judging books by their covers

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It’s officially summer! It feels like we slept right through Spring (anyone else?), but filling up my schedule with creative projects is helping keep some sense of normalcy in this odd time.

I spent the past three months of quarantine assembling my first book of poetry, and now comes the fun part- DESIGN. Fun, yes. Terrifying? Also, yes. I have always loved literary design, books and magazines with beautiful formatting…but creating one of my own that does justice to the poems I’ve pored over and describes my brand as a first-time author…that is a daunting task!

I’ve been perusing local bookstores (though it’s quite difficult in a germ-centric world), and scouring my own collection for inspiration. I’d love to share ideas and sneak peeks of the process here as I continue. Are you interested in book design? Where do you find inspiration? What kind of books are you drawn to? I’d love to know!

photos taken at pvd’s Riffraff bookstore/bar/café. Providence is the coolest.

i’m writing a book

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So speaking of books, I’m writing one!

I know, it’s the quarantine cliché; the early stages of lockdown put all kinds of pressure on folks to write the next best seller. But a few weeks into isolation, I found myself so motivated to put my poetry into a collection. Alas, here we are…

 

I am nearly finished with the first draft and knee-high in tutorials on self-publication. I will keep you updated here, but I would love to know…

Do you read poetry? Would you ever consider buying a complete book? What kinds of illustrations or imagery do you connect with when reading poetry? Who are your favorite poets?

brain walks

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What are you reading? Are you reading? I admit, I’m usually a slow reader. I tend to get distracted, rereading the same sentence 4 times or coming to the turn of a page  realizing I have no idea what I’ve read. BUT! Quarantine has been different.

Lately, I have found it helpful to escape into other worlds, living vicariously through characters and studying the minds of authors, considering why they carefully chose one word over another to craft beautiful prose as with Anthony Dorr or Annie Dillard. It’s been nice to dance around a new place in my mind while my body is trapped between walls.

I have given myself a (loose) goal of finishing one book a week, to keep the momentum going. I’ve also been accidentally matching my dress to book covers, which is a fun little mood-boosting bonus :)

Currently, I’m enjoying Lily King’s Lovers & Writers. The familiar setting (it takes place in Boston in 1997) and characters (it follows a young writer as she navigates love and finishing her first novel) place me so comfortably into a group I have always wanted to mingle my way into. The main character also works as a waitress at a busy restaurant, another lovely reminder of how sweet the bustling of civilization can be. Weaving through King’s relatable pages has provided some semblance of balance these past few days.

These days, reading feels like taking my brain for a walk.

I’d love to know…what are you currently reading?

baked in

I’ve noticed that throughout this isolation, even in the monotony of staying home every day (what day is it, by the way?), there are profoundly “good” and “bad” days.

I have also noticed, that what I choose to do with these days greatly affects my mood as I crawl into bed at the end of the night.

In this quarantined world where time spent outside has become a commodity, sometimes I feel a bit pressured to Get Outside And Enjoy The Weather! And yes, I can attest to the therapeutic effect a walk outside can bring. So it’s a bit surprising to find that every so often, a rainy afternoon like this one is actually a bit of a welcomed treat.

It’s the perfect excuse to bake up something comforting and curl up with a book. Or whatever your version of rainy-day-leisure might look like. If you are in need of a recipe for something sweet and easy, my banana bread (which is adapted from a Baked Greens recipe), has become somewhat famous in the studio, and you might already have all of the ingredients on hand…

What You Need:

3-4 overripe bananas

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1.5 cups flour (I usually use oat flour which you can make by blending oats, but any flour works!)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon (or more to taste)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mash the bananas and then add all the wet ingredients and mix well. Add the baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and mix that. Add the flour in last (sometimes I sift it in if I’m feeling extra fancy) and mix just to combine.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Fight the urge to cut it open until it has cooled…or just dive in! Perfectly finished crumb structure is overrated. ;)

so much time

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So now that we’ve established that I’m feeling a bit better, how are you? Are you still working? Even though I am not, I read something about working from home during this strange time that comforted me. It went something like…

“You are not working from home right now. You are at home, in a crisis, trying to work.”

