Saturday, December 31, 2011

NYE Contemplations: In 2012, Time to Treat Writing Like a Job.

So: Amanda Hocking. I'm about six months late on this one—seriously, have you heard of this woman?—but I was reading about 20 young up-and-coming professionals during my (admittedly cliché) NYE afternoon of writing down my goals for the coming year, and I am astounded.

Amanda Hocking has already grossed approximately $2 million from self-publishing her 10 novels on Amazon. And now, she has a multimillion dollar, multiple book deal with St. Martin's Press. She is 26.

What stands out the most to me about her story was one line in the NYT profile about her, remarking on the turning point in her writing career and success (emphasis is mine):

It was January 2009, and Hocking started treating writing as a job. Before, it was “something I always did . . . like playing video games.” After, she wrote even when she didn’t feel like it. Over the next year, she wrote “at least five or six new novels.”
I have definitely been guilty of treating my writing as merely something I do. So in 2012, my main goal is to start treating writing like a job. (And in case I'm being confusing, yes, I do still have a full-time job as a copywriter. I'm talking about my writing.)

Maybe I should give Ms. Hocking a call. Maybe I should seriously think about writing YA fiction. Or maybe, I should just shut up and write.

What are your goals for 2012? 

Happy New Year's Eve, everyone! Make some merry, and please, don't drink and drive!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

End of Year Mix Tapes Special Edition: My Top 20 Tracks of 2011

Are you guys as excited about this as I am? I mean, suure, you can go check out Pitchfork's staff picks of the top 100 tracks of 2011, but that doesn't answer the pressing question:

What was Alison(composes) listening to all year?

So finally, rightnow, I have your answer! These are the tunes that got me through a year of riding the blue line to and from work, the tracks that inspired white girl dances in the kitchen, made me pound the steering wheel of my Ford Focus in glee as I scurried around Logan Square, and even the ones that made my sad bastard heart overflow with a bittersweet happiness as I hit replay again and again.

I was gonna wait until NYE to post this, but chances are I'm not going to fall in love with 20 new tracks in the next nine days. So, without further ado...

20. The Roots (featuring Phonte & Dice Raw) — "One Time"
Partly because I'm always late for the bus, partly because I love Phonte, and largely because: "Stick to the script, fuck your improv."

19. tUnE-yArDs — "Bizness"
Because I really needed a song in my life that gave me a valid excuse to paint my face and run around wailing, "WHAT'S THE BIZNESS, YEAH?" I made it to Pitchfork just in time to see Merrill Garbus delight a crowd of teeny-boppers covered in bright paint and dirt, and I loved every minute of it.

18. Kanye West & Jay-Z — "Otis"
"Sounds so soulful, don't you agree?" At first listen, I sorta hated what they were doing to one of my all-time favorite songs—that would be "Try a little tenderness" kids—but then I just couldn't help it. It was so gotdam catchy! "Guess I got my swagger back!" Etc! Etc! Otis!

17. Dum Dum Girls — "Coming Down"
It's the type of song I wish I'd had when I was an angsty teen. But whatever, I had Fiona, Poe, and Mazzy Star back then. (Dare I mention the obvious Mazzy Star comparisons?) I just love hearing Dee Dee moan, "I think I'm coming down..." repeatedly. Yeah.

16. Fleet Foxes — "Helplessness Blues"
"I was raised up believing I was somehow unique..." and from then on, you actually feel the helplessness blues, but at the same time, you're so damn happy that it doesn't really matter. At least, that's how this song makes me feel. You tell me:

15. Frank Ocean — "Novacane"
The man says it himself: "This is some visionary shit."

14. Beyoncé — "Countdown"
Look, I tried to fight it. When I first heard "4" I thought it was good, but a little bleh. I was bored with the arguments about whether Bey Bey singing about girls running the world was an empowerment anthem or actually the opposite, and I didn't really like that song much anyway. Whatever. But I just can't lie: I fucking love this song. And the way she curls up her lip right as she sings, "if you leave me you're outta your mind." Believe that!

13. The Rapture — "How Deep Is Your Love?"
Just try not to immediately start bouncing around to this. And then scream: "HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE?" It's deep, guys, it's deep.

