McCutcheon moves past 30

On a love­ly June after­noon thir­ty-one years ago, the brief leg­end of McCutcheon came to an end. A robust boy-child was born to young par­ents in a small town hos­pi­tal, and as the cou­ple held their eldest off­spring they did not, as they had led many to believe, name him after erst­while Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta bas­ket­ball star Rick McCutcheon. Instead they named him, in the face of expect­ed fam­i­ly objec­tions, Aldean, in hon­or of the pater­nal grand­fa­ther he would nev­er meet whose sud­den death more than two years ear­li­er still hung over the clan like a dark cloud of sor­row. At no point had they seri­ous­ly intend­ed to name the child McCutcheon, but had spread the idea around to keep their true inten­tions pri­vate until the appro­pri­ate time.

I often won­dered, in my teens, how dif­fer­ent my life might have been as McCutcheon. My par­ents told me they would have called me “Mack” if they had decid­ed to sad­dle me with that moniker. My most press­ing thought in con­tem­plat­ing this the­o­ret­i­cal life was sim­ply: “If my name was McCutcheon, what would I tell peo­ple my name was?” For by my teens I have to believe I would have been eager to give the name the slip one way or anoth­er. But who knows: maybe I would have been fine with it. Aldean cer­tain­ly took some get­ting used to, but I can­not imag­ine being named any­thing else. One of the first deci­sions I made upon reach­ing col­lege was to sup­press the pedes­tri­an “Al” by which I had always been called in favor of my full giv­en name in all its puz­zling unique­ness.

So what sort of per­son would I be, had I grown up as Mack, or even as Ben? (Unsure how my father’s fam­i­ly would receive the nam­ing, my par­ents care­ful­ly chose a mid­dle name — Ben­jamin — they would be hap­py to use should the fam­i­ly’s objec­tions be vocif­er­ous or sus­tained.) It is impos­si­ble to answer. Like­ly I would be very much as I am now; it seems a bit of a reach to sug­gest that a dif­fer­ent nam­ing choice would have caused a domi­no effect of exis­ten­tial ram­i­fi­ca­tions all down through the three decades of my life thus far. But it could have affect­ed my atti­tude, or my out­look, I sup­pose. Inter­est­ing to spec­u­late upon, but not ulti­mate­ly a use­ful exer­cise.

And so the name float­ed along in the back­ground of my mind, an amus­ing tid­bit from the ear­li­est days of my life-sto­ry, the ques­tion that would always be unan­swered and large­ly unasked. Until one day, the shine hav­ing worn off the Bean­er per­sona I had long flour­ished under, the ker­nel of an idea began to form. The result, two years lat­er, is a new approach to a com­fort­able con­cept: easy, famil­iar per­son­al writ­ing, a writer bar­ing him­self to his (imag­ined) read­ers with as much arti­fice and obfus­ca­tion as seems decent. But now we are shav­ing off the hyper­bole and the pom­pos­i­ty, try­ing to lim­it the adjec­tives to ones that actu­al­ly add mean­ing, not just glit­ter, and giv­ing pref­er­ence to real feel­ings and doubts over con­trived self-aggran­dize­ment. And we are doing so under a name long car­ried, but only now made use of.

So hap­py birth­day McCutcheon! Hap­py birth­day to me, the me that nev­er was, that me that might have been, the me that might yet be. Hap­py birth­day to the best me that I can pos­si­bly be, hon­est­ly putting forth earnest words of my own into the world, for an end unfore­seen. Hap­py birth­day, me, and enjoy this excit­ing, ter­ri­fy­ing, breath-tak­ing, hope-filled year of changes, tran­si­tion, and new adven­tures.

Moving forward with McCutcheon

Meet McCutcheon.

Actu­al­ly, you have like­ly already met McC in some form or anoth­er. He has been work­ing out his kinks over at the now-defunct Stuck In My Head for some time now, review­ing books on Goodreads, post­ing short bits of writ­ing on Scribd, spread­ing his name around the Inter­net, and gen­er­al­ly get­ting a feel for how best to car­ry the TFE lega­cy for­ward.

