Greg Jackson Reads Where You'll Find Me by Ann Beattie
We're going to hear where you'll find me by an beady which was published in the New Yorker in March of nineteen eighty six. What's wrong with me? Howard says it's almost the first time he's looked at me since I arrived. I've been trying not to register my boredom and my frustration with cates paddle. Maybe we should get a tree. I say I don't think it's Christmas. That's making me feel this way. Howard says the story was chosen. Greg Jackson whose debut Story Collection Prodigal was published in two thousand sixteen. Hi Greg Hi Deborah. So you once a student of. Nbd's right. I was wearing. When was that? I was her student at the University of Virginia in twenty eleven. Two thousand. Twelve I had a workshop with her and she was then my thesis adviser and I chose her as my thesis adviser because she never liked any of my work and I thought what better person to learn from I I knew in some sense that She was right in that. My work wasn't very good but I didn't really know why I thought if I just hung out with her for a really long time. I'd figure out what she knew that I didn't did that. Work you know it's funny. It didn't really work and I think this is like the side of teaching writing. That's impossible but she did. Tell me a number of things that were so true that when I was able to understand what she was saying I realized if I'd gotten it at the time it would have helped a lot but it's one of those things where you have to actually experience. The truth fit in practice. She was dead on. But it's just it's hard to like here maxim and be like. Oh yeah that's what I should be doing my writing. Yeah and at that time. Had you read a lot of her work? I'd rather fair number. Her stories partly coming into Virginia. I knew that she was one of the people I was really excited about studying with but I can't say that I had a kind of comprehensive career. What was it that appealed to you about the stories that you dread will. They were so different from what I was doing and probably different from in some ways from what I've gone on to You know I think sometimes people apply. This term minimalism and I think she rebels against that term and I understand why. I don't think she's minimalist but I did. Think of myself at the time as maximalist trying to kind of fit as much of all the nuance at any given moment into When I was writing and I felt like with her there was some ability to just say less than I ever would have been comfortable saying and somehow in saying last two or something that so kind of rich and mysterious in just itself kind of discipline that I didn't have him still don't really have. Yeah and when you chose this story where you'll find me which I think you said you now teach. Was that a story. You knew back then. Is it a story that you came to later? It's one of my probably two or three very favorites of hers. I've loved teaching this story because it seems on the surface very straightforward But it actually has such depth and reservoirs of symbol and metaphor in sort of deep structures. That it's very fun and interesting to work with students to see how something can kind of work just completely on the surface level and kind of have these steps that you drop into. Well maybe we should drop into them now and then we can talk a little more. So now here's Greg Jackson reading where you'll find me by NBD where you'll find me friends. Keep calling my broken arm. A broken wing. It's the left arm now folded against my chest and kept in place of the blue scarfs. Sling that is knotted behind my neck in ways too much ever to have been winglike. The accident happened when I ran for a bus. I tried to stop it from pulling away by shaking my shopping bags like Maracas in the air. And that's when I slipped on the ice and went down so I took the train from New York City to Sarah Toga yesterday. Instead of driving I had the perfect excuse not to go to Saratoga to visit my brother at all but once I had geared up for it I decided to go through with the trip and avoid guilt. It isn't Howard. I mind but his wife's two children a girl of eleven and a boy of three beck either pays no attention to her brother Todd or else. She tortures him last winter. She used to taunt him by stalking around the House on his heels clumping close behind him wherever he went which made him run and scream at the same time. Kate did not intervene until both children became hysterical and we could no longer shout over their voices. I think I like it. That their physical. She said maybe if they enact some of their hostility like this they won't grow up with a habit of getting what they want by playing mind games with other people. It seems to me that they will not ever grow up but will burn out like meteors Howard has finally found what he wants the opposite of domestic tranquillity. For six years he lived in Oregon with Pale Passive Woman. On the rebound. He married even Paler. Pre Med student named Francine that marriage lasted less than a year and then on a blind date in Los Angeles. He met Kate whose husband was away on a business trip to Denmark. Just then in no time. Kate and her daughter an infant son moved in with him to the studio apartment in. Laguna beach. He was sharing with screenwriter. The two men had been working on a script about Medgar Evers but when Kate and the children moved in they switched to writing a screenplay about what happens when a man meets a married woman with two children on a blind date and the three of them move in with him and his friend. Then