This happened during the first month I taught at Pittsburg State, in Kansas….
Three times that first month I returned to my office after teaching to find that someone had covered my office doorknob with—glue. Rubber cement of some sort.
I mean—what the fuck? Three times this happened!
I’d only just arrived on campus—it’s unlikely I’d angered a student so quickly.
Could the vandal have been one of my alleged colleagues?
Uh, probably. I was unwanted in that department, and—even though there were some very fine people there that I like and respect (#notallgorillas)—I was never made welcome by the people I was working most closely with. I have a pretty solid theory about who put the glue on the doorknob, but, lacking evidence, I won’t name names (for now).
And...this is really pretty minor, right? Other faculty members in the profession--especially women and women of color--get treated far worse far more often. But still. The pettiness of this act was typical of what I experienced in my three years at Gulag State….
Obligatory book plug: I have two books set in the often petty and frequently absurd world of higher education—you should read them!
Professed is a comic novel filled with the struggles and rivalries and oddities and many weirdnesses American higher education...And it’s on a super sale at Amazon right now!
Normal School is an academic noir set to come out this fall, a book filled with murder, embezzlement, and lots of entertaining bad behavior. You can read sample chapters at the Normal School website!
I've been doing stuff, but there is always the creeping neverending fear that I'm not doing enough....
I suppose you've wondered how I got those handsome scars on my nose....
Well. One night I was at the Deep Eddy drinking beer with MDC, who was down visiting from Alaska, talking mostly about fly fishing. After a while we left the bar to go get something to eat, and crossing the street to where MDC was parked, I was trying to demonstrate a roll-cast pickup—demonstrating with an imaginary fly rod—when I TRIPPED OVER MY STUPID FUCKING UNTIED SHOELACE!
Bang! I weighed about 220 pounds then, and all 220 pounds came crashing down on my poor nose. BOOM! My hands didn’t catch my fall, of course—they were in position to hold an imaginary fly rod. BANG!!!
Did I get knocked out? Maybe. I don’t know. Probably. I guess MDC rolled me over, because I do remember looking up at him, and he seemed concerned.
MDC took me to the Brackenridge ER. There were some cops there, and I heard one of them ask MDC, “So, why’d you beat up your buddy?”
MDC said, “Officer, it was the damnedest thing I ever saw….”
Inside the exam room, the doctor asked, “Is your nose broken?”
Before I could answer he grabbed it and twisted--
“It is now!” I said.
But it wasn’t. He gave me six stitches and sent me home—without pain meds! No pain meds for head injuries, a nurse explained. That's pretty rude. I'm still mad about that. I was fucking hurting.
MDC dropped me off—I was living in the basement of the Deep Eddy in those days. Don’t know what time it was—it was still dark. I went into my apartment and got my camera and took a photo of the blood I lost. Nice!
Somewhere in some box there is a photo of me taken the next day—my face is all swollen and I’m a glorious fucking mess! It’s a great picture. If I ever find it, I’ll scan it in and post it as an update….
But, anyway, that’s the story of the scars on my nose. I’m quite pleased with them, though I’m still regretful and angry about the lack of pain meds at the time. Pain is no fun, even in memory.
But...you know what? You can assuage my pain (past and present, physical and emotional) by buying a book, or by leaving comments on Amazon or Goodreads. Why not start with Professed....?
"Professed is a novel filled with the struggles and rivalries and oddities and many weirdnesses American higher education--favor-dodging, ex-girlfriend avoiding, grade-dreading, plagiarist-busting, dissertation-reading, office-mate annoying, litter-box spilling, book-stealing, unprofessional forbidden lusting, unprofessional forbidden lusting-fulfilling, lost cat-chasing, wrist-breaking, inopportune body-betraying, boring boyfriend-dumping planning, dead professor missing, committee-meeting texting, student misfiling, classroom failing, hidden Confederate-history uncovering, book-writing, student advising, professional dysphoria-feeling, drunk-tank loitering, book discussion-leading, unwise nasal behaving, paper researching, non-academic schooling, sink fouling, New Years' kissing, celebratory pool-playing, stranger-disemboweling, paper-writing attempting, paper-writing failing, drinking-game playing, incomplete-taking...yet, as the characters fight to fit into a rapidly-changing institution, medicating themselves as best they can with sex, drugs, and literature, learning actually happens----Somehow."
Thanks to VoyageDallas for doing this interview with me!
I get to talk about a lot of interesting stuff....click on the photo below or the sentence above to go read it!
I've obviously been spending more time on the NORMAL SCHOOL novel/blog/website than I have on this--my rightful and beloved blog. But I've been doing regular writings and editings--I've started a new book--and I've been crazy busy with teaching. Go check out NORMAL SCHOOL, if you have the time. And then buy some books...and then come back and see what else I'm up to....
In truth I haven't been as productive as I should have been. But some work has been done--and of course what is to come!
The 700 Club.
I lived there 1980-1981. My apartment was small and cramped, and there were roaches. My apartment was on the other side of this recent Google Streets photo, on what we called The Elite Inner Circle (it wasn’t a circle, more like an ∟), on the second floor, looking out into the upper branches of a big live oak.
I chose the 700 Club because of its location—on East Riverside I’d had easy access to beer and fast food, and the 700 Club was close to beer--The Deep Eddy Cabaret, which became a big part of my life for many years. I went out and saw bands and did youth things several nights a week--to Club Foot, Raul's, Duke's, the Alamo Lounge, the last days of the Armadillo--but the Eddy was where I hung out.
My neighbors were a mixture of old people and students. There was a WWII ex-POW who spent much of his time loud and drunk. There was a woman who spent much of her time typing—you could hear her out in the courtyard under the big oak, and I liked to think she was writing a novel, my friends thought she was “just practicing,” while in reality typing was probably her job. There were a couple of Scientologist bikers. Just before I moved out there was a pleasant man and woman, both married but not to each other, who kept an apartment for afternoon trysts.
For a while there was a massive ex-convict living in the apartment below me who one night got mad and started pounding on his ceiling—my floor—with a broom handle. I was sitting with a couple of friends trying to watch the baseball playoffs. After a while we called the cops, and a pair of cops talked to the convict, and then came up to talk to us. “He’s not really rational,” one of the cops said. “If he comes to your door, don’t let him in.”
Good advice there, chief.
(The convict later disappeared—a parole violation, I think.)
The big event that happened that year was the Memorial Day Flood.
We had a barbecue that Sunday afternoon, as we often did, with chicken and ribs and beer and what-all, and the day was cloudy and humid and no one expected it to rain—the newspaper forecast said there was only a slight chance of rain.
But about the time the food was ready it did rain, not hard but enough sprinkles to force us to move from the courtyard up to my apartment. And after we ate, several of us walked down the hill to the Eddy.
The great KB was tending bar that night and we drank beer and played pinball and some of us watched the Indy 500 and then it began to storm—really storm. We stood in the doorway and watched the lightning show for a long time and drank more beer and played more pinball until it was closing time and KB forced us out into the rain and we walked up the hill in the storm. Notorious TWS came over to my place and we ate barbecue and watched Bridge on the River Kwai until TWS got sleepy and headed back to his house. None of us had any idea what was taking place elsewhere in the city….
I moved out a couple of days later. My lease was up and I went off to spend a few weeks with my grandparents. When I came back in August I moved into the building next door and into another story….
700 Club pros: Close to the Eddy.
700 Club cons: Roaches, tiny, cramped.
700 Club verdict: It was okay.