And don’t wor­ry: there is a lot of Bean­er still in McC; it has just been tem­pered and (hope­ful­ly) improved by matu­ri­ty and expe­ri­ence (not always the same thing). So while it is no longer “sass, sass, and more sass” around here, we cer­tain­ly have our wits about us, and a glib pen in our hand. But we are also look­ing deeply (albeit also slow­ly) into ques­tions and conun­drums that Bean­er would only have blus­tered around and thrown adjec­tives at. I won’t pre­sume to make any promis­es about how suc­cess­ful these attempts at unpre­ten­tious thought­ful­ness will be, but I can almost guar­an­tee that they will be attempt­ed. (Any­thing beyond that will still be pure gravy.)

So, wel­come McCutcheon. And wel­come back, Dear Read­ers, the The Float­ing Egg. Believe it or not, it still floats, the chick­ens are still watch­ing you, and it’s still a bad idea to stick beans up your noses.

Giving Beaner a rest

It seems incred­i­ble that a dozen years have passed since the first issue of The Float­ing Egg rolled off the print­er and out through the mails to meet an unsus­pect­ing world. In those black and white pages, crowd­ed with ram­bling sen­tences (and par­en­thet­i­cal asides), a young writer found his space to grow, to find his voice, to exper­i­ment, and to thrive.

As he gained con­fi­dence and read­er­ship (and who can say which led to the oth­er?), the page count grew, and so did the mail­ing list. It was a beau­ti­ful, heady time to be a young man putting words out into the world to be read, just past the peak of the ‘zine era, and Bean­er threw him­self into desk­top pub­lish­ing with shame­less aplomb.

But then col­lege was over, and while life cer­tain­ly con­tin­ued to be very inter­est­ing, Bean­er spent far more ener­gy liv­ing it than he did writ­ing about it, and The Float­ing Egg shriv­eled, and ulti­mate­ly died, large­ly from neglect, an endem­ic lack of focus and ded­i­ca­tion to any­thing but the con­tin­u­ous cir­cuit of local water­ing holes. The silence that ensued was large­ly reflec­tive of the utter lack of out­put on the part of the erst­while writer.

And then he dis­cov­ered Blog­ger, and the spark burst into flame once again. While this blog has always been spo­radic at best, there have been some ter­rif­ic moments along the way, and it has been most inter­est­ing to see the voice on these posts move fur­ther and fur­ther beyond the fre­net­ic lim­i­ta­tions of the col­lege-age Bean­er, lim­i­ta­tions that — for bet­ter or worse — formed a vital part of the per­sona. So per­haps it was inevitable that, at some point, the writ­ing must go on and on, and Bean­er must even­tu­al­ly fall by the way­side. That day has at last arrived.

So, Bean­er, we salute you, and bid you a fond Adieu. Thanks for the many, many, many words, and may the best parts of your spir­it con­tin­ue to live and grow in these pages.

Huh

Well, how about that. Anoth­er six months, gone by with­out a peep. This is bad blog­ging.

But what would good blog­ging look like here? The fact that I am seri­ous­ly ask­ing this ques­tion, if only to myself (who else, after all, can I expect will read this?), makes me won­der if the answer is that this is not the place that good blog­ging is going to hap­pen.

This is not to say that I am a bad per­son (although I nev­er like to com­plete­ly rule that out, either). I just have fick­le ambi­tions when it comes to blog­ging, and I con­tin­u­al­ly stretch myself too thin. Rather than have one blog site, where I focus on mak­ing things with words that will delight me and (hope­ful­ly) some small coterie of read­ers, I attempt­ed to jug­gle as many as five sep­a­rate blogs (that’s right, five) as inde­pen­dent niche venues for half-imag­ined areas of my inter­ests. Not effec­tive, by any mea­sure.

So what do I do? This is going to take some pon­der­ing.