Fessing- Up Friday

Well, today is Friday, October 26th, 2018 and its time to Fess-Up. Today I have finally come to the conclusion that I cannot keep pushing things away and hiding from real life responsibilities. For the past year, I have been hiding the fact that I am struggling in graduate school. I have been told by friends and family members that I “Make them so proud” or that “You are doing so well keep going” but in sad reality, this is a façade. I have been masking the struggle in this modern day to accomplish achieving the Master’s degree. I am taking three classes and teaching five while trying to have a somewhat social life and a dating life. It is not an easy feat to do all of that together, but I am trying, failing, but still trying to do it all. 

In some ways, I have been slipping in schoolwork and drowning myself in much more work than I need to just to keep afloat in graduate school. It may be time to take a breather and skip one area of the triangle that has been taking up my time. It will not be school and dating, but it will have to be the social life. I am going to be staying quite out of all social interactions until I feel like I have a lot more grounding in my life and some stability in graduate school. Next semester is supposed to be my last one, but if nothing falls into place with the rest of this term I may have to push back my graduation date to feel less stressed. 

Thanks for reading, 

Kenneth R. Hinton

 

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Wicked Wednesday

Dear Reader,

Today has started out like any other day. Got up showered and made coffee then it was out the door I went. I sat through morning traffic just to get to work to alphabetize close to 1800 students exams that were scored on Saturday. The exam that was scored is what our university calls the Writing Placement for Juniors exam or (WPJ). The scoring was kind of crazy, but the alphabetizing is almost done after two days of doing it. I finished almost all of it by 11am this morning. 

I had to teach my three classes today, but after the first one, I started to feel sick. After work today it is a night of hot soup, hot tea, a hot bath, and off to read in bed. Nearing the end of my day, so hopefully, I can go home and start on my healing night. 

This image is what has been plaguing me since last Saturday. 

IMG_1633.jpg 

So if you thought your job was tedious, just imagine having to sort all of these books by alphabetical order. A lot of papercuts have been happening too. 

Thanks for reading,

Kenneth Hinton

 

 

Monday Morning Madness

This morning I woke up at 4:30am. I have been having a hard time sleeping of late. Too much has been keeping my mind busy from school work to teaching to the characters that are playing around in the complex labyrinth of my brain.

The characters are doing cart-wheels, dancing on raised platforms, singing in the rain, or sitting down to tea with a large book while it pours outside the window. When they aren’t doing that then they are chasing each other to the center of the labyrinth (or the center of my attention). Some mornings I wake up with a headache and cannot help the fact that two characters from the same novel have reached the center of the labyrinth and want me to write them a spin-off of my main novel that they are in. 

School work has been going well so far, but I have midterms this week and have been meaning to get more studying in so I can hopefully get an A in the class and not have to worry about doing anything else next semester besides the two classes that I need to do. My Ph. D application is due on January 15th, 2019. I have a tour set up for the campus around November 10th, 2018. I may not have any idea just yet how major this step is going to be, but I am so ready to make the leap from being a graduate student to being a professional student in my area of American Literature. 

In terms of teaching, my students are doing their peer reviews for their Writing Intensive courses each week. This week they are writing their midterm essays for my class and having a peer review session before they turn it on Saturday night. 

Outside of all these things I am writing scholarly articles and getting ready to do a guest lecture on Nathaniel Hawthorne, which the title reads “Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Age of Romanticism and Gothic in ‘The Birth-Mark.'” It is no secret that I am a huge reader of Hawthorne from his short stories to his novels, I cannot help but fall headlong into the narratives he wrote. I became a Lifetime Member of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society during the first year of graduate school. It is amazing to look at his texts with so many different lenses because his text left ambiguous questions as to what some symbol meant or what he truly felt towards women that were speaking out. I also am reworking an essay to hopefully have published in a magazine for literary studies on Walt Whitman. The essay is titled, “Whitman’s ‘Calamus’ Cluster in the Third Edition of Leaves of Grass: The Closeted Homosexual Experience.”

So just like any other day, today is Manic Monday. I am trying to write more and more for the books I have been working on while trying to balance other obligations, but I am a firm believer in the one lesson I learned from the Aesop Fable “The Tortus and the Hair” that slow and steady wins the race. This is my journey and I should enjoy it while it lasts and not rush the process of being a writer. 

Thanks for reading,

-Kenneth Hinton 

My Coming Out Day

In Honor of Coming Out Day here is my story: 

The year was 2006. I had been dating a girl that I was in school with and was dating a guy that I was friends with from a couple years before, so it is safe to say I started out as bisexual. Dating both of them at the same time did not work out, so I stuck to only dating guys and gave up on women.  I had just updated my sexual orientation to say GAY on MySpace, I know it’s not in fashion now but that is where it was updated. One of my cousins had looked at my updated sexual orientation and told my dad and stepmom at a family Thanksgiving at my grandma’s house. A Thanksgiving family dinner, which I was not at by the way. So I was outed. I did not talk to my dad or stepmom in a while, which felt like years due to having the feeling that my dad and stepmom would not have accepted me. After all, they were the more religious out of the two sets of parents I have. I did come out officially to both sets of parents and the rest of my family around the time that I was outed. 