Howard's collaborator got engaged in moved out in the screenplay was abandoned. Howard accepted a last minute. Invitation to teach writing at an upstate. College New York and within a week. They were all ensconced in a drafty Victorian House in Saratoga. Kate's husband had begun divorce proceedings before she moved in with Howard but eventually he agreed not to sue for custody of Becky and Todd in exchange for child support payments that were less than half of what his lawyer thought he would have to pay now. He sends the children enormous stuffed animals that they have little or no interest in with notes that say put this mom zoo a stuffed toy every month or so giraffes a life sized German shepherd and overstuffed standing bear in every time the same note the bear stands in one corner of the kitchen and people have gotten in the habit of pinning notes to it reminders. To buy milk or get the oil changed in the car. Wraparound sunglasses have been added. Scarves and jackets sometimes draped on its arms. Sometimes the stuffed German shepherd is brought over propped up with its paws placed on the bears haunt imploring. It right now in the kitchen with the bear. I've just turned up the thermostat. The first one up in the morning is supposed to do that. And I'm dunking a teabag in a Mug of hot water for some reason it's impossible for me to make tea with loose tea and the t-ball unless I have help. The only t bag I could find was emperor's choice. I sit in one of the kitchen chairs to drink the tea. The chair seems to stick to me. Even though I have on Mo- long johns and along Flannel nightgown. The chairs are plastic. Very nineteen fifties patterned with shapes that. Look sometimes geometric sometimes almost human little things like malformed hands reach out toward triangles and squares. I asked Howard and Kate got the kitchen set at an auction for thirty dollars. They thought it was funny. The House itself is not funny. It has four fireplaces wide board floors and high dusty ceilings. They bought it with his share of an inheritance that came to us. When our grandfather died cates contribution to restoring the house has been transforming. The baseboards into faux marble. How effective this is has to do with how stone she is when she starts. Sometimes the baseboards looked like clotted versions of the Kitchen. Chair pattern instead of marble cake considers what she calls parenting to be a full-time job. When I moved to Saratoga she used to give piano lessons now. She ignores the children and paints the baseboards in. Who Am I to stand in judgment? I'm a thirty eight year old woman. Out of a job on tenuous enough footing with her sometime lover that she can imagine crashing emotionally as easily as she did on the ice. It may be true as my lover. Frank says that having money is not good for the soul money that is given you that is he is a lawyer who also has money but it is. Money earned parlayed into more money by investing in real estate and urban farm as part of this real estate boxes of herbs keep turning up at Frank's office herbs and foil herbs and plastic bags dried herbs wrapped in cones of newspaper. He crumbles them for Omelettes ROASTS VEGETABLES HIS OPPOSED TO SALT. He insists herbs are more healthful. And who am I to claim to love a man when I am skeptical even about his use of herbs? I'm embarrassed to be an employed. I'm insecure enough to stay with someone because of the look that sometimes comes into his eyes when he makes love to me. I'm a person who secretly shakes on. Salt in the kitchen then comes out with her plate. Smiling as Basil is crumbled over the tomatoes sometimes in our bed his finger smell of Rosemary. Tarragon strong smells sour. Smells whatever Shakespeare says or whatever is written in culpeper complete herbal. I cannot imagine that herbs have anything to do with love but many brides to be come to the herb farm and by branches of herbs to stick in their bouquets they their wrists with herbal extracts to smell mysterious. They believed that herbs. Bring Them Luck. These days they want tubs of Rosemary in their houses. Not fakest trees. I got in right on the cusp of the new world. Frank says he isn't kidding for the Christmas party tonight. They're cherry tomatoes halved and stuffed with peaks of cheese mushrooms stuffed with pureed tomatoes tomatoes stuff with chop mushrooms and mushroom stuffed with cheese caters laughing in the kitchen. No one's going to notice she mutters. No one's going to say anything. Why don't we put out some nuts? Howard says nuts are so conventional. This is funny. Kate says squirting more soft cheese out of a pastry tube year. We had mistletoe mulled CIDER. Last year we lost their sense of humor. What happened that? We got all hyped up. We even ran out on Christmas Eve to cut a tree. The kids Howard says that's right. She says the kids were crying. They were feeling competitive with the other kids or something. Becky was crying. Todd was too young to cry about that Howard says why are we talking about tears? Kate says we can talk about tears when it's not the season to be jolly everybody's going to come in tonight and loved the res on the picture hooks and the food is so festive. We invited a new Indian guy from the philosophy department. Howard says American Indian Not Indian from India if we want we can watch the tapes of jewel in the crown. Kate says I'm feeling really depressed. Howard says backing up to the counter and sliding down until he rests on his elbows his tennis shoes or wet. He never takes off his wet shoes and he never gets colds.