Re the thumb

Pretty much every reason I can think to resuscitate this blog begins with the prefix re.

prefix: re-; prefix: red-
  1. once more; afresh; anew.

There’s resuscitate, reinvigorate, reinvent re (as in, about, concerning, regarding), re (as in, do ray me, because sometimes I just go off and lalala, riff with words)

I have written a book-length compilation of essays about aspects of the human thumb for my MFA in creative nonfiction. They are exercises in immersion writing, in which I immersed myself in thumb-related communities — hitchhikers, thimble collectors, players of certain African musical instruments, greenhouse gardeners, baseball players. These exercises did not need to end with the completion of my MFA. And yet they did. I want back in, Coach. I want to immerse myself in communities with stories to tell. I want to get my thumbs in there and then type with them like crazy.


AWP2015: But Seriously … Is It Time for More Humor in Environmental Writing?

Just today I received a funny email from the environmental magazine Orion. The subject seemed funny anyway: “The Parking Lot That Doubles as a Sponge.” It sounds like the setup for an old Saturday Night Live skit: “Shimmer! It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping!” The point is, there’s humor everywhere. Why not in environmental writing, too? That was the gist of this panel that met in a corner of the bowels of the Minneapolis Convention Center at …

AWP2015: But Seriously … Is It Time for More Humor in Environmental Writing?.

AWP 2014: The Ethics of Immersion

Select seat with view of lectern. Check.

Push Voice Memo button on phone. Check.

Scribble panel title in notebook. Check.

I’m ready. So are the five panelists facing me, and so are the 60+ audience members surrounding me. We are the researchers in Room 607.

“It’s a bit of an oddball role,” began moderator Ana Maria Spagna. She described the ethical challenges experienced while researching Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus, in which she explored her late father’s involvement in the Tallahassee bus boycott of 1957. The various people to whom she spoke had different and sometimes conflicting versions of the story, “as well as their own real lives and real pain,” she said. The crux became …

AWP 2014: The Ethics of Immersion.

AWP 2014: Books About Books: A Nonfiction Conundrum

It’s safe to say that a majority of AWP’s umpteen thousand attendees love books. If you’re like me, you love every aspect of them — the inked paper smell, the heft of the volume, the font, the cover design, the ideas born within the text, the potential for marginalia, the sound and feel of pages flipping beneath your thumb.

So if you’d seen …

Read the full post here: AWP 2014: Books About Books: A Nonfiction Conundrum.

How to ski to church


You saw it here first. Now, the extended dance version:

Originally posted on Thumbing Through:

1. Sign up for a weeklong cross-country ski adventure across the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec with minimal training and partial French. Do this with complete strangers, no friends or family along to comfort you in your cluelessness.

2. Once you realize your head is not going to explode from the rapid-fire Quebecois you are attempting to translate in the partial French you do understand, enjoy the nine-hour bus ride from Quebec City to the Parc national de la Gaspésie.  The snow-white countryside is beautiful.

3. Find a ski buddy among the mostly 50- and 60-year-olds, the great majority of whom will kick your 40-year-old marathon-trained ass on skis. Get over it, rapidement.

4. When you alone are responsible for forming a clog at a narrow descent from a country road to the Baie de Chaleur, the ice-covered bay over which you will ski, tuck and roll, baby. Tuck and roll.

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