“I was so young; we were so poor; there was so much mercury in the tuna.” What a line. Here’s a snippet from one of his excellent, excellent, entries. I like his writing an awful lot, and yipes, he’s pretty much the same age as me, leading to the inevitable question of what I’ve been doing with my life while he’s been doing whatever it takes to produce these beautiful little porcelain sculptures of eggbeaters and snowglobes filled with real snow, drifting down at the slightest jostle.
what have I learned in the last 10 years? I’ve been asked back to my college to participate in a workshop about fiction and give a reading. Glorious ego-gratification! At first.
But now I wonder: when I get out of the rental car and step back on the March grass of the Alma Mothership, what can I teach? I am there not to serve my ego but the desires of the students. My novel is a common story plainly told about a not-quite-yet-a-man 22-year-old who has to learn that indie rock fantasies are not reality. It is my first child and I raised it as best I could but what did I know? I was so young; we were so poor; there was so much mercury in the tuna. My next novel is shaping itself into a monstrosity, a collection of interlocking stories at war with one another—as complicated underneath as the website and even less realized. I don’t want to give the students advice I don’t actually have. What I have is my motto: “Stumble Wisely.”
What have I learned in the last 10 years? A partial list: My family is normal. Everyone toadies, and remorseless fuckers prosper. The minute anyone tells you that they want to create their own Algonquin Round Table, but with bloggers, run. Run. Also, if you can spend any time napping in a field on a summer day when you are younger—do so. That can be the place you visit in your mind when you’re standing on a crowded subway, stooped with back pain, sweating like your pores are water-piks, while a beggar in stained and drooping sweatpants yells in your ear.
And so what? None of those lessons are original; they’re the sort of thing that anyone picks up when they rent their place in time.