Saturday, May 19, 2012

This Space Is Not For Rent

When I started this blog back in 2008, I wasn't sure what kind of content I'd be putting up here. I didn't then, and still don't, read many blogs and didn't have a clear concept of the function of them. But I thought it would be a good outlet for my musings and observations and a way for people (mostly friends and family) to keep up with developments in my life. I hoped it would get me writing more regularly, which it has. 

And mostly, the feedback I get from my small readership is positive. People tell me they think the blog is funny (and cleverly named -- thank you, Noah!) and when I don't post for a while, it doesn't go unnoticed. My stepdad, for instance, is always encouraging me to post more because he likes forwarding my posts to his co-workers, who apparently enjoy reading it despite having never met me. 

So all in all, I dig the whole blogging thing.

But it has happened occasionally that someone will ask me to take down a post, usually for their own personal reasons. And this really irks me. Because this is a personal blog. It's not The New York Times. And I stand by my right to write whatever I feel like. Now, I don't engage in personal attacks (well, not often) and I never aim to hurt anyone's feelings. I don't lie/make things up, either. I may exaggerate for the sake of humor, but I think that's within my creative prerogative.

So when I was asked yesterday -- well, actually, more like told -- to take down a post (a poetry post, no less) from last December, it really pissed me off.  The issue was that before reposting the poem, I explained my connection to the poet. And that connection was that we share an ex. I said I'd never met her, but that I admired her work and hoped to meet her someday. And then I posted her poem, which had been previously published in Ploughshares. 

Apparently, six months later, she came across it and freaked out on our mutual ex, and he basically demanded I take it down. Which I immediately did. But I'm irked, especially because of how he went about it -- he didn't say "Hey Katie, [redacted] saw your blog post that mentions her dating life and she's upset. Would you consider taking it down or editing out that part? I would appreciate it, thanks."

No, he wrote in an email including the link: "Delete this."

Again, I did. I don't want to upset people.  And to be fair, he called and apologized for the curtness of the request.

But this isn't the first time this has happened, so I feel compelled to assert here, on this publicly-read space that I 100% author and own, that I feel entitled to write what I want here. If you are in my life, you might wind up here. Sorry, them's the breaks. For instance, if you are an ex-boyfriend and cavalierly brag in an e-mail about having sex with a Brazilian, I might design a t-shirt that says "I Fucked a Brazilian" and post the image here. (Stuff white people like: boasting about one-night-stands with non-white people?)

Oh, wait, I did do that -- but then I took it down when he asked me to. Even though I did not name him or provide any identifying information, i.e. there is no way anyone who doesn't know me personally would know whom I was talking about.

So from now on -- I'm not taking anything down anymore. Date me/be my friend with caution, I suppose. I can promise that I won't make up things about you or say intentionally nasty things. But this is the masthead of my blog:

Editor-in-Chief:  Katie Vagnino
Managing Editor:  Katie Vagnino
Staff Writers:  Katie Vagnino
Copyeditor:  Katie Vagnino
Publisher:  Katie Vagnino 

You get the idea. If you think I'm a snarky bitch, feel free to write all about it on your blog and I will never ask you to take it down.

(here's that aforementioned t-shirt design. It is available in S, M, L, XL)

Monday, May 7, 2012

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine posted one of my poems on his blog. I'd like to return the favor -- so here are two pieces I'm particularly fond of by Peter Swanson. Peter took my formal poetry workshop at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education and decided to trust my feedback even after I misspelled "scansion" on the board on the first day. Since class ended in March, we've stayed in touch and continued to workshop poems in various bars around Boston. Fun fact: He also got his M.F.A. at Emerson. Currently, he lives in Somerville with his wife (the talented Charlene Sawyer, who designed my new website) and their delightful cat, Finty. Hope you like his work as much as I do.

First Day of Kindergarten

You will now be judged by those who do not love you.
The life you had before will be given new names:
recess, reading-time, the weekend, summer.
And the world will be divided into two—

into those of us who spend our years
attempting to undo that day, to find
the comforts of the book-lined nursery,
the ancient house that's filled with family,

And into those who try to replicate
the hour when the dullness of their lives
exploded in a thousand leaves of fire.

Jetsetters and the dream-besotted,
you will know them by their distant gaze,
their eyes, once yours, now fixed on trailing lights.

Dainty Curtains

"It was a room-shaped room with furniture-shaped furniture and dainty curtains."
– Ian Fleming, Thunderball

Our dreams, and nothing else, imagine rooms
Not shaped like rooms. We wake in bed-shaped beds,
And drag our human shapes through day-shaped days.
New shapes will never change our waking words.

Our love, be it ordinary, murderous,
Bestial, spiritual, always assumes the shape Of love. The words define themselves for us:

Give us this day our bread-shaped bread
And forgive us our dreams that come stranger
Than fiction. Forgive us our bodies
That wither like bodies, and give us our coffins

In their coffiny-shapes. For Heaven,
We know, is devoid of rooms and furniture,
While Hell is lined with dainty curtains.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Next Stop: The Windy City

The rumors you've heard are true. As of mid-July, I will be a Chicago resident.

What's prompting this relocation? Not a job. Not a lover. Not a quarter-life (third-life? I don't plan to make it to 120) crisis. I'm just ready for a change of the big, dramatic variety. I've been living on the East Coast since 1999, when I moved to Connecticut for college. And it's been good to me. But I guess what they say is true -- you can take the girl out of the Midwest, but you can't take the Midwest out of the girl. 

I'm feeling the pull to be closer to my kin. I'm tired of paying $7 for a beer. I long for strangers to smile at me on the street. I am excited to see my family, almost all of whom live in St. Louis or further west, more than once a year.

The hope is to find a teaching job or writing gig with some creativity (i.e. not writing ad copy). Till I find the right opportunity, I'll be dipping into my savings. I do have my housing figured out; I'll be moving in to the 3rd floor of my best friend's lovely townhouse in Old Town. For the first time in my adult life, I will have a dishwasher and a garbage disposal. And access to a kitchen/dining room suitable for entertaining.  My dream of having a spice rack may actually become a reality. 

This move means big changes for Maude, as well -- she will be sharing her home with ANOTHER CAT. We'll see how than pans out. The other cat is, like her, older and pretty mellow so hopefully they will just stay out of each other's way. Hopefully.

Not that Boston has been a bad experience -- quite the contrary -- but I'm excited for a fresh start, new people, a new city to get to know. I will of course miss some folks here, but I have 2.5 months to say my goodbyes. I think when the time comes, I'll be ready to leave.