A Literary Feast

Posts by Quentin Greif

Narrative Ecology

Posted on May 6th, 2020

For several months in sixth grade I couldn’t sleep. To solve this problem, my sister shared her bedroom. It had two beds in it (we lived in Texas, space came big and cheap) and my sister’s hushed whisperings before falling asleep cured my insomnia. Her words, her language that I spoke so fluently, comforted me then.             When we were young Julia was “the athlete” and I was “the writer.” These identities were fueled by our respective chosen activities of sports and poetry writing at Barbara Bush Middle School and Ronald Reagan High School (again Texas). The imaginary novel I would write was always about my family. It would be big and convoluted, the way my family felt. I knew deep down I would…

Queer Futurity

Posted on March 21st, 2017

He is entwined around me like an octopus, his legs encircled in mine, his arms twisting around my elbows down to our fingertips which also curl into each other. We are completely warm even though it snows hard outside today. When I breathe in I smell something like baby powder, a smell that is so distinctly his I can’t even find something proper to compare it to. We fall back asleep.   Later that day a friend calls. I am on break at work, but the children are never far, their voices loudly echoing through the halls of my school. She has had two miscarriages. She has had two adoptions fall through. We are both only twenty eight, but her quest to have children…

Spilled Milk

Posted on January 1st, 2017

Twice this week I have cleaned large amounts of milk off the floor of my classroom. Once, white milk after a student accidentally dropped it; the second time chocolate milk, after a student had thrown it to the floor in anger. This is not typically in the brochures or posters that advertise teaching programs, but it is, after all, part of my job. Over the last several years I have learned to see tasks like this as less degrading and more meaningful. There is the academic side of my job, but on some level I also care for children and this involves both physical and emotional labor. As I cleaned the milk I imagine I felt something like an office worker feels when they…

Eating Lunch Alone

Posted on October 14th, 2016

“Work is always a little sordid.” –Emily St. John Mandel, The Singer’s Gun The shock of a new job came like fall this year, an icy unexpected blast at the end of a lazy hot summer. After three years at my previous teaching job, my only actual “professional” experience, I had moved on. Nothing had been typical about the position that I left. I founded the school in the South Bronx straight out of Columbia with nine other educators, over half of them under thirty, with all the bright eyed wonder of someone who had moved to New York from suburban Texas only eleven months before. Needless to say I had my teeth metaphorically kicked in, repeatedly, in a variety of different ways. That is…

Canada, Comfort Queers, and Cynicism

Posted on August 22nd, 2016

Quebec City felt like Disney World felt when I was a kid. My cynical side only saw a series of tricks; some massive money-making scheme to build a pretend French-like town that could easily separate tourists from their money. How old could the buildings really be? This was Canada! (I learned later, quite old actually, but still not THAT old). When we first arrived at our hostel-like-hotel the overly friendly concierge/owner/chef laughed a lot while he pointed out local restaurants to us on a map. His loud bark followed each suggestion and my boyfriend Jose and I became increasingly unnerved by the sound. It was so piercing. After this initial meeting, where he suggested a restaurant called “The Hobbit” (this name was literal- it…