Here's what I've been on about lately. Watch; learn; discover; discuss.
Microbiology is cool. My girlfriend is, of course, just the coolest. But watching Dave Letterman complimenting my bud Diablo on her "entertaining... informative... insighful... very funny" book is this week's whole new brand of cool. It'll bend your brain to see it: holy crap, there's someone I know on Letterman. And as a real guest, too, not for some bullshit "random guest" reason like because she built a ten-foot lunar Lander out of cardboard tampon applicators. Which she totally would, under the right circumstances.
I guess one reason this subject gets me so jazzed is that, now that I'm on my path to a real, grown-up life, I can hope for a certain brand of coolness and satisfaction, maybe even a careful and respectful kind of celebrity. But if I'm to ever become a rock star, it'll have to be within a context that I don't get to choose. It'll be with modifiers and specificity, or else it'll be utterly underground. Which is actually sort of bitchin', but still. As I recall, Dave trotted out the team who took care of him during his bypass operation. That was awesome. But he didn't banter a whole lot with them, and I don't think they spoke at any length.
Note please: I'm not feeling regretful here. Nor am I suggesting regular folks like me can't achieve. One of my oldest and dearest friends spent a year writing for A Prairie Home Companion. I myself spent a season with the coolest acting company in a town full of great theatres, and I road-tripped to see one of my own little one-acts performed in a festival. I know no fewer than four people who write better screenplays than 80% of what's in cinemas now. It's just that, y'know, I have massive loan debt and the best job in the world out there, someplace ahead... on something of a rigid, circumscribed road. It's great, only now I really, really can't chuck it all and join the circus. (Well, in fact, I just did that last summer, so what I mean is, I can't do it again.)
So if I'm a little ebullient, a wee bit pumped up about the latest and, we shall see, perhaps biggest of these successes-by-association, maybe there's an element of melancholy too. Let's say I write essays like Atul Gawande, only snarkier. Or I join up with some damn medical drama on TV for a while. Would I have patients who would think it's cool, and not inappropriate, if some little part of their story gets woven into fiction? Would I ever have patients again?
'Course, there's always the pseudonymous blogger-turned "real" writer thing. I hear that can work, sometimes. I'd just have to stick to magazine interviews with no photos. Hey, Scrubs: call me! (Hey, Grey's Anatomy: DON'T call me!)