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Q and A

Sep 13, 2012; Tom Asks:

So what's next?

Stacey answers:

Death

Sep 10, 2012; Tom Asks:

Hi Stacey, How's the Pirate novel coming along? Tom

Stacey answers:

Good! I'm done. It was awarded the 1964 Pulitzer Prize.

Sep 08, 2012; Pickles Asks:

Hey Stacey, you ever see Angie Bowie at the supermarket, or the library, or the bus stop or anything?

Stacey answers:

I've seen her, yes, though not at the bus stop (I think it was an art opening). I never thought she was going to stay in Tucson for long so I neglected to notice her, or think about her, or understand how cool she is, until recently when I reread Please Kill Me and realized I'm an idiot who should have been paying more attention.

Aug 17, 2012; Mittens the Kat Asks:

I am a cat. I have a problem with my fur. The problem is I lick my fur and end up with saliva on my fur. Then I rub the saliva on my paw and wipe it across my face to clean myself. I am wondering if there is a solvent or maybe type of vinegar I should be using instead. If so, does it come in a container that can be opened in paws. Also, can I pay for it using some sort of barter system involving crunchie remnants? I have neither money nor pockets for money. Also, why do I purr? I purr so much it scares me. My purrs have purrs. Also, my tail: Why does it exist? It looks like a racoon tail. What is up with that? It is embarrassing. is there some sort of tail surgery I can get to look more like a jaguar or a leopard? Come on, I need help here. Please help. Meow meow for the love of god help, meow.

Stacey answers:

Dear Mittens,

Did you know that "meow" is a combination of the feline word "me," which means "come here," and the feline utterance "ow," which means "go away you disgusting cur?" No, you did not, because you're just a little cat and you don't know anything. Mitten, Mittens: to be a cat is to be ambivalent, to feel too dirty one moment and excessively licked the next, to be ashamed of one's tail and then excessively proud of it, to be a little baby and a mighty hunter at once, meow meow. The solution is simple. Find the nicest carpet in the house and throw up on it.

Aug 10, 2012; ricksybipsy Asks:

Have you ever seen True Blood? I was going to say it is like magical realism, but then I realized it is actually just magical, and in no way, not even metaphorically or psychologically or philosophically, real. It is a filthy pleasure and you should check it out.

Stacey answers:

No. Okay, I will. I hear the dudes are all naked. I don't have HBO but am hatching a scheme to get it. But also, do I have to? Remember those things, books? I like them.

Aug 10, 2012; madeleine like the cookie Asks:

Stacey, You give great life advice! I like how you actually give advice instead of taking a namby-pamby, repeat back what the person said, therapy-like approach. (My parents are therapists and all I can every get out of them is something like, "it sounds like you are feeling confused..." Okay here is my dilemma: I am 23 and have always had fantasies about living in the red American desert by myself with an athletic dog. As a way of realizing this I have been planning on going to grad school in Laramie, or Reno, or some place like that, finding a dog soul mate, and then studying alone in my mobile home. But then I fell crazy in love with a very domestic, bespectacled, dark and handsome 30 year old man with a mortgage and a grown-up job in one place (not the desert). I know if I lost him because of my crazed desire to enact this singular fantasy for 2 years, then that would really suck. But then what if I'm 30 and pregnant, and saying, shoot, I never acted out those favorite dreams of independence! Where has my inner cowboy gone?

Stacey answers:

Hi Cookie. It sounds like you're freaking out. That’s fine, love freak-outs are normal, but I don’t think your dilemma is actually about trailers and dogs. I think it’s about about the fear of losing the sense that you have, stretching before you, a life of infinite possibilities. Of course you don’t want to lose that! But consider this: you’re not the first person to fall crazy-in-love and then immediately begin contemplating how to hightail it out of there. Love is terrifying; it involves giving things up (like possibilities) and puts you at a terrible risk of being left (which can be avoided by leaving first), and sometimes, if you’re really crazy-in-love, you might let it take some other things away while you aren’t paying attention, like your sense of yourself as an independent entity, a cowboy-girl who has friends, independence, passions, and ideas, who can spend time by herself no matter where she lives.

