– Announces New Officer, Writing Feedback Opportunities, and Volunteer Staff Positions –
The Hinge Literary Center is excited to announce the election of a new executive director, the opening of several volunteer staff positions, and the launch of new programming.
The Hinge has appointed Lisa Shroyer as new executive director, effective immediately. Shroyer has been a loyal member of the Hinge community, participating in several poetry workshops and serving in support roles on key initiatives of the organization. Shroyer works as an editor in magazine publishing, is a published author, and also serves as business manager for At Length, a Durham-based online literary and arts journal. She lives in Carrboro. Former officer Bridget Bell served as executive director of the Hinge from its inception in 2011 through April 2013. During her tenure, the organization grew immensely and achieved success in its mission to play an active role in the local literary community. Bell will remain closely involved with The Hinge.
In conjunction with its new director, the Hinge is excited to announce the opening of several volunteer staff positions including Social Coordinator, Online Coordinator, and Programming Coordinator. The Social Coordinator will be in charge of organizing and promoting the Hinge’s Third Friday events. The Online Coordinator will be in charge of updating the Hinge website as well as social media content. The Programming Coordinator will be in charge of marketing for Hinge classes. Each position requires a one-year time commitment. These are unpaid positions. Those interested should send a cover letter and resume to email@example.com by Friday, June 28. Questions can also be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Hinge is also excited to announce the launch of Flash Feedback, its newest programming. The Hinge Flash Feedback is a mixed-genre writing group facilitated by a Hinge representative in which writers can get immediate feedback from other writers on a short piece of work, while encouraging connections and growth within the literary community. The first meeting of The Hinge Flash Feedback will be on Wednesday, June 26 from 7-9 p.m. at Mercury Studio in downtown Durham. Flash Feedback sessions are $10 a head and are limited to six participants. More information and registration is available at flashfeedbackhinge.eventbrite.com.
Co-presented by the Center for Documentary Studies and the Hinge Literary Center, Professor Diablo’s True Revue is a collaborative performance series showcasing artists—writers, musicians, visual artists, and others—who make use of documentary ideas, methods, and impulses in the creation of their work.
Following five full house performances since its launch in the spring of 2012, the True Revue returns to club Casbah to dig through arrowheads, love, and weather stations in a one-time event that explores the theme of “Lost and Found” with biologist and artist Courtney Fitzpatrick, songwriter/musician Melissa Swingle, photographer Leah Sobsey, and interdisciplinary artist Jane D. Marsching.
Professor Diablo’s True Revue VI: “Lost and Found”
Tuesday, May 28; doors open at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m.
1007 W. Main St., Durham, North Carolina
Tickets: $7 in advance, $10 at door. Click here to purchase.
Courtney Fitzpatrick’s undergraduate training was in visual art, and she taught photography at New York City’s Hetrick-Martin Institute before returning to her original interest in evolutionary biology and animal behavior, research that has been supported by Duke University, the National Science Foundation, a Fulbright Fellowship, and the Leakey Foundation. Her collection of nonfiction essays and photographs, Maji Moto: Dispatches from a Drought, emerged from seventeen months in Kenya studying primate reproductive biology in the wild. Fitzpatrick is a post-doctoral fellow at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center.
Jane D. Marsching is an interdisciplinary artist who explores
our past, present, and future human impact on the environ
ment through collaborative research-
based practices with scientists, educators,
kite builders, meteorologists, architects, and musicians, among others. The author of Far Field: Digital Culture, Climate Change and the Poles
, Marsching is an associate professor and Sustainability Fellow at Massachusetts College of Art and
Design. Victor McSurely collaborated on her NOAA Webcam piece featured in Professor Diablo’s True Revue.
