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Author: Bud Smith

Going to Work with Leesa Cross-Smith

Leesa Cross-Smith writes really dope stuff that makes me nostalgic about my hometown, and about every hometown in America. Her stuff always makes me remember being fifteen or twenty or about being a day younger than I am, makes me remember first dates with people I’m not even sure are on earth anymore. She just had these really great poems that were published in Hobart. The poems are about the moon(s) and I would say they are pretty good representations of her work in general. Just this giant longing, and this giant celebration. I started this interview a long time ago....

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Yesterday Was Boring, Who Knows About Today

        Yesterday Was Boring, Who Knows About Today  I work in an oil refinery, where I’m either doing work or just writing junk on my cellphone. I don’t have very much time; except the unpredictable times when I have all the time in the world. I try and balance creativity with my day job working heavy construction, I’m not sure if it’s working. Let’s make the best of it.    Safety Hero Parking Spot   They gave me one of the temporary parking spots up by the front gate for working safe and not getting injured. It was...

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Crystal Ball Emoji

I’m sitting here and I don’t know the right way to make art or how to cook a steak. But get this, my friend, Thaddeus from Oakland, California says that you can tell by feel when a steak is done being cooked. “How can you feel that a steak is done?” I’m imagining he has X-Men powers and that his mutant power is Steak Intuition. We are eating dinner at an Italian restaurant in a strip mall in NJ.  He says, “I’ve cooked thousands of steaks in restaurant kitchens, and you just get used to it. You just start to know.”...

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Summer is over, but yesterday I went swimming in a pool at an old age retirement community where I overheard a white-mustached old man in a cowboy hat yelling from the hot tub, “Obama is like Stalin! His entire presidency will be like Stalin’s! They will have to erase it all from history! You’ll never hear a single Russian talk about Stalin!” I’m not sure who he was yelling at. It was just me and my wife in the swimming pool, and we hadn’t been talking to him up till this point, or after that point, too. We were in NJ...

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    1 / There’s a nuclear power plant right down the road from where I grew up. For most of my youth I lived in a campground in NJ, and every time we wanted to get a pizza (or a calzone), my father would make a right hand turn out of the entrance of the campground and we would drive through the pine trees, until we crossed a little bridge where people would be standing there, fishing. The bridge went over a stretch of water that was drawn on and used to cool the reactor inside the nuclear...

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A Talk With Troy James Weaver

            Troy James Weaver writes books that remind me of the feeling of getting bailed out, saved, given a sudden second chance when there shouldn’t be another one; when I leave the headlights on in my car and the battery goes dead and then just when I think I’m gonna be stranded in the nameless strips mall, some stranger comes rolling through the parking lot and stops, and has jumper cables and makes my car shake back to life so I can go and do anything on the rotating earth. Troy writes electric stories. Literary fiction for people working down and out jobs, or people who want to know what working is. He’s had a few books out now, one from Future Tense (Witchita Stories) and another out from Broken River (Visions), most recently he had a novel come out called Marigold from King Shot Press. All those books are gold.  Troy had led a pretty interesting punk rock life in the Midwest away from the standard MFA route and has worked as a janitor and a floral arranger and stuff like that. I sent Troy some questions to talk more about his writing and his dayjob(s), what happened out of that is below- Bud Smith      Where did you grow up? I grew up and still live in Wichita, Kansas, which is quite a bit bigger than...

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Come Visit Often

              1   We’re driving in our car away from where we live and work, because it’s summertime and fuck all that. It’s Friday afternoon, I have half a tank of gas and my wife is in the passenger seat looking through Spotify playlists on my phone trying to find one that is actually saved to the phone. One time we swam all night long in this swimming pool in the desert and there wasn’t wifi and we streamed Hall & Oates over a roaming network and it accidentally cost $416 to listen to Hall...

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No More Hawaiian Punch Notebooks

I remember driving very fast down Double Trouble Road in Berkley Township, NJ. I’d had my license for a year and hadn’t even wrecked yet. There had been a forest fire a few years before and all the pines were charred. But there was new sprigs of green coming up out of the last of the dirty snow and I didn’t have a job.   I was in love but my ex-girlfriend was off at college and we’d broken up because I wasn’t going to college with her or college anywhere else. There’d really been that line drawn in the sand....

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On The Beach

  After the freak show, where we’d seen the boy werewolf and the sword swallower and even the light bulb chewer, my wife and I wobbled drunk down the street until we were sitting criss-cross-applesauce on the hot sand. This was Coney Island and the industrial warships just scraping the horizon and the people laying out in the summer sun, some in jeans some in swimsuits, all of them shirtless, getting red. My wife said, “I want to quit my job and never go back.” “Do it. Quit. Fuck them. What else would you want to do?” “I’d work...

