All posts by Patti Smith

This is Embarrassing but I have things in common….

…with Tr*mp. Other than the usual–we both poop, we intake oxygen at regular intervals, sneeze. But it goes beyond that. I’m not proud of this, but I feel him on some things, to wit:

1) I can hold a grudge. Did you piss me off in the third grade? I remember you! If we run into each other on Facebook, I will not accept your lame little friend request! Likewise, dum-dum seems to hold onto slights for an abnormally long period of time.

How can I fix this? This will be tough. The grudges feel my soul and keep me alive.

How does D fix this? Call up all of those people from high school, yell I’M THE PRESIDENT SORT OF KIND OF OKAY I DIDN’T REALLY WIN BUT I’M STILL GOING TO BE LIVING IN THE WHITE HOUSE FUCKERS. That’s what I would do. Will do, if I’m ever not-elected president.

2) I have a realllllllllly hard time letting go of things and people. Did I have a crush on you in high school? I probably still do! If you’re super lucky, you show up in a book! I’m too freaky-deaky shy to look you on up FB, but don’t think I’ve forgotten. Perhaps more sanely, I have a hard time letting go of friendships and thanks to social media, I am compelled to try to reignite friendships from years gone by. I always assumed I would be the big time author/lawyer/whatever (see previous post) and then swoop in to reintroduce myself to people, but social media came first. Fortunately for us all, as I said I am freaky-deaky shy and don’t randomly search for people because my stomach would get all tingly and my face all purple.

How can I fix this? I probably won’t. It’s pretty harmless.

How can D fix this? He has enough money to track down his high school crushes and enough money to pay them for things. Do it, get it done, move on son.  Since he has a “platform”, he can publish a book at will, too.

3) I used to lash out at people. Oh boy, this is a big one and really not something I ever thought I’d admit publicly. For much of my life, I had what one might call impulse issues. One could further take the hyperactivity test and find that while one does not have the “AD” part, one definitely has the “H” part. One might also be given tests to measure depression and anxiety and score off the charts. One might refuse to take the bipolar test because one has enough things on her plate, thanks, and I’m okay with where I’m at. But until those tests were taken by me (I’m back in 1st person, yay), I sort of limped along in life. I had/have a high IQ and can really focus when I like what I’m doing, so that got me along until my mid-20s when I was in a career that bored the shit out of me and required me to focus for long periods of time.

Okay anyway, so until then, I really lashed out at people without thinking. I found it charming when people who utter little bon mots at someone else’s expense. While it worked for Dorothy Parker, it most definitely did not work for me and I was neither making friends nor influencing people. Twitter wasn’t a thing yet (thank God), but I was very quick to shoot off emails and I went ad hominem way too quickly. I am not proud of this. I am forever thankful that I somehow reinvented myself into a nice person. I USE MY WIT FOR GOOD GODDAMMIT! Punch up, not down!

Point being, that I understand his knee jerk reactions. I do not in any way condone them, but I know it is hurtful when people say mean things or make fun of you on SNL or say you look like my dead aunt’s rotting corpse’s asshole. That hurts. Someone on the Internet once told me that she had seen my user pic and I was “not all that and a bag of chips”. That was completely unnecessary.

But here’s the thing I learned early in my Internet days and I think it’s a good motto for life: If you care that Joan from Iowa thinks you are an asshole, then the internet is not for you.

Here is a motto that I just made up: if you can literally start an international war, complete with the use of ICBMs, then the internet is not for you.

How can I fix this? Thankfully I already did, thanks to the fine little pills I take every night.

How can D fix this? Get the fuck off the internet, son. It’s not for you.

 

 

Oh the election!

It’s been a month now. I’ve been going back and forth between

and this

 

 

 

I really can’t decide which. Also, I cannot turn off the itallics for some reason so here we are!

Oh there we go! Off now, yay.

On the one hand, not that many countries can turn us into a smoldering ash heap and the ones that can seem to love them some Tr*mp. But on the other hand, there are plenty of countries WE can turn into a smoldering ash heap. And that is not good for anyone.

On the one hand, the activist base is fired up and we are talking #resistance which is something I have planned on for years (thought it would be the NeoCons, but it’s the NeoNazis. My bad). But on the other hand, what the hell can we really do? US Reps are gerrymandered into safe seats. We can maybe target our Senators, but how much power do they have given that filibustering has been limited?

Thus far my reaction has been to MAKE ART.

  • I’ve been cranking out storytelling ideas (since much of my life is aimlessly driving around, I can do this quite often). I am beyond honored to be telling at the Risk! storytelling night on December 15th at the Magic Bag.
  • I am shining up a book I started writing years and years ago with the hopes of shipping it to my agent (#humblebrag) in the new year. I am still writing locally, too!
  • I attended two separate artists meet ups and made some great connections, including someone who is attached to a performance art event scheduled for President’s Day 2017.
  • I am seriously thinking of creating a book for children and a book for teens explaining logical fallacies. (Yes, I have the Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments; it is not for kids). I feel like we need more of this in the world.
  • I am putting myself out there more, which can be painful but also exhilarating.

 

So….

Election

Like so many others, I am absolutely devastated by the election. This year started out so bright and has just dimmed to nothing. I’m working on something that I kind of want to turn into performance art of some kind but I don’t have know where to start and don’t really have the energy. It’s just a first draft and I want to do more…one day. I think it’s about having all of this privilege and thinking life will turn out one day both personally and for us all and then…not.

 

PRIVILEGE

It was supposed to be me
Getting the hot shot government lawyer job
Litigating the cases that would save the world
Writing briefs that are quoted for years to come
Being able to retire early
Getting mentioned in a 30 Under 30 article
Meeting important politicians
Being the hero lawyer

It was supposed to be her
Getting sworn in on January 20
At the inauguration ball
Making the world better
Keeping the health care, the safety net, the help
Strengthening the country
Proving everyone wrong
Being the president who saved the world

It was supposed to be me
Getting the kids to learn to read
At the school for every game
Making the kids love math
Reaching the kids that others couldn’t
First one there, last one to leave
Number one champion for the kids
Being the beloved teacher

It was supposed to be us
Being the winners
Feeling equal
Knowing we can do it
Proving everyone wrong
Cheering in the streets
Celebrating on social media

It was supposed to be me
Having a bidding war for my book
Selling movie rights
Writing an instant classic
Being able to retire from one book
Getting an Academy Award for Best Screenplay
Meeting all the people
Being the iconic author

It was supposed to be women
It was supposed to be PoC
It was supposed to be LBGTQIt was supposed to be all incomes
It was supposed to be all religions
It was supposed to be immigrants
It was supposed to be good for ALL of us

It was supposed to be different

We did a Thing

Quite often, perhaps too much, I brag about my adopted hometown of Ann Arbor. But I want to say that there are things that are possible here that just are not possible anywhere else. To wit, I was just noodling around in my brain a few months ago and thought, “Oh hey! It’d be cool if we had a performance art thing–storytelling, comedy, whatever.”

Now in some places, this is where the idea would have died. But I know someone who owns an improv theater and brewery, two tastes that taste great together. And I just emailed her like “ha ha just had this crazy idea, maybe a woman only thing I don’t know” and she was all HELL YES THIS WILL HAPPEN!

And BOOM! Here it is, right here. HERsay.

These are crazy creative women. The breadth and scope of the talent was off the damn charts. And it was, and several people told me after, the perfect anecdote for this bullshit election season. Plus, we raised about $600 for Planned Parenthood.

We will do this again. I hope you can join us.

We Are Doing a Thing

Washtenaw County is blessed with extremely talented people. I was thinking about things a couple of months ago, and this thought entered my mind. Since my mind is like a three year old rabid porcupine on crack, it then bounced to other thoughts like “wow, we have lots of talented women in our midst” and “they do so many cool things” and “we should all get together” and “why is this election bringing out the worst in people” and “is that MY foot??! That’s what it looks like, really?”

So I shared an idea with our friends at Pointless Brewery & Theater and to my endless delight, co-owner Tori thought it was a great idea. I put the word out and BOOM! We are doing a thing!

It’s called HERsay and I wish I could link our cool flyer to it but it won’t let me, so you will have to click on here to see the awesomeness!

It is on November 10th at 7pm at the aforementioned Pointless (Packard and Platt for the locals). We will either start by celebrating our first female president, or we will chuck it all and plan our move to Iceland. (I kid. Sort of). You will get to see and hear some outstanding women–telling stories, telling jokes, doing performance art, showing off visual art, tapdancing, performing a play and there are even some very brave women who are going to read from their junior high/high school era journals.

Best part? The generous folks at Pointless are donating a substantial portion of ticket sales to our friends at Planned Parenthood.

Get your tickets now, and be ready for a rollicking time on November 10th!

 

 

Happy Fall!

School has started, and as usual I find myself doing more writing. When I have open days full of fun and mirth, I tend to just partake in the fun and mirth and do little else. I presume this is why God did not make me independently wealth–because I will sit and do nothing, ever.