I was getting into a lot of trouble in school and once with the law. I was not doing well in my classes when I came out. I went from being an A/B student to getting Ds or Fs, hardly had anyone to talk to about being gay. I went from having a mixture of male and female friends to only having like two friends that were guys and all the rest of them were girls. I think it was because of what our society says is acceptable to have as friends or maybe it was the increased sense of homophobia that permeated with all of those high school boys.  I took my mom’s car out a few times without a license and got caught. Though the law thing never got placed on my permanent record, it was still a learning lesson one that I have never forgotten. 

I started dating more guys and eventually, my dad and stepmom were asking to have my boyfriends and me over for a family dinner. The first three never had the chance, but my last long lasting boyfriend who became my partner for about six and a half years was invited a couple of times, but never came.  I still haven’t had a boyfriend to invite over to my dad and stepmoms for dinner. 

As I have bloomed into a more comfortable gay man in society, I started to watch more films featuring gay guys and societal problems that we face every single day. I also started to read more works or fiction, non-fiction, and even history books documenting the movements of the LGBTQIA+ society. I have heard horror stories about teens coming out to their parents and being thrown out into the streets because the families were super religious or homophobic. I have heard stories of gay men committing suicide for not being accepted by their own families. There are a few movies that have stuck out to me for families not wanting to accept their kids. Some movies that capture the loss of an LGBTQIA+ child. And some movies where the child is accepted wholeheartedly. These movies are Prayers for Bobby,  Latter Days, Matt Sheperd is a Friend of Mine, and Love, Simon. Below you can find video links to the most moving moments of the films or trailers. 

If you are a religious parent, I would recommend watching the first two clips. If you are just wanting to know the films that have shaped the Gay men’s experiences or have been movies that have downright made me cry here are the clips:

This starts out bad, but is a part of the film that the mother rights her wrong. 

The Trailer from Latter Days

The Trailer for Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine

A moving moment from Love, Simon

I hope this helps parents talk to teens coming out. I hope this gives light to some of the movies and things that have shaped me as a gay man. 

Thanks for reading and possibly watching the clips, 

-Kenneth R. Hinton 

The Feelings of Failure

Dear Readers,

Lately, I have been feeling like I am failing at every aspect of my life. I have fallen behind on many things that have been due or coming up on being due for classes, I have been quite distracted by life in general, and have felt like I don’t know what I am doing with my life anymore.

Recently, I tried dating again after 9+ years of not dating and boy was that a failure that I could not have seen coming. During that dating period I put a lot of things that I needed to do on hold or pushed them aside so I could spend time with the person I was dating, but alas it did not work out and now I am playing the biggest game of catch-up I have ever played while being a graduate student. I am trying to complete a 10-page paper, a 6-page paper, study for a midterm, and make sure that I am up to date on grading all of my students work before their midterm is due next Saturday. 

I often cannot focus on the tasks that I must complete to finish graduate school and maybe that was due to this dating incident or maybe it because I am losing sight of the end of the tunnel that I am working towards. I have always wanted to get my Doctorate in English Literature with my primary focus being on 19th Century American Literature- Romanticism, Gothic, and Women Writers with emphasis on marginalized voices. I have found a program that I really like and that is not too far away from California, just trying to plan my visit to the campus in the next couple of weeks. Feeling like I am drowning in my Master’s degree program makes me very apprehensive about going further for my Doctorate. I have thought about taking some time off to get a little bit more of a relaxation period in, but am afraid that I may not want to come back for a while so I can start a career. 

I always have to remind myself that I may have small failures, but those failures lead to learned experiences. I am reminded as I finish writing this post of a speech, now turned into a book, by J.K. Rowling entitled: Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination. In this speech, she discusses her failures and how they shaped her and reminded her that she had the power of imagination. For those of you living under a rock and have no idea what accomplishment she achieved by writing the Harry Potter series, this speech discusses her failures in life prior to writing Harry Potter as a character and how because of her vivid imagination she was able to overcome her own sense of failure. If you ever feel like I have been the last week or so and need to be reminded of the benefits of failure you will probably want to hear exactly what J.K. Rowling said. Link is below. 

 Thanks for reading, 

-Kenneth 

Letter to Readers

Dear Readers,

I know that I have been absent a lot. Due to things going on at school, the change in place of work, and family obligations I have been absent from you all and I am sorry. I know I have been posting somewhat sparsely in the recent two years, but I am going to try to write more for everyone. Most importantly I am going to try to write more for myself.

I recently have been listening to YouTube videos of famous authors and have found that all of them share a couple of things in common. You will see my answers or comments on them as you read.

1- Most of them have a mantra that they use to write, Octavia E. Butler’s was: “So Be It. See to It!”

My mantra for my writing is: “If you have this story deep within you, it has to come out.”

2- Most of them write for specific times of day, like the waking hours of the morning.

