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A mistakenly noisy idling car, lunch w/Susan, stolen cookies, & thoroughly enjoyable storytelling...

~Thursday~  Because there was ice on my windshield this morning, I did something I can't ever remember doing—I started my car to run while I poured my coffee into my thermos and gathered my things up to leave.

As I returned to my living room, which faces the parking area, I could hear my car running, and I thought, "Oh my god. Here I am bitching about that loud idling SUV across the parking lot, and my car is just as loud."

I grabbed my stuff and ran out, totally relieved to find out that the people across the street with said SUV had sometime slipped out and started their vehicle, and that's what I was hearing inside. Whew!

I drove over to the Food Lion to pick up something for our department meeting, and decided on Snackwell cookies, as all three of us are dieting. I bought the twelve-pack, and I hopped on the Wolfline bus just as it was pulling out. Good timing.



I had lunch today with my ex-professor and now friend, Susan, at Sadlack's Heroes. I had their veggie wrap, which was delicious.

It was good to catch up, and Susan showed me her new car on the way out—her new (2009) car that her significant other found for her for $8,000.



We had our weekly 1.5-hour working department meeting, starting at 2:00, but actually ended before 3:30. I passed out one package of four cookies to each person. I ate two of my four and twisted the package up to save for later when I had the rest of my coffee from this morning.

At the end of the meeting, my officemate Rhonda said, "I have a confession to make."

"What's that?" I asked.

"I ate your cookies." I looked down and sure enough the two cookies I had saved were gone. Too funny.



I left my office just before 4:00 intending to catch one of the Wolfline buses over to the Talley Student Center where I had a 4:15 meeting, but once outside decided just to walk over there instead.

I met with Jackie (the student leader) and Tierza (the other staff advisor) and we discussed our upcoming retreat for the Alternative Spring Break group we're working with. One more student has dropped out, so we're down to 13 students and the three of us.

I left there right at 5:00 and caught a Wolfline bus up to the shopping center, jumped in my car and drove over to the Borders bookstore in Cary, where the second book for my class, The Wisdom of Crowds, was being held and for which I had a 33% off coupon.

In and out nabbing that, I proceeded to Durham, where I picked up Robert at about 6:15 and we drove over to Alvia's for The Monti.

The Monti is an organization that brings personal narratives and good old-fashioned storytelling to a live audience. At The Monti we invite members of the Durham/Chapel Hill community to tell their own stories that follow the night’s theme. Stories are about twelve minutes in length and the use of notes is prohibited. The stories are fresh, real, unexpected, and uncensored. Anything goes and audiences will embrace these events with a combination of emotions from laughter to tears.

Tonight's storytelling theme was "Inspiration," and the storytellers were:

Amanda Lamb is a published author and a professional television journalist who covers the crime beat for WRAL TV. She has been a full-time television reporter for nearly two decades.

In June 2008, The Berkley Group published her second book, a true crime called Deadly Dose: The Untold Story of One Homicide Investigator’s Crusade for Truth and Justice about a murder case she covered in Raleigh.

Her first book, Smotherhood: Wickedly Funny Confessions from the Early Years, a humorous collection of essays about parenting was published by Globe Pequot in August 2007.

Amanda received her undergraduate degree from Duke University in North Carolina and her graduate degree in journalism from Northwestern University. She lives in the Triangle with her husband and two daughters.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction calls John Kessel, “one of the writers capable of bending the tools of science fiction upon the human psyche.” In a starred review of his 1997 story collection The Pure Product, Publisher’s Weekly said, "Kessel is our American Brian Aldiss, capable of the most artful and rigorous literary composition, but with a mischievous genius that inclines him toward speculative fiction . . . he writes with subtlety and great wit . . . and his craftmanship is frequently absolutely brilliant. Plus, his sense of comedy is remarkable."

Kessel has taught literature and creative writing at NC State University since the fall of 1982. He holds a B.A. in English and physics from the University of Rochester, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Kansas.

Outside of the university, he is one of the most respected of his generation of writers of the fantastic, notable for his complex characterization, his satirical verve, and his comic insight. A story collection, The Baum Plan for Financial Independence , was published in 2008, and contained “Pride and Prometheus,” which received the 2009 Nebula Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for best novelette. This was Kessel’s second Nebula Award: his novella "Another Orphan" received the Nebula in 1982, and his work has been nominated for the award seven other times. His short story "Buffalo" won the 1991 Theodore Sturgeon Award and the Locus Poll. His novels include Freedom Beach, written in collaboration with James Patrick Kelly, and Good News from Outer Space. His novella “Stories for Men” received the 2002 James Tiptree, Jr. Award for science fiction exploring gender issues. Meeting in Infinity, a story collection, was named a notable book of 1992 by the New York Times Book Review. Kessel’s play Faustfeathers won the 1994 Paul Green Playwrights' Competition, and his story “A Clean Escape” has been dramatized in stage and audio play versions, and appeared, starring Judy Davis and Sam Waterston, as the first episode of 2007 ABC Television series Masters of Science Fiction.

