So how come I'm not famous?
Night Thoughts at Noon is in its second incarnation. I started blogging under this title in 2005. The original Night Thoughts at Noon appeared at http://kelleyo.blogspot.com. I took it down in 2010, then a few months later started over here, at http://nightthoughtsatnoon.blogspot.com. (It's still there, by the way. If you go to http://kelleyo.blogspot.com, you will see everything I posted between 2005 and 2010. Only the CIA can get things removed from the Internet; the rest of us can't.)
Oh, I sometimes wonder how I failed to be famous. Lord knows I tried. I've been writing, painting and raising all kinds of hell since I was in my teens. I turned 58 last Saturday, and I'm still penniless, which I don't mind so much, but I'm also still obscure, and for some reason that bugs me more than being penniless.
I never wanted to be rich. I never wanted to be powerful. But oh, boy, when I was young, did I want to be famous! Most of the friends to whom I confided my teenage dream, "to be the next Hemingway," are dead now.
I will be dead soon enough. The end is closer now than the beginning. And I never got to be the next Hemingway. Damn. (Well, frankly, in this TiVo world, there isn't going to be another Hemingway. The age of the "celebrity author" is over and gone.) Still, it's not that I didn't try. It's not that I haven't written a lot. I've written tons of stuff. Fiction, poetry, journalism....I just never published anything, outside of journalism, except what I was able to pony up for and publish myself.
No shame there, right? Walt Whitman and William Blake published themselves. Hell, Whitman peddled Leaves of Grass door-to-door.
I have self-published five books since 2000: Tower-102, (published under my legal name "Alexander Dupuis") Losing Philadelphia, Three Flies Up, The Vespers of 1610 and The Key. I don't know how many people have read them. Not many. Suffice it to say I'm not the late Tom Clancy.
But he died last week. He died rich and famous, but he's still dead. CNN carried the news of his death. It won't carry the news of mine. I'm poor and unknown, but, for the time being, still alive.
What am I doing all this for? I teach English in Istanbul, Turkey. I get paid maybe ten bucks an hour, live with two other guys, and have to count my coins before I go down the street for a beer. I have no wife, no children, no nothing. And yet I keep on keeping on. I'm sitting here typing this in an empty apartment during a rainstorm. My two roommates are both out of the country this week.
But you know what? I live as I chose to live. I blame nobody for my fate but myself. I was once a U.S. federal government employee. I could easily have ridden that gig out to a cushy retirement, but I decided not to. I didn't want to look back and see nothing behind me but 30 years of busywork leading to a pension. That's what my father did. I kicked that over and left. I bought into hard times. I did it deliberately. It's nobody's fault but mine.
So this essay is not about self-pity. I don't feel sorry for myself at all. Times are hard, but I made them that way. Nobody's ever read my books, but they can't say that I didn't write them. I wrote them, all right. I published them too. I'm proud of that.
I've been married and divorced twice. A guy like me, who rejects the harness, is not meant to be married. I haven't even had a girlfriend in more than three years. Nobody's fault. I live alone (except for two male roommates who both have Turkish girlfriends and go their own way) and I have no real complaints about it. Loneliness has its compensations. It's peaceful and it's cheap.
So, I guess I will go paint another watercolor now. I have a pile of them somewhere. And more to come. Until the last heartbeat, there will always be more to come.