Leah Sobsey is an artist who works in traditional, digital, and alternative-process photography, mixed media installations, and public art, exploring memory and the notion of collections as they relate to personal and public identities. Sobsey has exhibited nationally in galleries, museums, and public spaces, and her work is held in private and public collections across the country. Cofounder of the Visual History Collaborative, her current work includes Collections, a photographic series on specimens from the National Parks Museum collections, and Bull City Summer, a collaborative documentary project that explores the Durham Bulls.
Melissa Swingle is a songwriter who has performed,
toured, and recorded with her bands Trailer Bride and
the Moaners. She recently has been performing with Melissa and the Swinglers and is at
work on a solo record. Born in Memphis, Tennessee,
and raised in Mississippi and in Ivory Coast, West Africa,
she has toured all over the U.S. with Neko Case, the
Mountain Goats, M. Ward, Drive-By-Truckers, and
Calexico, and has opened for Wanda Jackson and Hasil
Atkins. Swingle is a multi-instrumentalist who plays the singing-saw like no
one else and just recorded saw tracks in the studio with Dexter Romweber for his next release.
We’re back from our break and excited to bring you our first Hinge Essay!
In conjunction with At Length magazine, we’re happy to present Ben Miller and his essay “Ghosts of the Mississippi,” a selection from his new collection River Bend Chronicle: The Junkification of a Boyhood Idyll amid the Curious Glory of Urban Iowa from our friends at Lookout Books.
Ben will be checking in here at The Hinge throughout the week to respond to your questions and comments and we’re looking forward to the discussion. We hope you’ll join us!
Ben will also be appearing at The Regulator at 7 pm on Monday, April 15. We’ll see you there!
Ghosts of the Mississippi
In Davenport, Iowa, where I grew up, there was an elderly woman who had encountered Flannery O’Connor at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the late 1940s. I heard Blanche’s side of the story many times but never tired of it, partially because she did not take any relish in the telling, always pushing her water glass aside, as though the liquid might become infected by the dirty details. Blanche lived in the Mississippi Hotel with her twin sister, Sadie. Their rooms offered a quizzical view of what downtown Davenport offered: infantry of parking meters, granite hulls of department stores weathering poor sales, levee mélange, and the tugboat-pushed barges riding one of those bends in the Mississippi River that lend eastern Iowa the silhouette of ruptured fruit. Jazz genius and cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, the city’s most famous native, had once described it all by raising his horn and walking out the notes of his winsome composition “Davenport Blues.” Blanche and Sadie must have heard the tune, though Blanche was sure to have dismissed it. In winter, when sidewalks were icy, these tiny sisters clung to the building bricks, creeping like paisley-scarfed mountain climbers with a disdain for the vertical. Neither had married. Both smoked like factory chimneys and sported fine coats of facial down that appeared blond or brown, depending on whether the shades were drawn. From a distance of twenty feet, one might have thought they were identical twins. But to get up close was to note only differences. Sadie’s blue eyes, Blanche’s green ones. Sadie’s wide smile, Blanche’s thin frown. Sadie’s lilting voice, Blanche’s academic drone. Once I had occasion to fetch Blanche from the hotel, whose lobby was scary with couch cushions squashed into the shapes of those no longer on the planet. The elevator shivered, clanked, arrived on the right floor, the edgy hall. I knocked on the metal apartment door. Sadie answered, wearing a robe, and as I was asking her to tell Blanche that her ride was waiting downstairs, Blanche popped out from behind the robe. It was like seeing an atom split. After graduating from the University of Iowa with an MA in English literature, Blanche had immediately enrolled in business school and, a few years later, received an accounting degree—smart move, given her attachment to formal verse, a kind of writing she never gave up, continually testing herself against the sonnet, the sestina, the villanelle, and reading the results at meetings of various writing groups. One of these, Writers’ Studio, is where we met in the autumn of 1978, when I was fourteen.
