Friday, March 26, 2010

What he said.

Asshole of the Week

And if we do a proper job, if we break the windows of hundreds, thousands, of Democrat party headquarters across this country, we might just wake up enough of them to make defending ourselves at the muzzle of a rifle unnecessary.
Sons of Liberty, this is your time.
-Mike Vanderboegh
Mike Vanderboegh is a 'Christian Libertarian' and former militiaman who lives outside Birmingham, Alabama. Recently, he's gotten a lot of attention for his online call to break the windows of Democratic party offices nationwide, in response to passage of the Affordable Care Act, which he deems an unacceptable intrusion of government into the lives of its citizens. And despite the fact that people have taken him up on it, and have indeed taken things even further (death threats, noose-faxes, the gas line at a Democratic Congressman's brother's home intentionally and maliciously cut), he stands by his call to vandalism.

So, you ask, what does this principled libertarian, who so abhors government handouts and the redistribution of wealth to the poor and the sick, do for a living? You know, when he's not committing acts of sedition and encouraging petty criminality in the service of right-wing terrorism?

Why, it turns out Mr. Vanderboegh doesn't work at all. Doesn't earn his money by trading his skills and his productivity for money in the free market. Nope. Mike Vanderboegh is on federal disability.

That's right. This principled libertarian is just another welfare queen, buying t-bones with his food stamps. Probably has a cell phone, too. I bet if he were old enough, he'd probably be on Medicare.

What an asshole.
I let my head fall back in this angry season. There, tensions I had hoped would resolve, merely shift with the body's machinery. The act is clumsy, halting, and without grace or reason. What can I read in the smell of her, what message in the code of her breath? This mountain opens passages of light. The lines on squeezed lids cage the bursting balls. All efforts, dying here, coalesce in the blockage of ear and throat, to an a-coporal lucence, a patterning released from pleasure, the retained shadow of pure idea.
-Samuel R. Delany Dhalgren, p. 250

Thursday, March 25, 2010

And what have I invested in interpreting disfocus for chaos? This threat: the only lesson is to wait. I crouch in the smoggy terminus. The streets lose edges, the rims of thought flake. What have I set myself to fix in this dirty notebook that is not mine? Does the revelation that, though it cannot be done with words, it might be accomplished in some linual gap, give me the right, in injury, walking with a woman and her dog, to pain? Rather the long doubts: that this labor tears up the mind's moorings; that, though life may be important in the scheme, awareness is an imprefect tool with which to face it. To reflect is to fight away the sheets of silver, the cabonated distractions, the feeling that, somehow, a thumb is pressed on the right eye. This exhaustion melts what binds, releases what flows.
-Samuel R. Delany Dhalgren, pp. 156-7

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Class War

According to numerous reports, the US Treasury and Federal Reserve have pumped upwards of $14 trillion to support failing financial institutions. There are approximately 100 million households in the US. So if you divide that $14 trillion by 100 million and that means that each and every US household could have been sent a check for $140,000.
-Michael Thornton

We're not allowed to talk about class war in the United States.

Some of it has to do with our founding mythology. We like to see ourselves as having broken from the old European model of stratified society, in which the social class to which you are born is overwhelmingly likely to be the one in which you spend your life and die.

Some of it has to do with the Cold War, because the class struggle was and remains a revered trope of our Socialist enemies (not that they're really our enemies anymore in any realistic sense, but we hated on them so long that we're still not allowed to take any of their ideas into serious consideration, lest they infect us like AIDS or teh gay).

But mostly it has to do with this: the class war is already being waged and won, and the winning side doesn't want the rest of us wising up before it's too late.

For a good thirty years after WWII revitalized the American economy, things got better for everybody. Wages rose as productivity increased. The GI bill put college in reach for previously unheard-of numbers of Americans. You could support your family of four with a job in a factory, and know that when you'd put your twenty or thirty years in you would be taken care of for the rest of your life.

Sure, we still had rich folks, but the gap between the haves and the have-lesses was less gratuitous and obscene. As the economy grew, as it did each year, everybody made more money, right up til the early '70s. Since then, real wages have stagnated.

But the economy kept growing. So where did all that money go?

Into the hands of the super-rich.

