I Have No Reason to be Over Optimistic: An Editorial Reply to the Best and Worst of Times

Four  more hours of this bullshit. But damned if I won’t miss it a bit. It’s hard to say. My 2012 Apocalypse began in April of 2011. This sounds like I’ll be covering more of my life than you would possibly want me to in this year end diary entry. Maybe I am. But folks are always telling me that I should put myself out there more and that people would want to read about me. .This is the year you got to read about me. 2013 will be a year you’ll get to read about me some more. Lucky fucks. My 2012 Apocalypse began in April sitting at the Borders in Naperville. I was finishing up my piece for Brent Millis’ wonderful anthology Kizuna. As it occurred at the beginning of my apocalypse, I sometimes am a little shorter or less generous with Brent than I should be. The man is a great mind, a skilled pornographer and an absolute saint. I am honored to call him my friend and  I hope he has never had reason to think otherwise.

I got a message from my brother Grant. Grant is someone I don’t contact often enough. One thinks of brothers as ubiquitous. They fade into the walls and the creases of the carpet.  Grant in turn does not contact me often enough. Grant, in spite of having a different father was raised by my mother and my mother was a Cook. And for Cooks, anything short of mortal peril is generally met with a shrug or glare. We’re spartan. Yorkshire and Ireland and Scotland and a Romany great great grandmother. We shake it off. I am the most delicate of the Cooks. He said my mother had cancer in both lungs. Said she waited too long. One day I’ll wait too long. I’m a Cook. We do that. I tried not to cry in the Borders. I succeeded. But just barely.

Leza, my girlfriend at the time (we dated seven and a half years) picked me up from there. I didn’t tell her until we got in the car. I didn’t want to go “home” (we were staying with her parents for several years because I was the  biggest fucking loser ever at the time) so we went to the mall. I don’t like the  mall, but it was someplace. A woman and her children tumbled down the escalator hand in hand. They got up and she rushed out with them before anyone could even ask if she was okay. This is when I cried.

I tried talking to my mother on the phone. She said she’d be okay.  We never talked again. I asked my editor if we could rush my book along so I’d have some work to keep my mind off the dying parent that didn’t want to see or talk to me. He said sure. My mother died the night after the book went to the printer’s. I became a sullen, disrespectful dick. I needed to be held and not to have to tell someone I needed to be held. There were other problems, but for the sake of some reputations, I’ll keep my mouth shut,  either way, my relationship and my life at my girlfriend’s parent’s house in the Northwest burbs of Chicago were both not long for this world.

I went to my mother’s service in August and then up to Massachusetts to see my old songwriting partner Wick Hill and my good friend Evan Schwenterly. Wick and I discussed our music. Said him and Evan had a plan. They knew I had no money, but thought we ought to finish making the music and I should make a go of life in Boston. I said I’d think about it. Thinking I probably wouldn’t because I could not just abandon Leza in  the burbs.

A few months later, March 2012 I got kicked out. I had no idea what to do, but fate, in the  form of my friends Matthew Winner and Justin Grimbol intervened. Grimbol was going to Wisconsin, then back to Maine. Matt, a friend from my college days had recently become friends with him and they had discussed my predicament. And /Wick’s offer was still on the table, so Matt and Grimbol and I went East together. I hung out in Maine, remembered a lot of Kung Fu I’d lost, killed a lobster before I could eat it. Wasn’t half bad.

Came to Boston and Wick and I got to  work quickly. Evan, whose home it was was often busy so I spent the first two months in that house with only periodic company from Wick and the thundering arguments of the guy upstairs and his Aryan femmebot girlfriend. Until June came around. And June changed things.  I was in the thick of work and did not much like that a new roommate was moving in and Evan moving out. I had heard unsavory things about her and had assumed she was going to be an attractive sociopath who scorned me for my hideous ugliness and artistic temperament.

I met the young lady in question. She was edgy, coarse and far more beautiful than I wanted to admit. Nicer than I wanted to admit too. I had prepared myself for a time of misogyny and rage. When it came to my misogyny, this young woman turned out to be public enemy number 1. She was strong but delicate  and she needed things she couldn’t ask for. She was bred with New England stoicism and life had been rough to her. I decided that while I was around, life would not be rough to her. She was suspicious at first of my constant morning coffees in the mug I had selected instinctually, like a Tibetan child finding the last  lama’s toy. Suspicious that I kept her darling Boston  terrier walked and suspicious that no matter how I drunk I got and how drunk she got moves were never made. Eventually she stopped being suspicious and we started drinking Old Thompson’s on the porch together.

One year motherless and newly single, I encountered everything I thought in the dark parts of me that women weren’t. I had made a dear friend and an embodiment of the Summer that became my Lost Weekend. Lydia “Miss Ginger” Fascia turned out as well as being a great drinking companion and the owner of a delightful pup, to be a good luck charm. Chris Kelso came to me first week of July and said he wanted some help starting a magazine for UK publisher Doghorn. I wasn’t sure. It sounded like a lot of work. I went to the kitchen and asked Lydia what she thought. She said it might be cool to have a UK magazine. I asked her if she wanted a column because her brand of ranting was always eloquent and a great pleasure to hear. She asked what she’d write about. I said Dance because she’s a gifted dancer and choreographer.  She said sure.

Since I  had one columnist in mind, nothing to lose and a sudden hatred of the word “no” I told Kelso yes. We cycled through some names and I decided I liked his suggestion of  Imperial Youth Review. And that’s when Chris and I started assembling the crew.  We got seasoned powerhouses like Nick Mamatas , Tim Lucas and Edward Morris, voices of dissent like Jess Gulbranson, Steve Aylett and Tom Bradley and our good luck Scarlet Women Miss Ginger and Nikki Guerlain both of whom IYR and myself wouldn’t be alive without. We got enough content from contributors to fill two issues. And enough love to fill ten.

I left Miss Ginger’s place in August to move into a friend’s mother’s house with Wick. We stayed there a month. Did good work. Nice lady. Very patient. But the space was small and needed to be kept neat and we could not live there indefinitely. Moved in with my current roommates in September. Circus folk. Firespinners. Good people. I thought at first without Wick’s support or Leza’s or Evan’s I was going to  die on the street. I was saddened by feelings of loneliness engendered by online dating and the apparent vastness of my bed.  But my roommates liked and encouraged me. I dove into my editing work and fought tooth and nail to have a home. Also fought tooth and nail to find a girlfriend by trying online dating.

My first online date in September went astoundingly well. It made me think that online dating would mean girls with gigantic breasts would come to my little apartment in the ghetto and have pizza with me and make out. History did not repeat itself. But IYR came together at least. And my roommates were cool people and knew cool people. My 2012 apocalypse had given me feast as well as famine, produced an  album and a magazine as well as just heartbreak and loss. November brought the first Thanksgiving I ever enjoyed. December an honest to god George Bailey moment and the realization that maybe it’s okay that I’m alone because I’m never actually alone.

Imperial Youth Review is, like my life,  not what I thought it would like, but I see it as potentially something more beautiful than I could imagine. Thank you all readers and contributors and clients and friends and colleagues and lovers who weren’t. Soon 2012 will be over and it will be my first New Year in my new home in Boston with the new magazine Chris Kelso and I created trying to find new life in new hands and the new blog with new contributors and new ideas will become something entirely new. I know 2013  is gonna be a good year, especially if you and me see it in together.newphoto


Also, I found a staff. So that was cool.

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