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Last night we cracked open a clown/gnome shaped pinata. It’s an MFA end-of-the-year tradition and this year Diana and Clisbee let me on what was stuffed inside.

When The Mighty Flynn ripped open that sucka, I dove into the pile of candy and treats and came up with this:

Cheerleading Doll

She is everything I’d hoped she would be. When squeezed she produces this cheer: We’re number one, can’t be number two. We’re gonna beat the whoopie outta you! The whoopie outta you! I know, it’s addicting. It’s been stuck in my head all day. I’m not sure who the we is (a whole flock of creepy cheerleader dolls?) or what the ‘M’ stands for, but I’m all about her.

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If you haven’t checked out the latest issue of the online literary nonfiction magazine Brevity do so. It features MSU’s very own Dick Terrill and North Dakota native Debra Marquart

It also features a piece by Judith Kitchen. No disrespect for Ms. Kitchen, but I am intrigued by her name. Kitchen. What kind of last name is kitchen? It makes me wonder if it’s her real name or a pen name. I wonder the origins, what her grandfather told her about their family name, or the story behind why she chose that particular name, that particular room. Either way, the name is memorable and catchy, and it’s got me thinking about names and naming things.

In junior high, I hated my first name. I didn’t know any other Bronsons and that name seemed so foreign and unusual. I was an unusual boy with an unusual name, but once, during a summer camp, I asked my friends to give me a new name, a nickname of sorts. One of my friends threw out the name Neon, which was one of Deon Sanders’ nicknames, and I snatched it up. After that, everyone at camp called me Neon. I turned my name tag around and printed my new name on the other side. I introduced myself as Neon to everyone. I dropped my real name in favor of one used by a former athlete. Looking back now, I feel so ashamed.

But that nickname changed who I was. Everyone at camp new my name. I got on stage and they chanted my name. I had a new group of friends, and we formed the most popular group at camp. We even had a tree, which we would sit under. At the end of camp, I took a piece of that tree – as a memory of that time, that place, and my new nickname.

When I returned to school that following fall, I went right back to being Bronson. I was again the misfit, the outcast, the geek who sat in corners and read Goosebumps books by himself. Without my nickname, I was nothing.

I’ve had other nicknames. In the military, some people called me Frenchy because my last name is French and I always had to tell people how to pronounce it. On a road trip from Fargo, North Dakota, all the way across the state to Medora, my friend Amy and I starting attaching nicknames to all our friends. The nicknames were based on cities we’d see during our trip – Amy Absaracka, Ashley Ayr, Bronson Bismarck.

The other day, when I mentioned the latest issue of Brevity to Jessica, and told her about Judith Kitchen (we both remember her because she’s edited three short nonfiction anthologies), Jessica dubbed me Bronson Bathroom. I called her Jessica Closet.

In a couple years, look for our novels at your local Barnes & Noble.

Luke started with a post about this, but I thought I’d chime in with my top 5:

5. Giving Jessica Sarah Langdon’s hood and card and then trying to pretend I didn’t do it on purpose.

4. Running into our favorite librarian Justine Martin after the ceremony.

3. My hair after the ceremony (and Diana saying it looked no different than usual!).

2. Diana making everyone take their picture with Jessica, then everyone with Roger, then everyone with Roger and herself.

1. Diana saying that she’s going to punch a certain absent graduate in the nose.

My plans for post-grad school kind of crept up on me. So, for those wondering what’s currently in the works, here’s a little story in photos:

If all goes as planned, I’ll first be teaching these guys:

Sailors

I’m not entirely certain where we’ll be going, but we’ll probably be aboard one of these:

Navy boats

After doing that for 6 to 8 weeks, I’ll be going back home to Harvey, North Dakota. It’s isn’t much, but in the summer and if you’re drunk enough it’s alright. It may look something like this:

Harvey

Hopefully, I’ll have a nice quiet month of writing and relaxing at home. Hopefully, my parents wouldn’t drive me nuts and kick me out. Hopefully, I’ll work on the memoir some more before heading here for training at the end of August:

Fort Hays

Finally, I’m off to here:

China

It’s a daunting task – imaging all your stuff in a 5-by-10 space.

Today I looked at storage units. I need to find a place for all my stuff while I’m away in China. I’ve never really packed all my stuff away like this. When I was deployed to Iraq, the army paid my rent, so I left all my stuff in my apartment, sitting right where I left it. While I was overseas, my roommate cherished having the two-bedroom apartment to herself. She put up lace curtains in the kitchen and e-mailed me threats of having sex on my bed or, even worse, simply sleeping on it. She later told me that for the first few weeks she slept in my bed and cried because she missed me, so I forgave her for putting up those retched curtains.

Now, everything must be packed away and stored somewhere safe, somewhere dry, somewhere I’ll remember in a year.

I looked at a place just south of Mankato. It was nice, new. It had a cement floor. I opened the unit, stepped back and stared into the empty space. It was tiny. In my head, I started to pack it all inside. I placed each item inside – my bed up against the wall; my desk and bookcases against the other wall; the two trunks, stuffed full of folders and book and old notebooks I somehow feel I still need, under and atop the desk; the four plastic bins full of left-over army gear, gnomes, books, and other random junk strategically placed in between it all. I tried and I tried but it just wouldn’t fit. I couldn’t do it.

How does someone do this kind of thing? Do they just get the unit and hope all their stuff fits? What about the stuff that doesn’t fit?

Where does it all go.

Well, here we go again.

This isn’t my first time blogging. This is actually my third blog. I closed the other two down because I didn’t think anyone was reading them. But recently, as I’m getting ready to wrap up the grad school chapter of my life, everyone has been blogging and commenting on blogs and talking about each other’s blogs. Brian gets evacuated from his apartment and I find out on his blog. Jessica puts this whole photo story of our relationship on her blog and nearly makes me cry. Luke starts talking about vacuuming up cat hair and I’m suddenly interested in it all.

So here is my blog. I’m going to try and keep it focused on writing, teaching, and other worldly travels. Tune in to find out: how my memoir is progressing, what teaching aboard a Navy boat is like (if I’m able to blog about that), and how incredibly odd and wonderful China is. And if you like what you read let me know. I love comments. It’s like getting mail. Not the junk mail but the good stuff – the “just because” notes and letters.

Yes, I like those.

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