that meal out with a pizza. And four glasses of wine. And five episodes of How I Met Your Mother. And half a box of organic oreos. The problem is, when I’m not working on the manuscript, I’m useless. I forget everything. I lose everything. I fall asleep at eight.

It doesn’t matter. In exactly nine days, I will be standing before friends, family and whoever else, with a finished book. Completely complete. The release is going to be at the Honeymoon, behind the Pepper Sisters. It’s on February 24th, at 8 pm. I am thrilled to announce that I’m not performing alone; my good friends Troi Gale and Sarah Goodin are going to be there as well. You know what else will be there? My book. Printed. Done. Ready to get off the page and make me some money, or something like that. Since I’ve been so distant from this blog, here’s a sneak peek, the title poem of my upcoming boyfriend, er, I mean book.
You will come, won’t you?

What we Cannot Keep

In the dream he comes back
her David running through the streets
all of mine all for me
no interlude no need
Not a wasted breath about
the three months since passed
he was never gone

He was never here
even the typewriter feigns ignorance
fills its entire page with everything that
isn’t about him at all
She does not wonder where he’s gone

In the evenings, men walk her home
put her to bed
Keep hands above hips,
they both know there’s no need to try
After she sends them home,
she wonders what an orange could taste like
Is it ripe?
Will it give itself to my mouth,
if I want it?

Any number of warning signs:
a fixation on Etta James
her smoking too many cigarettes
the horrible poetry – god awful
self-loathing and needlessly dismal –
She rejects it all
you can not be as beautiful as I remember you

He is, unfortunately,
exactly as beautiful as she remembers him
Better even, now that you refuse to try

Should you choose to return,
here are your instructions:
Play her some Stevie Wonder
loudly from the stereo of your car
Call her by her full name
Tell her you love her too many times
let her get irritated at it, embarrassed
Do it at work when the lobby is full of customers
Buy her flowers, say,
I’m here, baby, I’m right here
Eat her out till she doesn’t know what to think
Pick her out in a crowd,
fall on your knees
make a scene
bring oranges.

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