Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Resolutions for the Same Beginning



Normally I write about how much I hate things, and talk about how much I hate things. Hate and hate and hate. My friends know. I use the word ‘hate’ far too often, especially since I don’t ‘hate’ as much as I lead on that I do.

I thought about starting this by writing: I hate New Year’s Resolutions. That I hate the people who make them, how resolutions are pointless, and no abides by them after January 2nd, etcetera (we’ve all read, said, heard, written, all this before). But I didn’t want my first post of the year to be about hate, so I decided not to. Instead, I thought about resolutions. About what they really are, what they really mean for those that make them, and I realized I just don’t like them, or understand them.

Over the years I’ve made resolutions along with the rest, mostly during high school, during that time when I still believed that I could change the world, make some kind of difference, be an influence for good; when I believed in individuality and the importance of the ‘One’. Somewhere between high school graduation and attending Sac State, I stopped resolving to ‘change’ solely because the date changed. I wish now that I had a list of all the resolutions I made as a teenager: be nicer, exercise, eat better, learn to play the guitar better, whatever. Something like that. But I digress.

The point is: I don’t make resolutions. They are meaningless word fodder. A list of hopes or dreams or desired outcomes for the year that I didn’t achieve the previous year. That’s all it is. And the list is always the same, a repetition of what was not accomplished from years previous. But we do it anyway, instinctually (whether inherent in genes or instilled by societal expectations), as if we cannot become better people without waiting for a number to change on the calendar and publicly announcing, “This year will be different. It will be better. I will do things. Because I said I will be, and now you know I mean it.” It makes no sense to me.

Internet news feeds for the last week have been filled with lists of “25 Resolutions You Should Make This Year” and “What Resolutions shouldn’t you make for 2014”. How do you what I need to resolve to do in the following year? Let alone at any time in my life?

Nonsense.

But all that is not to say that some form of resolutions can’t or don’t work for some people. They can. I’m sure they can. I know that there is someone out in the world right now who made some specific resolution to change in the New Year, that they needed a specific marker to initiate that change within their self, and that 2014 will actually be different for that person. To that I say: fantastic. For those that make and keep resolutions, you are far stronger than I am. And I’m okay with that. I know my limitations, and they include not making resolutions. Because I’ve never once kept a resolution. Not one.

Rather than resolutions, the Wife and I set goals. I know ‘goals’ and ‘resolutions’ sound the same, but they are not. Resolutions are arbitrary statements with no means or concept of how to achieve or complete. They are whimsical delusions of progress, made rashly, under pressure, without thought. Goals inherently are structured with a plan, an outline from beginning to end on how that desire will be accomplished. They are support by time and pondering, they are the way of pragmatism. When the Wife and I got married, someone gave us this black spiral-bound notebook. I don’t remember who, but that doesn’t matter. We got this book, and we decided that at the beginning of each year we would review our goals from the previous year, see what we accomplished and what we failed at, why we succeeded or failed, and then set new goals for the coming year. Here are a few of my goals from 2013:

  • Get the Novella published (fail)
  • Find a job (sort of)
  • Move out of my parents’ house (major fail)

Just to name a few. The outlook is not so good. But I tried. I submitted the Novella to half a dozen publishers, and one contest (I have only heard from two of the publishers). Technically I got a job, albeit not exactly what we were hoping for (but at least it’s a paycheck). And the parents . . . well that is just a straight up fail, but not for lack of trying. However, we also did a ton of stuff. Every year we have a theme for our family, and this year was the “Year of Exploration”. Each month we tried something new that we’ve always wanted to try but never have. I’m going to get into the specifics of it here, but if you want to know what we did, you can check out the Wife’s blog for details. I will say that we are amazing, and did some pretty sweet stuff (I don’t think I can be more vague than that).

My point in all this is that resolutions are too broad, too big, too unobtainable. They are crap. They mean nothing, and go nowhere. What we should be making (or setting) are goals. Aspirations that will make our lives better. As my good friend wrote just a few days ago: “Instead of making resolutions to live longer, let's resolve to live better.” And the Wife and I need to live better for 2014.