I wrote the centerpiece article for our own The Ann magazine, which is extremely exciting. It is never not a thrill to see your name in print, except I suppose if you are a defendant or accused of shooting someone.

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I also contributed to our beloved Observer magazine, in the Marketplace Changes section. Again, seeing something in print is quite satisfying, even though I do most of my reading on a screen these days.

Over at Mittenbrew, I wrote about a great great GREAT brewpub, ROAK. And I continue to write for Concentrate, about our local history.

While I nervously wait for my young adult manuscript to hopefully sell (hope hope hope), I started reworking a book that I started in the late 90s. My, how times have changed! I had them sending Yahoo! messages, and there was no mention of smart phones, and they were still reading newspapers. So I suppose I have some updating to do! Here is what it’s about:

“Did you ever have one of those ‘moments’?  Where everything is as it should be, and all is well on earth and you know you are exactly where you should be and doing exactly what you should be doing?”

That is how the self-described “depressive, rotund, nobody’s dream girl” Rebecca Slater, feels when she meets the mysterious, disfigured Mike Riley. Mourning the life threatening injury of her best friend, and coping with her own mental illness, Becca ends up lost and stranded and knocking on Mike’s door one rainy day. Having spent the past ten years hiding in his home, Mike is not ready for guests, and definitely not looking for friends. Over time, they build a friendship of two lost souls who find in each other what each one is looking for.


The antagonist is Mental Illness, and the plot revolves around her trying to find her way through a relationship will dealing with Bipolar Disorder and all of the fun that goes along with mental illnesses. The first part is the friendship, the second part is the relationship, the third part is MORE MENTAL ILLNESS FUN! I promise it’s not really depressing, but rather a realistic look at the antagonist that is in my head–in a lot of our heads.

Anyway, if anyone wants to beta read, that would be super. Meantime, the Write goes on….

 

Movie > Book

It is rare that I will say a movie is better than a book, but when the book is practically the worst thing you have ever laid eyes on then I guess it can’t be hard to be better.

What I’m saying is that I finally saw the movie for “The Road”. I hated that book. Hate isn’t even the word. I don’t think a word exists for the utter bullshit that book was. Before I got two seconds into it, I was like, “So heeeyyyyyy, no trees huh? No vegetation? Yeah, no oxygen then, son.” That’s my problem with most post-apocalyptic stuff, by the way. They wipe out everything and with it goes the oxygen only not because Stuff. (I guess it could have been the Rapture, and somehow God destroyed shit cuz God gonna God but left the oxygen…but that was never stated in the book.)

MAJOR SPOILERS A’COMIN’!!

 

Anyway, here is my review from BookShare in its entirety: The only thing that would have made me like this book is if they had eaten the father at the end

I have no idea how in the hell that book got a publisher, but I guess some people just live right. Anyway, the movie was actually not awful. The acting was great and HOW FUCKING GREAT is Garret Dillahut. My man has been the Terminator, the dad on Raising Hope, bad guys in other movies and in two minutes in The Road, he scared the fuck out of me. Really great actor.

But what got me was the ending. It was perfect, and how I would have ended this book except that I wouldn’t written this book because I would have pulled my own retinas out first and then ate them like the cannibals ate the people in the cellar. See, in the book, the kid is left on his own and a family approaches him. For some reason, the father of the family is described as a veteran but I don’t know why because it’s not like he’s wearing an Army uniform (that I recall). They take in the boy and the woman is kind to him and teaches him about religion and it seems like an okay ending.

But in the movie, I think things went much darker. There is a blink-and-you-miss-it scene earlier in the film where a woman and her daughter are running from cannibals. I am pretty sure that the mom at the end of the movie is that woman. There is nothing to indicate that the “veteran” dad is her husband or that the kids are their kids. They have a dog who is plump and happy. So my thinking is that the woman and her kid were kidnapped by the cannibals and were allowed to live by being “bait” for others. What a great cover story! It’s a family, with a dog no less, so come on with us AND THEN GET THE SHIT EATEN OUT OF YOU! It makes sense. The woman and her kid get to live, and get to eat (human flesh but whatevs), and what do they care about the people they ensnare? They even have a dog to pet! (And it would make sense for cannibals to have a dog, all the better to track and scout humans to eat).

This ending delights me. I figure that the moment after the camera cut out, they all went back and ate the dad. I know I am a horrible person, but I just couldn’t get with this book and especially not that crap of an ending. This ending makes more sense. It’s not happy, but you have no trees and so you have no oxygen and so you can’t breathe anyway oh ha, ha, that’s right, we are ignoring that but still the world is over, so the ending shouldn’t be happy.

