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Posts Tagged ‘The Stalker Chronicles’

  1. Going Too Far Together

    October 28, 2012 by Carley

    So how do you get a hundred twelve and thirteen year-old girls to write together on a Friday afternoon at 1:30?  Well, you start by going to The Hewitt School, which already has in place a writing-based curriculum and a commitment to hosting writers of all kinds (thank you amazing Hewitt English teachers! and thank you to my friend and colleague, Maureen Burgess Chalfen, who is the Dean of Teaching and Learning in Humanities and the Chair of English Department at Hewitt and has worked so hard to bring writing-to-learn strategies from Bard College’s Institute for Writing and Thinking to her school!).

    And then, I guess, you try to ask them a question they can’t resist answering.  More on that in a second.

    First, I want to say that I had a great time on Friday talking with Hewitt students about The Stalker Chronicles.  I shared some stalker-related images, I read two different scenes from the book, we wrote together and shared some of that writing, and we had a lively Q and A.  Hewitt students are excited, informed, and so supportive of one another!  I was impressed by how hard they worked and also how much fun we had together.  But it’s true, my favorite part of my two-hour visit was well, the writing.

    SPOILER ALERT!  After I read a scene from The Stalker Chronicles–the one in which my protagonist Cammie Bliss goes through her crush’s garbage–I asked students to “tell the story of a time when you or a character went too far.”  We freewrote (trying not to censor and or do much editing) for about ten minutes and then we each bracketed off a sentence or two to share with the larger group.  Check out the pictures above of students sitting on the floor of the gym and using their chairs as writing desks!

    The students wrote great pieces (both fictional and autobiographical) about girls who are curious, who want to take leaps, and who follow boys, friends, and teachers because they have questions they can’t get answered.  They wrote about girls who are brave, who are freaked out, and who’s bodies move through spaces and landscapes that don’t always fit.

    Thanks for writing with me Hewitt!



  2. The Sad-Sads: On Melancholia

    July 31, 2012 by Carley

    It’s a nice day.  I’m writing from the middle of a week-long vacation in San Francisco/Berkeley/Oakland with Matt.  Malka is staying with my mom and step-dad.  It’s so great to visit with friends like Mari L’Esperance, Alex Baker, David Buuck, and Bill Webb.  I’m writing from David’s sun-drenched kitchen with his two dogs, Buster and Polly Jean, nearby.  Later, David says we’ll eat homemade plum compote and ice cream, and I’m honored to be interviewed by Estelle Hallick, co-creator of the lovely and smart blog, I’d Rather Be Reading.  It’s live today and you can enter to win a free copy of The Stalker Chronicles.

    So, I try not to have mom guilt, because I think it’s mostly culturally inscribed, but Malka is having a hard time without us and missing us a lot and I’m missing her, and so there’s that…

    Guilt, I suspect, is a close-cousin to melancholy and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about women and melancholia.  I was lucky enough to see the final 13P production of Sarah Ruhl’s amazing new musical comedy, “Melancholy Play.”  I loved it!!!!!  I don’t know what to say about it yet because it’s complicated and beautiful and weird.  At the center, is the protagonist Tilly, who works at a bank and suffers from a beautiful, alluring melancholia that makes everyone (men and women alike) fall for her, want to be with her, make love to her, etc…but then she gets happy and becomes unbearable and uninteresting.  In the second half of the play she says things like, “I’m so happy I’m just gonna burst” and carries balloons around and rides around on a bicycle.  There’s a wonderful therapist character, Lorenzo, who speaks in a a hilarious psuedo-Italian accent, another character, Frances, who may or may not turn into an almond, and it’s all sung!!!  At its core this play makes me think about what’s possible when we’re sad, and why we make so little room these days for melancholy.  Also, what do we do with our sadness?  When do we acknowledge the little holes in our lives or our difficult feelings?  How can melancholy become a kind of game?  How is it seductive and alluring, a kind of deep-centering force?  Dunno.  But I think the musical has some answers.  Here’s one of Tilly’s arias... (more…)

  3. Okay Insomnia, You Win

    July 2, 2012 by Dan

    Is it insomnia when your daughter wakes you up at 2:30 am to pee and you can’t go back to sleep because you find yourself obsessing about pressing matters like: the very likely possibility that you will paint the walls of your new apartment in startlingly ugly colors because you are drawn to these colors in life and in clothing and you don’t understand that they will look bad on walls, the pathetic nature of your Twitter feed, whether or not there will be any more judicial threats to the future of affordable health care in America (Roberts, you surprised me!), and the fact that you haven’t blogged in a while.

