Ladies and gentlemen, Amanda Palmer and Nervous Cabaret, covering “House of the Rising Sun.” (Thanks, Dave.)
This is likely my last post of the year, and of the decade. I wish I had some grand statement to make on the past ten years. I think the only thing I can say is that I feel more like myself now than I did ten years ago. Ten years ago, I was preparing to celebrate this night in somebody’s basement by drinking virgin cocktails from a plastic cup with my name scrawled on it in Sharpie. (I was sixteen.) Now I’m celebrating it with actual champagne, and the night probably won’t end with a homeowner chidingly asking if he can interrupt my making out with a boy on his washing machine. (Again: I was sixteen.)
That night, I had a novel finished. It was crap. Tonight, I have an unfinished novel which is hopefully less crap. That night, I had no real hope of entering the industry: no friends in it, no experience with it, no understanding of what I might have to contribute. I’m still working on the last one, but I like to think I’ve improved in the other areas. The friends I have now, the relationships I’m working on, are the ones I’d like to have ten years from now. Everyone says that, I know, but I feel more at home now than I did then. I have three families now. It takes a village. It takes a hemisphere. It takes three time zones and a lot of waiting. And I sometimes feel just as awkward now as I did then.
They were dense years, in between then and now. They included high school, university, and my first Master’s. This is a point of pride on the one hand, and a little worrying on the other. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever be done with school — but if I’m done with it, what will I do instead? I’ve never been out of school, really. Even the times I spent outside the academic system I was hoping to return to it. It provides a rhythm that I’m used to. I like to think I’m fairly good at it. I’m not sure what else I’m good at.
In the next ten years, that’s something I’d like to find out. I’d like to know what I’m good at. There are a small number of things I do pretty well in that others have trouble doing (public speaking, for example), but I’m still flummoxed whenever someone asks me what my actual skills are. I have this same problem with genre: when people ask me what type of science fiction I write, my mouth gapes like a koi fish and I have to really hotwire some synapses to come up with an answer. This is a fairly typical problem for people my age, and I know I’ll probably grow out of it. In all honesty, I sometimes wish I could fast-forward to forty-six, and ditch twenty-six. Generally, twenty-six is one of those ages that can be summed up by weepy songs sung by skinny boys with floppy hair.
Well, except for this one.
You bring the smokes, I’ll bring the beer.