Here’s some great news: I’ve decided that your quandry isn’t real! Not actually real, like a rock. Because in real life, Laramie and Reno don’t even have red soil, and Laramie is probably too cold for trailer living—so how serious could your dream be? Only vaguely serious. But that’s good! Metaphorical quandries don’t require freezing your ass off in a double-wide for a solution! You may feel stuck between wanting a crazy-love boyfriend and wanting total independence, but guess what? I think you know where I’m going with this: you can have both. The choice between pairing up vs. being a renegade chick might have been real for our mothers or grandmothers but for a young lady of your vintage, it’s all in your head. Crazy in love is great, you should enjoy it, but you don’t have to spend all your time with your boyfriend. You shouldn’t. You know that feeling, that you can’t get up and he has to get up and get you a glass of water; and also that other feeling, that if he leaves the room you’ll die? That’s something to resist. Though fun, it's actually bad because it sucks away at the core of your individual identity. Don’t do too much of that. Get up and go do your thing every day. Be your cowboy--it's an inner state. Get a trailer where you are, and a dog, and use them.

Because honestly, your dream isn’t going to work out now no matter what. It’s not going to be a truly solitary life. If you go to Reno, you’re probably going to call him all the time anyway, think of him, and visit. Anyway, the world is full of wonderful animals, and places are always there, but there’s only one bespectacled man and you have him right now. So just have him.

And Madeline, don’t let his 30 year-oldness impress you—that’s not so old, and I’m sure he’s still totally retarded in many ways. Don’t be surprised if, when you stop having your love vs. independence freak-out, he starts having his own. Most relationships contain a fixed amount of sheer intimacy-terror and if one person drops some, the other picks it up. I’m sort of afraid that if you settle in with him, he’s going to get terrified and dump you. I don’t want that to happen (though then you can go live in your trailer), so I'm going to advise you to be sort of mysterious and French about it. Do it slowly. Keep him guessing. Don't make him curtains yet. Wait. Let him make you curtains first.

You know where there’s red dirt? Moab, Utah. It’s beautiful. There’s a huge animal rescue place in the middle of nowhere near there called Best Friends. I bet you could go there for a few months and volunteer. They probably have trailers; in fact, they might not have anything else.

Aug 06, 2012; Tom Asks:

Hi Stacey, how has your summer been? I've decided to try my hand at writing. So far it's been a lot of fun. Do you have any advice for a beginner?

Stacey answers:

Hi Tom. My summer has been okay but I've had a lot of pack rats up in my shit, like my car engine and my hot tub filter area--though it just occurred to me that maybe the pack rat is my totem animal. That would fit, as they are very, very cute and very, very destructive.

For you, Tom, as a beginning writer, my advice is to try to write some good dialogue; to get there, look at books you like to figure out what you think good dialogue is. That way you'll have at least two characters and, if you're lucky, a little bit of frisson. You strike me as being sort of simultaneously attracted to surfaces and depths, and since surfaces are easier in dialogue, I'm afraid you'll write dialogue like: A) "What time is it?" B) "I don't know." A) "Shouldn't the pizza be here?" B) "Yeah. It's late. I'm starving!" A) I know. Food is good!" etc. But you can do better!

Aug 05, 2012; Thomulon Asks:

Have you heard the new Jimmy Cliff record, "Rebirth"? It is really good!

Stacey answers:

Oh, no no no no. A pillar of my life-strategy has been: avoid all reggae music (though I do really like "A Message To You Rudy"). Anyway, I didn't think Jimmy Cliff was still alive. Is he still alive? Because if he made it while dead, that would interesting to me.

Jul 21, 2012; Bartelby the Wanna-be Asks:

Hey Stacey, I'm just following up too. Your advice was great - I emailed the guy and he said that I was in final-final consideration (again) and (again) he'd let me know by the end of the weekend. That was now 3 weeks ago that he said THAT. He's kind of killing me. I followed up again in the last couple of weeks (twice) and asked if I was still in the running he isn't responding to me. But whatever. I'm going to the beach. Thanks again for the advice.

Stacey answers:

Aces! Congratulations on your final-final. Maye you will drop me at a note at stacey@staceyrichter dot com when/if it comes out? I'd love to read it.