2013 was a difficult year (mostly for the Wife). Finding work was next to impossible for me. Thanks to a good friend I am teaching extremely part-time, which is better than my previous job: nothing. Before, it was a hard year of unemployment. A Master of Arts in Creative Writing means you have no marketable skills but are over qualified for regular jobs, or so it seems. But the part-time teaching has only been for the last six months, and that’s only one to two classes a term. Work has just not been good. Schools don’t want to employ you because you have no experience, but you can’t get experience without a degree, and you can’t get adequate experience while getting a degree. It’s a vicious cycle. Add on the disappearance of tenureship, and that basically kills the possibility of a stable, if even possible, teaching job at any Junior College or University. Now add over a hundred reject letters for short stories, flash fictions, prose poems, a few attempts at the Novella, even job applications at Junior Colleges, and it gets depressing (John Daulton if you are reading this, I know, self-publish, the eBook is the way of the future). But, like I said, it has been much much worse for the Wife. Compile all my stress and failures and put them on her shoulders, while taking care of our family with having the only somewhat fulltime job. Add our 17 month old child were trying to raise. And living with my parents. And being six months pregnant. That alone is enough to break the strongest of individuals. But that is nothing. Several of her friends and family members have been hospitalized, gone through surgery, or been diagnosed with stage four cancers. Then, her younger cousin died at age 17 of Ewing Sarcoma that he fought for six year, and a good friend from her childhood died at 26 from an intense infection that ravaged her already weak body. Both within a week of each other. The Wife has lost a lot this year. But she wouldn’t say it. Wouldn’t even think it. She, instead, worries about the families that have lost their loved ones, wonders how those families are doing, what they must be going through. Not a single complaint uttered. I know I wrote a month or two ago about empathy, stating that it doesn’t exist –- I still don’t think it does -- but if any mortal were to possess the actual ability to empathize, it would be her. She loves more than most can understand. More than I understand, for sure. By no means is she perfect, but when she loves someone, she loves them to the end, unconditionally.

We are glad to see 2013 finally end. It was a rough year. A year we would like to forgot. Maybe in 10 years it won’t look so bad. I hope so.

All I can say is that 2014 is going to be better. That’s not a resolution, it’s a choice. To improve. To live better. It sucks, really, that this rejuvenation has come right at the cusp of the year change, so this rant looks like a resolution, but it’s not. Trust me. It comes from going to two funerals in December for people younger than me, who were doing more with their lives than I am now; from a place where living with my parents may be killing me, my wife, my child(ren), and our marriage; from watching others be successful with their degrees, in careers that they are happy with, or publishing stories and books; from wanting to work on my own art, to focus on my work and taking care of my family. Wanting to be the husband, father, provider, friend, and artist that I want and deserve to be.

I want to live better. This year I am going to live better.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The point of no return (or something like that)



I’ve thought about writing this for a month now.

But I haven’t written anything since November 11th. I know the exact day because it was two days after starting the 27 Act Play about Capitalism (which was never completed, and most likely will never be completed).

Today was the first day I read a book in two months (I don’t want to read it, but I’m in a book club, and I need to man up). Even for work, where I teach two classes twice a week for four hours, I haven’t read a single text to prepare for class. I’ve avoided reading and writing like some bad simile or metaphor that I can’t think of.

I don’t know what happened. I know how it happened, but the why eludes me. At the beginning of November I got an email from Sixfold.org about some new fiction and poetry they recently released. Nothing special, just an update from one of the many publishers that I periodically receive. I read the excerpts from each book embedded in the email—then something sort of snapped in my brain: “I’ve read this before, a thousand times, these words in this order, trying to tell this story.” Or something very much close to it. Possibly from my own writing. Bland, predictable, naïve and inarticulate. Perhaps to the point of being amateurish. Maybe. I don’t know. But since then, I’ve done nothing except watch TV and play on the internet (in the time that I’m not at work, which isn’t much). I’ll do an occasional craft project with the wife, but my writing, my reading, my growth as a human: stagnant. Truthfully, dying, because without those valuable nutrients books offer, my brain and creativity are slowly wilting to dust.

I don’t know what to do, how to snap out of this.

