Seriously, I called my mom. No joke. Mom doesn’t get Twitter, but she gets the New York Times. Suddenly, I’m her son the writer, for real. But I’m sure that’s unfair to mom. She’s always been proud.
Anyway, so this famous professor starts to retweet me more often, right? And so does my favorite radio show, and the host of my favorite TV show, and my favorite hip-hop artist, and his record company, and the local news channel, etc. etc.
So, things were getting surreal, right?
Ok. So then, the Columbia University New York Times professor sends me a Facebook friend request—accepted, duh—and there she is: smiling, and friendly, and warm, and holding hands with the Dalai Lama in her Facebook cover photo.
Let’s stop right here and review, shall we?
I’m a poor kid from Bloomfield, New Jersey—the oldest child of a beautician mom and a carpenter/traumatized Vietnam vet dad.
The day after I graduated from my Jr. High, the school was condemned. We were poor.
I got my BA on a Pell Grant from a state school in Paterson, and my MA from Rutgers-Newark. I missed my PhD by a dissertation. I couldn’t psychologically justify more student loans. I left my program, ABD: All But Dissertation, in 2011.
I’m still poor. I map my days out in dollars and cents—money for gas and a morning coffee for me and my wife. Maintaining one luxury, they say, is important.
We go to a food bank every other Thursday. We don’t have health insurance. I’m being sued over a State of New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority loan: no deferment program available. Sorry. Default.
But I also have a new Facebook friend. And she has shared a moment with the Dalai Lama. And I’m a Buddhist.
Somehow, on Social Media, I found a niche as a radical lefty, Buddhist, atheist, poet, writer, professor guy. It just kinda happened. Good karma, I suppose.
I’m still a mess. I’m still damaged. My student loans will still render me a financial failure for the rest of my life. The End.
All of that is true.
But at least I’m honest. That still matters to me as an American poet. As a mishmash of competing, contradicting ideologies—practicing a radical honesty with myself and others is how I maintain my sanity. For lack of a better word, it’s my Religion.
And since this rambling late night freewriting blog post is suffering from a blurry thesis, let me close with this: I don’t really know what I believe in anymore, but I think it’s time for me to start believing in myself, just a little bit.
And to Hell with those who still don’t get it—dinosaurs.