Thursday, September 30, 2010

a poem by Kris, Taylor & Ryann

Upon Encountering a Rainbow

Oh, shit. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This is Water: David Foster Wallace & Kenyon

If you look closely at this picture of Kris graduating, you might notice who is sitting on the right there. That's correct. And that's why, until I die, I'll be jealous of Kris. Not just because he was lucky enough to have a writer, or one of my favorite writers as his graduation speaker (instead of Alberto Gonzalez-- who seriously just talked about how great Bush was the entire time...) but because it was that speaker, on that day, for that speech. 

Sometimes, even when you first meet someone, you learn just one tiny piece of information about them that feels so specific to you, it feels like someone must have sent that person to you. I try to pay attention to these people, because they've always turned out to be very important.

Which is exactly what happened when I met Kris the day after his 28th birthday and managed to figure out that not only was he present during the speech that is essentially the mantra of my life, but that he was just chillin there all calm like he normally is, from the front row. The front row as David Foster Wallace said all this. (Or Kris says read this one-- and he would know...because he was there!)

My general thinking was, Kris must be a better person than most just for having BEEN THERE. So far, it seems to be proving true. It might not matter to anyone else...this being in the front row for that speech, but it certainly matters to me. And so, if you haven't already taken my 100 requests seriously to read the "This Is Water" speech from Kenyon College Commencement, I highly recommend you do so now. Because Kris works for the CIA, and... well...

My People

As promised, here is a bit about my people. These aren't all of my people, but these are the ones I met first, the ones I see all day everyday, and the ones I don't anticipate going anywhere but up in my esteem. Now, when you hear all about our adventures, you'll have a frame of reference, since it certainly won't be the last time you hear about them.

When Gretchen isn't around, I don't feel complete. I love guy friends like nobody's business, but the world isn't as good unless you have a rad best girlfriend from San Fran by way of Middlebury by way of Massachusetts who'll show up on your doorstep for hikes that take all afternoon. Not to mention, clothes sharing, book sharing, talking about writing and general awesomeness. I'd be worried about anyone who didn't want to be friends with Gretchen. 
Oh, Taylor. Taylor was pretty much the first person I met here that let me believe I had made the absolute right move in coming here. Musician turned poet (he doesn't like to call himself a poet, but I do) and good old Southern boy, we give each other a lot of shit, but that's mostly because we're basically made of the same stuff. I know a kindred spirit from a mile away, but this guy I don't even have to spot because he's already banging down my door with it (and then laughing when he scares the crap out of me.)
I met our dearest Brit, Kevin at the same fateful dinner as Taylor and Nick when (it sounded like) he introduced himself as Heaven. He's been cracking us up with his refined yet off beat sensibilities ever since. He crashes other department parties with us, knows more about everything than us, has generally better clothes than the rest of us. He's kind of our mascot. And I'd sit and listen to him talk about pretty much any subject-- especially the Reformation, what he's studying-- any day of the week. And I pretty much do.


Kris, a fellow "old" as he calls us (We call ourselves) since we're, well, Old. He's actually my only friend here who's my age, and technically, he's still even a little bit younger than me. Most importantly, Kris is a deadpan stealth bomber. If you're not listening closely, you'll miss all the hilarious things he says. We think he got that stealthy because we're pretty sure he works for  the CIA. No, really. Besides that, he's probably the person at St. Andrews that I'm most jealous of, reason to be explored shortly.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

we were promised jetpacks, etc

As promised, Scottish bands. We had a DJ night in my room on Sunday where we basically went around pulling up youtube videos of comedy and music. When it was Kris's turn, he busted out with the Scottish bands, including these 2 fine examples. We Were Promised Jetpacks. Genius (the name, that is, but the song is pretty rad as well). 

A nice song about the North Sea... which is where we live. At the beach. Yes. 

feel flows- part 2

What if I started blogging more than once a day? Would that stress anyone out? If not all of them are long? Basically, while (so far) I'm still waiting on the breeze that brings that old fiction flow genie, the sheer volume of new, fascinating information I am learning about my surroundings, the people in them, literature is  going to blast me out of my own mind like a fire hose if I don't start sharing it. 

Like-- did you know that all the swans, specifically, in the United Kingdom are the property of the Queen? All of them. Pets. And messing with them is something close to treason or whathaveyou? (???) It's equal parts romantic and crazy. 

