Monday, December 27, 2010


New Issue!

Read my short short about bats, Amber Sparks' story about a girl named Ruby who is not quite a person, Glen Pourciau's short Ex and the collaborative piece, Sisters by Amelia Gray and Lindsay Hunter. And then read all the rest because they're all quite good.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I am a maker of lists.

Due to the extremely jumbled, distractable, and random state of my head-workings, I am led to believe that it is not the innate, organized nature of me that prompts me to make lists, it's actually a feeble but comforting compensatory routine, shrouding the rat king of my thoughts in a rusty tarp of order.

Lists I have made or been tempted to make of late (a list of lists! shroud on!):

Progeny of My High School Friends
It is becoming hard to remember who has one, who has two, who has one-in-the-oven and two kneeling cherubically in prayer by their bedsides, and somewhere between my sixteen year-old plans to have four children and three finished books and live on Prince Edward Island, Canada by age twenty-five and my relief that instead of beginning to have children at age twenty-one, I began to have legal shots of tequila, I have an itch to make an Excel spreadsheet documenting the increase in walking fruit of my Utah besties' loins. I think I would get a perverse satisfaction out of seeing how few of my circle have made it to the ripe old age of twenty-five without giving birth.

Things I Need to do Better in Life
Depressingly, most of the items on the list have held a place of prominence for over a decade now. Things that were not on the list at age twelve: Spend less time obsessing over my neuroses. Keep up with housework. Drink less smarter.

Things That Have Gone Wrong in My Relationships
This may sound like a violation of the first item on the previous list, but strangely enough I feel as though there is a funny and lyrical essay/story/thing waiting to be sprouted from this pile of manure.

Animals That Have Appeared, Have Not Yet Appeared, and Will Never Appear in My Stories
1. Rabbits. Bats. A drawn and quartered Yorkie. 2. Jackalope. Rabies spider. Manatee. 3. A cow that is happy to be eaten (Douglas Adams beat me to it). A donkey that poses as the savior of beastkind (already been done, thank you C.S. Lewis) HEY! Wait a minute!!! A donkey... A democrat! ....OBAMA!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stieg Larsson's Male Gaze

Just watched "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." Enjoyed it a moderate amount, the suspense etc., but it bothered me and I talked to some friends after I left the theater and I know why. It's a misogynistic movie.

It purports to be anti-misogyny. The plot of the film follows the titular character, Lisbeth, and (paraphrased) "the last bastion of Swedish watchdog journalism," Mikael, as they hunt down a twisted killer who uses biblical passages as prescriptions for murdering women (which could be read slant-long as commentary on the deep misogyny present in the bible).

Lisbeth, although deeply disturbed by her past and certain terrible circumstances of her present, is utterly self-sufficient and well adjusted for her own brand of survival. She is portrayed as a rather hard core (tattooed, pierced, ass-kicking) lesbian toward the start--when Mikael comes to ask her to help with the case, she has a woman in her bed.

However, to Larsson's mind, Lisbeth's self-expression and sexual persuasion are merely symptoms of a quite understandable aversion to men. Once the virtuous journalist spends some time with her, Lisbeth suddenly decides she likes dick. By the time the movie is over, she has ditched her jeans and sneakers and black punk rock hairdo for come-fuck-me heels and flossy golden locks. This is, to be fair, part of a disguise. Still. From an untouchable, impenetrable (for men) mystery, Lisbeth is transformed into a fantastic creature balancing those two deadly archetypes of femininity: the angel (saves his life, golden hair, beautiful and vulnerable) and the devil (sexy, kicks ass, gets what she wants)

This isn't even to mention the very detailed scenes and descriptions involving rape and murder of women (which heavily emphasize the intense enjoyment of the perpetrators). I'm not one for censorship, and I'm not trying to settle the debate of what needs to be or should be portrayed in order to get x effect and whether such means is ethical/worth it, but taken with Lisbeth's quite unnecessary transformation, well, let's just say I raise an eyebrow.

Friday, September 17, 2010


I wrote about them. For xTx's Zombie Summer. Go and read some of the other entries, they're much better than mine. My favorite was Tres Crow's "Stillborn" (it's at the bottom of the first page of results.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010


The July issue is up. It's lovely. It's exciting to see my work alongside the likes of Brandi Wells and Robb Todd.

