Sometimes-monthly, sometimes-weekly, when-I-have-the-time blog.

"Lazy" and "Busy" are Pejorative Terms, and We Should Abolish Them Both

It’s summer here, and I’ve been lazy about blogging. More accurately, I’ve reduced my blogging to about once a month, due to extreme limitations on my time related to both school and work. These blog posts might be more frequent in the future, but until then, I’ll keep the literary news upfront:

  1. Lunch Ticket is OPEN for general submissions. The reading period opened August 1 and will remain open until October 31. Submit hereafter reading all of the submission guidelines carefully, of course.
  2. I was in Madison a few weeks ago to hear Emily Fridlund read from her excellent and intuitive short story collection, Catapult. She’s an incisive and brilliant writer and extremely kind person. READ her short stories! They are compact, elegant, and contain enormous insight on human nature. I haven’t read her novel yet, History of Wolves, but the portion she read of it sounded the same—spare but magically constructed.
  3. I helped edit this raw, honest, and gripping blog post by Adrien Kid Sdao on trans visibility and the loss of a dear friend. I’m so proud of Adrien’s strength in telling this difficult story, as well as their cohesive, emotive writing. I’m grateful for this group of witty, warm, and insightful people I get to work with for this issue of Lunch Ticket. As a member of Lunch Ticket’s blog team and an Assistant Blog Editor this issue, I’ll have a blog of my own published soon—look for it in early September.

I’ve been home in Wisconsin for about a month, and the road trip back now seems like a dream: from Los Angeles to Palm Springs to the Salton Sea to Salvation Mountain to Tucson to Albuquerque to Santa Fe to Raton to Wichita to Columbia (Missouri) to Madison to home.

I had a lot of reading and writing catch-up to do when I got back from the road trip, and I’m now realizing how the travels influenced my creativity and writing process. Here’s how:

TUCSON: I enjoyed the desert so much that I’m planning to go back, perhaps in early spring, when it’s still damp and cold in the Midwest. The Saguaro cacti in the Sonoran desert amazed me. Some of them are more than 150 years old. Tucson is a fun little city—it feels much smaller than it is. Big-city amenities, smaller-town feel. Recommend.

ABQ: I’ve changed the setting of my novel in a major way, after doing research for it in Albuquerque, where the majority of the novel takes place. Also, I redefined my protagonist’s character and story arcs, due to some reading I did on the trip.

RATON, NM: We spent an evening drinking whiskey with competitive gunmen who were in New Mexico to shoot long-distance at targets in the mountains four miles away (seriously). The fun and light-hearted evening I spent with them discussing everything from mycelium to missiles made my processing of the Capital Gazette shooting, which happened in Baltimore the week I was on the road, that much harder. 

As a former professional and student journalist (not to mention undergraduate journalism major) and human who has many loved ones who are journalists, who live in newsrooms daily, who embody the commitment to reporting and writing the “facts,” such as they are, the Capital Gazette shooting effected me deeply. I’m sickened to know that the person somehow voted in as president of our country refused to lower flags for lives lost in that newsroom, because he "hates" the media, because he chooses to fight his wars via illegitimate reporting means (Twitter), because he advocates for "alternative facts."

COLUMBIA, MO: And, I decided I never want to visit Missouri in the summertime again. The weather was my version of hell. There are no major bodies of water to add, I don’t know, some “coastal” wind, to the air. It was like walking around in soup…HUNGOVER. Because, July 4th parties aren’t real parties until the live fiddling, lots of ice-cold vodka shots, and dramatic readings of the Declaration of Independence (this one staged by yours truly and my friend Chris). BLECH.

Overall, it was an excellent trip, and I’m toying with the idea of recreating it on the way to LA next June. If I do it again, I’ll probably take the train rather than my own car.

Another thing that happened since my last blog post—I had a birthday! I turned 32. It feels good to be in my thirties. Gray hairs abound, but I realized last month that I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, namely because I feel in control of my life (home/work environments and relationships), job, studies, and writing. I worked for a long time to win back that control and balance, after almost 10 years in various dysfunctional and/or corporate worlds. So, I’ve decided aging isn’t too bad.

And, I received a great gift—a new nephew! My sister-in-law had her baby on my birthday. I am delighted to have two July 31st birthdays to celebrate in the future. Another literary connection: July 31st is also Harry Potter’s birthday, as well as J.K. Rowling’s. Baby Maxwell is healthy and, in an objective manner, the most adorable baby I’ve ever seen. I hope we will get to visit Max, my sister-in-law, and her husband in Seattle in December, before or shortly after my third MFA residency.

In between writing, reading, and day job stuff, I’m soaking in as much outside time as I can. The cicadas drone this time of year in Wisconsin—my favorite season. We only get about 2.5 months of this heat and sun. I want to spend every second possible outside. With adequate shielding, of course. Brimmed hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, self-tanner, repeat.

Sun-worshippingly yours,