During a recent book event in Vermont, two different people assigned to introduce me jocularly questioned the various biography pages that I have scattered throughout the Internet. Specifically, a few things came into question, so I thought I’d clear them up here and now.
First, my official bio was written by a friend (and theoretical biophysicist) who entered my bio writing contest last year and won. The seemingly rambling but perfectly grammatical sentence is a nod toward author Jose Saramago, whose style is something that I have criticized often and who is mentioned in the bio:
Matthew Dicks, who is not one for long, crafted sentences, preferring the stylings of Vonnegut over those of Saramago, is an author whose works, to date, include the novels Something Missing and Unexpectedly Milo; a successful blog and a number of Op Ed pieces, all of which, at some level or another, tend to examine the outcomes of the quirky and/or rebellious individual when forced up against staid society; however, to say that he is an author is an understatement (or possibly an overstatement, since he devised a contest to compose this author bio and then chose the ramblings of a theoretical biophysicist as the winning entry), for this husband and father from Newington, CT, who has faced a number of near-death experiences, lived in his car, and been tried for a crime that he did not commit, is also an acclaimed elementary teacher who has received the Teacher of the Year Award, is the co-owner of a DJ business, and still wishes that he could beat some of his friends at golf.
A year later, I still like this biography a lot.
As for the specifics from other biographies that were called into question this weekend:
Yes, I was a pole vaulter, and a damn good one, too, until the aforementioned car accident/near-death experience caused me to miss my senior season. A post describing my experience as a pole vaulter can be found here.
And yes, I was a bassoonist, as well as a flutist and a drummer.
I began my musical career as a flutist in third grade when my mother forced the instrument on me, declaring it quiet enough for her to accept. A week later I discovered that I was one of only two male flutists in the entire town, and the other was a boy three years older than me named Kevin who rode my school bus and was the biggest nerd I had ever seen.
While I enjoyed the flute, the act of playing it was socially devastating.
When I arrived at our junior-senior high school in seventh grade, I was asked to join the marching band as a drummer. Lacking a football team, my school’s marching band became the centerpiece of my high school’s competitive endeavors, and our marching band was considered one of the best in the country.
In need of bodies who could keep time in order to fill out the bass drum line, the music director saw an average flutist, an athlete who could carry a bass drum for hours without tiring, and a young man who despised the stigma of his instrument. Summing up my desires well, he asked if I would like to switch to drum line during the marching band season.
Needless to say I jumped at the chance.
In my six years in the marching band, we won the Massachusetts championship four times, the New England championship three times, and I had the opportunity to march in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Rose Bowl parade.
Some of the best times of my life.
In the off-season, however, there was no need for two dozen drummers in the Wind Ensemble, so for the first three off-seasons, I was forced to return to the flute until the day that my school purchased its first bassoon and was in need of a bassoon player.
Once again seeing a middling flute player who was not enjoying his instrument, the band director asked if I would like to become the school’s first bassoonist, and once again, I jumped at the chance.
I became the school’s first bassoonist, and I played it until I graduated from high school.
Two near death experiences before the age of eighteen, a career as a pole vaulter, and a bassoon player.