Sure, they already had more money than they or their heirs could spend. But they wanted more. After all, when you have all the money and the sprawling masses don't have enough to feed themselves and pay their bills, it gives you a great deal of leverage. Leverage you can use, among other things, to hijack the national discourse to your advantage. You can pay smart, morally compromised people to come up with seemingly good reasons that the fruits of our collective national labor and effort should rightfully go to those who already have more than they or their heirs will ever need, instead of, say, to guaranteeing that nobody falls below a certain level, to sharing the wealth around more broadly, which would do all sorts of psychological and social good.

The truth is simple. We're not allowed to talk about class war in the United States because if we do, we'll realize that it's already happening. That is has always been happening. That throughout the history of human civilization, since the first tribe stayed in one place long enough to grow its own food, thus guaranteeing their survival and allowing some of its members to do things other than hunt and gather, there has always been a parasite class, who through monopolies first of violence and later of ideas arrogates to itself a greater than is rightful share of the fruits of the tribe's efforts and labor. Who takes more than it deserves because it can, leaving less for the rest of us.

We're not allowed to talk about class war, because the super-rich own most of the voices in the national discourse, and they do not want it spoken of, because they've been waging that war since time immemorial, and winning. They are a cancer on the body politic. And just as cancer eventually kills the host, through arrogating to itself more of the body's resources than the body can stand, so too does the parasite class sicken and weaken the American body politic.

Now let me be clear. I do believe in capitalism. Healthy competition keeps animals and organizations fit and capable, and drives innovation and progress. But capitalism is like fire. When channeled appropriately, it can be incredibly useful and productive. When left to burn unchecked, it consumes everything in its path, destroying all and leaving only ash and devastation in its wake.

The Reagan Era, which it seems perhaps we are on the verge of getting past, finally, after thirty long years of everybody getting fucked in the name of unfettered free-market capitalism, can and should be seen as a particularly effective and successful maneuver in the age-old war between the parasite class and the body politic. Despite its flaws, I believe that the passage of Health Care Reform signifies an important sea change, a tectonic shift, if you will, in the meme wars that serve as a proxy for the actual one.

A recognition that everybody, simply by dint of being American, deserves a safety net, a fair share of the fruits of our collective prosperity, enshrined into the law of the land and never to be repealed, despite how the parasite class and their mouthpieces and dupes might squawk.

It's a hopeful sign. An important victory. But without the collective recognition of the larger picture of the forces at work and the stakes over which they are struggling, it's not enough, and never will be. To borrow a right-wing trope, you can't fight a war properly if you don't recognize you're at war.

It's about time we did.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Clarion, Meet Dallas...

He sat at the computer, brow furrowed, just a little short on sleep, wondering what he was supposed to say. There was a questionnaire he could fill out, some guidelines at least. A skeleton to hang the flesh and the skin of his life on, if he cared to. It would be easier that way. Safer.

He thought for a moment. Stared at the empty box on the screen he was supposed to fill with introductory material. Who was he? Why was he doing this? What did he want? What would he be leaving behind? All good questions.

He stopped to make a cup of strong coffee. It was cheap stuff, a memento from his time in Florida, best when sweetened a bit and drunk without paying too much attention to the flavor. He tapped away, lackadaisically, while it percolated on the stove. On the headphones, Charlotte Gainsbourg gave way to Willie Hutch, postmodern dissonance dissolved in the butter-cream smoothness of blaxploitation funk.

Who was he? Just some guy who'd always wanted to be a writer. Who'd taken it up and put it back down more than a few times over the years, first because he had nothing much to say, later because life has a way of intruding on dreams. But it had always been there, this thing he knew he wanted to do.

Eventually he started writing a book. A book made of brambles and rhizomes, that wouldn't stop growing in every direction possible. He fought and he hacked at it, Hercules against the Hydra. He buried it in a closet, deprived it of the sun. But its tendrils refused to release their hold on him, and so he returned with a torch, an angry mob of one, and burned the whole god-damned thing down. He gathered the ashes, then, and sprinkled them on the ground in the space he'd created. Gently, carefully, he began to coax forth new shoots, husbanding them more deliberately this time.

