It has been 41 years since I, like Macduff in the play Macbeth, was untimely ripped from my mother’s womb. Not exactly like Macduff. My C-section was very timely.
41 years. The wailing of an infant replaced by these ruminating blogs. Meandering blogs. Random and improvisational blogs. That’s a fun game of adjectives. Wailing and blogging. The genre has changed, but the content is pretty much the same.
I usually write about aging when the 9th of June comes around. Short reflections about another year around the sun. Or around the earth, depending on your opinion of Copernicus.
Here’s a quick status update. There’s a few more gray hairs in my beard. My sideburns too. The beginning of a bald spot is forming in the back of my head. But I feel good. A little less energy these days. More naps. Still, that same frenetic vitality spits in my stomach. The drive that leads to these meandering blogs. Ruminating blogs. Random and improvisational blogs. That same energy that pushes me towards classrooms, stages, and pages. I’m introverted as all get out, but I keep stepping into improv scenes. Facilitating workshops with strangers. Teaching students. Working through improv or whiteness or teaching and learning or whatever. And the writing. Oh man, the writing. I’m finished with my first draft of a super strange science fiction memoir. Anybody know of a good literary agent who is looking for a genre-less book that is meandering, ruminating, random, and improvisational and has absolutely no chance of being a bestseller?
Age doesn’t seem to blunt my impulse to build stuff. My anxious need to make sense of things by expressing myself. Through whatever genres are available to me. To anybody that will listen. Wailing or blogging or whatever.
I’ve sent the first draft of this science fiction memoir (that’s a funny name of a genre) to some of my friends. To peruse. To provide some feedback. To help me figure out what the hell do with a book that is as much about me as it is a creature at the bottom of the Europan Ocean.
I’m sort of ambivalent about this recent creative manuscript. I know the story is strange. I know there’s revision ahead. I’ve written enough now that I’m less insecure about what I write. Less defensive. I was all sorts of defensive and insecure about my writing in my 20’s. About everything else, too. I guess age has helped with that. At 41, I’m okay with the knowledge that I do what I can with what is available to me. I’m not ashamed of what comes from that. And I’m open to feedback about doing things differently. More improvisational. Always transforming and changing. Trying not to get stuck. There’s danger in getting stuck. In trying to make sure things stay the way you want them to. My first draft of a science fiction memoir is a little about that, I think. But I’m not sure what it is about. It’s very meanderingly, ruminatingly, randomly improvisational. Those adjectives really are fun for me.
There will be more books later. Other writing projects. You do what you can in the moment and then you move onto the next project. I think that’s what people who learn to harness their impulse to build stuff do. They try and build with more discipline next time. I know that’s what good improvisers do. Good writers probably do this too. I don’t think of myself as a good writer yet. But I keep trying. And that’s enough.
Good people might follow the same advice. Keep building things. Learn how to do so with discipline. I guess I’m still learning about this at 41. Not yelling at my boys. Treating others with kindness. With love. Those are lifelong challenges, friend. And I just keep at it. Leaving a trail of mistakes behind me. Wailing and blogging all the while.
My 41st birthday was delightful. My wife Katie and I took the boys to Mount Nittany. We hiked to the top. Not a soul in sight. We sat on the overlook and surveyed Happy Valley. A clear, sunny morning. Later, I ate an enormous amount of sushi. And Katie made birthday cake, and I ate lots of it. And then I spent an evening with my family. Playing the Nintendo Switch. Hanging out. As God said after He created the Earth: It was good.
When she was alive, Mom would call me on June 9th. At the exact moment I was born. I’d answer, and she’d sing happy birthday to me over the phone. I wrote about this in my memoir about my mother. Determined Weeds, link and all. I ended the book by remembering Mom’s calls. It’s hard for me not to think about Mom on my birthday. She’s been dead for six years now. I think Mom had the same frenetic vitality that I do. But Mom rarely used it to create things. Mostly, she turned that energy against others and, eventually, against herself. Determined Weeds wasn’t a science fiction memoir. But it was something of horror. Think Stephen King. Still, I can’t not think about Mom on my birthday. She went through all sorts of pain in order to have me. And I honor her and love her despite the horrifying events described in Determined Weeds. I’m sure I’ll keep thinking about Mom as my birthdays come and go. I don’t think we ever truly escape our parents. My science fiction memoir about a creature on Jupiter’s moon is about that too. Kind of. It’s about lots of things.
Anyway. I’m 41. I spent a beautiful day with my beautiful family and I’m grateful to have done so. And I still have lots of hair. And lots of vitality. And lots of life left to live.