Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanks! Danke! Blagodarya! Wa'-do! Shukrani!

In the spirit of the holiday, here are just a few of the things for which I'm grateful:

* I'm grateful for Lea. I say it a lot, but I mean it every time. My life is exponentially better because she's with me. Even when we're not physically together, just hearing her voice is like a lifeline for me; without her I'd be Major Matt Mason without his Space Crawler, adrift through the cosmos on a one-way trip to Nowheresville, Daddy-O (man, I've rarely seen a metaphor go so bad so fast). My point is that we often wonder, George Bailey-like, if our very existence has made any difference in the lives of others. Lea never has to wonder that.

*I'm grateful for Gabriel. Yeah, he can be a major pain in the general colo-rectal region. His grades are pretty awful, and he's probably going to have to do an extra semester or two just to graduate. His work ethic is for crap, and when he rolls his eyes at me, I'd just as soon smash his melon head with a shillelagh. I know: aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play? But when it comes to it, I think his heart is basically in the right place. I think when the rubber hits the road, he'll make the ethical choices I'd want him to make. He's smart, and he's funny, and he's lucky enough to be the heir to my gene pool (thank god I've made some modifications to my DNA over the years).


*I'm grateful for my job. No, it's not the most rewarding thing in the world, trying to teach basic composition to a bunch of college kids. At times, I feel like I'm trying to explain the theory of relativity to Lenny from "Of Mice and Men" ("tell us about the dangling participles again, Troy. Tell us, huh?"). But every once in a while, something special happens. Like the Excellence in Teaching nominations I got last year (even though I didn't win 'em; that fucker Michael Chabon probably beat me outta that, too). Like the older lady in my class this semester, coming back to school after 20, 30, maybe 40 years, and telling me that my encouragement has given her the confidence to keep going. Like the goofy kid last semester that was wayyy too square to be real, and kept calling me Mr Hickman the whole time, no matter how many times I told him not to (bless his heart). Like the two kids who have changed their majors to pre-law because of the moot court sessions we run in class. Like the guy on house arrest who came class with an electronic ankle bracelet on, because he'd been convicted of statutory rape, and who wrote his final paper on Jennifer Love Hewett (complete with photo collage). Like the 35 year-old lady who got arrested for performing oral sex on a 14 year-old boy behind the Krispy Kreme donut shop, and came to every session of my class with a 44 ounce Big Gulp filled with booze. OK, the last two are hardly Sidney Poitier moments, but they were at least interesting). Yeah, I have no benefits, and I could make more money selling Grit, but sometimes I can see a student "getting it" (especially in my Creative Writing class), and it feels pretty darned good.

*I'm grateful for my talent. OK, so I haven't made Alan Moore money yet, and maybe one out of twenty comic fans could tell you what Common Grounds is. But you know, I haven't done so bad for myself, all things considered. Most of the folks in my family never got beyond grade school before they were sent away to some juvie facility. Pretty much every one of them eventually did serious prison time, ended up on the FBI's "most wanted" list, and such. Heck, my own mom and dad (for whom I am also grateful), while honorable people, had to drop out of school in the eighth grade to help support their families. And here I am, not only with an MA under my belt, but getting wonderful stuff said about my work by famous people, and finding myself in competition with Pulitzer Prize winners. I've only published about a dozen professional comics; half of those were nominated for Eisners, three others were popular enough to be adapted as part of a video game, and the other three were chances to write the Incredible Hulk, Witchblade, and Turok. I may not be on top of the world, ma, but I've got nothing to whine about. I'm thankful for the ideas that come into my giant melon-ish head.

*I'm grateful that there are still people in the world with common sense. It's hard to believe it sometimes, and god knows it gets hard to keep going at times, when you see all the ignorance and political correctness and lack of integrity out there. But for every mallet-head, there's someone who still thinks the world is a pretty cool place, and who believes that human beings are more than just one more species, that they're somewhere between the animalistic and the angelic, and as such about as special as can be. For every guy that cuts you off in traffic, there's another that'll help you push your car out of a snowbank. But Troy, do you actually believe that? Believe it, hell; I count on it.

* Time for our lightning round. I'm grateful I still have my hair. I'm grateful Friday Night Lights is still on the air. I'm grateful for popsicles. I'm grateful for Christmas music. I'm grateful for pornography, when used properly and with good intent. I'm grateful for chicken pot pies. I'm grateful for my voluminous collection of MST3K tapes. I'm grateful for our fantastic turtle, Eastman. I'm grateful for my ever-present leather jacket. I'm grateful for camel spiders (because I know God in his infinite wisdom has a reason for them being here). I'm grateful for the Andy Griffith Show. I'm grateful for long showers. I'm grateful for blog columns that eventually end.


5 comments:

NuclearToast said...

I was gonna say what I was thankful for, until your massive list of achievements made me feel small and insignificant. Bastard.

Chas said...

I share your feelings for teaching. I've taught at two levels: one as a teacher/counselor at a wilderness-themed "bootcamp" for juvenile delinquents, one as adjunct faculty at a community college. Both times, the pay stunk, half the students terrified me, and the other half usually made me weep for mankind, but it was all worth those few moments of seeing someone "get it."

I miss it now. You don't get to see that when making online courses. You'll occasionally get to see the ones that "don't get it" make the news (6 months before Abu Ghrabi our "Law of Land Warfare" lessons were required pre-deployment material for the Army) but never the ones that do.

Troy Hickman said...

Yeah, I just end up seeing the Krispy Kreme lady hamming it up for the cameras. How do you give a hum-number to a 14 year-old in a car and then take pride in it?

I long for the days when she would've been burned as a witch...

Lea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lea said...

Im grateful for you baby...and I guess Im grateful for the capacity to still feel gratitude...