I've been thinking about moving back to the town where I attended college, at least for a short time, once I get settled as a realtime captioner and am making money from it. It's a comparatively inexpensive place to live and I know people there who share some of my hobbies. It's also vastly easier to get around for things that one needs, and public transportation is completely unnecessary unless you're disabled (they do have something for that). I'd also like to get a look at my old campus before I leave this part of the country.
The LHU (Lock Haven University) alumni magazine, the 'Perspective' came the other day, and I discovered that yet another one of my professors from my undergraduate days in the 80's has passed away. She was from India, and her name was Dr. Renuka Biswas. She was a nice lady and did a fine job of teaching me a high-prerequisite sociology course in my third semester in college - telling me that my final paper would be publishable with just a little bit of work. I got a B+ in that course, which was a 400-level course full of anthropology and psychology, a real sociology course (she was a sociology professor) and one of the most challenging in my academic career. I'm sure it's one of the things that eventually slanted me much further to the Left. The kicker is that she lied to me during class registration at the beginning of the year to get me to sign up, so that the class would be full. I suspected this was the case and it did turn out to be an issue when I was nearly ready to graduate. I had to confront her with this when the class was rejected as a fulfillment of my general education requirement in sociology, particularly since I had not had any of the prerequisites for the course. She straightened it out and was very embarrassed, but she was a nice lady. I took that course nearly twenty-two years ago at this writing. I was very proud of myself for having taken it and succeeding in it, and I learned a great deal from it. The research I did for the papers I wrote for that course has stayed with me. So has another experience I had because I took that course:
Sitting next to me in that class was a very attractive, sweet-natured and exceedingly soft-spoken young lady named Ellen Kingsley. She was pretty casual coming to class but always modest, and she generally wore sweatpants with bible verse references painted on them. It was impossible not to notice her if you had an eye like mine, that looked for individual nuances. We befriended each other and Ellen very patiently ignored the fact that I had a crush on her in order to try to lead me to Christ via her Pentecostal campus minister. At that time, she did not succeed, although I 'got saved' years later after an experience with the dark occult. (Yes, I've always been a man of extremes. Just ask those who know me personally.) Eventually, because I realized where she really stood with me, I began ignoring her in elevators and such when she'd greet me in public. I felt terrible, because I knew she was a kind and caring person, but I of course was an immature and selfish frat boy (although a civilized frat boy from a civilized fraternity chapter) and I was embarrassed at my failed efforts to get involved with her.
This all happened in the Fall semester of 1985 and the spring of 1986. Ellen had been the person to tell me about the original Space Shuttle disaster as we approached each other on a snowy street near the Lock Haven K-Mart one morning. I had just bought a Casio electronic keyboard which I used to annoy many of my fraternity brothers in the year or two to come. I hadn't seen a television yet and hadn't heard the news.
A couple of years ago I managed to catch up with what she was doing, although I was unable to contact her: she was living in Bethlehem with her young son (no mention of a father, although I'd learned she had a fiance while I was trying to date her). She was working at the public library there. She had apparently switched from sociology to library science at some point. I wanted badly to say hello and to apologize but I didn't want to contact her at her place of work to do so, and I was living in Philadelphia with my fiance at the time, whom I did not want to disrespect.
The classroom building where we took that course was drastically remodeled inside in the early 1990's. The room itself really doesn't exist anymore; Akeley Hall was converted from a classroom building for social sciences into an office building for various campus functions, including two large internet labs. Now the professor who taught us is dead, and all I can think of is all that has been swept away by time as it moves on. I haven't seen this professor in years, nor this woman, but it's all catching up to me just at this moment as I write this blog entry. Interacting with my cat, who is purring loudly, takes the edge off of this mortality check, but for one whose whole life has been one long, indulgent mortality check this kind of thing is a rare eye-opener. At only 40, I have lost HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE. In 1992, as I lay awake one night during my second college stint, I counted over 300. Fifteen years later I could fill a cemetary with all the people - the ones I can even remember now - whom I've known who are gone.
There is a goth band out there right now with a single in which the vocalist asks "Who do you want to be before you die?"
Holy fuck! There's not much time! I have to make this decision now, before I continue to meander like some bug on the pavement.
Yet I kind of did this before, before I quit my teaching career on February 1st of this year: I want to be a writer.
Well, in a small way, I'm finally getting paid for it, and people are telling me that I'm good at it:
I'm a dark poet. THAT COULD CHANGE - but for now, when my corpse - if recovered from whatever kills me - is turning fetid in the ground or goes on the burner, I want people to look at my chiseled marble and say "That fuckin' guy was a great poet, but DAAAAMMMMMNNNN his shit was dark!" I want to be one of the New Dark Romantics, or the Apocalyptics, or whatever they call us who write dark verse today. A guy I knew in high school said that little kids would hate me one day because they had to learn my poetry. Fine. My aim is to inspire that one black-clad kid sitting in the corner of the class, and teach him or her to rebel against the things that truly beg rebellion, not his classroom teacher. I want my verse to edge out the American tendency toward packaged rebellion that fizzles out with age: I want my verse to inspire young people to be real rebels against things that really need to be challenged.
There it is, motherfuckers: I want to be a dark anarchist poet, a literary iconoclast.
Think I can do it?
I'll greet you in Norton's Anthology when your grandchildren bring it home from college. You'll flip through the wafer-like, almost transculent pages of that book - which they may have bought used - and you'll see something in there that is just terribly wrong, but you know it's true. A bespectacled skull will leer at you for just a moment and then your left hand - always your left - will reach for some implement with which to smash the state. Your grandchild will tell you he or she has become an anarchist and you will know it is all going to hell.
I'll see you at the edge of the Apocalypse!
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