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A teenage girl rants and raves about the important things: books, quotes, writing, reading, and life.
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1. these streets will make you

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2. "We Were the Last" (part i)

Cathleen peered over the counter at the woman thumbing through a beauty magazine. She peered at the woman's fingernails: glitter-green shellac, long. She peered at the woman's face: puffy lips, puffy cheeks, painted eyebrows thick-brown and arched. She peered at the woman's clothes: a tight, loud-patterned dress snuggled over rounded tummy, thick arms. Cathleen cleared her throat once.

Down two aisles and to the left, Cathleen's sister Carrie peered at the rows of toy, wooden furniture. Carrie was small and impatient and hyper-intelligent. She pulled out her smartphone and sent a text.

To: Cathleen
have u asked yet?

Cathleen received the text at the exact moment that the woman behind the counter looked up.

Ping, said her phone.

"Can I help you?" said the woman.

"Um," said Cathleen. She peered down at her phone. She peered back up at the woman, who seemed taller suddenly.

"Do you have. . . ." she paused. She could imagine Carrie two aisles over, all ears, straining in anticipation of the woman's reply.

"Do you have. . . ."

"What I don't have is all day, kid," said the woman.

"My mom said. . . ." No, that was wrong. "I mean. I meant to - I wanted to ask about the - if you have - "

Ping, said Cathleen's phone. It was Carrie, again. It said, how about now?

"I needed to see about the transferents?" Cathleen said, hurried breath rushing out. The woman blinked at her. Maybe she doesn't know? Cathleen thought. Maybe we came to the wrong place?

"Whoa," said the woman. It was her turn to peer, down at the little girl on the other side of her counter. The girl's eyes were normal-sized, and her hair was light brown, and she wore plain enough clothes. But she'd just asked about transferents.

Just then, Carrie appeared and walked to the counter to join her sister. Whoa, thought the woman again. Another one. And they looked exactly alike, too.

"Excuse me," said Carrie. Carrie looked over at her sister, as if to say, sorry, but you were taking too long. She turned back to the woman. "We're here about the transferents. Emily and Timothy? They were sent on Monday."

The woman gaped.

"Who sent you?" she asked the pair standing in front of her. In response, Carrie reached into her back pocket and pulled out her phone. She tapped the screen for a moment and then held it up to the woman. On the screen was a series of letters followed by a code, symbol, and digital voice activator.

"Oh," said the woman.

In response, the phone lit up, and began to dial a number. The woman's face fell.

"No - " she began to say.

Carrie shrugged, as if to say, sorry, but you were taking too long.

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3.

a pair of speakers, and i buy myself my own groceries and bring them to my own home, and listen to "towers" on repeat, and talk with my roommate and talk to her sweet dog too.

the woman looked me in the eye, and leaned in, and lowered her voice. "i wish you - what i wish you. is. peace, and harmony." she really looked at me. she so sincerely thanked me. called me by my name. "i really mean it," she said, hoping i'd know, and i knew, even without her saying that.

shooting the shit in the break room, out on the floors. "why does everybody give you such a hard time?" the one asked, and i just laughed, and laughed.

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4. the world is quiet here


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5. you-ology, me-ology, love-ology, kiss-ology, stay-ology, please-ology, I'm sorry-ology, forgive me-ology

Sean believes he can know what’s going to happen next, if he knows what the current situation is. [...] In one scene, Sean sees a man in truck. He is so sure the man is going to turn and see him staring that he does an elaborate charade to make it look like he’s actually not looking. But as sure as he is—he even visualizes the man’s head turning—the man doesn’t look over. The story he’s created in his head, as much as he believes in it, doesn’t happen.     (from)
Outside my window, a man yells, "Turn it down, please. ...TURN IT DOWN!"

"Hey, Charlie," I say, sitting on the couch, tying my shoelaces. I ask him a question, as if he will be able to answer me. He just looks back at me, all chocolate eyes and floppy ears. I sigh and stand.

Acknowledging that you make mistakes, you have made mistakes, you continue to make mistakes, regret is a simplistic feeling in this sense. At the same time, the echo of your teenaged self: Non! - je ne regrette rien! It can be comforting, to speak with one's mother on a cool fall day, eating an orange, tears smudged all over one's face.