My favorite time to do my writing is very late at night when all the world is asleep and I can just write. Sometimes I am writing specifically for school, other times I am writing new parts to a novel or story. I know it is weird to break it up into sections, but I think the way that Hemingway wrote is more my style, though I am not writing every day and rereading what I wrote the day before. I still write lengthy chunks and come back into my story by way of reading previously written parts after months apart. 

3- Most of them do their writing in quiet locals to immerse themselves in their own story.

My favorite place to do writing is out near the ocean. More specifically is Glass Beach located in Fort Bragg, CA. The wind off the ocean, the waves biting at my ankles, the beauty of seeing the ocean turn trash glass bottles into smooth stones, and the solitary feeling of being alone.  

4- Most of them have many stories in their minds and only focus on one storyline at a time.

I have many novel ideas and stories in my head. Most of the time when I get really bad migraines I blame them on characters fighting for attention or to be written. A few times after writing while having the headaches it has helped. 

5- Most of them still do other things like school, work, grocery shopping, and have social engagements. Writers are people too, not just these computers that stay away from human interaction.

This one my calendar is super full. The only times that are usually free for me are the weekends. 

I know that there are not many of you on here and here is to hoping that that will change.  I will write more, hopefully, tomorrow.

-Kenneth Hinton

Heartfelt Note to a Guy

To the Cute Guy that I tried dating recently,

This one is for you.

I know you are probably wondering why I have been drawn to you for almost two years. The truth is that we share somethings in common like our major and have had a couple of classes together. I was first drawn to you because of your infectious laugh, the bright smile that lit up the small area of a course we had in Spring 2017, the way we communicated with each other, and you knew what I was talking about in the class, and above all your personality.

Recently you said there was no chemistry or spark, but that is based on a month of ten dates and one night together (nothing sexual for those of you reading this). I don’t pick up on cues very quickly these days. It has been about ten years since I have dated someone and felt like I could let them into the inner circle. You were the lucky one to have been let in, and you broke down walls I set up after being with someone for six and a half years and single for three.

The one night you stayed over I worked very early that morning to mid-afternoon. I cooked, cleaned, ran errands, and served us both dinner. I was tired and was thinking about work, that is my fault entirely.  As a man on man romance fiction writer, I did not pick up on cues that you were giving. You asked if I had a shower, you probably were wondering if I would take one with you, but I missed that cue. Then you had to ask for a back massage after the shower, but I should have picked up on the signal when you came back into my bedroom. I failed in real life on those cues, the very ones my characters easily follow. That is my fault.

As a romance writer, I tend to write idealized or fantasy based fiction on what I would like to have done to and with my characters, but hardly ever do I allow what I write to come to fruition in the real world. We both know that romance fiction doesn’t work in real life. No one can wholeheartedly fall madly in love with someone in a month, we can try to apply that philosophy to real life, but we will always be disappointed in the outcome because it is idealized romance. You said that romance was missing, so I asked a friend who helps with my meditation and collecting my energy when I am drained. He made me think of something by asking me:

How would you romance yourself?

This question had me perplexed, and I had no idea how to answer it on the spot, but I have thought long and hard about it today.

Here it goes:

If I was to romance myself I would have my date pick me up with a flower (a rose to show they were interested in me and a symbol for romance), open the passenger car door for me, take a long drive to a beach to walk barefoot in the sand as the waves splashed our ankles, visit a beautiful garden, eat dinner at a fancy restaurant overlooking the water, and dance on a pier while the sun sets on the horizon.

If you will allow me to try one more time to romance you and date you I would love for you to accompany me on a trip to San Francisco.  To visit Baker Beach to walk barefoot on the beach and have the water splash our ankles, allow me to walk with you through my favorite park in San Francisco that has a beautiful botanical garden, visit Pier 39 for dinner, and walk down the pier to dance while the sunsets behind us. This is only one trip, but there are many more that you and I have planned separately. I would love for you to come with me next summer abroad to see the wonderful world of the Emerald Isle. To eat, dance, and fully immerse ourselves in the life of the Irish. Don’t worry if you cannot river dance or jig. I will teach you.

You want to visit some of the states in the U.S., and I know that I have been cynical about some of the places you want to see, but I wouldn’t mind visiting all 50 with you by my side. I have a few conferences or other scholarly things to do in a few of the states on the east coast and would love for you to experience the autumn on that side of the country. We both know they have beautifully colored autumns there.

I know we barely had time to see each other due to some circumstances with school and work, but I am willing to make as much time for you as possible. I can balance teaching, school work, the gym, and other social engagements while dating you, but you would have to be willing to do the same. We cannot honestly know someone or build chemistry in one month, so I am asking you to please give it two more months allowing me the time to take you places you want to see and picking up on the cues I apparently missed.

I know that this post is exceptionally romantically corny in some ways, but let’s face it I am a romantic person at heart and in real life. Recognizing the fact that you are also a passionate person, I thought that you would find value in a genuine public expression just like the ones in 1980s romance comedies like Pretty in Pink or a more contemporary one like that of Love, Simon.

So, if you read this let me know.

-Kenneth R. Hinton