I joined the club during my recovery from the starvation diet that had halved my weight, from a high of more than two hundred pounds, and granted me a first ghost, the fat boy whispering in my ear: “Did I deserve that? I ate only what you told me to.” I had found the meeting time and place listed in the Quad-City Times and asked my mother to drop me off there, in front of a tenement on a side street in deserted downtown Rock Island, Illinois, across the river from Davenport. It was night: she was glad to do things like that at night. It made things exciting. For some of her children it worked out better than for others. She sped away. A newer car pulled up, parked, and out climbed a man in a tan belted overcoat. He wore a cap, carried a briefcase, smoked a sweet-smelling pipe: awesome. “Here to attend the meeting?” he asked. I said I was. He looked surprised, but extended his pink hand. “I’m Howard Koenig. What’s yours?” I forced it out, loud. Howard nodded and produced an old key that opened the door to the rest of my life. It was dark inside, and still pretty dark even after he’d flicked a switch. Together we climbed a narrow creaking staircase to another door off a hall with all the charisma of an Alcatraz tunnel. Howard, enveloped in maroon pipe haze, unlocked that door, too. We entered the musty room rented by the club. More lights, brighter lights, were flicked on, and I saw that steam heat had cooked the colors out of the walls. The meeting table was crooked. But such sad details, one after another, failed to temper my jubilation. I had shaken the hand of one Howard Koenig. He had taken off the coat to reveal a green chiffon suit and tie that went with. He was relating things I should know. He worked in a civilian capacity for the Army Armament Materiel Readiness Command at the Rock Island Arsenal (the military compound situated on an actual island, as the city of Rock Island was not). His favorite author was Edgar Allan Poe, with whom he shared a birthday. His first wife had died in a car accident out East and after that he had moved to the Midwest. He had remarried. Her name was Rita. They had children.
I was decades younger than any other club member. This did not seem strange to me. I had long been the outgoing misfit who found acceptance only in unconventional social circles, befriending school janitors, parking lot guards, neighborhood shut-ins—those ruminating fragile retirees. But I was a novelty to Writers’ Studio. Members stared happily as they settled onto the folding chairs. Bifocals abounded, and every pair welcomed my long stringy hair and the scar-like facial niches that dieting had cut. No one said a thing about the yellow scampish T-shirt bearing the white iron-on letters I had requested at the mall kiosk where a man would put any words on any rag you handed him. I had picked the Bob Dylan song title: DESOLATION ROW. I returned the smiles of my welcomers. Howard, club president, waived the dollar attendance fee in my case. The lady who introduced herself as Blanche lit a cigarette in approval of the move, before qualifying her enthusiasm, snapping: “We shall see.” We shall, I thought. Some strangers were mysteries inviolate and other strangers were mysteries you felt like you knew, despite knowing nothing. I saw ballpoint pens astride notepads, spiral and bound—it was one of the oldest sights in my life, the blank page to fill with colors and then, soon enough, embroider with letters and words, with a will to seek answers if not necessarily to find, and accept, them. “What have you brought to read us?” Howard asked me right off, and when I said I had come to listen—this time—there were appreciative murmurs. It meant, they thought, that I was polite. I let it mean that, too. Their affection, any love—good or bad—had me. I was the fool for love. I fell all the way, with no strings attached to their warmth to keep me from falling. They had spotted a fellow traveler. At the end of the first meeting of rhymes I was admonished to come back the following Thursday for more grins that were genuine (even if the teeth might not have been). How could I refuse? Iowa City had its aloof workshop, open only to geniuses imported and later exported, like a secret trade in diamonds, but in the most bizarre and comical way Writers’ Studio was more exclusive. Who, seeing our figures spill out of the building, could have imagined what we had been doing up there? Previously I had had but two allies I could totally trust: stroke-stricken Granny Stanley and our neighbor the widower Mr. Hickey, clad in a clip-on bow tie, polka-dotted or striped. Sitting beside Granny’s four-poster bed, and in Mr. Hickey’s immaculate kitchen, had taught me the rhythm and substance of genial patter with the aged, training that had come in handy on this night. I liked acting as if I hailed from an era when I wasn’t born yet. It was the most reliable way of briefly lightening the load that had come of being born to a certain couple on November 5, 1963, a few weeks before JFK’s assassination. “See you later, alligator,” I chirped at worried club members after convincing each, individually, that it was permissible to drive off to a post-meeting snack and leave me in the dark at a pay phone across from the extinguished glow of the Walgreens drugstore cursive. “My mother’ll come . . . ” “Aren’t you hungry?” No, I lied. “She’ll come . . . soon.” “You could call her from the place.” But I didn’t have money for a snack, nor did I feel I’d earned the right to dine with writers who had published in Highlights and Guideposts. I was in awe of their old-school grammar, marketing tips, typescripts. “See you later, alligator!”