Last week I published a book of short fiction and creative non-fiction that a select group of friends from Sacramento and I wrote. Twelve of us, all graduates for the same Master’s program at Sac State. I’ve been working on this book since July. We all have. Working with the authors editing their work, revising, proofreading, compiling, and finally designing and publishing the book through CreateSpace. But by the end, I didn’t want to read anymore. Nothing. Especially this book. Everything finalized, just upload the PDF, proof it, and approve. Of course I’d read through each of their stories intensely at least three times, and done a number of skims on top of that. When it came to that final proof . . . I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t read through it one more time, and because of it, there are inexcusable typos throughout the book, typos I could have easily avoided and rectified if I so chose. I didn’t. I want to care that I didn’t, but I don’t. And that scares me.

“It’s ok, you’re just going through a tough patch.”
“Don’t worry, man, it’s just a rut, we all go through it.”
“This happens to everyone.”
“Me too, I totally know what that’s like.”

I hear it all the time. I expect some reading this think the same about me and my current state of being. Of course you do, we all do. We do it to anyone who is struggling, because we don’t really know what to say. How could we? It is impossible for any human being to feel what another human is feeling. We are not that person, and can never be that person. I’ve come to find the word ‘empathy’ to be impossible, one of those non-words we somehow created and gave meaning to without realizing its textual existence did not correspond to our corporeal reality. According to dictionary.com, empathy is: 1) the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another; 2) the imaginative ascribing to an object, as a natural object or work of art, feelings or attitudes present in oneself. The second definition I’m not even going to consider. The first one is impossibility. How can we presume to have the ability of “vicarious[ly] experiencing . . . the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another,” when we can’t even explain or understand our own internal machinations? For so long I lived under the pretense that I could ‘empathize’ with another human, that it was possible for me to feel exactly what someone else felt. Over the years I have doled out advice under the guise of empathic understanding, because I ‘felt’ someone else’s situation. Foolish dribble and delusion. Even if I wanted to live the life of another, make it part of my own living, my own experiencing, I couldn’t. Our physical partitions inhibit that possibility. Our separation, our inherent inability to ‘know’ another, is the only attribute that makes us unique. It is the epitome of individuality. We may never do anything truly original, or genius, or even noteworthy, but because we exist, that makes us unique, because our experiences and emotions and memories cannot be experienced by another. No matter how hard science tries to bridge that gap, it can never be crossed. Ever.

And that is what makes where I am at so difficult. I don’t want to talk to anyone, because I don’t want those generic answers, they don’t help. And I don’t want attempts at real advice, because they are meaningful and genuine and come from somewhere loving (I think), but they don’t help either, because they are wrong. They are always wrong. You. Me. Everyone. Always wrong. When it comes to giving people advice. We can get close. Damn close. But we will always come up short.

I don’t know where to go from here. Every day I get on the computer to check my emails, Facebook, do the good American routine and give my soul to the interwebs. And then I think, “eh, maybe I should try writing something.” Then I sit, staring. Avoiding the Microsoft Word icon on the bottom of the screen. Maybe look through some pictures, open those folders hiding old stories and read their titles but leave their contents alone. Afterwards, I slip back onto the internet, or go watch TV, or just sit and stare and mope.

Maybe it is just a phase. A rough patch. The weight of no job prospects and publishing almost an impossibility (let alone opening my own independent publishing house) and learning to be a good father and failing at being a good husband and dealing with living at my parents’ because I can’t afford a one bedroom apartment anywhere and squishing two entire lives into my old high school bedroom with reminders everywhere that even after ten years I have gone nowhere with my life (little glow in the dark stars burning on the ceiling at night, mocking, and Star Wars spaceship miniatures dangling amidst those stars watching my incapacity to grow) while on my wall the Calvin and Hobbes mural I started when I was 14 waits to be completed but never will be no matter how hard I try to finish it. I lay awake a lot at night with my room taunting me, asking me what I am still doing in there, now with a wife, and a child right down the hall, why nothing has changed, and where did that extra 30 pounds come from?

Maybe it’s not a phase. Maybe I broke something in my head. Maybe after 28 years my neurons aligned (or disconnected) in just the right way to fracture all my neuropathways that made it possible for me to function, to be happy, to create.

I don’t know.

So now I am here. Writing for the first time in over a month. It’s not much, but it’s something. A step forward, I guess. Perhaps this will open my mind to finally write that non-fiction piece I was going to start the week following the 27 Act Play on Capitalism, to finally put down on paper or digital space the sentence I’ve repeated to myself at least once every day since the beginning of November:

“I take drugs because I’m afraid.”

