Unanswered questions

Exhibit 1.8.27



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So I can’t remember what I’ve told you about, but I know these things have happened:

* I have a review of Lucy Corin’s One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses in the new Permafrost Magazine. It’s really good. Both the journal and the book.

* I have a short short in the newest Ninth Letter and it includes a really awesome card with a relevant phone number you can call if so inclined (872-221-0006). It’s easily the coolest, most unexpected thing a journal has ever done with something I’ve written. I made Dave call it in a bookstore in San Francisco when we found a copy there. He was not amused. I was.

* I answered some questions for Switchback when I was at USF for the Emerging Writers’ Festival.

* I finished my term as the Kathy Fish Fellow at SmokeLong Quarterly with this piece here. It’s got a turtle in it. Thanks to everyone there for a great (if busy) year.

* I’m trying to use Instagram. Like the kids. Right here. I took that tree photo. You can expect lots of tree photos. I’m trying to warn you. About the trees. They’re coming. Slowly.

Comment / Posted in Fiction, Unanswered questions, Writing

Exhibit 1.3.9

Need to Figure This Out

So I keep going back and forth on this point, and I can’t decide: Did the dinosaur hunter guy from Jurassic Park use his final breath to make a Total Recall reference before being mauled by velociraptors?

Evidence for:

1) Said to a “girl”

2) This girl had been “clever”

Evidence against:

1) He’s about to die making it an odd thing to choose as one’s final words regardless of the quote’s appropriateness in the situation (sort of like if you were stabbed and said, “If it bleeds, we can kill it.” before, you know, dying).

2) No other evidence he’s a Total Recall fan

Okay, that’s pretty much it.

1 Comment / Posted in Maulings, Movies, Unanswered questions

Exhibit 1.1.5

Where I’m At

This is the subject line of an email sent to the creative writing program listserve:

This is not a joke. Some foundation at the university bought a shrimp boat and the CWP is really, really excited about it. And in case you think I’m somehow making fun of this enthusiasm for shrimp boat-based writing pedagogy, I’m not, not as long as the course is one long series of metaphors about being the captain of one’s own writing, navigating the treacherous waters of revision, and fishing for inspiration. Also, the final exam should probably cover port and starboard.

If you’re interested, there is–shockingly–still room in the class. O, and by room in the class, I mean berths in the class.

Shrimp boat!

Disclaimer: I’m sure the shrimp boat is actually a great idea for connecting with the local gulf community or whatever the rationale is. I just happen to think the phrase shrimp boat is funny. Please don’t pull my funding. I love you, CWP Shrimp Boat.

1 Comment / Posted in Shrimp Boat, Teaching, Unanswered questions

Exhibit 16.5

There’s a car in my parking garage that hasn’t moved in over a month. I know it hasn’t moved because the front driver’s side tire is flat and always rotated at the same angle. It’s not in a reserved space. It doesn’t have a note on it. It’s just there waiting on the top floor of the garage facing west, its flat tire pointing at the Cornhusker Hotel.

No one seems concerned about the car.

I am concerned about the car.

It’s odd that someone abandoned a car in a parking garage when the only issue is a flat tire. It’s a grey Ford Taurus, and my guess is that it’s somewhere around a 2003. I didn’t write down the class, but let’s say it’s the 4-door SE sedan without any extra options but a moon roof (I’m thinking the moon roof is why they parked on the top of the garage. They wanted the views. I’m also thinking they didn’t want the CD player because the person probably didn’t want to pay for all of their country music a second time [did I mention the car is from Texas? It’s from Texas]). As for mileage, I’ll assume it’s somewhere around 60k. This might be conservative, but I know at least one month where the car has racked up exactly zero miles. I’ll say the car is in fair condition due to its flat tire and weeks of neglect during winter.

That makes the Blue Book $3,510. Presumably the person would settle for a flat $3.5k if you bought them an extra value meal while negotiating the price down ten dollars. That seems like too much to abandon, right?

I guess I feel like one of those Kitty Genovese witnesses because I see this car and do nothing about it. Is my responsibility diffused because the woman who drives a white Volvo and the man who drives a blue Suburban also park next to it day after day? Surely if it’s anyone’s responsibility it’s the Suburban guy.

It’s actually a rather sad way to go into work. Some nice Texans parked their car in Lincoln, Nebraska, only to disappear forever. Now the car just waits like some loyal beagle in the snow.

Either we’re missing some Texans or some Texans are missing a car. Whatever the situation, I’m missing some of whatever it takes to do something about the situation. How long would that car have to be there before I asked somebody?

