by Laura Kochman

The next morning, I stepped out of my motel room and into the furnace of Monroeville in August. The Best Western is on Highway 21, which becomes Alabama Avenue. To reach the courthouse, according to the clerk at the motel, all we had to do was follow the road about five miles. It ended right at the town square. We passed an unremarkable stretch of auto parts places and assorted businesses. Next we came upon the Monroe County Hospital, up a short, steep hill to our left, then a strip mall with a Winn-Dixie supermarket, a Rite Aid, and a dollar store. That's about as far as I got into this book excerpt on Huffington Post before I had to get up and leave the room and sit quietly being sad. I've never even been to Monroeville. These roads are familiar, though, strips of commerce laid out across yellow fields. One corner down 82 was always overrun with giant sunflowers, not long before you found the Northport Walmart.

I'm wary of idealizing / idyllizing the South, seeing it as some simple place where people are all good neighbors—that's not how it was for me. I don't want time away to change that. But I had so many pockets of calmness, and long drives, and the heavy pollen on the breeze that wasn't enough to cool me. I had dread when it rained. I had the cows along the bike route and everyone I knew ending up in the same backyard on a Friday night. I had the intense green leaves of any 100-year-old magnolia, my snakes in the water. I had confrontation with a history, all the time, in the big white houses, in the biased rental codes. Bad roads. Wet winters.

It occurred to me I've been too busy here to take time to miss anything, and so the missing occurred to me all of a sudden, in a public place, mostly alone, memory jogged by someone else's words.

by Laura Kochman

This morning I'm rereading Juliana Spahr's This Connection of Everyone With Lungs, which I grabbed from the free pile in the grad lounge a few days before we left (of course, we were packing up everything we owned and actively trying to get rid of books, but I had to take it). The MFA who owned it previously has written notes in the margins here and there, and now I'm realizing why this bothers me so much. In prose works, little notes have always distracted me, but in poetry they drive me a little batty. The page is important, the shape is important, the balance of text and empty space is important, and so, etc, the little notes are like the bug smears on the windshield of my Penske truck that the inadequate wiper fluid never wiped away.

list of dreams by Laura Kochman

Every year, my MFA friends and I have some sort of conversation during the summertime about when we start calling ourselves second-years instead of first-years, third-years instead of second-years. No one's brought it up yet this time, probably because it's intensely frightening and sad and exciting and overwhelming to think about leaving this place. The latest batch of first-years are starting to arrive over the next few days, so to avoid thinking about leaving, instead I'll think about getting to live somewhere new. My list of requirements includes: coffee and food culture, public transportation, a medium-sized city, a natural landscape to explore that is not very far away from the city center, modern art, a writing community.










Please, future: give me any one of these things.

by Laura Kochman

Today I have flea-medicated three cats. Have I found a new special skill set? Also, I think, maybe, I don't know, we MIGHT be moving at the end of this week. O to have a home!

by Laura Kochman

I am the drying meadow; you the unspoken apology; he is the fluctuating distance between mother and son; she is the first gesture that creates a quiet that is full enough to make the baby sleep. My genes, my love, are rubber bands and rope; make yourself a structure you can live inside.

- Aimee Bender


I read all of Willful Creatures on one of my flights last week, the whole book in less than 2 hours, gulping it down at first to distract myself from being suspended above the clouds, and then because I couldn't stop. I decided at some point that I had to finish before we landed, because interrupting my reading for unloading was just unacceptable.

I'm still in the midst of packing, and because of some uncontrollable factors, I'm moving myself and the cat to a friend's house for a week (or more), and then moving us both again to the new apartment. I'm also teaching every morning, and if my days continue the way they've been going, I'm not going to read or write much until the end of June, which is disappointing. This isn't really how I envisioned spending this time. I thought I was going to read and write most days, and figure out what I want to work on thesis-wise, get a solid start. These days are feeling mostly wispy.

I do have a strawberry shortcake in my refrigerator, though. So that's okay.

by Laura Kochman

In the interest of shaping things, I'm running a 5K on Saturday. IMG_1815


It's my second 5K ever, and I got these new shoes, and I'm making a playlist. If I beat my first 5K time, I'll be happy. I'm just proud of myself for being able to run at all, since I spent much of my life begging out of mile runs in gym, joining the field team instead of the track team in high school, getting winded and asthmatic after 5 minutes of jogging. These shoes are SO MUCH BRIGHTER in person. When the sun hits them, they're so bright I can't even look at them.