Read the rest of “Ghosts of the Mississippi” at At Length.
Our friend Duncan Murrell, Writer-in-Residence at the Center for Documentary Studies, has an interview with Ben Miller here.
And don’t forget to add your questions and comments to our discussion with Ben below.
Ben Miller’s debut memoir, River Bend Chronicle: The Junkification of a Boyhood Idyll amid the Curious Glory of Urban Iowa, is forthcoming from Lookout Books in March 2013. He has published in AGNI, the Antioch Review, Ecotone, the Kenyon Review, and One Story, among other journals, and his essays have been reprinted or noted six times in Best American. He lives in New York City with his wife, the poet Anne Pierson Wiese.
Professor Diablo’s True Revue: “Borders”
Tuesday, January 22; doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m.
1007 W. Main St., Durham, North Carolina
Tickets: $7 in advance, $10 at the door; click here to purchase
After four successful shows in 2012, Professor Diablo’s True Revue kicks off 2013 with a show that explores, through documentary performance, the nature, use, and meaning of borders—national, cultural, artistic, and personal. With this showcase of musicians, dancers, and writers, the latest version of Professor Diablo will cross borders with impunity and without fear, from Mexico to Siler City, from Appalachia to India, always asking the question: why do we draw borders at all?
Andrea E. Woods Valdés, a Duke University faculty member, teaches Modern Dance and Dance for the Camera. She uses dance, music, song, spoken word, and multimedia as contemporary African American folklore. A native of Philadelphia, Woods is a former dancer/rehearsal director of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Co. Her work has taken her to: Cannes, Taiwan, Russia, Senegal, Morocco, Korea, Poland, Singapore, Belize, Yucatán, Puerto Rico, Ghana, Cuba, and throughout the U.S. Woods is a recipient of the North Carolina Arts Council 2012 Fellowship. Her dances explore family, nature, community, spirituality, and African American history and culture, and are inspired by blues, jazz, folk music, and African American art and literature.
Paul Cuadros is an award-winning investigative reporter and author whose work has appeared in the New York Times, The Huffington Post, Time Magazine, Salon.com, and other national and local publications. For the past twenty years, Cuadros has focused his reporting on issues of race and poverty in America for a variety of publications and broadcast media. He is the author of A Home on the Field: How One Championship Team Inspires Hope for the Revival of Small Town America (Harpers Collins), which tells the story of Siler City, North Carolina, as it copes and struggles with Latino immigration through the lives of a predominantly Latino high school soccer team. Cuadros continues to write about immigration and the Latino community and is currently an assistant professor at the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Katie Wyatt An accomplished violist, Katie has toured and performed nationally and internationally with the orchestras of the New World Symphony, Verbier Festival Orchestra, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Youth Orchestra of the Americas, and the Spoleto Festival of Charleston, South Carolina. She is also the co-founder and executive director of KidzNotes, a Durham-based non-profit that fights poverty and encourages positive decision making by instructing and engaging children in classical orchestral music. She lives and works in Durham and continues to perform in the orchestras of Fayetteville and Durham, with her chamber music quartet, with the indie folk-rock chamber orchestra Lost in the Trees, and the Indian-bluegrass fusion band Hindugrass.
