I am a college professor living in a city of 110,000 staked out on arid, mesquite plains somewhere in the western portion of the Sunbelt. At a local private university I teach creative writing classes.
Once upon a time I attended and graduated from an Ivy League college with a degree in economics. Within a couple of years of my casually walking away with a B.A. degree, which included a detour into the Prudhoe Bay oil field, I found myself scribbling in earnest with a far away look in my eyes rather than sitting behind a desk in an office wearing a tie as I'd always imagined.
Soon I had a short story in The Atlantic Monthly. Then The New Yorker. Then Rolling Stone. An excerpt from my first novel ran in Cosmopolitan. Raymond Carver, Larry McMurtry, Joe McGinnis blurbed my work.
I was on my way.
Then I impaled my literary career on a thousand-page novel all about America as I knew it, with a special emphasis on a former Space Shuttle astronaut who starts a religious cult. It took me seven years to write the book. No one would publish it. Agents and editors lost interest in the promising young writer who wasn’t so young anymore. That’s fine. I had to write what I had to write.
Against all odds, I'm still at it.
My News Addiction
It’s not much of a stretch to say that I’m addicted to the news. Give me newspapers, magazines, reliable websites, and interesting television programming and I’m ready to devour them all.
My consumption of the news reflects my stance toward humanity. I am a fly on the wall. I'm a sparrow perched in a bush. Or I'm huddled on a ledge, beak tucked into feathers. The humans may think I'm not looking, but I'm always trying to see inside someone's window.
What drives me? This, I think. I seek information about everything everywhere in the world because each day thte sun rises upon new stories of good and the bad unfolding on earth and humans dealing with it and all of it never fails to astonish me.
I have a wife, also a college professor, and a son who is in seventh grade.
I don’t mind giving out our dog’s name. It’s Bullwinkle. He’s a Rescue the Animals mutt. I don’t think Bullwinkle has an opinion about the news. He’s the strong, silent type. He never even barks.
A Bit More
I consider myself to be a fairly ordinary person. You may know the kind of ordinary I mean. I’m talking about surface, the basis for most quick judgments.
Looks- and dress-wise no one is going to pick me out in a crowd. I don’t speak loudly and I have no odd habits or strange dietary needs or hair growing in unusual places. Even if I put on a funny hat and adopted an accent I’d never be quirky enough to audition for a reality TV show.
Never mind. I have no problem with who I am. It seems to me that most of my friends and neighbors are are also prime candidates to be labeled as ordinary, which automatically leads me to suspect that very few of us actually are.