Friday, November 8, 2013

IBA and New Literary Theory



DISCLAIMER

this is long, just deal with it



Before I get to the good stuff (or what I think is the good stuff), let’s do a little update:

-THE JOB: still there, apparently. Term just ended, and I got my official exit date: December 2014. I know, not what I expected either, but I’ll take it. Turns out, they are actually trying to cut away the higher paid faculty before us peons, which really makes more sense. My supervisor goes six months before I do, so that’s weird. And the school’s President left at the end of October, so now we’re just running on the Education Department I guess.

-THE WRITING: way harder than I thought it would be. A few years ago (for those who remember), I did this experiment called The Daily Flash. Every day, for a year, I wrote a flash fiction or prose poem. Minimum 100 words, maximum 1,000. I lasted 152 (or so) days. Not bad, but certainly not all the way. For a myriad of reasons I stopped the project, but the biggest was I felt I wasn’t learning anything anymore. This time I have three completed stories so far, and I’m working on the fourth. Right on schedule. Rather than try and explain each story, I’ll just give you one of my favorite sections from each:

“He watched the painting, each lighting strike illuminating the dark, but from within. Flashes bounced between the frames, skipping out from the wall and into the room—each corner highlighted long enough for Malcolm to see the entire room. Crash after crash, moving closer, the gap between light and sound shrinking, until he heard both together, the storm raging from the wall, or outside, rattling the windows, Nell still sleeping away the night under her comforter. In the corner on the loudest thunder he saw a man standing: dark skin, short cropped black hair, wearing a loin cloth and red painted across his eyes. Just standing. Motionless. Staring at Malcolm on the bed. In the second Malcolm knew they saw each other, saw something deeper than he saw in the painting, some inexplicable variance. Malcolm tapped Nell, tried to wake her, but she groaned and swatted his hand away. Another flash. The corner was empty.”

“Unfortunately, it’s too loud to really talk to each other, so the conversation dies after it starts and I’m left to myself again. The worst part is I’m standing here texting myself sentences (these sentences) and ideas for a story (this story) because I don’t know how to be here, in this moment, to simply exist and experience. Seven texts all trying to understand why I am not excited to be here at this show.”

“Weeks after his father’s stroke, and Angus’ second trip down the California valley, he stopped listening to music. It was bad enough he to make the drive just to sit in an overly-sterilized hospital room while his father slept and his mother tried not to cry, eating fast food and take-out for a week straight—he making all the trips, his mother too afraid that Angus’ father would “pass away” the moment she left. It irked him how she said things like “pass away”, or “moved on”, as if no one ever died, but some magical transportation altered our consciousness and inserted it in someone else, somewhere else, still living, still breathing, just unseen. Angus didn’t like death, didn’t like corpses and formaldehyde and caskets and churches with people crying in black—or the ‘celebrators of life’ who thought by wearing color it made the person less dead—but death was death. When you died, you died. People are either alive or dead, and there is nothing in-between.”

AND then there is this week’s story. I’ll give you the title: “Capitalism, a play in 27 Acts”. I will say this about it, reading the Communist Manifesto will make you hate everything, especially when you realize that you too “. . . live only so long as [you] find work, and [you] find work only so long as [your] labour increases capital.” I won’t bore you with anti-capitalist rants, but I am on fire with this new story (not really the writing so much, but the ‘angry inside’ that will hopefully create the writing).

Ok. Enough of that. Now to the point.

-THE IBA AND LIT THEORY: So, I started this story “Hypotheses” months ago about a mathematician, Georg Cantor. It took me three months to finish it (and I recently submitted it to a contest, so I’ll keep you posted on how that goes). I had read earlier this year a book entitled The Mystery of the Aleph: Mathematics, the Kabbalah, and the Search for Infinity by Amir D. Aczel. It expounded on the history of ‘Infinity’ from almost the beginning of time down to our modern era, focusing primarily on Georg Cantor in the 19th Century who invented/discovered the infinite set in set theory, which laid the foundation for studying the infinite in all mathematics and science. Sounds boring if you don’t love math, but really it was super intriguing. Anyway. This story took so long because I got lost in my own bizarre theorizing of beats and rhythm in writing, in relation to the infinite, that I couldn’t write my way out of it. I tried mathematically articulating and examining a sentence, as if I were a mathematician studying infinity. This is what I came up with (the middle section of the story):

