To the Bright Blue Skies And Away

Continuing the roommate sagas, I’ve just had a piece published in Halfway Down the Stairs that approaches the drama from another angle. That’s right folks, To the Bright Blue Skies And Away isn’t funny, but my hope is that it delves into the complexities of female friendships. This was a story I tried to write for years in about 9 different manifestations, until finally I read Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, and suddenly, I had a model of a sentence that could move deftly between inner and relational turmoil. So, Jhumpa Lahiri, this abusive/toxic roommate relationship story is for you, as well as for anybody who has survived graduate school.

This story means a lot to me, and I hope it will mean a lot to you, too. You can find it here.

Rebellion is a Dish Rack

In 2006, I moved back to London, having studied and worked abroad there the year prior. As the very first place where I had awakened from my academic stupor to a greater world, I worshipped the city and just knew I was going to have the time of my life.

And then I met a man we’ll call “Rajiv.” At once a landlord and the bane of my existence, Rajiv was a neat freak extraordinaire. I couldn’t move without him clearing his throat or tsking or saying, “Yes, Leah, about that dish rack. Really, you should not leave dishes there. You can drain them over the dish rack and then wipe the dish manually, but the dish rack is not for dishes.”

For many months, I put up with the situation, trying my best to please, until one day, I had enough. I decided to take my power back, to embrace rebellion, to be free. I decided use that dish rack.

The story is hosted at one of my favorite sites (used it all the time when traveling), StudyAbroad.com. Check out “When Your Roommate Sucks, Rebellion Lies in the Kitchen” and perhaps add a few rebel stories of your own.

Number 1 Tip for Moving in Together: Let that Jaba the Hutt Cutout Stay

If Hollywood movies have anything to say about it, moving in with someone is asking for high tragedy or an odd fellows romantic comedy, not least because of all that stuff you have to combine into one. But that, I attest, is only if you’re psycho about your space, and/or you’re possibly a hoarder.

In this article up at Geek and Jock, I present a few tips I’ve gleaned from my experiences combining households in semi-peaceful manners. I left out all of the pranks I wanted to pull on Stephen, like leaving creepy porcelain dolls in unexpected spaces. Just…Staring…That’s for Part Deux of this article series: How to Seriously Creep Your Partner Out.

So, yes! Go and read!

Think you’re a coffee addict? I’ve got you beat.

Way back in ought seven, (was it really that long ago?), I got to do some pretty cool things. Like work in London, backpack around the world, and meet enough characters to fill the pages of my writing for the rest of my life.

But, perhaps more important than that, I started a minor global protest of a major coffee chain. And by that I mean, it was major to me and I was traveling around the globe at the time. All went well, until I met match. I won’t give the climax of the story away here, but let’s just say, “Baked goods” and leave it at that.

I’ve written about my (ridiculous) hero’s journey in this recent article: A Coffee Addict’s Tale of Woe. Read it, empathize, judge me, whatever, and know that when it comes to coffee. I. Don’t. Stand. Down.

(Until I do).

Friends and family to whom I sent regular emails about my travels, may recall this story. It’s not “Dishrack Girl,” but it’s pretty close. Thanks to Daily Shot of Coffee for the print!

Trees in Winter

Oh, tree, once so full and green with leaves. How small you look now, with a single squirrel dropping acorn shells from your thinnest branch. How he balances on the lightest end, snatches his treat before it falls and flips back to safety nearer to the trunk, where he can rip that spare meat from its shell, and shed the rest to the ground.

Which is bare, too, you know. Bare and crumpled with dry, winter’s leaves that crunched beneath my feet as I came to you in the way of withered and dying things. At the stoplight, I spotted two faded butterfly wings, folded together like an overlarge purse before a polite departure. By the riverbed, which is always more stone than water, a bird nestled down into its coat, puffed itself into a ball and shivered into the wind. Shaking, I set my things down here, where my numb fingers could safely peck at the keyboard, a small defense against the advancing front.

But now I must leave, tree, as the air is cool and growing colder and it is time for me to slip back into a cave of my own. In the spring, we will both have fresh haircuts and emerge youthful and blushing to embrace the season.

Will this same squirrel join us then, or will he have leapt far away from here in his hunt for survival, ending his journey somewhere unknown to you and me? I cannot answer that, tree. But I look forward to seeing you then, and, too, all the furry rascals that call you home when times are good and the weather is fine and we are all so full of life and cheer.

 

Get Yo’ Debate On, Austin Style @theAustinot

The other day, for one of my many freelance writing gigs, I wrote in an article that businesses should post regularly to their blogs in order to develop the most devoted following. Posting two days in a row and then not for another month or so simply won’t do.

But, after all, I am a writer, and that means I’m great at recommending things in articles and not taking my own advice.

Which is to say, for my second post in two days, I’d like to say, hey! Do you know about the awesome Austin blog, the Austinot? Well you SHOULD because, it’s packed full of delicious info on everything there is to do in Austin, quirky and otherwise. I had the pleasure of meeting the blog owners at a local event here in Austin, and wrote a story on the awesome Austin event, Dionysium, which you should all check out tomorrow if you’re in town and up for some verbal fireworks.

