Quitting my job was hard enough. I’m forty years old and all I’ve known is foodservice. Overall, the food industry has made a decent career. But being on the tail end of the Gen-Xers, I’ve always known retirement, for me, was never going to look like the same retirement experience as my parents and grandparents. I wasn’t going to just stop working at sixty-five, sit back and relax, but I couldn’t see myself at sixty or seventy standing at a grill or working behind a pizza oven. And since high school, my dream had always been to teach at the university level. To be an academic. To pour over books and have smart things to say about those books.
I failed my first year of college though, and was happy enough for a long time with my Associate’s where I got kinda okay grades. Being a professor seemed unreasonable and out of reach. An impossibility.
It took me twenty-two years to finish my bachelor’s. I’ve been told that’s an accomplishment. I chock it up to ingrained genetic stubbornness really. Not anything spectacular, just a doggedness to keep going back to class, to be willing to work like a mule. Just one more class checked off the list, you know. And another class and another class, until one day I applied for grad school.
And I got in. Then I was invited to a get-together. Kind of a meet and greet before the semester with alcohol.
Broke (because that’s what you are when you’re a college student, a parent, and someone who just quit his job), I had nothing to bring to the party–no bottle of wine, no scotch, not even PBR. And, the last time I was at a gathering without the spouse or the kids and alcohol was available, believe me, I took full advantage. So by rights, I was pretty nervous. Scared maybe would be a better word. Intimidated a better description.
I mean, who was I but some schmuck who had a couple of things self-published up on Amazon (please, btw, buy so I can continue to support my educational addiction)? I was only someone who had read a bunch of books and knew my way around a kitchen really, really well. These people–my cohorts, my fellow educational adventurers–as young as they were/are surely were/are smarter than I; more deserving of the Graduate Assistantship.
However, in an awkward lull in the conversation at the meet and greet, I made a Doctor Who joke and people laughed and I knew I was in good company.
And I thought, I can do this: I am so organizing a fez day at the university. Because, you know, fezzes are cool.
WASTELAND: THE END OF WINTER
“I thought this book was beautiful. Having just finished it, I feel like I have just woken up from a really disturbing dream” – Rose Actor-engel, Amazon
Christine and Jack sat on the back deck of their cottage and watched the stars fall into the lake. They whispered to each other, “Beautiful.” But Jack did not know his life was to forever change. A plague came. Christine died. Aliens landed and they put things in his food and soap. The sidewalks lit up blue to let him know when he was allowed to go to the store. Filled with drugs, sex, and cigarettes, the first of six inter-related short stories that make up the entirety of the Wasteland series all styled after Winesburg, Ohio and As I Lay Dying. Based loosely off T.S. Elliot’s poem of the same name, The Wasteland is told from the perspectives of the people living inside Jack’s head.
Would you like your book featured here? For free? Email me!
Steve Bargdill writes “literary stuff” with the occasional foray into speculative fiction. Originally from Ohio, he has lived in Dayton, Columbus, Troy, St. Marys, and New Knoxville as well as West Branch, Iowa; Lincoln, Nebraska; Muncie, Indiana; and currently lives in Laramie, Wyoming. Bargdill is the author of The Wasteland Series available on Amazon. He’s written for several newspapers and is currently a first year English graduate student at the University of Wyoming. You can read his short stories for free on Wattpad. You can also like him on Facebook where he posts a daily poem, Monday evening writing prompts, hump day videos and more nonsense!