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Tatooine

Good Food and Good Company

Hosted an amazing dinner party with some of my housemates last night.  I made baked mac and cheese with caramelized onions and fall greens.  N. made lamb meatloaf and beet salad with toasted hazelnuts.  M. made an apple crisp.  Somehow we managed to all cook in the kitchen at once and get everything out on the table on time.  Fed about 10 people and still had some leftovers.

Then we drank lots of cider, carved pumpkins, and played Apples to Apples.

According to Apples to Apples, I am "deadly and influential".

While I'm looking forward to having my own place, there's definitely a lot I'll miss about living in a communal house.

MS Dream Adventures

Yesterday was a chicken-y sort of day.  Housemate N. thawed out an anonymous bag of chicken breasts sitting in our freezer and then made an enormous batch of fried chicken.  Later that evening I went to a parental dinner with Sar-bot and others at a chicken wings restaurant.

Last night I had insomnia followed by weird dreams.  I think this was a result of playing Fallout 3 an hour before bed.  Yes, I'm behind the times.  Fallout 3 was the reason I originally decided to get an Xbox instead of a PS3.  Then I got distracted by series like Mass Effect and never got around to buying it.  Two weeks ago my boyfriend picked it out of a $15 bin at a used game store and brought it home.  Now I'm in the throes of new game addiction.

It's very different from the original games.  Much bleaker.  The stress of simply surviving is so high that the game produces a constant adrenaline buzz.

I had insomnia last night, followed by weird dreams.  Probably as a result of too much chicken and video games.  I dreamt I was carrying out a torrid online affair with Andrew Hussie.  Then I met him in real life and found out he had a fiance.  I was heartbroken.

Apartment Envy

I love Apartment Therapy.  I do.  It's my favorite home design blog.  I have an Expedit bookcase because of them.

But I do get tired of reading the interview sections of the house tours and listen to nearly everyone claim they were designing "on a budget" and didn't have much money to work with and got everything from thrift stores and Craiglist.

And then I look at the photos and they have a fucking Eames rocker.  And a matched set of six Bertoia chairs around the living room table.

That's over 4 thousand dollars worth of chairs there, you guys.  You're not fooling anyone.

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These Beans

For some reason I stayed up until 1 in the morning today making Cuban black beans.

It seemed like a good idea when I started.  Then I realized the entire cooking process takes 4 hours and it was too late to stop.

I must say, though, that these are the best beans I have ever made.  They also might be the best beans I've ever tasted.  These beans are crazy.

Worth it?  Maybe.  The beans are these beans, if you're curious.  See also: These Burgers.

Tomorrow it's French onion soup time.  Now that it's fall I'm getting the most of my inherited Le Creuset.  Slow stove-top cooking for the win.

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Barreling Forward Like a Freight Train

Now that I've settled into my hours at work, I think I'm going to apply for a few winter term internships.  Probably at Hawthorne Press and the Bitch Magazine library.  My job is nice, but I'd like to do some work that requires a little more intellectual stimulation and interaction with actual adults.

I'm also considering applying for a 1-year teaching fellowship for the 2011-2012 school year.  A lot of old guard New England boarding schools offer these to recent college or graduate school graduates.  They're competitive, but given my academic background and work experience I think I'd have a shot.  Basically it'd involve living in the New England countryside for a year and teaching while getting a full salary and benefits.  Room and board are usually included.  A teaching fellowship seem like a pretty sweet gig.

I have a feeling, though, that I might have to pretend to be married in order to continue living with my boyfriend if I got one of those jobs.  The provided housing is usually an apartment in one of the dorms, and some of these places can lean towards the conservative side.  I'm not sure if they want to give on-campus housing to unmarried cohabitators.

But I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Not A Bum

I'm employed.  Take that, stupid economy.

I was just hired to be an English teacher at a test prep center.  It's in Beaverton, but they'll pay me enough to make the commute worth it.  I start tomorrow.  I'll be working about 10-20 hours a week and making more than enough to cover rent, food, and fun times.  I might even get a car.

So now I'm a submissions reader for a literary magazine / English teacher.  This is pretty much the ideal combination of activities for me to do between college and grad school.

Tonight I'm working my way through my first batch of unsolicited submissions for Tin House.  They are overall higher in quality than the prose submissions I read for RCCR, but not by a whole lot.  Unlike when I was working for RCCR, though, I don't have to tear the names off these and anonymously present them to a voting board.  I just read them and then choose "forward" or "reject".  It's all very streamlined.

I hope I don't go mad with power.

In other news, I've been worrying an old story in my head like a loose tooth.  I may start writing a new version of it this weekend.  It's called "Hum".

Things are working out better than expected.

Reedies Are Everywhere

Welll.

After I got the Tin House job my housemate N. took me out for breakfast.  I ate oats and talked about Pokemon.  She offered to take me to the used game shop on Hawthorne.  I got a Gameboy Advance and a copy of Pokemon Crystal for around thirty bucks.  It was worth it.  Especially if I end up having to commute and hour and a half to Beaverton in the near future.

When I went to the test prep center I had a brief interview and then sat down to take a qualifying test.  The test was material from the Verbal section of the old SAT.  It was easy.  Afterward the guy testing me smiled and said, "I know this was easy for you.  I have a few people from your department working for me and they all do very well."

So the test prep center I applied at seems to have already hired a few Reedie English majors and likes them quite a bit.  I don't want to count my jobs before they actually exist, but I think I have a pretty good chance at this one.

And then I'd be pretty much set.

These Days

My last day in New York was great.  I got brunch in Brooklyn with Posie and then had last minute tea with K-bot on the Upper West Side.  It's really neat to hear about all the cool stuff my fellow recent grads are doing.

I got back to Portland very early Wednesday morning, and I've been busy as hell since then.  I got called back for an interview with Tin House to be one of their readers.  They hired me right at the end of the interview.  It was a major confidence boost and a huge relief.  The position is unpaid, but it's five extremely flexible hours a week.  Not only is it easy to work this job around another paid job, but I can continue to do the job remotely if I move out of state.  It's pretty much the perfect internship-style job for me.

I'll be assigned 25 pieces of short prose from the unsolicited manuscript pile every two weeks.  I'll read the stories, take a few notes, and then forward my 2-4 favorites to the editors for them to look at.  I'm really excited to be part of the selection process.

Tomorrow I have an interview to be an English SAT I & II test prep teacher out in Beaverton.  Next week I'm interviewing at Noodles & Co. downtown to see if I can sling sauce for a living.

Things are definitely looking up.

Hey, Remember When I Wrote That Thing?

And then I said I'd post it to my blog, piece by embarrassing piece?  And I didn't?

Well, now I am.  Nobody expects undergraduate creative writing thesis to be a masterpiece.  While I enjoyed the process and I got a few good stories out of it, probably about half the prose that ended up filling the pages was serviceable and nothing more.  I'm sure many people who wrote an analytical thesis had a similar experience.

I'd avoided posting stories from my thesis because I wanted to avoid posting the inevitable clunkers.  But it's probably just as helpful for me to take a second look at the mediocre stories as it is to keep editing the better ones.  Besides, it might give me the motivation to edit them.

So here's one of two scene-setting experimental vingettes from my thesis.  It's called "Laika (Transmission)".

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