S2 E11 – The DIAGRAM 20th Anniversary Tarot Deck

I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
S2 E11 - The DIAGRAM 20th Anniversary Tarot Deck

In Grab Bag Part 2: Grab Harder, we discuss DIAGRAM’s new tarot deck anthology to commemorate its 20th Anniversary, and Elena uses it to give us all a tarot reading. Also: an album Elena wants to nominate for the Essay Prize, we tackle the question of who’s weirder: poets or playwrights, Bonnie mentions her mother’s famous McDonald’s career, we learn the future for ourselves and our podcast, and more!

Episode links:
DIAGRAM’s 20th anniversary tarot deck:

S2 E10 – Memoirs & MFAs

I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
S2 E10 - Memoirs & MFAs

In Part 1 of our first grab-bag episode, we answer a reader question about memoirs and, in honor of MFA application season, offer unsolicited advice about MFA programs. Also: more regional-accent conversation, an appropriate cocktail, Arlo’s inappropriate song, and more.

Episode links:

Sound Tribe Sector 9, the jam band from Elena’s high school: 

The grab bag version of a Long Island Iced Tea:

½ oz Triple Sec (we used Bols)

½ oz gin (we used New Amsterdam)

½ oz light rum (we used Bacardi)

½ oz vodka (we used a pint of Prazska Justin’s brother brought back from Poland in like 2003)

Sweet & sour (we made our own: 1 cup mixed lime & lemon juice, 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar dissolved)

Coke Zero

Add the liquors to a shaker over ice, shake–spilling a lot of it on your countertop–pour into highball glasses with ice, then top off with sweet & sour and a splash of Coke Zero. Drink too fast while you talk shit about memoirs, then record a double episode by accident.

Our questioner Harrison’s essay: 

Eileen Pollack’s essay on MFA applications:

Matt Bell’s Twitter thread about what he looks for in MFA personal statements:

S2 E9 – Shapes of Native Nonfiction

I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
S2 E9 - Shapes of Native Nonfiction

In this episode, we discuss selections from the 2019 anthology Shapes of Native Nonfiction, co-edited by Elissa Washuta and Theresa Warburton. Also: Elena does Pennsylvania accents, we issue a warning about robots taking over college campuses, we honor Pennsylvania’s contribution to saving democracy with a Philly cocktail, a Philly-themed lightning round, and more!

Episode links:

Shapes of Native Nonfiction: 

Sasha LaPointe’s craft essay, “Fairy Tales, Trauma, Writing into Dissociation”:

Toni Jensen’s essay “Women in the Fracklands”:

Elissa Washuta’s list of recent Native lit on

The new issue of Territory:

The Citywide Special, or at least the way we drank it:

  1. Open a can of shitty beer.  
  2. Pour a shot of cheap bourbon. 
  3. Drink them both.
  4. (Optional) Repeat 4 times, then start a fight with a Mets fan

S2 E8 – Old Ass Essays (with Megan Ward)

I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
S2 E8 - Old Ass Essays (with Megan Ward)

(Note: we’re posting this week’s episode on Monday because of the election. We’ll return to Wednesdays next week.)

In this episode, we welcome our friend, colleague, and local Victorian expert Megan Ward to discuss Old Ass Essays: what that means, how old we’re talking, and a few examples from the 1830s by none other than Charlie Dickens himself. Also: our spelling bee failures, a special lightning round, a dog in a unicorn costume, and an authentic (sorta) Victorian cocktail that we light on fire!

Episode links:

Megan’s faculty profile: 

Megan’s book, Seeming Human: 

Dickens’ Sketches by Boz (free online edition): 

The Dickens Punch recipe, as much as we can remember:

  1. Peel a lemon and a raggedy-ass orange and put the peels in a basin (we used a dutch oven with some leftover Indian food in the bottom).
  2. Dump a shitload of light & dark rum into the basin, along with a lot of sugar.
  3. Float a few bar spoons of Everclear on top and light on fire.
  4. Let it burn for a minute, then cover to extinguish.
  5. Squeeze the lemon and citrus into the mixture, add some hot tea, and ladle into whatever mugs you peasants have laying around.

S2 E7 – Flash! (Part 2)

I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
S2 E7 - Flash! (Part 2)

In this episode, we continue the flash conversation from last week, along with our resident barkeep (not “mixologist”) David. He makes us an essayistic shot, and we all discuss Sex and the City, our shared Italian heritage, the flash equivalents of the drama world, David’s Instagram animal searches, where we’re all absconding for the rest of the pandemic, and, eventually, even more flash essays: Bernard Cooper’s “Live Wire,” and a bunch that Elena put together for a lightning round.

Episode links:

Bernard Cooper’s “Live Wire”:

Sei Shonagon’s “Pillow Book” (the whole thing, because I couldn’t find the essay Elena picked):

Ann Carson’s “On Homo Sapiens,” from Short Talks:

S2 E6 – Flash! (Part 1)

I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
S2 E6 - Flash! (Part 1)

In Episode 6, we discuss very short essays, AKA “Flash,” a term and genre we have mixed feelings about. First we try to figure out what flash means, and then we discuss two (possible) examples: Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” and Scott Latta’s “On Sequencing.” Also: near-death experiences, we continue to demonstrate our ignorance of Canadian geography, Glenn Gould’s appearance in two different versions of Joy Williams’ essay “Hawk,” Squirrel burgers, chicken grease coffee, which Muppets we’d be, and more.