Or are you, like me, suddenly finding yourself with a lot more time on your hands? How are you filling it? I’ve been reading lots, cooking (and washing so many dishes, ha!), and painting…

It’s been fun to tap into another side of my creativity, and find a bit of a voice in a medium outside of my body. And on that note…

There seems to be a lot of excitement- both within the ballet world and workout culture- about using quarantine to get into the best shape of your life. While I know the intention is purely to keep our art form alive and encourage some normalcy in the day-to-day, I have found myself (more than once) feeling pressured to “push myself.” I have done my fair share of kitchen barres (winking at all of my pvd friends with that little pun) and have enjoyed feeling connected to the dance community through live streams and shared feelings of fear for our collective future. But on the days when I am frustrated by the thought of attempting to close fifth or relevé on a hard wood floor, I remind myself that we are in a pandemic and nothing about life is “normal” right now. So many things feel frustrating. And that feeling is okay and dare I say “normal.”

So if whatever you usually do to make yourself feel good just doesn’t quite feel right, try doing something else. And if that doesn’t melt your butter, try letting it all go.

Some clichés are around for a reason, so I’ll leave you with…

This too shall pass.

We’re all doing what we can. Put on real clothes- or don’t. Fix everything, read all of the books, cook all of the courses- or don’t. Keep going. Take breaks. Call friends. Ignore the world. Journal. Be patient with the process. Be patient with yourself. Hang in there, friends. This too shall pass.

checking in

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Wow. Hi!

Hi.

I’ve typed that, but not said it out loud to very many people in the past 3 weeks…month? How long have I been home? Oh, how I’ve been treating these walls like they can talk…

I’m sure many- all?- of you are in a similar situation. Isolated in your home, cautious of the outdoors, downright fearful of would-be weekly tasks like grocery shopping. This is a strange and scary time. I’ve been doing a lot of checking in with others, making sure they are taken care of. Sending surprise flowers, tiny painting deliveries, random messages to let friends know I am thinking of them. But I’m starting to realize- not through the deep contemplative all of this “free” time imposes on us- but in the physical weakness I feel pulling at my guts tonight, that I have not checked in with myself.

When the ballet shut down for one week, I smirked at the overly optimistic decision. When rehearsals were further suspended another seven days, I knew it would be much longer. With this foresight, when the season was cancelled, I was sad, but staid. Now, almost a month later, from what feels like the clear blue sky, I feel shaken.

As I write this, I feel the need to point out how privileged I am to even have this yearning. To be able to do something that I love so much that I feel heartbroken to have it cut short. This in itself is evidence of my overwhelming privilege, and this is before we note all of the things that I still do have- my health, a beautiful home, a safe family, a loving and supportive boyfriend…

But tonight I am allowing myself to feel some bad feelings. I am letting myself feel a bit empty. Despite all of those things I do have filling my cup and floating me up, I am letting myself sink just a bit. I am writing down some sad thoughts in a time when everyone else’s struggle has seemed far more grave and important than my own. I am having a good cry, a cup of tea, and pancakes for dinner. And you know what? I feel better already.

a week in the clouds

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a week
steeped in sugar
rolled in strolling
wrapped in bubbles
painted gold
sweet as syrup
sweeping her up
pb pocket
stolen rose
cypress trees
and olive branches
chilly knees
and cheeky glances
a week of temples
scraping skies
still not so good
with those goodbyes
so let’s linger
in the clouds
and make no plans
to come back down.

Oh what week it was. We lounged and loved. Blueberry pancakes, mimosas, cross word puzzles, bubble baths, more champagne…

Walks through the park to the Met, stepping into art history classes, falling into a world of waterlilies with Monet, contemplating mortality in various vegetation with Van Gogh. Umbrella sharing, stranger staring.

