Archive for October 2013
First, the fact that I can even start a blog with this title makes me very happy. It shows that I’m making some nice progress with my writing–in fact, I am, and I would love to tell you all about it.
I’ve been sitting on this news for about a year, ever since the faculty advisor of Mount Hope literary magazine first contacted me to ask me if my story “Public Education” was still available for publication. Hell yes it was! We worked on a few tweaks over the course of last winter and here this fall, and now the story is up online. You can read it here: Mount Hope. I haven’t yet received my print copies, and can’t wait until I do. The magazine looks pretty damn sharp, and I’m proud to have my writing in it.
This story started, as a good deal of writing does, with an agitation. In particular, I was on the short end of my patience with teachers in a district with which I’m familiar being addressed about the failure rates in certain classes by people who might as well have had they’re hands firmly planted over their ears as they repeated ad infinitum, “What? Say it again? Attendance? Discipline problems? Chronic failures? Deadbeat parents? WHAT? All I’m curious about is why so many students are failing–not all that other stuff… .”
I was in the Fictive Dream writing workshop at the time, so for eight weeks I was consistently cranking my writing gears. I was also trying out some brand new practices like the seed journal, which I’ve written about twice herein. I caught a stray bit of conversation coming into school one day, and that triggered the whole story–I stumbled upon the perfect vehicle for my unhappiness. That unhappiness fueled me throughout the writing process. I worked diligently for a few months, seasoned the story with a another episode from the seed journal that I picked up around campus, and ended up with something I was pretty happy with. It’s also the most politically and socially charged piece of fiction I’ve written. Perhaps the most important thing I learned was how fiction writers make use of certain tools in the writer’s toolbox to create political and social commentary.
So the story is out there, and I’m pretty happy. I have some feelers out elsewhere with this same story, and will gladly tell you if it’s going to live more lives in other publications.
As for those excerpts from the seed journal, these are the ones that helped make the story:
Feb 21, 2012: I walk into school and immediately hear an announcement: “Will _________ Zickovich please report to the dean’s office?” The announcement repeats her name: _________ Zickovich. Somewhere behind me, without missing a beat, a student deadpans a la Chapelle’s Show: Is __________ gonna hafta chokabitch?
March 9, 2012: Carmen’s mother has a brain tumor. Each time she goes to Honduras for treatment, Carmen has to fill in for her at her job as a janitor, or else her mother will lose that position.
This came to my email today courtesy of Sgt. Danger, who hasn’t been seen in these pages for quite some time. He’s addressing the over-sensationalized notion that St. Louis Cardinal fans are the best in pro sports. I first heard of this notion many years ago when Sports Illustrated anointed STL fans as at least the best in baseball. Sarge feels different, though, and makes an interesting and well-thought case. Thanks for thinking of The Seeker, Nathan, and helping to generate some timely content. As for me, I’m pretty much indifferent to what happens in this year’s World Series, though I wouldn’t be heartbroken in St. Louis lost…
I don’t mean to be a jerk about this, but people ask me why – after spending 4 years living right outside of St Louis – I can have such disdain for the Cardinals (after all, I’m a Blues fan, so why not the Cards?). Well, it’s not the Cardinals I can’t stand nearly as much as it is the fans. (Hold your fireballs, I’m not just saying this to spite you. I’m trying to make a point.)
Don’t get me wrong, I get that fans from any city are pretty rotten. But my problem is it seems to be that most of St Louis fans actually believe that bad fans don’t exist within the confines of the Gateway to the Midwest, that they are somehow immune from bad fans and that’s what makes them so great.
Cardinals fans, have you ever worn Cubs gear to a Cardinals game? Of course not. So why do so many Cards fans infer that just because they haven’t seen unruly behavior in Busch Stadium means that it doesn’t exist? That’s like me saying that Packer fans are the best fans ever, because when I’m in Lambeau wearing green-and-gold, nobody heckles me.
When Atlanta embarrassed themselves last year by throwing trash on their field during the Wild Card playoff, I can’t begin to tell you how many Cardinals fans had their smug “Stay classy, Atlanta” statuses, as if St Louis was incapable of such anarchy. I’m seeing the same thing this year as Cardinals fans pull up stories about Boston fans doing something distasteful, and then coupling their links with comments like “well I’m sure glad I’m part of the best fan base in the world.”
Do you truly believe that St Louis fans are incapable of terrible things? Check the Twitter handle @BestFansStLouis, where there are over 4,000 tweets of some of Metro St Louis’s rudest comments any fan base could throw, including making jokes about the Boston bombings, racist comments about Wong, and incendiary insults towards 2011 WS hero David Freese, among other eye-boggling remarks. 4,000+ comments, and this is a Twitter account that was made just over one month ago. That’s 100 different Cardinals fans making unnecessary or repulsive comments per day, and just on Twitter.