    Sounds like insomnia, doesn’t it?  So I guess it’s also an excuse to write a short blog post.  Sorry to those of you I emailed at 4 am.

    What have I been up to?

    Well, I went on a short upstate New York book tour (see photos) to Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca, New York, Off the Beaten Path in Jamestown, New York and the James Prendergast Library, also in Jamestown.  I went with my wonderful friend Madeleine George, playwright and author of the YAs Looks and The Difference Between You and Me.  Matt and Malka came too.  Our car broke down a lot (twice in one week actually and as I type this it’s newly broken down).   I got to see a lot of old friends and that was my favorite part.  My childhood friend Doris Malarkey came to see me at the library and had plenty of smart things to say about stalking and Facebook.  The backs of our houses faced each other and we used to signal to each other using our porch lights.  Two long blinks meant, I made it home through my fear of the yard at night!!  One short blink meant, Do you want to come over?  I learned how babies are made at Doris’ house and her family let me eat anything I wanted.  She also had the biggest board game collection of anyone I knew.  My first love’s parents came to the library too, Jeffrey and Michele Victor!!  I think I screamed a little when they walked in from the shock of seeing them.  They used to rattle the door of their son’s bedroom while we were making out in there, you know, just to make it more fun.  My grandma, Marilyn Spear, came to see me at Off the Beaten Path.  My mom went to everything (thanks Mom!).  My step-mom came.  I met a dear man named Gary who told me about some of the books he’d like to write, but can’t because his wife thinks they are stupid.  Go Gary!  I saw my friend Sandra Chu from graduate school and met her little daughter Pace, who is now four.  Pace spent the reading quietly coloring.  Impressive.  An excited man in Ithaca asked me, “What would stalking look like in 1950?”  Of course, I made some shit up.  I saw Bill Martin, Catherine Taylor, and Stephen Cope.  I talked so much about Prometheus to Catherine’s son, Emrys, that I think he decided not to see it.  Spoiler alert:  You will not recover from the robot machine stomach surgery scene.  I’m sorry, but you won’t.  This is extra true if you have a uterus.  My mom’s friends Freda, Judy, and Sylvia came to say hello.  Finally, and best of all, actual teenage readers came to hear me read from the book (there was even a teenage boy at the library event).  Yay!!!  Fun!!!




  4. Because There’s Always More to Say About Stalking

    March 4, 2012 by Carley

    My hilarious friend, Stephanie Hopkins, has a new on-line column called “Love Notes,” and last week she wrote my all-time favorite post about Facebook stalking.  You all know that anything involving stalking is of interest to me, but Stephanie really gets it all down in this one—the search, the shame, the discovery, the nausea, the joy!

    Anyway, Stephanie’s column inspired me to write about some of the kinds of stalking that didn’t make it into my first book The Stalker Chronicles.  Think of it as a handy (or scary) taxonomy.  Stephanie, this post is dedicated to you.

    Before I get to that though, it strikes me that being a teenager in the 80s left me with three stalker images:  Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction (the Lady Stalker), John Cusack in Say Anything (the Romantic Boy Stalker), and Mark David Chapman (the Criminal Stalker).  So basically if someone says the word “stalker” I think of one of these people.  Who do you think of?

    1.  Dog Walking Stalking – For several years in my late twenties, I was lucky enough to live with the super agent, John Buzzetti (this was long before he was a super agent and just my friend).  Anyway, Johnny had a dog, Foxxy, and we (Foxxy and I) spent a lot of time walking around Williamsburg, pretending to bump into cute guys by total accident.  Oh my god, you live here?  My dog is obsessed with this fire hydrant.

