Saturday, June 1, 2013

Curiouser & Curiouser: Twentyish Questions with the Executive Editor — Part One

Happy weekend, Beardies!

I enjoy many things about my position here at The Bearded Scribe:  Reading, writing, working with our fabulous Fellowship of Scribes...the list goes on.  Perhaps my favorite thing, though, is that in the past year, I've discovered that Joshua absolutely cannot say no to me.  No matter what harebrained scheme I come up with, he's game.  Tonight's post stems from one of my early schemes—I wanted to interview the interviewer.  Joshua always interviews new members of the Fellowship; I wanted to turn the tables on him.  It took months for him to grant this request, but eventually he did.

In doing the interview, though, I discovered anew that Joshua is a master storyteller, and as such, could write an entire post on each of the twenty(ish) questions I sent him.  And so, interviewing the interviewer evolved into a forthcoming special feature for the blog...but more on that later.  For now, the first of many parts of Twenty Questions with the Executive Editor.

Elizabeth: You are a proud son of Maine, but I met you at a small college in the middle of Michigan, where you’d never set foot before our first day. How did that happen?

Joshua: That question is a loaded one, one which has a two-part answer. I'm sorry to admit the first part isn't as tale-worthy as the second, but I will try my best to make it anecdotal and poetic.

I hadn't really ever left the state of Maine before the age of fourteen, aside from the occasional trip to Storyland in North Conway, New Hampshire during my youth, and a few fishing trips to Orient, Maine (still Maine, I know, but it is a border city, and we would cross the bridge into Canada from time to time).

Then, at fourteen, there was Boston. My family had a farm and my step-dad was a butcher, so being released from my rural pasture into the concrete jungle was heaven. It was immediate rapture. I fell in love with the city—the atmosphere, the abundant culture, diversity, even street lights—everything that Webster Plantation, Maine was not. Our church youth group traveled (What a long—but worthwhile—car ride that was!) to the city infamously know for its Tea Party and, like its waters that fateful night, thoroughly steeped in history. And let's not forget the excursions that same trip to Plimoth Plantation (the original spelling) and spooky Salem. I loved history—still do—so the trip was not just freedom from my existence that could only be summed up by a Kurt Vonnegut novel before then (not really, of course, just a slaughterhouse reference), but intellectually orgasmic as well.

The kid in the Cosby sweaterthat's me.
After a youth group trip to Washington, D.C. the following year and a few more trips to Boston with the Math Team (I was a Math geek, too!) for Regional Championships in high school, my obsession with the city became toxic—I felt my veins would shrivel without the pulse of the city running through them. Although I wouldn't change my upbringing in the country, I longed for something bigger after high school. The bright lights of the city beaconed to my soul, beckoning, my name echoed, too, in the sounds of the hustle and bustle. Don't misunderstand me, however; I love the country, too! But that's a topic for another day.

I applied mostly to colleges in large cities. A lot of them were also Ivy League and far stretches, but Brown, NYU, and Emerson were my top picks. I was put on a waitlist for winter term acceptance for NYU and BrownNYU even sent me a purple, felt pennant (my favorite color!) and told me that they really wanted me for fall term, but their freshman class was already beyond full. I was accepted to Emerson without being waitlisted, but not accepted into their Creative Writing Program.

Slightly devastated, I sent an application to the University of Maine at Orono, where most of my classmates would also be attending. I figured I could do a semester at UMO and transfer to NYU in the winter. Easy-peasy. Boy, was I wrong.

I was all set to go in the fall until my campus walkthrough. That was one of the worst experiences in my life. The professors were not helpful, the other (current) students were rude and unfriendly, and then the straw that broke the camel's back was my experience at the Financial Aid Office. My FAFSA had—for no reason other than random selection—been flagged, which locked it from being accessed at the time. The pretentious twerp behind the desk that bore his even twerpier name yelled at me, told me I had screwed up something. He told me that I needed to go home, fix whatever I had “messed up,” and give him a call when I found out what it was. Dismayed, and just wanting to get as far away from that place as possible, I left halfway through the campus tour appointment and made the two-hour drive back home, resenting UMO more with every mile I put between myself and the campus.

I called the number Mr. Twerp had given me and found out the true reason why he couldn't access my FAFSA. And then I called Mr. Twerp, politely told him that I wouldn't be attending UMO in the fall, and told him he could take my acceptance folder and shove it where the sun doesn't shine. Yes, honestly, those were my exact words. After my experience that day, and the anger that had built on the drive home, I was feeling even more hot-headed than I already was at that age.

So I bet you're wondering what all of this has to do with how I found Alma—or when I'll be getting to the point.

Still a little hot-headed, I hopped on the internet (dial-up then...God, I feel old!..so more like a steep climb) and did a college search for liberal arts colleges with a good English/Writing Program, a good Music Program, and at least 1000 miles from any state that touched Maine (there's only one, but you get my point).

This is the un-amazing and un-inspiring part.

The search turned up a lot of results. Way too many for my liking. Fortunately for Alma and Fate, the list was alphabetical. Yep. Alphabetical. Told you it wasn't that inspiring of a story.

Stay tuned for Part Two of this story, however, when I do tell an amazing story of how I got to Alma College...straight out of a Stephen King book, I tell you!

*****

Wow--hard to believe I met one of my best friends for the simple fact that I went to a college that began with A!  There's an equally un-inspiring story of how I ended up at Alma, although my reason had nothing to do with the alphabet--but that may be told with our forthcoming new feature!  We'll look forward to the rest of the story!

Fair winds, fresh ink, and as always, Happy Scribing!

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