Plus, I really like posts to have coherent thoughts and not just everything that's going on today, so I like  the idea of completing posts and then just posting AGAIN if I feel like I need to, so let's just say, I'm upping the content level here a bit and if I need to back off, I will.

So I'll tell you that today, I kinda want to talk about music and I'm going to use that to get around to talking about my friends here and that's where I'm going to end the day. I'm roadmapping while we get used to this, but eventually I probably won't and you'll just have to go with me here. 

Later: Scottish bands
Even later: "cast of characters" (which is not meant to be objectifying-- you know who you are)
Even even later: cool stories about several of my people 

Starting with this one. 

I don't want to say too much about Taylor now-- I'll save it for later, but I will tell you that my dad liked him enough to friend him on facebook (Book Face?) and I've had this song stuck in my head since  the minute he played it for me. 
Aubade by Plum Nearly

Monday, September 27, 2010


Today is the first day of class, but it still doesn't feel like it. We don't go until 3PM, and we've already gotten an email saying that class would be late due to trains (most of our professors commute in for the few days a week they have class with us.)

Class today is more like a business of writing class where the poetry and fiction folks all meet together. Each week focuses on a particular aspect of being a working writer such as agents, the literary debut, the economics of being a writer (a topic I'm already sadly too familiar with) writing and the psyche, metafictions... you get the idea. I'm excited that Don Paterson will be teaching some of these classes. Even though ultimately I chose the fiction section of the course, he's probably the reason I initially gravitated towards St. Andrews in the first place four years ago when I initially thought about coming over here. It took me a little longer than I thought (doesn't everything?) but that night in New York at the Grammercy Club when I told him after his reading that I'd see him in St. Andrews soon.

Another official type thing: I've been asked by the St. Andrews Partnership/Visit St. Andrews to blog for them! I'm "the New Yorker in St. Andrews" so I'll be blogging over there a few times a month about New York Writerly type things and this fair city. Check them (and me!) out at

Gretchen and I (PS- I'm preparing a little "cast of characters" post so you'll know who I'm talking about when I mention the people I hang out with on a regular basis. Maybe I can even convince some of them to guest blog on here, since most of them are writers ;) went for an amazing hike yesterday afternoon. Next, we're going to follow the coastal path all the way to Anstruther and see how long it takes us. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Exciting Premiere! "In Your Name" from Nicholas & Alexandra

Are you guys totally sick of me talking about Scotland yet? If so, boy do I have a treat for you! No seriously, I am actually shaking a little bit because I'm so excited to finally introduce this recording to the public. We hadn't let it go public, but it's now up on Steven's website, so it's legit!

So that's number 1. My favorite man on the planet aside from my dad, my fantastic incomparable writing partner, Steven's website is up! 

-the revamped VOTE! title number as well
-a song from Steven's RBKids show that's in NYMF this year-- go see it!! 
-our amazing Morgana singing Steven's inspired arrangement of O Holy Night (as a side note, I think O Holy Night has some of the best lyrics ever written)
-crowd favorite clean recording of Autumn singing LWS

but ALSO! the world premiere recording of the Act One closer of Nicholas & Alexandra, "In Your Name."

We recorded this back in July in what was truly one of the best moments in my professional artistic life. It was one of those days when you just absolutely know that what you're supposed to do in this life-- and that it is beyond fulfilling. A real gift in my life: Autumn, and West Side Story Tony (hottie with a delightfully bent sense of humor) Jeremy Jordan and John Berno came into the studio with Steven and me and our longterm (forever) engineer, Mr. Jimmy Morgan. And not only did we have such a blast, but we ended up with this track that I am so effffffing proud of. 

I mean, I just sit back and let Steven's 4756396345276 piece orchestra hit me. Timpani for days. When the three of them come in together for that final chorus. Cellestes. Monks, church bells, singing in Russian, and (I'm just gonna say it) a practically orgasmic french horn solo. This is the reason why I DO THIS!

The set up of the song is Alexandra is at her breaking point over the declining health of her son, the future tzar, and has completely placed her trust in questionably motivated (and certainly dirty) Rasputin. In a particularly zealous prayer session, her husband Nicholas walks in to find her kneeling with Rasputin and a fight erupts. I love the scene because there's a lot of layers happening. Nic is worried for his kid, his country, and he's also just a plain old jealous hubby. Then, Rasputin comes back into the scene/song instructing Alexei, the son. It's creepster. It's amazing. The performances. Man.

