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CHS Crow | Mattilda, hb and Finley — ‘Finding some other kind of truth’ at Lit Crawl Seattle

It was a Lit Crawl Thursday night! The CHS Crow joined the happy chaos of the most action-packed literary event of the year in Seattle and met a Lamda Literary Award winning author and activist during the after party at Hugo House, a project manager with with memories of bygone burritos at the “Kundiman Poets” reading at Vermillion and a high-school maker of music that’s “just new” exiting the “Weed All About It” reading at Century Ballroom. Here is what they said:


Who are you?2014.10, Mattlida, CHS Crow portrait - by Jacob Olson
I’m a writer. My most recent book is called The End of San Francisco. It’s a memoir against memoir.

I’ve been here in Seattle like two-and-half years. I live on Capitol Hill.

What else would you like to know?

What is your philosophy of writing?
I write in order to stay alive, basically. It’s the thing I’ve always had access to in order to process my life — make sense of it. And also to express the world that I see that most people don’t seem to.

For me, I don’t believe in that whole thing where people [say], ‘Oh, well, you have to write for a few hours every morning.’ That whole thing. For me, it’s like, ‘As long as I write something every day, even if it’s a few sentences.’ I wrote a whole book that was, like, writing a paragraph or two a day. And you know it’s amazing how soon you end up developing a whole body of work that way.

For me, I’m not interested in writing in the kind of linear mentality that most writing adheres to. Or the kind of narrative — that sort of tidying up — where everything has to come to some kind of closure. So, for me, I write against closure, I write against linear clarity. And then in that sense, finding some other kind of truth.

What Lit Crawl events did you go to tonight?
Well, I went to one. I had to do all my dishes and prepare my cooking for tomorrow, so, I rushed out to see Elissa Washuta and Jonathan Evison at Hugo House. I read Elissa’s book, My Body is a Book of Rules, and it was great to see her read from it. Actually, she read one of my favorite parts of the book. She’s kind of listing off the first people that she had sex with. Counting back from, I think, 21. … The book is very vulnerable, and it’s very raw, and it’s also very polished at the same time. … Her reading style is not vulnerable … it’s direct and directed. So she projects very directly at the audience. …

And then Jonathan Evison read, and he’s really good reader as well. He read from his most recent book … It’s super descriptive, and very humorous. The thing liked so much about his reading is that in the middle of reading this book that’s already been out … he keeps telling us, he’s like, ‘That’s a shitty line.’ He’s like, ‘I should have just edited that one out.’ And he’s like, ‘I really should have just changed that.’ You know, ‘What was I thinking when I wrote that?’ So I like that. As a writer you want to hear about someone’s process, even when they’re reading something polished.

What are you doing after the events here?
I’m probably going to walk home. Get some fresh air. Walk through the dangerous Cal Anderson Park. Haha.

… do you find it dangerous?
No not at all.

What do you have to say to the people of Capitol Hill?
I wish that people were more critical of gentrification on Capitol Hill. I feel like people get very caught up in the rhetoric of, this Seattle rhetoric of, “increasing the density” — right? And to me the question should be, ‘What are we increasing the density of? Are we increasing the density of twenty-five-hundred dollar one bedroom apartments? Or are we increasing the density of a liveable neighborhood?’ You know, what Capitol Hill is. Which is like where people can create art, where they can express themselves in the ways they want to, meet people that maybe are not exactly like themselves, and can actually come and be changed. Change themselves and change other people. … We need density of weirdos and of people wanting to challenge the status quo and build something challenging and vibrant.

Can you tell us anything about what you’re working on now?
Yes, I have new novel — it’s called Sketchtasy. It takes place in Boston in ’94, ’95, ’96. And I guess what it’s about it, it’s about gay Boston in that particular time period. The narrator is a very flamboyant, queeny, somewhat politicized person. Maybe not that much unlike myself in that time period. But perhaps somewhat different. And in Boston, gay Boston at that time … was very retrograde in its thinking: very consumerist, misogynist, racist and very fearful of any kind of — Boston itself — very fearful of difference. So the book is about: how does this queeny narrator survive and find anything of value, or challenge?


