Tag Archives: Publications

The Wisconsin Story Project Roxx!

Yeah. Yeah, I did say roxx. Because I was a rock star this morning at the recording studio, telling my story that will appear in next week’s podcast. With the fat headphones on my ears, and the fine, super sensitive mic, I was like Barbara Streisand. I was like Celine Dion. I was like all those people in “We Are The World”… but not that new, shitty version.

Mike Lawler is the guy behind The Wisconson Story Project. — an amazing, amazing organization whose sole mission is to promote the art of storytelling in the state of Wisconsin. It’s kind of like the StoryCorps project on NPR. Or The Moth. Or This American Life. But way more locally oriented.

In addition, WSP puts on cool events like a monthly storytelling series as well as an upcoming original documentary theater project called Cancer Stories. Think The Laramie Project meets Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center. The play will make its debut at the end of this month at the Overture Center, and EVERYONE SHOULD GO. Cool, right?

I e-mailed Mike on a lark a few weeks ago when I saw an blurb about auditions for Cancer Stories posted in the State Journal. He e-mailed me back and told me he recognized my name, both from the Isthmus story and my irate letter in the New Yorker. Turns out Mike is a cancer survivor and a writer, too, so we hit it off right away. Even though I’m thrilled to be moving to Minneapolis in June, I’m sad that I won’t be able to get more involved with WSP before leaving. We’re really lucky to have an organization like this in our own backyard.

Because as Wendell Berry said, “In a truly grounded, locally adapted culture, the artists would be the rememberers. They would memorialize great occasions, preserve necessary insights and so on.” Telling our stories, and listening to other people’s stories, is not just a novelty — it’s a means of survival. If it weren’t for stories, how would we survive harsh winters and devastating setbacks? How would we develop our morality?

I mean, plus, it’s just, like, really fun, you know? And you get to meet great people.

So if you feel like it…and by that I mean unless you want a good arm-twisting from me…become fans with Wisconsin Story Project on Facebook or find them on Twitter! You can also subscribe to the podast by searching Wisconsin Storycast on iTunes. And hear my beautiful, beautiful, semi nails-on-chalkboard voice.

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What the f*#% is a platform?

Hello, everybody.

Um, so maybe some of you (read: all two people who read this blog) have noticed that I haven’t been updating it lately. As in, never. And maybe some of you (read: no one) has been desperately concerned and sad over the lack of bloggy developments. But fear not! I am back in the blogosphere, and better than ever.

Since I’ve been doing a fair bit of journalism these days, I thought I’d interview myself to give you guys a heads-up on what life is like these days.

Me: So what is life like these days?

Me: Life is good! And I’m not just saying that because I’m polite and Midwestern and have a pathological fear of sounding less than fine. Well, mostly. I’ve been busy working, reading, writing, and just kind of reveling in the fact that I’m in remission and healthy.

Me: Where are you working?

Me: Heh, heh…well, there’s a funny question. In addition to continuing to freelance for Isthmus, I’ve taken on a number of temp jobs, including but not limited to: middle school secretary, office lackey for a startup company, and file clerk at the school district administration building. I’ve been modeling for my painters on the side and until recently was still barista-ing, until I became so tired of people assuming I was an incompetent dumbass while placing their orders that I literally exploded all over the espresso machine. They’re still cleaning bits of Sally up off the floor. But mostly it has become very clear that I will do just about anything for money, save for stripping, except I actually thought about becoming a stripper but it was for a story…does that count?

Me: Why are you blogging again after 234092432 years of silence?

Me: Well…that’s a funny question, too. I kept meaning to, but I’ve been kind of trying to focus on writing my book when I’m not freelancing, and it turns out that book-writing is not the easiest task on the planet. But I was at a writers’ conference this past weekend, and I talked to a couple agents, and they were all like, PLATFORM, PLATFORM, PLATFORM. What’s a platform? Hell if I know. But they said blog-tweet-facebook-network blah blah blah, and as much as I’d like to think that’s a load of crap…they’re probably right.

