Dispatches from the capital wasteland

April 9, 2009 I’m unsettled. I’ve never traveled for work before, but I like that it’s a thing — “traveling for work.” “Do you get to do any traveling?” people ask when you tell them you’re considering a job. “Two or three times a year,” in this case. “That’s great!” they respond, as if it’s … Continue reading

A souvenir

I’m from Las Cruces, New Mexico, a city populated by around 99,000 people where you can somehow still run into everyone you know at the Super Walmart on Valley Drive and Avenida de Mesilla. It’s the kind of place where high school sports rivalries are king, where teenagers huddle down into a dusty ditch bank … Continue reading

Quit cooking, start reading

Even as a nonfiction writer, I’ve already managed to lie to you before I even start. Quit cooking, start reading is not quite true — I pretty much never stop reading. Not to eat, brush my teeth, not even when cleaning the kitchen or taking a walk. I read my way through the winter hibernation … Continue reading


I wonder what is like being from another country. This sounds sort of stupid, but Americans often have a strange, warped view of the music of other countries. It is not unexpected to have a country-specific oritentation towards your own pop culture. We are the center of our experience and of our own perspective. In … Continue reading

Getting together to be alone

Last week I travelled to Chicago to attend a writers’ conference, AWP. AWP is the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. They have a yearly conference in late February where all of the people who belong to AWP, or programs that are associated with AWP, can get together. We attend panels about writing, go to … Continue reading

How not to eat at AWP 2012

This week I’m flying to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference in Chicago (a conference for writers, teachers, and book nerds of all varieties). It’s the first year I don’t have to sit at a table and force flyers into writers’ unwilling hands or present a paper that I’m only 20% sure … Continue reading

EarthBound: A flying metal tube

EarthBound does not begin with a plane ride. This, to me, right now, is the one place where the game feels wrong. In 1995, a 10-year-old would have been able to get on an airplane alone. (I did, as a 10-year-old, and while I don’t remember specifically, chances are that I did as a 16-year-old … Continue reading

From Hawaii with aloha

Aloha, fair readers. In case you aren’t friends with me on Facebook or didn’t notice my incessant posting, I was in Hawaii last week on a birthday trip from Charlie. We stayed in a hotel a block from Waikiki Beach on the island of Oahu. Waikiki is this sort of strange paradise where everything looks … Continue reading

Candy is dandy, but tequila tastes like Mexico

I fell for tequila long before I ever traveled to Mexico. From what I remember — although tequila memories are always a bit blurry — I’ve never actually fallen because of tequila. That honor goes to the Mexican dark beer, Negra Modelo. Cerveza oscura — dark beer — was my drink of choice on the … Continue reading

A Moscow Mule, in a copper mug

I am mainly a beer drinker, but I like to say I am an “equal opportunity drinker,” so I will try anything once. When I was prepping for my recent journey to the Keweenaw Peninsula (some 550 miles away from me in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula), I reached out a friend who attended college in the … Continue reading