Hero Worship

Dear J-

I’m glad I didn’t talk myself out of going to see Gene Luen Yang at our local public library this weekend. I had a whole list of potential excuses ready to go — oh, it’s too crowded, or the timing doesn’t work, or we’d have to pay for parking, or any number of potentially plausible reasons. Plus there was a creative component involved (create your own comic character!) and lord knows I don’t do creative under a schedule, but there I was, stuck for anything better to handle. I’m grateful that I had the chance to go, though, and that theVet took the kids to play in the kids’ area as well, so I was able to devote my full attention to the task at hand.

I’d forgotten it was on my birthday seven years ago that I got to read American Born Chinese for the first time — when I pulled up the entry, it was with some trepidation that I saw I’d titled it “… and now Miguel” and quoted liberally from that work by Joseph Krumgold. Yet I understand what I was doing: both are about growing up and learning where you fit into the world, what makes sense and what hard work does for you after multi-year dreams. And now I understand a bit better about the man behind the works, too; once they pulled the curtain back, how was the wizard? More than I had expected, and better besides.

You could draw a lot of parallels in our lives, I think. Both Cal grads (him, ’95 EECS; me, ’96 ME/NE: our paths must have crossed at some point). Glasses. Uh. There’s more, but I’d feel like I was prying at some point rather than proudly listing off ways we’re similar. I told him I found his work deeply resonant, though, and that was the highlight of the day for me, finding out that we had some things in common and that being one of the reasons why it felt so familiar when I first read it. I wondered if there are any ways to politely toot your own horn without trying to sound too offensive, but I’m starting to realize this is part of life: no one knows your story better than you, and if it’s worth sharing, you’d better get on it as soon as you can.

Mike

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