The Authenticity Experiment Posts

This week you hear from Nikole Potulsky.  Last summer, just weeks after my mother died, I met Nikole at a party and was immediately drawn to her easy laugh and her way of telling captivating stories.  I don’t know that I’d had a good laugh in weeks, but her stories not only coaxed a smile out of me, but made me laugh hard. I learned she was a musician and went to one of her shows, live music and all that.  Nikole is not just a stand up there and sing kind of guitar player, but a storytelling kind of…

Read More The pathfinder edition

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I first encountered Penny Guisinger at Nonfiction Now.  She was on a panel called “First Person Dangerous,” about the side-effects that writers of nonfiction face.  Penny wrote about driving hungover—not hammered, mind you—hungover, and how, while driving, she imagined the essay she’d write about it, about drinking, about not drinking.  An Internet troll had a heyday when her essay was published, tearing her apart.  Who knows why.  Because she was honest.  Because she was a woman. Because, the Internet. But I was immediately drawn to her because of these qualities: her humor, her honesty, the way she self-deprecates, and well, because I struggle…

Read More The implicit bias edition

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This week you hear from Kate Ristau.  I met Kate at the Terroir Writing Festival, organized by my grad school buddies Tandy Tillinghast Voit and Lisa Ohlen Harris (the Country Music Singing Femme asked me, “What is it with you writers and your three names?” I dunno.  We like to take up space across the spine of a book, I guess.  But I digress).  Immediately, Kate and I hit it off and not just because of our names.  Kate is a deep thinker who is also funny.  A writer of young adult fiction that’s full of myth and magic, and…

Read More The glory edition

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The Authenticity Experiment, the death and ageing edition. Here is what the woman who is not my girlfriend said to me a few nights ago. She said, “I think in the past ten years,” (well, okay, she said five years, but it is really ten, she was just being gracious), “you’ve been under a lot of pressure and you make it look easy, like things happen sequentially and you simply manage them, when we all know there is a good deal more chaos than that, than in how you are making it look.” That’s a paraphrase, but it’s close to…

Read More The death and ageing edition

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The Authenticity Experiment, the guitar edition. She said it off-handedly.  She didn’t mean it that way, but that’s how it hit my tender heart with its secret shame when I told my friend that I’d spent my teenage years in my room playing my guitar to every album popular during high school: Fleetwood Mac, Jackson Browne, Phoebe Snow, Janis Ian.  “Why would you do that?  Why wouldn’t you just write your own music?” she said.  Flat, the nasal vowels of her native Michigan coming through. Because you’re a lonely kid, I said, surprised that I’d spoken the naked truth, no spin. Because…

Read More The guitar edition

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The Authenticity Experiment, the mostly anxiety anniversary edition.  My friend Lesbiana Profundis, aka my secret weapon, laughs at my Rainman-like ability with dates.  Take  July 20th, for instance.  A year and two days ago, I began the Authenticity Experiment.  AE was a writing challenge for myself—to see if I could be authentic and tell the truth on social media.  Here’s the lead from that very first post: “I’m posting this to kick off my own personal FB Balance Month. I’ve been thinking a lot about how we use the FB to post our good news (book), our fun times (Cycle…

Read More The anniversary and anxiety edition

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The Authenticity Experiment, the friend edition. I said to my friend Biz, “I don’t have any new friends.  In fact, I have hardly anybody at all that I do anything with.”  It might have been the tiniest hyperbolic, but only just barely.  And so, lately, even though she isn’t on the Facebook, she’ll remind me of things I’ve done with my friends.  “Oh, was that not a friend you went to the Portland Center Stage with last week?”  Or, “Did you do that ride alone?  Oh, right, you were with a friend.  Did I get that right?”  Then there’s, “Were…

Read More The friend edition

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The Authenticity Experiment, the visitation edition.  I’d just finished riding a really long ride with the Opera Singer. The longest I’d ever done. I was back in the hotel room and I called my dad to tell him. He was still sane, had not gone off the rails yet, and the last cogent thing he said to me was, “Thirty-seven miles, Jesus, Kaydoos! Does your ass feel like hamburger?” Which has become a longstanding joke with Lesbiana Profundis who is also my best riding partner. Every, every, every time we get off the bike she says, “Does your ass feel…

Read More The visitation edition

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