Trying To Find A Radio

Every now and then, I remember that I co-wrote a successful column for my university newspaper for two years, and think to myself, “how did that happen?”

The answer, realistically, came from the fact that they had open submissions and were desperate for new material, but more than two decades later, it still seems unlike me to have submitted anything in the first place, and I genuinely can’t remember how I managed to convince Andy, my best friend at the time, to do it, either. Maybe we should just chalk it up to the confidence of youth.

I was underselling it before; it wasn’t just a column — we had that, sure (“Gubbins,” it was called, which was either Andy’s suggestion or the editor’s), but we also had a comic strip wholeheartedly ripped off of the Kyle Baker and Evan Dorkin collaboration from the early 90s where they reviewed shows together, a series of fake horoscopes, and a regular How-To guide to dancing like your favorite Britpop icons. We were astonishingly productive on a biweekly basis for two 20-year-old art students.

And, perhaps most surprising of all, it was a success, to the point of people recognizing us when we were out, which was an entirely surreal experience, and the byproduct of putting our likenesses in the comic strip in the first place. (Suffice to say, it was a small enough city we were all in for this to happen.) It was an odd brush with almost-fame that flattered our egos enough to be enjoyable, but was small enough to keep from being unpleasant.

We did all of this for two years, our second and third years in art school. By the end of the second year, we were pretty burned out and devoid of material, as well as all too aware that we should probably buckle down and be serious about course work in our final year, so stopping seemed like a good idea. I’m pretty sure our shtick was getting old by that point for other people, too.

I wonder, sometimes, how this all set me up for what I do for a living now; it was the first time I wrote about pop culture publicly, and in what I considered my own voice at the time. It was the first time I dealt with deadlines and audience response and… well, everything that my job is now, it feels like. Perhaps it was my secret origin.

The Ongoing War Between Man And His Own Body

There’s a particularly cruel comedy in the fact that, yesterday, I celebrated the fact that I wasn’t suffering debilitating coughing fits for the first time in a week  by throwing my back out. I wish this was a joke, but sadly, I’m entirely serious; 2020 turns out to be a year of exciting new ways in which my body betrays me, it seems.

I noticed the back pain getting out the shower, but didn’t really think anything of it, which was likely a mistake; I figured I’d probably just bent over strangely washing my legs or something, but that it was a twinge that would soon right itself. This was, at best, extremely optimistic, given that a few hours later, I’d be struggling to rise out of a chair and found it difficult to walk between rooms. (The pain came and went all yesterday, but at its worst, I moved like an 80-year-old man whose back was broken decades earlier in an unfortunate jalopy accident.)

I remember being told that I was at the age where my body would just give up on me and fall apart, and I remember being somewhat cynical of the very idea; sure, I thought to myself, I might not be the healthiest man in the world but I’ve never had that many problems with my body. Oh, friends; if I knew then what I know now.

Honestly, my ultimate feeling about the whole thing isn’t sadness or self-pity or anything like that, as easy as it may be to give into such things. Instead, it’s a sharp and fully-formed frustration that I couldn’t just have, like, two days of my body working before things started going wrong again. Is my body so determined to pack in as much dysfunction and disrepair that my maladies have to overlap like this, for real? My schedule for sickness is so busy that we’re having to double-book?

I’m writing this early in the morning, lying in bed. I haven’t tried to get up yet, so right now all I really know is that there’s at the very least a dull ache back there waiting to be discovered when I push myself up. I’m not worried, though; at this point, I’m pretty confident that, should my back have cleared up overnight, my foot’s probably gone gangrenous to make up for it.