Episode links:

The article about rigging Apple Podcast rankings:

Listener Andrew Forbes’ real website: 

Justin’s Hobart series from 2013, “A Phan’s Notes”: 

Rose Metal Press’ Best of Brevity anthology, co-edited by our friend and former guest Zoë Bossiere: 

Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl”: 

Scott Latta’s “On Sequencing”: 

S2 E5 – The Krause Essay Prize (with Jess Kibler)

I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
S2 E5 - The Krause Essay Prize (with Jess Kibler)

In Episode 5, we welcome Jess Kibler to the show to discuss the Krause Essay Prize, a $10K award given to the best essay of the year, chosen by students in Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program.  Jess is currently getting her MFA at the NWP, and is a former student of Elena’s at OSU. We discuss the Krause Award winner for 2020, Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s GRASS, as well as why and how the judges chose it, Jess’ path to becoming an essayist, other recent nominees (including Elena’s), and a lightning round about Jess’ home state of Oregon.

Episode links:

Follow Jess on Twitter: 

Some of Jess’ writing from when she worked at Bitch Media: 

The Krause Essay Prize, with info on current & past nominees: 

The publisher’s page for this year’s winner, Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s GRASS: 
Gendry-Kim’s website:

S2 E4 – Essays on Film

I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
S2 E4 - Essays on Film

In Episode 4, we welcome our spouses, David and Bonnie, back to the podcast to talk about movies that might be essays. Also: a very delayed mailbag, a story about three-thousand-dollar Pennsylvania whiskey, Arlo makes a cameo, we all do impromptu Werner Herzog impersonations, penguin suicide, essayistic film moves, and (much) more.

Links to some things we mention:

(In response to the question about queer & trans essayists): T Fleischmann’s books: Time is the Thing a Body Moves Through: Syzygy, Beauty: Alex Marzano-Lesnevich’s website, with links to their essays/books: Alex’s Harper’s essay, “Body Language”:  Berry Grass’ website: Sung Yim: Jaquira Diaz: Sandy Allen: Stephanie Burt: Wayne Koestenbaum: Tommy Pico: Jennifer Boylan: Eileen Myles: Michelle Tea:

Denry’s latest episode art:

Commenter Andrew Forbes’ website, which Justin totally botched his plug for:

The 1993 Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day:

Dawson City: Frozen Time, the documentary about lost films Justin almost suggested for this episode:

The Act of Killing, the documentary about Indonesian death-squad leaders Elena almost picked for this episode:

Abstract, the Netflix documentary series about design & art:

The Writer, a very short & odd 6-minute film/trailer we watched by accident while looking for The Rider:

Grizzly Man, the Herzog documentary Justin picked:

The Rider, the Chloé Zhao film Elena picked:

Justin looking like a serial killer on video:

S2 E3 – Pet the Whatever: How Essays Become Books (w/George Estreich)

I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
S2 E3 - Pet the Whatever: How Essays Become Books (w/George Estreich)

In Episode 3, we talk with our friend and colleague, George Estreich–an essayist, memoirist, poet, and Renaissance man–about how essays turn into books. We discuss our own respective experiences with our books’ origins, as well as examples from books we’ve recently read. Also: writing about children, llamas vs. alpacas vs. emus, Comrade Bunny, collectionists, which Beatles we would be, and the lightning round makes its return.

Links to some things we mention:

Check George’s website for more about him and his books: 

George’s Salon essay is here: 

And his NYT piece is here: 

George’s band, Mule on Fire: 

Esmé Weijun Wang’s The Collected Schizophrenias: 

Eula Biss’ essay “White Debt”: 

Eula Biss’ new book, Having and Being Had: 

James Baldwin’s book The Evidence of Things Not Seen: 

Roy Scranton’s Rolling Stone essay “Back to Baghdad”: Scranton’s book, We’re Doomed. Now What?

S2 E2 – Don’t Write Checks Your Facts Can’t Cash

I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead
S2 E2 - Don't Write Checks Your Facts Can't Cash

In Episode 2, we talk about a thorny issue in nonfiction: the fact check. We discuss a recent essay on the subject by Emma Copley Eisenberg in Esquire, among other things relevant and not: our fact-checking experiences, recent controversies on the subject, John D’Agata, facts vs. truth, journalistic standards vs. creative nonfiction standards, Hanif Abdurraqib’s 68to05 project, Sylvester Stallone’s oeuvre, and more.

Links to some things we mention:

Emma Copley Eisenberg’s essay: 

Eisenberg’s book: 

Benjamin Dreyer’s book: 

John D’Agata’s Lifespan of a Fact: 

David Hayes & Sarah Weinman’s essay “The Worthy Elephant,” from Hazlitt: 

Janet Malcolm’s recent essay in the New York Review of Books: 

Hanif Abdurraqib’s 68to05 project: 

Joe Berlinger’s Cold Blooded doc series: