job hunt or roller coaster?

You guys, looking for a job is hard.

I think I’m doing it right. I’m reaching out to people, doing informational interviews, following up (even when it feels pushy), writing beautiful cover letters (if I do say so myself), applying for jobs (not as many as I should because beautiful cover letters take time) that sound interesting even if I don’t meet all of the qualifications listed (or if I look overqualified on paper). I read the advice columns. I follow up (almost) every lead I hear about. I bought a brand new suit and I showed up 20 minutes early for my latest interview at a staffing agency. I’ve set the ground work.

Now, I’m supposed to keep on keeping on. More applications, more informational interviews, more waiting. I’m supposed to be patient. Hiring takes time, I’m told, more time than anyone on either side of the process wants it to take. I could get an interview for a job I applied for three months ago. I could have an interview next week and get a job offer in August. It’s my job to be persistent and patient.

Persistence? I’ve got that. If I’ve gained anything from my PhD candidacy, it’s dogged persistence. I might kvetch, cry, and procrastinate, but I’ll keep at it. But patience? I was born without that particular gift. I look at my calendar filling up with informational interviews and wonder when one of them will turn into a real interview. I look at my bank account and wonder how low it’s going to get. I jump when the phone rings or the gmail notification chimes: maybe this is it. I am not patient. I want a job and I want it yesterday.

And yet, enough promising things are happening that, despite some days being full of fear and doubt and grouchiness, I’m optimistic. One of the ballsy (well, it seems ballsy to me but might just be assertive to normal people) things I did yesterday just paid off. magnumI got an email from a person in a position of power about my application for a job at a company I’ve always wanted to work for. It’s not an interview, but it is my resume getting hand delivered to someone instead of being left to an HR system scanning for keywords. That’s a shot of adrenaline, to be sure.

So things are happening. And maybe I’ll get a job offer before the money runs out. But in the meantime, I’m going to have to learn how to enjoy the ride.


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Surprise! I did a terrible job at #NAPOWRIMO14

It’s April 30. Do you know where your poems are?

Jen Karmin and Laura Goldstein kick off Red Rover.

Jen Karmin and Laura Goldstein kick off Red Rover.

Mine? They didn’t come. Well, a few of them did, and I’m really happy with my output. I think I wrote 5-6 new poems this month, which is more than I wrote last month. I don’t know why I persist in saying I’ll write 30 poems in 30 days when I know I’m not that kind of writer. Ah, well. What’s done is done. I’m spending the day putting the finishing touches on some poems for my last ever graduate poetry workshop + compiling the first(ish) draft of my dissertation. I say “(ish)” because it’s really not done, but it’s getting close. The poems I haven’t written yet, for the most part, require a bit more research than I’ve done. I think they’ll come this summer.

Chicago in springtime. It's looking a little apocalyptic around here, eh?

Chicago in springtime. It’s looking a little apocalyptic around here, eh?

As for my other April goals: At midnight, I’d taken 277,923 steps since 3/31. That means, if I’m going to meet my step goal, I’ve got to walk a little over 22,000 steps today (about 8 miles). It’s totally possible, but I don’t know how likely it is. I’m going to give it a shot. I’m pretty pleased with how I did here, except for the 4 day streak last week in which I did not meet my goal once. Life got really busy and the weather was for shit. Excuses. The kind of excuses that always get between me and my desire to live a more active, healthy lifestyle. Overall, I’m calling April a success, but that bump last week…it’s a lesson. I can do better.

IMG_20140426_135209769And then there’s the job hunt. I wanted to apply for 30 jobs this month. I did not come close. BUT I did make some large steps forward on the networking side of the job hunt, and I think May is going to be fruitful. Once the semester is over (3 more days plus final grade calculation!) I have no choice but to devote myself more or less full time to finding work. Strangely, I’m not worried. Maybe that’ll come next week?



Interview In Which Anna Becomes a Solar Eclipse

Do you love him?

I gave him a porcelain doll with my face on it.
She closed her eyes when you tipped her head back,
spiky black eyelashes drooping down over glass bulbs.
On her back, I wrote “Better to be choked in the ocean
than be strangled by misery.”

Does he love you?

