I guess it's easiest to use the old psychological test they gave the first astronauts, egomaniacal though it might be. The scientists asked the pilots to complete a sentence beginning with "I am" 50 times. Noting that "I am" is the name God claims for himself in the Bible, I'll risk blasphemy and give it a wing.
First of all, I am happily married to the most beautiful woman on Earth, Rose-Marie Lillian. We've been married ten years. but met in 1976 at a science fiction convention, and would have met in 1968 had I not misread the ad for another SF con, and showed up a week late. Rosy's an award-winning teacher of communications at LSU-Shreveport, a Floridian, who has Sarah Palin's coloring but about sixty times her wit.
I am the proud uncle of two fine lads living on Grand Island, New York.
I am a public defender, which means I'm a lawyer who gets no respect and damned little money. I deal with every grade of miscreant from traffic tickets to Ted Bundys, minor misdemeanors to multiple murders. But I love the work. I like to think that given a fair jury, I do a good job, and rather surprisingly, the conservative ex-military types abounding in this area make for excellent jurors. It's not a bad gig by any stretch.
I am a Berkeley graduate from the hot hippy days of the late sixties and early seventies-- as I never fail to tell people quickly in some way or another. I took classes from Lillian Hellman -- THAT's a story -- and Jackson Burgess and Mark Schorer, got tear-gassed and shot at at People's Park and after Kent State, and though I wouldn't say that I wasted my time chasing long-haired hippy girls, because let's stay real, here, I do wish I could go back and take tougher classes in a broader curriculum. Advice for the wanna-be educated human: hit those "ologies" (sociology, psychology) and history and philosophy: FILL your brain. And chase hippy girls.
I am an adopted New Orleanian -- my family moved there while I was at UC and I fell in love with the place. For such a crazy, violent town, so mired in the past, New Orleans is the most humorous and lively and joyous place I've ever lived, and I've lived all over America, from Mojave CA (population 16 on a good day) to Manhattan. Rosy and I were forced out of NOLa by a job change short months before Katrina, which destroyed a lot but couldn't touch a lot more. (I lost a dear friend in the storm, and still have bad survivor's guilt.) We've been in Shrivelport for six years now, but for me, the Easy is still home. GEAUX SAINTS!
I am a respectful and admiring agnostic, which means I see the point and the beauty of sincere faith. I've resented what wingers have tried to do with religious belief -- use it as a wedge -- but I refuse to color faith with their invidiousness. When I lost that dear friend in Katrina, some of the Old Words stuck with me, and held real comfort. I look at the scope of the physical universe and know that our infinitesimal speck of it can't possibly hold all its answers or all its virtues, but I do not restrain my awe. Besides which, Jesus had the right idea of how we should treat each other, and that's enough on that.
When I was a teenager I was mildly famous in some circles for the many letters I published in comic books. The man who published most of them, Julius Schwartz, became a great mentor and friend. I am still a science fiction nut, a frequent attendee at "reader" conventions, publisher of a Hugo-nominated fanzine, a winner with la belle Rosy of the Down Under Fan Fund, which sent us to Australia as "delegates" to their convention representing American SF fans. (We've since gone back.) My father-in-law is the published SF novelist, Joe Green, who numbered Heinlein and Sir Arthur (Clarke, of course) among his houseguests during the Apollo days. My amateur magazine Challenger has been nominated for the Hugo -- and lost -- 11 times; samples can be found at eFanzines.com and on my own site, challzine.net. I've also been in an amateur press association called the Southern Fandom Press Alliance for 40 years.
I read more mystery/thrillers than SF these days -- James Lee Burke and T. Jefferson Parker are favorites -- but such SF writers as Poul Anderson and my beloved Chelsea Quinn Yarbro were so kind to me when I was a loathesome youth, and SF literature is capable of such marvels on occasion, that I will always cling to the genre.
Other writers I like: Carl Hiaasen, Michael Connelly (no wordsmith, but good plots), Robert McCammon, and of course the gods, Philip K. Dick, Cordwainer Smith and R. A. Lafferty. I've met Stephen King a couple of times, and stopped reading his work shortly thereafter. Nothing personal.
My favorite painter is Jackson Pollock.
I am a moviegoer -- fortunately, so is Rosy -- and an inveterate Oscar nut. I used to pride myself on being able to name all the winners in the five major categories, in order, but I'm a bit saner now. The Social Network is bound to win this year; I'd prefer The King's Speech.
I am a veteran of 8 years of therapy -- it did what it was supposed to do -- and try to live by the mantra of "Reality!" I am reasonably healthy -- only take two pills every morning, one for hypertension and the other for my thyroid.
And I am very tired of talking about myself. So one last flurry of "I am"s: I am grateful for your patience, I am excited to find old friends, and I am anxious to hear your story. Over to you.