To Boldly Go

It’s me, Ogham Stone editor who was a physicist in another life (one where I had better handwriting).

The Ogham Stone

By Eve Taft

Little blue-green terrarium spins

Goldilocks distant from atom-smashing ball of heat

Which whirls through the void, carrying with it the eight

Who depend on its life-giving brilliance

It carries them through the suburb of a starry city

Build around a hole in the universe

Insatiable, tiny bipeds explore

Little blue-green terrarium

And then tilt their heads upwards

They go flying through the dark matter

Searching for new stars and new life

They play capture the flag with their moon

And send out glass eyes to find light

From the beginning of everything

Infinite universe keeps getting bigger

Tiny bipeds magnify its building blocks

And map its edges

They write stories about the shapes of the stars

And study them, writing libraries worth of knowledge

Blue-green terrarium spins on

And tiny bipeds boldly go

Where no one has gone before

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Day 53

It’s the 53rd day I’ve been in isolation. That’s not really using the term properly, because I’ve gone to get groceries and managed a few walks and things like that. But it’s been 53 days since anything has been normal in my life. Longer than Noah was on the Arc, I remember thinking, a week ago.

The last thing I did that bordered on normal was taking my friend Taylor to the Dublin Airport on the 12th. After that, my world got smaller. University moved online, we weren’t allowed to go more than 2km from our houses, and if I wanted my boyfriend to visit, we became forced to sneak around like teenagers.

At first it felt temporary, so I tried to take advantage: sleep as late as I want, laze around, get more writing done, act like I was on vacation. Then I tried a routine of sorts, but I’ve never really been great at artificially imposed structure. Then I got depressed.

Now I’m just sort of going it day by day, establishing a sort of peace. I’m growing out my pixie cut, which has turned in a mop that gets in my eyes but is too infuriatingly short to ponytail (yet). I go to Zoom Class, I call my friends, I stay up late and sleep ’til noon. I’ve been binge-listening Hello From the Magic Tavern, and by Stitcher’s guide, I’ve put in close to 200 listening hours since this all started. I’ve mentally choreographed dances to the RENT and West Side Story soundtracks. In a Guillermo Del Toro movie, this would be a montage with happy music played in minor key, and the months would fade on and off the screen: March, April, May.

I have it incredibly good. Probably as good as is possible, at the moment, and I wish more than anything that EVERYONE could stay in and stay safe.

I read the news about what’s going on at home (The States) and I rage or I cry. The absentee ballot I mailed in a few weeks ago? As good as shredded, because New York State cancelled the primaries. People are walking around with signs that say “Work Will Set You Free,” the inscription above Auschwitz. Armed protestors showed up at the state Capitol in Michigan, demanding that the country be reopened. Nurses and doctors have died, not only of the virus, but of suicide. I used to read the NYT case and death count every day, but I’ve stopped.

This is one of many in a sea of quarantine blogs, as we all try to figure out what the hell is going on, and I’m not really saying anything new.

I feel like I’m writing a love letter to the life I had before March 13th, drinking gin and tonics in dim-lit bars, Dungeons and Dragons nights, getting coffee with someone or other nearly every day, watching the world go by from the second floor of a bus.

To really love something, I think, you have to take it for granted. You love whatever it is so much that it is cemented into your life, and you don’t imagine life without it.

I didn’t get this involved in day counting until I lost something else I loved, loved so much that I never thought loss was a possibility. As I’d said to my therapist: “I worry about everything, but this is so horrific that even I never worried about it.”

After Madison died on the 30th of September, 2018, I spent the 30th of every month sadder than usual. I counted how many days she’d been gone, likening it to things: a menstrual period, a semester, the gestation of a human, a birthday of mine, then hers. At first, I was older than her for a month and 10 days, as normal, then I was 23 when she should have been 23 too.

On the first anniversary, I sat outside and waited until one in the morning, because she died around 8pm Eastern Standard Time, and that worked out to 1am Greenwich Mean Time. I remember counting: we’d been friends for seven years. A month or so ago I checked my math and no, it was 8. How could I be so stupid? The answer knocked the wind out of me: the 8th year was the one she’d been gone for.

