Possibilities (26 of 90)

I feel the need to start this with an apology. I’ve written, read, re-written and re-read this piece since 8 am. I’ve tinkered and toyed with it, trying to get it to say the thing that I want it to.

I’m not sure I’ve accomplished that goal. It feels, at times, insufferable, which is the opposite of what I mean it to mean. If you can grant me that at the beginning, I shall try to make it up at the end.

***

Two years ago, the thing that happened this weekend wouldn’t – maybe couldn’t – have happened.

It’s a simple thing, actually. I’ve told the story a few times now and the response has been under-whelming. Not because my friends weren’t happy for me. They are. More because what I did is what normal people do.

But “what normal people do” hasn’t been in the lexicon. Not in the tool belt.

When it comes to human emotions – particularly mine – the default mechanism for years has been to filter whatever was happening around me through its effects on me. How would I be affected? What does this mean for me?

There could be no explanation that didn’t involve – somehow – it’s affiliation to me.

It’s exhausting to think about now. I can’t imagine what it must have been like within the vortex.

***

I’d like to blame this particular character trait on my alcoholism, but I’m not sure if that’s entirely fair.

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Open Season (25 of 90)

I’m not, by nature, an extremely open individual.

An odd statement, I know, considering the fact that I’ve laid bare most of my demons and foibles in public. I’ve lived part of my life, since 1984, online. I’ve posted thoughts and random musings without care of how they might – or will – come back to me.

I’ve never much worried – or the times when I did worry have sufficiently passed into the ether that I don’t remember a time when they existed, which is functionally the same idea — about how people may use my words. I guess that’s the part of me that allows me to be a writer. I know a truth about these words that others don’t think about: they are not real.

Which isn’t to say that I’m lying. I am not. What you read here, I promise, is as much of the truth as I can muster. There are some stories that don’t get told, for sure, but the stories that make it here are true. Or true enough. They are truthful.

But I am not honest. And aye, that makes all the difference.

***

Merriam-Webster, online edition:

honest: free from fraud or deception; marked by free, forthright and sincere expression

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Phlegm (24 of 90)

I’m three weeks into my actual attempt to quit smoking (as opposed to my Year of Health, first month waffling).

It’s a good feeling, most of the time. I’ve always had a motor that goes 100 miles per hour, but alcohol and cigarettes kept it running at a much more manage-able rate. (For all practical purposes here, alcohol did help me calm down. Until it didn’t. I’m speaking of the former in this piece.)

My body, though, has started the long process to clear out my lungs and that brings these fits of energy bursts, the ones that send me into an almost manic state unless I do something about them. For me, that means running. I’ve always loved running (well, always in terms of adulthood; I hated it as a kid), which is good because I’ll find myself smoking again if I just try to internalize all this energy.

I go a little bit bat-shit crazy, truth be told.

One of the things I’m learning in my sobriety (or in my middle ages or in my thirties) is how to manage my body. It’s a big science experiment, this piece of flesh-meat, and it’s interesting to tinker with it to see what happens. To see how I respond. To see what comes next. And I know that I do better when I’m running.

So it’s time. My lungs are clean enough to start.

The Year of Health (for me) has officially kicked off.

***

A few years back, one of my two mentors decided to quit smoking. (The other, as far as I can tell, would never touch the stuff). He’d been my smoking buddy at Berkeley, since we were one of a small handful of smokers there. We’d sit out in the courtyard for 10 minutes at a time, griping about something.

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The Beautiful and Damned (23 of 90)

I’ve spent the better part of Saturday domesticating: cleaned the house, cooked two desserts for this evening’s dinner, finished my laundry and re-arranged the artwork and living spaces.

With the exception of the master bathroom, which I’m actually saving until tomorrow morning, there isn’t a spot of dust or dirty anywhere in my place. It feels…nice. Live-able. Comforting. I’ve even gone so far as to open all the curtains, a rarity for me.

I wake up each day planning on cleaning and letting in sunlight and domesticating, but my mind usually finds some way to turn me towards one of my desks by way of the coffee maker. I struggle throughout the day, writing and shuffling papers just enough to get me through but never enough to get me ahead.

As I settle into my bed, I promise myself – like Jurgis in The Jungle – that I will work harder tomorrow. I will get to the gym, I will get to that reading for my work, I will finish a portion of a book chapter.

I live in a state of “will” that never quite comes.

***

My life is spread out in bits and pieces across the globe, which I’m beginning to believe is going to be a source of happiness and frustration for the rest of my life.

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Techno-Files, or Anatomy of a Link-Bait Vanity Fair Story

Nearly three weeks after the Vanity Fair thrashing Cincinnati and Appalachia hit the Web, my hometown media finally caught the Fever. The last 24 hours has been an interesting mix of blogo-rage, media coverage and Twitter conversation.

As a journalist, a professor and an author, I’m intrigued by how stories develop. This one in particular.

