I don’t know if anyone else remembers it, the first time they received a piece of mail addressed to them that wasn’t a glittery birthday card from Mom Mom wishing you happiness, Xs and Os, along with a starched five dollar bill wrapped in a blank sheet of legal paper. Today I think about a piece of mail addressed to me of all people, my name, how did they get my name, how cool is this, to get a bit of correspondence from the New York Public Library, here in this place where I kind of lived, unsolicited. It arrived like… well…rather like Harry Potter’s acceptance letter from Hogwarts. It was an invitation to a talk given by well-known authors, and sadly the only name I can recall is Jane Yolen. I was maybe 15 years of age and there was no way, in that time of my life, that I could conceive of asking my parents to take me to the event. My best friend’s father died and I couldn’t even ask them for a ride to the funeral because I didn’t know how, and I knew without need of an oracle that my Dad would never drive me to the hated city for any reason at all. It was a folly, that bit of letter, and the idea that I-I–had been invited was very cool but that’s as far as it went. (As an aside, the other letters I recall receiving in those days were heart-shredding solicitations from PETA and the Republican Party, neither of which I subscribe.)
Some years ago I came across a book of essays by Henry Rollins titled “Solipsis.” I flipped through it and found the writing visceral, angry, fascinating, but I wasn’t ready for it: I was too young to understand. I have rediscovered Mr. Rollins who causes my writing self to be disturbed, unmoored, get a lady boner, and hungry. NOW I get it. I made a few mouse clicks and discovered he has a spoken word tour going on, and lo and behold, one in traveling distance! I went to click on the “buy ticket” button only to discover both nights have been sold out. He won’t be back within 300 miles of me mostly likely for the rest of the year. Late. Gutted.
So many things have opened up to me because of that magic thing called ‘internet.’ It’s how I discovered a taste for flash fiction, came to fall into the arms of a cadre of writers who help keep my creative mind moving, and more importantly, their friendships. Thanks to this thing called a Twitter feed I was able to attend a conversation with Junot Diaz. There are so many events and calls for submissions I find it hard to keep up. I am drowning in opportunity, and the only thing holding me back is me! I discovered a talk about Tarot and the Poetics of Imaginary Solutions fairly locally, but I found out a little too late. There was no way I was going to be able to wrest myself from my job in order to attend. This morning I regret not trying hard enough to swap days with someone so I could attend. It was a little adventure I declined to fight for. What did I miss? What might I have gained? How many adventures have I declined? Oh god, that’s hard to think about.
I have been late to the party so many times, like that night I fell into Social Distortion and never looked back, or the day I was captured by Concrete Blonde; blessings. These bands have been around a long time, and I’m running around waving my arms going “Hey look this is awesome! Wow!” And everyone else is like, “Yeah babe, we know, where you been?” Today I am sorry I didn’t fight harder to attend a little bookstore talk, a missed opportunity, adventure. There’s a little adventure in every day, there has to be. I’m not some scared 15-year-old without access to a car and handwritten directions to get me to the parking garage so I can get to the NYPL, to be surrounded by a bunch of people that outrank me in every way… right? Oh god…
Today I will meditate on how to get hungry enough to take it all, fill my plate, devour fearlessly, and fill reams of paper with results. And write, baby, write!