He designated his finding “The Imaginary Beat Anomaly”, which he states as follows:
In any given textual sequence, there exists S number of syllables (or Real Beats), that can be quantified through the summing of written pronounceable syllables with the use of scansion—stressed any unstressed given equal values. However, in the same spoken sentence, there can also exist any number of unwritten syllables outside the present number S. These "indefinite" syllables (or Imaginary Beats), are represented by the Greek letter Ψ, and only exist in the spoken word. If Ψ’s are to exist, every sentence must contain the same number of beats, written and spoken, when the real and imaginary beats are summed, in order for communication to be feasible. The Universe Syntax Coefficient (u), where u is the set value of any given sequence of Real Beats in single integer order: a set of 10 elements or less being one, a set of 11 to 20 elements being two, etc. ad infinitum, where each element in a set is a Real Beat. In order for u to function in its proper intent, 10 must precede, making it possible to calculate the number of Ψ for any rendered sequence, or sentence.
Georg explicated this theory in a 35 page proof, concluding with the set of one u equaling 10, as it pertained to the number of God, a number Georg believed to not only circumnavigate his alephs, but the universe in general, especially communication, a number that intrinsically man inherited from his Creator. The proof designates a base 10 series to explain sentences of varied and compound/complex syntax. Georg graphed several examples—log10S, 10S, 10S, S10—all to what he thought possible outcomes in order to solve for Ψ in text.
     Punctuation, incidentally, he did not consider as part of the IBA theory . . . concluding that punctuation was the absence of beat, where the speaker/reader paused to breathe between phrases—much like the empty set present in all sets finite and infinite.

Don’t ask me where I got this idea from, because I’m still trying to figure that out myself. But the idea is that Georg Cantor tried to rationalize spoken language with written language to better address his issue with exposing Shakespeare as a fraud (which he tried to do actually, I just made up how he tried to do it). That it could be possibly, through a series of simple mathematical equations (equations that still need writing) to accurately designate speech patterns—predict, study, and reproduce with precision any individuals speech patterns—through the use of Imaginary Beats.

At first, I just thought I was being clever. How brilliant of you, I thought, making up all this weird word math. You’re so smart, you should write a book or something. I was pretty proud of myself. I finally wrote something that I would actually like to read, which doesn’t happen very often for any writers (at least that I know of), and certainly has never happened for me until now. The story is imperfect, the math is wrong, but the idea is there and I was happy.

Until my brain thought more.

For those who know me well, know how much I loathe Literary Theory. My personal theory on Lit Theory goes something like this: somewhere in the 19th or 20th Century people started graduating from college with degrees in Literature and didn’t know what the hell to do with them, so they started teaching; but then they realized they were teaching a subject just so students could learn it to teach to others, with no practical application, spiraling into an infinite cycle of uselessness among an ever-growing globalized world. And they knew that Universities would catch on, so they invented ‘Literary Theory’ to make their jobs seem relevant. Now, they could publish work to benefit the school using the high brow standards of ‘Literary Theory’, exposing what authors had ‘hidden’ in their writings, while applying social commentaries that fit the current fads. A system of semiotics was created by Literature nerds to make themselves feel useful.

It’s fine. People might hate me for that. Whatever. I hate theory, so we’re even.

At least I thought I did. Until this Imaginary Beat Anomaly started seeping into my every day thinking.

Nothing profound or miraculous, with lots of wind and billowing clothes and a changed heart; but something subtle, an inkling. I don’t know how to describe it, but my idea of words and sentences and language has started to shift. And I’ve thought about how to make this IBA thing tangible. Is it possible to write an infinite sentence, one that in itself appears complete with end punctuation, but no possible conclusion to its invisible parts? Or to speak such a sentence? Are our lives simply an experiment of the infinitely spoken sentence, all the silence and breathing and inarticulations a combination of one whole story, one whole sentence of seemingly infinite syllables that only death ceases; but rather a pausing until our ‘dying breath’ finds new lungs, new words and phrases and sentences and experiences to continue the infinite? Possibly only one seemingly infinitely syllabled word? To breathe in and out and speak an entire unknown language—even to yourself—an infinitude that materializes then vanishes in the blink of eye.