He believed in resurrection but not salvation.
A spider is only as fat as the flies
that land in its web.

Were you happy?

We learned to jitterbug together.

But were you happy?

We never spoke of it.

Do you miss him?

My favorite time of year is just before spring,
when there is no green, only the promise of green.

What will you tell your daughter?

There are coyotes in the city now.
We used to keep chickens in the back yard,
but one morning, I went out for eggs and all I found
were feathers.

(I am, once again, imitating Traci Brimhall. I can’t help it.)


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Some poems are shorthand (#NAPOWRIMO14 Day 13)

My dissertation follows the first 20 or so years of a character named Cecelia. Cecelia’s parents are not awesome (for all kinds of complicated reasons) and I want, when Cecelia gets married (at a rather young age by our standards), her marriage to be a stark contrast to her parents’ marriage. This poem, which isn’t the most successful poem I’ve written, is really shorthand for that contrast. I hope I’ll be able to pull this off with more finesse on subsequent drafts. For now, I give you this:

Cecelia, Age 18, Makes Coffee Before Her Husband Wakes Up
Who needs a honeymoon? We’re here, Paul and I, in this small, quiet house.
We’re quiet in this house, Paul and I. No shouting, no cursing. Paul snores
like an old man, but when he’s curled up behind me, his arm where
my pillow should be, I count each breath until I fall asleep.
I drink coffee now, a little milk, a little sugar, and when it’s warm
I sit on the back stoop and watch the tomatoes grow. It won’t be long
until I turn these mornings over to a child, then two, then more.
Those babies, my babies, they’ll always know I want them. No one
should feel a chill at her mother’s hand or wonder where her father
sleeps at night. When Paul wakes, he’ll come to the door, ask
what I’m making for breakfast. There will be a cigarette in his lips
and sleep in his eyes. I sip my coffee and wait.


Also, since weekends are for Arts & Crafts poem, here’s another erasure for you.


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PhD Drop Out (#NAPOWRIMO14 Day 10)

PhD Drop Out (To be sung to the tune of Beauty School Drop Out)

I don’t look at it as dropping out! I look at it as a very strategic career move.
–Frenchy, Grease

We begin with ontology, epistemology,
numerology: six years, one thousand pages
each week. Sleep masks don’t shield
our eyes from the words we gather.
Hegemony, misogyny, misanthropy.
We breed hate in the logic machine,
teach ourselves to master the art
of asking unanswerable questions,
questioning unquestioned systems.
We lose each other in a soup of study
carrels and burnt coffee, cut our teeth
on the soft leather elbow patches
we aspire to wear. This much I know
for sure: I am smarter today
than I ever wanted to be. I’ve no wish
to fight, only to take these books back
to the library and go home.

When the poems don’t come – A progress report

So NaPoWriMo started off with a bang, and I was really happy with a couple of the drafts I wrote last week. But Sunday came (a great day, to be sure–full of poetry and friends) and I had nothing left to put on the page. And yesterday, well, I wrote a thing, but it’s not worth putting into cyberspace. Will I write a poem today? By god, I hope so. I don’t like thinking that all I’ve got in me are 4-5 poems at a time. On the other hand, I don’t love having a bunch of crappy drafts to wade through, so sometimes forcing it doesn’t seem like the best idea. At least I’ve given myself permission to count revision among my 30-in-30…I can whip a couple of old poems into shape and be back on track.

As for my other April goals: I have not applied for a single, solitary job yet this month. Clearly I’m self-sabotaging. I spend a fair amount of time worrying about life without paychecks, which is resulting in a kind of job-hunt-paralysis. Still, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think I could apply for 30 jobs in what’s left of April, thus still meeting my goal.

And then there are steps. I’m on track there, but only because I gave myself March 31’s steps as a freebie head start. As of last night, I’m at 70,727 steps. 3 days between 3/31-4/7 I did not meet my goal. We’re supposed to have some glorious, spring like weather this week, so maybe I’ll get a couple of 15k days before the week is out. That would make me feel better about my low count days last week.

Are you noticing a pattern, readers? A tendency toward procrastination and catching up, maybe? It’s true. I wish I could say I was a slow-and-steady kind of gal, but I’d be lying.

