Thursday, January 07, 2010

Entry #23

Synecdoche with References to a Previous Life in Iowa City
by KJ Hannah Greenberg


Those relatively free nights, we’d hitch rides with Charlie and drive to nowhere. At nature’s edge, we’d openly admired the green and gold horizons and spout prose about cow pastures or shooting stars.

Other times, we’d patronize the town’s spaghetti hall (amateurs performed country on Mondays). We northerners alternated between reminiscing about department stores, movie houses and general urban amenities and admiring, aloud, the local, dust-covered homesteads of our grape-stomping professors. Above the sound of banjo and guitar, Charlie, my officemate, Sandy from the writer’s workshop, and Dani, the published poet, would shoot whiskey sours and would dive under the table for the crumbs from our communal garlic bread.

None of us finished our degrees. Dani’s assistantship dried up before he earned enough credits. Sandy dropped out when her mom died. I got married. Charlie got drafted.

Back East, we forgot Kenneth Burke, enthymematic reasoning, small time literary magazines and the integrity sometimes concomitant to creative nonfiction. Of my Iowa coterie, one became an executive assistant, another proofread copy for a New York-based conglomerate, and a third joined a commune.

As for myself, I took to selling blood, to wiping bottoms in a daycare center, and to photographing birds for the local chapter of the Audubon Society. After a handful of babies and almost as many menfolk, I reinvented myself as a technical writer with a specialty in editing texts about disorders of the alimentary system. When a few research hospitals became clients, I was able to pay the rent.


(KJ Hannah Greenberg is usually too busy parenting her teenage sons and daughters to contemplate her navel. If she had five extra minutes, she would bake quinoa pie and feed it to her imaginary hedgehogs. Meanwhile, she steals time by sleeping a little less and laughing a little more. On rare, alternate Tuesdays, Hannah and the hedgies fly the galaxy in search of gelatinous monsters and assistant bank managers. Sometimes, they even catch a few.)

22 comments:

Lena said...

I love the narration here. It flows and flows and you just do not want it to end.

Aniket said...

It sounded so visceral that I was much relieved to read your bio.

Which if not more was as good a read as the piece itself. :)

Jared Culpepper said...

if you aren't won over by the title--let's face it, you are--the familiarity of this piece brings out the growing-pain nostalgia in full force.

Bernita said...

Memory feathers the balance.

Craig said...

Interesting matter-of-fact tone.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Ah the dreams of youth and the reality of adulthood. Nicely done.

pjd said...

There's something charming about paying rent being the very last words, even after the babies and the comings and goings and reinventions. I'm not really seeing the connection to the photo...

Kartik said...

"photographing birds for the local chapter of the Audubon Society" .. Is that the connection to the pic?
Love the careful attention to detail .. "dive under the table for the crumbs from our communal garlic bread"

JaneyV said...

Back East, we forgot Kenneth Burke, enthymematic reasoning, small time literary magazines and the integrity sometimes concomitant to creative nonfiction.

Oh my! I couldn't even contemplate a sentence like that! Nice.

Four Dinners said...

Wow! That is a title and a half babe!

I don't think I've ever read an intentional biography here before...

...and if it isn't a real biog then you're verging on genius.

I absolutely adored reading this.

Personal top 5. So there.

Terri said...

From nostalgia to harsh reality, eh? I think I prefer the former.
But then, it doesn't pay the rent.

laughingwolf said...

oooooooooo a keeper!

Tara said...

Such a great narrative voice, and a nice earthy tone to the piece.

Amias said...

A tamed imagination should be a crime .. nice read.

Aimee Laine said...

Such melancholy in the simplest of words.

kashers said...

Good voice in a quality Woebegone tale. Good job the title isn't included in the word count, eh?

Laurel said...

Wistful and real. An artful portrait.

catvibe said...

Nostalgic. I enjoyed it. I can totally relate to your bio there. Nice job on the piece.

James R. Tomlinson said...

Regardless of the main characters background as a photographer, the essence of the story (for me anyway) is that all her acquaintances have taken flight, have went their separate ways. To some readers the photography bit might be a bit much; I think it works. You just might have the most characters in your story of all the entries. Good job.

Harish said...

The moment I started on with the piece, your character turned into a voice-over. A beautiful introduction to an unraveling movie here...

Loved it. :)

Deb Smythe said...

Love the progression from youthful innocence to adult practicality. And all told in a memorable style.

Aerin said...

Dear Entrants #1-105,

I have read your pieces so that I can fairly participate in the Readers' Choice vote. (I read all of them through last week, before I started commenting.) I will be coming back around to offer my keep/tweak comment, but I didn't want anyone to snark.

Cheers,
Aerin (#236)

BTW, it's perfectly fine if you still want to snark, but this way you can choose a more appropriate subject, like the merits of Mafia Wars or whether Katie Holmes should demand a divorce