Read it.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer of Submissions Rejections

For the first time in my life, I am submitting in earnest to literary magazines. I have a killer submission tracker (I work on it when I'm daydreaming about being a real, honest-to-gawd author instead of actually writing or editing), a couple of pieces that I feel are ready to be seen by eyes other the kindly ones belonging to my fellow MFA-ers in workshops, and hope.

At least, I HAD hope.

It's a brutal world out there. My proudest babies are being kicked around like footballs in a world that suddenly seems full of mad elitist gatekeepers. I've always been the "glass is half-full" type, the flip-side of which involves failing to anticipate certain obvious facts of life. Example: when you increase the number of submissions, you not only increase the (slim) odds that you will be published, but likely increase as well the number of rejections you'll get back. The first several "no's" I met with a defiant smile, the next several an expression of grim resolve, the last few a slightly quivering lip.

The truth is that we're all of us staring down the long bleak tunnel of a lifetime of this rejection crap. Even the well-published, well-respected authors I am proud to know continue to receive a parade of impersonal and unexplained form letters.

Good thing writing is its own reward.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Writing for Writers

I'm trying to revamp. I'm going to update more often, work harder to connect with other writers, etc. I've even posted the link for my blog on facebook (egads!)

One thing that I thought might be helpful is a list of websites for writers. Here are some of my favorites:


Calls itself "the internet literature magazine blog of the future." I think that says it all.

The Rumpus

Intense ADHD-friendly layout with tons of fun stuff from interviews and articles to funny videos to columns (LOVE "Ted Wilson Reviews the World", among others)


Elegant and simple. Spotlights two or three pieces from small/unknown presses daily. Great way to find excellent writing and new journals.


xTx, a mysterious, hilarious, somewhat shameless writer (I've mostly read her short fiction) posts commentary, stories, and links to good stuff. More of an author blog than a blog for all writers, but it's definitely worthwhile.

What are your favorites?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Two poems in blue

My first web publication, courtesy of ana c. at New Wave Vomit:

Two poems in blue (Waiting and Superimposed Natural)

Also check out my friends Matthew Mahaney (65) and Brandi Wells (31)!

That's all.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Delta Blues-Final Installment (thank goodness)

Rat's directions had us driving in the late afternoon through long, silent fields of grain, pastures, copses of trees. A beautiful, silent, lonely place. Lonely to us anyway; I'm sure there are those used to the distances between things and the scarcity of people.

Somewhere on the way to Rosedale we stopped at a very rural gas station, building made of wood, people made of gossip. We had some delicious pie (not homemade) and excellent coffee, and an older gentleman asked us where we were from and then warned us about Rosedale. He used certain terms which prepared us for the next part: watch out for those cops in Rosedale, he said, they hate white people. Gave me a ticket for no reason. Clocked me before I even hit the speed limit sign and then ticketed me in the middle of town where the speed limit had dropped by ten. Got a huge expensive ticket and I didn't even do anything.

Hmm, we said. Thanks.

Several grains of salt notwithstanding, we slowed down a bit on our way into town, and made it ticket-free to the Great River Road State Park. We climbed the observation tower and looked out over the Mississippi River, walked down a path to watch it lap at the muddy shore, and were eyed by several locals as we explored a building which appeared to house a disc golf club.

Back on the road. We passed through Cleveland, didn't see much, kept on our way towards Ruleville in order to stop at Dockery Farms, one-time home of the famous Charlie Patton. It was a lush, lovely spot and fairly easy to picture rich evenings of necessary blues; easy also to picture the harsh life of even the best of the sharecropper/itinerant worker situations of the time (which Dockery Farms is said to have been).

Next we went to Indianola and stopped for food at Club Ebony, which is owned by B.B. King. Ray Charles, Ike Turner, Howling Wolf and others have taken the stage at this small juke joint; today, however, it appeared to be a private birthday party or something--we felt more than a little out of place as not only the only white people, but the apparently the only ones not there for the party. We were welcomed kindly, so we took a seat and ordered some beers, the fried catfish, and the "buffalo fish," which turned out to be a delicate endeavor as the bones were still inside of it and easy to eat by accident.

