Neither Here nor There
my thoughts on identity and non-millennial snowflakes
Salutations, sun-worshippers and those who were sacrificed,
I’ve been back in the USA for a while now, and since the Literary Salons I co-host are quiet for Summer, it feels like I have a lot of free time—you’d think I’d spend it some other way than writing.
But I don’t. I write.
I love writing.
But writing about writing is far too meta and to be honest, it feels too marketing-ish to me. So instead, let me tell you how weird it is to discover you’re not all that unique after creating a personal brand that is all about accepting the fact that you’re unique.
While I was in Lithuania, I attended two readings of Lithuanian writers of the diaspora — around 20 pieces were read, and most of them echoed my feelings of being suspended outside of both of the countries that formed my national identity (I’d add a third: I spend some formative years in West Germany which isn’t even a country anymore).
At the second reading, I sat beside a guy around my age who told me he was from Indiana. When he was introduced, however, his bio stated that he had been born in Texas.
That’s right, my friends, I sat beside a Lithuanian-American writer born in Texas. Introducing Paul Jaskunas.
Of course, we are not identical. He is primarily a poet. He spent a few years living in Vilnius and knows more people there than I do— yet the overlaps are uncanny. We both have MFAs. We’ve both been published in The Brooklyn Rail (here’s mine.) He lives outside of Baltimore; I went to college in Baltimore…. Like finding a snowflake that was almost-almost the same as the next snowflake, but in the heat of summer.
In any event, it was a strange moment in my life. I’m not sure what to make of it: does it make me feel more alone? Less alone?
Does loneliness have anything at all to do with the number of people like you in the world?
I was delighted (and so surprised) that my book was included in a Columbia Magazine alumni post “The Lion’s Guide to Parenting” — since it was published in 2021 I thought all the publicity was over, but no—after this article came out a twitter promoter found the book and has been posting a lot! Happiness is resurgence.
Of course you should read this piece in Gargoyle Magazine if you have not done so. It’s fiction and not too long. Think of it as a teaser.
Also: I did not win the De Groot Fellowship, but I was a finalist and that’s pretty amazing. I hear they had a lot of applicants and I’m thrilled to have made it to their shortlist.
In other news, I found out via Twitter that I did win an honorable mention on a Drabble competition sponsored by Hiraeth Publishing. When I feel thwarted by anything (work, relationships, insurance forms, phone trees, politics, life) I tend to send out stories. I also sometimes do laundry during those times—which may seem weird to equate with sending out stories—but honestly there is a low-level happiness to having clean laundry that, while very low on the intensity scale is very high on the predictability scale. Whereas winning prizes is very high on the happiness scale but not all that reliable, comparatively.
Hey - have any of you done a kickstarter to publish anything? Can you DM me so I can ask you some questions?
I went to see Baz Lurhman’s “Elvis.” It was very long but also quite sparkly. Many closeups of slightly parted lips.
I also attended the Live Action crazy show BATSU! in the East Village which turned out to be a hilarious sushi dinner theater, modeled after a Japanese game show with a lot of laugh-out-loud comedy improv. Highly recommended, particularly for groups.
Have a great week. Stay cool. Beware the sake ninja.