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Apr 23, 2009; Kristen Asks:

Stacey, Thank you for being wonderful. In my opinion, not that it should necessarily matter to you, you don't write dirty realism. There's really nothing dirty about it, honestly. To me, it's just writing without all the candied fluff. I'm writing a final paper on some of your stories and having quite a hard time choosing which ones to use. I would really appreciate it if you could tell me what you think is a consistent tone and/or theme throughout your stories. In my opinion, all your characters are or become hardened in some way. Some as more of a defense mechanism, some as a means of survival. Would you at all agree with this? A penny for your thoughts. (I don't have much more than that to offer, i am in college after all).

Stacey answers:

Hi Kristen. Your thesis sounds fine to me. Really, whatever you see is there if you see it; it's not a question of whether I somehow put it in or not. Interpretation is its own creative act, an act of seeing, and you should trust yourself on this. In fact, learning to trust yourself on this is part of what school is for. There is no right answer! And thanks so much for slathering me with praise. You're obviously very intelligent and articulate and I'm sure you'll do a great job on your paper.

Apr 23, 2009; Wag Asks:

Are we there yet?

Stacey answers:

Three more hours.

Apr 21, 2009; Fuck Prudence Asks:

I'm dating a guy who sounds just like "about men"'s post! My mom would describe him like this: he's a college-dropout chain-smoking delivery boy who is probably borderline schizophrenic and totally irresponsible in every aspect of his life. I would describe him like: he's the most fun I have ever had, and he makes me feel alive and vital and like an artist, and I like his crazy brain, and he's in a badass band! Obviously I know that dating him is not prudent. But...fuck living life prudently right? I mean, RIGHT? In your twenties? What's the point of not having any fun and denying yourself what you want just to...what? Live life "well?" Get some kind of, "hey you didn't fuck up and date any losers" award? "Great Job Living the Clean Life and Always Making Your Bed In The Mornings" award? Who's gonna give it to me? Mom? God? Why do we even think of dating people in terms of what's prudent? I did that for a long time and it still ended in bitter heartache. What do I want some organized yuppie for? Should I? Am I missing something? Why do I still care SO MUCH what my mom would think?

Stacey answers:

I think it might help if you had a name for this category of boyfriend to ease the way with your mom, your inner mom, and your friends. I'd like to suggest: Fun For Now. So when someone says, "Hey, Prudence, what's up with the chain smoking borderline schizo guy?" you can just shrug and say, "You know, he's fun for now." So then you'll know, and other people will also know, that when it's no longer fun it will probably also no longer be now.

Apr 20, 2009; About men. Asks:

Okay. Good point.

Apr 19, 2009; This is about men. Asks:

So. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I just realized that the guy I oh-so-maturely decided not to remain hung up on because he was totally immature and lived above a bar, and was my age but still in college and had even kind of dropped out of college due to the fact that he couldn't pay for it, and who, whilst dating me, disappeared for MONTHS and then acted like nothing happened (saying - hey, we should get together - when I ran into him) who then even more months after that, emailed me and apologized for his crazy behavior and then showed up at the apology lunch stoned and changing the subject when we actually got the apology part - he is dating someone. Facebook told me so. And the girl is, like, cool and interesting and mature seeming and possibly smarter than me. I had him all chalked up as sweet and kind of entertaining but possibly mentally ill and at least a total disaster and now he's dating someone who seems normal and even impressive? Did I play it *too* smart? What the hell? Is he, like, medicatd now and doing better? Should I just get cats? I was trying to be all mature and looking-out-for-my-own best interest and all the other self help bullshit, and maybe he really was sorry at the apology lunch, and the stoned, semi-incomprehensible thing was forgiveable because he was nervous? Do I just suck? Do I sound crazy yet? Because I can keep typing.

Stacey answers:

Come on! Snap out of it! Unfriend him! So he has a girlfriend. Do you think that means he's all better now? Who knows what she's like? My guess is she's going to have the same experience you had, more or less (better her than you), and she could easily be a meth addict, but also, who cares? It's not a contest about who’s the smartest/prettiest/most interesting with the winner getting the possibly mentally ill guy. He was mean and weird to you, so you broke it off with him—how could that be the wrong thing to do? There is not some perfect boyfriend lurking inside him, waiting to be released by the right girl or the right circumstances. I think you’re making up this guy's personality in your head in that romantic way people sometimes do, expanding the good and contracting the bad (because he acted like a dickweed and you still seem hung up on him), and I know you’re making up the girlfriend’s personality. Stop it! Really, just stop it. Find someone better, who likes you more, and don’t imagine that other people have some perfect beautiful thing going on when you look at their facebook profiles, because they don’t. In fact, don’t even look at the profiles.

Apr 14, 2009; Wistar Asks:

Remember me? I'm looking for your next book and can't find it anywhere in the universe. Something must be wrong with this universe. So please, write me something.

Stacey answers:

Hi Wistar! I missed you. I will get on it.

Apr 12, 2009; tippedover Asks:

Well I am currently taking a class titled Political Satire, where we study political satires i.e. "The Cavemen in the Hedges" and I am going with the approach of looking at the story with an out-ward view in order to find my thesis (for my research paper). I have come to the conclusion that a small part of the story could be the subtle implication that modern news sucks, for example the narrator says, "Just when you think the news can’t get any more absurd" and " I get into my hatchback and listen to bad news on the radio." I know it could be a stretch, but I feel that this could be a subliminal message to the reader that hints at how modern news is bad and absurd. i.e. the social discourse that has become cable news. That is kind of my thesis, however I was wondering if when you wrote “The Cavemen in the Hedges" you felt that the bad news filling Americas air waves was clouding the minds of America, or if this was just some thing that was not on your mind and has no relevance to your story (although two times you point at bad news), so I guess what I am asking is: “Why did you hint at absurd and bad news in your writing and was this at all part of the motive?”

