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Q and A

Jan 08, 2014; Darren Asks:

Sometimes screaming is good.

Stacey answers:

Especially when it's a scream of apology and includes taking me out to dinner and plying me with flattery.

Dec 31, 2013; littleshirlybeans Asks:

You lived in Oakland? I lived in Oakland, really close to the MacArthur BART near the freeway where the rats gave my cat fleas!!! I also lived near the Ashby BART in Berkeley. It was a little cleaner and a little safer. I lived next to chickens that enter my dreams at night.

Anyway, do you make New Years Resolutions? Mine is to remember birthdays in a timely manner. Posting on the person's Facebook page doesn't count. I have to remember with a card or package in the mail. I failed to fulfill this resolution this year. I am trying again in leu of making other more abstract, unobtainable resolutions.

Stacey answers:

I lived in a series of apartments near Telegraph and Alcatraz, which was as close to campus as I could get. I don't think it was possible to live near the MacArthur Bart then as a lone white girl--I'm not sure, but I think the flats were a lot more sketchy back then. Ashby was a little better. I had to walk to school though, so it was too far away for me. And the parking lot around the Ashby Bart was always extremely creepy, in my opinion. I'm not sure why--it was just a bad-feeling-place.

Sometimes I make resolutions but often I don't remember them. The best have been concrete, like your birthday resolution, which I predict is going to be excellent. It's not too big, it's possible, it's not hard to remember. I might use it myself next year. This year I'm making a resolution I made up for someone else (I give out resolutions, FYI). It is: whenever I feel like telling someone what to do (because I think they need unsolicited help or are so fucking stupid it is driving me crazy) instead of following this impulse I will say, "It's cool."

Dec 27, 2013; Just Wonderin' Asks:

Do you ever find your own books for sale in used bookstores? Does that bother you or make you feel rejected? Or is it just part of the deal?

Stacey answers:

It's just part of the deal. I buy used books myself, of course--it's the reading-cycle-of-life--and anyway, the more books you sell as an author, the more books end up being resold in used bookstores. So it's a sign of love.

The only time it makes me feel very, very sad and forlorn and bereft is when I find a book for sale that I signed, especially if it's book I gave to a beloved friend I've known for many years who, for instance, took the jacket photo of me on the ACTUAL BOOK FOR SALE. In a case like this, I would be tempted to post the inscribed page here in order to shame him, though that doesn't seem very nice. Probably, he lent the book to someone who later sold it. After all, even if he didn't want to keep it for sentimental reasons, he would probably want to keep it for professional ones. Probably he lost it, and is very, very sad about it himself.

To Darren, Love Stacey photo ToDarren_zps32db1eae.jpg

Dec 10, 2013; your name Mrs. Hicks Asks:

What do you think about the current, widespread misuse of the word "vagina"? It is a vulva, folks! Or pudendum! Or the labia majora, sometimes with a little peep of clit! Unless you are talking about some varieties of intercourse, childbirth, tampons, etc., the thing you are discussing is not a vagina. I know that a language belongs to its speakers. It can and should evolve as they see fit. This situation just seems different to me. By constantly misidentifying our complex, scented wonderlands, doesn't it reinforce the ignorance that has caused a variety of problems for our fellow women? The hole just isn't the whole thing.

Stacey answers:

I'm fine with "vagina" as a general term for what I like to refer to as "the region" (while making a wax-on/wax off motion above the lower abdomen). I take it as synecdoche rather than a misuse of language, and as a synecdoche it's a useful term: it includes the hole but is not restricted to it. What appeals to me is how this reflects a characteristic of the region: it can be indeterminate, nebulous, an experience rather than a collection of parts. If I were to say, "My vagina itches," I'd most likely be talking about the passage AND the vulva, but (and if you have a vagina you know this), I probably wouldn't be sure myself of the exact location of the problem; down there, sensation moves, it creeps, it's internal, external, infernal. Maybe it is the vagina itself; maybe there isn't an exact location.

You know, Mrs Hicks, I have no doubt that almost every woman could get specific if need be--for instance in a medical setting--and also more coy and general, for instance in a social setting (where a person might choose between terms like crotch, lady parts, landing strip, vajayjay, Petticoat Junction, tampon tunnel, camel toe, cha cha, front butt, putang, love cave, quiff, pink taco, or pussy, to name a few). Not only do people have different levels of ease when writing or talking about their bodies, they also have different levels of ease using language. Almost every object can be broken down into smaller units, but to use the specialized terms can feel pedantic and contrived. We say leaf rather than blade, petiole, base, midrib, vein, and margin--not because we don't love leaves but because it's easier and has a certain forthright clarity. Our ears and eyes apprehend a familiar word like leaf better than a word like petiole. The same goes for vagina and labia majora; even vulva is kind of an awkward, hulking word. What I'm saying is that some people who may be perfectly comfortable with their bodies may be uncomfortable with Latin.

