Hi. Thanks for visiting my website.
I live in Chicago with my husband, our kid, and Mojo the dog. We’re in Uptown, by the Aragon, which means we spend a lot of time sitting on the balcony watching drunk people after shows let out. It’s great people watching. After Rob Zombie played, the crowd filled the street, blocking traffic both ways down Lawrence Avenue chanting ZOMBIE! ZOMBIE! (I wish they’d been talking about actual zombies. That would’ve been awesome). After Marilyn Manson played, his crowd broke the tree in front of my house. They broke a tree. Marilyn Manson owes me a tree. The President just had his 50th birthday party, and the Secret Service blocked off my front door. When they filmed the club scene in Public Enemies, they wrapped a chain link fence around the block to protect Johnny Depp from screaming women. When the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s played, I couldn’t get off the el. When Weezer played, I couldn’t get off Lakeshore Drive. The Pixies played the weekend I went into labor; we couldn’t get out of the neighborhood.
My kid is three, and he loves to stand on the balcony, counting fans. He knows his numbers one through twenty-four, and if you say Pixies, he says, Lala Love you! and does a little dance.
Above all else, I want to be a good mom. I’m still figuring out what that means—I’ll always be figuring it out—but I know that part of it involves doing what I love. For me, that means telling stories and helping other people tell stories. I got hooked after reading the part in Richard Wright’s Black Boy where Richard gets a library card. Reading novels, he’s able to understand people that are different than he is: “I hungered for books, new ways of looking and seeing. It was not a matter of believing or disbelieving what I read, but of feeling something new, of being affected by something that made the look of the world different.” Every time I read it, I think—This. This is the reason. This is why stories matter; how maybe they can change the world.
When I first started working in the arts, that was the goal: Tell stories! Make art! Change world! It’s been ten years now, and though I’ve added a few more concerns to the mix—Mortgage! Health insurance! Sock money away for retirement so I don’t have to eat cat food when I’m old!—my initial goals remain the same.
I have four jobs: I teach creative writing at Columbia College and The University of Chicago; I work in The Center for Teaching Excellence at Columbia College; I’m the Literary Director for the 2nd Story storytelling series; and I write.
I love all of them.
I also love Kafka, Marquez, and Dorothy Allison. I love Light in August, East of Eden, Anna Karennina, Geek Love, Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir, and When the Messenger is Hot. I love What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Mkondo, A Temporary Matter, Misery, We Didn’t, Rape Fantasies, Nilda, A Hunger Artist, On Meeting the 100% Perfect Girl, Video, Kubuku Rides Again, Sonny’s Blues and about a million others. I love short stories—a single snapshot in someone’s life, finding that moment where you change or grow or break.
I love Tina Fey, Anna Deveare Smith, Bradbury’s Zen and the Art of Writing, and that part in Letters to a Young Poet about how “a work of art is good if it has sprung from necessity.” I love The Danger of a Single Story—it makes me a more careful reader. I read Dear Sugar every week—it makes me a better person. My RSS feed is full of online literary journals, and I’m grateful to those editors who work tirelessly finding new, exciting, haunting voices that help me consider what it means to be alive.
I love The Princess and The Warrior, Indiana Jones, The Matrix, The Shining, and pretty much anything with lots of gratituitous explosions. I love Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Wire, and Yo Gabba Gabba. I love PJ Harvey and Nina Simone and Girl Talk. I love wine or coffee, depending on the hour.
I love Chicago. I’ve lived here for fifteen years and am told that means I can officially call myself a Chicagoan. I like the snow, the restaurants, and the innovation of the literary scene. I like how you can pay your rent and still afford to make art. People smile at each other here. They ask how your day went and they mean it. The theatre kicks ass, the lake is three blocks away, and coffee is across the street.
That said, lately I want pack up my family and go live in cabin.
Preferably one with a goat.
I have another bio that’s a lot more formal than this one. It’s shorter, too.