My guess: four months. And even then I’d probably just mention it in feigned casualness to a co-worker on the elevator, trying hard to make it seem like I hadn’t been thinking about it for four months.

Me: Hey, I just noticed that Taurus on the top floor of the garage hasn’t moved in awhile.
Co-worker: Yeah, it’s been there since November. I asked about it around Thanksgiving and found out it’s some guy’s from the life insurance company on the 8th floor. I guess he’s in China for six months or something. No big deal.
Me: Oh.
Co-worker: So are you excited about everything happening on today, Wednesday, May 13th?

I’m less than good.

Comment / Posted in Abandoned, Cars, Unanswered questions

Exhibit 15.20

Possible Explanations for Why the Entire City of Lincoln Smells Like Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal This Morning

1. Maple & brown sugar oatmeal tanker truck accident (this would explain the quarantine, too)
2. What I’m actually smelling is my stroke
3. That one law
4. Lincoln got into some poison ivy
5. Tomorrow’s rodeo at the event center is going to be the best rodeo ever

I’m out of explanations.

2 Comments / Posted in Breakfast, This Morning, Unanswered questions

Exhibit 12.18

So I don’t know how closely you follow current affairs in Nebraska…what’s that you say? Very closely? Good. Then you probably know there’s been a bit of controversy over a safe haven law designed to allow parents to leave unwanted babies at hospitals as opposed to, you know, the placenta-stained trashcan behind Temporary Classroom Trailer 11B.

(Too far?)

Good law, right? Especially with abortion access and sex education being eviscerated in a state like Nebraska, a law like this seems essential to protect both the child and the mother (who previously would have been subject to a felony charge for abandonment). Despite there being a long history of this sort of practice, Nebraska was somehow the last state in the country to have this law. Fine. They rectified the mistake. Well done.

The problem comes in when lawmakers decided to use the word ‘child’ in place of ‘infant’ in the bill which has led to all sorts of hilarity like this headline:

Father drops off 9 kids under safe haven law

Oops. Turns out the only children being dropped off are more likely to drink beer than formula. That’s not really the part that confuses me though (if anything it was all too predictable). I just can’t understand how a guy managed to get nine kids to go with him to the hospital and be willingly abandoned. Did he tell them they were going to McDonald’s? Did they have to take two cars? Did the abandoned 17-year old drive the second car? Did he stop to buy a lottery ticket and some cigarettes before he made himself a ward of the state?

I have questions. Clearly the only way I’m going to get answers is to adopt all nine of these kids and get the answers I need from Herb, Tiffany, Johnboy, Adam Jr., Kevin, Gabriella, Haruki, Phyllis, and Adam III.

The only thing stopping me is that I don’t know what I’d do with them next. What’s that? There’s a poorly written safe haven law? Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to need to mapquest a route from my house to the orphanage and then from the orphanage to the hospital dropbox.

Comment / Posted in 17, Nebraska, Unanswered questions

Exhibit 9.20

On Editing a Novel #6

SETTING YOUR NOVEL. It’s likely that your first draft took place in an uninterrupted white landscape without any detail whatsoever. Or possibly a castle. When redrafting, your goal should always be to do more: more uninterruptions, more white, more spires.

Think of the world of your novel as your playground. That’s not to say you’ll only need teeter-totters–though you will–but also trees, clouds, grass, war, benches, buildings, etc. Still not getting it? Let’s see if a simile helps (see #11 USING SIMILES IS LIKE USING GOLD). Think of it like television, like black and white, one-dimensional television.

But not just any setting works for any novel. Ask yourself some questions about your characters to get a sense of what time period they’re living in.

Do they say ‘thee’ and ‘zounds’? If so, you’ll need some armadas.
Do they eat dinosaur? You’ll probably need some larger than expected mosquitoes.
Do they wear armor? If so, you can just stick with the castle.
Do they shoot people with lasers? That’s so awesome.
Do they ride horses? You’ll need some saloons and consumption.
Do they wear poodle skirts? Describe a clean neighborhood of ranch houses (but only in black and white)

Once you have your setting nailed down, populate it with things you see around yourself like toddlers, light, and floor.

Comment / Posted in Editing, Unanswered questions, Writing

Exhibit 3.19

Shanley Jacobs, Aaron Plasek, and Adam Peterson

Reading at Drake University on Thursday, October 11th. Cowles Reading Room at 7:30 p.m.

(That’s actually as close as I can get to a camera. Any closer and the camera explodes. I’ve never thought to ask why).

1 Comment / Posted in Alma Maters, Readings, Unanswered questions