12. St. Vincent — "Champagne Year"
I just love when Annie sings, "I make a living telling people what they want to hear/it's not a killing, but it's enough to keep the cobwebs clear." I may or may not have written a poem about this album. "It's not a perfect plan, but it's the one we got."

11. Adele — "Don't You Remember"
As you'll see, Miss Adele makes it on this list twice. I know, I know, but it's accurate. I would be scared to know how many times I listened to this song this year. I'd be even more scared to know if the upstairs neighbors heard me belting out off-key in the shower, "I know I have a fickle heart, and a bitterness, and a wandering eye and a heaviness in my head" — but I really don't care. What I do wanna know is, why don't you remember?

10. Feist — "How Come You Never Go There"
I love Leslie, and I knew she wouldn't disappoint with her new album this year. Particularly when her first single had her sweetly singing about how "you carry on as though I don't love you" — I would never, Leslie! (Whoa, whoa, whoa)

9. Little Dragon — "Ritual Union"
What an opening track to an album. I loved it immediately. (Which of course you already know all about, since I blogged about my obsession back in August.) This song doesn't just make you wanna dance, it makes you wanna full out wiggle your body like a madwoman. Or is that only me?

8. Alabama Shakes — "Hold On"
So what if two weeks ago I had never heard of the Alabama Shakes? So. What. I know them now, and holy shit:

7. The Black Keys — "Lonely Boy"
I almost hate to knock this all the way back to the #7 slot, BECAUSE OF ITS AWESOMENESS, but alas, El Camino came out quite late in the year, and I had many months of listening to other 2011 tracks repeatedly. However, late in the year or no, this might be my favorite music video since, um, EVER. The happiness! It's almost too much to bear:

6. The National — "Think You Can Wait"
Obviously. There were a few weeks where I listened to this song at least twice a day. It was getting sick, me sitting at my cubicle with Matt Berninger pleading with me, "I'm out of my mind...think you can wait?" Fuuuuck. And surprise! I blogged about this one too, back in May, right at the peak of my obsession and realizing that I likely was, in fact, out of my mind right along with Matt.

"I'll try, but I couldn't be better..." It kills me. It just kills me.

5. James Blake — "Limit to Your Love"
Out of my devout loyalty to Leslie Feist's original, I tried my damnedest not to fall in love with this version. That lasted about 10 minutes. At Pitchfork, as the bass shook the entire park, I leaned against a tree as this played, and had it not been for the wasted, chubby hipster in tight jean shorts slow dancing in front of me, or the fact that I was at an outdoor music festival, I might have wept.

4. Lykke Li — "Get Some"
Duh. My Lykke love is more than well-documented. But this! "I'm your prostitute. You gon get some." Well, shit, Lykke.

3. Lana Del Rey — "Video Games"
Do I have to preface this one with anything? I mean, I wrote a poem inspired by this track, for chrissakes. "Born to Die" might have beat out this one for my favorite track of hers, cause "I like my girls insane," but I have to stay true to why I first fell in love. Oh, and in case you hadn't heard, Lana Del Rey is pretty.

2. Adele - "Rolling in the Deep"
My GOD, Adele. "21" has proven to be one of my favorite albums, like, ever. You know, me and the rest of the world. This is why:

1. TV on the Radio — "Will Do"
Is it because I love Tunde Adebimpe so dearly? Is it because deep down, I'm secretly a romantic? I don't know. All I know is, Tunde crooning about unrequited love makes my heart fucking hurt, and considering I listened to this track, and this album, even more than Adele this year (if you can believe it) it has more than earned the coveted spot at the top of my 2011 list. There's more I could say, but I won't, other than: "Oh my reddest rose! Caldera! Set it off!"

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday Mix Tapes: Makin' Merry

Just in case you guys didn't get the memo: It's the most wonderful time of year again!

I want my Ninja Turtles, I want my bike, I want my Sega Genesis, I want my Nintendo...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shameless Self-Promotion: I'm in Bitch Magazine!

