Kat Stromquist

So there was this short period, eight years or so when I wasn’t so great about brushing my teeth

When you spend a lot of time passed out on your couch (porch, lawn, the sidewalk in front of Canseco’s), dental hygiene slowly slips from your routine. I could sometimes manage an a.m. palate-cleansing brush, but that just wiped the taste of the night before out of my mouth. Of course, for that purpose, whiskey works equally well, so there were a few weeks in there when the ol’ chompers were completely neglected.

I went to the dentist when I finally got a job that offered dental insurance. My dentist, Dr. Mark D. Anderson, looks like an older, nicer, somewhat more straight Ricky Martin. As he told me I needed twin root canals ($1200) and crowns ($800), I heard maracas in the distance, along with a softly plucked guitar.

Full Article >

The Debt Collector

Debt collection is a shady business. Aside from the broken-legs variety of collections, the Great Recession spawned hundreds of semi-legitimate businesses, all based on the aggressive collection of a variety of unpaid debts.

I missed the gravy train created by the economic breakdown - I worked in debt collections during the summer of 2007. On my floor, the cube farm was occupied by a bunch of people who were as poor as I was. Imagine a bunch of car salesmen from one of those shifty dealerships on Claiborne, if those same salesmen, dressed up in ill-fitting JCPenney suits, were selling “financial freedom” on commission.

Full Article >

I think my parents are having sex again.

For context, my parents have been divorced since 1998 or so. A life of pleasantly uninterrupted teen angst continued from that point forward; my parents’ divorce was a solid catch-all explanation for why everything in my life was so messed up. Didn’t have a car? Divorced parents. Got a liberal arts degree? Divorced parents. Unemployed? Divorced parents. It all made so much sense, this way to organize my universe. And if I wasn’t, really, all that upset, it got my therapists on my side. 

Full Article >

When I went to grad school in the hallowed halls of UNO, there was this kid on campus who refused to wear shoes.


I hoped he was a business major, but alas, I’d see him in the Liberal Arts building almost every day- his baggy jeans brushing the tops of his gnarled, dirty feet. He made appearances in the cafeteria, eating Subway as though he had just pulled off his shoes and socks at home. I even saw him shoelessly riding the Jackson-Esplanade bus.

Shoeless Guy was an iconoclast; one of the few beacons of originality crossing our muddy and weirdly treeless quad. Opinions of Shoeless Guy were divided. Was it gross, or liberating? Did his feet hurt? How did this compare to that one episode of Seinfeld, when Elaine hates another woman for not wearing a bra?

Full Article >