When I got the email regarding the listserve lottery, my wife and I were out to dinner. I asked her opinion what to share. I had no idea what to write and I’m not entirely sure that I’m closer a day later. Lately my camera has been a more effective means of communication.
She mentioned a few topics:
Several involved Stephen King and his works/influence on everything. She’s a very big fan, but I am not.
Then she mentioned I should write about the genius of John Carpenter, though I think Jason Zinoman’s Shock Value does it better than I can. Additionally, Jonathan Lethem wrote the definitive book on They Live.
She did bring up a great question to consider: Why is it that while gay rights are making so many strides in such a short amount of time, the rights of women are being attacked and rolled back at a frightening pace?
I had the thought that some of the best writing is both personal and succinct. One personal topic I considered was my family’s immigration story but it’s just a variation on a theme. I will say that its given me empathy for anyone who comes to this country to start a new life (whether they are here legally or illegally).
Instead, I’ll briefly discuss my experience with Crohn’s disease. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s a little over three years ago after about ten days of not being able to eat. Essentially I would be hungry, but my body wouldn’t let me chew. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and need to take a handful of tylenol and antacids just to get back to sleep for an hour. I had to map out where every bathroom in the world was and prayed they were clean. All of this, out of the blue.
I’m lucky. I’ve been able to beat the disease back into remission, but it has given me this sense that I’m always on borrowed time until it comes back. The little bastard is always in the back of my head. A very personal reminder of my own mortality and what is really important.
Sometimes a high quality of life (whatever that means to you) is more significant than making a splash. I have no interest in disrupting the world at 41. Unlike twenty years ago, I don’t have anything important to say or write. No grand ideas. I’ve discovered what’s important: time with my son, a small collection of lifelong friends I can count on one hand, a beautiful and loving wife that I count among those friends, health insurance, a good book, a good meal, seeing new places. I’ve discovered yoga and think, despite my best efforts, it’s changing my life and who I am for the better.
Take from that what you will…
Stretch - Neal Pollack
Anything by George Saunders
Trouble - Patrick Somerville
A Gate at the Stairs - Lorrie Moore
The Coldest Night - Robert Olmstead
Idle No More - King Khan
Another Self Portrait - Bob Dylan
Elvis Club - The Del Lords
Kathleen Edwards’ entire catalog
A final thought, we’re asked not to include hate speech here (and in many other places on the internet). Instead of preventing it, I suggest everyone allow it. When it’s driven into secret corners of the internet it can flourish and grow strong on its paranoia. Hate speech cannot survive when held up to the light of day. Expose it for the cowardice that it is by letting everyone see it and mock it.