Enquiring Minds

I’m spilling guts (mostly my own) over at Neil de le Flor’s Almost Dorothy blog:

Dorothy Gale is the fictional representation of my inner person. She is a frumpy Midwesterner who wears drapes. (This is essentially how people sum me up after meeting me. Charles’s words, not mine.) (Yes, Charles Jensen is a drape. Yes, I said that.) But she years (or yearns) for so much more that she creates a fantastic dreamworld where she becomes a Christ figure. It’s positively transgressive. In the “backwards” fantasy world, all the men are impotent. Girl-on-girl violence is the only means of bringing about radical change. This is essentially how I would describe growing up in Wisconsin. I believe Wisconsin has historically developed the highest per capita instance of cannibalism in the history of America, excluding the Donner Party.

More scintilating details on the clickthru!

You don’t have to be 40 years old to be a nonprofit executive director.

On my radio show yesterday, we had an incredible discussion about leadership with four nonprofit executive directors under 40 (see their full bios here):

Trista Harris, Headwaters Foundation for Justice
John Mark Eberhardt, The Steward’s Staff
Bridget Clark Whitney, Kids Food Basket
Laura Zabel, Springboard for the Arts

In a special 90 minute episode, my guest shared insights about the paths they took to become an executive director, the responsibilities they have as the head of the organization, how they use social media in their leadership role, their strategies for managing staff, how they build relationships with funders, and their approach to work/life balance. They even talked about their salaries!

Brian Teare Talks

Also, I’ve got an interview up with Brian Teare up at The Writer’s Center’s blog First Person Plural! The other day, Sandra Beasley interviewed Paula Bohince.

Brian is reading with Paula at Fall for the Book today, and Deb Ager and I are reading together there also.

After that, I think we’re all stalking Reb Livingston. Or maybe just I am.

Brian’s thoughts:

“My day-to-day relationship to writing is based on the pleasure I take in its materials, both its graphic and sonic aspects. I like the look of letters arranged into words, lines and stanzas as much as I like the actual sonorities created by phonemes and syllables hooked together to make words hooked together to make lines, ad infinitum. And though the visual aspect of a poem eventually becomes as important to me as its soundscape, I tend to draft poems by following an aural rhythm—both alliterative and prosodic—and it’s my hope that an essential quality of what I’m writing about adheres in the actual feel of the language.”

It means "The Smallest American Reference"

Nanopedia has grown out of a writing prompt I gave myself a few years ago. For a long time, those pieces were all individual prose poems, but I began to see that they had similar concerns, themes, and images. “The moon watches you through her veil of thin clouds” and “He brings the night into the house like a long thread of smoke” are from a clustering of other pieces that draw from horror films, while the moon piece and “When I heard sixty-three birds…” to me are both sad love poems. It’s as much about sex and violence as it is about transformation, love and shopping, I guess—all of which, to me, are decidedly American pursuits, especially together.

Documentary of Embarrassment

My dad recently sent in all our old VHS and film home movies to a company that digitized them for use on DVD and the web. I had to walk him through how to create the DVDs last night, since he (nor I) have any patience for how-to videos and such (they move too slowly!). I went in and started tinkering.

The first set of clips I found were from a video “tour” of my hometown my best friend from high school and I made once, I think during one of my trips home from my first year of college.

It was mortifying. I watched about 30 seconds of it before I died of embarrassment and had to shut it off.

I told my father later, “I think it’s some sort of crime of nature that memories of my 18-year-old self won’t be allowed to fade into a mellow kind of comfort because all of the worst ones have been captured on video.”

The experience reminded me of another quirky video-related thing I did around that time. A few friends and I, video cam in tow, started making a movie called Documentary of a Stranger. We went out into the wild outer ring suburbs of Milwaukee and interviewed Barnes and Noble customers mostly, but also a woman pumping her gas at SuperAmerica.

We’d introduce ourselves and explain we were doing a project for a college sociology thesis called, of course, Documentary of a Stranger. We were going to ask them a series of probing questions, we said, and we just wanted them to answer to their comfort level.

We’d introduce them on camera: “This is Not David.” “This is Not Amanda.”

The questions were always varied but tended to include:

The normal where-from/sisters-brothers type questions
What do you do for a living?
What three famous people would you most want to have dinner with?
Can you do any stupid human tricks?
If you were stranded on a desert island, which brand of pain reliever would you prefer?

What was fascinating was that most people couldn’t wait to bust out their stupid human tricks. One girl walked with her knees bent, knees swinging in and out; another man touched his tongue to his nose.

Unfortunately, Documentary of a Stranger is lost–stolen, I think, but a college friend and then never returned.

It’s lost, but not forgotten. Unfortunately.