Interview: A.M. O’Malley’s Obsession

Editor Matty Byloos, Interview, April 20th, 2016

"It is the exact date that gauzy childhood ended and life sped up..."



NAILED MAGAZINE: Describe an unexpected obsession you have that hits close to home for you. What are the details of the obsession that you get fixated on?

A.M. O’MALLEY: I am obsessed with a single day: July 2nd, 1992. It is the exact date that gauzy childhood ended and life sped up, expanded into something else.

On July 2nd, 1992 I was twelve years old. I lived in a trailer park in a valley at the base of the Mingus Mountains in Arizona. My mother had gotten clean and gone back to school. That year a man had come to live with us. Dirty hands, beard, gruff, a real asshole. That’s where the change started. The man got my mother pregnant, then a courthouse wedding and a party after with her AA friends. New stepdad.

Before July 2nd 1992, I was still a kid, fixated on all things Lisa Frank and making up stories on my lavender bedspread. But, something was changing, I’d taken to squatting in front of the full length mirror in the bathroom, with my knees spread, to see the way my legs looked compressed calf to thigh–how the roundness of my leg curved out like a woman’s leg. This was a secret.

Then, feral Summer. I met a girl named Lindsay. We became inseparable instantly. She was older, already 13, blonde with frosted lips. She had a darkness she didn’t talk about. She pierced my ears, bleached my hair, gave me a padded bra and a midriff exposing shirt. Transformation.

We stalked the arcade—circling like buzzards—looking for boys. Soon, we were sneaking out of bedroom windows, meeting boys in cars. One night, in the back seat of a car, the rear-view mirror vibrated with bass. Lindsay made out with a boy in the front seat. I thought of my mom at home watching TV, thinking I was safe.

By June, it was Peach Schnapps on the table, cigarettes, drugs, lies, tougher older boys, fistfights. No one knew my age. I called my mom from payphones and made up stories about slumber parties. I was still twelve years old. I thought of my bedroom, my lavender bedspread.

The night I am obsessed with, July 2nd, 1992 is the night that I woke up in the dark in a bedroom to the sound of cicadas. My clothes were pushed up and down exposing my core. I felt a new kind of soreness. There was blood on my jean shorts. One white Ked was lost forever. I didn’t know which direction to walk to get home. I called my mom from a 7-11. The rest of my memory of that day is gone–lost under a protective rock–and no matter how I have dug and obsessed and hefted the rock stays. I remain obsessed.

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Header image courtesy of Diego Gravinese. To view a gallery of his photorealistic paintings on NAILED, go here.

a.m. omalley poetry Nailed magazine poemsA.M. O’Malley has recently been published in The Newer York, Unshod Quills, The Nervous Breakdown, Jerkpoet, Poor Claudia, The Burnside Review and The Portland Review. Ms. O’Malley’s first book What to Expect When You’re Expecting Something Else will be published on University of Hell Press in 2015. Ms. O’Malley lives and works in Portland, Oregon where she is the Program Director at the Independent Publishing Resource Center. You can tweet with her; @amomalleytweets.


Matty Byloos

Matty Byloos is Co-Publisher and a Contributing Editor for NAILED. He was born 7 days after his older twin brother, Kevin Byloos. He is the author of 2 books, including the novel in stories, ROPE ('14 SDP), and the collection of short stories, Don't Smell the Floss ('09 Write Bloody Books).