Archive - 2015
On Halloween night, 10 years ago, I pulled into Tucson in a rented SUV packed full of as much of my belongings as I could get into it. The few possessions of mine that wouldn’t fit were in a friend’s basement in Portland, Oregon, where’d lived for the last 3 years and where I’d eventually, reluctantly realized I couldn’t stay. The rainy winters had gotten to be too much, and I decided the desert was where I needed to be instead.
It’s symbolic, or indicative, of how much my life has changed since then that I spent most of my anniversary day, October 31, at the hospital, taking care of my sick daughter (It's not serious, don't worry). Ten years ago I wouldn't have been able to imagine such a scenario, and in fact would have found it inconceivable that I would have a life in which I wouldn't have time to write a blog post on a Saturday about living in a town for 10 years. I wouldn't have even imagined being here that long. The longest I'd lived anywhere before, as an adult, was 6 years.
Do I have time to fully explain the profound changes to those who didn't know me then? Probably not. But in a nutshell, think about my first paragraph, above. Everything I was to live with, packed into a car I didn't own. My bike, the futon I slept on, my computer, some cameras and video tapes, that was pretty much it. I had no job waiting for me in Tucson. I had no assets and not even a savings account. Now I have a wife, a kid, a house, a car, two dogs, 3 chickens, 2 and a half bikes, power tools, and more.
I'll quickly just list some other differences between then and now:
- There were only 3 or 4 people I knew in Tucson. Now I know hundreds of people and have never felt more a part of a community that I do here.
- I was a war tax resister and as such I owed the IRS tens of thousands of dollars and had the aforementioned lack of assets and savings because of the fear that they would show up and take it at any time. I even was afraid of having a regular, non-freelance job. Now I pay my taxes and have permanent, salaried work.
- I was single and had been for the last 3 years and in fact for my entire life I was against the idea of ever being married. Now I'm permanently linked to someone I know I want to be with for the rest of my life.
- I had basically rejected art in favor of media activism (I sold or gave away all my guitars and other musical equipment before leaving Portland). I felt radicalized and unable to justify making art and not devoting myself, at least my free time, to social change in a direct way. Now I have returned quite a bit back to art and am trying to lead a more balanced existence between work, activism, (still socially aware) creative projects, family, and even other pasttimes like brewing beer and roasting coffee.
- For my whole life and including my first few years in Tucson, I was totally committed to not having children. I still believe in not producing my own offspring for social and environmental reasons, but I now am the father of an adopted little girl who I love and am devoted to, to an extent I could not have even fathomed 10 years ago.
- I enjoy gardening. I enjoy digging holes in my yard, and building things with wood and drills and saws. I live with and love 2 dogs. I see a therapist every week, run 3 miles every other day, and go to work 40 hours a week in an office. None of those things were true 10 years ago and in fact none of them I expected to ever do, some had never even occurred to me, and some of them I had been consciously opposed to.
You get the picture. And I'm happier, healthier, feel less afraid, more secure, more balanced - for the most part. Life is good.
I better wrap this up and get it put on my blog, before my familly wakes up.
author: Karl Taro Greenfeld
average rating: 3.20
book published: 1995
read at: 2015/10/17
date added: 2015/10/18
shelves: novels, fun, children, own-it, gentrification
Excellent. Lots of stuff about parenthood, marriage, class, gentrification, and more. Some of it is wise, some bitingly satirical. Makes me definitely want to read more of Greenfeld's work.
author: Jerry Stahl
average rating: 4.62
book published: 2015
read at: 2015/07/31
date added: 2015/07/31
shelves: children, fun, spirit-self, memoir, own-it
For a lot of this book, I would reluctantly have to categorize Stahl's writing as basically "trying too hard." Occasionally he has a moment of real cleverness, or of real profundity. But too often he edges past those points and over the cliff of ham-fisted awkwardness.
I think if I wasn't myself a parent, and for that matter a quasi-OG Dad myself, I would only give this book 3, or even 2, stars. But there's enough stuff that resonates and is a smart take on things I've been living too, for it to be worth wading past the dumb bits. I think maybe Stahl's been in the Hollywood TV writing world for too long, or something. His writing here often feels like Groucho Marx trying to be Charles Bukowski - or maybe vice versa. I have felt for years like I would like to someday read his celebrated memoir "Permanent Midnight", but if it's the same level of craft as this, I might not get around to that.
Still, there are some great gems. He adequately conveys some of the experience of being a creative, "edgy", but aging, guy who finds himself, amazingly, a new father. If you don't care about the aging part, I think Neal Pollack's "Alternadad" is a better read. But Jerry Stahl has clearly been through the shit and come out the other side.