Diego Carrasco Schoch has a combined twenty-five years experience as an educator, choreographer, and performer. As a principal dancer with the Milwaukee Ballet (1991–2003), a soloist with the North Carolina Dance Theater (1987–1991), and a frequent guest artist for independent choreographers, Schoch danced a wide repertoire of both classical and modern works. Locally, Schoch has performed as a touring artist for the 2011/12 North Carolina Dance Festival, Gaspard and Dancers, and KT Collective, and is on faculty at the American Dance Festival’s Samuel H. Scripps Studios and the Raleigh School of Ballet. Visit diegocarrascoschoch.com for more information.
John Heitzenrater is a multi-instrumentalist whose performance career spans more than two decades and many genres. The instrument on which he is often featured in his cross-cultural ensemble, Hindugrass, is sarod; but he has also performed and recorded on tabla, bassoon, guitars, bass, ghatam, keyboards, and voice. In his diverse performance career, he has shared the stage with an array of talented musicians from around the globe, including Michael Stipe and Mike Mills of R.E.M., Jody Stephens of Big Star, Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo, Chris Stamey of the dBs, and Mitch Easter of Let’s Active; he also performed at the Dalai Lama’s World Festival of Sacred Music. Heitzenrater recently finished scoring the short films A Soaring Life by Lucas Ridley, The Finish Line and Character Face by Nic Beery, and the feature film 20 Years After by Chris Johnson.
Welcome to our last Hinge Story for the year! We’re pleased to bring you a story by John Rowell, excerpted from his upcoming novel People Come and Go So Quickly Here.
John will be checking in through Sunday, November 18th to respond to your comments and questions. We look forward to what you have to say!
Bowman of Manhattan
Soon after I arrived in New York, I was told that you could always spot tourists in Manhattan because they walk down the street with their heads craned up and tilted back, staring at the buildings in open-mouthed disbelief, in awe of the infinite, skyward reach of steel and concrete and glass that is Manhattan. That is true of tourists, and I had been a tourist once. But what I’ve learned more recently—about walking down the street—is that you can always spot a gay man in New York not because his head is tilted up, but because it is constantly swiveling around. Walk down the street, any street in the city, practically, and, if you’re a guy, maybe a guy of a certain age, maybe between, oh, 19 and 25, and registering somewhere on the looks and body scale from Stunning to It’ll-do-in-a-pinch, then you’ll most likely, on occasion, catch the eye of some other similarly composed male specimen. Now when that happens, when two sets of male eyes happen to meet and lock as they pass one another on some crowded avenue, I find that neither party ever just stops right then and there to chat, as you might expect. No. Almost always, both parties continue walking in the direction in which they were heading, as calmly as possible, despite that they are now both suddenly trembling with curiosity, desire and lust. Still, a few more steps must be taken in one’s original direction, and then the test: the heads go back around again, to see if the object of desire has swiveled his head in turn. And if, in fact, the object of desire has done the same thing, walked towards his intersection but turned his head around again, then a decision must be made by one or both parties. Either you both start heading back to the middle of the sidewalk to see what might transpire face-to-face, or you just cross the street, keep on walking, and forget about him forever, which isn’t nearly as Anna Kareninish as it sounds, since in another block or two, you’ll start swiveling around for someone else. And so will he. And all this head-swiveling reminds me of nothing less than Linda Blair in The Exorcist, the way her head constantly did a really impressive 360 whenever she lapsed into a Satanic fit. And wouldn’t it save all us gay men a whole lot of time if our heads could actually swivel all the way around and just stay there, like Linda’s, so we could keep walking forward and looking backward at our lust objects at the same time? And I say, this is New York: a primitive island of gay men hunting in the concrete woods for sex, maybe for love, at every moment, and imitating Linda Blair all day long. It’s a wonder anybody ever gets to the office.
Continue reading The Hinge Story for November – John Rowell
Join us for Durham’s Third Friday Art Walk!
