An admissions essay I wrote a while back that turned into more of a manifesto. Just moved into a new apartment and my life right now is manic and intense. Feeling a bit manifesto-ish as I look back on the past year and realize how much has changed and how little is different. My name is David Daedalus, and I’m a writer.
Write a narrative. Talk about yourself. Give us details. Be succinct. Don’t be philosophic. Never mind that you have a degree in philosophy. Don’t think too hard about this. Relax. It will all be over in a minute. Jump through the hoop. Get the cookie. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
I’m here because I feel washed out, and I’m not one to ignore my feelings. That’s not to say that I don’t have a logical side. I work at freak’n IBM for Christ’s sake. It’s just that I’ve come to realize that I’ve been living life as a square peg trying to jam himself into a round hole. My name is David Neuburger, and I am a writer.
I was born, grew up, and went off to college. I have parents, two half brothers, a half half sister, and a bunch of cousins and uncles and aunts to whom I’m not related. Confused? Don’t feel bad. It’s confusing for me too. I’ve got kin and not – simultaneously. There have been nine marriages in my immediate family, with me being the only one who has yet to tie the knot. Split seven divorces among four people and you can start to imagine how gnarled my family tree has become.
I, like my brothers before me, did not do well in school. What did I care about any of it? It was just another meaningless hoop. None of it seemed to matter, at least not to me. When I went to college I studied Philosophy simply to figure out what, if anything, actually meant anything. After four years spent half-heatedly attending to my studies and failing to discover the meaning of the universe, I joined the Coast Guard after seeing a flier with the slogan “Coast Guard: Jobs that Matter”.
I spent five years traveling the world. I wrote two short novels. I had a mental breakdown. I started to drink. I got placed in charge of a six-barreled RADAR-guided cannon. I discovered what a pampered, effete child I was. I grew up a little. I got engaged and not married. I went to Bahrain and for six months lived in such a ridiculous farce of reality that I’m still parsing out what happened and why. The Coast Guard wasn’t a job that mattered — at least not to me. I got out of the military in 2005 and went home to Chicago.
The first few months home were spent working at a detective agency. I installed hidden cameras in stores and helped people find out their loved ones were doing them wrong. Being the touchy-feely sensitive guy that I am, this job didn’t last long as I couldn’t handle it. I’m too empathetic to deal with that kind of drama all day. I got myself back into school and decided that this time I would try.
I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Are you listening?
Yes, I am.
Just how do you mean that, sir?
Computers would support me while I wrote. I grew up with the stupid things. My dad put food on the table via technical writing, so from a very early age the house was always full of them. I was the awkward nerdy kid who along with his awkward nerdy pals spent most of his free time either playing computer games or looking at pixelated images of naked women. It’s a common story, really. When you’re someone who has some sort of social difficulty, a computer can be a great companion. It never judges you. It responds predictably. It allows you to socialize with people in a way that isn’t as scary as real life. Now, the computer would allow me to keep myself fed while I wrote.
I spent a year and a half in school. I discovered I have Tourette’s Syndrome. I fell in love. I tried to create an animated show. Then, by a dumb stroke of luck, I entered a contest that turned into a job at IBM. I moved to New York. I finished my third novel. Everyone but my mother hated it.
Poughkeepsie, pronounced Po-kip-see, has been good to me. Here I’ve succeeded in every way but one. I’ve got more money than I know what to do with. I’m in a beautiful apartment and have a job that affords me the ability to make my own hours. Yet, despite my outward success, I have failed. I am a square peg forced into a round hole. I am profoundly unhappy. It turns out I’m not a computer person, and I never really was. Computers don’t matter to me. Writing does.
Given the fact that a person does need money to live in this world, I’ve tried my best to ignore my misgivings and make the best of things. I get up early every morning and write. It isn’t enough. I can only get in so much time in the morning, then it’s off to work to worry about data sets and op-codes and surreal corporate slogans like “Quality is Conformance to IBM Requirements”. In the final analysis, this job, in fact this life, is a gilded cage. It’s a nice girl who isn’t right for you. You can stay with her and things will be alright, but you’ll never be happy and you’ll always pine for what you never allowed yourself to have.
I am not a round peg. I am not one to do what’s easy at the expense of what I am or where I want to be. I care deeply about storytelling.
My name is David Neuburger, and I am a writer.