I am a total dork who will now talk to you about time-sucks

Growing up, there wasn’t a lot of emphasis in my house on things like household management — there were other pressing medical issues to deal with . Even writing the word “household management” looks curiously old-fashioned, as if this is something a modern home has no need of. This might be why I am always curiously fascinated by blogs and books dedicated to the subject. What’s it like to be organized? I have no idea. But I really want to fake it. I look at before and afters of messy fridges and am in awe. These people know where the sandwich fixings are. They are in the bin labeled “sandwich fixings.” Clearly, these people have things figured out.

Of course, they don’t, not really, but I like to pretend that if I just implement their practices, I will. So far, this hasn’t happened, but whenever I fall down the household rabbithole, my living spaces do look remarkably better for a time (until I lapse into my natural, unstudied slovenliness). 

I tell myself it’s all about good habits, so here are some habits I’m trying to instill in myself.

  • make the bed.

My teenaged self found this deeply stupid, and in my twenties I didn’t see much use for it either. But it’s so much nicer to go to bed when the bed doesn’t look like a nest of filth.

  • Clean as you go.

This was something my father always said to me (although I’m not sure he really did it either.)  I have a bad habit of cooking an elaborate meal and leaving all the cleaning from it –every bowl, knife, and cutting board, + dishes eaten from — till the end of the night, by which point I am stuffed and sluggish and decide to let future Becky take care of it. Future Becky is always screwed by this. So I’ve been trying to really make a conscious effort to clean a mixing bowl once I’m done, clean my knives as I go, and surprise surprise, the kitchen isn’t totally wrecked afterwards. It’s like there’s logic behind the dictum.

  • Clean the kitchen every night.

This make morning go more smoothly.

  • Do a little every day.

My wont is to let my surroundings get worse and worse and then just do a massive clean one weekend. Which is ok, I guess, but exhausting, and means you are living in gross until you can’t take it anymore. That feels depressing. Whereas if I just do some surface cleaning now and then, no one has to call the health department.

  • If something isn’t working, fix it.

Again, this is dumb sounding, but has wide applications. I haven’t played Guild Wars 2 in over a year because I forgot my password. I could have gotten a new password, but didn’t. That’s ridiculous. So, I have a new password. A better example might be that I’ve known for years that my password security was terrible, and that I should do something to improve my security. I finally got a password manager (1Password) for both me and Mark, so now we are in the process of saving and updating our passwords. Or our dishwasher emits a terrible smell when we run it that makes us sad. So I finally looked up a tutorial on how to clean a dishwasher (clue: it involves vinegar), and we did it. I doubt the problem is fixed entirely (there’s bad plumbing in this apartment), but we do have a way to cut down on the sad smell. Mostly, if there’s an issue and it’s something I can address, I’m trying to do so rather than putting it off. This one is very hard, obviously.

That’s it really. Nothing amazing or groundbreaking. I’m sad that I’m in my mid thirties and cleanliness is only now a thing I’m putting effort into.

If you would like to join me in a rabbit hole of organizing/cleaning crazy, I recommend the following:

Unclutterer – much like it sounds. Very much focused on organization and minimalism.

A Bowl Full of Lemons – organizing and cleaning. Mostly I just wonder what it’s like to have a brain that works like this. On the other hand, I didn’t have any glass cleaner and find it annoying to buy a one-use product. I made her recipe for glass cleaner, and while it looks like it will be a total mess when you are first wiping it down, it does indeed dry crystal clear.

IHeartOrganizing — also organizing and cleaning, but with a really untouchable quality. I’m assuming her hair never tangles, either.

So, there you go. I usually post music or talk about writing here, but now you have insight into one of my weirder proclivities — that is, researching extensively something most people just know how to do naturally or were taught as a kid. Hooray!

new interview at 32 Poems

The poet Emilia Phillips  interviewed me for 32 Poems. You can read the interview here. I’m very thankful for the time she took with me — this interview was conducted over a few months, even over holidays, which just goes to show how hard working she is. There’s an art to an interview that I think is easily overlooked — it’s common to get boilerplate questions that show no real familiarity with one’s work — but Emilia’s questions were unique and also challenging for me — the best kind!

like a fearsome plague, awp loometh

I’ll be at AWP this year, helping out at the BullCity Press table, so stop by and say hello!