Every third Friday of the month, in conjunction with Durham’s Third Friday Art Walk, The Hinge hosts a casual shin dig. At these shin digs we partake in the following: laughing, snacking, drinking, and general merry-making. Join us this Friday, October 19.
Time: 7-10 pm
Location: 305 E Chapel Hill St, Suite 215, Durham, NC 27701 (We are at the end of the hall.)
The Center for Documentary Studies, in partnership with The Hinge, is thrilled to present the fourth installment of Professor Diablo’s True Revue, featuring writer Randall Kenan, photographer and mixed-media artist Courtney Reid-Eaton, and punkabilly icon Dexter Romweber. The True Revue is an evening of art and performance at the Durham, North Carolina, club Casbah featuring writers, musicians, visual artists, and others who make use of documentary tools and methods in the creation of their art.
Professor Diablo’s True Revue IV
Tuesday, October 23, doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m.
1007 W. Main St.
Durham, North Carolina
Tickets: $7 in advance, $10 at the door; advance tickets
The theme for True Revue IV is “Outsiders,” and we’re honored that it will be explored by these three artists:
Randall Kenan: Randall Kenan was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1963, and spent his childhood in Chinquapin, North Carolina. He graduated from East Duplin High School in Beaulaville, North Carolina, after which he attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received a B.A. in English in 1985. He is the author of many books, fiction and nonfiction, including a novel, A Visitation of Spirits, 1989, and a collection of stories, Let the Dead Bury Their Dead, 1992, which was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Fiction, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was among The New York Times Notable Books of 1992. He is currently associate professor of English and comparative literature at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Courtney Reid-Eaton: Courtney Reid-Eaton was born in a New York City that no longer exists, in 1958. She’s the exhibitions director at the Center for Documentary Studies, a photographer, book- and mixed-media artist, wife and mother. She has worked as the coordinator of an in-house corporate stock photography library, the studio coordinator at a corporate still life photography studio, and as photo editor of Guideposts magazine. Reid-Eaton was initiated into the fellowship of documentarians by photographer Mel Rosenthal at the State University of New York, Empire State College, and darkroom printing by Ellen Wallenstein at the School of Visual Arts and Barbara Grinnell at the New School in New York City. From 1992 to 1997, she directed the alternative Vis-à-Vis gallery at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church and Off-Broadway Theatre in Hell’s Kitchen. Her work has been exhibited in New York, New Jersey, California, and North Carolina.
Dexter Romweber: Born the seventh son of a coal miner’s daughter in 1966, Dexter Romweber is an icon of the American music underground. Former frontman for the world famous psycho-surf rockabilly-garage-punk combo Flat Duo Jets, Dexter released his first of fifteen albums in 1990 to rave reviews worldwide. He starred alongside R.E.M. and The B-52s in the 1987 cult classic film, Athens, GA. Inside/Out; Omnivore Recordings is reissuing the film in a 25th anniversary edition in October 2012, which will include a soundtrack on CD. His first national tour in 1990 was as opening act for The Cramps. He was showcased on MTV’s The Cutting Edge and 120 Minutes, appeared on Late Night with David Letterman, and has shared the stage with underground rock royalty such as Iggy Pop, the White Stripes, AntiSeen, Reverend Horton Heat, and many others. Romweber is also the subject of a new documentary movie, Two-Headed Cow, which includes testimonials by Jack White, Neko Case, Cat Power, and Exene Cervenka among others.
We’ve taken a little summer break but we’re very excited about the return of The Hinge Story! This month our featured writer is Susan Jackson Rodgers, whose second story collection, Ex-Boyfriend on Aisle Six, will be coming October 1 from our friends at Press 53 in Winston-Salem.
We’re happy to present her story “I’ve Looked Everywhere,” which originally appeared in Story Quarterly. Susan will be checking in through the afternoon of Sunday, September 30 to respond to your questions and comments. We look forward to what you have to say!
