Sunday, February 26, 2012


I call this 'Two Wes Anderson Houses Almost Kissing.' It is the best photograph i will ever take.

This morning, I got an email saying my paintings were accepted to be featured in a lil' lit' mag. Every time someone accepts my work, this is my reaction (sans the panning shot of past awards and published novels) :

I love the city. Especially now that spring's here.

I call this 'Two Colors of Levi Jean Almost Kissing.' It is the worst photograph I will ever take.

While getting my hair cut, back massaged, and feet detoxed at Ocean (a luxurious yet inexpensive salon. I didn't spend more than 70 pounds), I browsed the latest Vogue. Lana Del Rey was on the cover. I admire her (recorded) music, and her style--"Lolita gets lost in the hood"--so read the interview.

From the intersection of Nabokov and David Lynch

When asked why she didn't want to make another album, Lana shrugged: "I've said everything I want to say."

I feel like there's something heavy in me, a book, maybe. If i could just get it out, i know i would feel so much lighter. I wouldn't have to make anything again.

Academics are second to traveling. From March 4th - 10th, Chelsea and I will be in Edinburgh and Dublin. That said, I've taken to my Critical Theory class, especially our discussions about Untranslatable Terms. Here's an Arabic word that doesn't exist in the English language:

Ya’aburnee: Both morbid and beautiful at once, this incantatory word means “You bury me,” a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how difficult it would be to live without them.

It's Sunday, and I don't want to do homework. Goodbye Internet. Hello dead white poets. Hello a song to pass the time:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Every time I'm Told to Write less like an American, I write more like an American


Deep Cuts

For Jack London

The idea is a vibrant thread—or is it a scar

left by a blade of hair, the memory of an ice flash?

Vibrancy ignites his oil lamp, the end

of a match. He strikes…

There: The story of a man lost

in the wild. He can’t build a fire, but dreams

of cutting open a dog so he can crawl inside. Somewhere

he’s blowing into his mittens—a thread clings

to his scabbed lips. Smiling, he cracks

them open, whistles a dog call.


This is the poem i handed in for Friday's workshop, one of many of my odes to the Author Jack London

In 9th grade, my Geography teacher showed me pictures of Route 66. Dylan unintentionally describes it best: "A highway of diamonds with nobody on it."

After my sister was born, My dad sold his motorcycle (didn't want to risk an accident). He keeps one of the gears--at least i think it's a gear, a tiny wheel i used to spin just to smell the metal on my fingers--in his desk drawer.

Recently, I discussed with another American how the longer we're abroad, the more we think of home; not wistfully, but in comparison. At home, there's so much space. We put up billboards just to make the sky smaller.

Here, every lawn square is fiercely staked and gardened. Even the countryside seems full.

In my Critical Theory class, i was asked if there were any American ideas that couldn't be translated, that would be impossible to understand unless you were intimate with the culture.

I said "Waffle House."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cardiff Art

Partially Buried, James Rielly

I Feel Like I'm Living in A Box, James Rielly

Of all the artists on exhibit, James Rielly is my favorite. I love big, simple compositions."Partially Buried" takes up an entire wall. It's perfect.

Mutual Congratulations, John Banting 1937

Banting's "Mutual Congratulations" is apparently a class comment. He often represents the upper classes as talking skulls. Mmmyes.

Study For Self-Portrait, Francis Bacon 1963

"Study For Self Portrait" is postmodern poetry: We experience war, and suddenly we can't recognize our own faces.

An all-inclusive self-portrait is, in most cases, impossible. The artist has too many Selves: Past, present, future, and then all the Selves he imagines he could be if only he studied harder, took the 9:05 train instead of the 9:16. His what if Selves.

Picasso had the right idea, but he didn't go far enough. We're rotating cubes. Even in 4-dimensions, it's impossible to catch ourselves at a glance. We'd need eyeballs in all spaces at all times.

When I attempt a self-portrait, I resign myself to one awkward, sick Self. I invest significant energy in trying to be a graceful and well-adjusted person. I reserve the right to be a demonic chimera in portraits.

Dear Cardiff: I think you're one fine cup of coffee.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I am 8 years old, and my dad tells me a story. A curse is put on a princess, turning her into a swan. She is banished to a lake with 12 swan maidens.

The princess can only appear to the man she loves in dreams, but even then she is terribly shy and never speaks. Instead she plays the harp. She makes the most beautiful music, more beautiful than Debussy and Arcade Fire put together.

The man falls in love with her. When he finds out about the curse, he doesn't give a damn. He makes his wizard turn him into a swan too.

After the wedding, the 12 swan maidens turn back into humans. The cursed princess and the self-cursed prince stay in the lake as swans.

This is the story in my head as, twelve years later, the swan follows me around the lake. I don't know why he's following me. I don't have bread. When I try taking his picture, he buries his head in his feathers, like one of those boys who look down in Facebook pictures.

The park is beautiful.

That night i work on my comic book. My drawing is okay, but my pacing is slow. Comic books are like movies. If you don't edit the panels, the reader gets bored.

i want to finish the comic before i come home for spring break. Since arriving Cardiff, i have been remarkably productive. Every day is another drawing or poem.

Next weekend i'm visiting Carolyn in Sheffield. The last time i rode a train across Wales, I sat next to an a man with giant thumbs, which he licked generously before turning the pages of his sheet music. That's the thing with Wales. Everyone has sheet music, a cello on their back.

The man on the train was a concert organist.

May we meet again, Big Thumbs. I raise my Mug to you.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

it gets dark quick

I cross the bridge and walk over the highway on my way to class. I walk over the highway on Saturdays and Sundays, too.

It gets dark quick. I've been looking up those bands you keep recommending. They're pretty good.

Air is my favorite. Their new album, 'Le Voyage Dans La Lune', is about flying to the moon. It's based on a silent movie that was made in 1902, before there were atomic bombs and UFOs and The Simpsons.

I'm happy that even people without atomic bombs and UFOs and The Simpsons thought about flying to the moon, which is La Lune if you're French. Once, I watched the silent movie, the one from 1902, in a class. Darkness pulsed around the edges of the picture, as if the camera, which when you watch a movie is your eyeball, was very tired.

When the camera is very tired, it is called vignette.
When the camera is sleeping, it is called blackout.

When the camera is dreaming, it is called fade.

My eyeballs fade, and the highway isn't the highway at all, but another one, a bigger one that goes further than London, and I read somewhere that France is smaller than Texas, and the United Kingdom is smaller than France, and the highway in my head ends somewhere in the Pacific Ocean whose edge you are standing on because it is too cold to surf and anyway you don't know how.

I don't know how either, but I'll learn. I'm learning lots of things, like how to make coffee so I don't have to buy it every day and how not to wear ballet flats in the rain and how to draw people without them knowing and someday I'll know so much that I'll never have to tell anyone where I'm from.