Anyway. That’s how April is going. I’ll be back soon with more poems for you.

a good day for hugs

#NAPOWRIMO14 Draft 5: Arts and Crafts

Last month, I taught a workshop on erasures and centos and collages. It was a whole lot of fun, and though I didn’t write along with my students, I wanted to. I’ve decided Saturdays in April (or at least this Saturday in April, who knows) will be for Arts & Crafts poems. Now, I admit, this first attempt came out ugly as hell. It is what it is.

IMG_20140405_083002703 IMG_20140405_083310477_HDR


The second photo is of the book’s cover. It’s a silly self-help book that I LOVED when I was in college. Now it’s art supplies.

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#NAPOWRIMO14 Draft 4: Agatite Avenue

Confession: I am feeling unpoetic today. It’s been a busy week and I’ve been putting in long days doing fairly creative work. I’m pretty well spent. But! There was a reading at school today. Maggie Andersen (the nonfiction writer, not the poet) and Kathleen Rooney read some really cool stuff, and I wrote down some things they said. Then I mushed it all together and this came out:

Agatite Avenue: A Heard Poem (with thanks to Maggie Andersen and Kathleen Rooney)

Because they don’t have it, they don’t want it.
No records exist of this hateful empty.
Near is not the same as close. It’s unkind

but accurate, artistically underscored
by an insomniac’s awareness–
oh god your wrists are so small.

The desire for a well ordered life makes her brave.
Maybe you rushed it just a little. Her work
on how to be uncontained by rooms,

what you’re drinking while you watch him
attempt aloofness. We wore boas and loved
doing it in the bathroom. We invented bifocals,

the chickenpox, a giant coffee mug in which he keeps
his quarters. He’s a free lunch kid for crying out loud!
You know what I wish. I will make inseparable cities

if you say so. As long as your lungs will let you
say Thursday. Real cities have a lot of firefighters
but no cats. There’s plenty of room at the bottom

of riddle road. I don’t know what I’m in the process
of becoming. Touch receptors could only be abrupt.
Lots of investigators like the scent of babies.




#NAPOWRIMO14 Draft 3: Seven Ways of Looking at a City

With apologies to the late, great Wallace Stevens, I present to you my third April poem.






Seven Ways of Looking at a City

after Wallace Stevens


1. Along the north shore, a warble. Sing

the freshwater and afterglow.


2. When it rains, it rains for days. At night,

a man and a woman dance

and dance.


3. Bricks become the dark edge of longing.

I do not know their mortar.


4. Oh, steel workers, why do you burn?

Bring water to the lathes.

They turn and turn.


5. Say you’ve forgotten the city’s old men.

Their hats wear the trees, their shoes

dance in the devil strip.


6. When the river catches fire, the city

tightens its belt. The city

tips its cap.


7. Streetcars and telephone wires. Women

speaking where no women spoke

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#NAPOWRIMO14 Draft 2: Such Is Life In the Land of Preposterous Magic

Such Is Life In the Land of Preposterous Magic: Cecelia Escapes to the Cellar

Who made the castle’s fainting couch from fennel and coffee beans? A lilting voice is a harbinger of madness. Lie still, little darling, lie still. You learned how to gather pollen with the backs of your knees, built a honeycomb under the bed. Your beeswax in the shape of a feather. Stitch it together to build yourself wings. When the snow comes in April, after the white blossoms on the apple tree have bloomed, stretch your wings over your shoulders—wait a moment while your frame learns to balance their weight—and take to the street. The world is quieter when snow falls, and you will hear your feathers rustle and rub. This is necessary. Watch the snow fall. Settle your eyes on one flake, study how it takes the wind as canopy, how it flies and rests at once. This is how you will take off. Beeswax wings will carry you from the cold street. Where will you go? The girls in the kitchen are laughing for you, blowing bubbles in dish soap. If you want to return to the castle, close your eyes and picture a cocoa field. If you want to see the ocean, think of broken glass. Your wings, your knees know the way. The princess has been waiting, her pink hands cupped in her lap, turning the green chaise to a rocking horse or a lily pad. If you ask, she can teach you how to change things. Bury the golden seed of your fear with the tulip bulbs—it will grow into something softer. Lie still.

Screenshot (42)

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