Why did he want to be a writer? Because he was a reader, a text addict whose eye was drawn to words wherever they appeared, whose gaze caressed the curves and ligatures of letters and phrases the way a hand might caress the curve of a hip or a spine, whose love of language and the things that could be done with it blossomed in the secret garden of his inmost self in such profusion that it grew into and among all of the other botanicals, its roots spreading and pushing under the foundation stones of the walls, toppling them in places and opening up to the vast horizons beyond. Because such worlds had been opened up to him by the works of others that what was best in life seemed to him to be this: this strange magic between writer and reader, these mystic incantations and the filament-worlds they could weave in that magical space.

What he longed for most was to learn to work that magic himself, to write something he'd want to read, to give to others the wonders that had been given to him. To open those worlds and explore the logics and suchnesses that made them just so. To chart a path through them that others might follow.

What did he want? To focus. To learn. To be pushed. To have his best efforts torn to shreds that his skills might improve. To be taught his craft by those who had mastered it, whose work he knew and admired. To be sunk in a community of peers devoted for this small time to the cultivation of that craft and the life that went with it. To finally become the thing he'd always wanted to be.

What would he be leaving behind? A good life. An interlude of sunshine in an overcast land. The alternation of solitude, writerly and otherwise, with periods of intense entanglement in social networks and communities of friends and friendly faces. The bar where he'd worked for so many years, a community in itself, where he was loved and respected and not infrequently hated on (he does not suffer fools gracefully, for time is too short, and so can his patience be). An orbit of known faces and the places in his heart that they occupied.

Soccer on Mondays and ultimate frisbee on saturdays. Circles of friends and the unpredictable ways in which they intersected. A city vibrant with urbanity, with culture and music and gustation and art, yet cozy enough to feel like home. A community of creative souls and critical thinkers, of people who follow their dreams and can still hold down a job.

Love: the sweetest he'd ever known, the smiling girl who made it so much better. Who made him so much better. Who wanted him to be what he'd always aspired to.

These things he was leaving, they were good things. They made him happy. He was blessed and he knew it.

But he'd always been a restless sort, poorly wired for contentment. And though he was happy with this life he had made, there was more that he desired, work yet to be done, steps along the path that were yet to be taken.

The things he was leaving would be there when he returned, to build the life he desired. After all, every quest is a circle, a return to the place from which it began, though the wanderer who returns is rarely the same as the one who has left.

Obscurity had been his friend. Solitude his ally. But he could only teach himself so much. The time had come to seek the company of others, devotees like himself and the masters who would teach them.

Eyes turning southward, he began to gather those things he would need...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

It's funny. I worked open to close yesterday, as I do on Wednesdays. And though I had many customers later on who told me they were Irish (suppose I might lay claim to the sobriquet myself, having received some twenty-five percent of my genetic material from the Emerald Isle), I had only one who was not actually just an American using his great-grandparents' ethnicity as an excuse for their drunkenness, but an actual honest-injun born-in-Ireland Irishman.

I won't give you his name, not that it matters. But he's one of our happy hour regulars, a small coterie of folks, mostly men, who come in during the slow times, in the afternoon, when the place is empty and the beer is cheap. I see him most Wednesdays, and have known him for years. He's a good cat, happy to talk but more than capable of keeping himself entertained, who has three or four beers and then leaves, usually before dark. And he tips well, so we like him even more.

Being that he was Irish, and we were the only two people in the bar for quite some time, we got to talking about St. Patrick's Day, which is an almost entirely American holiday. He found the whole thing rather ridiculous (as do I, but then, after 14-odd years of bars and bartending, I think most American drinking holidays are ridiculous). Apparently the Irish do not celebrate their island's lack of herpetic inhabitants in the way Americans do, by drinking to grand excess and either vomiting, getting into a fight, or having ill-advised and unprotected sex with a new-found friend (or all three, in some cases). Nor, apparently, do they eat corned beef and cabbage, which everyone seems to think is what Irish people eat. I certainly saw more than a couple of people enjoying such a repast.

It's funny. I've been on the wagon for several weeks now, as part of a pretty major cleanse/lifestyle overhaul, and I worked all last night without taking a drink (which is, as you might expect, a comparative rarity in the bar industry). The other bartender I worked with seemed amazed at that, and sad that I couldn't drink with her after hours. St. Patrick's Day is a big deal for her, I guess, and I think that, though she was glad to make the money, she was also a little sad not to be out there amongst the revelry. Call me jaded, but to me, St. Patrick's Day is just another amateur night, worse than most even, because to Americans it's just about drinking (and wearing something green, I suppose). And this year, what with St. Patty's on a Wednesday, it was more amateur than most, because the responsible adults who might normally leaven the youthful dumbfuckery all had to work the next day. Now, I got nothing against the kids these days, as such. But I do with their parents had taught them how to act. And how to drink, too, while they were at it.

