An accomplished writer, some might say. Some have. Well, one. One has.
Have I not told that story here? I tell stories on Twitter, and then I tell stories on Facebook, and then I neglect my baby here, my digital home for the past five-plus years, this place where I write serious things and frivolous things and everything in between.
But tonight, on the couch, where I usually write in the mornings, I'm clacking away, having just read Stephen King's column in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, which I'd link to for you here, but I can't, because it's the June 4 issue, and it's June 2, so as a subscriber to the dead-tree version, I get to read Uncle Stevie a few days before those who insist on the electronic version. Enjoy your devices in the bathroom. Don't drop them in the tub.
Uncle Steve, swell guy that he is – no, really, I love Uncle Stevie – kicked off his column talking about those aptitude tests kids are given in high school to direct them toward possible careers. Personally, I don't remember taking one then – like it'd have made a difference? – but Uncle Stevie was told he should go into advertising, which made me smile, because my dear friend John used to tell me I should go into advertising, and I used to think about going into advertising, but I never did.
Life has worked out reasonably well for Stephen King, though, and while I don't fancy myself a fiction writer of his caliber, as there is no other writer of his caliber – there are good writers, sure, and there are writers who may enjoy success on par with King's, but let's face it: the man is in a class by himself – and because I don't write fiction, I do write this nonsense, and King's columns in EW are kind of like this. Chatty, that is. I'm sure I ramble more than he. But we have "chatty" in common.
Chatty is good.
Years ago, in college, for my Anthropology class, I wrote a paper that I titled, "Frank, The Real Big Gorilla."
It was about Frank, the real big gorilla at Lincoln Park Zoo, who, sadly, is no longer with us. I just did a search of past posts and I am a bit gobsmacked that I've never written about Frank before, but suffice it to say that I wrote that paper in a chatty style, even while I expertly incorporated all the required information, and the teaching assistant for my section gave me an A, wrote on my paper, "Are you an English major?", and thanked me in class for making it fun to read.
It was a nice tribute to Frank. I'm glad I wrote it. I'll dig it out someday and key it in and share it with you.
Trust me, it's riveting.
In a chatty way.
Oh, Christ on toast, I just scrolled back to the top of this entry and realized that I was going to tell you the "accomplished writer" story. Some accomplished writer I am. See? I forgot the direction of the post.
Anyway, the "accomplished writer" story is this:
Many years ago, 25 to be exact, I first wandered into Dave Konkol's classroom. For class. His class. It was on my schedule. I hadn't just wandered in by mistake.
Dave, then, was just 35, which I know because today is his 60th birthday and I can subtract, and he was teaching, if memory serves, what must have been Junior Honors English.
Dave was a very good teacher, and it was my misfortune to have him only for the first semester that school year. Unfortunate because I'm sure I would have learned a lot from him in the second semester that year. I would have been guaranteed to learn more from him than the woman to whom I was sentenced, whose name I will not name because she has passed on and I don't like to speak ill of the dead.
But I think she was a little insane.
Anyway, I was lucky enough to have Dave for my entire senior year's English escapades, and even though he pissed me off with his enhanced grading scale – 93 for an A, yo* – he did his teacherly duty and surely prepared me for my first college English course which was taught by a woman who, thinking back, looked a lot like Roz from the movie 9 to 5.
The point is, Dave and I have stayed friends for all these years and this past Saturday, he delivered the commencement address.
And he shared the text of it with me that evening, via e-mail.
And in it, among several other students, he mentioned me.
Which made me cry.
He referred to me as "an accomplished writer."
Which, in some ways, I suppose I am. I've been published in some interesting places and I've been privileged to interview some interesting people. If "accomplished" is relative, and it is, I am an "accomplished" writer.
But it feels a lot like a label that I don't yet deserve, so I need to earn it.
Some days, I sit down to write and I feel a duty to express myself well here on a grave subject, even if I may as well be shouting into the wind.
And some days, I sit down to write and what falls out of my head is this. Nonsense, really. Not important in any important way. But it amuses me.
And hopefully, it amuses you, too.
But it really doesn't matter. I write for me. Because I want to or I need to. The fact that there are a few people out there who stop by to read it is nice. I'm happy to share. If the medium allowed it, we could chat instead over coffee and pie.
* = I am well aware that I am far too incapable of using the word "yo" in any kind of hip or credible way. But I write for cadence, and a "yo" fit there, so a "yo" I wrote, yo. See? I did it again. Though, I give you my solemn vow that the only "yo" I utter henceforth will be preceded by "fro."