I started looking at patterns, finding the anniversaries of the worst days of my life. I’m not someone who’s big on holidays, and I’m a compulsive birthday-forgetter, and if something isn’t in my day planner, forget me showing up to it. Trying to find some sort of meaning in dates didn’t make any sense for the kind of person I am.

It’s now been 1 year, 7 months, and 5 days that I have been without her, and the counting habit is still here. I count days in isolation, doing math in that weird, slipshod way math teachers hate, (it was March 13th so 31 -13 = 28 + 30 +5 = 53), wondering if it means anything.

I used to get stressed out about those birthday jokes: you’re one year closer to death now! But then I realized that as someone who doesn’t believe in predestination, I’m not counting down to a set end date: I’m adding bricks to the wall that is my life. Another trip around the sun that I made it through. A life I was building into nothingness, the way the universe expands, as opposed to someone trudging through a predetermined set of days.

I started thinking this because for a while, every day I lived without Madison was a feat. The days were long and they all hurt too much. For a while, the only reason I stuck around was that I didn’t want to cause anyone the horror of looking at a too-young corpse. I’d been through that and wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Those days, that 2018-2019 winter weren’t just some god crossing off my allotment, I fought my way through each of them, tooth and goddamn nail. I fought for each of them, even though I didn’t want a single one.

When spring came, I explained to a friend: “At first I definitely would rather have been dead. Then, for a while, I was ambivalent, but willing to find out if things got better. Now I objectively would rather be alive.”

The friend in question hugged me for a good thirty seconds straight.

I didn’t intend this post to be about grief or any of the other dark places I’ve wandered. Still, I’ve always believed it’s better to be frank about these things rather than swallowing them. If you do that, they get to eat you alive, and darkness shouldn’t get to do that.

There will be many more days in isolation, and the rest of my days will be spent without Madison. I’ll spend a not infinitesimal part of my life thinking about how our fourth dimension, time works. Smarter people than me will continue to study that part of the universe. Maybe we’ll learn to travel back and forth, up and around, under and through. Maybe I’ll still have the dreams that I can change the worst things that have happened.

I hope we keep as well as we may, even though it feels that, like the Mad Hatter, Dormouse, and March Hare, we may have gotten on Time’s bad side. I’ve hoped for less death and less suffering all of these 53 days, and I’ll do so again tomorrow, on the 54th.

Inflatable Dinosaurs on a Road Trip the End World Hunger

One of my many gigs…

Inflatable Dinosaurs on a Road Trip the End World Hunger

After I graduated from college, I cast about for jobs in my field and out of it. While I waited for calls, I sweated at a warehouse, which is the subject of another piece, tentatively titled “Why I Probably Hate Your College’s Logo.” As I slowly went mad unloading containers of spiritwear from China, I went through the interview process for a two-month traveling gig, where I’d educate people about food security and agriculture.

Lo and behold, I got the job, left the warehouse without looking back, and hopped on a plane to St. Louis.

Basically, the gig was this: as part of a travel expo, I would bounce around the country, stopping mostly on college campuses. We would engage with students, donate to a local charity, and generally make a nuisance of ourselves as people tried to get to class.

The team consisted of four people: me, Kaitlyn (an actual gem), a 30-something ex-marine I’ll called Chaotic Neutral, and the human embodiment of Satan on earth, sent here to make the rest of us miserable for six weeks as punishment for the crimes of humanity.

Our mascot was a dinosaur, (we were making hunger extinct) and most of our merch was dino-themed. One of the jobs on exhibit was to dress in an inflatable t-rex suit and attract people to our tables. This was generally done by Chaotic Neutral, though I took a few turns in the suit.

We started in St. Louis, for training. A day or two in, Satan discovered a problem: namely, that in the job description, we’d been told we needed close-toed shoes, and she had nothing aside from her birkenstocks. She began asking our boss to pay for a new pair for her. Naively, I thought this was a little high maintenance.