This one agent in particular…oh, she was a nasty breed. She crossed her hands and sat back in her chair and was like, ‘well?’ And apparently my triumphant battle with cancer at the age of 25 wasn’t too impressive, because after I finished my (awkward, terrible, because it was terrifying) pitch, she kind of clasped her hands and said, ‘you know, we get a lot of illness memoirs,’ like I was some born-again middle aged woman with breast cancer writing an extended diary entry (no offense, born-again middle aged women with breast cancer).

I basically got the impression that unless I suddenly became a celebrity and discovered a new weight loss plan, it was going to be very difficult to sell my book. I thought about auditioning for the next season of ‘Jersey Shore’ to up my street cred, but then I was like, fuck that, I’m just going to be awesome instead. And that’s the long answer to your short question.

Me: What’s your favorite animal?

Me: A bulldog…and dragons. Why?

Me: Just curious.

Me: This interview’s getting kind of stupid.

Me: That’s because it’s almost nine o’clock, and everyone knows you turn into a pumpkin at nine o’clock and can only read books with large print and watch CSI.

Me: Shit. That’s true. How’d you know?

Me: (glares)

OhKAY. Now that that little interlude has gone down the toilet, maybe you’d like to see some of the things I’ve written lately! Here they are, in no particular order:

http://www.isthmus.com/isthmus/article.php?article=28440

http://www.thedailypage.com/arts/article.php?article=28184

http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=28980

http://www.isthmus.com/daily/article.php?article=28866

http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=28749

And I’m out!

Hey! I’m in the New Yorker!

…You can’t even believe how long I’ve waited to utter that sentence.

Okay, so it’s only a letter (you can see me in the Feb. 1 table of contents here). But how great is that?! My comments are in regard to a recent profile of Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who, among many other offensive statements, asserted that Americans essentially were getting cancer because of poor nutrition. We all know how I feel about THAT. So my letter asserts that John Mackey, essentially, is an idiot. Check it out if you can — the issue’s on newsstands now.

Have to say, one could get used to seeing one’s name among all these heavy hitters.

***

In other news, I am still virtually unemployed, save for a few scraps of hours the coffeeshop is tossing my way and another freelance project at Isthmus. But surprisingly, today, I don’t mind this at all. This could be a result of something my aunt Nancy wrote me a few days ago. She told me not to worry. She told me: “starting from newness is a rare gift.”

The first time I read this I wanted to toss this so-called present into the garbage in return for some – any – solid ground to stand on, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized she was right. I can think of many times already in my life that I’ve wanted to scrap everything I had and start over again. The routine and stability I lack (well, crave) might be exactly what the person next to me dislikes. They might wish for my freedom, my flexibility, my chance to begin again.

The grass is always greener, right? I am the queen of wanting the opposite of what I have, wanting to be the opposite of who I am. Molly and I have talked a lot about the aging-wunderkind dilemma, in which the traditional gauges that we use to measure our progress vis-a-vis our peers — grades, diplomas, etc. — dwindle as we get older and people’s paths begin to vary. This makes it very confusing for people who are used to, and maybe a little addicted to, being ahead of the curve.

I’m not sure if I’m ever going to be able to completely get rid of that competitive drive and penchant for comparison, and I’m okay with that. Those things helped me survive (and occasionally thrive) during six months of brutal chemotherapy; because of them I never once wanted to give up. But, you know, I don’t want to spend my first months after conquering a life-threatening illness worrying about falling behind in the rat race. So I won’t.

***

The first weekend of Barefoot In The Park went swimmingly. Maren and I stage-managed the hell out of the show, pumped up the cast members during pre-performance notes, and enjoyed being the most stylish stage managers on record — here are the pics to prove it! I still maintain that I look like Bono with my very-very short hair and all-black, but Mom disagrees. You be the judge.

It has been ridiculously fun getting back involved with theater, something I abandoned when I got to the talent-riddled New York (inferiority complex) and decided I was too old for after college (superiority complex). I’ve rediscovered a joyful and long-dormant part of myself, and I’m so grateful for the chance. Again, I’m no sap about cancer, but this never would have happened if I hadn’t needed to move home and, well, start over. I might even audition for an on-stage role in the summer show!

***

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” — George Eliot