Stacey answers:

I think I understand what your teacher is doing. She's trying to get you to think analytically, which is fine, but the problem with this kind of analysis is that it ignores all the good parts of the story--any story. And I'm not sure why your teacher would pick "The Cavemen in the Hedges" for a class titled Political Satire. Wouldn't political satire have something to do with government or power structures or something that is not contained in this particular piece of fiction? If it had to be a kind of satire, wouldn't it be social satire? I can see why you're having trouble with this, tippedover. I'm sorry I'm not helping.

Apr 11, 2009; tippedover Asks:

I have just begin to write a research paper on "Cavemen in the Hedges" and was looking at the story with an outward approach, with regards to my thesis. I was thinking that a subliminal message hidden in your story could be about how the media influences the way we think with your different references about how modern news sucks: "I get into my hatchback and listen to bad news on the radio..." I was wondering if this was a point that you were trying to make in your story? Or how do you feel about this assumption?

Stacey answers:

Yeah, but I'm not sure what you mean when you say "modern news sucks." That news of the modern world is sucky? Or that modern news-gathering outlets in the media are not doing their job well, and therefore suck? I think it's hard to argue with the former. If that's the case, and if the choice is between yes and no, then the answer is yes.

I am very interested in this idea that there are subliminal messages hidden in the story. Let me know what you find.

Apr 07, 2009; victor et amorata al dente quod vide ipso pecunias res Asks:

Your Question: filling out the paperwork?! Really....?

Stacey answers:

Yes. Filling out the paperwork correctly, making phone calls in a normal voice, paying bills more or less on time, flossing, all hallmarks of adulthood. I hate it, I didn't have to do it when I was 16, I have to do it now or else be committed and be assigned a guardian like Britney.

Apr 04, 2009; yoyome_123 Asks:

Hi, I first read your story, "The Cavemen in the Hedges" when I was about 13. I loved it, and took a few lessons from it as well, but I never really noticed what I learned until I had to do a more in depth analysis of the story for a class. Now I'm an adult (legally at least) and I'm sort of at a crossroads. How do I be a grown up with responsibilities without losing touch with what makes me me? Well I'm still doing some research on your story, and I was hoping you could help. What are some good resources for info on the stories, the historical context, and your life experiences that relate? --If you know of any...

And I was just wondering if you could tell me what your stance was on growing up? Is it really so bad to enjoy plastic pink princess fashions (I think I probably always will --I wear a purple diamond tiara whenever I'm feeling down), or sing random word fragments to the tune of our favorite pop song?-- anytime I forget the lyrics I just mouth "elephant turkey" to the song and it makes me feel like I know it--or at least look like it to whoever might be watching... Why can't you be a home owner and a punk rocker throwing bricks and screaming "Anarchy now!"? Or are those just too different? Is there some kind of balance? How do you find it? I saw in your response to a previous question on this story that the cavemen actually represent cavemen, but what does "The Look" symbolize? Who cares about "evolutionary superior traits"? And most of all, what's wrong with Fred Astaire and James Bond? I think they're both pretty sexy, at least in a sleazy, impersonal kind of way. I know you don't think that there are any answers in literature, but these are LIFE questions, and I need some advice. Please help! OH, and why doesn't your narrator tell us his name? Is because it's embarrassing, like Eustace or Floyd? I can't think of any horrifying names right now...

Stacey answers:

Hi yoyome. First I'll answer your questions about the story, then I'll attempt the life questions. Since the story is contemporary, I'd say the historical context is now, so you don't need to do any research there. The only life experience I can think of that relates to the story is that I, like the characters in the story, have a basement. I guess I was sort of a punk rocker too back in the day but in a wimpy, suburban way--not like running away and cutting my hair with nail scissors so I looked a mental patient or anything like that. Actually, once I did that to my hair, but anyway. The narrator doesn't have a name only because he never gets around to saying it. Sometimes first-person narrators don't have to declare their own names due to the fact that most of us think of ourselves as pronouns rather than names. (And at times I find the introduction of a first-person narrator's name a false moment.) The Look represents unspoken contempt, resentment, longing, shit like that. I don't know who cares about "evolutionary superior traits." I hope no one does. It just seems like if there were suddenly cavemen around the subject of evolution might arise. There's nothing wrong with James Bond and Fred Astaire! The opinions of the characters are not my own.

As for growing up, it has some highs and lows but I don't think there's anything wrong with enjoying your tiara. I like your turkey elephant technique and predict it will serve you well for years to come. I'm almost sure that no matter what happens you will always be you. In fact, even if you don't want to be you will always be you and there's nothing you can do about it, just like you will get older and more mature, and so on, even though when you're very young getting older might seem to be optional, or at least under your control. It's not. You could think of it as gaining things rather than losing them (though it's a little of both). Being mature is not about being serious rather than playful, or practical rather than frivolous, or boring rather than interesting. For me, it's been more about slowly starting to understand things, trying not to be an asshole, and filling out the paperwork correctly. And now that I'm thinking of it, I liked that nail scissor haircut and just might do it again.

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