Exercise: “pink reveals important dating advice she gave daughter willow”

After the New York School/Frank O’Hara, we had to write a poem in 15 minutes based on a headline our poetry professor gave us. This is mine.

i can’t remember who pink is
when i see the headline, let alone
her daughter. “willow” i thought that kid
belonged already to another celebrity
do they exchange kids every couple years
i know nothing about how these people
live. five minutes and a hundred posts
on facebook later, i begin to remember:
breakup songs, party songs, songs about
using liquor and your body to get back
at whatever man screwed you over.
seems like a good authority on dating advice.
“I guess I just lost my husband
I don’t know where he went
so i’m gonna drink my money
I’m not gonna pay his rent”
yes, Pink, yes. you know your way around
a healthy relationship. were you trying to give
your daughter advice or the readers
of E entertainment because if you were talking
to your daughter I hope you said something about
how the body is bad at storing revenge softness is ok
but if you were talking to the internet, to the people
with their fingers in their mouths, waiting —
I hope the headline link leads
to an error page.


old girl

i imagine waking for the first time in three days
the neck of my mandolin clutched in my fist, both
of us missing our bodies, metal strings wound around
my arms, leaving termite lines in the skin of my wrists.
i would want to find bits of her around the room
saying from her throat: you do not remember, but
i was here. my earrings awash in the sea of your sheets –
they fell out or maybe you yanked them, clenched so hard
they poked holes in your palm.

tools for cleaning

i grab the dog’s front paws, lift
him half off the kitchen tile.
we dance to chicken spitting on the burner
and norah jones curling from speakers
like mist. the song ends and the dog’s patience
along with it. he returns to vacuuming
the floor with his mouth. my mouth
has never worked well as a tool for cleaning.
i keep dancing in the silence
between tracks. the album toys with my body
like a wicked lover. the chicken burns.

Not yet —

Her voice cuts late summer wind over the ankle-tall waves.
The air smells like lake-water.
A familiar rottenness and small things
not yet dead.

This is a show for people in love: heat fattened geese
skim their bellies, the woman plays with a loose wrist,
gray skinned couples dance hip-to-hip.

I read my Sylvia Plath novel until it is too dark to read.
Keep my collarbones bare for the stained sky,
picturing the singer tracing them with a broken string.

She shrieks a familiar line
missing sentiment and note.

I imagine Otis Redding rising
water-logged skin splitting like fresh fig,
cracking the surface of lake Monona.




Busy with Summer

It has been quite a while that I have posted anything. Last time I wrote, I was sitting on my Grandma’s couch in Junction City, Kansas. Since then I’ve been back to Tennessee, then up to Wisconsin, and now back down to Tennessee (and I am leaving for North Carolina for two weeks, tomorrow). As a result, I haven’t had all that much time to write, either on here or inside my journal.

Even with the ongoing feeling of being constantly in motion this summer, the past two weeks or so have been great. In Wisconsin, I was able to go to two nights of Dead and Company at Alpine Valley. I hadn’t seen Dead and Co before, but they really were excellent. As someone who has listened to a fair amount of Dead for my age, I had some things I really liked about John Mayer as lead guitar and some things I wasn’t as fond of. Regardless, they were great shows. I had a ton of fun being surrounded by people who made me feel comfortable, eye-balling everyone’s outfits, and dancing my butt off. It felt good. Also in Wisconsin, I was able to go sailing for the second time. I love being out on the water – the hot sun, Wisconsin-cool lake – time disappears.


Madison from the sailboat.


Alpine Valley!

Since I have been home, I have been doing typical “Knoxville” things. In July, there is a wildlife/park where there are just fields and fields of blooming sunflowers. I spent some time there, goofing around in between the rows, taking silly pictures with my best friend. I ran around downtown, looking around all the little shops and having lunch with my Dad. Knoxville still really feels like home.


Little baby bee!