That said, I want to add that I don't encounter "vagina" used in this general way very often--is it really current and widespread? Maybe I haven't been on the lookout for it. I googled it and the first thing that came up was this charming phrase: The vagina is a self-cleaning organ.

Nov 18, 2013; Tripp Preston Asks:

Are you a liberal or conservative?

Stacey answers:

Franky, I don't think of myself as either. I find myself annoyed by classically liberal people, whose views strike me as gloomy, guilt-ridden, and impractical. Conservatives, on the other hand, strike me as intolerant, arrogant, and poisonously nostalgic for something that never existed--a thing pertaining to daddies, I often muse. Are those my only choices?

Nov 04, 2013; Tom Asks:

Who are you gonna pull a wig and corset off of?

Stacey answers:

The only answer I can think of is Marie Antoinette. Well, Lady Gaga. And Elton John.

Oct 11, 2013; Pickles Asks:

Aren't you thrilled about Alice Munro gettin' her props?! What do you think about the statement she made: "I would really hope that this would make people see the short story as an important art form, not just something that you played around with until you got a novel."?

Stacey answers:

Yes, I am so thrilled. When I learned that she won the Nobel Prize I was happy, happy, happy. She's an awesome writer, she's a woman, and she writes short stories in my native tongue so I don't have to read them in translation. I agree with her statement about short stories being an important art form (to me, one of the most important; would you like a list of favorites?), and I laughed when I read the part about being not just something to be played around with until you got a novel. Righteous! Sometimes I think the novel is something I'm just fooling around with until I get back to short stories, so it was especially funny to me. Though I may not get back to them. I may switch to painting.

Oct 07, 2013; Tom Asks:

Good answer. I think working in the circus would be fun. What kind of work do you do other than write fiction? I used to design landscapes and then I worked for a lawyer. Now I finally have a honest job stocking shelves in a health food grocery store. I bet you do something really cool.

Stacey answers:

Hello Tom! I thought I answered this a while ago and admitted that I was a stevedore, but maybe that was back when I was still an alewife. Anyway: used to be an alewife, now am a stevedore. When I'm a little older and can pull off a wig and a corset, I'm going to become a saloon girl/madam/hooker like Miss Kitty in Gunsmoke.

Sep 09, 2013; Tom Asks:

Hi Stacey, In reference to you doing readings in a clown suit, I have a question that has been on my mind ever since I saw it on an employment questionnaire. The question is: if they pay were right, would you consider a job in the circus?

Stacey answers:

I've thought about this a lot and the answer is yes.

Aug 13, 2013; A Male Fan Who's Read My Date Cover to Cover Asks:

Your stories seem to indicate that you're fairly familiar with San Francisco. Wondering if you live here or make your way here much. If so, have you considered doing a reading at LitCrawl? Or are you in the tier of accomplished writer at this point and mindful of taking a space that might instead go to a more struggling writer? Also, was there a Sanrio store on Union Square at one time or did you invent that?

Stacey answers:

Hello, Male Fan! On the basis of your sobriquet, Iím going to assume you have a penis. Congratulations! Also, eyeballs and hands. Yes, I used to live in San Francisco, and Oakland as well, and earned my degree from Berkeley. They didnít have a LitCrawl when I lived in the Bay Area and if they had, it would have been a ďLit Crawl,Ē because back in the day we put spaces between words. Since, Male Fan, you have a penis and at least one eyeball, I will tell you honestly that I donít like doing readings, and would only do something crawly if a person I respected both asked me to and assured me that I was not taking a space that might go to a more struggling writer. The reason I donít like readings is because theyíre not any fun, either to do or attend, though I looked at the site for LitCrawl and some aspects of it do look fun. I would probably want to do a reading in a police station, and I donít see how I could refuse to be part of a presentation called ďWriting From the Cunt.Ē Though as I recall, I got kind of sick of things called Writing From the Cunt when I actually lived in San Francisco. Itís all so boisterous and lefty and accepted there that all the thrilling transgression and shame is drained out of it, you know? Though it's really not very shocking, when you get right down to it, to point out that women might write from their cunts, metaphorically speaking. Or even literally speaking.

Thereís still a Sanrio store in Union Square, Maley! Itís the same one, right by the cable car turn around. Take yourself there and stand way in the back. If you listen closely, you'll hear the tiny stickers calling to you in mouse-like tones: "Hello, A Male Fan Who's Read My Date Cover to Cover. Hello, hello." How they do this without the benefit of mouths is one of the great anatomical mysteries of our time.

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