You finally find a tattoo you won't get tired of, you stop hearing from someone, you cannot be responsible for another person's happiness, (that is a difficult one), you wish you had done things differently, you write poetry you will never show your mother, you make another mistake, the instant you start to love it all is when it begins to be alright.
 ...to make sense of the insensible, to describe that inarticulable space where despite what came before, something still struggles to be born.   (from)

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6. Prayer for the Dog Days of Summer

mercy for the barefooted woman
with the green purse walking
toward Sunset. blessings on their heads,
two young boys running,
skateboards in hand, fleeing
7-11 and a curfew. kisses
blown in the direction of
the mountains, my brother
inside a new home, hoping
this time to make it better.
peace be with the girl
I love, and her worry,
and the downward tilt
of blue eyes and dark lashes.
hallelujah for the mother who dances,
the father who distances,
the aunt who writes. the grandfather
and the grandmother, surrounded
by garden, sewing, failing eye sight;
baseball on the TV and casserole
in the oven, baking in
the Midwest heat. I baptize
myself, wet sweat dripping
down, tired and impatient, stomach
full on every kind of love, room
enough in my chest to draw breaths
steady and grateful, forever
and ever amen.

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7. preheat

It was too hot a night for it, but I did it anyway: turning the knob on the oven, lighting the stove, oil slicked on the bottom of a pan. Set the table for two. Sweated. Sat down: double ice waters, a quick kiss, then dinner.

I am so tired, and I don't want to move. A dog named Charlie barks from behind a closed bedroom door. I lick peanut butter off a knife. I read articles about sad women who write, who want to understand writing, who want to be heard, who want to die.

Things that are close in my mind: my great-aunt Dorothy, my great-aunt Norm, here is a photograph:

"I don't know much, but I know I love you" is apparently a line from a song, but I didn't know that when I said it.

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8.

Spring Mornings in California: An Exhibition


I receive phone calls from people in other countries, or across town. You wouldn't believe everything I receive, and daily.

When I write, things either work or they don't. Except that's too neat and probably a lie. Things become less clear and more, harder to take and more beautiful. Some say it's soft, like vanilla and cinnamon, but to me it's more like hands sometimes steady and sometimes trembling.

The impact upon realizing something I wanted was not mine to have in the moment is a feeling you would be forgiven for thinking I'd be used to by now. But it came like a shock all over again. And I had to excuse myself. I forget all I do have in the face of one thing I don't, and frequently. It's not something I'm proud of.

I keep writing fragments of poems, thinking my feelings on the matter at hand (whatever that happens to be) can be corralled. It's precision, a math equation, where to put the colons and dashes and line breaks. I take a significant amount of pleasure in the minute tweaking of words and punctuation.

I want to tell you how giddy I get from being alive. I never could have predicted how happy I could be, and consistently. All the things I love best are in my life, and then some. I walk to cafes and play records and visit museums and audition at movie studios and in tiny theaters and get recognized for being on television and write poetry and children’s stories and collaborate with friends on projects that are meaningful to me and go for walks and meet new people and explore new places and have good conversations and laugh lots and lots. I'm leaving out so much; I couldn't possibly include everything. I dance and eat cake, I get hugs from strangers, I love everything that is mine and some things that aren’t and I can’t remember the last time I truly hated anything. I don’t mean I get everything I want, only that, at the same time, I have everything I could ever want.

I don't know what's going to happen next, but something is, and I get to be around for it. And that's stunning.

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9. hypothetically speaking

1 Say you’re making a playlist, and the first song you choose is The Beatles, “I’ve Just Seen a Face.” What do you choose to follow that? Can anything follow that?

 2 Say that you know what will make you smarter, and wittier, and you actively reject that in favor of getting your hands dirty, as they say. What will happen?

 3 Say you want something and you don’t do anything about it. Perhaps you’re overwhelmed by the feeling of not knowing how to do it, or, you really don’t know how to do it. What then?

