An ex-Domer Forever: What on Earthside was I thinking?

It’s the end of the spring term (finally) at my university in Kyoto, which means I’ll be getting ready for my yearlong sabbatical in Montreal soon. From September I’ll be back at a North American university for the first time since 1997.

Ah, Notre Dame. Mixed lapsed Catholic-cum-agnostic memories.I guess it may come as a surprise to my readers (given the areligious content and not-so gentile language used by me on a fairly consistent basis) that I went to ND.

Believe me, by now I’m nearly as surprised as you all.

It’s been a couple decades since I raised hell at Catholic Heaven (my former teacher the renowned journalist William O’Rourke once quipped to us “welcome to the fishbowl” as visiting high school students and their parents took pictures of us from outside our classroom window).

Now that the student newspaper the Observer has all its archives digitized and available for free download, I’ve availed myself of the opportunity to revisit old diatribes and controversies.

You see, while engaged in a master’s creative writing program, which eventually produced my baseball literary fiction novel Approaching Twi-Night, I was also actively antagonizing the religious community with a sometimes weekly, sometimes biweekly opinion column called “And in this corner…

Yeah, I was kind of a prick. It was a lot of fun, though.

My writing was basically hit or miss — directly related to the amount of coffee imbibed during the writing process. Hey, I had a tight deadline.

But rereading my columns, I’m occasionally impressed. With the sheer gall, if not the ideas and prose. At some point in April, 1997, a regular Observer writer called me to say I had won some sort of Indiana collegiate student press award for Best Opinion columnist, but to this day I have never found any proof of this. I’m assuming that I was simply nominated, which, in itself, would have been an honor had the Editor told me about it at the time…

Anyway, in my quest to have copies of everything I’ve ever written to assuage my frail writer’s ego whenever I get into one of those cyclical “my writing is total pathetic crap” writing lows, I’m making my Observer columns available on a separate web page (thanks to the UND archives management team; I have uploaded only the pages with my column and deleted all other pages, but will include links to the originals for context). Warts and all. With a few comments for context.

And, yes, some of the content is, shall we say, somewhat dated. Yet the cynicism remains.

I should mention that my undergraduate newspaper was also called the Observer – the Bard Observer – and that I wrote quite a bit for that, too. I was, of course, antagonizing an ultra-liberal community in that case.

Fair’s only fair. I’m an Equal Opportunity Offender.

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