I'll spare the details. Suffice to say, stiffing was rampant, as were stupid drink choices, and I had one guy I had to kick out, who got mad when I told him to get out from behind the bar. "I work in the Industry!" he said. I love when people say that. Like it makes it ok when they don't act right.

Still, I suppose I shouldn't complain. As with all amateur nights, I made money. Not as much as I should have (and yes, sometimes I do), but certainly more than I would have almost any other Wednesday night.

But I do wish our Great American Drinking Holidays didn't bring out the douche in people. I know we drink to give ourselves permission to cut loose and let it all hang out, to just relax and have a good time and be ourselves. It's just a shame that so many of us turn out to be assholes.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Note to Clarion West Hopefuls

I see from my sitemeter that a lot of y'all are checking in here because of the post-script to my Clarion announcement. Hi, and welcome. Hope you stick around to check out some posts.

As far as Clarion West goes, what little insight I have into where things stand I will offer here. I got a call on Monday, as I mentioned. The woman with whom I spoke told me she'd meant to call me over the weekend, but hadn't been able to. So they had at least their preliminary list put together then. I'd gotten my email from Clarion a week before, but hadn't notified Clarion West because I was convinced I had hallucinated the whole thing, or would somehow manage to screw it up in the interim (yes, I'm a little off my rocker, which is one of the reasons I want to be a writer when I grow up), and I didn't want to jinx anything. Once I'd got the email from Clarion confirming it, I emailed Clarion West and withdrew my candidacy. Shortly after, I got the call. The lady who called me did not seem to know that I had withdrawn from consideration, which makes sense, since it literally was a matter of minutes.

And that's pretty much that. I hope it helps. And that y'all get in, and that it's all you hoped it would be and more. Whatever happens, keep writing, and do it for love.

Confidential to SWB: Yeah, I'm a him, and thank you.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What I'm Reading

I've got a couple of books going right now, both of which are pretty deep. And though I'm reading them for different reasons, and started them at different times, there seem to be some interesting confluences. Both are deeply literary, by which I mean both seem intent to delve into the depths, not only of the human psyche, of the lived experience of being a person in a particular place and time, but also of history, as well, although in a more metaphorical than literal sense. And both seem to revolve around themes of alienation between the two.

First is Roberto Bolano's 2666. I have, thus far, only read three of the five novellas that comprise 2666, or about half of the total page count. There's a note in the beginning from Roberto Bolano's heirs to the effect that his plan had been to publish the five separately, so as to maximize the economic returns that his heirs would enjoy from his posthumously published work (he died in 2003). Having read them, though, they decided that the work was best served being published together in its entirety, a decision I applaud and am grateful for. As it is, my reading of this book has been staggered and interrupted enough. It's tricky stuff: easy enough to read in terms of the density of prose and meaning, but the cumulative effect is strangely overwhelming. But I'm halfway through and I'm just starting to understand (I think) what he's doing here, and I think if the books had been released separately that it would be more difficult to get that sense.

It may be that I'm writing this too early. After all, I have yet to begin Book 4: The Part About the Crimes, in which the murders of hundreds of women in Santa Teresa, the northern Mexican city that serves as the crux of the work will, presumably, be explored directly, rather than simply serving as a sort of background, as history does to life. But I feel as if I've gotten through enough to at least put down some preliminary thoughts.

Nearly all the protagonists, thus far, seem to have a few things in common:  they are people of letters, mostly literary critics and university types, with one journalist who writes for a specialty magazine; each seems to be only marginally in control, of themselves and their lives; and each is drawn, for very different reasons, to Santa Teresa, which lurks in the background almost menacingly as they live some portion of their lives there.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Clarion Writers' Workshop

I have now officially been given the go-ahead to shout it from the rooftops:

I have been accepted to the 2010 Clarion Writers' Workshop.

