Here are a few things that make me feel like my years on earth haven’t been a complete waste of time. When I’m old – older than now, I mean – I’ll look back on this list and say, “That… that’s what made it all worthwhile.”
I played on an ultimate frisbee team that won a world championship. This from a guy who was voted in high school least likely to complete the fifty-yard dash.
I’ve published many books, which I love, because even in this day and age there’s something about print that says permanence.
In 2000, I put together 25-year time capsules for my nieces and nephews. Enclosed is a letter that starts, “Am I still alive?”
I worked as a proposition player (prop) in a poker room once.
I’ve been fired from several jobs, and consider this a point of pride. Everyone should get fired at least once; otherwise, you’re probably playing too safe. Anyone who’s gone through life without having been fired from a job is probably (okay possibly) playing it way too safe.
I have won several poker tournaments, and made the final table at a World Series of Poker event.
On a bright spring day in the early 1980s I jumped out of an airplane with a parachute. Woo-hoo!
I have brewed my own beer.
I recruited and trained New Zealand’s first generation of situation comedy writers. How the heck did that ever wash up on my beach?
Speaking of beaches, I once wrote my name and address on the back of a frisbee and threw it in the ocean in Fiji. It turned up in Australia six months later and the couple who found it sent me a picture.
I married the woman I love.
My song, “I Smoke ‘Cause I Like to Cough,” was played on National Public Radio.
I wrote humorous columns for The Los Angeles Times, and anagrams for Sports Illustrated.
In the late 1990s I met my great-uncle, Bernard Vorhaus, a Hollywood director who had been blacklisted in the 1950s and had lived in exile ever since. I asked him if he felt badly about being branded a communist. “Hell,” he said, “I was a communist. Still am! Why do you think I left?”
I owned an IBM PC Junior, the dinosaur of the computer age. It transformed me as a writer — the “delete” key set me free.
In a little tavern in California gold country once I found 2000 poker chips dating from the mid-20th century, and bought the whole lot for peanuts. It was like finding buried treasure, and way more satisfying than panning for gold.
I’ve taken psychedelic drugs.
I’ve seen Stonehenge.
Not on the same day.
I’ve been to the Holy Land, both Israel and the West Bank.
I pissed off William Goldman by trying to write a sequel to Magic without his permission.
I’ve seen my name on the credit crawl of television shows and films. I never imagined that that would happen.
I’ve been to Europe dozens of times, but, thankfully, to Kuala Lumpur only once. You know the expression “tropical paradise?” It’s just like that, only without the paradise part.
I have received residual checks from the Writers Guild of America. They come in green envelopes. I call them “greenies,” and love them quite a lot.
I bought Harlan Ellison’s old Army uniform at a charity auction. It came with a letter of provenance in which he thanked me for buying it and declared, “Youse is good people.” Decades later, I sold it at a $17 profit, tee-hee.
I wrote more than 5000 questions for Sports Jeopardy Online. That’s a whole lotta sports trivia — none of which I can now remember, of course.
I don’t want to sound all mushy, but I’ve had a family who loved me well.
I acted in a movie; I could get a SAG card if I wanted.
I’ve taught Jamaican women how to write short films.
I’ve walked the picket line for my union.
During my four minutes of fifteen minutes of fame, I was described by CNN as “the sage of poker of our time.”
I’ve hosted a television show.
I played Dirty Clubs for money with top poker pros Annie Duke and Phil Hellmuth. How dumb was that?
I’ve published seven novels, so I’m a novelist, which I think is what I wanted all along.
I had a sitcom in the Netherlands Film Festival.
I supported the Boston Red Sox for many fruitless years, and some fruitful ones as well.
I played in a women’s poker tournament, in drag. Made the final table, too.
I got an artificial hip. That’s not much of an accomplishment, but it happened.
I’ve received fan mail. Hate mail, too, but whatever.
I’ve worked as a mime, a ventriloquist, a jester, Santa Claus on stilts, and a pretty crap juggler.
I’ve blogged and I’ve tweeted, but I’m never sure why.
I did an uncredited rewrite of Jason X: Friday the 13th, Part 10. The two funny lines in the movie are mine.
I wrote a novel called Antlions for a three-day novel contest. It’s about as good as you’d expect a three-day novel to be.
I never had children, but my step-daughter did, so that makes me grandpa. I strive to be a good bad influence.
I spent two winters in Moscow, running the writing staff of the Russian version of Married… with Children. How dumb was that.
I co-created the social-action drama Contracorriente in Nicaragua, bringing some help and hope to people desperately in need of same.
I said goodbye to my father…
I attended a Presidential Inauguration (and an Inaugural Ball, where the chief available foodstuff was Cheez-its).
I went to the Sundance Film Festival for the world premier of a documentary I wrote.
I’ve worked in 32 countries on five continents: New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Canada, the United States, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Aruba, Iceland, England, Wales, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Israel, Romania, Russia, Bulgaria,Brazil, Hungary, and Poland.
At last count…
These are some of the things that have made my life rise. What are some of yours?