I am nothing in this world without these people I work with, work for. It is their gifts I keep in my heart when I write. I've never been inspired a day in life without them. I am literally floored every time I think about them. There is not enough room for my gratitude. It's taking over the world. Watch out, it's coming for you. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I managed to fit everything in this room and now all I'm really missing is a phone. That's my project for tomorrow. It's been a pretty quite Saturday. Deans Court is kind of a ghost town... I haven't really seen anybody today... probably since they don't serve us food on the weekends. 

But I went and had brunch with Dad before he took off for Edinburgh. We were constantly commenting that no one here seems stressed out. In New York, the minute you step onto the street, you can feel the stress in the air. The hurry to get to the destination faster. It doesn't feel like that here. But there are so many things about it that remind me of what I always liked about New York. A lot of it feels a bit like the cutest parts of the West Village. With little shops and great little buildings, sidewalk cafes (if it's warm enough). There's always people out on the street walking, like NYC, but you never have to fight a crowd. It is beyond clean. 

The rest of the afternoon, I'm reading and heading to another postgrad "BBQ." They tend to call everything a BBQ, but there has been no actual BBQing... no cooking at parties of any kind. And doesn't BBQ tend to connote outdoors? Anyhow, "BBQ" and pub crawl... I'm sensing a trend here. But it's hard to say no to these guys. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

wild, unwieldy

Joy this wild, unwieldy-- it seems sometimes a bit too dangerous to sink into. In a way, it reminds me of YTI. How I felt so joyous...that my entire inner landscape might just blow up at the rate it was expanding. That couldn't be safe, right? Because you can't sustain that, right?

Already, characters are taking their places, somehow even filling YTI counterparts. So I wonder if I'm just going to honestly repeat this one event in my life over and over again. Measure all things against it, pigeon hole all things into it.

Rewriting that template I created for myself at YTI is part of why I'm not working on RISE here, right? Why I'm starting a completely new novel?

Maybe I'll just acknowledge it here today and let it go. At YTI, I allowed myself to be completely vulnerable to the people around me, invested completely in a couple of people, and took away an odd/beautiful/melancholy idea of what love was. An idea that love was fleeting-- which I managed to turn into an immortal and permanent idea. Amazing, the neuroses.

So if I blow myself up with joy, I blow myself up. I'm not casting anyone here as anyone else there. I'm not drawing any parallels.

Also wild, unwieldy is the amount of stuff I managed to bring here. After an adventurous and only mildly scary trip to the dock in kind of Glasgow, Dad and my reconnaissance for my belongings was a success and now I am looking at how much stuff I have in this room. I need more shelves, more book cases and way less clothes. And this after I threw SO MUCH away in NYC. I am a completely impractical person I fear. Oh well. At least I'm having fun. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

rainy day of reading

The first genuinely rainy day here. So I figured it'd be the perfect opportunity to curl up in my room and knock out some of the 2 novels I have to read by Tuesday. Even with the rain, it's lovely. Had coffee this morning at North Point (the English Post-Grads main hang out apparently) and finished registering completely. I also got my Bank of Scotland bank account. It's not like in NYC when it rains and all the filth of the city comes up. It's clean and fresh and it feels like they made this place just for me. Even my dad said this morning, "It's so YOU here." And practically without exception, everyone I've met seems to cut from the same cloth of awesome. 

Tonight, I'm thinking about going to see Conor McPherson's The Weir at the Byre theatre around the corner. I love me some Conor McP!

My room on the ground floor of Deans Court
Gretchen and I went for a great walk yesterday
I still can't get enough of these sunrise pics I took. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Good News

Day 2: infinitely better than day one. Weather not quite as nice, but I'll take friends and information over nice weather at this point in time. So far, I keep running into really nice Americans. Nothing like leaving America to make you appreciate Americans, right? A couple of hilarious Brits as well. I even went on a "pub crawl." 

Originally, we were maybe going to tag along with the campus postgrad pub crawl, but they were all tying themselves together with string, and we weren't into it, so we made our own. Our pub selections were not great, but we had a good time anyhow. 

School. My advisor is great. Loves politics. Should be a good time there. None of the post grad books are in the book store here, or any other ancillary book stores around town either-- awesome. So, God bless kindle I guess. Today (Wednesday, here) is the big English post grad day. Symposium, BBQ, party. Nothing like a bunch of nerds sitting around drinking and talking about books-- I can't wait!

