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The Short, Dangerous Lives of Poets

I am working on a couple of longer essays, breaking through the inertia that settles on me every few weeks. Hopefully this big life change will carry me further along in that direction.

The official packet finally arrived from Columbia last Tuesday, five weeks after the phone call. There it was, in writing, the acceptance and the fellowship offer. They can’t take it back now. Mailed them my deposit check and applied for their housing online as soon as I got the secret password. Crossing my fingers for a studio to shelter my fragile introverted nature, but will probably end up with a roommate or two.

I have decided not to write about New York until I am actually living in New York. ‘Nuff said. In the meantime I have tacked up a magazine photo by Gilles Peress, a moody shot of a street in Manhattan at night, on my cubicle wall. I need something to look at, as I burrow through the next three months here at work.

Recently I made a startling discovery. I have back hair. From out of nowhere. Two sparse patches below my shoulder blades, a little lower than where my wings would grow, were I a rosy-cheeked cherub. My father is much hairier, and I suppose I’m lucky that I made it this far without back hair. But still. Is this part of turning thirty-three? Did Jesus have back hair? I’m not ready to be the Daddy. I shudder to think what the Queer Eye gals would do to me, were I ever unfortunate enough to be on their show.

The marquee of the Castro Theater features an upcoming showing of “Godzilla: Uncut.” This makes me very nervous.

Primo in San Diego sent me an article from the New York Times concerning a recent study that I had forgotten about: Poets, compared to other writers, have a shorter life expectancy:

“Overall, poets lived an average of 62.2 years, compared with nonfiction writers, who lived the longest at 67.9 years. Playwrights lived an average of 63.4 years; novelists, 66 years. The differences between poetry and prose were pronounced among Americans, where poets lived an average of 66.2 years, and nonfiction writers lived an average of 72.7 years.”

There were many speculations as to the causes, including the tendency of poets towards depression, alcoholism, and excessive “rumination”. This may be true, though I wonder if it isn’t something less romantic, as in poetry never pays the bills. I suppose it’s good news for my health that I will be focusing on nonfiction at school, though I hope to play around with other forms. One can never have enough destructive pathology. Where would literature be without whiskey and rumination?

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