Writing is a form of time-travel for me, often taking me back to the high desert of California in the 90’s when I was taking writing classes at Antelope Valley College, and running open-mic spoken word nights every week at a cool coffeehouse called Hang ‘ Java on Lancaster Boulevard.
And when I get nostalgic, I tend to start Googling.
I took writing classes and got published way back before the Internet. It was only 21 years ago, but it feels like a-whole-nother lifetime. After poetry class, we’d sit out on the grass in the quad and free-write collaborations together. I still have all the stuff we did. It was a profound time in my life.
In this video are my two most favorite & influential writing professors – Charles Hood (in the flannel) and Bill Vaughn (in yellow)–both fantastic writers & inspiring teachers. Two years before I ever took his class, Bill Vaughn sent me my first rejection slip (which I still have). I’d seen a call of submissions in the paper local paper, and mailed him a short story. He mailed me back a hand-written rejection. That’s how it was done in the old days, kids.
In early spring of 1998, however, he did publish two of my pieces in “The Crunge” Vol. Six- Body & Mind. At the end of the school year I organized the book release party & poetry reading. It was epic.
Try as I might, I have not been able to find either of these guys on social media, but in a recent search I found this video from 2016. It made me miss the desert, & those classroom days. (Of course, I am middle-aged now, so that’s one of the requirements of being in one’s 50’s… we have to go all big-time “glory days” every once in a while.)
This video probably won’t mean much to anyone else, but when I look at it I feel a connection to the part of me that fills my spirit with passion for poetry and writing – the pure art of it. I love that feeling.
way back then
life was like pie
If the Internet has taught me anything, it’s that to go looking for special people from your past almost always leads to disappointment because the romanticized memories we entertain over the decades is almost always better than the reality of how people actually turn out, but this video makes me proud that I was their student and that I learned so much from them, although I’m not really sure why. All these years later, I’m glad their friendship has endured. I’m glad they’re both still teaching at AVC, and I’m glad I got to take their classes.
Sometimes it’s nice to write about the honest-to-goodness simple things in life which make us smile randomly for no particular reason. (And in under 500 words for a change-heh.)