We didn't stay too long once we were done--we were eager to get back to Clarksdale and one of the most anticipated destinations of our trip, Red's juke joint. Since we were feeling a bit tired, we pre-gamed with some energy drink malt beverages, which I was sure were going to give us heart attacks or at the very least devastating hangovers, then walked to Red's--it's about a five minute walk from the Riverside Hotel.

It's an unassuming building from the outside. Except for the giant grill and the music barely contained by brick walls, you'd never know that this is one of the best blues spots in the world on a Friday night. We entered with something like reverence and became swiftly a part of the ecstatic, energetic, worries-out-the-window crowd of musicians, dancers, and lovers of the blues. I have never had music run through my entire body quite like that before--I couldn't help but express it with my shoulders, my arms, my waist, my hips, my feet. At some point in the night we saw Rat, who had mentioned he might stop by, but he didn't stay long.

It was very late--or early--by the time we traced our way back to the Riverside Hotel and our room. The next morning was a bit confused. We hurried to gather our things, I took a shower, Andy thought I was skipping the shower so he didn't take one, we couldn't find a breakfast place... in any case, we finally found ourselves on the road and headed to Memphis.

We tried to pack a bit too much into the afternoon. We went to visit the National Civil Rights Museum, housed at the Lorraine Motel, the site where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, a trip deserving of at least two hours of time, potentially much more. The exhibits are a bit reading-heavy. Lots and lots of information packed into an assortment of plaques all over the walls. We scanned them hungrily, trying to hurry through but also get as much as we could out of the experience. There is so much about the Civil Rights Struggle that you don't learn in schools; years and years of ordinary people making extraordinary sacrifices to achieve equality, to better the lives of others, of future generations. So much hatred, resistance, apathy, belligerence. It's amazing how ugly humanity can be; it's also amazing how the spirit can triumph over the evils of the world. I really wish we had realized how much time we had--we were trying to make it to the riverboat tour, which ended up leaving almost an hour after we thought it would.

Oh, the riverboat tour. There was crazy wind the whole time--it was a bit cold. The tour guide offered a strange array of facts, folklore, and commentary; the view was pretty boring, really. Not much more to say about that, except the trip definitely gave us a sense of the power and breadth of the River.

After the tour we headed to our digs, the Inn at Hunt Phelan, an Antebellum mansion close to Beale street. The innkeeper (as he insists on being called) was amazingly generous with his time and services, insisted that we call him day or night if we needed anything, etc. etc. Our room was beautiful but a bit eerie. Not much light. We settled in, had a complimentary drink at the bar downstairs (followed by a non-complimentary drink--our bartender, Brandy, was excellent) and then headed out to Beale street.

Unfortunately the weather was not conducive to bar-hopping; a little after we finished our dinner at Blues City Cafe, it began to rain. We managed to check out the Beale Street Tap Room, Black Diamond, and Alley Katz Gift Emporium, which has a crazy assortment of retro, tacky, and collectible gift items (three categories which often overlapped). The rain was getting both of us down, and we almost headed home, but I convinced Andy that we should stop by Ernestine and Hazel's first--an erstwhile whorehouse transformed into a dining and dancing establishment.

On a tip I had gotten from a liquor store clerk on prior trip to Memphis, Andy and I ventured up to the second floor, where we discovered in a back room a corner bar. Nate, the bartender, has been at it for several decades, and we had some enjoyable conversation with him about the area, his many children and grandchildren, his wife. It was a bit of a quiet night, and we ended it relatively early--our cab driver spiced things up a bit for me by telling us that one of the rooms in the inn is haunted by a man named Nathaniel, a butler, I believe, with some kind of bone to pick. He described a room he had stayed in and had a run-in with Nathaniel--our room, of course.

We got back there and Andy, my knight in shining armor, passed out almost instantly and was impossible to wake with frantic whispers and shaking. I lay staring at the two glowing embers of the lights, which refused to turn off all the way, and listening to a cacophony of noises--it was about three in the morning at this point, mind you, and there was plenty to hear, and I still feel convinced that it wasn't the staff. At least not the current staff. At some point I managed to drift to sleep.