A few days after she’d finished protesting the shoe issue, Lucifer’s Earthly Icon and I decided to go get Chinese food. She began quizzing me on my bisexuality, a subject I’m no stranger to being interrogated on. Her mind was blown when I said I had mostly, but not exclusively, dated women.

Then she got the part that everyone seems obsessed with: Had I Ever Had Penetrative Intercourse? Which was the beginning of a lot of people’s favorite debate: How To Decide If a Bi Person Is a Virgin. As usual, I deflected, because really, one must preserve at least some mystery.

“So, like, when you masturbate, do you do penetration?” asked Beelzebub, who had at that point known me for less than a week.

“Uh,” I said.

“Do you have orgasms?” she asked.

“Well,” I said.

The Devil began to discuss how difficult it was for her to achieve orgasm, how often she masturbated, and how she was bi too.

“Would you go out with a woman who wouldn’t go down on you?” she asked.

“Er,” I said.

“I think vaginas are gross,” she continued.

Wontons,” I told myself, “soon you’re getting wontons.

We got wontons. And Satan got her new shoes. And then we flew to Washington D.C.

Here are a few basics about how the exhibit worked.

We would call people over, get them to take a quiz, and then let them spin a prize wheel. It was pretty straightforward fun, but as anyone who’s ever worked with the general public knows, there were plenty of ways it could be fucked up. One this we miscalculated was the average knowledge of geography that any American has.

When the wheel landed on “t-shirt,” players had to answer a question correctly before we gave them a shirt.

We had a list of questions, including “Which state in the US is the most food insecure.” Answers varied from “Canada” to “Chicago.” The answer was, in fact, Mississippi, though no one believed me when I told them this. I even had a few people react angrily.

I wanted to point out that I, a food security roadie, couldn’t help the fact that Mississippi was the most food insecure state. I mean, in a round-about-way, my job was to make it not be, but I was equipped with only rubber dinosaurs and patience that was wearing thin, so I wasn’t making much headway.

People did even worse with the “Which continent has the highest number of food insecure people?” The answer was Asia, so when they guessed “China,” as they often did, I would encourage them by saying “Okay, yeah, the continent China is in!” At this point, ninety percent of people blue-screened.

I always gave them a t-shirt for being a good sport.

One of our prizes were little seed sticks with basil on them. They also caused a problem. A woman, upon receiving hers, asked if they were from Monsanto or were genetically modified. I told her that in the US, there are only ten GMO crops, and basil is not one of them, but the accusations continued. I held out the seedstick dumbly until she left.

One of my specific jobs was to see how many prizes we gave away, as a metric of how many people we interacted with. This meant that every morning, I needed to count out pens, seedsticks, and rubber dinosaurs onto a table. If anyone tried to disturb my routine, I just counted even louder until they went away. It was almost certainly not the best job for the most neurotic person on tour, but life works in mysterious ways.

Kaitlyn often helped me. Satan did something that was not helping (and was in fact closer to the opposite) wherein she micromanaged how many t-shirts we put on the table and yelled at Kaitlyn to put boxes under the trailer before they were even finished being emptied, because they were apparently an eyesore. After all this hard work, Satan took a spot under the tent and stayed on her phone for the rest of the day.

Chaotic Neutral and I bounced around in everything from Pennsylvania rain to Texas oven-like heat, trying to lasso people, and Kaitlyn handled them as they made their way through the quiz and prize wheel. I don’t drink coffee, but occasionally I’d load up on a latte, which affects me roughly as much as three redbulls affect a normal person, and then the rest of the day would be a blur.

The first disaster happened because we left Satan in a Whole Foods on the campus at George Washington University. We were running late, and the square we were set up in was close by, so we didn’t think walking over after we checked out would be a big deal.

We were wrong. Satan and chaotic neutral bickered about this the entire way to the park. According to the Devil, it was her right as tour manager to always know where we were.

“Think of me as your mom,” said Lucifer.

