“I’ve always made things. Little books, sculptures, meals, doodles. I’ve never thought of myself as an artist. My father calls it ‘the curse of the Gregorys,’ this drive to always make things out of other things. My grandfather spent years trying to make a machine that would produce a little brass ship when you turned its crank. He never succeeded but his house was always full of partially formed little brass boats.” — Danny Gregory, Everyday Matters

Dear Northern Virginia,

What the hell. Today it was raining. I just wanted to go to the grocery store. I had to drag a little old-lady cart through sidewalk-less streets, while shiny new cars zipped past me. In the rain. When I got to the grocery store, it was jammed. Half of the people in the store could’ve stayed home, because they were couples. Here is a transcript of an actual conversation, between two white young professional types in their J-Crew weekend wear. They stand seven feet apart. One is looking over the frozen strawberries, another is looking at the dairy case.

Female: Honey, what about the butter?
Male: Oh… yeah!
Female: Salted or unsalted?
Male: Unsalted!
Female: What else do we need…. Wine! And did you get milk?
Male: Uh… no!

Thank God they have each other.

When I was in third grade, my mother borrowed a set of encyclopedias from my grandmother to put on a new bookshelf in the living room. The books were just for decoration, with their antique-y red leather covers and gilt-edged pages. But I, being the reader type, began to actually use them.

Ok. Now. This set of encyclopedias, called the Book of Knowledge, was printed circa 1937. But I was eight years old, so I didn’t see the problem this time-warp reference material presented when writing reports for school. Instead I only saw the beauty of it: I could copy almost word-for-word right out if its pages, and no one would know, because my teacher most certainly did not have the Book of Knowledge sitting around her house to check up on me.

What did my teacher think when I cited a 50 year-old encyclopedia in my bibliographies? I guess my reports were on timeless things like buttercups and Andrew Jackson. But still.

“I sincerely miss those heavy metal bands I used to go see on the landing in the summer… Shiny, shiny pants and bleach-blond hair…
A double kick drum by the river in the summer…” — Wilco, “Heavy Metal Drummer”

“Sleep she comes to steal the ones who fill their glass and leave the rest… whose teeth get brushed, who eat enough and who know how to treat their friends… ” — Devon Sproule, “Plea for a Good Night’s Rest”

“When I was small I often dreamt that I could not find my home. I walked down my street and each house had been stripped of its color. Old women stared at me from the driveways, washing clothes in large steel tubs. My house was always just around the next corner, just beyond the next bend. With each turn I made, I found myself back where I’d begun. I woke up with balled fists, gulping for air.” — Amanda Davis, “Ending Things,” Circling the Drain