It was incredibly easy to include this book when narrowing approximately 700 books down to 10. My criteria for keeping books:

- is it loved (and not just liked)?
- will it be reread?
- has it been reread?
- is it easily replaceable later on?

Though it is replaceable, I will be taking it overseas with me. This collection makes me feel excited, frivolous, fascinated, disgusted, sad, and joyous from page to page. At the core, however, it is the foundation of its elements that fascinate me. These comics/magazines were labors of love. They were made before Kinko's and home printers. In fact, most of the artists asked their moms to make photocopies of the zines at work. When it came time to make money for the zines, subscriptions ranged from 25 cents to $1. Subscriptions were made by word of mouth, mail, and from features in other underground zines. This is one of my favored topics: what art looks like when it is influenced by profit and popularity vs. made by the creative, uncensored force within.

How I prepared to leave the country

1. Save enough $ to get by solidly for 6 months. By far, the most difficult step. I had to keep pushing away the departure date.

2. Obtain necessary paperwork: passport, work visa, resident visa, plane ticket, etc.

3. Make connections with people who live where you are going: housing, job, references.

4. Resign on good terms from employment. You might still be connected in terms of contact by future employers, even if changing careers.

5. Give away/sell/recycle most material belongings. *It was absolutely freeing to narrow down what I’m leaving to one rare Italian folding bicycle and a 13” x 24” x 15” wooden box and what I’m taking to bicycle and a backpacking pack. Let go let go let go let go.

6. Digitize by scanning important pictures, documents, artwork, etc. Discard what is not needed.

7. Clean up, then back up computer files in iCloud, Google drive, external hard drive, flash drives, etc. Again, so freeing to narrow 25,000 photographs down to a touch over 7,000. I also managed to discard 2,000 teaching files that included unneeded audio/video clips/pictures/worksheets/PowerPoints.

8. Write letters and have face-to-face “see you at a later time” connections. I'm famous for not saying goodbye, thus really hurting people. This time, I'm trying not be a dick.

9. Rent/sell and move out of housing.

10. Stretch, meditate, let go of the past, enjoy the present, look ahead to learning as much as humanly possible, and know it will be wondrous.

Finding the Words

I rarely feel inarticulate. Though I used to struggle finding the words I wished to express aloud or on paper, that struggle is past tense. I can attribute part of it to devoting my academic life to literature written in English. The other attribution is a set of steps I abide by and defend as the sole builders of a vast lexicon.

In the past year or so, people have asked me how I speak so fluidly. They expressed a sincere wish to be more confident with language. This is what I tell them:

1. Read every chance you get. Don’t force it though—find something you really enjoy.  Nerd out! Even if it is a book or website intended for kids. Standing in a line somewhere? Waiting for your friend who is a classic lagasaurus? Squeeze in a blessed page. Here is the really important part: designate advanced vocabulary words with a symbol. If you cannot figure out a word’s meaning based on context, place the word in parentheses, star it, record it somewhere if reading an electronic source, etc. Then, when you can, look up the meaning(s) of the word. I will not deny that this is tedious, but one can’t expect to build a formidable vocabulary without learning the meaning of unknown words. One cannot expect to find the words that do not exist in their mental filing cabinet.

2. Write journal entries. This serves many purposes. It strengthens your memory, it allows you to destress through a productive outlet, and it builds your mental dictionary. ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL: as you write, do not edit. There are five steps to the writing process: 1) Prewriting, 2) Drafting, 3) Revising, 4) Editing, 5) Publishing. Writing about your day involves steps 1 and 2. Don’t stress about step 4. Pay no attention to capitalization, word choice (forcing it to “sound right”), spelling, grammar, punctuation. Why? If you get hung up on composing a masterpiece, you will stare at a blank page and stifle your growth. Here is the really important part: go through what you have written and circle, star, etc. words you wish to elevate. Use a thesaurus and revise your word choice.

No one taught me this method. It was a natural result of reading day and night and finding fascination in options. Have fun finding the words; experience language love along the way.

Calm, reflective, peaceful days of honoring a great and funny man; freeezzzzing in snow; watching wild cats do their bloody work; sleeping curled up next to a loving doggie; and watching buffalo, deer, elk, Great Horned Owls, Sandhill Cranes; a massive Golden Eagle; a lone fox, Magpies, an American Kestrel, Northern Flickers, Stellar’s Jays (who impersonate hawks!), Robins, Chickadees, Red-winged Blackbirds, etc.

and I'll miss you most of all scarecrow