A Living(?) Geography of Fast Food

In the last two weeks, my students have finished turning in and presenting their digital storytelling projects, a slipstream of creativity and digital proficiency that I find difficult to match as a I tackle job prospects and worry about my puppy’s health. My students create interactive Twine stories set in fantastic worlds; they make gif comics and digital art paired with existential poems; and they trace their lineage using mapping and timeline programs, tracking imagination as it followed move after move and decision after decision, each ending up in my classroom.

When I approach my own mapping project, I can’t help but feel out of place. While my students often wow me with their approaches to setting and self—the way the light glows just right in a certain park, or the energy of a distant city’s bustling underground, or the oppressive weight of fluorescence and concrete in Cooper Hall—I’ve never felt the same attachment to geography. I don’t have much in the way of poetic sensibility, as I’ve already established in these pages. And it turns out I can’t find love for location either; at least not in any of the places I’ve lived in. At least not in my current mood.

So I’m doing a different kind of mapping project than my students. You might be able to tell from the title of this post: there’s not a lot of love lost on these markers.

Instead, what I offer in the above mapping project is a small twist of absurdity and (perhaps) foolishness on my part. My foolishness comes in two parts:

The First: that I believe fast food, as the source of so many of our country’s problems, is worth marking off and telling stories about.

The Second: that I have left this map open to editing, by anyone, at any time. If you were so inclined, you could write your own experience at a fast food joint, or your own life story as it relates to quick eats, or a memory of childhood inexplicably linked to a McDonald’s ball pit, as I’ve done.

Of course, the risk is that you could delete everything already written, if you so chose. That’s up to you, I suppose.