Ok, guys, I can't hold out any longer. Obviously, you've already picked up your copies of this issue of Bitch, or better yet, had yours mailed to you, right?

If so, then you know why I was even happier than usual to open my mailbox and see it nestled inside.

BECAUSE I'M IN IT. That's right! I'M IN IT.

Flip open to page 22 and there you'll see it: my dream come true. My byline in my favorite magazine!

It's just a wee little article that's in The Bitch List section. But it's something! To add to my excitement over writing a piece—albeit teeny tiny—for Bitch, it was promoting what happens to be my friend and co-worker Krista's blog, Effing Dykes.

Not that she really needed promotion, cause her blog's awesomeness speaks for itself—it won Best LGBT Weblog in this year's Bloggies—but I was so excited to write about it. When I first discovered Effing Dykes, after Krista nonchalantly mentioned during a coffee break that she had a blog ("Oh, me too!" I squealed, completely clueless that I was talking to a famous blogger), I spent an entire Saturday afternoon gleefully reading the entirety of the blog's archive.

It's hilarious. And basically, Krista's awesomeness shines through in every post. If you're a lady who likes other ladies, and apparently you've been under a rock because you're reading this and not Effing Dykes, let me just say this to you:


In one of my favorite posts, which I referenced in my Bitch article, ahem, may I just say that when she's talking about all the "Brandi Carlile concert t-shirts" at the office, that would be regarding yours truly. Who knew I was so mysterious? Hee hee. Oh, wait. I'm not.

Last weekend, I stood in Barnes & Noble and grinned at the copies of Bitch. I may or may not have also been slightly caressing the copy at the top of the stack. Not creepy at all.

Why are you still here? Go pick up your copy of Bitch! Then go read Effing Dykes! NOW!

Romantic Despair

Good lord, Thurston. (Can I call you Thurston?)

I was not at all prepared for this shot to the heart on my morning commute.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Poetry Slam Tuesdays: The Best of All My Days (O You)

by Frank O'Hara

Have you forgotten what we were like then
when we were still first rate
and the day came fat with an apple in its mouth

it's no use worrying about Time
but we did have a few tricks up our sleeves
and turned some sharp corners

the whole pasture looked like our meal
we didn't need speedometers
we could manage cocktails out of ice and water

I wouldn't want to be faster
or greener than now if you were with me O you
were the best of all my days

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dive Right In

[via bon-aventures]

My mother would enter a pool in one of two ways:

By creeping slowly, one step at a time, into the shallow end, splashing water on herself, rubbing her arms, and making these embarrassing “Shoo! Whoo!” noises until finally, after what seemed like hours, plunging her whole body underwater.

Or, she’d walk to the deep end, stand at the edge, and dive right in. She’d then swim the length of the pool.

She looked so powerful. Like she could rule the world. I loved when she’d dive right in when we were in a crowded hotel pool—as always, she was completely oblivious and unconcerned with her surroundings, or if anyone was watching. Not that she was an expert diver or swimmer. It was the freedom in it: she plunged in and swam.

I never understood why she didn’t just dive in every time. What I also didn’t understand, but now do, is that there was a freedom in both ways of entering the pool. And the beauty of both was: the utter lack of self-consciousness in the acts. Sometimes she wanted to gradually move into the pool. Sometimes she wanted to dive. Who cares if anyone’s watching?

I didn’t go to a pool once this past summer. I went to the beach with my friends Lauren and Rachel on the 4th of July, though. We all shared a blanket, ate fruit, and drank sangria out of the plastic flag cups that my mom had bought years ago. Although we had spent what seemed like hours searching for parking, then getting snacks, then walking to the beach, by the time we were on the blanket it didn’t matter. I wondered why I didn’t go to the beach every weekend and sprawl out on a blanket.

After awhile, of course, it reached the point of uncomfortably hot. Did I walk to the water with Rachel, or with Lauren? I don’t remember, but what I do remember is this:

When I walked to the edge of the water, it was freezing, but I kept walking, step by step. I started splashing the water on my thighs, on my stomach, and rubbing my arms. As I did, I went, “Whoo! Ohfuckitscold! Shoo!” Or something like that.

I didn’t get it until just now.