There’s this fiction writer (above) who spends a lot of time in this compound (that’s what it’s called) where I live. He rents a house here to write. I see him at the mailbox kiosk sometimes. I once complimented him on his old science fiction novels, real space opera stuff that I love to read. He said the series might have been the best stuff he’s ever written. They are good books. The characters have more substance and human emotions and sex than in most of the sci fi I’ve read, much like Robert A. Heinlein’s works. There’s a darkness in the stories, rebellion, violence, and blazing lasers of course. But people stop to love, and there’s a feminine quality to the relationship talk, which seems odd coming from a cantankerous old writer (arisco, in Spanish) continuously chomping on a big fat cigar. He says he is a family man, and has to balance writing with family time.
One day I spoke to him about his other line of works, fantasy books that lean on authors like Tolkien and Roger Zelazny. I asked him what he was working on, and it’s more of the same, sounded like. I told him I didn’t read much of the sword and sorcery stuff, which, in retrospect, wasn’t a good comparison to his writing, just a way of cataloging fantasy in my head. However, he appeared to take some umbrage with that, saying that there aren’t any swords in the book he’s working on – not really my point – but, “…Well, there is one sword.” Then he asks me: “Who are you anyway?”
Well, I think I pissed him off, and that’s bad because I worship writers. Oh, well. I’ve deeply loved several women, and I always managed to piss them off too. Who am I to describe someone as cantankerous, anyway?
But, aside from the obsessing over things I’ve said and shouldn’t have said to famous authors and the ex wives and lovers, that question remains uppermost in my mind: “Who are you?”
Who the fuck am I?
I’m a guy that lives alone. I’m not certain I could ever live with anyone ever again. I like my solitude too much. Some days I can’t be bothered to get out of bed. Or I get up and sit in front of the computer, which amounts to the same thing. Some days I get up at 4:30 or 5:00 am, and hike up the mountains around Albuquerque: Sandia, Manzano, Jemez, and sometimes Sangre de Christo near Santa Fe, or up in the Rocky Mountains in the northern part of the state. There are over eighty mountain ranges, but I don’t plan to visit them all. I am retired, after all. I need my down time, and hiking up thousands of feet of elevation can be hard work.
In fact, I was having trouble hiking up for any great distance a few years back, and found out I had heart problems. Too much plaque in my arteries. Big fat artery in my heart was mostly plugged, and, in the process of getting that rotor-rootered, it moved to completely block the artery (Felt like a mild stab to my heart). Fortunately, I was already getting prepped to have a thin plastic tube shoved up my arm to my heart, and I was surrounded by medical personal and high-tech equipement, so within a minute, I had relief from that. It was blessed relief from my overwhelming symptoms of chest pressure and the feeling of impending doom that had dogged me all that afternoon. They left a stent in place to keep that tiny section of the artery open.
Recovery was fast, but my cardiac surgeon insisted that I work out to pump up my heart rate a bit more than I had been doing. I hadn’t been hiking much more than a few hours once a week, especially since I was having a hard time climbing mountains any more. The cardiac rehab center he refered me to was way too expensive for me: $90 a week (after insurance). I had once done a stair climbing challenge that benefitted the American Lung Association, and still had a flyer they’d included in my donation packet for a training group of runners. I called them and ended up running instead. I’d never run before, so it was a revelation how hard that really was. I’d always thought joggers a bit crazy, but it is damn good cardiovascular work, and that’s what I needed. They call themselves the OxyGenMorons, or morons, for short. So, I was partly right.
So now, I hike up the mountains, and jog. I’ve run two half marathons, which are defined as 13.1-mile runs. I’m training now for an honest-to-goodness fucking 26.2-mile marathon this October. We’ll see how that goes.
I hiked in the Valles Caldera last Saturday, which is now a national preserve instead of privately owned. That was fun, even with a bit of rain. I contunue to try to hike on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and then run a few miles with the Morons at 6:00 pm those days as well. Saturdays are often long runs, from 6 to 14 miles. I may do some longer runs soon. I do have to be ready on October 18 to run 26.2 miles. Training is supposed to be 5 days a week for marathoners.
Well, besides running, I’m a background actor. I’ve managed to get on the sets of TV shows like Better Call Saul, Night Shift, Gunslingers, and Longmire, and movies like BARE, Highly Functional, and War on Everyone, as well as many local productions. Like it is said, it keeps me out of trouble. In two days I’ll be on the set of Gold.
With all of this, I’m still trying to maintain my association with a local winery. I only average working there two days a week, but I enjoy the hard work of picking fruit and mixing vats of wine, and filtering, and pumping into and out of tanks, bottling and labeling and selling. It’s far, far different from my old job, DNA sequencing, DNA synthesis, and protein sequencing and synthesis before that. That seems like a lifetime ago now.
I take photos too, when I’m hiking mostly, but sometimes with a group called the Guerrilla Photo Group, where we experiment with photography, mostly in a studio setting. Sometimes I enter my photos in shows. Over the years, I’ve sold six photos. although Bon Appétit once bought the use of one photo for their magazine.
This all sounds like I do a lot, but I really seem to spend my life more like today. I got up late, shortly before 9:00 am. I feed the cats, and drank some juice (carrot, apple, or cranberry-raspberry-blackberry). I ate some eggs, and drank coffee. My refrigerator has milk and juices and ice tea and State Pen porter for later in the day. I walked a book I’d sold on eBay to the mailbox across the street. (I buy way too many used books online, so I am continuously reselling them or trading them away. I like to read, but many of the books I read are graphic novels or very old paperbacks, and they do not show up in my local library. If I buy books cheap, and resell them, I don’t end up paying a lot for them on average.) After that I read a bit. I am about to walk up to the mailbox kiosk and check my mail. Woo hoo, I received an old record album.
That’s my life. That’s who I am. A bit lazy, with bouts of frenetic activites, or reading quietly at home. My job no longer defines me, and it’s hard to say what does. I’m not just a hiker, or a runner, or a photographer, or an actor, or a winemaker.
Does that answer your question, mister fantasy writer?