In bathroom news, that is indeed my bathroom. So... I guess I'll jut be sucking it up or scheduling my showers at odd times like I did this morning at 5AM. I'll be wearing my hair almost exclusively curly here I'm guessing though since not one of the many adapters I've found is capable of making my straightening iron work. At least the water pressure is good here and it's hot-- which is more than I could ever say about NY showers most of  the time.

Super special thanks to McC for guest blogging for me. My schedule is still erratic, so it's nice to have her cranking out the awesomeness. Plus, it's just fun right? Even I'd rather read someone else's thoughts besides me on my blog. ;)

On that notes, here are some more pics, since you know how I like to make you all jealous. Ahahahah. 
my house. 
my street

St. Andrews castle

sunrise through the Cathedral door remains

Design Storm

Greetings Fergie & Fifers, Miss Jane here (aka McC)!

Miss Ferguson has granted me guest blogging privileges while she settles into her big new life, and I'm thrilled to grace the pages of this lovely real-life Anthropologie catalogue. :)

Let me begin by declaring Ryann my interior design SOUL MATE.
It was in the womb room circa the NYC transit strike of 2005 that our love was born, and the pages of Domino magazine (RIP) where it flourished. This girl can talk about the emotional benefits of an orange accent wall like no one I know (aside from maybe myself).

As she settles into her new home and makes St. Andrews her own, I thought I would post a little interior inspiration in the form of my favorite apartment on the planet.

It might be my rainy Seattle roots talking, but is this not the most delicious color palette you have ever seen?? It makes me think of a moody Scottish moor, with a bit of New York City sophisticate thrown in for good measure...kinda like Miss Fergie herself!

I picture the Brontë sisters living here if they were a little less Wuthering Heights, and a little more sleek Manhattan pied-à-terre.
xoxo Miss Jane

Read more about this gorgeous apartment at House Beautiful.

Images © Thomas Loof

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


So I'm here. It's been a really long couple of days and for the first time this morning, I am feeling a little more present. Driving up to St. Andrews was amazing. Despite Dad's continued insistence on multi-tasking while driving (Eating, fidgeting with buttons) and occasionally swerving onto the shoulder, the route in our upgraded Mercedes station wagon was seriously unbelievable-- and we didn't even take the scenic beach route. It was sunny and bright and brisk. Just perfect. 

Though once we got into town, other than how much I loved it, it just really sank in how young everyone is. I think I'd been somehow tricking myself into thinking I'd be living in some post-graduate paradise. But yeah, as I did actually KNOW, it's a whole lot of undergraduates. (I feel like I have a much greater respect for what it must have been like for the grad students at Rice now... oh.)

I suppose I just feel like I missed the welcome wagon a bit. Everyone already seems settled even though I'm only 2 days late and the information is not really free flowing. You know how much I hate to ask for help on things, but even the things I've asked about, people don't quite seem to know. Such as, why I'm assigned to an all male bathroom? Or in general just what's the deal with those? That's where I was directed, but I was never actually assigned. Maybe I'm more modest than I had originally believed myself to be, but I'm extremely uncomfortable. I've only seen men in that washroom and they've looked at me like I was crazy to be in there. So I haven't yet been able to take a shower. And I try to sneak in there late at night when no one is in there so I can even use the bathroom. I brushed my teeth and washed my face in the kitchen. 

So when I had hoped to feel excited and ready to take off, instead I felt a little bit lost and...just exposed...even to the point where I didn't want to post anything here for a while because... well I guess it's hard to say why... I guess exposure. Or protection. That when all the other elements of my privacy seem to be stripped away, I needed to hold on to some others. 

I suppose that's part of going back into this kind of living environment. I remember having a difficult transition with it at Rice as well. Being alone amidst people and alone alone. 

On the upside, I feel better after getting some sleep and I woke up to this:

Monday, September 20, 2010

three degrees of james joyce

One of the only things I was worried about coming to St. Andrews was that I would spend the next three years entirely on fiction writing at the expense of playwriting. It's nice to see already that this won't necessarily have to be the case. 

I got an email from the first professor I ever met from St. Andrews (And fave poet) Don Paterson about a little gem of an opportunity I'll be partaking in this fall. In junction with St. Andrews (the town's) Byre Theatre (which I had already been planning on going down and getting involved with) the English dept is having an intensive playwriting course with Israel Horovitz from the beginning of term through the end of October. Not only is Israel known for his translations, his frequent work with Al Pacino, but also for being besties with Samuel Beckett. 1. Samuel Beckett is a legend in his own right. 2. Samuel Beckett was James Joyce's protege and both figure heavily in what I believe I'm going to write my newest novel about (fictionalized versions of them, at least.) 

