ASHLEY MARIE FARMER is the author of the new essay collection Dear Damage (Sarabande Books, 2022), as well as three other collections of prose and poetry. Her work has been published in places like TriQuarterly, The Progressive, Santa Monica Review, Buzzfeed, Flaunt, Nerve, Gigantic, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Best American Essays notable distinction, Ninth Letter’s Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction, the Los Angeles Review’s Short Fiction Award, as well as fellowships from Syracuse University and the Baltic Writing Residency. Ashley lives in Salt Lake City, UT, with the writer Ryan Ridge.
My current favorite thing to read is: Log of the S.S. the Mrs. Unguentine by Stanley Crawford. That’s the last book I finished and I think about it a lot. Now I’m reading Janalyn Guo’s excellent story collection Our Colony Beyond the City of Ruins. For procrastination purposes, I love advice columns, any kind.
My current favorite thing to watch is: Somebody Somewhere on HBO. It’s funny and warm, plus the cornfields make me think of Kentucky, where I’m (partly) from. I watched the Phil Lynott/Thin Lizzy documentary recently, Songs for While I’m Away—that stuck with me, partly because it left me wondering about some things and so I started reading all about him. Also, I love baking tutorials, like how to ice cookies, and those videos of people cutting into things that look like folded pants or tire irons but are actually cakes.
My current favorite thing to listen to is: an audiobook, usually nonfiction. I love the intimacy of another’s voice right inside my ears, straight to my brain. Music-wise: Kevin Morby, because I saw him play live not too long ago at the first/only show I’ve been to since 2019.
My current state of mind is: sometimes light, sometimes heavy, often grateful.
My current chemical romance involves: caffeine. Then relaxation teas that don’t work to counter that caffeine.
My current words of wisdom are: …well, these aren’t words of wisdom exactly, but I think a lot about gentleness right now, about these small opportunities we have to go easy on or care for one another, given these past couple of years.
My current mode of transportation involves: a white VW hatchback picked partly because our greyhound could fit inside it. He doesn’t know how to get out of it, though.
My current favorite fast food item is: an In-N-Out grilled cheese with lettuce and tomato, forever and always. It’s perfect when you eat it right there in the parking lot, with hot fries and a Diet Coke, preferably when it’s raining and you have a little time to kill.
My current workout routine consists of: this rowing machine I assembled in our dirt-walled 1902 cellar. Or walking my dog with my spouse in our pajamas. But my very favorite is a long Utah hike in the canyons or mountains: I’m prone to indoor life, but blue skies and fresh air can be lifesavers. I was out in a canyon recently and bumped into a birder who taught me about woodpeckers—we just kind of stood next to each other and listened to the woods together. It was snowy but becoming spring. That’s the kind of exercise that makes me feel good about being a person in a body.
My current regrettable decision involves: painting my nails in bed.
My current hopes and dreams are: about making things. Words, art, music, friendships, changes for the better where I can, contributions to my community, maybe one of those cakes that doesn’t look like a cake.
My current projects include: writing a collection of essays about the heart and outlining a novel (I’m just in the baby-beginning stages of the latter).
My current hobbies include: embroidery, which is both fun and interesting once you get better at threading needles.
Ashley Marie Farmer is online at ashleymfarmer.com.
Brian Alan Ellis runs House of Vlad Press, and is the author of several books, including Sad Laughter (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2018) and Hobbies You Enjoy (serialized daily on Instagram: @hobbiesyouenjoy). His writing has appeared at Juked, Hobart, Fanzine, Monkeybicycle, Electric Literature, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, X-R-A-Y, Heavy Feather Review, and Yes Poetry, among other places. He lives in Florida.