A fresh cut, countless fresh pots. A sunny solo down Madison, many mirrored self portraits. A new dress, a beautiful ballet, a first Valentine’s Day.

Reaching into the clouds on our terrace and staying up high all night. Chinese food on silver platters, Friends old and new, and one big realization: Desmond’s a beagle.

Hovering over the city’s prettiest pieces, lingering a bit longer as we wake each other up the best way we know how. A week of unabashed luxury and leisure. Creamy clouds, drizzly clouds, cotton clouds, and silky ones; My head will stay wrapped in your sweet slice of sky, until we meet again.

sugar on the road

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Hey, hi, hello. We have to stop running into each other like this! And by like this, of course I mean with far too much time between visits…

I have been neglecting this little space a bit, as life has just felt full up to the brim. I’ve been reading and dancing and working and writing and loving and occasionally sleeping. But today is my first Nutcracker of the season (a guesting in Winchester!) and what else but Nut to make you feel nostalgic enough to sit down and document?

Grand Pas never seems to get any easier. Season to season, you never know what you’re going to get. Steps that I’ve breezed through in previous years are giving me trouble, and things that I have always struggled with feel smooth and clean. It’s all sugar and spice, and sore toes. The most wonderful time of the year!

A few photos from the rest of life lately, if you are interested…

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breathed into being

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Setting sail from one sweet port to the next. Finding an upturned lip in the darkened threads of a couch. Seeing stripes in the reflection of a metallic basin. Counting days, hours, minutes…then losing track of everything and anything at all.

Dancing and romancing, singing tragedies without words. Becoming someone else for an evening, savoring their spark, pushing away their sorrow. Remembering that acting can intercept with reality and- even when you don’t intend it- life informs your art.

Noticing the frayed string of a tiny tea bag. Imagining the one-sided conversation heard by strangers in the park all the way on the other end of the telephone. Imagining the way his eyes flicker when he’s saying something serious. At night, wrapping myself in the weight of us; In the daytime, walking light as air.

All of these things can be used. Taken, molded, changed, wrapped around a different character, and breathed into being on stage. And just as easily, when the time comes and the final curtain calls, they unwrap from around your limbs and dissolve into memories. A beautiful catalogue to return to from the next life.

“I’ve never been good at goodbyes.” So darling, I’ll see you soon.

benefit speaks

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“The world gave me many things, but the only thing I ever kept was absolute solitude.”

-Dulce Maria Loynez, Absolute Solitude

In the busy bodies of modern humans, you will find many cluttered minds. Wade deeper into the rising tide of the millennial mind, resist the pull of digital distraction and you will find a sliver of longing. Small and made of negative space like the eye of a needle, soft as an echo, this little longing looks for real connection.

Locating and listening to this longing may sound tough, but the true challenge lies in deciphering its request. In a culture where connection may be an epidemic, we must learn the difference between connecting with a pixelated person and a tangible one. Sometimes connecting with others requires a reconnection with oneself. Enter the Benefit Street Stroll I took myself on this past weekend…

I am a lover of solitude. There are few things I can’t do alone, and in fact, I often prefer it this way. Recently, though, I have found myself longing for some company, reaching for a hand when the cobblestones snag my shoe.

Instead, I got an afternoon of connection with the city I love. I stumbled upon a tour of the Stephen Hopkins house, a pocket of Providence history ripe with rebellious stories and shadows of the past. I tucked myself into the Athenaeum, searched for Georges Sand, got to know Walt Whitman, and filled several pages of my journal, reflecting on just how much can change in a year. Or two. Or three. I took the time to notice the colors of the homes matching the blushing autumn sky. I sifted through the crackling confetti fallen from trees that will too soon be sleeved in snow.

I decided to learn what I already knew: You are never truly alone, if you can listen when your city speaks to you.