24 May 2006


Charlie asked recently about our origins (as writers, not the Origins that makes my favorite moisturizer).

I'm not sure where I got my start exactly. My folks were always very pro-arts. I remember my dad typing up my first volume of poetry on his electric typewriter when I was in second grade and he was working on his MBA thesis.

Elementary teachers were somewhat encouraging, or at least enabling, since I couldn't resist drafting convoluted example sentences for vocabulary drills. I remember making up the name Moritia and using it in a sentence. Now I realize that likely the teacher thought I was alluding to Morticia Addams, a character I was wholly unfamiliar with until college. But I didn't get points off.

Honestly, I thank my junior high and early high school days in Midland (MI) Public Schools for getting me really excited about writing and letting me have fun with it. Mrs. Choate and Mr. Demko come to mind immediately, along with my saga-writing side projects with classmate Byf. Both of those teachers took an interest in my writing and encouraged creativity in their assignments, something I always ran with.

When I was a sophomore I attended a summer writing program at Michigan Tech. Imagine a group of high schoolers from all over the state staying in dorms and taking day trips to places like Copper Harbor. I'm still writing about it. Wasted some of my time working out a dance routine for the talent show (but hey! taking second place also prepared me for a career as a writer), but overall came home with a fat notebook.

When I moved to another part of Michigan the English classes were uninspiring and I graduated wanting nothing to do with English. Then, at U Mich, the epiphany. Now I can't imagine myself as anything other than an English prof and writer (who, for whatever reason, bears a mild resemblance to Morticia Addams).


Justin Evans said...


I wish I could offer a story half as cool as yours! I think i will write it up anyway, and post it on Friday.

I honestly don't understand how you did not know who morticia addams was for so long. But then, I am probably a weirdo for knowing the things I do.

Penultimatina said...

I didn't really watch tv growing up, other than the news.

(i.e. I am that kind of dork.

Looking forward to reading your story! I was thinking of you when I was writing about teachers who make a difference.

Justin Evans said...


Thank you for saying so. Right about now I really needed to hear some nice things about my efforts as a teacher.

Byf said...

I hated Mr. Demko. But yeah, Choate was all right. I recall she said "laborious" a lot.

Beware the Salts of Spring.

Penultimatina said...


Throw me a fish.

Love, Phys

wayne said...

Don Demko. Now there's a blast from the past. Did he have a nickname for you? My nickname was 'Who Fan' because I liked, of all things, The Who.

Where's the homage to M. Irons? Solubility Rules!

Penultimatina said...

Ack! I need to work M. Irons into this somehow.


Byf said...

Once a salt, always a salt.


It's OK if you do the wrong thing, as long as you do it right.

Penultimatina said...

That is STILL my anthem, Byf.

Take on May

It's the first day of finals week and I already have that loopy off-my-routine feeling. Waiting for things to grade, and when those ...