jason erik lundberg
writerly ramblings

the vagina dialogues
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A lot of interesting things happened to me today.

I met with John Kessel to discuss my thesis and instead talked about "Most Excellent and Lamentable," which he said was my best story thus far. He sees much more authority in that story than in my previous ones, a confidence I didn't have before, and has noticed a definite improvement in my writing since I've been in the M.A. program. We talked about other thesis scheduling stuff, since he's going on sabbatical next semester, and though he'll still be in Raleigh he won't be coming to campus at all.

This afternoon, HOWL, the association of NCSU creative writing grad students, hosted Lynne Hinton, a novelist and pastor, to talk about the practical side of the writing life. It was a very interesting talk, though a lot of what she was saying I already knew, and it was interesting listening about her previous brushes with Maya Angelou.

Tonight, after picking Janet up from work and eating dinner at a cool little Japanese place, we trekked to Durham to go hear Sarah Vowell, she of This American Life and The Incredibles fame (she did the voice of Violet). Her reading was hilarious and witty, and I was glad to find out that she'll be back in this area on April 7 to do an evening with David Sedaris.

But by far, the most interesting thing that happened today was while I was trying to study. I'd gone to the sparsely-occupied Caldwell Hall Lounge (adjacent to the English building) to do some preliminary story critiques for next week, while I was waiting for the Lynne Hinton reading to start. I was sitting on one couch, red pen in hand, copyediting away, when a redhead sat down at the couch perpendicular to mine. She started eating a bagel, and then another girl, a brunette, who obviously knew her, walked over and started talking to her. I tried to ignore them and continue with critiques, but they made it wonderfully impossible.

Brunette: Gawd, I think I've gained fifteen pounds in the last two weeks.

Redhead: Jesus. How did that happen?

Brunette: I've been stuffing my fucking face ever since going off the pill.

Redhead: Well, why'd you go and do that?

The brunette went on to describe some medical problems she'd been having, which led to needing to stop birth control for a while. The conversation continued rather innocuously for the next few minutes. Remember, I was only sitting maybe three feet from the both of them, and obviously trying to study. And though their voices were fairly low, hardly anyone else was in the lounge, so I could hear every word they said. My ears perked up at this next part.

Redhead: So this girl in my psych class showed me this book with all these photos of vaginas that had been surgically altered to make them pretty.

Brunette: Shut up! She did not!

Redhead: Yeah, she did. And there were some pretty ones in there, but you know, they all still look kinda weird.

Brunette: Tell me about it. I don't like mine.

Redhead: Maybe you should get it surgically altered.

Brunette: Bitch.

Redhead: I know what you mean, though. Mine doesn't have those flappy wing things. [waves hands in a flapping motion]

Brunette: What, you mean labia?

Redhead: Yeah. Labia. Mine doesn't have labia.

Brunette: Wow, that's fucked up.

What gets me through this whole exchange is that they can see me sitting right there. I'm three feet away, a guy, and obviously trying to study. They also had no idea that I'm a writer and a blogger, and would be writing this down later. I still have no idea if they were just that unabashedly unashamed of their own physicality to talk about it in front of a stranger, or if they were doing it on purpose to hopefully provoke a gasp or a funny look out of me. Though they honestly seemed to be unconcerned that I was even sitting there.

Life is so bizarre and wonderful sometimes.

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