my cousin, my doppelganger

Warning: this one’s personal, mostly.

It’s as if time had collapsed.

Thirty years ago, I was finishing up 10th grade at this strange school, where  my cousin and I were both on staff at its literary magazine, Argus. We also lived in the same two-family house in the Bronx, and I was the classic younger cousin, anxious — not so much to compete, but to prove that I was as smart, good, et cetera as she was. I even graduated a year earlier than I had to, in a fruitless effort to catch up.

Fast-forward 15 years, and we couldn’t be more different. I was working at CCCO, and stayed with her the week the short-lived but influential STAAMP was launched in 1997; I was entirely focused on GI rights (and still under the delusion that eventually I’d be “discovered” for my long klugey novels). She was a tenured professor of linguistics, a leader in her sub-field, on leave for  year to work at the Washington Zoo. A few years later, when I was teaching composition as a crazy adjunct at CUNY, I thought – she was the one who’d done it right.

Fast-forward again, and look at her website (the first link). Like me, she’s thrown it all over (including the zoo) “to concentrate on writing.” Like me, she works off her own specialization (animals for her, soldiers for me) while moving in the wilds of local reporting, as well as those fiction dreams.

Did those brothers, Americo and Benito, actually birth the same person in alternate universes? Actually, we’re quite different in many ways, though I bet we still speak at the same pace.

What it does demonstrate: this wordsmithing bug is an even stranger illness than I thought. It can twist your life back to where it began, almost.


7 thoughts on “my cousin, my doppelganger

  1. LL

    We even both use WordPress… although I don’t know how you can do it and maintain your committment to nonviolence, because it often makes me want to punch someone.

    But I’d never have remembered the name of the Hunter literary magazine.

  2. chrislombardi Post author

    I often want to strike back at inanimate and animate opponents. Nonviolence isn’t about passivity – you must know that. (Though how one practices satyagraha with the likes of WordPress, I’ve no idea. Or did you mean writing?)

  3. SMformally and soon to be SL

    Genes are an interesting thing.
    All those who came after the two of you can barely form a sentence!

  4. chrislombardi Post author

    Ohh, don’t talk smack abt either you or my brothers!

    Interesting,tho, that the brows make tons more money than we do. The writing gene is kind of perpendicular to the money gene…

  5. Julia Kay

    Fascinating, captain!
    Glad to check in and browse Linda’s site and see how she’s doing after all these years! Of course I’ve had my hand in the animal business from a different angle – pet and other animal portraits – maybe they put something in the water fountain at school so we’re all one person?


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