Calmly, Joyously, Recklessly

View of Lower Manhattan from Jersey City; photo credit, Wikipedia

We’re moving to New Jersey! Come August, the girlfriend, the dog, the cat and I will be making a home in Jersey City for at least the next two years while I get an MFA in fiction at Rutgers Newark.

I wrote in my personal statement for my application that I was tempted to draft a manifesto—something akin to Kerouac’s “Rules for Spontaneous Prose” or Henry Miller’s “Eleven Commandments.”

I’ve felt at times with some chagrin that I could have used a blueprint for how to live life as a writer. Earning an MFA in fiction, a new genre for me as a writer, feels like the right next step. The throughline in my meandering path has been stories—writing and performing my own, creating space for my students to tell theirs.

I spent my childhood reading voraciously—being fondest of orphan protagonists and hobbits—and banging out poems and plays on my father’s typewriter. Continue reading Calmly, Joyously, Recklessly

early Valentine

Winter chicago snowy streetI can’t help it, sometimes I’m susceptible to a little bit of magical thinking. Supposedly, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s not unusual, at any rate. Human beings are wired to see patterns, connections, to create narrative and ritual out of the raw material of our lives. We can’t help but seek meaning. In fact, a neuropsychologist in Zurich has actually linked a lack of magical ideation to a reduced capacity to experience pleasure. People who don’t exhibit any signs of magical thinking are more likely to be depressed. So, a little magic in the heart of a Chicago winter may not be a terrible thing. It’s cold, it’s dark, the holiday hullabaloo is a distant memory, and all that remains are slushy, grey streets and long, long nights. The twinkly lights have been put away and those of us in the northern hemisphere are in for thirty-one of the coldest days and longest nights of the year. The world is crying loss, loss, loss. At least, that seems to be my January lot: loss. Jobs, relationships, pets – for two years running, January has appeared determined to kick my ass. (I know it’s February now. Believe me, I’ve been counting the days.)

This past weekend I was having one of those moments when you simply cannot take any more. I was scoured out by worry and sorrow, bone-weary and trying to get out the door to meet a friend – and I couldn’t find my cell phone. As a consequence, I was walking around my apartment yelling, “It’s not fair!” (My poor neighbors – I hate to think what they overhear. I sing to the dog to get him psyched for dinnertime or walktime – never mind the fact that, being a dog, he’s already pretty psyched about those things; I howl like a banshee because the world is not going according to my plan.) Anyway, there I was, desperately seeking my cell phone, when I heard music mysteriously coming from the bedroom. Continue reading early Valentine