My casual tracking points to the idea that this was started because two former members of the media were annoyed. While my response passed through the Gawker/digerati circles, it was Kate, who I believe has connections to the traditional media in Cincinnati, who was picked up by the local NBC affiliate WLWT.

Her post – along with mine – were classified as “a groundswell,” which has all kinds of problems. Although it may be that I’ve simply missed a series of blogs posts on this. I can only go by what was reported.

Regardless, there’s an even more disturbing problem: The length of time between the publication of Vanity Fair’s article and the response in Cincinnati by the local media.

I’m not sure what this says. That the coasts are so disconnected from the Midwest that the media and blogosphere’s pay little attention to each other? That Appalachians have simply grown accustomed to such intellectually lazy work about them?

It’s probably more complex than I can suss out.

While it suggests a common problem with the traditional media, that’s a criticism for another time. For now, here’s the story timeline:

Jan 25, 2010: The original Vanity Fair article, “Roll Over, Charles Darwin

Jan 25, 2010: My Twitter rage

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#BeatWinter: A Social Experiment (20 of 90)

Snow has blanketed the country. The grey skies have settled across the land. People are going a little stir crazy. You can feel the angst just below the surface even in places like Muncie, which have been spared much of #SNomg, the hashtag for winter-related Tweets.

Drastic times require drastic actions. Instead of my typical post, I thought I’d ask my friends what makes them happy today. A collective #BeatWinter consciousness across my Twitter network. We can’t change the snow, the cold or the grey. But we can celebrate the amazing-ness in each of our lives.

Add your thoughts. Pass this along to your friends and networks. It’s time to take Winter out behind the woodshed and give it a little what-for.

I present to you Tweets in #BeatWinter:

@allitracy: @Brad_King @fleep @joannageary @aklinefelter I work out and plan my wedding. I also drink lots of hot chocolate. #beatwinter

@BonnieNuit: @Brad_King Hmm good question! I’m sticking to my workouts even though I want to cuddle up by a fire 🙂

@aleciabatson: …what’s good in my life, @Brad_King? Next week, I’ll be at the Sedona Int’l Film Festival! Anyone game for a tweet-up? #BeatWinter

@Klopfstein: As for today, I finished half a paper that’s not due till after spring break (no procrastination!) and I’m getting Chipotle 😀 #beatwinter

@HarrisonPainter: #beatwinter The good ole Grateful Dead, a bannana, & some social media relationship building! Thanks @Brad_King –> http://bit.ly/a1uWER

@Mickipedia: This 80 degree weather in LA is doing a fair job! @bradking #BeatWinter #RubbingItIn

@prblog: Exercise, plenty of music and coffee. Coffee ALWAYS helps. How do you #BeatWinter ? @brad_king wants to know:

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The Polyphonic Spree

Sometimes life breaks the right way. The stars align. The seas part. I’ve given up worrying about how long it will last or what it all means. It’s enough, for me, that the moments right now are perfect. This is what that feels like:

The First Date, or St. Valentine’s Day (17 of 90)

That first kiss.

It’s so full of possibility. Excitement. Joy. Nervous-ness. Angst.

No matter how old you are. No matter how comfortable you are. That first kiss is the most humbling moment because you are raw, exposed and alone (well, not exactly alone but alone enough in your mind). You are at the mercy of this other being.

Do you like me?

***

Many years ago, a different lifetime really, a woman I had once loved looked me in the eyes, full of indifferent rage, and said: I hope someday someone makes you feel the way you made me feel.

She then followed that up by throwing me out of her apartment, ending a four-year relationship, so you can imagine she wasn’t wishing happiness and prosperity upon me.

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Impossibly Really Hard (16 of 90)

I’ve been thinking about impossible lately.

There is no one particular reason for this. No looming task staring me down, causing me great angst about my life. No reason for me to dread.

It’s more conceptual. More philosophical.

Because I’ve come to realize a telling factoid about myself: I don’t believe anything is impossible. I have become completely un-swayed by the idea of “no”, “not”, “can’t” and other such negatives. Which isn’t to say that I don’t use them or that those particular words and concepts have no meaning. (See, I used one of those words in perfectly acceptable way in that last sentence.) Simply that I think I’ve lost the ability to see events as insurmountable. As too big. As too much. As un-doable.

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A Funny Little Ditty From Wired

In 2002, I left Wired News. Whether I was laid off or voluntarily left is still a bit confusing to me. I was told that I wasn’t “on the list” by the higher-ups, but some folks on the facilities staff let me know that my computer access was being removed.

Regardless, I had purchased a house in Austin and planned to leave San Francisco so I told the management that they should make sure my name was on the list.

Working at Wired News was the best time of my writing life. Leaving was hard, but necessary. Still, my legacy – for a short time – lived on within the halls. I know this because soon after I left, the “Anthrax Warning” posters were altered and these pictures arrived in my email.

On the surface, it looks just like a regular poster.

Brad at Wired1

A closer inspection of the Return Address though…

Brad at Wired3

And the handy pink Post-It Note to boot, which reads “Loud Ticking Sounds From Inside. Tick Tick.”

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