Can we talk about language this way? Is it possible to describe and theorize words with math and science and systematic methodology? I actually want to try. I don’t know how, yet, but hopefully I will find people as interested as I am to find something new with Literary Theory.

I wrote something down a few weeks that I wanted to use as a tagline if I ever start my own press:

“Roland Barthes once wrote: ‘The author is dead.’ He wrote a bunch of other nonsense, too, but he’s dead. All the old philosophers, theorists, narcissists are dead. So let’s move on.”

Again, I think I’m clever. But it’s true. We live in a new age. I know a lot of theory is moving towards examining technology and its influence on diction, syntax, theme, character, etc. Great. But it’s still the same in the end: we are examining the same things with just a slightly different lens. I want more. I want different. I want to really consider the Imaginary Beat Anomaly. I want to hybridize language and math and science and being. There is some bridge yet to be built that can traverse life, the universe, and everything.

Anyone want to help me build it?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Weltschmerz and a Plan

So, last night the Wife and I were watching the Big Bang Theory (because it's hilarious, and we were eating dinner). Rather than try to explain the clip and get everything wrong and boring, I'll just show you:





Of course, being the nerd that I am, I didn't believe "Weltschmerz" was a word, or that it meant what Sheldon says it means (because it's TV, and like the internet, the TV lies). So I looked it up in my German Dictionary (because I'm that awesome I have a German Dictionary that is an actual book, not some internet hooey). This is what it says:

Weltschmerz, m.
 weariness of life, pessimistic outlook, romantic discontent.

Crap dang it.

The show got it right, which is awesome. I've seen this episode before, and every time I see it, I always think: "I really need to remember that word, it's brilliant." Of course, I never do, so the next time I hear it, I'm excited all over again. And the reason being is that this is how I feel. All. The. Time. I would venture to say most of us do. Accepting the deluge of the world is not easy, or desirable. We want to be who we are, doing what we want to do, and people loving us for it; but, alas, we live in 2013 when that is not possible. Not to say that there was some Golden Age when it was possible (because who knows what was possible hundreds or thousands of years ago? Certainly not historians, or scientists).

Last night, I decided I would write some brilliant blog about this clip. About how watching the show helped me remember some small epiphany that has remained hidden somewhere in my memory for years, about how I've got the "weltschmerz" and how difficult it is to live in our modern society being diagnosed with this German terminology all while trying to be an "artist", how writer's don't get the credit they deserve for the work they and hours spent thinking and creating and thinking more. I'd link to this article about writers in the UK and how the world on a whole does not respect artists and blah blah blah, whine whine whine. The point is, I was going to write about this. Then, I checked my school email this morning (I've edited the email to remove names and things, because I don't want to get in trouble or whatever, because I'm a wuss):


Dear Faculty & Staff,

We greatly value the contribution you provide to our institution.  That’s why I want to share an important development about our campus with you as early as possible. 

Effective (DATE REMOVED), the (SCHOOL I WORK AT) will no longer enroll new students in its programs and will begin a gradual process of discontinuing operations — what’s called a “teach-out.” Our team made this difficult decision (NO TEACHERS WERE INCLUDED IN THIS DECISION) by taking a number of factors into account, including local economic and workforce conditions and enrollment levels at the campus. We expect that the campus will remain open until (PEEPS IS GRADIMUCATED). 

We recognize how hard everyone works, and we are deeply grateful for all of your efforts.  This should in no way be seen as a reflection on your work here (WELL THAT MAKES ME FEEL ALL WARM AND FUZZY).
We have made the commitment to an orderly transition to closure that will provide current students a reasonable opportunity to complete their programs of study. (I cut out a long boring part that wasn't really pertinent to the blog, it was about what services students will have access to as the school slowly shuts down).

Here are some key facts that you should know about this decision:

  • The anticipated date for closing the campus is (WHEN THERE ARE NO STUDENTS LEFT).

  • This decision will result in immediate (I THINK THIS MEANS ME) and future staff reductions, which we will implement in phases without sacrificing the quality of our student-focused education and services.

  • We will follow up with each of you this week to provide you specifics about your individual situation.

