Archive for random moments

Now on Facebook

I finally joined Facebook! This is an announcement that would have been much more exciting back in 2007, but here it is, 2014, and I’ve finally picked an outfit and am ready to join the party. I’ve added icons to the blog for easy access (to Goodreads too, another new obsession), so please feel free to click through, and while there, please consider “liking” my page. Here’s a link as well.

I’ll still be updating the blog with events and posts. The posts might not be as frequent but I hope to make them meatier, ie, enough protein to hold you until the next meal.

Someone loves McDonald’s more than I do.

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An unfortunate missing letter

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Some days

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If I say come at seven, I mean it

Last weekend I had plans to see Alabama Shakes in concert at an outdoor arena. I can’t tell you how hip this made me feel, how utterly young, until of course I got there.

Musicians, I do not understand how you can ask people to a party at seven and then not show up yourselves until ten. I do not understand how you can have two other sets of musicians do your job for you before you manage to come on stage. And twenty-somethings, I do not understand how you think it’s appropriate, ten minutes before the show finally seems to be starting, to move in front of the old people who have held their spots for three hours. And how is it acceptable to then grope each other in your Jersey Shore bodies while you ash your cigarettes all over some guy’s blanket that I heard him tell some other guy was his father’s from the Korean war? And the picture taking? With the cell phones? I guess it’s good you documented all this because my guess is you didn’t remember much, what with all the beer you managed to not spill and whatever was in that Mountain Dew bottle.

So did I have fun? I guess so. I don’t think I should stay out past ten and am horrified to say one of the best things about the night was that I wore comfortable shoes. But the people-watching, as awful as it was, was truly wonderful. And another thing that delighted me was that the girl I placed bets on throwing up before the end of the show totally did, at which point her supposed boyfriend turned away so he didn’t have to claim her.

Now the trick is how to hold that contradiction tightly in a story–both having a great time and an awful time. How to capture that a thing you love is also a thing that annoys you, and that maybe that’s why you love it.

If I was supposed to meet with you this week, this is why I’m not there

The other day a friend was telling the story about her computer crashing and how devastated she was to lose all her files, pictures, and music. My other friend, trying to be reasonable, said, “Well, didn’t you have it backed up?” People, this isn’t what someone wants to hear when they’re telling you they lost all their shit. What they want is all the sympathy in the world and not word one about how it could have been prevented.

On a related note, my dog, Mavis, ate my planner last weekend. She is nine-months-old and has already destroyed all my summer shoes, a dozen stuffed animals, a watch, six dog bowls, a disturbing number of underpants, eight thousand pens, and all the crayons in the world. Should I have left the planner on the dining room table? Probably not. Should I have known better than to leave her loose in the house? I guess so. Do I want to hear any of these things? No.

It felt oddly personal, her going after the planner. I’ve been on the Franklin Covey planner system since 1995, since well before I had anything to keep track of or plan beyond which five nights each week I’d go out for beers after work. Having a planner has always made me feel like I’m keeping chaos at bay and I find few things as rewarding as putting a check next to a finished task. Virgos, you know what I’m saying.

I’m trying to look at this as an opportunity to be less dependent on the planner, less structured in my time, at least until the new one arrives. It’s kind of working. Kind of not. In the meantime, I just keep reminding myself how sweet this dog is.

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She reminds me of Barney’s Hot/Crazy Scale on How I Met Your Mother, only instead of “hot” it’s “adorable.” Definitely still crazy, though.

My computer doesn’t even have that many fonts

My friend Melinda recently sent me this link to a New Yorker post by Nathaniel Stein titled “My Book.” It’s about an author who sees himself and his work as very important but with very little to back it up. I wish I didn’t find this so funny, but I do, and it’s partly because it reminds me of people I’ve met or meet in workshops. I was probably one of them at one point. I think the longer we write, the more humbled we are by the process, and the more obvious it is that what we have to say about our work or how we justify it means nothing compared to the work itself.

A few favorites from the article:

“My book–like all truly great ones–also tells you less about its apparent subject matter than it does about yourself. Since I don’t know you, this stuff might be sort of off.”

“My book has been translated into more than sixty-eight fonts.”

Give to Lincoln Day

May 16 is “Give to Lincoln Day” to support nonprofits in Lincoln, Nebraska. As they say on their website, this is “your chance to make a real impact on Lincoln’s quality of life. . . . Every donation you make on May 16th helps your favorite charities even more because they will also receive a proportional share of our $200,000 challenge match pool”.

It’s like free money for a good cause!

If you get a chance, please consider giving to the organization of your choice, and I’ll make a special shout out for the Friends of the University of Nebraska Press.

It makes me wish Duffy’s Tavern, one of my favorite hangouts as a grad and undergrad student at UNL, was a non-profit. They serve mixed drinks in fishbowls, I kid you not. Here’s a list of the options, because it’s such a good idea to drink a Jack and Coke bigger than your head. Back in the day we’d order these as a group, hover around the extra long straws like a school of piranhas, and see how fast we could drink them. Our record was three minutes. The same amount of time it takes to empty a dishwasher.

All great things at the golden arches

My daughter and I stopped at our favorite McDonalds for dinner the other night — it’s kind of a sketchy one but the only location in the city with a play area. We discovered on arrival that it was Family Fun Night and the guy at the counter encouraged me to just drop her off, that there were some people in the back with games who were happy to watch her from 5:00-7:00. Let me repeat that: the guy encouraged me to just leave my daughter with strangers for two hours.

The people in the back, best I could tell, were just two teenage McDonalds employees with one of those beanbag tic-tac-toe games. I don’t think any parents actually left their kids alone, and most of the children were chaperoned (and I use that word lightly) by what appeared to be their tired, single dads on cell phones. Two moms gabbed in the corner as far from their kids as they could get while the kids attempted to form some kind of feral gang. There was a baby loose on the floor, right in front of the exit for the slide. One girl told her mother, “That kid is mean!” and her mother replied, “So are you.” We stayed until seven and I’m happy to report no one was actually hurt, although my daughter did accidentally topple the two-year-old watching the baby on the floor. When the two-year-old started to cry I frantically tried to locate her parent but her older sister, probably five, told me, “Don’t worry. She just cries to try and get candy.”

It was an awful and wonderful experience all at once, both sad and funny. Definitely story-worthy. What have you seen lately that could spark a story? What details stick out, and why?

Yes, I will accept you

I was at the McDonald’s drive thru the other day, very early in the morning, and my friend ordered a hot chocolate. The woman taking our order sounded dead-tired and like she didn’t love her job, and when she said to us, “Would you accept a medium?” another friend in the car heard, “Will you accept-a me?” It was said in such an apathetic voice it made the misheard dialogue even funnier.

Charles Baxter has a great essay in his book The Art of Subtext where he talks a lot about how what we hear is much more important than what is said, and how not listening is something we should consider in our fiction if we’re to be honest about the way characters interact. The whole book is brilliant and you should read all of it, which is another way for me to mis-say I don’t remember which essay it is in exactly.