I’ve been working on this “About Me” page for about 30 years now. And it’s still not done. For some reason writing about myself is horribly difficult. I can write you a 10,000 word long lie without really breaking a sweat, but ask me for 400 words about myself and I hide under my bed. It’s dusty under there.
Anyway, here goes.
I was born, so I’m told, in northern New Jersey. Growing up I was inundated with metal. This was brought about by the fact that my family owned a scrap yard in the Ironbound section of lovely Newark, New Jersey. Through basic osmosis I came to understand how tin is made, what rerolling rail is, and the price of bare-bright copper by the time I was eight. Other kids grew up playing with Tonka trucks; I grew up with the real thing.
In high school I gravitated towards…Earth. I wound up taking Latin as a foreign language due to a coin toss on my first day of school. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this choice would lead me deeper and deeper into the language and culture of ancient Rome. (That really sounded a lot cooler in my head.)
Their stories, legends, myths and tall tales stick with me to this day. All of this learning of a dead language culminated in my reading most of the Aeneid in its original Latin. Then, it was torture. Now it seems a blessing. I couldn’t tell you the third person plural verb form of my left foot at the moment, but to this day I can still recite the opening lines of the Aeneid. (Ladies, start your swooning!). Something about scrutinizing literature that closely while translating and paying incredible attention to the detail of every word made that story, and the art behind it, come alive to me in a way no other book had. English class became much more interesting after that.
In college I majored in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. I was the only sophomore accepted for an Advanced Creative Writing class. School and I had some issues, though, and a lot of my class time was spent staring out of, or climbing out of, windows. I began writing my first book during these years about a road trip across the US I made with some friends, and I made a deal with myself to have it finished before graduation. Both finishing the book and graduating came right down to the wire. Nobody should have to take Anthropology twice. Nobody.
After college I moved to New York and self published my first book. For a while nothing happened. My book wasn’t selling, I had no money and wasn’t doing such a great job of finding work.
Then came the terrorist attacks of September 11th. After the towers fell I, like everyone I knew, desperately wanted to do something, anything, to help out or pitch in. Since I had a background in scrap I made contact with one of the subcontractors at Ground Zero to see if there was any need for an extra pair of hands that could wield a cutting torch. I found myself working as a Truck Checker on the twelve hour night shift at one of two offloading sites just north of Ground Zero. Then, through a strange array of circumstances, I wound up as the Swing Shift Supervisor for both offloading sites. Basically this meant that I would bounce back and forth between the day shift and the night shift from one site to the other; when I was on duty the permanent Supervisor would have the day off. It was weird. For any number of reasons. I was a twenty-three year old English Major supervising a twelve hour night shift of Dock Builders, Operating Engineers and Oilers offloading steel and debris from the World Trade Towers into barges floating on the Hudson. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention two things here.
First, the notion of Ground Zero extended well beyond what most people got to see. The cutters and firemen working right next to the pit were obviously a huge part of it, but the project was a massive undertaking that included everything from the tugboat captains piloting four barges at a time through the river currents, to the laborers guiding truck traffic around the sites to the scrap yards that reprocessed the steel over in Jersey. There was basically an entire town’s worth of people at work down there most of whom never showed up in any way in the public eye. Obviously the guy sitting four blocks away processing trucker’s forms isn’t as exciting as someone cutting steel right at Ground Zero, but I always feel compelled to point out that it was, in fact, a massive group effort.
Second, while my title of “Pier 25 Swing Supervisor” sounds imposing, I was really just a warm body put in place while the regular Supervisor had the night or day off. I’m not saying this to belittle myself, more to point out that I was able to make it through this ordeal because the crews I had under me, the Project Supervisors I had watching over me and the regular Supervisors I was replacing were astoundingly good at what they did. Because they had everything running so smoothly it made my job survivable.
When enough progress was made cleaning up Ground Zero and my shift was no longer necessary, I was let go and I began writing my second book. When that was finished I began looking for a publisher, freelancing and writing my third book. Then my money ran out. Then I started mooching off my parents. These weren’t good times.
Then my niece was born and good times started again. Through yet another strange array of circumstances I found myself employed as the Secondary Care Provider for a little baby girl. Yeah. I’m a nanny. Like most of this tale this is something that either makes sense to you or it doesn’t. Basically though, I’m good with kids, the pay is just fine and I have a decent amount of time to dedicate to my writing. Some weeks it’s less time than others but since there are now two little girls to be taken care of and I seem to be pulling this website off okay, I’d say I have just the right amount of time.
Where was I? So, I was a nanny for one girl, then another niece was born and I became a nanny for two girls. Somewhere in here I got a couple of short stories published and became somewhat disenchanted with most of the traditional paths open to authors. So I thought I’d try something different and started up this current writing project. Really it’s more of an experiment to see what sort of impact providing a large amount of free content can have on a writing career. Also I needed a kick in the ass because I hadn’t written anything in awhile. And here we are.
But that’s my background, and this page promised to provide some details about
me. So I’ll go on.
There aren’t many things about myself I take seriously. My writing is one of them.
If there’s a better fruit than the mango, I don’t want to hear about it.
If there’s a better story than the events surrounding, leading up to, and following the Trojan War, I don’t want to hear about it.
If there’s a better way to express fondness for something through hyperbole than the phrase, “I don’t want to hear about it,” I don’t want to hear about it.
I’m a romantic by nature, a literalist through my upbringing, and a cynic by choice.
I can’t hear the song, “Born to Run” without pumping my fist into the air. (What do you want? I’m from New Jersey)
I believe artists should make choices, not mistakes.
I can cook anything expertly as long as it’s pasta sauce or deep-fried.
I know who committed the murders in the Rue Morgue.
I could do away with every book in my life except for “The Great Gatsby” and still be happy.
I’m not sure how Bryant Adams found his way into my music collection, but sometimes I’m awfully glad he’s there.
My vices of choice are Scotch and Craps.
Sometimes I find it hard to tell where my sense of humor stops and “The Simpsons” begins.
One of these days I’ll make it through “War and Peace.”
I’m naïve enough to believe in happy endings, but know enough to realize that happiness is subjective.
I have no idea how to end this.