I even had a Cardinals-fan friend post yesterday that he thought St Louis was the best sports city in the country. Several Cardinals fans jumped on and agreed with him. A city that “boasts” the Blues and Rams and no basketball team considered the “best sports city?” This is exactly my point: many Cardinals fans are delusional about St Louis just because they have an amazing ball club, and it gets to the point that many fans say things like “our fans are the best” and “all of our teams are amazing.”
I’m not trying to be a jerk here, truly. But please understand that just because your grandma doesn’t flip the bird when you’re with her at Cards games doesn’t mean that other Cards fans aren’t hassling opponent’s fans a few rows down. We live in a world full of broken people, and many Cardinals fans have somehow gotten in their head that St Louis is exempt from this truth just because the Lambert airport had a sign up last weekend that read “Welcome Red Sox Fans.”
I concede that the Cardinals probably haven’t gotten the credit they deserve this postseason. Everyone within 100 miles of St Louis undoubtedly read that unnecessary and scathing article written by two Dodgers fans, and if I was a Cardinal fan, I’d certainly be annoyed with the lack of coverage and fair analysis of the team by ESPN and MLB Network too. But, do you think this unfair trend by other sports cities is coincidental?
I’m sure that I’d be annoyed by Boston fans if I had a bunch of Boston fans on my newsfeed. In fact, my passion for the Packers has a lot to do with the fact that I live in Bears country. So, I’m not saying that Cardinals Nation is any worse than other fans. But you certainly aren’t any better, and the fact that there is this belief otherwise is the kind of arrogance that draws ire from other sports cities.
“Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.” ~ Red, from The Shawshank Redemption
If you told me two weeks ago that I’d be waiting with nervous anticipation for Game 2 of the American League Championship Series to start, I would have pshawed you. My long-loved Orioles were winding up a barely mediocre season, my Brewers had been out of it since the truth about Ryan Braun unplugged their season, the Cubs were such a joke that I didn’t even watch them this year (unless I was at the game), and the Tigers–the only team left that I really care about–were staggering across the finish line and facing an almost certain elimination in the first round of the playoffs. But that was two weeks ago, before the Tigers’ pitching staff threw 18 straight innings of 4-hit shutout baseball to come from behind and win the opening round of the playoff, and to gain an early advantage in the ALCS. Those two weeks, the last 4 days of them in particular, have helped me remember why I love baseball so much when the leaves are blushing and turning gold.
This wasn’t an easy baseball season for me, and I can point to the lack of blog entries about baseball as evidence to that. My hopes were high in April for the Orioles to ascend to the top of their division and again be in the playoffs. They never seemed to build up a head of steam, though. They were mired in mediocrity. Someone once said that cheering for a mediocre team is far worse than cheering for perennial losers because with losers you know what to expect and you know not to get your hopes up. That mediocre team, though, will cut you off at the knees just as soon as you get your hopes up that they’re going to break through. That was a hard lesson for me to learn this summer. I got my hopes up about a dozen times between April and September before the final crash in the middle of last month was enough to jar me to my senses and admit that the O’s didn’t have it in them to make the playoffs.
The Brewers were a different story. They had all kinds of potential, and with two emerging stars in Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura to complement Ryan Braun, it seemed like they would be putting up some runs and at least hanging around in contention for a wildcard spot. That was before the ugly, ultimate truth about Ryan Braun emerged. I was so disappointed in the whole situation that I didn’t even blog about it. There was nothing more I could add to the vitriol that had (deservedly) been heaped upon him for his use of performance enhancing drugs, and I was disillusioned with all the ways the situation had gone wrong. It was only two years ago when the Brewers were deliberating about who to keep as the cornerstone of the franchise–Braun, or Prince Fielder. They chose poorly. Fielder has been one of the most rugged and dependable players in all of baseball the last five years, consistently proving wrong all of those who said that with his size he would be breaking down left and right and wouldn’t be worth a long-term deal. What’s more, he has slugged away for the Tigers, and is now playing in his third straight league championship series while the rest of the Brewers are playing golf. In Braun’s case, I hope he’s planning a public relations campaign that will in some way salvage what little he has left in the game. Maybe, too, he’s dealing with himself and learning not to be the stereotypical self-serving, conceited prima donna athlete.
But at least I can still watch Prince Fielder, and his attachment to the Tigers only gives me more reason to cheer for the team that I’ve come to like quite a bit in the last 12 years. Hope is a dangerous thing, though, and my hopes were just as high last year before the Tigers faltered so horribly in the World Series that I couldn’t stand to watch it. But how can I NOT be hyped with hope after some of the most dominant pitching in recent playoff memory? I’m confident that they can get past the Red Sox, and can only hope they dispatch whomever they might face in the World Series. If so, the pain and disillusionment from this past summer will have been worth it.