Jul 17, 2012; Michael Asks:

Hi Stacey, How are you? About a month ago I posted the question about my sex life. You know you're in trouble when you have a post questions about sex to a short story writer. Still. Your response moved me, and your observations made sense. I still haven't volunteered at an elderly home, but that does appeal to me for some reason, and I will do it. And still haven't talked to a single girl. I went to a gay club in Salt Lake City. It was the nearest one, and it was lame. No one was dancing, and everyone banded together, sticking with their friends. I stayed for about five minutes and got the hell out. Awkward. I would've loved to talk to someone there, because some of the guys there looked good. But, if you have any more perils of advice or analysis, I welcome it all.

I'm not sure if I have this wall or mask built around me. Certainly I have difficulties and problems. I know this, because my only close relationships are with my family. If I had to name a single friend, I don't think I could do it. But I'm not anti-social or a hermit. I'm an easy going person, but it's so hard for me to engage with anyone. I don't know what it is. So much of the time I walk around and feel angry, depressed, lonely. Other times I'm ok. Reading helps. I still have family and am very close with them. But that's about it. In one of the recent posts, you mentioned mentoring other writers. I am a writer and am interested. I write poetry, but I also have a strong interest in screenwriting. I'm finishing Twin Study and will be reading My Date with Satan this weekend. I look forward to hearing from you and hope you have had a wonderful July so far. Best, Michael

Stacey answers:

Hi Michael. I'm glad to hear that my observations made sense! You do need a mentor but I'm not the right one for you. There are a lot of writers out there who can help you, but we've already embarked on a rarer impersonal-personal exchange that relies on a certain kind of anonymity. It's not only for you but for me--I can tell you things here that I could never tell you in real life. Like: you HAVE TO find a way to get some people in your life, to get some sort of peer-familiarity thing going where people accept you as you are (whether they like you or not, and vice versa). It's a matter of life and death. We're social animals and need social contact. Even hermits need people (the tradition in India was to be a hermit in old age, after working and raising a family). You're in danger of getting more depressed, and suicide is a leading cause of death in young men. You need to learn to ask for connection, help, and coaching now. I mean, you are by asking me, but you need to find some real people too.

I'm going to say something I promised myself I would never say here and tell you to go to a psychologist or psychiatrist. You need someone to coach you, to tell you what books to read, and to be on your side. Also, you're depressed and medicine might be something to try. I mean, this has been going on for a long time, right? I'm not saying you need regular psychotherapy--you just need someone who's on your side, who you can say anything to, who isn't in your family. (Maybe they would say something like: it's possible that those boys at the gay bar were clustered together because they felt shy & awkward too, not because they wanted to exclude you). People do this for a living! You should take advantage of it.

The other reason I'm recommending you find a psychology-type-person is that your mention of Salt Lake City alarmed me. If that's you nearest gay bar, then there's a good chance you're living in a place like Provo or Logan, some of the most homogeneous, conservative towns in the U.S. No wonder you can't find people you connect with! I was going to recommend that you find an LGBTQA group or a men's discussion group, but I'm not sure they even have those in Provo. I actually really like the idea of a men's therapy group for you--you could ask those guys what's up with your vibe & how you keep people away. After a few weeks, they'd totally know. And there would be a kind of intimacy without having to make friends right away that might work for you.

I think it must be really hard. I went through a long period of no friends in high school and it was miserable. The best advice I can give is that you have to listen. It helps if you like the other person, but even if you don't, you have to listen to them talk. I sense that you exist inside your own head a lot. People will not want to socialize with you if you drone on about your moods, dislikes, and inner turmoil. You can mention it, but then you have to stop and listen to the other person tell you about their own inner life. Most of the time it's boring! But you were boring too!

And get out of Provo! The LDS is about being an insider and like it or not you're an outsider. I'm sure your family will love you no matter what, but I can't help wondering how much of the coolness you feel is related to the fact that you either aren't Mormon, don't have a Temple Recommend, or have one but have to fake it because you don't believe. You know, a lot of people take that very seriously. The church gives meaning to their life. If you've abandoned the priesthood or whatever, it threatens them. I mean, dude. There are places in the world that are not 95% Mormon.

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