So to recap, week two of school and I'll be studying THREE DEGREES FROM JAMES JOYCE! And at the theatre where I had hoped to get involved. We'll each produce a 10 minute play at the Byre. And I thought I wouldn't overcommit myself ;)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

everything, all at once, all day long

Yep. So, off this morning on my 18 hour plane adventure from Vegas to Atlanta, Atlanta to Paris, Paris to Edinburgh. Then Edinburgh to St. Andrews! Let's see if my dad still has the chops to drive stick on the other side of the road! (He was pretty deft last time...who knew).

Since I'm not sure how soon my internet sitch will be sorted out once I get there (and I'll be busy lugging suitcases and collecting boxes from sketchy docks in Glasgow) I have a special mystery guest poster! (ooh!) Can you guess who my special mystery guest poster might be? Keep checking back to find out-- and depending on what happens, I may even be able to post some stuff myself until I'm completely up and running in my little room tucked in the eaves of Deans Court (at least, that's how I imagine it.)

I'm off!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I. like. my. whole. liiiiife.

For all those of you out there who once (or still) compared me to Tracy Flick, I thought I'd post this video in case you hadn't seen in when it blew up earlier this spring. Man, she really commits, doesn't she? And isn't that just the secret to anything? I think so... even last week when I was feeling all salty, I knew I wanted to commit to plan of action and not be twarted. It's always harder to commit, but committing to each moment is what makes them work. 

I also pretty much feel like Jessica today, my last day in the United States. I like everything. And I know that I wouldn't be able to go do this thing with my life if I hadn't been supported by so many of my friends (and last week! with all your kind letters, advice, and offers of places to stay!?) I am a very grateful and enthusiastic girl! 

Just like Jessica, I like my dads, I like my hair, I like my haircuts, I like my friends, I like my Emilys, I like my Adis, I like my Tigerlilys, I like my school, I. LIKE. MY. WHOLE. LIIIIIFE! I can do anything good, yeah yeah yeah yeah. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

fave photog/friend- johnny rozsa

In all my times in NYC, my friend Johnny Rozsa remains one of the most colorful, hilarious, and insightful friends I can think of. His awesome book, Untouched, came out this week!

I remember when he was first planning this book. During the really hard times in NYC (funny how it didn't end up being the really lean times that actually burnt me out-- I still had more fuse to burn back then) Johnny (and my entire East River South SGI district) was such an encouragement to me. He always seemed to show up when I needed him.

With no money (literally, absolutely no money, no job, and no more credit lines available to me) I wouldn't know what to do with myself sometimes. How to fill my hours when I was simply too depressed and distracted to write.

So I'd go running-- (and I don't even like running in general) something about running in the cold is nice to me-- I'd run from my apt on 4th and 2nd Ave over to Tompkins Square Park. Johnny lived in a garden apt across from the park and in the summers, he'd actually move his bed out onto the porch and sleep there. But this was just the last breaths of fall... just waiting until those leaves came off the trees... you can feel it, any day now. And somehow, whenever I was really struggling, he'd be sitting all bundled up on a park bench with his three little doggies, his crazy ponytail and sunglasses, fingerless gloves. And he'd be ready with some fantastic new plot for life. "My life will be in great sections-- one fourth of my life in Africa, one fourth in London, one fourth in NYC, and then now to decide where to spend the last fourth." The kind of crazy life plotting, life determinations that keep me up at night. I remember sitting on the bench there with him and talking about how long it took for so many of his artistic goals to come to fruition (turns out, it's way longer than I was comfortable with at the time [...okay, still]). And how he wanted to do a book anthology of his work.

Many of my favorite riotously hilarious stories come from Johnny (many are also just slightly too off-color to tell here) But Tina Turner is who introduced him to our Buddhist practice. Just sat him down. I mean, that's a good story.

He had a knack for either star-making or just exemplary timing, as whoever he photographed seemed to immediately rise from obscurity to the heights of fame shortly thereafter.

An afternoon on his website is about 80% as enthralling as an afternoon with the man himself, so I recommend, as fall really kicks in here, to take a lazy afternoon if you have one, and spend sometime getting lost in Johnny Rozsa land.

I miss this guy. So grab his book-- because who doesn't need a new coffee table book?

For my new UK friends, check out an article on Johnny this Sunday in the Telegraph!

Why Stop Now?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...