Posts tagged ‘amanda palmer’

July 6, 2015

Doing Things

by lisa st john

IMG_2720I made coffee, fed the cats, drank the coffee, made the bed up with clean sheets, got dressed, paid two bills, did three dishes, started one load of laundry, put away one load of laundry (why this is my most hated chore next to cleaning out the kitchen drain is beyond me, but it is), took my vitamins, ate some cereal (with almond milk—“real” milk disgusts me), signed up for a short story writing class (online—obviously), put an open-mic reading in my calendar (just in case I actually decide to go somewhere), almost answered the phone when “no caller id” appeared, added my frequent flyer number to an upcoming flight to Colorado, renewed my subscription to The Academy of American Poets, began a children’s story about a sock, put stamps on envelopes to be delivered to companies who don’t use PayPal for some archaic reason, thought about typing out the latest poem in my head, chose to brush my teeth instead, and then the noon whistle went off. Yes. I live in a “hamlet” and the noon “whistle” (more like a sounding horn) goes off at noon every day except Sunday which is, presumably, a day of sleeping in past noon (or at least not caring that it is, in fact, noon).

Why the litany? Well, it’s occurred to me that of the many things we “do” on a daily basis the things we talk about are never the inside things.

“What are you doing?”
“Thinking.”

Shouldn’t this be a normal conversation? It’s not.

“What are you doing this summer?”
“Thinking.”
“Thinking about where you are going, huh? I don’t blame you I couldn’t decide if I should … [fade into meaningless babble].

I am thinking about thinking. I am thinking about writing and making new art and smelling fresh grass and wondering if color would exist as well without smell. Isn’t the grass a brighter hue of green when we smell the freshly mowed kind?
Time jumps and bobbles and I am writing a sequel to the sock story (that I haven’t finished yet) that begins, “Somehow the strawberries got involved…” I wonder, also, if it’s possible to live on fresh fruit pies alone. And then I am mowing the lawn writing a poem in my head that never ends.

A New Poem:

You would hate the way I mow the lawn—my line-ish things, my
lack of symmetry, my
desire to go over the same spot twice.

You would hate that I go right over the rocks you taught me to avoid. My
patterns don’t make sense and if I stop to flip a turtle or watch a baby snake periscope its new world, I can hear you asking. I can sense your puzzlement.

You told me once: “Lil, if there is an assbackward way to do something you will find it.” I smile, remembering running down the up escalator in the Paris Metro—you catching me in time for the free concert in Saint Sulpice. We made it. We always made it.

And now I hit the rock and it makes that crunching noise
and now I go over the rock
and over it
and let it make that crunching noise because something should be allowed to make noise.

You would hate the way I keep stopping the mower to get a drink or write a few lines.

You would hate the way I go over twigs of increasing size just to see how much the blades can take.

You would not understand why I keep it in first gear
only. And only you would understand why sometimes I mow the lawn more than once a week.

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Now I have poison ivy on my face and I am going to see Amanda Palmer at Bearsville anyway because I am supposed to do things. People are out there doing things. I am a person, therefore… .

Ponderings is still available at Finishing Line Press.

June 7, 2015

I’m Not Lost, Just Blind Sometimes

by lisa st john

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Just when I start seeing the world as one full of hatred and violence and judgmental anti-feminist, anti-human rights, degenerate idiots and my menopause insists that this is, in fact, true, and it’s not going to get any better, a day like today comes along to help me readjust my perception.

It starts at 4AM (doesn’t everything?) when Missy the Gran-dog licks my face and I realize I do not have nearly enough blankets. And it is Sunday. And I could be sleeping. But she talks the sweet talk of a German Shepherd and I let her out while I find more blankets. We cuddle up together and I drift off. Then I hear her click click clicking around the kitchen and I see it’s only 7AM and I’m still tired. What teacher is not tired in June? Everyone I know is tired. But magically the clicking stops and the next thing I know it’s 9AM. NINE! My friends took Missy for a walk so I could sleep in because…because they’re my friends.

I love them.

My sister takes a break from making jewelry to make fresh fruit salad.

I love her.

It’s the day of the annual Pride Parade but I am still dragging my semi-grumpy hormones by the hair to get out the door with a heavy oh-woe-is-me sigh. Then I see my students in their rainbow regalia smiling and laughing and not at all afraid.

I love them.

I remember being afraid at Gay Rights marches, or at least nervous and on the lookout for protesters with something more lethal than signs. But this is New Paltz, New York and Councilman Dan Torres is organizing the line-up with the stunning Shawangunk Mountains as a backdrop. The people watching us march are cheering us on, not throwing things at us.

I love it.

At the end of the march there are musicians and vendors and advocates and many different kinds of…kind. Hudson Valley Community Services has a booth; they are making sure that over 290,000 kids will have a healthy meal this summer at no cost. The local Planned Parenthood is giving out condoms and information on their free youth training program. There is a petition to pass the SAFE Parole Act put out by the End the Jim Crow Action Network. Lambda Peer Support Services is promoting their mission to “foster a sense of community … and address the effects of homophobia, discrimination and prejudice.” The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center has made this one-time parade into a weeklong celebration. And where would we be without the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)? People are here volunteering their time and energy to reach out.