So, without further adieu, I bid you check out the article HERE, explore the Austinot far and wide and get yo’ debate on!

Yeah! You Twine That Algae!

Most of the time, the story of how a story is made is boring. The Great Story Birthing often takes one of the two following forms:

  1. The Hollywood Version: I, THE GENIUS, shout EUREKA! while I’m in the middle of a shower, abandon the tub for my study and a pad of paper, and, shower still running, pen an entire story in one sitting.
  2. The More Often Version: I, THE GENIUS, shout EUREKA! while I’m in the middle of my shower, abandon the tub for my study and a pad of paper, remember that I most often write on a laptop, eagerly tap out five brilliant lines, go eat a slice of an entire box of pizza, forget about the story, return to it a week later, try again, hate myself for not being a better writer, eat an entire box of pizza, and repeat this cycle for several years until something finally manages to reach a somewhat conclusive ending, oftentimes because my house is at that point flooded and I have other things to take care of.

Sometimes, though, a story is something you carry with you throughout your life — something that grows as you grow, both personally and as a writer who goes from thinking ALL SENTENCES ARE COOL to knowing the precise rhythm and feel that make her heart sing.

And that, friends, is the story of the story I’ve just had published on InfectiveInk.com, And How the Algae Twines!

The first time I wrote this story, I was a sophomore in college, staring out my dorm window at the shifting snow drifts howling across the campus quad, thinking of another time when the world was also made of snow and I could feel my first real relationship reaching its zenith and beginning its long, slow descent into the frozen ground. The result: a creative short essay, and the feeling that I wasn’t done.

The second time I wrote this story, I was mored on the shores of a criticism-ridden grad school workshop, trying to be a better writer than I felt I could be. Somehow, I stumbled upon this old essay, languishing in an ancient Word file, and found myself horrified at my use of language, yet intrigued by the thoughts, images and emotions that lay behind it. I returned to my keyboard, and tried to remember what it was to feel. The result: a thirty page behemoth, with ten pages of striking imagery, ten pages of a writer reaching for a moral, and ten pages of a 24-year-old woman, demanding her true experiences find an outlet. And a workshop with an excess of praise and an excess of criticism that would change my writing forever.

The third time I wrote this story, I had been torn down to my core. There were no safe places left — not for me, not for my work. Everything I did was wrong. There was no warm hearth upon which I could nestle. After so many years of fighting for independence, I was on my own and barely able to breathe. Left with the few words that meant something to me. The few words that wouldn’t leave me alone.

It’s been three years since the third time. Three years, and this story has won awards, and finally found publication. The joy of finally seeing this story in print…well, I can’t quite put that into words. Nor can I promise I won’t write this story a fourth time, as I navigate the shriveled climes of my very non-snowy setting. But I can say that the story of this story — this story that began nine years ago and continues on — is one I will carry with me, wherever I go. This story has not left me.

You can read And How the Algae Twines at InfectiveInk.com.

Are you a yuppie? Throw a dinner party!

In more important news (than the recent election), I’m glad to see my favorite yuppie couple is throwing a dinner party exclusively to show off their new purchases. It’s about time!

Or, in other words, I’ve had an Onion-esque piece satirizing yuppie behavior published the wonderful online publication, Defenestration. Check it out HERE. Huzzah!

Who’s a good little spooky DIY maven? You are! Yes you are!

As you probably all have guessed by now, I wasn’t the kind of little girl that liked doilies and gluing little sparkly things on to other little sparkly things. In fact, I distinctly recall strategically distracting party goers at my childhood best friend’s birthday party with a little stand up comedy routine, just to avoid participating in the upcoming crafting activity.

That’s me in the back, mid-routine. I had just flown in, and boy, were my wings tired!

But, alas, my distractions were more jealousy than anything else. I’ve always admired DIY practitioners, and often wished I were one of them.

Enter Krysten Brown, a designer friend of mine here in Austin. When I was asked to write an article on last minute Halloween DIY decorations, she stepped up to the plate, guiding me through a series of spooktacular Halloween designs until we had just about the coolest DIY house the undead world has ever seen. Afterwards I sat down with my laptop, pulled a mic to my mouth and did a little routine.

Check out the results at the article below, and DIY your own home in the most spooktacular of ways.

Last Minute DIY Guide to Halloween Decorations…of Awesomeness.

Can’t Finish What I Started

I’m not sure if you know this about me, but I’m a master of beginnings. As in, my MFA really stands for, “Master of First Attempts.” But middles? Ends? Yeah, not so much. Let’s just say if my hard drive is a vast desert, story beginnings bounce like tumbleweeds over the horizon. And there I am, dragging my parched, sunburned body along the sand, just trying to capture one of them – any of them — in my maniacal story web. How’s that for dramatic imagery?

Rather than attempting to give this post an end here, I’ll toss you over to Write By Night, who have been kind enough to publish my musings on the subject of beginnings that have no end. Here’s the article. Voila! Go forth! Complete something for once!