Contributors: Starlee Kine

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Starlee Kine— Suggestions for notes to leave behind in the place where you just house/pet/plant sat:

There is where your cat was indifferent to how much cable I was watching. This is where I questioned my taste in succulents.

Suggestions for notes to leave behind in the place where you just house/pet/plant sat:

This is the desk where early morning productivity was achieved.

This is the mirror where productivity dropped off in the afternoon and I stared at my face while assuring myself that no one looks good in sunglasses.

This is where I flipped through a fashion magazine and saw how everyone looks good in sunglasses. 

This is where I made myself feel better, judging you for having a fashion magazine subscription.

This is the counter with the single serve coffee machine where I most envied your life.

This is the dark, warm spot in the closet where I most envied your cat’s life.

This is the bowl that looks like it was your grandmother’s where I ate cashews and then rearranged the remaining cashews in to make it look like I hadn’t.

This is where I felt closest to you because I knew half the people in the photos on your fridge.

This is where I wondered why I wasn’t in a photo on your fridge.

There is where your cat was indifferent to how much cable I was watching.

This is where I questioned my taste in succulents. 

This is the dresser where I compared the cuteness of your baby pictures to mine.

This is the closet where I tried on three of your dresses.

This is the part of the living room where the light hit in a way that reminded me of my first apartment.

This is the rug which I laid on while looking up my college roommate.

This is the quilt in the trunk at the foot of your bed where I wondered whether I’d ever be able to have a family of my own, since I didn’t have the kind of childhood where handmade quilts got passed down.

This is where I caught the last five minutes of a movie my sister and I used to watch when we were kids and thought about calling to tell her I missed her but then a new movie started. 

This is where I spoke with a French accent to the delivery guy after not speaking all day.

This is where I traced guesses about your neighbor’s name on the shower tiles.

This is where I was tempted to read what appeared, judging by the hand-drawn hearts on the envelope and the wax seal, to be a love letter addressed to you, but resisted.

This is the old fashioned rotary dial phone on a hall table where a fight was picked with my boyfriend about why doesn’t he write me letters with seals and hearts.

This is where I stared into space after returning from the coffee place you recommended, where I ran into the last person I expected to see: the person I always want to see most. 


Starlee Kine is a contributor to the public radio program This American Life.  She does stories about the world's slowest car chase, misunderstood ghosts and presidential library reenactments.  She also wrote a torch song with the help of Phil Collins and designed a heartbreak cutting board designed specifally to cut tear-inducing onions on for THE THING Quarterly, to which she is a contributor at large.  

Starlee Kine— A suggestion:

Here’s a game you can play whenever you are putting off doing something tedious, like washing the dishes.

Here’s a game you can play whenever you are putting off doing something tedious, like washing the dishes.  It’s called “stage business.” The rules of the game are simple. You are an actor in a dramatic scene and need to busy yourself with an everyday task. So while it may look like you are just scrubbing a plate, really this is happening moments before the event that advances the rest of the plot forward. This plot is your life. Maybe the event will be a ringing phone, and you will reach for a paper towel to dry your hands, but the tube will be empty because you keep forgetting to buy more, and so you’ll have to use your pant leg. This will have the bonus of helping to establish your character. Or it might be that in a moment you will drop the plate, and when you go to pick up the pieces, you’ll notice a poem that’s been written in the crack between where the floorboards start and the kitchen counter stops. You’ll devote the next thirty years to finding out who put it there, not as a full-time job, but as an unpaid, casual side project. 


Starlee Kine is a contributor to the public radio program This American Life.  She does stories about the world's slowest car chase, misunderstood ghosts and presidential library reenactments.  She also wrote a torch song with the help of Phil Collins and designed a heartbreak cutting board designed specifally to cut tear-inducing onions on for THE THING Quarterly, to which she is a contributor at large.  

Starlee Kine— A nudge:

Let’s say you need to put in a new light bulb in your apartment. Don’t worry, this is not going to be a joke.

Let’s say you need to put in a new light bulb in your apartment. Don’t worry, this is not going to be a joke. You drag a ladder out and even though it’s a very ordinary and not particularly attractive ladder, its presence makes everything look so new and different. There’s an immediate release of tension in your neck and shoulders that comes with such a tangible example of change. So you leave the ladder out, right in the middle of your kitchen, bumping into it a lot at first until your body starts automatically arcing around it. On the first day, you throw the tube of toothpaste you’ve been milking for all it’s worth into the trash. You write your name in gold ink on the slip under your buzzer. On the second, you send a cautiously sentimental note to someone you wronged. On the third, you get a dog. You switch careers. You are able to believe what your friends said about your last break-up not being your fault.  Just keep cramming those changes in until the power wears off. When you start placing cans of food or stacks of freshly washed towels on the ladder, using it as a shelving system, that’s when you fold it back up and hide it from sight. And then wait for the next opportunity. It could come in any form, like taking off your sweater and tying it around your waist instead of tossing it in your bag. Suddenly you are the person who pulls that look off..


