Friday, August 31, 2012

Traffic Stop

I currently have 10 boxes in my car.

I can't discuss what's in them, but I assure you they contain nothing illegal. It's all legit. I actually have 20 of these boxes right now, but only 10 of them fit in the PT Cruiser. Barely fit. There's practically no room for me in the car. I can just see the rear window, rear-view mirrors, etc. In that sense, I feel like I've done a perfect job loading them in my car.

Of course, this exact moment (coming home at 11:45 at night, with 10 boxes in tow) would be when I get stopped by a statie.

He claims I cut him off, which is total bullshit -- he merged into my lane. But it's not a good look to have 10 mysterious boxes in your car when you're being stopped. (Clearly, this is why he stopped me.) Also, it's really tough to get into your glove compartment to hand him your registration when it's being blocked by a big box.

"Where ya comin' from?" he asks.


"You make any stops along the way."


He asks what's in the boxes and I tell him. Then he asks, "When was the last time you were in court?"

(Really? When was the last time I was in court? What kind of question is that? Who do I look like, Lindsey Lohan?)

I muscle my registration from the box blocking the glove compartment and hand it to the officer, who goes back to the cruiser and does his thing. This is not what I need right now -- or ever, really.

Two minutes later, he returns and hands me my license and registration.

"You're free to go. Next time be more careful when you switch lanes."

Fine. Maybe I'll only keep 7 boxes in the car.   

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sharp: A Memoir

I'm a little late on this, I know, but my MFA colleage David Fitzpatrick's book Sharp: A Memoir was just published. Here's the blurb from Amazon:

"Sharp is the story of a young man who began his life with a loving family and great promise for the future. But in his early twenties, David Fitzpatrick became so consumed by mental illness it sent him into a frenzy of cutting himself with razor blades. In this shocking and often moving book, he vividly describes the rush this act gave him, the fleeting euphoric high that seemed to fill the spaces in the rest of his life. It started a difficult battle from which he would later emerge triumphant and spiritually renewed.

Fitzpatrick's youth seemed ideal. He was athletic, handsome, and intelligent. However, he lived in fear of an older brother who taunted and belittled him; and in college, his roommates teased and humiliated him, further damaging what sense of self-esteem he still carried with him. As he shares these experiences, Fitzpatrick also recounts the lessons learned from the broken people he encountered during his journey—knowledge that led to his own emotional resurrection.

Sharp also demonstrates the awakening of a writer's instinctive voice. With prose that is tough and gritty, profound and insightful, Fitzpatrick takes us inside his head while he manically cuts himself, but these episodes are presented with a dignity and insight that has never been seen before. His writing also possesses a lightness of touch that brings humor to a subject that doesn't naturally provide it.

Above all else, Sharp is a tale of hope, a soul-baring quest of a lost man who returns to himself, overcomes his demons, and reclaims his life. It is destined to become a classic memoir."

David's a nonfiction guy and I'm fiction, so we never really crossed paths in workshop. But I know people close to me who have cut themselves. So this story, in particular, piques my interest.

If you haven't done so already, go get Sharp. I can't wait to read.

Monday, August 27, 2012


It finally happened.

Since December I've been avoiding Facebook's new Timeline setup -- largely because I felt like I was always being subjected to a Facebook Wall redesign every couple of months, and partially because some of my other friends who had converted said they had spent a week deleting many of their embarrassing comments from Facebook statuses past. It all seemed a little intimidating.

As time went on, and more and more of my friends were converted, I stuck with Old Facebook. Why change until you have to? As fewer and fewer people had Old Facebook, I started to enjoy being a rebel, wearing the old Wall proudly like a badge of honor.

Last week, Facebook finally got tired of my rebellious ways. I got the word they were converting me to Timeline. It went live Sunday night.

As I've seen other folks' Timeline, I've gotten used to it. There are some nice features to it. I like having a profile pic and a cover photo, or whatever the hell they call it. I'll miss being a rebel, but I think I can get used to being a Timeline cyborg.

I just don't want to see Facebook roll out a whole new format next week. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Appeal For a Former Mentor

My former mentor during my grad school MFA program, Porochista Khakpour, was one of the best things that ever happened to my novel-in-progress. (The novel was my thesis and she was the second-reader for it.) She's also a great personality. Once I dressed up as her for a "talent" show and she was a great sport about it.

I bring this up because she's sick and facing mounting medical bills. I won't go into the details here because they are better presented by her in the Web site she's set up to appeal for help.

She set the site up a few days ago and I status-updated it on my Facebook Wall. I blog this now because she's crossed a noteworthy and impressive plateau, but is still short of her ultimate goal and I want to see her get there so she can get the help she needs. I'm of limited means myself right now but I did make a contribution, and I'm writing this in the hopes that others will consider doing so, or if they've already done so consider donating a few more dollars ($5, $10, $15, every little bit helps). I don't want to see the initial flurry of support die down.

I can't truly do her justice in a blog. She's bigger than that. But ask me offline and I will tell you how fantastic she is.

Thanks for your consideration.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

An Apology, Or, If You Hate My Blog, Bad News

Dear Followers,

I have failed you.

It's been (roughly, I'm too ashamed to calculate an exact figure) a couple of months since I blogged. It's been nagging at me for most of that time. Many of you think I died. Many more wonder what the hell happened.

Here's what happened: It's been a bat-shit-crazy summer for me. I've been overwhelmed with stuff, both personal and professional. Some good, some not so good.

I won't get into specifics here, and some of it I won't talk about for awhile. But life is finally beginning to slow down for me. Still busy, don't get me wrong. I can't promise that I'll return to my old blog-a-day pace. But I feel like I can blog much more frequently in the coming weeks. And I have plenty of material.

Sorry it's been awhile. I'll try to do better.

Thank you for all your support.