 

Dance Camp!

So I did a thing last week–I went to camp! And not just any camp, but this camp! Isn’t it gorgeous??

I have never been to camp in my life. I had myriad health problems as a kid, and couldn’t go to any sort of outdoorsy-type thing. I first saw this dance camp advertised on the AACTMAD page (yes, it’s said “Act Mad”, which I think is wonderful). It was way out of my price range, but they were offering scholarships. Thanks to some generous folks, I received a scholarship that paid for most of the tuition. Then it was on like Donkey Kong!

Here is the Pretty that I was greeted with when I arrived on Sunday:

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That is Lake Huron, as seen from the porch of the lodge.

The first evening was basically spent settling in, eating dinner, unpacking. I was afraid that they wouldn’t let me come to the camp if I told them I had such bad asthma, so I didn’t say anything. That meant I was in a regular cabin, where the humidity was about 1000%. (This is not the camp’s fault; Michigan gonna Michigan). I made it through that first night, but needed the non-rescue, just regular inhaler when I woke up.

Every day, you had a choice of four different classes (you can see what they are at the link posted above). For my first class, I chose Mummers Play and it was about the best decision I could have made. The leader was a professor in Toronto, and had done these plays before. I had never heard of these plays before but THEY ARE FREAKING AWESOME AND I WANT TO DO THEM IN ANN ARBOR!

The basic idea behind the Mummers Play is for amateur actors to create a play, disguise them selves, and then bust up in yo crib to put on they play. It would be nice if you were to make it rain when the players were done, but not necessary. (Interestingly, this tradition got started back in the day when peasants were eating rocks and living in shacks and the rich people were eating free range, organic golden goose and living in velvet lined houses that crapped gold. The rich people realized that maybe they should keep the peasants busy [and throw a bit of the poopy gold to them]lest they realize how unjust things really were, and that there were a lot more peasants than there were rich folks. Does this sound familiar? Because it should.)

I could not have asked for a better troupe. We based the play around brains, as one of our friends in the troupe has brain cancer. We put it together during that week, and performed Friday night.

For the second class, I went to a Mulligan jig class because a) I had never heard of it before and b) I have never done a jig before (at least not intentionally). This is similar to what we did. I’m pleased to say that I looked EXACTLY like this dancer when the week was done.

HAHAHAHAHA! I’m just kidding. But our teacher was great, and I did pick up some of the steps. We did this jig in the yurt, which was possibly the muggiest place I have ever been in my life, ever. They could have dumped chowder on our heads and we wouldn’t have noticed.

 

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That is the yurt. It was really neat, just needed central air conditioning. As does everything, ever.

Our dance teacher was great. She teaches elementary dance in Canada and–oh, wait. What’s that? Dance? In elementary school? At a public school? Yes, my fellow denizens of Snyder and his ilk, our friends in Canada actually teach this sort of material to young kids. At a PUBLIC SCHOOL. I am so happy for them but so sad for us. I hate you, Snyder.

Anyway, then we had this thing called Gathering, which turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the day. Campers would get up and sing, or lead a poem, or do a skit, or generally just be awesome. Then we had lunch and the food was top notch. Seriously. I actually ate vegetables, which I normally do not do because I do not like vegetables. But the chef did something magical that made them not taste like dirt, dirty ass, or snot. It was amazeballs.

After lunch, there were more classes to take. I opted for “outdoor adventures” because I have really done not many of those. The first day found me horseback riding. Below is not me on the horse, but that is the horse that I rode. The horse was named Pete, and the little doggie was Bandit, who lived with the family who owned the horseys.

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Another outdoor activity found me doing technical tree climbing. This is likely the only kind of “tree climbing” I could ever do, given my girth. But there is my fat ass, up in a tree!

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So yeah, tilt your head sideways first.

I also did different kinds of English dancing, and was going to go kayaking but we got rained out.

For the fourth class, I had to pick something I knew I’d be good at and so I picked Improv. (It’s like how I encourage my special ed kids to do art because they tend to be good at art, and you need something to be good at when you suck at everything else, and I suck at most everything involving physical activity). I had an absolute blast, even in the sweaty yurt. The class was full of fun people who would do and try most anything, our teacher was a blast, and we just had so much fun being silly.

After, you could take camper-led classes and campers could lead classes on pretty much anything they wanted. This is a picture of the schedule that I took on Monday; lots more were added as the week went on.