I’m also doing two offsite readings:

Yes Yes Books/Sixth Finch (FB event here):

Saturday, March 1, 2014, at 6 pm with:

Tyler Brewington
Aricka Foreman
Sarah Bartlett
Nick Gulig
Anne Cecelia Holmes
Wesley Rothman
Kelly Schirmann
Roberto Montes
Danez Smith

It’s at the Vermillion Art Gallery and Bar, 1508 11th Ave. Seattle WA

The other one is for Inknode — their 5 year anniversary! It’s on Friday, 2/28/2014, at 10:00. pm.

Here’s their FB event and description:

Ink Node, a Seattle-founded online poetry journal, celebrates a million pageviews and 5 years of stigmergy at Left Bank Books with Mathias Svalina, Rebecca Hazelton, Dena Rash Guzman, Seth Abramson, Kevin Sampsell, Kate Lebo, Sara Guest, Sara Mumolo, Emily Pettit, Jaimie Gusman, & Evan Nagle. Join us Friday night for liquor, snacks, & poetic rapport.

It will be at the Left Bank Books Collective on 92 Pike Street. Seattle WA

toot toot!

That’s my horn. I’m honking it.

You can read my Valentine to Hailey Leithauser’s first book of poetry, Swoop, here at the LA Review of books, along with other great poets showcasing other great books!


new book to read by Valerie Wetlaufer: Mysterious Acts By My People

One of the cool things about getting a degree in writing is that you meet awesome writers and then eventually you get to read their books when they come out! Today I am pleased to hold in my hands the first book of one Valerie Wetlaufer, who I met at FSU while I was getting my PhD and she was getting her MFA. I can’t wait to read it!

me, pullo, and Valerie Wetlaufer's debut, Mysterious Acts By My people

me, pullo, and Valerie Wetlaufer’s debut, Mysterious Acts By My people

Pullo looks skeptical, but don’t let that bear on your thoughts about the worth of this book. That’s just Pullo’s face.

things! small happenings!

I’ve been deadly dull, I have to say, and what news I do have is secret, even to me. But! I have had a nice little period of productivity the past few days, and I’ve knocked out some things that have been over my head.

  • mailed out copies of Bad Star to my blurbers, Alison Benis White and Katy Didden. It’s nice to say thank you for someone spending time with my work.
  • mailed out a terrible form for FSU, because FSU forces its creative writers to fill out paperwork to keep their dissertations (aka my first book) offline. I love you FSU, but do reconsider this policy
  • mailed out a requested review copy of Fair Copy that I somehow forgot to send out ages ago
  • some thank you cards (Crane Stationary, you are my fave)
  • I completed an NEA application. These are famously terrible applications. The NEA suggests you give yourself at least ten days to complete it, if that tells you anything. My experience was reasonably painless, once I realized I couldn’t use my Chrome browser and have it recognize my copy of Adobe Reader. Then, smooth sailing. Mostly.
  • read through a manuscript I’m blurbing
  • knocked out the last of the chapbook submissions assigned to me by Bull City Press. I love screening for contests — it’s always great to see what kind of work is out there
  • did a radio interview with a student from Montclair University, which was really fun.
  • requested a replacement power cord for my under warranty MacBook Pro. I know that doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment, but I hate dealing with that sort of thing. It wasn’t a thing, though.

So, that’s all something, which is nice. There are some larger projects I’ve made no progress on whatsoever, but now I suppose I no longer have these smaller things clouding the horizon. Which is to say, I can better see my own lazy. Sigh.

I have some big news coming up that I can’t wait to share, but you must be patient! By you, I mean me.