I tried and failed to imagine my mother in Satan’s position. I’m pretty sure that if you total up all the times my mom has been petty in her entire life, it would equal the amount of times my demonic crewmate was petty in the first hour after she woke up on any given day. I’m also pretty sure that my mother on zero sleep is more intelligent than Satan firing on all cylinders.

“You are not Suzan,” I said, and went back to counting dinosaurs.

I think she gave up, because the rest of the exhibit was peaceful. Disaster did not strike until we reached to Philadelphia and a very small, very quaint Ag school with its own apiary and around a thousand students. Most of the day was pretty chill, though we did get rained on. But when Chaotic Neutral tried to put the large TV (which wasn’t working anyway) into the trailer, since no one was around and we’d need to start tearing down too, Satan had other ideas.

She told him this was a terrible thing to do, as we still had Half An Hour ‘til we were technically done.

Chaotic Neutral asked her why exactly moving a single TV was a bad idea, and she replied that as the manager she got to say what happened. Chaotic Neutral pointed out that she did zero actual work, and therefore wasn’t exactly management material.

Kaitlyn and I exchanged glances and began counting dinosaurs.

After they finished shouting at each other, Chaotic Neutral left us to tear down by ourselves, clearly thinking that three girls couldn’t do it without his help. We finished teardown and drove back in icy silence, Satan playing a radio station with 1920s hits that got deeply under my skin.

Then we piled into the air BnB, the Devil made us talk the whole thing out and got very upset with me for having the opinion that “This whole situation is bullshit; please leave me out of it” rather than “Chaotic Neutral is abusive.”

Our boss called us and set everything straight. Later on, our driver asked me, privately, what had happened.

“Lucifer is incompetent and Chaotic Neutral handled it poorly,” I said.

Then we went to Florida.

Florida was fine (I saw an armadillo), and so was Texas. But what was really a slice of Americana was the Texas-to-Indiana drive.

This was middle America, with “HELL IS REAL” billboards and cornfields and miles and miles of road. Chaotic Neutral dipped out, probably because he needed to prepare for the wedding. Yes, by the way, his wedding day was the day after the tour ended. He mentioned it absently when we first met him.

So Kaitlyn, Satan, and I split up the drive. The Devil would stop exactly when her three hours were up and jangle the keys at one of us.

At some point during the drive, it was revealed that Satan had met someone in St. Louis. Her long phone calls hadn’t been to her boyfriend at home, but to a mysterious new guy she’d met on Tinder during our first week on tour. Tinder guy was in love with her and planned to move back to her home city, where she lived with her mother and boyfriend, who had no idea about any of this.

This is why, when we reached Joplin, Missouri, and Satan did not bother us to drive her somewhere or to take the car, I began to have a suspicion of what was going on.

I looked at Kaitlyn. “You know,” I said, “we’re in Missouri again.”

Kaitlyn’s eyes got wide.

“If she’s in a good mood tomorrow, we know she got some,” I said, hoping she had.

Then, Kaitlyn and I went to see a waterfall. The next day, Lucifer was about as chirpy as she got. I thanked my stars, and poured one out for the poor guy who didn’t know what he was getting himself into.

The last exhibit was the Future Farmers of America convention in Indianapolis. If you haven’t been to FFA, it is something of an otherworldly space.

Imagine a giant conference hall, with thousands of exhibits. Imagine there are animals, lassos, a giant store filled with camo merchandise, and tens of thousands of earnest children in blue corduroy jackets.

These kids came from everywhere. Puerto Rico, Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oklahoma. They and their chaperones swarmed our exhibit, spinning the wheel and answering the questions. They were all incredibly polite and well-behaved. And they were going to be growing our food in the years to come, so I was happy to give them tshirts and rubber dinosaurs.

Then Donald Trump showed up.

Let me backtrack. I had begun to develop a fear that the Cheeto-in-Chief was following me. He had turned up in Minnesota right after I’d left for the tour, he’d been in Erie when I’d gone home for a funeral, and now, here he was, making a surprise visit to talk to America’s future agriculturalists.

It was announced about a day before he intended to show up. I had many thoughts about what I’d do if he came up to the exhibit. Would I punch him and let secret service tackle me to the ground? Would I make a scathing comment that he probably didn’t have the IQ to understand? Would I simply address him as “Commander Baby Hands?”