 4 Say you actually go up to a person you barely know, look them in the eye, and say, “I want to get to know you.” Without any of the usual fumbling you-seem-like-a-cool-persons or hey-that-thing-we-talked-about-once-let’s-talk-about-it-more. If you just say something that plainly, that honestly. What follows, what will happen, what then?

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10.

I used to be melancholy.
It was very pretty.
Hair up, tangled curly but elegant, like a Jane Austen heroine waking up from a fitful romantic sleep somewhere in the English countryside.
I wore thin t-shirts when I was feeling thin and baggy t-shirts when I was not. The best feeling was to wear a baggy t-shirt while feeling thin but this hardly ever occurred to me, to do something because it might feel good.
I did not paint my nails because the people I knew who painted their nails were happy and also satisfied with worldly things. I was neither, I'd determined.
I wanted an angular face, I wanted to know how to put on makeup. I thought, there are so many basic things, and nobody took the time to explain them to me.
I had a lot of ideas about a lot of things.
(I still do.)
(I expect this is universal.)
Things that haven't changed: I still take nearly everything too seriously.
I'm getting better.
I laugh more. I move more.
Things begin to flow.
It's hard work, and good work: to live a creative life, and to meanwhile love it.

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11.


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12. the feeling of a thing is not the same as the thing itself

1. I'm writing something about dreams, but fake dreams. If I write something everyday, for a week and a day, I'll have something. I pretend I'm writing it for myself, but secretly I know I'm not.

2. In the laundromat, a lot of waiting happens. People are on phones, or watching the televisions, which alternate between daytime talk shows or Spanish soaps. There are arcade games you'll never see anyone use. Sometimes people hold books. Sometimes I am one of those. Clothes tumble, and churn; we live in a modern world where machines wash and dry things automatically and we don't stop to question this, or thank the proprietress. If the laundromats all shut down, then what would I do? Improvise?

3. The facts were simple: to stand in the middle of a road and look into the camera. "Relax," he kept saying. "I am not even here. When you are looking into the camera you are actually looking as far as the eye can travel, all the way to the horizon." I tried to envision that. I chanted things to myself. I was surprised by my own stiffness, my own self consci
ousness. I thought I was different, I thought to myself.

4. When you love someone you want to do anything for their happiness, unless it directly contradicts your own happiness. Therein lies the conflict, or the feeling of it. Nothing is actually happening. I could convince myself of something, but that wouldn't make it true.

5. I will wait, and things will happen. Someone will call. Two work schedules will collide, or not. I will watch the show again and again. The laundry will finish and need to be folded. Someone will ask me something, I will go out into the loud hot sun and put myself and other things into a vehicle, and I will drive away.

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13.

I am writing this on my iPhone because my grandfather died and I don't know how to process it so I'm trying various ways such as:
1. Crying in my car
2. Calling friends but hanging up without leaving a voicemail when they don't answer
3. Drinking copious amounts of water
4. Writing on this blog

It's not my grandfather it's my great grandfather. If that makes a difference.

He died this morning and that means for the uninitiated that he is no longer alive.

Things he can no longer do include:
1. Ride or touch horses (which he loved)
2. Morse code and ham radio (which he loved)
3. Walk (he loved that too)
4. Listen to records
5. Talk to people
6. Make someone laugh
7. Laugh
8. Tie his shoes
9. Feel the wind swirl round his ears while riding a bicycle or in the back of a pickup truck
10. Move or think or speak or anything

I am in an unfamiliar city. It has stopped raining, mostly. My friend's housemate talked to me for a while, which was nice. I can nearly breathe through my nose again. I can breathe. I am on a crushed velvet sofa. This morning I bought presents in shops to take home to people I love.

Being alive is
                      wonderful
and I am full of
                      love
and in this moment I feel so
                      breathtakingly sad.


Let me go think of a fifth thing for the first list, because, this isn't helping.


And thinking then of setting this down. Of going into the kitchen. Feet padding on uneven boards. The crackle and smell of oil bubbling in a pan. Cool air from outside leaking in to chill my toes and cool my cheeks. Every thing I can sense. Every thing. I feel that what I really mean, then, in the truth, is, Let me go live. 

