“Lost and Found” (long lipogram)

I have a long lipogrammatic story posted here. It’s a fanfiction written about the novel “A Void” (translation of “La Disparition”), both of which were themselves written without the letter E. You don’t exactly need to be familiar with the plot of the book to read my story, because it doesn’t have much of a plot. To make a long story short; a man named Anton Vowl disappears from his apartment in Paris. His friends decide to get together and investigate and figure out what happened to him, but it turns out that most of them are related to each other and him, and then most of them (in particular, anyone who realizes that they’re trapped in a lipogram) die. It’s not a real happy story.

Anyway, in the annual end-of-the year “Yuletide” exchange of fanfiction for small fandoms, there’s a in-joke involving “Ghost Soup,” a nonexistent fandom that’s based on a piece of advice about how not to write a “Dear Santa” letter that kind of became a “don’t put beans in your ears” advice for fanfiction people:

Bad: “I would like a Ghost Soup story where Luke makes out with Angela’s clone and Angela gets mad and seduces Moira just to make Luke mad, and then Ryan and Luke duel to the death with their lightsabers and it ends up in an Angela/Angela’s clone/Moira threesome. And Ryan feels really bad and flies off to Mars forever.”

Anyway, there are a bunch of other shoutouts (the story-within-a-story structure was also part of the original), but that should be more than enough to get you started, if you’re wondering whether I still do lipograms. :p

Not All Cubs Fans

I’ve lived a pretty sheltered life, all things considered, and can’t complain. That penultimate word–can’t–weighs down on me from no direction in particular, an invisible, unseen force. It shouldn’t be like this. It shouldn’t be about me. I’m no one in particular–just a hobbyist, a fan. Being a sports fan is something I do and am for fun. But not only is it a source of pleasure, it can also be a way of making connections to people who aren’t like me. As a little kid, my ability to rattle off trivia statistics delighted older fans and provided a way to start making friendships with those near and far, even as I struggled to master the social skills needed to bond with my own peer group. Sports can sometimes have this power–the power to be used for good.

I was born outside the Chicago area but had already moved away by the time I fell in love with baseball. Most of the baseball hats on display weren’t Cubs hats, but a few were, and every so often I’d get thumbs-ups or high-fives for my little T-shirts. Baseball team affiliation is something innocuous enough that it’s a way to identify onesself as one of a relatively small “in-group” and display comparatively benign loyalties. Just as the sport as a whole was a bridge for me to make connections, team affiliation became a way to signal a postive form of pride, when I was almost too afraid to do so in most other ways. How dare I take any pride in my country, when people like me in so many ways (birth place, skin color, religion) were responsible for so many atrocities? On the internet, where one-liners and point-scoring were the currency of the day, citing one’s atypical neurology could too easily turn into an excuse, so better not hide behind that either. At least T-shirts and virtual avatars could still endure.

When I was twelve I started learning that there was no safety in this approach. Oh, I don’t mean that the mistakes of one fan would be redistributed as collective guilt; people (some people) can deride an individual scapegoat much more easily. No, I mean the second-order response of assuming all other fans were content to mock the failings of their fellows, rather than hold the players accountable. Of lumping us all in the same boat.

I don’t mean to claim any higher ground than is due–that kind of attitude leads to the backlash present in, say, the “Best Fans St. Louis” running joke. Some people probably think my dreams of true egalitarianism are naive. I’m just one voice, and a quiet voice at that. But I have to try.

All this is just to say that, in the slightly ironic spirit of #victorinooutsforcharity and the slightly tiresome ads that companies do (apparently some of them just pay a flat fee anyway, but, welp), I’m going to be donating $5 for every Aroldis Chapman save (with the Cubs this year) to Wings Program. I hope I don’t need to be very wordy about it here or elsewhere, and I’m not sure if posting this defeats the purpose. But please know, if you’re reading this; in the midst of all the nihilistic hand-wringing and disdain that will follow for people like me, or maybe it just feels like it from amid the distortions I squint through, I’m here too.

Edit: figured there had to be something like this going on on a larger scale. Check out @pitchin4dv on Twitter! (Their main recipient is the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic.)

Spring Training

I was writing this last April, taking part in a hard fight with many avid bards (and an all-star grading). As it’s March again, I bring it back. Happy Spring! 🙂

All limbs in whirls that lash, craving maintaining.
A small rain falling in an arid land, draining
What was a farm. This day it’s scalding, blazing.
This fall, I cry, will flash with wins amazing.
In a mad wind, kids flip backwards and wind
Till arms display what avid fans will find.
I pass as a baby, rattling silly stats
That sat amid this mix; minds, balls and bats.

I’ll sit in any chair, skip that which is shaming
Past failings, past draws. It saps will, blaming
What was. In this dry warmth; again I’ll start
Planning against panic, playing any part.
Till that day wins banish a final wraith:
I am a fanatic, invisibility sparks faith.