However, we never crossed paths, which is probably for the best.

And then, the tour was over.

We flew out, Donald Trump flew in, and I never saw Satan’s Avatar on Planet Earth again (so far. Fingers crossed). A few days later, I somewhat spontaneously ended up in Berlin for ten days, played DnD above a brothel, and, was questioned by German children about whether or not I smoked weed, went to a Christmas market.

Then when I went home, I started working at an organic cleaning company, which is the subject of an entirely different piece, tentatively titled: “All People are the Same, and All People are Disgusting: Why We Should Make Racists Clean Toliets.”

Kaitlyn and I still got coffee, while I was living in Minnesota, and never did we tired of talking about that time we spent six weeks traveling with Lucifer Morningstar, Satan’s Incarnation on Earth. I have no idea what she is doing now, but I hope it is as minimally damaging to everyone around her as possible. I often dream of a Jurassic Park scenario where she is eaten by a t-rex. (Fingers crossed.)

Indisputable Proof That 8-Year-Old Eve Could Have Successfully Led a Cult

A return to creative nonfiction, highlighting one of the many episodes in which I was an incredibly difficult child. I like to think I’ve grown out of it, but probably not.

Indisputable Proof That 8-Year-Old Eve Could Have Successfully Led a Cult

I’ve never really demonstrated leadership abilities. On job applications, I tend to play up my conscientiousness and ability to work independently. But there is one story that I guess I could tell, if someone asked whether I had ever motivated people in large groups.

I think, in this story, I am about eight. My friend, herein referred to as Tina, is six or seven. Her brother Paul, who will become all too relevant soon, is five. The three of us spent most of our time at the neighborhood park, where my father sat for hours reading while Tina and I held court over the playground we thought of as our own. Occasionally a soccer mom would ask him if he knew I was climbing up the top of the slide.

“Uh-huh,” he would say, looking up, vaguely annoyed.

*Aren’t you worried?” they’d ask.

And then he’d shake his head.

Similar things happened when I jumped off swings and walked across the monkey bars. Tina and I were probably the fastest girls at the park, and so we’d organize games of Cops and Robbers that rivaled the intensity of the any mafia antics documented in film.

All this to say: we were essentially unsupervised tornadoes of chaos, as is natural for elementary aged girls. But the biggest disaster we ever created happened one day when Paul was really getting under our skin.

Here is some context for Paul’s ability to do a tap dance on anyone’s last nerve. My mother, a patient woman who is all too forgiving, hated the kid. She said he was going to grow up to be an attorney, which was her most scathing insult.

Paul was a whiner, for starters. He was all too used to sniveling until he got what he wanted. If that didn’t work, he resorted to violence. He had walked up to a girl on the playground and belted her in the stomach for no reason once. He was never above pushing, shoving, slapping, and pinching. If he got caught, he pretended to cry, and usually his only consequences were being forced to say he was sorry, which he did with a shit-eating grin on his face and absolutely no remorse.

Once, his father was going to take me, Paul, and my parents out on their boat for an afternoon. While we were loading up, Paul threw a temper tantrum and refused to go, for reasons I can’t recall. This tantrum lasted the full three hours before his mother got home, so I suppose he had a damn good set of lungs going for him. As he carried on, beside their pool, and I attempted to reason with him by shouting that he was a little brat who ruined everything, Mr B looked over at my parents and shrugged.

“I got some really good rum,” he said.

He probably did. MR B was an airline pilot who often traveled to South America.

“Given it to Paul,” my mother said.

Tina and her mother returned and Paul bee-lined for the door.

“Can we go to target and buy me a toy because I was good?” he asked.

But on the day in question, Paul wasn’t playing the saintly, hot-wheels-Car-deserving child.  If I recall, he was bothering us for several hours straight (I think it may have involved interrupting our My Little Pony fashion show, but I’m not sure) when I snapped. Somehow, he had raised the ire of Small Eve beyond control.

There are few times I can remember being quite as livid as at the moment in my brain almost fused trying to think of a way to annihilate the snotty little brat before me. And so I screamed the first thing that came into my head.

“NO PAUL NO!”

It was an easy enough chant. Tina picked it up. Soon we were shouting “NO PAUL NO! NO PAUL NO!” in unison, and Paul began to scream cry. Never before had he suffered real consequences for his actions, let alone such a simple but powerful manifesto. This was entirely new to him, and he didn’t like it.

Tina’s father, Mr B, hadn’t noticed yet.

Tina and I began to march around the park chanting “NO PAUL NO” and some of our friends began to follow us. When there were five of us in the little protest, I began asking anyone we passed “Hey, do you want to help us?”

To which most curious children replied “Sure!” and fell into step behind us. I am sure, left to our own devices a little longer, we would have created a barrier a la Les Mis and turned the chant into a song.

Paul was, at this point, was lying on the ground sobbing. Mr B hurried over, curious, I am sure, as to what the ever-loving fuck was going on. Then he spotted the parade.

“Girls! Girls, you gotta stop,” he said, leaning down to the volcanic eruption that was Paul.

But we were not to be stopped. All around the slides and monkey bars we marched and chanted, kids we didn’t even know joining the fray.

NO PAUL. NO! NO PAUL NO! NO PAUL. NO!”

My father was at this point doing his level best not to burst out laughing. Paul was laying on the ground crying and yelling at the same time. I had seen Paul fake-cry a hundred times but this here was the real deal. He was about to break the sound barrier. I have no idea what he was saying, as it was too garbled by wracking sobs.

It seemed we had touched a nerve.

Mr B frantically shushed us. There was no hope of reasoning with Paul until the uprising had been quelled. After a few victory laps, we capitulated, because it was obvious: we had won.

Paul calmed down enough to start bothering us again, but one whisper of “No paul no!” and he would back off. Eventually, we packed up and went home, living to cause havoc another day.

You might assume from all of this that I grew up to be a Regina George. Thankfully, I was a quiet kid in high school, dressed in all black and filled with disdain. I did, however, circulate several obscene nicknames for the principle and run a rebel facebook page with my friend Ginger, which directly opposed the school board.

None of these stories, unfortunately, can I bring up in job interviews, so I tend to say that I like working with people and have a real can-do attitude.

Nothing But Time

I figured now is a good time to learn to blog. Actually blog, not write creative nonfiction about my life or vaguely opinionated pieces. So here’s what’s going on.

Despite never having read Angela’s Ashes, I live in Limerick now. My life is incredibly quiet due to the pretty stringent restrictions Ireland has in place to curtail covid-19. I’m grateful for the ability to stay at home, to be safe, to use this time for writing and resting.

Still, I find that time does odd things when your schedule is a tumbleweed. Grocery trips become the biggest social outing of the week. My room turns into a laundry, with a janky clothesline made of ten different pieces of string that I, magpie-like as aways, saved and tied together. I sleep late, nap more than normal. The loneliness hits and, practiced at fending off depression, I do more and more ridiculous things to feel alive: dancing to the Beatles in the shower, playing my “fuck you depression” playlist, which is identical to those lists of “songs that make white people turnt,” putting myself and my laptop outside amongst the swarming mosquitoes because dammit, I’m not getting a vitamin D deficiency again, and I need some air.

Am I writing? Not as much as I think I should. But I’m trying to ease myself away from” shoulds” because the one thing I hope we lose permanently after this pandemic is grind culture.

Life is weird and it doesn’t seem like it’ll get less weird any time soon.

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

During our Wednesday workshop last week, we talked about opening lines. Here is a very quick list of my favorites, to prove I am still breathing and capable of putting word to page.

“The terror, which would not end for another 28 years-if it ever did end-began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.”
Stephen King, IT
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“First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters from a girl named Martha, a junior at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey. They were not love letters, but Lieutenant Cross was hoping, so he kept them folded in plastic at the bottom of his rucksack. “
– Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried
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“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met nearly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
-Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House
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“My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.”
-Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle
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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
—Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
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“Early in the morning, late in the century, Cricklewood Broadway. At 0627 hours on January 1, 1975, Alfred Archibald Jones was dressed in corduroy and sat in a fume-filled Cavalier Musketeer Estate facedown on the steering wheel, hoping judgement would not be too heavy upon him.”

— Zadie Smith, White Teeth

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And of course, because I’d never leave Mr. Joyce off any “best of” list, I close with: “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.”
—James Joyce, Ulysses

Cold Tea & Graduate Studies

It’s been a few minutes. Some business to attend to…

  • Don’t find me on instagram–I had a conniption about the commodification of writing and deleted etaft_poetry.
  • For the past seven months, the grief has been too thick to write through, mostly. A few stories are beginning to poke their heads out of the earth that is, ever so slowly, unfreezing.
  • I still do social media things on the side.
  • The Illuminaria rewrite has commenced.
  • I’m going to grad school

I got into the University of Limerick’s creative writing program. I’m still waiting to hear back from other school in Ireland, but one way or another, I’ll be getting my master’s in the Republic of Ireland, starting this fall.

I’ve got thoughts and feelings on the culture zeitgeist, creative nonfiction ideas, and a determination to remain above ground, so expect more updates soon.

What Do Writers Do When They’re Not Writing?

Trick question. Writers are never writing. At most, we’re sitting with documents open, cold tea by our side, and Twitter open on our phones.  But we also go through dry spells where even that is too much. Life becomes a void of reruns of The Office and we figure we should have majored in accounting. Not that this is about me or anything.

…I haven’t even been able to write creative non-fiction, these past few months. And that’s just putting the chaotic dumb-assery that is my life on paper.

What I am doing while not-writing has been reading. Not even that much. Mostly it’s been Netflix–my new thing is BBC Nature documentaries. David Attenborough is getting her through. Anyway, I’ve been a little all over the place, but here’s my quick and ill-thought-out reviews of the reading I’ve gotten done.

Eve’s Fall Reads 2k18 (and Her Half-Baked Opinions On Them)

  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
    • Jackson is a QUEEN and this, her last novel, is my favorite of her stuff so far. No ghosts, no demons, just the best and creepiest narrator I’ve ever read. I’ll stan Merricat Blackwood forever and always. Twist is relatively predictable, but in that fun way where you feel cool for figuring it out. Tone is spooky, writing is gorgeous as always, and I finished it the day I bought it.
      • A side note: The Haunting of Hill House is on Netflix, and it’s definitely worth a watch. Like most successful interpretations of literary works, it doesn’t try to transpose the novel tot he screen, instead paying homage but tweaking characters, mostly going a different direction with plot, and moving the setting to modern day.
  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
    • Okay, okay, but I bought it at an airport so I could have something light and non-anxiety-inducing to read, and y’know what, it was fun? Obviously it’s not high art, but it was fun and made me want to be rich and living in luxury instead of crammed in the middle seat on a transatlantic flight. Made me realize stories without dragons that are just about people and families and romance and social lives don’t always bore me (unless they’re written by Austen. Ooh. Burn.) and I should stop being a baby about them.
  • Beowulf 
    • Took me literally all summer to read, but glorious. So many Christian themes (which I resisted). Seamus Heaney is stellar, and I’m making my way into classics without kicking and screaming (too much). The Odyssey should really be next, but we’ll see.

I’m currently returning to my security blanket, which is Terry Pratchett. Of all the Discworld I’ve read, I literally never picked up the very first one, so right now I’m reading The Color of Magic. I’m intending on making this a winter where I study Gaeilge and read for pleasure, so expect lots more raving about pop scifi and horror. And potentially some linguistic rants so my roommates don’t have to listen to me talk about the roots of Irish to be verbs.

A final note: sometimes life is really fucking hard. Sometimes you need a medal for getting up in the morning and showering and eating a Nature Valley bar or whatever. Maybe you don’t read a lot. Maybe you don’t write at all. It’s good enough. All you have to do is keep breathing.