    2.  Shopping and Stalking – This happens when you pretend to be addicted to a certain kind of coffee, undershirt, avant-garde poetry section just so that you can ogle, chat up, and otherwise annoy some underpaid clerk in a store.  This is highly effective method of stalking because unless they quit their job, these poor suckers can’t get away.  My husband reminded me of this one.  Hey, wait a minute.

    3.  The Swoon (aka I’m so tired, injured, confused, and/or sad I can’t leave your apartment, bed, arms, car).  I suppose the Bronte sisters came up with this one, but in truth I was doing this long before I knew who Jane Eyre was, what that meany did to her in the red room, and the clarifying powers of a brisk walk on the heath.  I think I first learned its true powers when I was at Environmental Camp in the summer between the 10th and 11th grade and I had a HUGE obsessive crush on one of our counselors, Mike.  We all did and he was pretty much all we talked about while pretending to be interested global warming (hey, it was 1987, global warming wasn’t THAT scary yet) and the healing powers of gorp and tiger balm.  But on the last night, I (mistress of grace that I am) managed to trip on a log during a skit about eagles and mice and break my arm.  I was in a lot of pain, and I somehow decided that I couldn’t walk even though it was arm that was broken not my leg, and this got Mike to CARRY ME back to the infirmary!!!  I will never forget the jealous stares of my fellow bunkmates as Mike whisked me away.  I was giddy from his touch.  I thought, “Hey this isn’t too bad.  My arms may be busted in five places, but Mike is carrying me!”  You see how my brain works?  Priorities, friends, that’s what it’s always been about with me.

    Warning:  there are dangers associated with this one, perhaps more than all the others.  You have to count on chivalry and I hear that’s dead.  You will be told by certain crushes in no-uncertain terms to Pick up your shit and hit the bricks.  I have been asked to leave apartments, houses, and various porches.  I have swooned and not been caught.  There’s also the injuries—how much pain can you take?  I was willing to break my own arm to get Mike to carry me, but maybe you’re not that dedicated. You will have to know your limits before you begin.  Finally, there’s trust.  I have tended not to swoon around frat houses, beer pong games, wrestling matches, and football stadiums.  Because the energy is not right in those places.  There’s way too much testosterone there and we don’t want things to get scary.  Besides my experiences with football players in high school showed me that they’d much rather trample me than catch me.

    4.  Smell Stalking (aka The Sneaky Sniff) – I know this will gross out many of you, and well, I’m sorry, but I’m an ethnographer here and my job is to report my findings not to judge them.  I have talked about this with a couple of ladies and many gay men and we have all copped to various attempts (most successful) to smell the clothing—shirt, jacket, underwear, socks, and pants—of crushes when given the opportunity.  For example, my lady friend’s crush decides she has to pee; so my friend sniffs the butt of her jeans while she’s in the bathroom.  Here’s another:  My friend’s therapist leaves the room to check on something, so my friend takes that free, supposedly reflective moment to sniff at the armpits of his jacket which is hanging on the back of the door.  She is not unrewarded.  She relays to me,  I smelled him!  He smelled good!  And then I thought, Oh my god, he’s coming back into the room and I’m going to get caught and we will have to talk about this forever!!  Transference is complicated people, and so are “friends.”

    5.  Creeping – My students use this word.  I confess I don’t know what it means.  I think it’s a subtle form of stalking, but I also think why bother?  Lurking around, not saying much, acting weird?  To me, that’s just living or maybe it’s being shy.  Also, don’t they have meds nowadays to kill shyness?  Maybe if I use it in a sentence, it will make more sense.  Oh my god, she’s such a creeper.  She’s just always standing there in the lobby of our dorm, staring at us, not saying anything.

    6.  Subway Eyes – This one is for experienced New Yorkers only.  You look, you look away, you look, you look away.  Don’t look for too long and don’t smile.  You don’t want to look like some wide-eyed, happy tourist from the Midwest.  You’re a busy person.  You’re on your way to something unfathomably cool, which definitely does not involve a preschool, a lunch box, or drafts of student essays.  You look, you look away, you look, you look away.