Starlee Kine is a contributor to the public radio program This American Life.  She does stories about the world's slowest car chase, misunderstood ghosts and presidential library reenactments.  She also wrote a torch song with the help of Phil Collins and designed a heartbreak cutting board designed specifally to cut tear-inducing onions on for THE THING Quarterly, to which she is a contributor at large.  

Starlee Kine— A selection of thoughts you probably had while staring at a stranger sitting across from you:

I make more money but she/he is better at only buying well-crafted items that are both practical and beautiful.

A selection of thoughts you probably had while staring at a stranger sitting across from you:

  • She/he is cuter.
  • I’m cuter but she/he dresses better.
  • I dress better but she/he has the kind of body that can get away with wearing worse clothes.
  • She/he has a more interesting job.
  • I have a more interesting job but she/he makes more money.
  • I make more money but she/he is better at only buying well-crafted items that are both practical and beautiful.
  • I’ve traveled to more countries but she/he has gone to ones that are harder to get to with more challenging language barriers.
  • I was more popular in high school.
  • I was less popular in high school but aged better.
  • I was less popular in high school and aged worse and every conviction I ever had about the world not being fair is right this moment being demonstrated in front of me.
  • I went to a worse school.
  • I went to a better school but she/he is more down to earth.
  • I have a plusher couch that guests like sleeping on but she/he has a more modern one that guests take photos of.
  • I have more friends who will listen to my problems but she/he has more friends without kids who will go with them to parties.
  • I call my parents more often but hers/his make her/him feel less lonely.
  • I’ve broken more hearts.
  • Her/his heart’s been broken less.
  • I’ve dated more people but she/he has had more friendships turn into relationships.
  • I’m so glad I’m not dating her/him.
  • I wish I was dating her/him.
  • My girlfriend/boyfriend is cuter.
  • My girlfriend/boyfriend is funnier.
  • My girlfriend/boyfriend is less funny, more ambitious, about the same amount of cute, and has a lower-maintenance family who take it less personally when space is needed during holiday visits.
  • Would she/he ever date me?
  • Was she/he watching me fix my sock just then?
  • If her/his boyfriend/girlfriend were to say, next week, “Think of one person, besides me, who you would want to be with forever,” will it be my face that flits, even for just a second, through her/his head?

Starlee Kine is a contributor to the public radio program This American Life.  She does stories about the world's slowest car chase, misunderstood ghosts and presidential library reenactments.  She also wrote a torch song with the help of Phil Collins and designed a heartbreak cutting board designed specifally to cut tear-inducing onions on for THE THING Quarterly, to which she is a contributor at large.   

Starlee Kine— A tip:

If you say you’re going to wake up tomorrow and renovate your whole apartment or memorize every

If you say you’re going to wake up tomorrow and renovate your whole apartment or memorize every South American capital or learn how to play all of “Stairway to Heaven” even though you’ve never picked up a guitar and aren’t even positive that that’s the main instrument being played…it’s not going to happen. That’s called “setting yourself up for failure.” Even if you do memorize all those capitals— the most doable of these tasks— it will only take one instance of the person you have a crush on smiling at you in a new way to make those names spill out of your head. Keep it simple. Here’s one example of how you do it: instead of tackling every movie made before this year that you’ve ever intended to see, you decide to finally watch My Dinner With Andre. When you get to the scene where Andre talks about designing his own flag, you think, “Yes! I will design my own flag too.” Then be sure to stop yourself before you also think, “But wait, it’s too bad that I don’t live in the ‘70s or ‘40s or whenever this movie was made. The past, in general, was so much better. Women wore pants that made them look like they rode horses. Men wore vests that made them look like tax attorneys. People even stood differently, and thus more superiorly, back then.” Put a halt to all that, don’t even let it get going. It might help to picture one of those bottles of water that gets inserted into a standing dispenser with hot and cold spigots. There’s always a bit of water that pours out in the moment between turning the bottle upside down and fitting it into the dispenser. The amount depends on the strength of the person maneuvering the transition. Listen, today you are very strong and only a few drops of water manage to leak out, the water being your self-destructive runaway thoughts in this scenario. When the movie is over, scrounge up a piece of paper. Any piece is fine. It doesn’t have to be in a sketchbook. It doesn’t have to be a sheet from that stationary set that you never use because you think it’s too nice. If it’s from your printer tray, that is great. If it’s your phone bill envelope, even better. Grab a pen and then draw a rectangle. That is your flag. Your kitchen table is now officially a nation. Good job! Everything you add is just sprigs of parsley on an already successfully accomplished project.  You can’t screw it up. If you do happen to, say, draw a star and then decide you want it to be a moon and so you cross it out really aggressively, going over and over the image until you tear the paper a little…just remember that in some cultures, a flaw is purposely built into each project so as to prevent a perfection-off with the gods. 


Starlee Kine is a contributor to the public radio program This American Life.  She does stories about the world's slowest car chase, misunderstood ghosts and presidential library reenactments.  She also wrote a torch song with the help of Phil Collins and designed a heartbreak cutting board designed specifally to cut tear-inducing onions on for THE THING Quarterly, to which she is a contributor at large.  

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