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Spray Tan and Kingdom Hearts: A Talk With Elle Nash

I don’t know why I like reading about people’s jobs so much. It’s not like I go to parties and stand there blocking the way to get to the beer cooler or the wine, saying to everyone, “Oh, and what do you do?” In person, I’d rather talk to people about what they like. Maybe you don’t get to choose what you do for money most of the time, so it seems. But you do get to choose what you love, so in a face to face conversation I’d bug you about bands you like or places you want to go visit. But for some reason I can’t read enough about the crappy jobs artists have worked. Back in January, Elle Nash had a killer essay on Hobart called On Beauty: The Year I Sprayed Fake Tan On Rich Women For Money , that essay made me want talk some more with Elle about some of the different jobs she has worked over the years … and here’s that talk.  Elle, what kinds of jobs did you work as a kid? Like as a teenager? My parents always made me do the worst chores they didn’t want to do. Like cleaning up all the dog poop in the backyard. Also, my dad would make me alphabetize his entire DVD collection, which is what, at the age of 17, I told the hiring manager at...

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Troll Dolls and Scarecrows 

Troll Dolls and Scarecrows Feel like every job a person could ever get has a downside. Has a hold-your-breath-and-deal-with-it part. Either the money or the task. Mostly the task because the money will just eat your brain if you think about it too much. We’d all like a golden car that drives itself, and us, not to work, but to the beach, our bare feet up on the golden dash. Instead we take the bus and hope for elbow room and a book to keep us alive. When I was seventeen and finally had a car, I liked working...

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1. I got eaten by life and just recently was spit back out. I’m glad that happened. Hi, It’s 5am and I have an hour before I have to get in the car and head to the oil refinery. On April Fool’s Day my wife and I loaded everything we own in a moving truck and left New York City. Many things are not unpacked here, but you better believe the first thing we unpacked was the coffee pot. Hi, I take my coffee any which way, I don’t care at all. We bought an apartment in NJ. An...

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Running and Walking 

1. When my parent’s separated, I started running. Long distance along the winding dirt trails that veined through the pine barrens of New Jersey. This was in seventh grade and I think I just did it so I could be as far away from the house as possible, for as long a window.  I never grew to love running. But the small torture of going five miles on foot through the woods with a pack of other students, and not having to talk to them was something that basketball couldn’t give me. Football or baseball couldn’t. I liked listening...

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Glossary of Terms

Stinger: a clamp you put a welding rod in and hold in your hand.  Fire Watch: Person who stands there while you are welding to make sure that you don’t catch on fire or start a fire beyond yourself. Fire watches are paid to do nothing. Their only task is to stand there and do nothing and put out a fire when one is created. Or in the event that the fire is large, they are to immediately contact the fire department. The fire watch generally has a charged fire hose and/or a fire extinguisher, depending on the  potential...

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Turtle On a Rock

You don’t need anybody’s permission to write. You don’t have to be smarter than anybody else on the school bus. You don’t even have to be on the school bus.

You don’t need anybody’s permission to draw pictures or paint paintings. Technical proficiency is not what we are after anyway. If I wanted to see lifelike, I’d look at a photograph. Don’t feel bad if you are the kind of human with the shaky hands.

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Night Shift

When I walked into the trailer for coffee break, my boss was sitting in my chair. “Bad news. Emergency job. They want us to leave now, come back at 7 tonight. Stay till it’s done.” “Ah shit.” “Yeah, I know.” He rubbed his head in frustration. “The bullshit we endure.” I sat down in a chair at the other table, popped one oil soaked work boot off, put on a clean New Balance sneaker in its place. Then my boss said those famous words, “It is what it is.”  Ten minutes later I was in street clothes and walking...

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Talking with Scott McClanahan

A few years ago, I got a few Scott McClanahan books in the mail. They came on a Thursday night and I took them to work with me the next day. I remember reading some of Hill William on my lunch break at the oil refinery, in the welding shop, where it was cool and quiet, even though it was the dead of summer in NJ.  When my lunch break was over and my boss walked in, I was annoyed to have to go back to work. I took the book with me in my back pocket and off we went...

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Discount Office Furniture

   It wouldn’t stop snowing and I worked outside doing brick work. Ice storms ruined my plans.  My boss changed his flight and left early for Jamaica. He’d be there all winter living on a resort, fixing the place up. Repairing some block walls damaged by a hurricane. I couldn’t come with him because I was taking classes at the community college which I’d wind up dropping anyway, but at the time, I was enrolled and going sometimes when nothing good was on TV … I mean, I wasn’t invited to Jamaica, either. I didn’t mean to say it...

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Lunch Truck 

   When it’s going good, I write on my coffee breaks and lunch breaks at the oil refinery.  First I eat, them I write. Or I eat while I write, so I get ketchup or vinegar or coffee all over my phone. Break time at the oil refinery more often than not, involves a walk across the parking lot, to the edge of the barbed wire fence, to get in the line with everybody else to buy a crappy sandwich, slice of pizza, or other assorted mystery stew from the back of the steaming, gleaming—shining in the sun even...

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Good hair, crooked gait

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