The next morning we had planned to visit the Reverend Al Green's church. I was pretty reluctant. I felt like I didn't have the right clothes, didn't feel comfortable in a church, especially as a tourist, etc. Andy was set on going, though, so I gave in. I'm glad I did. The voyeurism thing was a bit weird, but we certainly weren't the only ones--there were a ton of bland white people (I say bland because they were stiff and didn't clap or dance or seem to enjoy themselves much at all, not just because of their boring, clean cut appearance) who sat all in a block and basically sucked energy from the air around them. We sat in a different section than they did and immersed ourselves as fully as we could in the music and the spiritual experience. Al Green was there as we had hoped he would be (I think they called him "Bishop Al Green," not sure what the distinction is) and he preached and sang to us; the choir was fantastic, and there were a couple of soloists whose names I can't remember who also blew us away.

I had been nervous for the part with the collection plate--reports suggested that Al Green would personally shame anyone who "donated" less than $20 to the church--but he did no such thing, not this time at least.

Right before they were about to close the services, someone whispered something to someone, who whispered something to Al Green, who announced that one of the Blind Boys of Alabama was in the audience and had requested to come up and sing for us. Said gentleman took the stand and delivered a fantastic rendition of "Amazing Grace."

The trip was only a glimpse of the Delta trail, of the South, of the blues, but we both felt it was a rich, beautiful, authentic glimpse. I highly recommend a similar trip to anyone who has an interest in the history of these places.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Delta Blues Pt. 2

Back to Morgan Freeman's nightclub. (Actually he's only a part owner.) Here is a picture:

It's not actually a hotel. The Delta Cotton Company apartments are located above the nightclub, and they offer the option of renting a room for a night. We stayed in "Strict Good Ordinary," which is next door to the room where Morgan Freeman stays when he comes (we didn't see him). It was not luxurious or fancy but it was spacious and clean and did just fine. It was getting late, so we got settled in the room and then headed to Abe's Bar-B-Q. It's only open on Fridays and Saturdays typically so we were lucky to find it open on a Thursday. The bbq was good (not rave-worthy, but just what I needed) and it was such a fun, friendly place. The chef came out and took our drink order because the server was busy with a large party, then chatted with us about his Pink Floyd shirt (he was also a Beatles fan).

Then we went back to Ground Zero for the Blues Jam with Daddy Rich. This was basically open mic plus a backup band--several individuals came up and jammed. There was a harmonica conference(!) in town, they booked up all of the rooms at the Shack-Up Inn, otherwise we would have stayed there, and some of them took a turn on stage. When I had consumed a sufficient amount of liquid courage I danced a little, but I wasn't sure I was doing it right and there weren't that many people on the dance floor--most were sitting down at the tables. Andy even danced a little.

The next morning we took it easy--checked out the Cat Head Delta Blues and Folk Art store (museum? thing?) and asked them what was happening. They said Red's was the place to be that night, which pretty much confirmed what Andy had heard. Then we considered breakfast at the Dutch Oven, which is run by Mennonites (which, I learned, are not the same thing as the Amish--I was pretty confused to see them using a Coke machine and texting) but we settled on the Delta Amusement Parlor, at least I'm pretty sure that's what it was called. I think we were the only out-of-towners. We were regarded with suspicion at first, then ignored. The local types who obviously felt very at home in this cafeteria-like joint, talked loudly and entertained us with overheard bits of their conversation: "You gonna buy her a Miller Lite tonight?" "Yeah, I might do that." "Haha! You gonna take that little gal out and buy her some beer tonight!" (I'm assuming the "little gal" part was exaggeration--the chef hollered at one of the waitresses, asking her if she'd served the "skinny lil gal out there," meaning me, so grain of salt. Haha)

Then we went to the Delta Blues Museum, which was really cool. It featured Muddy Waters' cabin, two beautiful photo series which painted a lovely portrait of the southern blues lifestyle, outfits worn by blues legends, etc. etc. Informative and fun.

Next we went to the Riverside Hotel. Now, we'd both been trying for the last week to get the proprietor on the phone. The Riverside is legendary and Rat, the man who owns it, is a big part of why it continues to be a remarkable part of blues history.

We were happy to find that he did, in fact, have rooms available. He shuffled us into the main lobby and told us that he'd been sick and that's why he hadn't been able to get to the--he showed us the relic of a phone--and he was happy to talk to us but also seemed tired so I didn't press him for the history of the place, although we did chat a little about it. I get the sense that he gets a lot of joy out of sharing stories and meeting people, but he was a little distant though friendly throughout our stay and I think he was just tired from his recent hospital visit. He showed us the room where Bessie Smith died--the hotel used to be a hospital; she was brought there after a car accident on Highway 69. Luckily we didn't stay in that room. (The rich history combined with the underlying violence and suffering of a lot of these places kept me a little edgy about ghosts, which I'm not quite sure whether I believe in or not).