Bestfriend lookin’ good.


downtown ramblin’


Electric Forest

From June 22-26, my brother and I were at Electric Forest in Michigan. We got the early arrival pass, which allowed us to arrive Wednesday night instead of Thursday morning. The camping areas were huge, so in retrospect I’m really glad that we got there early. It made the trek to the actual festival a 1/2 mile walk instead of a 2 mile walk. Definitely worth it. 

Wednesday – we didn’t even arrive at the festival until around 7 pm. We drove slowly for the last 60 miles or so – there were an unbelievable number of police on the highways leading up to Rothbury. We passed several cars pulled over with 3-5 people handcuffed on the ground as police searched their car. I was determined to give the police no reason to pull me over. Luckily, we got there without incident. We set up the tent, unpacked and organized, played some mandolin/guitar, and walked around the grounds a little bit. There were a lot of vendors (both food and other goods) outside the actual festival grounds, which was nice for the early arrivals. 

Thursday – Thursday started the actual music. Most people were still arriving Thursday morning, so nothing started until mid-afternoon. We saw Marvel Years, Party Favor, Paper Diamond, Prof, The Polish Ambassador, Duke Dumont, Way Out West, The White Buffalo, Major Lazer, and Bonobo. My brother really liked Party Favor, but I didn’t think any of the groups we saw Thursday were particularly notable. Major Lazer was the only one I had seen before (last year at Wakarusa), and he delivered a very similar shoe- lots of energy, but not very interesting. Regardless, music is music, and it was still nice to get some dancing time in. 

Friday- one thing that was different about EF compared to most other festivals I’ve been to was how late the music started. For the most part, none of the bigger stages were up and running before 3:30 pm. It wasn’t bad, and it helped keep people in the shade during the worst of the heat, but it did feel like I was wiling away the entire day. Anyway, Friday we saw Dumpstaphunk, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Futuristic, NghtMre, The String Cheese Incident, and STS9. Dumpstaphunk, despite playing when it was still pretty hot, was great! I tend to prefer funky beats over the more droning/pounding beats that some artists put out, and dumpstaphunk was right up that alley. I had seen Nahko and STS9 before but they were still some of my favorite shows. Nahko is one of my favorite artists- his lyrics are very political, he does a lot of work for social change, and he just seems like a fun, genuine person who hasn’t lost sight of his goals and ideals even though he’s become relatively well known. And, as always, STS9 jammed. They never disappoint. They are such a good mixture of electronic/real instruments, and the crowd is always really pumped which makes everything just a little extra fun. 

Saturday- Saturday was a long day. It was probably the most intense in terms of the complete music festival experience – I won’t go into too much detail on that front – but it was a hell of a lot of fun. We saw a more relaxed set by STS9, Delhi 2 Dublin, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The String Cheese Incident again, Porter Robinson, Bassnectar, and Flosstradamus. Delhi 2 Dublin I had seen before, but they kind of disappointed me this time. In the past, he has really done his name justice, focusing on some traditional beats/sounds that really made his music distinctive. Unfortunately, probably in the name of becoming more popular to the general population, he’s lost some of that distinctiveness in favor of a more typical sound. String Cheese Incident, however, seriously impressed me. Friday night was the first time I had seen them, and they didn’t blow my mind all that much. But both my brother and I thought they played a 100x better show Saturday. It was captivating. They also had some fun stuff going on in the audience- like giant golden balls being tossed around, giant poles in the audience that acrobats proceeded to climb up and then stand on while they swayed above the crowd. Porter Robinson was also pretty phenomenal. Everyone who I talked to about that set either loved it or hated it. It wasn’t the typical driving beats expected by a fairly late night performer, but it was a much more experimental performance. The performance had a video that accompanied it, and after a few minutes it became clear that he music was designed as a sort of sound-story. Once I switched my perspective to experiencing it as a sound experience instead, it was incredibly cool. I would really like to see more stuff like that- I think that’s an area that electronic music can do a lot, because it can bring in so many sounds and it has so much flexibility because it is controlled by one person most of the time. 