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14. Morgana

High in the hills above
The hinterland lies the home
Of a wolf whose name is
Morgana the grey.

The wolf is hungry and her
Eyes are red, and also sad.
It has been days since
The last supper. A wolf

Cannot live on mice
Alone. Morgana has no
Memory or she would recall
A time when things were not so.

Perhaps it is best, to be
An animal living only presently.
It does not matter, but survival
Does. The lack becomes unbearable.

There is something the wolf would
Say if it could but it cannot.
Instead it howls. The moon is full.
Its stomach is not. Night

Air cannot suffice. Neither
Can the thrill of outrunning
The hunters, and their sons.
Their dogs. Cousins turned

Traitors. Like being left alone
By one’s mother in the early days.
Forced to fend for herself.
Learning loneliness, and hunger.

Once she had a pack. Ran
Alongside brothers. Now there is no
One, only herself and the snow.
Quiet and padded. Paws crunch,

Teeth don’t. Oh look, a squirrel.
So fast. The energy of it. Makes
Morgana tired just to see.
The mere thought of the chase.

It is too much. But to burrow
Into the icy build-up, now
There is something that sounds
Soothing. A respite.

Morgana does. She lies in
Her homemade hollow, an echo
Of her stomach’s self-made cave.
She stays. She does not leave.

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15. 2013: 12 photos / 12 months

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16. so

the first day of the new year is done.

so
everything is different,
including me.

there is something

to new beginnings.

it's true; there are times
I get a little afraid.

don't you?

at least we can laugh about it.
human in every way.

I should sleep, but instead, I write
an ode:

O, I love them all

Every soul around me

O, tell me if you can

How did I come to have so much?

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17. may your christmas dreams come true

He saw The Divine Comedy, big and fat. Taking up space. "You’re reading that," he said. A question or an accusation – hard to tell. "When you could be listening to the Beatles," he said later, laughing at me. We were dancing. Out the door. I mean, he meant well. That’s what I tell myself about everybody.

*

I’ve known some Josephs in my lifetime, but none well. I remember a fellow ten-year-old, saying she’d marry one. We were at a theater, or something. I was fascinated. He was four years older.

The only Mary I’ve known is my grandmother. Swedish, and she collects pink glass dishes. A product of the Depression. She lives in Iowa, and I haven’t seen her since I was nineteen.

As for Jesus, well. How many of those have you encountered? Sharon who works at an institution says they’ve got five of ‘em there. I’m not talking just the Spanish name. These dudes believe they’re the real deal. We all believe with such specificity the things we believe.

*

I come back to George Bailey, lost and found in the snow.
My mouth is bleeding!
I’m going to jail!
Merry Christmas!

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18.

look: the boy on the street stopping
to say that you are beautiful. listen, you might
hear his heart’s irregular hum.

look: the moon at noon, clear
white and hanging. sitting for you
to see. to look up to.

look: letters in the mail, postmarked
Amsterdam, postmarked San Francisco.
from hand to hand, until. they arrive at your door.

look: the scratch on your boots where you tripped
over a stone by the north sea. a curb
down on sunset. got up, kept walking.

look: the cupboards. all yours. under
a roof called home. full of pots,
pans and plates. bought by someone else for you.

look: the things given on whims. on the ledge,
a white pumpkin. in a green glass bottle,
yellow daisies. on a shelf, a spool of black thread.

look: stacks of words piled high like dishes.
gathered like wildflowers. from a hostel bookshelf,
a charity shop, a friend’s collection, a public library.

look: two years of wednesday nights spent
gluing dancing painting listening.
unknowingly opening: your heart, and theirs.

look: at your own skin. it contains the rest of you.
a custom-made glove. everything fits
inside: your veins, your blood, your mind.



December 9, 2013
North Hollywood

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19. You Too Got Tired

You too got tired of being an advertisement
for our world, so that angels could see: yes it's pretty, earth.
Relax. Take a rest from smiling. And without complaint
allow the sea-breeze to lift the corners of your mouth.

You won't object; your eyes too, like flying paper,
are flying. The fruit has fallen from the sycamore tree.
How do you say to love in the dialect of water?
In the language of earth, what part of speech are we?

