Ashley Inguanta’s “It’s End Of The World Karaoke” appeared in the May Issue. Below, Ashley speaks about how the world turns certain, fiction vs. non-fiction, and songs for the end of the world.
1. Being also in Orlando, I noticed you set “It’s End of the World Karaoke” atÂ Big Daddy’s. How much of this is fiction versus non-fiction?
This piece is mostly fiction.
The Big Daddyâ€™s (in the story) is the same Big Daddyâ€™s in (for lack of a better term)Â real life. Only in real life, you have to order nachos from somewhere else and bringÂ them in. Santa Claus sings; heâ€™s a regular. And I havenâ€™t tried a White Russian fromÂ Big Daddyâ€™s, but if I did, it would be excellentâ€”I guarantee it. A lot less milky thanÂ expected.
Everything else is fiction. Javier, Jonah, Lara. Cat Woman, Maryann. Those men. TheÂ DJ who canâ€™t keep his shit straight. The smoke outside. Javierâ€™s choice to open theÂ door.
But really â€“ fiction exists somewhere, someplace. Fiction exists somewhere in ourÂ world, and sometimes I just donâ€™t know what to do with that placement of thingsÂ imagined and made. Sometimes our power to create people and tell stories aboutÂ them terrifies me. These stories, these people — theyâ€™re extraordinary because of theÂ way they were born and because of the way they live: On the page, somewhere else,Â but (at the same time) here.
2. What would you sing at the end of the world?
â€œIronicâ€ by Alanis Morissette. Hands down.
3. Why do Russians always have to be white?
They donâ€™t have to be. Years ago, my friend David and I imagined the Pink Russian:Â Pepto Bismol, Vodka, Kahlua. Iâ€™m a bit embarrassed (but also proud) to say weÂ didnâ€™t try it.
4. How does the world turn to something certain?
You breathe, aware that your body is controlling this breath, aware of what thisÂ means in terms of your power, your blessings, and then you understand exactlyÂ where you are. The ground feels differentâ€”more solid. Your step feels lighter. YouÂ know you can branch into any direction, and that freedom scares you, and thatâ€™sÂ okay.
5. What do you put in the basket without fearing the hose?
Bee stingers. Tons of them. Maybe a copy of Plathâ€™s Ariel. A strong hoof.
6. What have you done that you were afraid to do? How did it change you?
Iâ€™ve been afraid of so many things. I was afraid to learn to drive a car, to ride aÂ horse, to train horses, to travel to LA for the first time, to share my writing, to admitÂ I needed help when I couldnâ€™t stop starving myself, to eventually stop starvingÂ myself, to admit relapses are okay, to come out of the closet, to kiss a girl, to lose myÂ virginity, to go to grad school, to teach. I was afraid of performing at the LiteraryÂ Death Match, traveling West alone; I was afraid to keep drinking, I was afraid toÂ stop drinking. I am afraid of where I am now, at 26, sober and eating and out of theÂ closet and trying to trust myself. I am afraid Iâ€™ll fail as an editor and a teacher andÂ a writer. But I keep going. And all of this hasnâ€™t just changed me, itâ€™s shaped me.Â Change implies loss. I believe I have lost a tremendous amount, but â€œshapeâ€ alsoÂ implies the clay is still there, solid and whole. I am grateful for the whole of things.Â Fear included.