All Things Laura and Other Things

06/27 Hogwartitarianism: Or, The Harry Potter Era of World Letters

Part of a collection of 550 first edition Harry Potter books are displayed on February 28, 2008 in London. Bloomsbury Auctions are selling the collection, known as 'The Property of a Gentleman', in their Children's and Illustrated Books, Original Artwork, Private Press and Limited Editions' two day sale on February 28 and 29, 2008 in London. The collection of Harry Potter books range from Finnish, Gaelic, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Welsh and six different Indian dialects to Hebrew, Turkish, Polish,Indonesian, ancient Greek and Latin.


Not a hater, I swear! I’m certainly in no position to judge regarding literary obsessions. Just having little fun on the monoculture that can surround Harry Potter fans.

Thanks to the editors at Defenestration for picking this little piece of Fake Nonfiction up.

“Hogwartitarianism: Or, The Harry Potter Era of World Letters”



05/17 I’m Alive! And I have an essay in Storysouth


Next door, my neighbors were recently evicted due to a drug bust. The back yard has gone beyond needing a trim to full blown wheat crop. Naturally, as a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan I am thrilled. But I also have to acknowledge the neglect here.

2016-05-17 10.05.43

Yes, my neighbor’s lawn is a metaphor. I realize this website is woefully out of date. It’s been a few years since I squinched my face in that picture above. If memory serves, selfies weren’t even a thing yet. There just wasn’t anyone around in Pepin, Wisconsin, to take my picture.

I blame cross country moves (from Ohio to Louisiana to Utah). And there was that dissertation I had to finish. But I have finally landed a *real* job as Assistant Professor of English at Southern Utah University, so it all paid off.

I am middle class!

One perks of joining the middle class is that you aren’t constantly scrambling for ramen with hot dog money. I should have more time to devote to the writing part of my career. Forcing myself to look at this website (ouch) is a start. Sorry for all the Zebra penis ads. I’m working on that.

In writing news I have an essay, “What Are Going to Do with the Rest of Your Life?” up at Storysouth. (I basically like anything with “south” in the title).

It’s about my early days after I graduated college and was trying to find my place in the world.

My friend Oana Chivoiu said my story, “gracefully and humorously demolishes myths about Durham, life-saving classes at Duke, and benevolent people. I loved the dark undercurrent of it.”





01/08 Publication in Drunken Boat

In the writing queue is a memoir about my days as a 90s rock drummer. (My drums currently function as end tables, except for my yearly stint as an instructor at the Athens Rock Camp for Girls). This essay in Drunken Boat, Ballad to a Lost Generation X, would be chapter 2, probably? I wrote my first draft of this piece as an MFA student in Montana circa 2007. I remember this workshop being one of my positive ones, so I’m not sure what is taking me so long, except it turns out that writing is really hard.

Anyway, thanks to DB for picking this up and giving it a home.

And I’ll use this public platform to make a PSA that one should never, ever resort to the tired observation,”chick drummers are hot.” Blech.

12/07 Book Review: Dispatches From the Drownings by B.J. Hollars

I can’t remember how B.J. Hollars drifted into my writing sphere. I think, maybe, there was an AWP panel. Or he published a Montana MFA friend of mine. Or? It’s hard to say, but I suspect Hollars is the Kevin Bacon of creative nonfiction.


I do know that as soon as I heard about his latest book, Dispatches From the Drownings, I wanted to review it. A blurb referenced how Hollars was partially inspired by Wisconsin Death Trip, a book I came across in my Laura Ingalls research. While the Ingalls family was jigging away at the sugaring off dance in Pepin, other Wisconsin residents were taking creepy pictures of their deceased children. The book was a very weird counterpoint. I mean, whose 19th century Wisconsin was more real?

Hollars makes a fine contribution to the eerie history of Wisconsin. You can read my full review at Brevity.

11/18 Essay Published in South Writ Large

My skin regimen today.

My skin regimen today.

Since I’ve moved back south, Alabama childhood memories have been surfacing, which led to this essay, “Skin Deep: The Story of Dr. Dr. Bentley and Me.” In it I reflect on how the former dermatologist/former Alabama governor once did battle with my skin afflictions.

11/11 It’s Fall Y’all

In southern Louisiana, fall means the oranges are ripening on the trees, becoming full-fledged fruit instead of weird, round looking limes. The palm fronds are turning brown and a giant camellia shrub/tree is about to bloom outside of my window. The A/C is still blasting at work. Oh, and hey, you, that slime mold spore who stole my Slanky, I hope you have to wear it forever in hell.

Saturday was the monthly Lafayette Art Walk, and I try to be a communitarian, especially when there’s free wine. It’s starving artist protocol. And a perk of being a nonfiction writer is that I’m supposed to have adventures and investigate. No, I’m not a sad person with no friends. I’m an intrepid journalist on the beat.

After a few stops at places where I pretended to admire pastel beach landscapes while I topped off my glass, I strolled down to the Acadiana Center for the Arts which did not have free wine, but did have a coffee shop featuring Stumptown roasters out of Portland, my second favorite coffee in the world. The first is at Le Petit Outre in Missoula, Montana. Although to be fair, Montana makes coffee taste better

Well, I bet you a didgeradoo. And if you get that reference, then you were also an avid Olivia Newton John fan in the 70s.

Well, I bet you a didgeradoo. And if you get that reference, then you were also an avid Olivia Newton John fan in the 70s.

Naturally, I was drawn upstairs. I ran into a friend of mine with kids and they seemed into it. Always follow the kids.

The community mural where kids draw dots to show bayou watershed? Or something like that.

The community mural where kids draw dots to show bayou watershed? Or something like that. So much for my intrepid reporting.

Next, I went to the exhibit, “Trivial Pursuits: Obsession’s Allure.” My friend’s kids then got in trouble for throwing M & M’s and and they had to leave.

Coolest in my mind was an in progress Stevie Nicks memorabilia collection. This is an actual Klonipin bottle with her name on the prescription!

Coolest in my mind was an in-progress Stevie Nicks memorabilia collection. This is an actual Klonipin bottle with her name on the prescription!

There were posters, albums, macrame hats, flyers…I was transported to my Freshman dorm where we all had Rumors on repeat as we guzzled Strawberry Hill.

Looking at these clothes kind of inspires a What Not to Wear—The Academia. There's that certain female prof, who needs to put down that big swirly Nicks scark and slowly walk away. Like, time travel back to 1985 and slowly walk away. Then again, maybe it's time to bring the feathered hats BACK.

Looking at these clothes inspired me to produce an episode of What Not to Wear—The Academia Edition. Since time memorial,  there’s been that certain female prof who has needed to put down that lace shawl and slowly walk away. Like, time travel back to 1985 and slowly walk away. Then again, maybe it’s time to bring the feathered hats BACK.

The library also had free wine.

I am fascinated with the idea that libraries are filled with books like this,

I am fascinated with the idea that libraries are filled with books like this and others, that people maybe read.

I went to a violin store, some more galleries, and averted my eyes from a Subway franchise. Why are they EVERYWHERE?

Another artsy buzz kill was that people were talking football everywhere, which I know is standard Deep South fare. Sometimes I am continually amazed at how out of touch I can be with Southern obsessions. I grew up in Tuscaloosa and should experience a spidey sense tingle when The Game is on. But even as I was surrounded by televisions I didn’t even know there was a game. Now. Tonight.

People were talking football at the art walk, which I suppose is standard Deep South fare. Then I looked across the street and saw that the Alabama/LSU game was on.

As I watched The Crimson Tide take the field across the street and through this window, I felt a familiar childhood sensation–that that’s what people do over there.

My friend who I saw at the Arts Center is from Romania and grew up under the rule of Communism. When she first moved to Lafayette and experienced Game Day, she wondered why anyone would dress up in red and march around on purpose.

Clearly, I needed a southern tincture to ease the malaise. In Athens, Ohio, I had a cadre of bourbon drinking writers who I could pretty reliably find downtown if I needed that social gap filled. I don’t have that here. If I want to go in a stinky bar and drink I am on my own. Those who read my book know that on my Laura trip, I simply couldn’t face going into a bar alone. I was too terrified. Although to my credit, the Laura dress pretty much ruled out any hope of a low profile and Ma Ingalls would have been horrified.

Those who have read my book, know that the idea of having a drink alone in a bar terrfied me. Apparently, I've worked through that issue.

But here we are. Roll Tide!

For the first half, I experienced life as a sports dude at a bar. Not bad, actually. There’s beverages and the game eliminates need for awkward conversation. You just hang.

Eventually, though, all the “swoosh” noises followed by not-so-subliminal plugs for Home Depot over and over and over wore me out. By the second quarter I could tell Bama would win and lost interest.

That morning, my Romanian friend had given me hand-crocheted gloves, stitched by her Romanian grandmother, the thread pulled from clothes the grandmother wore in the early 20th century. They look kind of nice next to a glass of bourbon.

These are the hand-crocheted gloves, made by a Romanian grandmother, from clothes she work in the early 20th century.

Stevie Nicks revival, anyone? Come on. Let’s twirl.

10/25 Fall Festing Cajun Style

Where I last lived in Athens, Ohio, Halloween is a Big Deal. In fact, it is such a Big Deal, that the town can’t even celebrate Halloween on Halloween anymore. Kid’s trick or treating takes place on the 30th and the block party is a weekend early. That’s because Halloween is such a Big Deal, if celebrated on the actual day, everyone would probably explode.

Security advice for weekend partygoers includes “not exposing genitals,” as well as not wearing any fake genitals that “an officer would need to examine.”

I'm okay missing all this. Although the real parade is the next morning walk of shame.

This image captures all the fun I won’t be missing, as well as my feelings  on pumpkin spice lattes.

I haven’t seen much fall anything around here in Lafayette. Probably because we’re still experiencing highs of 80 plus degrees and going down to the okra patch just isn’t the same. Although can I put in a vote for a sugar cane maze?

What does grow here, are pigs. So I went downtown to the annual Boudin Cookoff. Now, I will say straight up that I first had boudin five years ago in New Orleans…and it’s not my favorite. Boudin has rice, which gets kinda mushy, and the preferred preparation is to boil the links, which doesn’t help the mush. Then there’s the business of the organ meats. Anyhow, my tastes run to BBQ char on the pork loin. That being said, I was at a boudin cookoff and I had a fistful of hot pink tickets burning in my hand.

Look at these nice people from Johnson's Boucanière I will say I did like how their brand of boudin had a good dose of green onion, which added some crisp.

Look at these nice people from Johnson’s Boucanière. I will say I did like how their brand of boudin had a good dose of green onion, which added some crisp.

What I liked even better were the balls, which are rolled up, dredged in flour, and then deep fried. The only problem is by this point I had been to exactly one stand, and I was already with boudin child.

This is a hard working man.

T-Boy’s had a Gouda center in their balls. AND I got a free hot pink beer cozy.

I didn’t take a picture, but another favorite was Ronnie’s smoked boudin, because the of the rich flavor and texture. Smoked was good, but I still maintain if one person went for the grill they’d be the fav. And next time, I’m bringing my own mustard bottle, which would imply this sausage is growing on me, since I said “next time.”

Because I just hadn't had enough pork at this point.

Because now I’m in a pork spiral.

This cracklin was as iif a whole bag of BBQ potato chips had condensed into a white dwarf star-like crunch.

This cracklin’ was as if ten bags of BBQ potato chips condensed into a white dwarf star-like crunch.

And what do you want after a bunch of rich, spicy pork? Ice cream sandwiches. And Blue Bell was handing them out. For FREE.

Bless this man who is handing out free ice cream sandwiches.

Bless this man.

Best of all? No pumpkin-flavored anything to be found. Although I will miss the real Athens Halloween parade, which is the walks of shame taking place the next morning.


09/21 Event! Reading at Penn State Harrisburg


Did I get taller? There’s some long-legged snipe action here.


This past weekend I was the visiting writer at Penn State Harrisburg. Maybe famous writers sigh about the travel and the talking, etc. Not me.

It had been an especially trying week of teaching composition. The time has come where the first papers will be returned and the slackers are about to get their due, which doesn’t mean they like their due, or appreciate me for doling it out. Instead, the slackers are angry with me because I’m not like the cool teacher they had last term who showed Simpsons clips. Why can’t I be like that guy? No offense, but he was cool.

Here in Louisiana it’s too hot for me to put on my leather jacket and convince the kids that 18th century British poetry is like rap, yo. I have to remember to focus on the non-slackers, which are most of my students, and take deep cleansing breaths on my way to the wine store.

Thus, the chance to sit in a circle with other English majors, who love to read, and want to talk writing and publishing and reading and all the things that got me in this business in the first place is replenishment. These are the treat students. The goodies in the grab bag.

So I took out the dress, shook it out, and re-read Chapter One out loud for the first time in about a year, which was an exercise in multiple déjà vus. Nonfiction is a strange genre in that the person in your book is not the you who wrote the book or the you who exists today. And there I am trying to field questions about that me who left for Montana and decided to put on this prairie dress and drive around. What made me want to do that? Even now the best I can come up with is that I was like the goat who went over the mountain.


09/02 Publication: Misadventures in Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

Hey there! I have an essay up at Alimentum: The Literature of Food about how Krispy Kreme doughnuts saved me from an eating disorder.

Hey! I have an essay up at Alimentum: The Literature of Food about how Krispy Kreme doughnuts unintentionally saved me from an eating disorder.

I think my expression back then resembled this girl’s.

08/26 Moving: From Ohio to the Bayou Part II

Moving involves a ton of sweat and sweat pants. For weeks I worked construction, packed up a house, prepared said house for renters, weeded out five years of stuff, packed up a trailer etc., etc., all the while dressed in weird little outfits pieced together from a thrift store I like to call “Stretchytown.”

In all this I noticed a weird phenomena: a higher percentage of lecherous men leering about. To be clear, I am no longer twenty. Looks that might once have been described as shabby chic or grungey would now be the cover shoot for Modern Bag Lady. Yet here I am dripping, my hair all sticky, sporting Yeti legs, and the geezers are all coming out of the suburban shrubbery.

“Hey there!”

“Hey there?”

Me pretty on inside!

I mean, did I look like woman so desperate she’s up for a quick shag in a U-Haul on top of a dusty box labeled “Kitchen Whatever?”

Then I got it.


I did.