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Somewhat More Than Zero
Leah Mueller, the voice of everyday America, returns to Talking Soup with a tale of love, music, and work from 1980s Chicago.
Talking Soup Talks #2: Leah Mueller
Our editors sit down with writer and performer, Leah Mueller, to discuss her plethora of life experiences. Inspired by the likes of Don Marquis, Charles Bukowski and many more commentators of the underside of the American dream, Leah brings a great wealth of tales, from the crazy to the tragic. From working as a ‘sales clown’ in 1980s Chicago, to a short lived stint as a topless dancer in New Orleans, Leah’s writing takes in all aspects of American daily life, from the dead-end jobs to the humanity in mundanity.
Land of Eternal Thirst
Bisbee, Arizona. Leah Mueller talks of family, loss and going back to what you have always known.
Ice Cream, Whiskey, and Rain
My vacation condo’s washer/dryer combination is tiny and inefficient, so I launder my comforters ten miles away at the decrepit Maple Fuels Wash-a-Ton. The old-school machines don’t take credit cards, only quarters. It takes a lot of quarters to wash a pile of gamey comforters. Since my mortgage and HOA fees are high, I have to rent my place to overnighters through Air Bnb. The guests are often careless, spilling wine and body fluids willy-nilly on the bedclothes.
You didn’t want to make her uncomfortable by smoking in front of her, or subject her to secondhand fumes. You huddled in your bedroom with your stash, emerging when the coast was clear. Still, the smell should have been a tip-off. Not to mention your red eyes and dilated pupils.
The Soothsayer’s Gift
In an hour, I will go across the street to Subway for a six-inch vegetarian sandwich. I’ve heard the buns are made from the same chemicals as yoga mats. However, this could be an urban legend. I’m hungry and inclined to take chances with my health. Also, I’m an optimist. There is no way a pessimist could be out on this highway.
Searching for Thrills
It’s a typical Saturday night at the Java Jive. The bar is a Tacoma institution, a one-time home to two pet monkeys appropriately named Java and Jive. The monkeys are dead now, and so is your marriage. You’re singing karaoke because you’re trying to forget everything. You’re a lonely 41-year old single mom with two kids and a decaying house on the north end of town, and you know what it feels like to have your thrills vanish. So you’re singing your lungs out, and some guy bites your foot.
No one ever plans to end up as a dancer on Bourbon Street. It’s an employment choice born of pure desperation. I worked at a unisex joint called Sweet Mama’s. After only two weeks on the job, I despised every minute of my interminable shifts. I lurched around the club in stilettos like an awkward stork, as songs like “Strokin’” and “My Prerogative” pounded in the background.
Beaver Eating at Burning Man
The words “Great Canadian Beaver-Eating Contest” caught my eye. In another environment, this would have been too good to be true, but at Burning Man festival, where displays of public sex were common, it wasn’t a surprise. In the spirit of adventure, I decided to check it out.