Here is the street. What sense does it finally make:
any mound, a last wind. What prophet would sing. . . .
And at night, from out of my sleep, you begin to talk.
And how shall I answer you. And what shall I bring.

- from The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai

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20. well

IMG_3341

this is a photograph
of the place to which i go
in the name of
'taking care of myself'
and 'seeking help'

but on a night like this,
i wonder, who am i
fooling?

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21.

"tell me about your loss," she says,
and two faces and a ring come into my mind,
two faces and a ring and a box of childhood treasures;
things that used to be magic.
both faces i still dream about. a boy,
a father, a ring from an independent bookstore in minnesota
that broke when it fell on the floor of the shower in arizona
and i cried because i was losing too much that year.
some day i will be able to focus on the faces,
but today it is the ring, the pieces of it, i held them
 in my palm, i cried until i scared my mother, i still have
those pieces somewhere, the week after it broke
the consignment store came and carried away my piano,
the one i'd played since second grade. i put on a
brave face, as they say, and pretended like all of this
was just an adventure, and i, a character on a page.

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22. uses for light

Afternoon in the Cluny Garden, Paris, by Charles Courtney Curran

letters for six years 
and we met this morning 
I had elderflower&chamomile 
tea and she had a muffin 
and something hot to drink

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23. on the cusp of living alone

if a girl falls

and no one is there
to hear it,

does she make a sound?

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24. dreams are temporary, the internet is forever

Last night I had a dream where I saw you in a field. You were wearing your forest green sweatshirt, of course, and your back was to me, but I called out to you and you turned and the first thing I did wasn’t to hug you like I wanted but to say I’m sorry, I’m so sorry—

It merged with an anxiety dream, the performer’s plague. I was still in that play, except the director changed all of the blocking right before opening night! I was scrambling to remember! I couldn’t get the right clothes on! You were in the background, and all I wanted was to talk to you, but I couldn’t because I had to get changed, the show was going to be starting soon, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to remember a thing.

Much later in the night, meaning morning, meaning right before I woke up, I dreamed you were in a cell, and I could only see you through barred windows. Seven cells and seven barred windows between us, but I could see all the way to the end of the row. “It’s because you never…” “I know,” I said, “I—” And you were moving up, out of the cell, via elevator. I was losing sight of you. “WAIT,” I yelled. “I’M SORRY. I PROMISE I’LL—”

And the elevator stopped, and I knew I still had a chance.

And then you were out, next to me, next to the strange shack of cells, and I had my arms around your waist and I wasn’t going to let go and we stayed talking like that until I woke up. Whereupon I grabbed my phone to send you a message. I’m sorry, it began. After sending it, I took out a paper and pen. Started to write again.

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25. they call it an overactive imagination

I get a recall notice for a hairdryer I bought and never use. The notice says that there have been a few incidents of the dryer blowing up while in use. Reports of hospitalization. They note that they being are required to recommend that consumers stop use of the product immediately. They are not telling me to stop, they assure me; they are just letting me know what they are being made to do. A required recommendation. Letter of the law. Use away.

I think of writing a story, about a girl who is given a hairdryer for her birthday, from her aunt. The aunt is the one who gets a recall email, a year after the fact. She ignores it, or she reads it and thinks, it’s no big deal. Skimming. Delete. A few weeks later, a phone call. Her niece’s hairdryer blew up while she was using it. It exploded in her face. The niece is in the hospital. She’s lost her sight. The aunt digs up the email again. Reading it closer—reading it. She is horrified.

The story can end there, or/but what happens next? Does the aunt confess? Does she carry her black deed and her guilt silently, becoming more anxious and depressed and withdrawn as each day passes? She can never be forgiven; she can never forgive herself.


Maybe the niece, though, thrives on being blind. Maybe she gets to be on national television, thus fulfilling a lifelong dream. Maybe the how is a small matter, as long as it happens. Like the mom who didn’t care that her sons were lying, only that it was getting them—all of them—on TV. It was so exciting. In the moment. She even managed to cry for the cameras.

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