Dear Friends of Spartan Holiday:
SH fizzled out and died a couple of years ago, and for good reason. Somewhere between the death grip of grad school and a painful breakup, I let it drift away. I didn’t feel funny or wise, and the world went limp and gray. Like this, except without all the gold braid:
So I stepped aside. I stopped writing and started teaching. I taught the past progressive and obsessed over the shit-show present perfect. I chugged coffee and cried every day on my bike ride home. I read essays about hunting with falcons, and problems in Pakistani education, and turbo engines versus fuel-injected engines. I read books about Saudi culture and taught English via Bruno Mars. My students made me laugh, but the world was threatened by hate. I felt lonely and old.
I got angry and screamed in my car because it’s the only place you can scream in public. I shivered by a revolving dessert case at the Hotel Congress in Tucson. I ran up volcanoes and down beaches and through snow. I studied Vygotsky. I wrote my comps. I graduated. I shouted gangsta rap at birds on the shores of the Puget Sound. I was cornered by angus cattle. I read the Tao of Physics. I cried at sheepdog shows. I cried at nice people in the English countryside baking drizzle cakes together. I cried at airplanes coming and going over Albuquerque. I cried like I was getting paid to do it (but I wasn’t, according to my income statements).
Somewhere I started seeing my own failings as a door out, to a place that is home, a place we all leave at some point, and wander away from for decades. I saw fear and imagined superiority as the root of all earthly shittiness and distance between people, and realized the thing that was deeply “wrong” with me was also deeply wrong with most everyone of a certain age and culture, and we can choose something else.
Then one day, I was up at dawn, to see the sun rise over the Atlantic and the world was a different planet. The masses were playing Pokemon Go, and falling into acid pools, and punching the air to get stronger. Children with lisps were running around holding toy snakes and trying desperately to hiss. Buck-toothed seals were floating on their backs in estuaries (not in this ocean, in other ones). Somewhere gullible people were buying helenite rings “forged” from the molten ash of Mount St. Helens, and men in offices at Boeing were slamming their fists on desks ordering higher monthly production of planes.
Holy hell, I said. Spartan Holiday is back, and there will be no soap boxes here. Just an ode to life, humankind, and the exultant weirdness of the worlds we live in. Cultural oddities, outsider insights, illegal research, interviews, one-offs, and listicles that skim the cream of existence in Albuquerque-America-World. Flower essences, pop culture, ethnomusicology, mayonnaise, children’s melt-downs– everything is fair game.
And so, be kind to each other and yourselves. Leave the world, but come back.
“Money on the wood makes the game go good. Money out of sight causes fights,” said Thomas Merton or someone.
Thanks to all of you who have forged on.