Upcoming: My Xenon Year

Dr. Oliver Sacks gave me a gift for my birthday some years ago: a writing prompt that I use each year for my special-ish day: Write an essay in which you equate your age with the corresponding element number on the periodic table.

Since I am a nonscientist, this seemed like an invitation to a find a metaphor in a reflection of the year past and in one’s hopes for the year to come.

Of course, Dr. Sacks did not give this present to ME; it was in a July 2015 New York Times essay titled, “My Periodic Table.” (Link; subscription required.) One of his final essays (he died in August that year at age 82), it was a gift for everyone:
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Me, a One-Hit Wonder

The photo above shows it, the moment in which my life did not change. I may desire the sensation of a life-altering fame, but I know that one semi-viral tweet only serves to remind one that that sensation has not yet been felt in this life. Is it possible to desire something that one has not experienced? Is “desire” the correct word here?

Anyway, a tweet of mine tossed off last night with insouciance of a man who knows nothing about insouciance was liked 750 times (so far) and re-tweeted more than 130 times, and viewed/read/chuckled at (I hope) more than 200,000 times in under twenty-four hours. This is worth a post here if only because my average Twitter engagement is usually 200,000 times smaller than that.

Some of you may be acquainted with the feeling. Some of you may have watched one of your tweets fly out of the nest and somehow attract attention from hundreds of thousands of other Twitter-nests. This is my first time. In thirteen years on Twitter, ten with the current account, this is the first hit tweet. And nothing has changed for me: I am as annoyed or not annoyed by the world and most of its denizens as if 200,000 pairs of Twitter-eyes had not alighted on my one-liner.
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Michael Lang and Small-Town Fame

So far in my employment history I have had four salaried jobs. Three were the best-paying ones, and at least one of these is the reason my current income, monthly SSD, is as not-horrifyingly tiny as it could be.

My first high-salaried job was in 1997-’98 with a publisher based in Woodstock, NY. Now, for someone like me, a high salary at the time meant more than $30,000 a year. (Sad to say, this amount would still be a high salary for me.) Thus, when I received my first paycheck at this publisher, I “felt wealthy” for perhaps the first and only time in my life.

I lived nowhere near Woodstock, though, so it seemed to me that I needed to open a bank account near where I thought most of my weekday life would be spent. Off I marched at lunchtime to a local bank with a paycheck that felt like it made my wallet bulge. At this point in my life, I think my one previous experience with a new bank account was in elementary school, and in that “bank,” quarters were the largest denomination accepted for deposits.

I explained my plight to a teller and I was directed to a seat, which was another novelty: I’d never sat in bank before. Please understand, in 1997 I was 29, so my naïveté was bizarre and somewhat hard-won.

I was one customer behind someone else who needed to open a bank account that day, so we were seated very close to one another at the desk of the accounts manager who could help us. That someone else was Michael Lang.
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