Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Charmed Life

It's becoming more and more apparent to me that the rest of the world should be jealous of me. Most of you go through life playing various roles that are assigned to you by some Big Brother, bossy turd-monger that doesn't give a rats ass about YOU.

Sucks to be you! I have bosses, don't get me wrong, tons of them. There's the home boss (Hi, sweetie!), several levels of work bosses, professors and mentors, agents I'm trying to land, and even my own children serve as bosses from time to time. But what can't be denied is, no matter what role I'm playing, I get to be me.

There's not a writer me, a teacher me, a father me, a husband me, or any of that bullshit that I find in the lives of others--and I consider me at any other period of my life as OTHER. No, I'm me no matter where I am or what I'm doing, and I get away with it. Unfair you say? TOO BAD!

I am 100% convinced that pure happiness comes only from living this sort of life. I find myself trying to figure out just how and why this has happened. I'm at the point now that even when money is tight or things are going a bit wrong, I'm still blissfully me. I can't be unhappy. WTF??? I get angry. I get frustrated. I get worried--for sure! But it's all temporary, and in the long-run, my life is pretty perfect. Am I crazy? Probably. But that's okay because that's part of me, too!

So why? Well, one thing is my natural rebellious streak. I've always wanted to be a rock star, and since I suck musically, I just decided to be a rock star on a daily basis. What does that entail? Doing what you want, when you want, how you want, and not caring what others think, I suppose. Fuck the man. Punk oi oi oi, and all that. But I do care. I want others to appreciate me. I want to be told I'm doing a good job. But I want to be doing a good job and getting attention for it not because of the attention, I don't think. It's just because it kind of makes people happy when you do great things, even if you're not them, so why not spread the happiness. I like making people happy or proud or whatever they feel when they smile and tell me I did a good job.

As far as rebellion goes, that kind of helps out a bit with shredding those labels and roles. I'm myself in the classroom. For some reason, it just works for me. I don't have to be some holier than thou dictator. Turns out teens are people too (a basic premise of this blog if you've been reading). They respond to leaders that recognize that. Maybe I don't speak perfect English 100% of the time in front of them. Maybe I indulge some of their tangents a bit too much because they're fun. Maybe I end a lesson prematurely, not to give in to their boredom, but because I, myself, am bored. Kill me. It works for me, and for some reason, I've been allowed to do it.

As a writer, I've been able to indulge in my weirdest fantasies, strangest worries, and most complex dreams, nightmares, and just plain philosophical ramblings. And, for the most part, people like it. It amuses me when some of the ideas of my characters are referred to interesting and great fiction, but like way totally fucked up. You're talking about me, people! You realize that, right?

I don't really play down to my own children at all either. I'm myself with them as well. Of course my wife would say letting them listen to Murderdolls while riding in the back of the car is probably bad for them, and that I'm not much more than a big kid anyway, so of course I can relate to them on their level (I suppose this goes for the classroom, too). But just because she's right, doesn't make me wrong.

Some how this "big kid" dilemma, though, has no negative side-effects. I still get all my work and then some done. I'm currently an MFA student with a 3.93 GPA, a teacher who advises both the school paper and the yearbook who spends way more time on them then anyone could possibly ever imagine, an obsessive writer who is working on his second novel in two years while painfully holding himself back on the third that is formulating in his mind, and a father of two kids, etc etc...and my work is always on time or early, done to the best of my abilities, and done well according to most observers. How do I do it without snapping?

I love it.

See, all of that doesn't seem like work at all. Not that I'm offering to do it all without pay, but truly it seems like teaching, running teen publications, writing, parenting, and being a student are just my list of hobbies. They're what I do to unwind. So, I guess that means I'm almost always (unless the children are being pure evil--at home or school) unwinding. I'm seldom wound. People sometimes ask if I take anything seriously. The say, "Do you take anything seriously?"

The truth But in a strange way I take everything seriously. I just ENJOY taking it seriously and doing it "all the way," so it doesn't seem so serious.

It's like Aldus Huxley's A Brave New World (one of those novels we teach to children without batting an eyelash despite drug use and orgies--pass the Soma, fuck, fuck). It's like I've been bred scientifically to just love everything I'm doing.

I think that's why I've become so attracted to YA. I can't separate the writer, the teacher, the father, the reader, the student, etc etc. But in YA, I don't have to. It all overlaps in the YA. In YA I'm just me, the way I always am, and that's just that. Why they let me get away with it, I don't know. Perhaps people just like me. When I'm not playing the right role, they let me pass with a chuckle and a "that's just Friskey being Friskey." I don't know. I just win. Either I've been brainwashed, or I've brainwashed you all. I get away with being me. It's sad the world won't let everyone get away with the same.

So why be YA or A when you can be U.



  1. Well said! And certainly something for everyone to strive for. I've found that the more I'm me in the classroom, the more they respond to me, so I can so see where you're coming from!

  2. Your badassness will stand you in good stead in the world of publishing. Also I do not buy that you don't take anything seriously. I think you take yourself and your work and your writing very seriously, and that's a requirement of equal importance to being a badass. I predict further greatness.

  3. I love that you acknowledge your wife being right doesn't make you wrong. Isn't that the core of all your relationships at work and grad school as well as home? Loved this blog WF.

  4. Mara--I'm glad to hear that. I can't do phony. Even if it's the "that's the way you have to live to get by" kind of phony. You know, what Holden would call "the game." That picture of yours always makes me happy.

    Karen--I hope you're right. I just wish agents would agree with you. Thanks, though. I'm going to go and be badass somewhere.

    Laura--I'm always telling my students that we can all be right. Who knows what's right and wrong anyway? I usually can't pick a side, even in my own fights.

  5. Rock on...pun intended. ;)

  6. Oh you Petey Pan you -- youse just a big kid who doesn't wanna grow up!