Writer Kim Stanley Robinson has called Kessel's novel, Corrupting Dr. Nice, "the best time travel novel ever written" and Sci-Fi Weekly has called him “quite possibly the best short story writer working in science fiction today.”

His criticism has appeared in The Los Angeles Times Book Review, Science Fiction Age, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and other publications. With Mark L. Van Name and Richard Butner, he has run the Sycamore Hill Writers' Conference, which has been recognized as a crucial shaping force in literary science fiction and slipstream fiction over the last twenty years, and which produced the anthology Intersections. Most recently, with James Patrick Kelly he has co-edited the anthologies Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology, Rewired: The Post Cyberpunk Anthology, and The Secret History of Science Fiction.

Vanessa Woods is an award winning journalist and author. Her new book Bonobo Handshake will be published in June 2010. She has written three children’s books; It’s True! There Are Bugs In Your Bed (2005), It’s True! Space Turns You Into Spaghetti (2006), and It’s True! Pirates Ate Rats (2007). It’s True! Space Turns You Into Spaghetti won the Acclaimed Book award from the Royal Society, UK.

Vanessa is also the author of the travel memoir It’s Every Monkey For Themselves (2007) about her experiences chasing wild capuchin monkeys through the Costa Rican jungle. Her books have been sold in the US, Australia, Korea, Israel and the UK. Vanessa is an internationally published journalist and has written for various publications including the Discovery Channel, BBC Wildlife, New Scientist, and Travel Africa. In 2003, Vanessa won the Australasian Science award for journalism. Vanessa is currently a Research Scientist at Duke University and studies the cognitive development chimpanzees and bonobos at sanctuaries in the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Scott Huler was born in 1959 in Cleveland and raised in that city's eastern suburbs. He graduated from Washington University in 1981; he was made a member of Phi Beta Kappa because of the breadth of his studies, and that breadth has been a signature of his writing work. He has written on everything from the death penalty to bikini waxing, from NASCAR racing to the stealth bomber, for such newspapers as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the International Herald Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times and such magazines as Backpacker, Fortune, and Child.

His award-winning radio work has been heard on "All Things Considered" and "Day to Day" on National Public Radio; "Marketplace" and "Splendid Table" on American Public Media; and on "VOA News Now" on the Voice of America. He has been a staff writer for the Philadelphia Daily News and the Raleigh News & Observer, a staff reporter and producer for Nashville Public Radio, and the founding and managing editor of the Nashville City Paper. He has taught at such colleges as Berry College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and served as guest host on "The State of Things" on WUNC-FM.

No-Man's Lands, his recounting of a journey retracing the path of the Homeric hero Odysseus, has just been released in paperback from Three Rivers Press, and On the Grid, his sixth book, will be published by Rodale Books in May of this year. Defining the Wind, a previous book, is currently receiving what its German-language publisher calls "raving reviews" in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland: "I'm the toast of the Teutonics," Huler likes to boast. His work has also been included in such compilations as Appalachian Adventure and in such anthologies as The Appalachian Trail Reader and Speed: Stories of Survival from Behind the Wheel.
He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with his wife, the writer June Spence, and their two sons.

Rob Dunn is an ecologist at North Carolina State University where he studies global patterns in the diversity of species, extinction, climate changes and, well, ants. In addition Rob writes articles for magazines such as Smithsonian, Natural History, Scientific American, BBC Wildlife, National Geographic and Seed.

His first book Every Living Thing was published by Harper Collins in 2009 and awarded the National Outdoor Book Award. His second book, Clean Living is Bad for You, will be published by Harper Collins in the fall of 2010.

All five of the stories were very entertaining, and in the spirit of the abundance mentality (as opposed to the scarcity mentality, in which I would have awarded one winner), I gave each storyteller their own accolade:

  • Vanessa Wood—Funniest Story

  • Rob Dunn—Most Animated Storyteller

  • John Kessel—Most "Self-genre-tized" Story (and by that I meant he told a story about himself in the Science Fiction genre and he's a Science Fiction writer)

  • Scott Huler—Most Poignant Story

  • Amanda Lamb—Most Retro Story

In thinking about the story that best exemplified the theme of the evening, which again was "Inspiration," I was torn between Scott's and John's stories.

It was a great, great evening spent with Robert in Durham. I just love live performances.
Tags: affirmations (implicit), alternative service break, books, bus, storytelling, work
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