Saturday Afternoon Potpourri: Bloggiversaries and Transitions Edition

This post marks 12 years of the blog’s existence. It started at the Mad Dog’s instigation (so now you know who should be blamed). Mike had killed our folks not quite a year earlier, and mentally, I was scrabbling about for distractions — things to occupy my mind other than The Big Noise.

As part of that scrabbling, I got into discussions of current events, chiefly with the Mad Dog — we both knew we’d disagree, but we also knew that we were good enough friends that the stakes would stay low. After enough of that, he suggested that I step into the larger online world. I figured it was worth a try, even though I also figured I would probably fool with it for a few weeks or a month before losing interest, as has been my habit about most things in my life. Well, in the words of Rod Stewart and Ron Wood, “Look how wrong you can be.”

From there, I looked into sharing my ideas with some other folks over the next year or two, crossposting occasionally at Sam Karnick’s The American Culture. After some of that, another fellow at TAC had run across a couple of short stories I had on my (now long gone) personal webpage. He asked if it would be all right to run them. Sure, why not?

But then something happened. If someone outside my immediate circle wanted to put my fiction into the world, did that mean that maybe people might want more of it? As it happened, I had a novel I had written in the early 90s, shopped around to agents, and then dropped into the trunk (or the hard drive, to be more accurate.) Between that time and the early years of the blog, the indie publishing industry had happened in much the same way the indie music revolution happened in my first trip through grad school. Because I had been busy being a dad, going back for the doctorate, and earning tenure, I hadn’t really noticed it, or at most thought of it as being a shinier version of vanity presses.

I shopped the book around again, with a close call at the first place I tried. The next place I tried liked it. They published it and promptly went out of business — I don’t think it was my fault, but one never knows; after all, a lot of places I’ve played have closed down over the years as well. But I had a book out (if only briefly), so why not try writing some more stories that might draw attention to the book?

After some of that, I heard from Lawrence Block, with whom I had struck up a friendship a few years before, bringing him to speak at Newberry a couple of months before I started the blog. El Bee told me he was putting together an anthology of stories based in NYC. Would I be interested in trying my hand? Well, I had never been to New York City, but I had been to Toronto, and there was a subway there, and, and, and…

… and that was how “Bowery Station, 3:15 a.m.” saw the light of day. Since then, I’ve appeared in another five or so of Mr. B’s anthos, along with a few others, with at least another couple waiting in the on-deck circle. I’ve been fortunate enough to receive kind notice in both USA Today and the NYTBR. Perhaps most movingly, Larry has said — in public, yet! — that I’m “first and foremost a writer.” I have no plans to get a tattoo, but if I did… in Courier New type.

So, twelve years into the blog now. For years it was pretty much a daily thing, again because I was trying to drown out the Big Noise, and that it’s less frequent now probably indicates that the Noise has dulled with time, although it never really goes away. But looking at it this afternoon, it seems to have provided an avenue back to some things I maybe should have been doing all along, and I see no reason to stop. Thanks to all of you who have accompanied me for all or part of that dozen years, whether you agreed or not. I’ve been glad to meet you.

***

In other news, it’s been a big week for the Spawn. When she started grad school up in Terpville in 2019, she didn’t have an assistantship and she was an out-of-state student, so she took a student loan to make sure she had a roof over her head and such while she began work on her degree. Because she’s hard working and bright, she landed an assistantship before too long, which took care of tuition while paying enough of a stipend to (in the words of Dorothy Parker) keep body and soul apart. So after that first semester, she stopped taking loans, living the academic life of shabby gentility.

Then COVID hit, and with it, the moratorium on student loan interest and payments. All the same, the Spawn figured that she didn’t live particularly high on the hog, so why not go ahead and make payments on the loan and at least pay it down a little bit before she graduated? (N.B.: She gets this from Mrs. M; I am the pecuniary equivalent of a submarine with screen doors.)

Anyway, this culminated on Monday, when she successfully paid off that loan from 2019. Combining that with the fact that she did her undergrad here in Mondoville (where the employee benefits include tuition for dependents — one reason I went into this line of work), and she’ll graduate on 20 May without the burden of student debt.

Of course, there was still the matter of things like rent and groceries after 20 May, and while she established a rainy day savings (with the bulk of that original loan as the starter), she didn’t want to go to the umbrella right away, so she has been looking for a post-graduation gig for the last couple of months. That came to a resolution on Thursday, as she accepted a contract position as an archivist at the Federal Reserve, beginning the Monday after she graduates. She figures that it’s a good entry into her chosen career in records management, and given her track record up there, who am I to doubt her?

Mrs. M and I will be going up there for Commencement, and we should be easy to spot — we’ll be the ones basking in pride and reflected glory.

***

Meanwhile, Monday begins our final week of classes for the semester. I’ve made it through the first wave of Gradeapalooza, but the second, larger one comes this week. I don’t know if it’s the aftereffects of years of COVID, the fact that this semester is tighter than it traditionally has been (fewer weeks, because of the addition of a January term), or just that I’m getting older, but everyone — faculty, students, staff — all of us are dragging at this point. We’ll all make it through, I think, but this one has been something of a grind.

***

Last week, I mentioned the death of a dear friend of mine from my undergrad days. William, James’s roommate (and of course a close friend in his own right) recounts hearing the news at his blog, and offers a brilliant description of our friend: “a central star in the constellation of connections from that era”. I learned today that there will be a memorial in late June, at the same place where we met to remember his late wife just a couple of years ago.

I’m at the age now where I know this is going to happen more often — Goldengrove may always be unleaving, but the leading edge of my generation is beginning to see the “worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie.” That will only increase; such is the fate of Man. On the other hand, I take some solace in the fact that the last time I saw James — at his wife’s memorial — I was able to tell him one of the worst jokes in my substantial arsenal. As I told my students last week, we don’t get too much time, so we should at least try to make each other laugh along the way.

***

I’ll wrap things up here, and since I quoted the lyrics earlier, I’ll go with a better known song than I usually do to close.

The first few Rod Stewart albums after his departure from the Faces are easily my favorite of his career. There’s a shambolic, organic nature to them that the years would eventually buff out, and this, the title cut of his Every Picture Tells a Story album, is the perfect example of what I mean. In particular, I adore the loose, fiery drumming of the late Micky Waller — it drives the song without any sort of showy technique, and it’s one of my go-to performances for inspiration in my own playing. So have a bit of 1971, huh?

See you soon!

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
This entry was posted in Broken Glass Waltzes, Culture, Education, Family, Music, Pixel-stained Wretchery, Why I Do What I Do. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Saturday Afternoon Potpourri: Bloggiversaries and Transitions Edition

  1. Robbo says:

    Congratulations to both you and Spawn!

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