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See how on Monday it says “chestnuts”? I presumed that it meant actual nuts. My friend, Linda Diane, makes chestnut flour and I thought “how neat! I can take some back for her.” Oops. Turns out that “chestnuts” are the super old English dances. They were very cool, and I’m glad I did them. I also went to the storytelling talk and the singing on Friday. I think I went swimming in Lake Huron on the other two days, or else I just sat on the porch and looked at the lake.

Our “beach party” was scheduled for Wednesday, but we got rained out. It was okay though, because we sat on the gorgeous porch and had a chocolate party and chatted and chatted and sang and hung out.

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The first picture was as the rained rolled in; it had cleared up by dinner time.

We had dinner at 5:45, and then every night had a concert by campers followed by a big ol’ English Country Dance. Even when there wasn’t a scheduled concert, there was always music somewhere on the camp. I miss that. I miss walking outside and hearing some lovely strains of beautiful music. The dances were a hoot. No one got mad (I do get snapped at and shushed and generally some negativity at my home group) and no one cared if you screwed up and everyone was happy. Here is the beautiful place where we danced:

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On Thursday night, some of us pulled mattresses out to the porch and slept outside. I have never slept outside before, and it was lovely. I woke up long enough to throw on my glasses and watch the sunrise, and then I went back to sleep.

I think this is the sunrise that I took that day, but I was pretty tired and it could have been another day but still–SUNRISE!

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We also had gorgeous moonrises!

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Probably the best thing I did for myself was to tell some stories during the gatherings. Despite a lifelong desire to be the center of attention and a love of public speaking, I am actually quite shy in person and it is sometimes hard for me to meet people. So on Tuesday, I got up and told my Plant People story (it’s not online as far as I know, so you just have to imagine!). It was a huge hit, and gave me something to talk about with people. On Saturday, I told the Bar Exam Results, which is my “go-to” story and one of my favorites.

Now that camp is over, we are madly friending each other on Facebook, and it is glorious! It makes me very excited for camp next year. Until then, I leave you with one last gorgeous photo:

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Summer is Halfway Over?

How did that happen? But it did. I counted the days and summer break was halfway over as of yesterday. (Remember, teachers report back a week early).

Wow! So what have I been writing? I’m a happy contributor to our local library’s Pulp arts and community blog. Our library is amazing. I mean, you can check out lawn games and artwork from our library. COME ON PEOPLE! That is AWESOME! Every time I meet someone who works at the library, I am completely impressed with how genuine and competent and cool he or she is.Mittenbrew

I also write for Concentrate/Second Wave Media. To my chagrin, my editor is leaving to move across the country. I am very sad about this, as he is honestly one of the best editors I have ever worked with. Hopefully, I can continue my association with them, because I absolutely love my twice-a-month history article that I write!

I am also a contributor at Mittenbrew, which has just grown in leaps and bounds since I joined a couple of years ago. It is really a thrill to write about the beer scene in Michigan. I have found it difficult to get my foot in the door in beer writing. I don’t know if this is because of limited opportunities, or gender issues (I did have one blatant issue of sexism crop up years ago), or what all. So I love them forever for giving me a chance to do this.

I’m also trying to concentrate on public speaking and storytelling. I have a long ways to go in both areas, so I am always watching speakers and tellers to pick up on ways to improve. I’ll be presenting a short talk at our library on Thursday, all about my co-op history book that I wrote. I always get nervous about these things–will anyone show up? will I just lose it right in the middle and start vomiting profusely? will I just stand there with my mouth open, breathing? I figure though that the day I stop getting nervous is the day I should stop doing it!

What have you been up to?

Ah, Summer!

It’s 11 days into summer vacation and it has been a wonderful time. Last summer, I spent my days sending query letters. That was a depressing event, let me tell you. Imagine all of the rejection you’ve ever got–ever–and multiply it by 100, add 40,000, multiply by 100 again and you still aren’t close. But good things happened! (We have yet to see if the book will actually sell, of course, and my dreams of a big advance/movie deal have sort of evaporated but I’m hoping someone buys it!)

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I’ve also been doing some writing, here and here.  (I am particularly proud of my use of Alice Cooper lyrics in the latter article).

Two weeks ago, I spoke at Nerd Nite in Ann Arbor. Shortly thereafter, I got invited to be part of the Michigan Showcase at our state’s annual Storytellers’ Festival. And of course, I’ve been binge watching Orange is the New Black.

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This summer, I am focusing on working on another book (juuuuust in case that begging kitten picture fails to warm the heart of an editor), English Country dancing (you’ve seen it if you’ve seen any of the English old timey movies, but here is a video), and playing some old timey base ball with this lovely group of women called the Merries. I even got my vintage base ball nickname: PO PO.

Here is to a great summer!

i love summer