I’ve Looked Everywhere
I lost my cell phone yesterday. This afternoon I heard it ringing faintly from deep inside its hiding place: a totebag, purse, kitchen drawer, pocket? I tried tracking the sound—first it seemed to be coming from the bedroom, then the study—but just as I thought I was getting close, the battery must have lost power, or else the person hung up. I went through the possibilities. Not very many people have the cell phone number. You, my sister, my ex-husband, my massage therapist, my housepainter who is also, maybe, my boyfriend, though maybe not. I called them all, all except you and the ex-husband because he’d only call in case of an emergency and he’d try the land line first for that; and the housepainter, because I’ve called twice this week, and I don’t want to appear desperate.
I decided to go to the library, to return the overdue books, but remembered that they are lost too. Three of them, checked out two months ago, and the fines have almost exceeded the value of the books. One was a book of poetry that I used to keep by my bed, because after you left I discovered that reading poetry before I went to sleep produced interesting, poetic dreams. The other was a biography of a child actor; I love stories about people doing drugs. And the third I can’t remember.
I’m losing confidence, but not weight. I’m losing my glasses, my mind, my sense of balance. In yoga class I used to be able to do the Stork and now I can’t, I topple over like a badly constructed block tower. Everyone pretends not to notice because they’re practicing their serene yoga faces. I’m losing estrogen, instant recall, the ability to spell words I have always known how to spell. The stocks I own are losing money, have lost money, are worthless. The country I live in is losing wars—against drugs, fat, violence, stupidity, invisible forces we can’t name, enemies we’ve only imagined who now rightly despise us. I’m losing faith. Altitude. Ground. I’ve lost two husbands—one to heart failure, and one to a twenty-year-old—and children—one to her dreaded Peer Group, and the other to a cultish mentality about a particular heavy metal band that shall go unnamed. I lost my name, twice, and now I can’t get it back again. I’m losing elasticity, skin and otherwise. Losing perspective. Losing my appetite, but not for food. I’ve lost the receipt to the beige dress I bought for my daughter’s high school graduation that she said made me look like a matronly cow so I decided to wear the purple rayon pantsuit instead. Without the receipt, I’m stuck with the cowsuit, which hangs in my closet with many other articles of clothing my daughter has forbidden me to wear. I’ve lost my taste for older men because really, how much older can I go? I’ve lost my yen. For transatlantic travel, for driving a stick-shift, for falling snow, loud dinner parties, loud noise of any kind except certain rock bands from an entirely different era, late-night phone calls. I’ve lost the lyrics to that song that is nevertheless stuck in my head: baby please don’t go, something something something . . . . I’ve lost the left shoe from my favorite pair, the black sandals for whom I get regular pedicures in the summer, the sandals that I bought three years ago in Italy—you were with me. Do you remember the sandals? Where in God’s name does a single black leather Milanese sandal go? Is it at your house? Under the bed, perhaps, or in your closet, with your shoes?
Old friends. The desire to be first in line. The desire to go at all. The need to fit in, to do what I’m told, to accept second best, to fight the good fight, to be quiet. I’ve lost the remote control—forever this time, my car keys, a pair of $200 sunglasses I promised myself I would never lose, three skin cancers off my back, the directions to your sister’s summer house, the children’s baby teeth, many important documents that I’m certain I had signed by a notary public but did not, apparently, store in a safe place, a charcoal sketch of my childhood home, and the Maxime Le Forestier album I bought in Quebec in 1975. On the list of lost things also is the list of things I keep meaning to do, and the list of things I’m sorry I did, though when I wake up at four in the morning, there they all are, crowded around my bedside like eager dogs, pawing my hand, begging me to scratch their ears.