Sunday- it was so sad to get to Sunday. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the festival mindset, and it’s hard to pull yourself out of it. We saw Sunsquabi, Rufus Du Sol, Manic Focus, The Floozies, and Griz. Sunsqubi and The Floozies were a lot alike, except the Floozies were 10x better. They were seriously awesome. Talk about funky dance beats- the Floozies have that under wraps. There was also a pretty awesome light show that accompanied that, which made it all the more worth it. The people who camped next to us were incredibly excited about Griz and thought he was the best show they had ever seen, but I wasn’t terribly impressed. It just didn’t seem all that different than anything else- there was nothing that made it distinctive enough to be fantastic. 

Overall, Electric Forest was a great experience. The forest itself was beautiful- during the day the trees were beautiful and it felt like being in Lord of the Rings or something. Everything was just a little magical. At night, everything was lit up in neon. The entire forest was colored light. It was beautiful, and honestly pretty enchanting. It definitely provided the feeling of being completely removed from society. Allowing myself to by wrapped up like that was exciting – sometimes I think I get really focused on experiencing things for a particular reason, whether it’s in the name of writing, being more adventurous, or keeping up with someone else. But this was just pure experience – I was experiencing purely for the sake of it, without focusing on anything outside of that moment. It was a good reminder to just experience stuff sometimes without analyzing or over-thinking everything that happens. 

Simultaneously, it also reminded me that even though I was having an awesome experience, it’s an experience crafted for me- the customer. Every night, the grounds were completely trashed. Every morning, they were completely cleaned up. Yes, it’s a genuine, organic weekend that was pretty magical. But tickets also cost a ton of money, and it’s something that makes me a consumer of more than just the music -it’s the consumption of the whole experience.  

Alright, I’ll stop rambling. Electric forest gets a 7/10 from me. Here are a couple pictures from the weekend. 

the little white thing up in the air is the acrobat up on the pole in the crowd

the forest at night

NOLA –> Austin

I My last day in New Orleans was lovely. I posted some pictures, but didn’t write about it at all I so I feel like I should do a little bit of that.

I cruised Bourbon St., the rest of the French Quarter, and Canal st. In the morning and early afternoon. That area was by far my least favorite part of New Orleans. It smelled gross, the people were loud and intoxicated even at 11 am on a Friday morning, and it was swarming with tourists. Still, it was a cool experience, and I am glad that I decided to go. I got beignets and Cafe Au Lait at Cafe DuMonde and wandered in and out of a few little voodoo shops – those were some of the highlights of that part of town for me.

In the later afternoon, I went down to Bayou St. John for a music festival I had heard about. I met up with a few friends there and heard some great Zydeco music, ate a fried green tomato/shrimp Poboy, and jammed to the Wailers to top off the night. The zydeco group had an accordion player who is supposedly pretty famous in the accordion playing community (who knew?), and blew me away with his playing. There was another guy in the band (Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers) who was playing the washboard, which was also new to me. I definitely feel like I got a good dose of swamp music.

Yesterday, I left the hostel I was staying at in the morning and got on the road. I stopped in Baton Rouge for about an hour and a half along the way. I was pretty underwhelmed by the city- it seemed pretty lifeless in a sad, old person kind of way. When I was parking my car, I got out to check the meter and an old man with very few teeth yelled at me from his porch, “You don’t have to pay on the weekend. It’s the only thing you can get for free in this whole goddamn city.” Neither of us laughed, and I wasn’t quite sure if it was a joke or not. I did, however, find the tiniest farmers market I have ever seen- which conveniently had super cheap fresh strawberries. I love farmers markets, and it was really refreshing to get a nice little piece of something familiar.

The rest of the drive was uneventful- stopped a couple times along the way- gas, bathroom, to inspect some unbelievably beautiful wild flowers. I got to Austin just a little before 7. Just enough time to grab some fajitas for dinner, cruise around a hip neighborhood of two, then find a place to park my car to sleep for the night.


Spanish Town, Baton Rouge


Stopping to look at the wildflower


Strawberry haul