The rooms are small but neat, furnished rather oddly and heated by these gas flame heaters that had us checking for smoke alarms (there were several in the building). The bathrooms are all shared, and the entire place smelled of old smoke (Andy and I aren't smokers and we're maybe oversensitive to that) but we really enjoyed the experience of staying there and meeting Rat. We were trying to figure out what to do next, which of the small nearby towns to see, and he asked for our map and drew us a loop, detailing what we'd see where, showing us how to maximize the gas mileage. (To be continued...for some reason I always start working on this late at night.)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Delta Blues

Andy and I took a trip from Jackson, Mississippi up through Memphis. We learned a lot about the blues and southern history, ate our weight in soul food, and danced our butts off.

We didn't do much in Jackson but we did see Farish Street, which was established and built by former slaves. In its heyday it was a self-contained community with everything from medical services to beauty shops to churches. Those times are over, but there are a couple of diners and juke joints still alive and kicking. We stopped and had a delicious lunch at Peaches Cafe: fried chicken, black-eyed peas, candied yams, cornbread muffins, and sweet tea. Awesome.

Vicksburg is about an hour, hour and a half away. When we arrived at the little bed and breakfast Andy had booked, the Bryn Rose Inn, we were stunned. It was...I mean, it was beautiful.

According to the website it's "one of the finest examples of Tudor architecture in Mississippi." The grounds were green and picturesque. The rooms (large bedroom, sitting room, bathroom) had lots of windows, beautiful hardwood floors and furnishings, and all kinds of little touches that kind of brought the idea of "southern hospitality" to life for us. A little jar of fresh cookies, decanters of port and sherry in the "Great Room," fresh flowers, a wide selection of delicious breakfasts brought to the room on trays, etc. etc. There was also a lovely deck and a swimming pool, but of course I forgot my swimsuit.

We went and looked at the Mississippi river--in theory we watched the sun set but it was so cloudy you couldn't actually see it--and saw an otter or a mink. The debate continues.

Then we went to Duff's Bar and Grill and ordered the crawfish etouffe (delicious) and
some sort of black bean dish. Curious about the riverboat casinos, we boarded one and discovered that all casinos look alike once you're inside (smell alike, sound alike).

The next day, we checked out the National Military Park and the USS Cairo Museum. The park is not that exciting without the audio tour (we were going to do the audio tour but didn't) but the USS Cairo Museum was fun. Interesting to see the way the Civil War is portrayed in the south (you know, the War of Northern Aggression?)

We bickered a little about where to eat lunch but I convinced Andy to stop at The Tomato Place, this little roadside-stand-looking establishment which sells an odd assortment of goods, from fresh fruit and homemade jam to birdhouses to Star Wars figurines to random kitchen utensils. We ordered tomato pie, shish kabobs and fresh lemonade. It took a little while but it was worth the wait. Pretty sure that tomato pie has more calories than a tub of butter, but holy crap. Soooo good. He thanked me several times for making him stop there. This became a theme of the trip: one of us would convince the other to stop somewhere and it would turn out to be amazingly worthwhile.

Full and happy, we headed up to Clarksdale, where we had reservations to stay at the Ground Zero Blues Club (owned by Morgan Freeman). It was not what I expected. (To be continued.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Depression and January

All of my bad feelings about everything are coagulating. I thought I would leave them safely behind in January but they followed me into February. They feel like a ball and chain. I can still move and kind of act normal but I feel them everywhere I go and I feel like everyone can see them, and people tell me it's so simple, all I have to do is unlock the thing from my ankle and walk away, and I get excited and think yes! That's all I have to do! And then later realize I don't have the key, don't know where to get it.

I feel like there's nowhere to go. I feel like I can't talk about it because at the heart of it all is an unintentional self-absorption based on fear. Even this post is "I, I, I." Andy gave me some good advice--find some kind of service to do, some way to get out of myself and think about and give to others. That's a start, but I don't know if it will get at the underlying problem.
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