Sorry, but today’s masterpieceful 500-1000-word essay will have to wait, a casualty of my social whirl. After two weeks of solitude, I had yesterday not one but two, visitors, not including a drop-by by Doc, one of the Warrior@45North board and an all-around good guy. (For those of you trying to piece together the Tiny White Box puzzle of jackassery, Doc was one of the two people who greeted me by name at an IGA in Colebrook, 25 miles from here.)
The other two visitors were George—those of you who have been following this from the beginning will remember him from our adventures in Wisconsin while searching for the secrets of Ginseng cultivation—and, from New Hampshire Public Radio, Peter Biello. George hitched a ride up with Peter, and is spending a few days with me. George, despite having spent much of his adult life in state-confined quarters, is a man who knows 37 different ways to do almost anything. Each answer is better than the last; the challenge is choosing a solution and implementing it. One dollop of wisdom George has given me is “There are always more solutions than questions.” Yes . . . but I just want to find a way to rinse my dishes in warm water, not explore all the solutions we’re going to discard.
Peter Biello, the radio reporter, is very smart, very nice and very sincere. He’s got a weekly show that airs on Fridays and has as its focus writers in New Hampshire. Because I’ll be running veterans writing workshops out of the Tiny White Box beginning in two weeks, he came to interview me. We chatted for 45 minutes or so, and I’ll bet he left Pittsburg unsure of what he’d just experienced. As an example, Peter asked me if I would offer participants writing prompts on request—things like “Describe your perfect vacation—where would you go? With whom? What would you do?” He then asked for an example, a nice softball of a question that any normal writer would hit into the gap for a triple if not a home run. Instead of playing ball, though, my warped brain decided it was time for a game of three-dimensional Candy Land—with ghost runners! While I don’t have a transcript of the interview, this portion of which will likely end of on the cutting-room floor, what follows is not far off:
“Looking around you at all the people you come in contact with each day, about what percentage would you say are fully human and what percentage are zombies or pod people? How many strike you as having relatively fully-formed personalities and intellects (even if you may not care for them) and how many of them could, for all you know, simply disappear as soon as they leave your presence? That is, if you interact with a hundred people over the course of the day, with how many of them do you make human contact or sense that such contact is possible? 90? 63? 12? 4? Are you simply missing the humanity of a large number of people or is there something fundamentally strange about the human condition? Or strange about you? If you are becoming more of the kind of person you want to be, will this number likely go up or down? What does this say? Please be specific and cite examples.”
Peter did not say anything except, “I’ll have to think a while for my own answer.”
It’ll be interesting to see how Peter’s story turns out, whether I’ve painted myself as an interesting if eccentric North Woods writer or a battle-scarred (from the peacetime army) lunatic veteran holed up in a box and best left there for quite a while longer. One good thing: I put in a plug for an appearance on Peter’s show by Ann Williams, my old high school classmate and a serious and gifted writer in the seacoast area. Ann is delightful, smart, insightful and, I would guess, at ease at a cocktail party. She is everything I’m not.
I don’t think she’s a pod person or a zombie. Think. Now I’m off to explore this in my own writing, making sure to be specific and cite examples.