Well, This week has been pretty epic. Just finished my first short story and sending it around to friends to be edited and critiqued. Hopefully I can get that sent off to literary magazines in the coming months. So far I have gotten great responses but there are a lot of really great writers out there so we will just have to see! Fingers crossed, right?
This has always been a dream of mine really. To be a writer. Although I have been published, it has been in a journalistic fashion, not creative writing. I am so happy to have been freshly pressed, if not, I believe I would have never met and been inspired by those individuals who comment on here and share their stories as well. However, I am an individual who enjoys tangibility. I want to one day pick up a literary magazine, open it up to the table of contents and see a title of a story nestled just above my name. It’s something that would be amazing. I would always remember the weight of that magazine, the feel of it, the volume number and date, the photo on the front and every minute detail because it is the casing of an embodied dream.
There is this industry term called Jumping The Shark. Most people are familiar with the saying but I feel like it has such a negative connotation. It’s origins are from an episode of the TV show “Happy Days”. It was an episode where The Fonz puts on skis and literally jumps a ramp over a shark, and I think he even gave a thumbs up and said his signature “Ayyyy” in mid-air but I can’t quite remember. I saw that episode as a kid and to the critics and most television viewers, it signaled the end of the series. That was the episode where people believed the writers had run out of ideas.
I admit it is a ridiculous episode but I like the overall idea of what happened. I took it as my own, really; I used jumping the shark in other terms. I think it is the idea that we have to break the monotony, our own “Hail Mary”. I think of it as a way of living in a state of understanding that the way things are can be changed by doing something amazingly drastic. I won’t be jumping a shark anytime soon but I do break the monotony in life. Those lulls where it can get boring, I try and spice it up. In high school I took a nice long road trip down the entire eastern side of Missouri. It took two days but it was fun. I got in massive amounts of trouble from my mother but I went with my best friend and we still talk about it.
In the fashion of that road trip, I decided to do multiple things to get me here, in this seat, typing this blog. I remember the part in “No Country For Old Men” where Javier Bardem is in the gas station and he gives his creepy diatribe about the coin. How it traveled 22 years to make it right there in front of the man. His life plotted out on either side of the coin. It’s a tense moment but poignant. I only say this because those decisions, no matter how crazy, led to here and now. I took that mall cop job, I went to college and grad school on a whim. I switched to journalism from pre-law because I wanted to write a review of a new album at the time by The Shins.
Now, I put my skis on to jump another shark. Maybe a whole line of them. I am going to teach a 100 level class in the fall and then next summer I will be taking a big leap off of a long ramp. One of my best friends is in the Army and he is being stationed in Japan. I have always wanted to backpack around a country and, while he and I have plans to do so in Europe in a few years, I feel like I needed to do something on my own. That’s why I have decided to go there next summer and backpack around Japan for a week or two. I figure it will be the break between semesters and it will be the perfect time to just breathe. I have gotten my hands on Rosetta Stone and am going to actively learn that language.
Jumping The Shark. Maybe that isn’t the right phrase. I wrote this with an idea but the more I think about it the more I believe maybe I was wrong. Maybe these aren’t about taking leaps to break the monotony. I wonder about this because of that coin in “No Country For Old Men”. It’s about destiny and our grasp on it, isn’t it? I spoke of tangibility with my writing and now I think that’s what these “jumping the shark” moments really are for me. In the show it was a surreal moment that was an attempt to make the show more exciting and it failed. I believe it was because they lost sight of what the show was about and the anchor that held it in place. They lost that tangibility and familiarity of the show’s origins.
I realize now that all of these things have made me a bit closer to me. I push myself into these instances that really test who you are. But what about that coin? It was Bardem who chose the diverting realities on each side of the coin. When the man won, Bardem said that it was his now and not to mix it with the other coins because then it would just be a coin. What about that lifeless coin?
I suppose we are all born with coins. We may give them meaning on each side but we are not at their mercy. We know what we really want when we flip the coin, giving different value to each side, and when it lands, we are either happy or we feel lament. That lament can be an amazing thing because you know you have lost what you truly wanted in that flip of the proverbial coin. So, with each flip, it guides us, guides me. I will be in Japan as of what my coin says today but that is a year from now and, hopefully, many exciting coin flips away.