Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I started this blog in 2005 when I decided to start writing fiction because I started to hate writing nonfiction, because all the nonfiction was about myself, and I started to feel uncomfortable about that. I didn't tell anyone about this blog because I'm embarrassed and ashamed of most of it. I think at the high point, maybe ten people knew that it was here. Then eventually I locked it, and there were only 3 or 4 people that had access. It was during a personal information panic. I started getting very concerned about how much of my life was out there on the internet and in other people's heads and out of my control. I've spent a lot of my life being very concerned about who knows what information about me at any given time, and it's kind of kept me from being a better person and a good writer.

I've been reading things I've written out loud in front of strangers lately. It's because friends of mine are nice to me, and think that what I've written is worth sharing, and worth being nervous about and worth standing behind and, most flattering of all, worth doing it with them - being a part of readings they've put together, audio tours they've assembled, magazines they've published, with other honest to goodness talented people. It's nice, and they've all been very helpful, and I haven't yet thanked them properly for it, and most of those people don't know that this blog is here. And they never needed to, and they don't ever have to look at it, never have to read a word, but I shouldn't be so interested in hiding things from people who have genuinely helped me become a better person and a good writer. So I'm not going to do that anymore.

A related story:

Two friends of mine got engaged recently, and instead of having an engagement party, they had an Engagement Weekend at The Highland Games. The Highland Games is a Scottish festival put together by The Caledonian Club of San Francisco. It's the Scottish Olympics, but more just a general celebration of Scottish heritage. Bagpipes, men in kilts and people throwing heavy things as far as they can, and scotch, delicious scotch. Most of the people there are in some sort of traditional Scottish garb: kilts, furs, needlessly gigantic boots, and none of it is suited to California weather, but they're sweating it out because they're proud of their heritage or just think it's neat or fun or who cares why. It's traditional Scot clothing, I guess, but most of it, I figure, is too ornate to have been worn daily, it all seemed more ceremonial and - to my dickish outsider's perspective - kind of silly.

There's lots to do at the Highland Games, so much, that I almost don't make it to the Birds of Prey demonstration. I don't know if Birds of Prey are Scottish in nature, or how Scotland and Birds of Prey are connected. It seems arbitrary, and I'm sure I had some clever thing to say to my fiancee about how it didn't make sense, even though I don't yet know enough about about birds to make a judgment. I like birds and I've recently been trying to learn more about them. My fiancee, who is perceptive and thoughtful, noticed that I would often talk about the birds around the lake near our house, or would stop on a walk to look at a bird circling overhead, or just generally have more interest in birds than the average person might, so she got me a pair of binoculars for my birthday. She gave them to me while we were out on a walk with two friends of ours. One of the friends is a birder, has binoculars and a pocket sized book of birds. I didn't understand the gift at first, but I put the binoculars around my neck anyway, and the moment I did my heart rate jumped because I felt silly. I felt ridiculous even though my friend, who is a birder, who is wearing binoculars, is an interesting person, is only two feet away from me participating in something I think is interesting, but somehow her participation in it was not silly, and my participation was. It's hard to really figure out what the logic of that moment is because there isn't any. It's just my being self conscious. I relaxed eventually, but maybe not until after we left, and not until I had enough time to think about the binoculars, and genuinely how perfect a gift they are, and how ironic and unfortunate to have a pair of binoculars send me into a panic where I couldn't see myself clearly and how strange I was being.

I don't have any traditional Scottish clothing, so I was wearing an old NaNoWriMo t-shirt. NaNoWriMo is also full of people who unabashedly enjoy a thing that they care about. I don't wear the shirt because I care about NaNoWriMo, though I do, it's just that the shirt fits well and I think I look good in it. But, maybe it looks the same as other shirts, and maybe, somewhere in the back of my head I'm aware that it has a little shield on the front of it with "Author" written underneath, and maybe I want strangers to ask me about it so I can pointedly not tell them about it, so I don't have to be responsible for my interests or my life, or my presence in physical space, but then again, maybe it just makes my shoulders look nice.

A man holding a hawk at the Birds of Prey exhibit asks me about the shirt, points at the 'Author' and asks "Are you a writer?" And I stumble over my words, the way I always do when someone asks me that and "Kinda, I guess, I mean that's the long-term goal, anyway. I want to do that, but you know it's not really what I actually DO, I work in an office, it's just something you know - " and a man with a hawk cuts me off and says "No, no. Are you a writer?" in a pointed, 'cut the bullshit' fashion. Amanda is next to me and smiling, because she hates the way I answer that question, and loves the guy for pressing. I finally say that I am, and he's satisfied. I wrap up the conversation quickly, so I can storm off and be upset that I wore a shirt with the word 'author' on it at a festival with 5000 men happily wearing dresses.

This is longer and a little far away from what I wanted to write here, but here it is anyway. If you take nothing away from this, always remember: When a person holding a dangerous animal asks you a question, just say yes to whatever they ask you. Also, The Highland Games were a very good time, once I stopped being a prick. I almost always forget to pack my binoculars, but I take more care to notice the birds and to learn about them later.

Anyway - there's a bunch of writing in here, it's updated irregularly, but this is where it's been hiding.


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