Clarion is an intensive six-week summer program focused on fundamentals particular to the writing of science fiction and fantasy short stories. It is considered a premier proving and training ground for aspiring writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.  Instructors are among the most respected writers and editors working in the field today. Over one third of our graduates have been published and many have gone on to critical acclaim. The list of distinguished Clarion alumni includes Ed Bryant, Octavia Butler, Bob Crais, Cory Doctorow, George Alec Effinger, Nalo Hopkinson, James Patrick Kelly, Vonda McIntyre, Kim Stanley Robinson, Martha Soukup, Kelly Link, Bruce Sterling, and many others. 

They told me a week ago, but asked that I keep it under wraps until all the candidates had been chosen and the invitations sent out, so, although I've told a number of people through word of mouth and hinted at it on my Facebook page, this is the first official announcement I've been able to make.

I am, to say the least, deeply humbled. The most I expected was to make the wait-list, if I was lucky. They've been accepting applications since December, but I only found out about the workshop and the deadline somewhere around the second week of February. The deadline was March 1st, at 11:59pm. I came across it kind of randomly, on a thread at John Scalzi's Whatever blog, and decided kind of on the spur of the moment to go for it.

But here's the thing: it's a short story writing workshop, so, naturally, they wanted two short stories as part of the application.

I don't really write short stories. It's not that I have anything against them. It's just that all my creative energies, such as they are, have been directed at my novel in progress, GoATDaD and the Army of Monkeys. I've been working on it for years (seven or eight of them now, off and on). It's my self-declared and self-taught apprenticeship to the craft of writing.

I'd begun toying with the notion of writing a few short stories as secondary texts to the novel, which is a giant, sprawling mess of a thing, in which lots of interesting ideas are sort of glossed over in the background so I can focus on the other interesting ideas that are more at the forefront of the story. I thought it might be helpful to write out some shorter pieces, both to flesh out some of those ideas that are being given short shrift, to do a little world-building, as it were, and to maybe take a crack at something I could credibly finish in a relatively short time. I'd already sort of started in on a couple of things, though I'd yet to really do much with them.

But now I had a reason. And a deadline. Both of which were marvellously focusing for me. I honestly didn't expect anything to come of it, aside from what I'd learn in the doing, but the application fee wasn't much, and some of the instructors at Clarion this year are people whose work I am deeply enamored with and impressed by (Jeff VanderMeer and George R. R. Martin especially, although all of the instructors are really impressive authors, and I look forward to working with all of them).

To tell the truth, I have never attended a writers' workshop, nor really been tempted. I'm a bit cussed that way, set for some reason on teaching myself what I need to figure out in order to follow my chosen avocation. I've labored away in obscurity for all these years by choice (and some degree of fear, to be honest), working when I could find the time and motivation, figuring I could teach myself what I needed to know and that I'd figure out the whole getting published thing when I had something I thought was worth publishing.

It's always been my stated purpose in life to become a writer, but I'd be lying if I said that I hadn't gotten distracted here and there along the way. But my mother's death last summer had a profound effect on me, and one of the repercussions of that was a determination to quit fucking around and get serious about this thing I meant to do with my life. And applying to Clarion (and Clarion West, while I was at it) seemed like a good excuse to hunker down and get some work done. I am, after all, easily distracted, despite my determination, and there's plenty of other business for me to attend to and things to spend time on.

So, for most of three weeks, I spent as much time as I could make in front of the computer, pounding away. The first story came easily enough. It's not my most original work, certainly, but it gave me an opportunity to explore a couple of things in the background noise of the novel that I wanted to get a better handle on but that I didn't plan to really dig in to. It almost seemed as if the story was already there, more or less complete, just waiting for me to write it. I even liked it (which is pretty rare; I'm usually insanely critical of my own work, and read it with the same macabre fascination most people experience while driving past an accident on the highway). The second story, well, that was another thing entirely. That one didn't come easy, and took several false starts before it took on its own momentum. I'm not sure if it's because it comes from later in the novel, a section I haven't focused on for a few years, or because it's a bit more original than the first story, or if it was just buried a few dozen feet deeper in my psyche, but the second one felt like pulling teeth from the south end of my body cavity. In the end, though, it seems to have worked out, and I think it's probably a stronger effort than the first one.

Whatever it was, I seem to have done something right.

