Category Archives: Personal Narrative

Photography may have saved my life

One of the symptoms of depression is an addiction to rumination. The vicious cycle of negative thinking that strips us of energy and desire. It is precisely our obsession with working out what makes us unhappy that makes us unhappy. – Chris Corner

CATEGORY: PhotographyYou don’t walk away from something that was central to your very being for 35 years without … thinking about it.

Three or four years ago I wrapped my fourth book of poetry and hung up my quill, as it were. I wrote about it at the time, but no matter how self-aware or introspective or pensive or reflective you are, you simply will not fully understand this kind of momentous decision until you’ve had a chance to get away from it and develop some distance and perspective.

Lately I believe I have come to a deeper realization about my relationship with poetry than I ever had, ever could have had, before. When all is said and done, I believe poetry was killing me. Or rather, poetry was the weapon with which I was killing myself.

Here’s how it goes. Continue reading Photography may have saved my life

The twisting, capricious nature of “blessings”

CATEGORY: PersonalNarrativeYesterday was … unsettling. Any time you’re meeting with your physician and the words “brain tumor” come out of her mouth, it’s going to make you sit up a little straighter, even if she’s mostly dismissing it as a possibility. Mostly.

As I have noted before, I suffer from a disorder that causes significant vertigo issues and, commencing in the past few years, a condition called Nystagmus. In 2007 I visited a top dizziness expert at the University of Colorado medical center in hopes of finding some good news. I submitted to many tests and the diagnosis was a degenerative inner ear disorder. It was going to get worse, I was told. Also, people who suffer from diseases like this one enjoy an exceptionally high suicide rate. (Although, perhaps “enjoy” isn’t quite the right word.)

I had been a very active athlete my whole life, but not any more. Continue reading The twisting, capricious nature of “blessings”

Online dating tips and etiquette: is it rude not to reply?

In the online world, bad behavior can be the best behavior. How is this possible?

Online DatingIn “real life,” when someone approaches and asks you out, you’re obliged by social custom to reply. You may not be interested, but you can’t just pretend that the person isn’t standing there talking to you. That would be unspeakably rude. So we have developed all manner of ways of saying no thanks, in what is hopefully the kindest way possible. None of us likes to be rejected, and if we have any empathy about us at all we’re uncomfortable inflicting pain and/or embarrassment on someone – especially since that person’s only crime is thinking we’re kinda neat.

That isn’t how it works at online dating sites.  Continue reading Online dating tips and etiquette: is it rude not to reply?

A Most Unpleasant Man, pt. 2: I’m Sorry for Denying My Friends

Last week I penned a combination New Years resolution/rest-of-my-life resolution reflecting on what I let become of myself during the last decade of my life, and in it I promised that no longer would I be what E once termed, in his fantastic song, “a most unpleasant man.” That post, though, only addressed part of the story.

Throughout my life I have always been a man of many and diverse interests. At any given moment I might have been a marketing guy, a scholar, an educator, a blogger/editor/publisher, a photographer, a poet, an athlete, a Theta Chi, a competitive debater, a paintballer, a tuba player in the marching band, a rabid Chelsea FC supporter, an actor, a gamer, a lyricist composing songs with an industrial band (I didn’t say “goth” there, but I can easily wander into a club and enjoy a hardcore goth concert and not look any more out of place than I do everywhere else), and probably some other things, as well. Some of these things go together. A marketing director who plays soccer? Sure, that makes perfect sense. A PhD who’s both scholar and teacher, as well as poet? Of course. Photographer goes with most anything, so that’s good.

But other pieces of the puzzle are trickier. Continue reading A Most Unpleasant Man, pt. 2: I’m Sorry for Denying My Friends

“A Most Unpleasant Man”: In 2015, I, Sam Smith, Resolve…

A few months back my old buddy Ed tracked me down. We used to play baseball together, but he moved away, we lost touch, etc., and we hadn’t talked in a good 15 years. It was great hearing from him and I really enjoyed catching up.

As we were talking on the phone, though, something telling happened. He cut me off in mid-sentence at one point. “Sam, what’s wrong?” Huh? “Are you okay? You sound really down.” Continue reading “A Most Unpleasant Man”: In 2015, I, Sam Smith, Resolve…

Dear Woody Paige: thank you for saving my life

Woody-PaigeHi Woody.

I’ve been posting the poems from my latest book to Ello lately – one per day – and this morning’s entry was “Old Ethan’s Quantum Diary.” It’s an especially difficult and painful piece of a larger work that is, in many ways, the most tortured effort of my 35-year creative writing journey.

As I explained in the preface to the post, there was a time a few years ago when I thought I had very little time left. Since I do not believe in any kind of afterlife, I found myself thinking a lot about what science has to say on the subject. It tormented me that it would all just be over. Fade to black. The void, and not even an awareness of the void. As hard, as painful, as frustrating and unfulfilling as the low spots have been, I love life and the thought of losing it terrified me. Continue reading Dear Woody Paige: thank you for saving my life

Why Sam Smith is unelectable

Dr-Sammy-for-MericaS&R co-founder Mike Sheehan had a really funny comment on my “Dems need their own Tea Party” post. As in, I laughed until my sides hurt. Checkit:

Well, what’s stopping you from running for office?

If I’d had soda in my mouth I’d have spewed it all over your computer. He continues:

Er wait, never mind… intelligence is a liability in US politics… makes you look godless and America-hating.

He gets it. But seriously, I’ve been bitching for decades. Why don’t I run? I think I have solutions for everything, right? Continue reading Why Sam Smith is unelectable

Adrian Peterson and the glacial pace of cultural evolution

Reach out and touch me now
Aphrodite said
You aren’t the only one
with armies in your head

Adrian-PetersonI guess I take the Adrian Peterson story personally, for reasons I wrote about back in 2011. To this day I remember the pain that was inflicted on me by those I loved, and who loved me. Pain inflicted because they loved me, so much that they would have laid down their lives for me without question. But in their minds, if they spared the rod they were hurting me.

It warps you, in a way. It makes you associate pain with love and justice. And at 53, I have accepted that I will never quite be okay because of it.

Cultural evolution is a slow and sometimes painful thing. What is obvious to you and me today will be obvious to everyone eventually, but eventually might mean 20 years. Continue reading Adrian Peterson and the glacial pace of cultural evolution