  • We will offer severance pay to our full-time staff (THIS IS NOT ME).  

Our intent is to make this process as transparent and supportive as possible, and we are committed to ongoing communication with faculty, students, alumni and all stakeholders.

While we know this is difficult news for you to receive, our students will count on you for support and guidance in order to complete their studies successfully.  We thank you for your passion and commitment to our students, and we are confident that you will continue to show that dedication to students during this transition period.

Please know that the (THE SCHOOL) continues to operate campuses in the United States.  We continue to be very proud of the education we provide. 

Thank you again for your passion, commitment and continued support for each other and our students during this transitional period.


Wow. It was 8:00 AM, and I was getting ready to leave for that very job in an hour. All I could do was laugh (because my other option was to cry, and I don't cry, I'm a man). So, yes, I laughed. And then I told my wife, excitedly, that the school was closing. I'm not excited, I just like sarcasm and irony, though I suck at timing.

Now what? I'm still trying to process all this. It's not a lot, just frustrating and sudden, and I'm not sure what my next step should really be. I thought I would have this job for at least a year, teaching one or two classes a term, dealing with the same kind of students over and over, correcting the same issues, but still getting paid, and working my way out of the school to another school, or an editing job, or maybe get that book deal that makes me a millionaire writing household appliance romance fiction. Or win the lottery, who knows? But this . . . . I should explain that I felt this was coming. We have these mandatory meetings where we talk about the state of the school and students, and what we are doing to improve our teaching. In order for the school to keep its accreditation, they have to do these meetings. I've been to two in the last three months I've worked here. And at both all I heard was how things were changing, and they were adding new programs, and new advertising, and trying to bring in new blood to get more money. The higher ups made it sound great. Too great. Way too great. To be honest, I wasn't surprised by the email, none of the teachers should have been, though some were. It's simple business. Not enough money, close up shop. Even an English major can figure that much out.

Anyway.

What do I do now? I had finally come to some conclusion for myself in the last blog about where I'm at with my life: living in my head, disillusioned about the world around me. Kind of like the weltschmerz, but less Germanic. And I came to the conclusion that I needed a plan. Some change, some direction to follow until I can get to the horizon and steal that pot of gold from the dead Leprechaun and ride over the rainbow on a Unicorn to Avalon and the White Shores. Of course, that plan involved still teaching while I slowly made some significant changes that would allow me the freedom to create, to become, to explore and grow (because let's face it, I've got baby numero dos coming along and working super part-time doesn't buy diapers, or food, or air). And living with the parents needs to end, this can't continue much longer, or I might explode. Or implode. Or both. Like a Red Giant. Maybe I'll just shrink up to a White Dwarf or Brown Dwarf and use my intense gravity to bring everyone else down around me. Granted, it's not the best option, but it's something.

Back to the plan. It was going to be epic. Not the modern overly used internet meme sense, but in the classical literature Beowulf meets Odyssey sense. Slaying the wicked, traversing unfathomable landscapes and conquering fears and beasts and demons, et cetera, et cetera. But now, I feel like a deflated balloon. Slouched over, tide to a string, the garbage my imminent demise.

I've got the Weltschmerz. I've got it bad. But no one is going to change that for me. Not my job, not my wife, not my parents, certainly not society or capitalism or the world. So, for now, I have only A plan, not THE plan (because THE plan will blown my mind, and I can't afford that kind of medical coverage right now).

So, for the rest of the year, I'm going to write a new story, or chapter for a book, every week. Because I need to focus on MY work more. I've spent so much time editing other brilliant people's writing that I need to get lost in my stories, with my characters, in my worlds. This won't be easy I'm sure, but I did pull off over 150 days of writing flash a few years ago, how hard can a few months be? I mean, even with these being real stories (at least 1500 words or more), it shouldn't be too difficult . . .  right? And, on top of writing, every contest I find, I'm submitting to. No matter the cost. I've already submitted to at least five in the last month, I'm working on the Novella again right now for another, I'm going to put together a chapbook of prose poems/flash fictions for another contest, and then see what else I can find.

I'm sick and tired of the world pocking me in the and laughing so hard it gets spit all over my face. It's time to start pocking and spitting back, yo. I'm no sissy-faced sitzpinkler.