I’ve lost my place in the book I’m reading, the negative for the picture of us I wanted to enlarge (standing on the stone steps, Lake Michigan behind us), the phone number for the acupuncturist my neighbor recommended. Both parents and a brother, six dogs, eight cats, four hamsters, three birds, and, I’m not kidding, a pear tree, which died of blight. The instructions to the Cuisinart, the breadmaker I got for my second wedding—and you tell me where a breadmaker could possibly be hiding. The extension cord I swear I bought last week, this week’s TV Guide, my favorite pen.
I’ve looked everywhere.
Every day there’s something else, things dropping away like the careless removal of clothing or make-up after a party, like the diamond earring that slips from my fingers into the bathroom sink and down the drain, disappearing so quickly it seems to have planned its daring escape. We both watch it fall, incredulous, as if this kind of thing never happens. You kindly take apart the pipes underneath the sink (still wearing your handsome evening clothes, crisp white sleeves rolled up to your elbows) but the earring is gone. You straighten, unroll your sleeves, pluck the remaining earring from my palm and drop it into the drain just like that, without looking at me. And I can’t read the gesture, or the expression on your face; can’t decide if what you mean is, See, it doesn’t matter, it’s just a thing; or, Now the two earrings will be together forever; or, Through your terrible carelessness, your inability to watch what you’re doing, your consistently wretched sense of timing, you’ve sealed your fate, and mine.
There! Did you hear that? The phone—it’s ringing again. Three rings, four. Now is the moment when I realize I could have just dialed the cell number myself, and tracked down the phone. “Dur,” my oldest daughter would say. I stand in the middle of the room, six, seven, the afternoon light fading now, the shadows lengthening across the woven rugs. The rings stop. It must be later than I think, the way the light falls across the floors. The day must have gotten away from me, as it does sometimes. Does that ever happen to you? The day slipping by? Who knows where it goes. But it’s late, in any case, it’s starting to get dark, it’s getting dark a lot earlier now, and in the mornings when I go for my walk, there’s a chill, a dampness. Sometimes I wear a sweatshirt, my favorite one, faded blue, extra large, soft from many washings. The one you must assume, by now, that you’ve lost.
Susan Jackson Rodgers is the author of two story collections: The Trouble With You Is and Ex-Boyfriend on Aisle 6. Her fiction has appeared in journals such as New England Review, North American Review, Glimmer Train, Beloit Fiction Journal, Midwestern Gothic, Quick Fiction and Prairie Schooner. She grew up in Connecticut and New York City, taught for many years at Kansas State University, and currently teaches creative writing and literature at Oregon State University.
Summer is over, let’s mix it up.
SEPT 25 / tuesday / 8pm / Casbah Durham
Readings / Films / Photographs
ELIN O’HARA SLAVICK
Mixtape is a bimonthly sha-bang of great artists showing their work and reading the works of others.
Sponsored by the Hinge Literary Center.
Curated by Chris Vitiello.
Erin Espelie is a filmmaker, writer, and editor, specializing in
representations of science and nature. Her poetic, nonfiction films
have screened at the New York Film Festival, Rotterdam International
Film Festival, Full Frame Festival (“Silent Springs,” 2012), and
elsewhere; two new films will have their premieres in October 2012,
one at the NYFF and the other at the British Film Institute’s London
Film Festival. She continues to serve as executive editor of Natural
History magazine, where she’s written a monthly column since 2002.
Adra Raine is a doctoral candidate in English at UNC, where she’s
studying 20th-century American literature. In her abundance of free
time, she muses on the mystery of being in the world by making short
films, poems, and prose writings.
elin o’Hara slavick is a professor of Visual Art, Theory and Practice
at UNC. She received her MFA in photography from the School of the Art
Institute of Chicago and her BA from Sarah Lawrence College, where she
studied poetry with Tom Lux, Jean Valentine and Jane Cooper. Slavick
has exhibited her work internationally and has authored Bomb After
Bomb: A Violent Cartography, (Charta, 2007), with a foreword by Howard
Zinn. Her next book, Hiroshima: After Aftermath, will be out in spring
2013 on Daylight Books. She is also a curator, critic and activist.