I still kind of can't believe it. I've spent the last week convinced that it was a mistake, or a hallucination. But it's real.

I'm gonna go squee into my pillow some more now.

Post-Script: Today seems to be a good day for my ego. Not two minutes after emailing the folks at the Clarion West workshop here in Seattle, thanking them for their consideration and withdrawing my candidacy (the two run more or less simultaneously), I got a call from one of the admissions people offering me a spot there as well. She said she really liked the story I'd submitted, and seemed quite sad that I'd already accepted a spot at Clarion. I hardly knew what to say. It's one of those problems you dream of having, ya know?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ideals without results of any kind are essentially worthless.
-Chez Pazienza

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Bush did push us into a baseless war and rich bankers do rip everyone off, just not in the way that some conspiracy theorists think.
-DougJ at Balloon Juice
The America that I know and signed up to defend does not stand exclusively for security. It also stands for freedom, justice, and liberty. It stands for universal rights afforded to every human being (even unlawful combatants or "detained persons"). America, as Thiessen surely has written into many a presidential speech, is a beacon of light precisely because it represents the protection of basic human rights. Yet, in Courting Disaster, Thiessen thoroughly villainizes those who defend individual rights against the state (such as members of the Center for Constitutional Rights). Thiessen's ideology represents exactly what we are fighting against in the battle with Islamic extremism—the regression of human rights and the sacrifice of individual protections to the state.
-Matthew Alexander, former military interrogator

Friday, March 05, 2010

I think this is going to be my new favorite album.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

True Dat

"It's no good for a family values Republican to get picked up on a DWI. But substantially worse to get picked up for a DWI after leaving a gay nightclub with an unidentified man in a state vehicle."
-Josh Marshall

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

True Dat

Alarming personality changes and firearms are a very bad combination.
-Emily Yoffe

Love Me Some APOD

Monday, March 01, 2010

Why I Do What I Do

I have known for most of my life that a writer is what I wanted to be when I grew up. There are those who’d say that I’ve put that off (growing up, that is) longer than was necessary or even appropriate, but in response I would say that a writer takes more seasoning than the average person does. To produce a literary work of any depth and substance wants an understanding of life and the human condition much deeper than most callings require. Few are those who can produce great works before they’ve accumulated sufficient years and experience, as my own youthful experiments in the craft proved quite conclusively. But the aspiration was there, and remained, even while I needed to step back for a while until I had something to say.
It’s all my mother’s fault, really.
She hooked me on reading at a young age, and I took to it like the proverbial fish to water. I was and remain insatiable, the sort of fellow who will read the ingredients on a shampoo bottle to pass the time in the shower. And while Mom was always a thrillers and mysteries girl, it was science fiction and fantasy that captured my heart. At first it was merely escapism. The opening of new worlds, the thrill of adventures and quests, the stakes always high, the kingdom or planet in peril and only our hero and his ragtag band of misfits able to save the day.
But as I grew I began to realize that there was more to it than that. More to it than just escape and entertainment. Because behind the scenes there were other things going on: larger issues were lurking, big questions being asked and then answers attempted. And the question was always this: ‘What if..?’
As I got older, my tastes became more complicated. More literary, even. I began to hunger for bigger questions, deeper considerations, of history and the human condition and just where this whole thing might all be going. I delved into the great books, both past and present. I bled at the cutting edge. I read and reread and thought and discussed and got my mind blown open so many times that it hasn’t shut since.
But through it all, no matter how far out into the literary mainstream I’ve waded, my heart of hearts always did and always will belong to speculative fiction.
It’s not just sentimental, either, this attachment I have. Because even though it feels like coming home when I open that page to the first chapter and dive in to a new world, I’m also aware that this new world before me was imagined by someone in my world, in the world that I live in, and that the explorations this person is leading me on have to do with more than just faerie-folk or faster-than-light travel. They’re asking that question, ‘What if..?’ and then answering it as best they can, and the answers to that question resonate from the world inside the book to the world outside of it. It’s that right there, that bit of literary thaumaturgy, that’s always fascinated me, and that drives my desire to be a writer.
Because I’ve always known, for most of my life, that a writer was what I wanted to be when I grew up. I’ve always wanted to make that magic, to ask and then try and answer those questions. To lead others on such wondrous journeys as I have been on.