“Paper Lanterns” (essay, published in Word Riot)
My father lives in the middle of a cemetery. Large trees and civil-war era gravestones in all directions. A two-lane road curves through the grounds and past his front door. “I guess it’s weird,” he says, “but at least you know a McDonald’s is never gonna pop up across the street.”
The first day of our visit we’re all nervous. He repeats vague statements like, “Boy, is it good to see you two,” then laughs to himself and reaches out to touch one of our knees. The last time my sister and I saw him was more than twenty years ago. We were four and five years old.
My father likes to talk about his tennis career. He played against Arthur Ashe, even made it to Wimbledon. They were using little wooden rackets in those days, Bjorn Borg had not yet changed the game forever, and the small prize money–my parents’ source of income–was coming less often. By the time my sister and I were born, sleeping in the car was not uncommon, we’d travel around the country from one tournament to the next. When they fought, my father would leave some money and stay away longer than he said. My mother had a habit of writing bad checks so we could sleep in four-star hotels and order room service.
Mallard (short story, published in Monkeybicycle)
I’ve been back home for eight months, caring for my parents. They’re insane. They had separated years ago and for the most part, they were fine on their own. Then there was that day mother was standing in line at Lou Ellen’s. One minute she was talking about cantaloupe, the next minute she was on the floor, a dark circle spreading on her pants, a scared look in her eyes.
Interview by Cari Luna (author or “The Revolution of Every Day”)
“I had saved enough money to buy a one-way ticket to Amsterdam, pay the tuition for one year of art school there, which was similar to the cost of community college here, and live for two months, assuming I’d find some kind of work after getting there. The only steady work I could find was writing journalism for the Amsterdam Weekly, which was not unlike a European version of the Willamette Week or Village Voice. If I wrote enough for them each week, it paid enough to live on, sort of. There were weeks where I lived on coffee and potatoes. But I was also living in fucking Amsterdam, so it didn’t seem so bad.”