In Memoriam

For the past four months, I’ve been wondering what I was going to do on April 30. It would have been my fourteenth wedding anniversary. I’m not being maudlin, I’m not obsessing, I don’t want Kate back—I’m very happy with the way things are going for me right now. But fourteen years is literally one-third of my life, and I can’t pretend it never happened.  

We made it work for about thirteen years, and then she quit. I understand why she wanted to split up, even if I may never forgive her for how she went about it. Being divorced at this juncture is one of the best things to happen to me, but there was a period of time where she was the best thing to happen to me.  

With her I’ve lived in all sorts of interesting places. I’ve seen the world, in South America, Europe, and the Middle East. I’ve become a career editor. I quit smoking and drinking. I got into and out of shape. When I was with her, I felt like I reached my potential, and that’s got to count for something. And now that I’ve reached my potential, I’m out on my own, in a dynamic city with a really amazing roommate, and that’s exciting. 

In a month and a half, I’ll be signing the papers that mark this phase of my life completely over. Am I over it? I’m not. I’ll think of something I want to share with her, and I can’t. Or I’ll think about one of the ways she’s treated me during the split or deceived me during our last months together, and I’ll get a cold pit in my stomach. Fourteen years is a long time, and as much as I want to forget it, I never will.  

I’m going to celebrate my fourteenth anniversary, but not the fifteenth. And in a few years, April 30 will be simply be the day before one of my dearest friends’ birthday. 


The Times, They Are a’Changeling

I’m going to run something by you. I’m curious what you think. There is this person in your life, and we’re going to call them Morgan. You don’t know Morgan. You’ve never met Morgan. You’ve never seen Morgan before in your life. And yet one day you get out of bed, log into social media, and half of your friends are friends with them. I mean, not just casual friends, but posting on each other’s timelines, teasing each other, sharing in-jokes. Everyone talks to you about them like they’re your friend. All evidence points to them having gone to school with you, but you don’t remember ever seeing them at school. They even married one of your exes. Morgan seems to have lived a life parallel to yours, and yet you’ve never touched.  

What’s the more likely explanation: that the state where you went to school is pretty small and the friendships forged there are tight, and all Morgan had to do was get in the good graces of one to get into the good graces of all? Or that Morgan is some kind of fairy or demon, quietly skirting the corners of your life, causing general mischief? Or that they’re a god looking to live a real human life, and so they borrowed yours and vastly improved on it? 

Asking for a friend. 

Open to Interpretation

I used to come to film adaptations of my preferred properties the way that Alan Moore did, skeptical and full of righteous fury. And the RED happened. RED is the Bruce Willis movie that came out a few years ago, and it was based on a three-issue comic book by my man, Warren Ellis. It was intense, violent, hardcore, and pretty damned serious. And then they made a movie out of it. Like the book, the movie was about an old CIA assassin, Retired Extremely Dangerous, whose main concern was getting his pension checks, and he was brought out of retirement by scores of CIA assassins. And subsequently, a whole bunch of faceless men die creatively. But the movie version added John Malkovich as a wacky fellow retiree, as well as Helen Mirren and Brian Cox as star-crossed Cold War lovers. It was laid back and goofy, in that “Aren’t old people just so cute” kind of way, and I was furious. How dare they take such a simple, serious premise and turn it into something so fluffy? I screamed, I shouted, and I put a pox on the studio’s houses for allowing this to happen.  

And then they made a sequel, which further enraged me. But right before it came out, Warren Ellis got on his blog and implored his fans to go see RED 2 because he bought his daughter a horse with the royalties from the first movie, and it was really expensive to feed. Suddenly it became crystal clear that he had made his book, and he did the Warren Ellisiest job he could with it, but it was out in the world. If someone else saw it and made a different interpretation, that was their business, as long as Warren Ellis got paid, which he did, handsomely. His reputation wasn’t ruined by this silliness, just like Alan Moore’s reputation wasn’t ruined by that not-very-good Watchmen adaptation a few years back, or by the prequels comics DC did a few years later. (It’s okay to get mad about how badly DC screwed over Alan Moore financially and legally, though, but getting worked up over Zack Snyder’s gratuitous slowmo and costume alterations kinds of misses the point.) Adaptations are going to happen, and they will, by necessity, make some changes. One day, if I ever get over my crippling exhaustion with the black hole of the publication/marketing process, they might want to do adaptations of my works, and they will be so very different. And if I don’t like the changes, I will just remember that it’s not my interpretation anymore, and I’m getting paid. Unless they whitewash or straightwash the characters. Then I will say something. Otherwise, I look forward to seeing what fellow creative minds might make out of my genius ideas. And perhaps I will buy a horse with the royalty check. I will name her Peanut Butter and she will eat apples and carrots.