I'm starting my new job, emailing and organizing and asking questions. Putting labels on every kind of email. Starting to see a shape for the year to come, the arc from event to event. Tomorrow, I'll start cleaning up my physical space, too, throwing things out to make this move easier. Somehow all I've managed to do so far is acquire new things (couch, end tables, shoe rack). There are only 3 weeks left in my airy pink house, so the least I could do is keep them clean.

a series of locks and breakages by Laura Kochman

In the name of shaping things, in the name of movement and transformation, in the name of central air conditioning and mornings sandwiched between boyfriend and cat, I am leaving this open, lighted space. I'm giving my ladybug house to someone else, and paring down the long list of objects I've compiled. Our new apartment will be a small puzzle, and I do so love it when everything fits together neatly [See: my grading spreadsheets]. This past year has been the only time that I've lived alone, and I've enjoyed that sense of control, but I want a shared couch and an interlocking library. I spent a lot of time, in college, longing for a stable living space, but moving into this new space is the thing I'm longing for now. I wrote 33 pages last semester about the moment of interface between states of being, and I can feel myself approaching this point of breakage, the halting lock that opens, the lapse. One month and one half month until the chaos of boxes and sweat rises and subsides into a new sense of daily reality. The cat likes to curl up in my lap and press his forehead against something stable, so that he is entirely contained, the pressure of the other reminding him of the safe walls of his own body, I imagine. Like being tucked into bed, I imagine. The shower curtain is making the move this time, though. That thing is a beauty and it's going to live with me until it molds.

by Laura Kochman

And besides, everything naturally decomposes, erodes away from what it was, its original form. When we only lived until forty, if we were lucky, this was less of a problem.


Sometimes we wander, wonder.


Sometimes all we are left with is cavity.

- Ander Monson

I keep finding myself in the process of driving back to my old apartment.

shower curtain blues by Laura Kochman

I haven't been on the internet in 2 days because I MOVED on Friday! I MOVED! This is a Big Deal. This is the first apartment I've lived in by myself. If I were a good blogger I would have taken pictures to post up here, but, uh, I forgot. The place isn't put together yet anyway. You wouldn't like it yet. The day before the move, my sister and I went to Target to pick up a couple of apartment items. I maybe had a little freakout in the shower curtain aisle. I was overwhelmed, for sure, but I just kept thinking, I'm going to have to look at this thing every day. I complained that there were fewer choices than the last time I bought a shower curtain (there really were!). I don't like any of these! These are all ugly! And too expensive! It wasn't really the cost that was bugging me out, though, since sister had declared she was going to buy me a shower curtain. They don't have the one I got last time! I think we spent about 25 minutes in that aisle, me pacing up and down it, shaking my head, getting more and more anxious. In the end I grabbed one off the rack and threw it in the cart, declaring I just don't CARE.

In the 2 days since, I realized: when I first moved into the little brick duplex 2 YEARS ago, before my housemate showed up, I went shopping at that same Target with my mother. At the time, I felt very strange about having my mother move me into an apartment, since wasn't I supposed to be an adult? And who takes their mommy to grad school? But she was going through a rough period of time at work, and had time off, and drove down with me all the way to Tuscaloosa. In the end, she was the voice of reason of the whole trip. When I opened the door to the little brick duplex and couldn't breathe because it had just been bug bombed and I'm pretty sure I started crying because the place was filthy and there were dead cockroaches everywhere, my mother made me sit out in the car while she removed the roaches. And together we cleaned the whole apartment, and when I wasn't paying attention, she went into the bathroom and put up the leafy green shower curtain that I had picked out. I can remember very clearly seeing the sunlight come through the window behind it, feeling grateful and taken care of, and thinking, Okay. This will be okay.

So 2 days ago, I moved away from the apartment that my mother moved me into. And it turns out that was a big deal. But again, when I was busy in another room, my sister put up the blue and white shower curtain in the new place. Somehow, I picked out a nice one, and it will be okay.