JAN 2012

Now, I can post the link to my first published short story. I swear I will write about the entire experience sometime soon.

Cliff note version:

Tom Spanbauer challenged me to write a scene for my larger project based on an actual recurring nightmare I used to have. I took the opportunity to write that scene in a workshop with a former Dangerous Writer, David Ciminello, who happened to be teaching  at the Attic Institute here in Portland Oregon.

While I was taking that class, a friend wanted a couple of copies of the Chronology of Water (COW) signed, and I, being big in britches and short on humility, bragged that I was sure I could get the books signed. I contacted Lidia Yuknavitch, the author of COW on her Facebook Page and told here I was trying to figure out a way to get a few books signed. I said I was working on a plan for a fellow Dangerous Writer to get them signed in a workshop she was going to be teaching, but if that didn’t work, would she be willing to meet up somehow. She was really cool and gave me her address. And even though Lidia seemed not to be worried, I promised her I wasn’t a stalker.  But can any of us really make that claim? Like you have NEVER stalked someone? Not even once? Liar.

Plans fell through for the friend to get the books signed , so I messaged Lidia again and told her what my car looked liked and described myself as a big boyish dyke, or something like that. I told her I would wait outside her class that weekend at  Crow Arts Manor, which is housed inside the Milepost 5 Art community. I went about an hour early, because you know how weekend workshops are. They get usually convene early. Not knowing at all what the layout of the place was, when I got there I discovered that there was a possiblity that Lidia would coming out of one of at least 5 exits. I waited at the corner of 81st and NE Oregon, so I could see at least  two different exits.  After about 15 minutes, I got paranoid that I looked suspicious, like a drug-dealer. Or a stalker. I decided to figure eight through the blocks a few times.  I parked again, then circled again. Then repeated that a couple more times.

It was fifteen minutes after the workshop should have been over, and I thought for sure I had missed Lidia leaving. I stayed parked in the middle of the road, and down the street not far from a corner that I would not have gone around had I decided to circle again, I saw what could only have been Lidia. Long blond hair, sure stride, and a lot more books than most people would carry without a bag. I cranked the wheel and picked up pace. I rolled up alongside called her name. Lidia looked over and smiled. I told her who I was and she hopped in the passenger seat like she knew me. We talked for a few minutes about whatever. She laughed and told me it was her first drive-by book signing.

Instant kismet.

Forward to the next time we met.

I went to a reading at a local literary cafe. Lidia sat with us, and we laughed and talked and drank hard cider, then she got up and read a beautiful passage from COW. The passage that talks about throwing her baby girl’s ashes into the ocean. Hearing her read it was more touching and clean off the bone than I could have imagined. People were silent throughout, aside from a sniffle or two, then the place crackled with applause. Lidia’s face turned a little red.

Then she sat back down at our table, and we listened to the other reader. After it was all over, Lidia stayed at our table, and we talked for a good hour. I had asked her a couple of weeks earlier if she’d look over this story I wrote. She said yes, but to send it quick, before she was deep in grading papers again. I had done that and was worried that I hadn’t heard back from her, so I took this opportunity to ask her what she thought of it. Lidia said she really liked it and said she could see what I was trying to do with it. She gave me the name Roxane Gay and said that Roxane was the co-editor of this really kick ass Lit Mag, Pank. Lidia said I should contact Roxane, so I did.

I sent Green Man.

I sent Green Man.

Yes, I sent it. The first story I had ever sent.

Green Man was accepted about ten days later, and it just came out a few weeks ago.

I was going to just copy the link and say, here you go, but I couldn’t. I had to give context.

Then I wanted to regurgitate some gummy sentiment about how we are all dependent on each other, and that there is always hope.

I also thought about how much technology absolutely helped me here, and that no matter how isolated and cynical I feel sometimes having the majority of contact with people these days through Tumbltwitbook, I keep that little spark of whatever it is alive in me so that I can push through into tomorrow even when I don’t want to.

Or that maybe I was just so lucky to have all of these events come together magically, like it was a miracle from some force greater than ourselves.

The truth is, it is one story. A series of stories, really. Stories of my life that are minimally fictionalized, so that I can present them with some level of coherence. None of us can remember things exactly as they happened, and it is even a stretch to remember things as we experienced then thorough our own filters.

Some of that stuff is locked up so tight that it only comes out in nanosecond blips of recognition when a certain smell is in the air. Nanoseconds that leave you wiping memory’s condensation off the palms of your hands and onto your jeans until the memories either evaporate with the hundred proof whiskey you choke down or you are able to piece them together on paper and give them a place to be. Once written, inside feels wrecked. Dissected. Dismantled. Dis-integrated.

Until you put the pieces back together again.

Then again, maybe that’s just me.

So, here it is. Green Man:




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