On the way home I start to cry because I remembered kindness and because as I drive home in the beauty of a 78 degree day in the Catskills I know that a Hospice volunteer is out there making the world a better place; and I cry because my husband has been gone for exactly 927 days and because my fabulous son is in love and getting married. Then Amanda Palmer comes over the Rhapsody bluetooth iPhone widget gadget thing (such first world problems) and she reminds me that “no one’s ever lost forever.”

I love her. I love you all.

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from Lost by Amanda Palmer

No one’s ever lost forever
When they die they go away
But they will visit you occasionally
Do not be afraid
No one’s ever lost forever
They are caught inside your heart
If you garden them and water them
They make you what you are                                                              

 

Missy thinks she is in the wilds but she is really just in Grandma’s backyard. Shhhhh…

My first chapbook, Ponderings, is available at Finishing Line Press.

May 3, 2015

Tip the Scales

by lisa st john

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“Why do you like gardening?” she asked.

“Because I’m not serious about it. Because it’s my own tangible metaphor.”

When I feel like killing, there are weeds to pull.
When I feel like changing, there are shrubs to move.
When I feel like dreaming, there are seeds to plant.

When I feel like crying, there are seedlings that need homes.

And when I just feel like letting all the images of the days sink in, I sit around and look at it all. Then, hopefully, I write.

I dig out a nasty raspberry invader and see a sprouting bleeding heart and I am reminded of the girls on the beach last summer. Looking longingly at the older girls with bigger, prouder breasts the younger ones, with their newly shaved legs, saunter by trying to look aimless. But then the same longing look falls on the little girls building a sandcastle. Their shoulders are bare because the straps just don’t matter—the building matters. Their sandy, matted hair falls wherever it wants. They don’t need mousse. And the in-between girls want both. And I want to tell them they are already both.

When I feel like shaking people up…well, I haven’t found a gardening exercise for that yet. We take so much for granted. An amazing documentary about the feminist movement, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, shook me up—woke me up. I remember my older sisters burning their bras and going to rallies. My students and I live in a world paved by these women, and we forget.

My mother was very proud of having participated in suffrage marches around Chicago, and when I was a little girl she would always take me with her to vote. I decided later on that the two emancipators of women were the vote and birth control…” Virginia Whitehill

The feminists of the 60’s forgot the suffragists, and now we have forgotten the revolutionary women who forged Title IX (usually we think of Title IX in terms of sports, but it also ensures equal access to higher education like law school). The entire world is better because of the Women’s Liberation Movement. To paraphrase the film, “The Supreme Court didn’t hand us Roe v. Wade, individual women fought for it.” It’s 2015 and we are losing.

But somewhere along the road the word “feminism” got a bad rap, and our future is going to pay for it.

Now that I am all shook up—what to do? So I made a list.

Educate. Talk. The Equal Rights Amendment has not yet been passed. It’s three sentences long.

Check out places like:

Ms. Foundation for Women

Center for Reproductive Rights

List of Supporters of the E.R.A.

Women Organized to Resist and Defend

Feminist.com

Listen to more Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin and Amanda Palmer and Adele and Ricki Lee Jones.

Love the men and boys around you and let them know that they are as necessary to this movement as any woman. Be proud to call yourself a feminist regardless of your gender.

p.s. (If you are male or female or non-binary and you are against abortion, then don’t fucking have one; just know that abortion is an equal rights issue, a health issue.)

PLEASE buy my first chapbook, Ponderings. In case you did plan to purchase a copy but haven’t gotten around to it yet– now would be a propitious time to do it.

If you have signed up for a copy already I THANK YOU and hope you enjoy it. They will be shipping in July 2015.

You can click this link, or go to the website athttp://www.finishinglinepress.com/ (new releases) or send a check to:
Finishing Line Books PO Box 1626 Georgetown, KY 40324

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February 7, 2015

Ode on Seeing Past

by lisa st john

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Thank you magnesium chloride and the smart people who figured out that you melt ice. I was going to title this blog something lame like, “The next person who tells me they love winter is going to get this hammer I am using to pick ice off of my roof right smack in the eye” but then I thought about thanking science instead.

Thank you engineers, for putting cup-holders on strollers. Thank you chemists, for making vitamins gummy.

Thank you Alan Turing. Thank you Grace Hopper. Thank you Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

Scientists are the most underrated artists. Art is about taking risks and sharing and seeing past the obvious. Sounds a lot like science to me.

So instead of blaming snow (I could always move if I was determined enough. There are plenty of lovely places to live that are snow and ice free) I will praise science and art.

And all you neo-luddites out there need to behave and back off with your holier than thou sneers while we are using our gorgeous technology. While you look down on me as I stand in line at the grocery store, thumbs flying, the invisible cartoon bubble above my head says, “SHUT UP YOUR EYES. I am writing A NOVEL on my iPHONE, OKAY?” Science. Art.

I could be donating to save elephants from circuses on crowdrise or sponsoring upcoming musicians on bandcamp (shout out to Mad Satta here). No. Science and technology are not the bad guys. They are revolutionizing Art as we know it.

How beautiful is the Millennial Generation (also known as Generation Y, but that’s too derivative)? The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation identifies them as, “the connected, diverse collaborator, shaped by 9/11, texting, and the recession.” They have given us crowd-sourcing; they ARE social media. And social critters they are. They blend the real and virtual worlds with an ease that is awe-inspiring to us digital immigrants.

As Amanda Palmer says in her brave memoir The Art of Asking, “…working artists and their supportive audiences are two necessary parts in a complex ecosystem.” No judging the future, please. We just need to see … past.

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