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I must confess that I miss it and the friends I made there.

tallinn

* If you like this excellent picture, taken by Gen Vagula, you can find more like it at: http://www.genvagula.com/Collections/Magical-Tallinn.

Taking a short break this afternoon to post on my blog.  I know the scene I have to write today.  I know what has to happen in it.  I can even see it playing out in my mind.  So what’s the problem?  Maybe caffeine will help.  37°F and misty on the mountain today.  I won’t be up here for much longer.  Possibilities for the next move include England, Estonia, Indonesia.  In the States: Boston, NYC, D.C.  We’ll see what comes back over the water . . .

The novel is just about done. That means book manuscripts 2 and 3 will be going in the mail to small presses and contests sometime this year.  Then I ramp up work on the book dealing with gender performance and transhumanism.

Book 4, which will be my second novel, is already 80 pages into its first draft.  And so 2013 begins . . .

I love Tallinn.  It’s ancient and modern at the same time.  The people are cultured and willing to forgive me for being a stupid American.  In fact, an Estonian friend recently gave me the option of being an apprentice Estonian, which I took as a compliment—even though I am and will always be a child of Southern California.  Represent.

But after 14 hours of work—writing, teaching, promoting my business, applying to ESL instructor positions—I feel the need for a beer.  That’s good.  Estonia is deeply in love with beer of all kinds.  Unfortunately, the country is also deeply in love with rules—specifically, the rule that no beer is sold after 22:00 (that’s 10 PM for all you yank readers) in stores.  Alright, so the intrepid internet laborer who loses all sense of time must go to a bar if it’s 22:27, which it is.

Naturally, in moments like this, I invoke my Irish ancestry and pray to St. Patrick to leave me the fuck alone so Satan can find me the worst, most decadent drinking establishment in Tallinn.  I wind up drinking in St. Patrick’s pub in Old Town.  It’s okay—fairly standard Irish format with a jovial Irish manager slinging drinks and several nymph-like Estonian waitresses who don’t know how to make a half-and-half.  So okay.  I can handle that.  Guinness it is.

I drink my Guinness.  And I am content.  It is only after the third pint that I am approached by the poor man’s Cate Blanchett—tall, blonde, blue eyes, and post-apocalyptic survival instincts.  Apparently she is Russian because she says, “Do you speak Russian?” in an accent that can only be Russian.

“No,” I say, “I’m an American.”

“You are a beautiful American.”

“Yeah?”

“I would like a cocktail.”

“I voted for Obama.  I would like a cocktail.”

At which point, she makes a face at me and says, “Oh, you are not buying me a cocktail.  I’m sure you are used to fat disgusting monsters in America.”

I laugh at this for at least 15 minutes.  Then I dance by myself amid several married, middle-aged Estonians while a Rod Stewart lookalike sings “I Just Called to Say I love You” with a drum machine and a Peavey 6-string.

Have I mentioned that I love it here?

She takes a new position on the other side of the pub and shoots me a lot of nasty looks while I finish my drinks.  I want to say, it’s okay.  You should go to the States.  And you will find a wonderful guy with a spray-on tan and gold chains who will buy you cocktails.  But I don’t say anything.

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I write fiction and nonfiction for magazines, work as a freelance writer / editor / journalist, and teach composition and fiction writing.

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To educate is to seek meaning in everything. It is to teach others to seek the meaning of things. This means mixing the dreams of children and young people with the experience of adults and the elderly. This exchange must always take place, or else there can be no humanity because there would be no roots, no history, no promise, no growth, and no prophecy.

— Pope Francis, 5 June 20

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If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery—isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.

― Charles Bukowski, Factotum

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