In eighth grade, maybe one Saturday a month, my friend’s mom would drive us into the city of Rochester to a store called Comics Etc. There I’d find one of my first speculative fiction loves, a monthly comic called What If? that tweaked some event from Marvel’s past and explored the consequences, e.g. “What if Kraven the Hunter killed Spider-Man?” (spoiler: Spidey’s girlfriend was sad), “What if the Hulk killed Wolverine?” (spoiler: Wolverine’s friends were sad), and “What if Captain America led an army of super soldiers in WWII?” (spoiler: Nazis used the ballot box to take over the U.S. Hmm….)
In retrospect it sounds like a one-note tune, i.e. “What if a character too commercially profitable to ever kill off actually died?”, but at 12 I fell in love with the concept. The Choose Your Own Adventure books had been some of my favorites as a child. The tales we love as children become the ghosts that haunt us the rest of our lives. What If? was a gift: here were adults who could write and draw showcasing the far reaches of the imagination. I was hooked.
For a kid whose curiosities and relationship with the unknown and the ineffable often ran into tensions with their family’s relationship with the Bible and church, reading about heroes and villains who could do the impossible, all the while saddled with relatable human weaknesses and struggles, approximated the kinds of questions and thinking that weren’t usually welcome in Sunday School. I wanted to understand the stories I learned in church, but the parts that seemed the most meaningful were often frustratingly unaddressed. I wanted to know the divine in the human and the human in the divine, because the greatest mysteries I could fathom were God and me. Continue reading
My department head emailed me a week ago to set up a meeting. He’s the third department head I’ve worked under at my current job, but the first to ever request a meeting. We agreed to meet Monday. I wondered what the meeting was about. Three thoughts ran through my mind:
- I forgot to include some required information on one of my syllabi; perhaps he wanted to let me know in-person such slovenly behavior was unacceptable or even legally precarious. My boss has a military background, so I could imagine him being very attention-to-detail.
- We’ve never really spoken much, despite working in the same department for five years. From his social media posts, it’s evident he’s a curious, open-minded dude with a potentially robust sense of humor. Maybe he wanted to have a brief chat and get to know me better, man-to-man.
- I was getting laid off.
I spent the weekend rationalizing why it wasn’t the third idea, rationalizing why even if it was the worst-case scenario, why that really wasn’t such a big deal. I exhausted all the logical possibilities and spent some time in the mushier world of my emotions, a realm I have an attraction/repulsion relationship with. I got to work Monday and looked for my new boss in the big office the old bosses had used while in power. He wasn’t there; he still resided in his smaller, humbler stomping grounds. This seemed a good omen. I reached his office. He welcomed me in. As soon as I sat, he got up and closed the door. I knew then what he announced moments later. Bad news. You’re being laid off.
I am in Kentucky. Visiting future in-laws. Time being what we will of it, I do not wish to call them “future” in-laws. The future is “then,” and they do not feel like “then,” and no one knows what then will or won’t be. This is now, and they feel like now, which feels like this.
So. I am in Kentucky. Visiting in-laws. Seen and heard birds and accents and people I’ve never known before. Shopped at a 24-hour Wal-Mart. Been bitten for the first time in my life by a horsefly. Been bitten for the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth time by a horsefly. Been to a supermarket with signs saying you must buy cigarettes in the checkout lanes and not at the service desk, the opposite of what signs say in NY. I’ve gone to a baseball game and scored a goal in a family soccer game and met more tennis players in a week than all the prior years of this life.
I think I’m eating elk tonight. I am enjoying Kentucky. Enjoying my future in-laws. Time is a bit stretchier here, now. This.
4+ years ago, I finished my creative writing MFA. For many days since, until maybe hopefully recently, I have struggled with guilt.
Since graduating, I entered a career that lets me talk about writing (which I like) and editing (which I love) with hundreds of people I would otherwise never have met from all across five continents. I get to share what I find interesting with roomfuls of (generally) open and willing humans. And I have struggled with guilt.
I’ve worked as an editor on fiction and non-fiction publications. I’ve sold book reviews and sports features. A half-dozen websites have “hired” me to write for them, and some of them even pay (poorly). I have been able to spend much of the past few years writing about sports that I care about, and even to spend most of that focus on the teams I care about and root for. And I have struggled with guilt.
15 years ago, after finishing my undergrad program, I narrowed down my career pursuits to three: law school, American studies, or writing. I got into law school and an AMS PhD program, which meant I might make a good amount of $$ down the road, or at least pay nothing while advancing my education and getting on track for a university job while incurring less student debt. Nope. I love writing and thinking about writing and talking about writing and writing about writing. So off I went.
The year I started the MFA, I’d contracted a bacterial lung infection. Continue reading
Not really talking these days.
Top men are working out
So far 2017 has not been my healthiest year to date. In fact, most of my loved ones seem to have been dealing with infections and bloodwork and tests since before Christmas. Generally I try to adopt a “Don’t worry until you have something concrete to worry about” attitude, because more generally I try to live by “The universe unfolds as it must; you can’t bend it; maybe bend you?”
The past couple weeks I’ve been waiting for more bloodwork while trying not to let the limited info from the last bloodwork I had done metastasize into bugging out. Imagination is often a useful thing, but sometimes it runs amok and is not so fun. Like when you get a call about your test results that goes:
THEM: So we have your test results.
THEM: Yours are a little high.
THEM: A normal reading would be somewhere in the range of 40 to 60.
ME: OK… Continue reading
I haven’t written on this site in over half a year. God and maybe Borges only know how many words I’ve written in that time, but none here. There’s been a lot of silence and confusion and pain and joy that, combined and viewed from afar, look a lot like life.
I don’t stop writing because there’s nothing to say. Usually it’s that there’s too much to say, and I generally feel overwhelmed from talking. Pro’ly nobody who knows me would suspect that, but it’s true. I like to gather my thoughts slowly and work them out carefully before I release them. The plus to typing my thoughts is it gets me out of that shell; it artificially inclines me to say more things. The minus is the longer I’m in a writing rhythm, a prestissimo, the more I I start trying to force myself into maintaining that thinking speed, to keep up. But my adagio brain doesn’t like that after a while, so I can only outrun the silence of myself for so long, for wherever I run, there I am.
Gonna try to write more now. That’ll probably mean shorter stuff, at least for a while. Got anything you want to see done on this site? Let me know. What’s new with you?
In which I explored the history of the 13 men to wear #25 for the Knicks, including newest acquisition Derrick Rose, question where all our great American names have gone, and remember Dave Chappelle’s classic zen take on cucumbers versus pickles.
In which I take the unpopular view that the current Knick interim coach, Clark Kent though he may appear, may not be the write-off candidate many have made him out to be. I also get to fit Star Wars and Indiana Jones into the piece, so mission accomplished, son.
I’ve been sick with a weird flu for days. A few people close to me have it, too. It flares up, then seems to fade away, only to return with a vengeance. You know those sand-bottom clown toys kids have? You knock them over but they always bounce back?
That’s this flu.
Speaking of relentless pain, a few thoughts on season six of The Walking Dead. A lotta people were disappointed in the recent direction of TWD. Count me among them, for the following reasons: Continue reading