Janet Yandik and Amy Souza


Janet Yandik
Created using Amy Souza’s poem (below) as inspiration

Where I’m Going
By Amy Souza

……………after “Packing for the Future: Instructions” by Lorna Crozier

I don’t know where I’m going
So I take it all.
All that fits
and some that doesn’t.
Jacket tied around my waist to clear
room in the bag for extra shoes.

Just in case.

Where I’m going there might be rain.
I might find scenes worthy of painting.
There could be a nightclub to check out
(even though I don’t drink or smoke or like loud music).
You just never know.

So I take it all.

The past I can’t let go of
The hope I feel for One Day Soon
My particular malfunctions
and the ways in which I cope.

In my bag, I leave room for nothing more,
yet gather rocks and whirlygigs,
small-town newspapers for my collection.

Always I travel heavy, return heavier,
and leave the crammed case
on the bedroom floor for months
while I suss out all that’s followed me home.


Janet Yandik_INSP

Janet Yandik
Inspiration piece provided to Amy Souza

At the Book Signing
Posted August 28, 2009 at 4:49 p.m. by littleg

Few people ever believed I knew Althea Wood—not my college friends, not one boyfriend, and apparently, not the man paid to protect her. She always said I was like a little sister to her, so even though we haven’t seen each other in five years, it seems unlikely she’d not remember me, as her bodyguard claimed.

As loyal readers know, the last time I saw her in person, before today, I was sixteen. Allie was nineteen and about to enter her final year of college—which, of course, she never finished because she got discovered by her dorm-mate’s cousin’s boyfriend who made her the lead in that small independent film, you know the one, which went on to rule the box office and ignite the careers of all associated with it.

So now she’s Althea Wood, movie star, not Allie, the girl I worked summers with, selling trinkets and souvenirs by day and drinking beer at the beach most nights. It’s impossible not to compare the trajectories of our worldly success—Althea’s a near-vertical line from the day “Blue Dots” was released; mine skirting the low horizon, with a few blips up and down, like the monitor of a heart barely beating. The day I launched the website, that was an uptick that lasted nearly half a year. But after the city paper interviewed me, Althea’s people created an official site. I lost half my Twitter followers the next week, when “Althea” started tweeting. (Can you say “intern”?) Then her lawyers sent me a letter, detailing what I could and couldn’t claim on my website and blog (as if they hadn’t heard about the first amendment). But to them, I’m just a faceless entity, not Little G. (Which, as you know, is what Allie always called me; I still have all the postcards she sent when she studied abroad, each of them addressed, “Dear Little G,” or “Hey Little G,” or “Yo Little G.” Click here and take a look.) Allie would clear it up right now, if her people would just let her see me.

The guy didn’t pass along the message right is my guess.

I told him, “Ask her if she needs to hang an Oriental.”

“Excuse me?” he said.

“It’s an inside thing. Just say, ‘Do you need to hang an Oriental?’ She’ll know right away it’s me.”

He went away, but came back in like a second with a bottle of water (for him, not me—manners?), so I’m sure he didn’t get it right.

Just so you know, the Oriental thing is not a slur. Back when Allie and I worked retail, this lady comes in looking for brackets to attach a rug to the wall, but says, “I want to hang an Oriental.” We were the wrong age, and the wrong class, to understand right away that she meant a carpet. Even so, that’s a funny way to put it, so it became a lasting joke and, finally, slang for our awkward deeds, as in…“Oh man, did I hang an Oriental last night or what?”

Three summers we worked together, which doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re young, every day is intense, like three or four days, right? Other people worked at the store, too, but she didn’t invite them home for lunch. They didn’t visit her parents’ cottage on the weekends, drink their expensive alcohols in plastic cups, and swim off of their dock. She never told them about her boyfriend in California or her crush on the guy in the warehouse.

I conveyed all of this to the bodyguard, but he didn’t say a word in response, and since his eyes were hidden behind dark glasses, I couldn’t tell whether he was listening. Maybe over years of service, he’s perfected the standing cat-nap.

Allie always defended me, too, like when one of the cruise ship customers went off because I couldn’t ring through his credit card. The machine returned an overlimit message, which meant I had to call the company, and the lady on the line said if I gave the man his card back, I’d be personally responsible for anything he charged. She was probably lying, but what did I know? The guy in his madras shorts and pale pink Lacoste—with that neatness only the super wealthy can attain—called me a few names, but all I remember is “stupid greenhorn,” and “get back on the boat to where you came from,” which didn’t he find ironic, considering I was standing in my home town and he was the one going home by boat?

Anyway, Allie takes the card out of my hand and cuts it up into tiny pieces while the guy watches, his face growing redder and redder. Then “Here you go sir,” she says all sweet, and the guy holds out his hand to accept the sharp bits of plastic that could once buy him anything but might now slice his tender, faggy flesh.

I’ll bet today Allie’s richer than that guy. People Magazine said her Paris apartment cost $1.5 million, and that’s just one of what, five places she owns?

Back home, people say she’s forgotten her roots, that she’s ashamed of where she comes from. Some crazies have vowed to boycott her book. But they don’t realize how busy she is. I can see from across the room that the autograph line hasn’t gotten any smaller, and she hasn’t even looked up long enough for me to catch her eye. In fact, I’m going to sign off now to get back in line. I’ll just tell the yellow T-shirts that her book is in my bag. (They’ll probably ask to see it. Capitalists.) Really, they should let anybody into the line. Allie’s not all about consumerism; she doesn’t care if someone buys her book. She’ll talk to them anyway, sign whatever.

I can’t wait to surprise her. I’ll bet she hires me to manage her new site. Could I be more perfect for the job?

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..––By Amy Souza

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One comment

  1. Janet and Amy: These are so beautiful. I love the pictures, especially the way the shapes in the first one keep transforming into different things as I gaze at them. Amy, I am really intrigued by the character in At the Book Signing. I can’t decide if she’s delusional or just in for a really big disappointment. And in your poem, I love the line “My particular malfunctions and the ways in which I cope” and the reference to “rocks and whirlygigs”…things substantial and heavy versus things lighter than air.


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