2014.10, hb, CHS Crow portrait - by Jacob OlsonWho are you?
I’m a project manager at a digital analytic company on the East Side. But I studied English, I have a masters in teaching.

How was the “Kundiman Poets” reading?
It was great. Lots of different variety. Lots on different tones and sounds. It was cool.

Were there any pieces you heard that really impacted you?
Yeah, but I’m biased. My cousin was reading, so I was actually really startled by how he impacted all of us by his poems.

… have you seen him read before?
No, this is his first reading in Seattle.

… which piece of his impacted you the most?
The one about the cloud makers — him driving on I-5, and smoke stacks, and he thought they were cloud makers. And I actually remember that conversation [from] when we were kids.

Do you live in Capitol Hill?
Yeah I live in Capitol Hill with my husband.

… how long have you guys lived here?
About six years. But I used to skip high school to come eat burritos on Capitol Hill, of course. When I was in school in Mountlake Terrace, far away.

… where can these burritos be found?
In the Broadway Market there was an awesome burrito joint and they had the most delicious verde salsa, no longer there anymore. … It was by the shoe repair place. … That was in the early 90’s. Super old, I’m super old, yeah, haha.

Are you going to the after party?
No, I’m gonna let my cousin party on his own, without any adult supervision.

So what are you guys up to after this?
We’re gonna head home. Maybe watch some soccer and go to sleep.

What do you have to say to the people of Capitol Hill?
I hope this happens again. And I hope that everyone comes out and checks out all the shit that’s happening. It’s awesome.

 … any other thoughts about life on the Hill right now?
It’s weird man. It’s different man. And I’m trying to modify and adjust, but it’s totally different. But I’m still trying to embrace it and love it for what it is now. It’s definitely cleaner. It’s definitely a little bit bad different. But there’s still good different, if that makes sense.


W2014.10, Finley, CHS Crow portrait - by Jacob Olsonho are you?
I’m a senior in high school. I go to Bush School over in Madison Valley. And I’m just out with this lovely young lady, we’re having a night on the town … and just trying to see the city, and this looked interesting. It was “Weed All About It” — you know, this is a really exciting time in the city, to see this happening — and we thought we’d check it out.

What was your impression of the reading?
It was very interesting. Very well thought out. I thought both guys had pretty similar takes on weed legalization. And they both brought up some different ideas about what the legal market would be, how to regulate, how to make sure people are on the same page. It was very interesting. And the moderator was pretty funny. Kept it pretty lively.

I think people need to have this conversation more, you know. It can’t just happen once every year.

… did you learn anything new?
Yeah, some of the specifics about the law in particular. I didn’t really know about some of the tax revenue rules really that were talked about in specific. And that was a pretty new thing to me. And sort of contrasting Colorado’s laws and Seattle’s laws.

… anything you thought was actionable?
Like they were saying, the really most important thing is, try and make it positive. Whatever Washington State does will be a  role model for the rest of the country. And if it fails this time, it’s going to be a long, long time before legalization is ever considered again. And if it does well, like they were saying, if a red state goes that way, then it no longer becomes a partisan issue — there’s going to be some cooperation. Which is really really important.

What are you up to after this?
We’re going to go to another session. We’re thinking about going to Elliot Bay Books [ — where Eimear McBride was to read from A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing].

What do you do when you’re not in high school or going to readings?
I’m a musician. I play in a couple bands around town.

… what do you play?
I play a lot of stuff. You know, guitar, piano, base, drums. All that stuff. … There’s a show tomorrow actually down in Olympia, I’m playing with some buddies, the band’s called Our Burgundy. … Also, there’s another band called Gourmet I play with a little bit.

… what kind of music do you play?
It’s just new, it’s new.

What do you have to say to the people of Capitol Hill?
Capitol Hill is chill man. It’s the best spot.

… how come?
It’s got stuff going on man. People are really in to it, they wanna be here. There’s a sense of place. People are here to do their thing. There is some posing going on, it’s true. But for the most part people are real, you know.

Previously on CHS Crow

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