The Preface To My Short Story Collection, “Human.”

I’ve been toying with the idea of compiling a collection of nonfiction and fiction shorts for a bit now, but -at first- I didn’t have enough content and then I was in school, which was eating up any of my free time.  However, I finally have the time and opportunity to compile, write, and submit such an endeavor, and last night I began.  I was able to sit down and start the preface to my aforementioned collection, and ladies and gents you get to read it in the raw.  It hasn’t been edited, it’s horribly askew, and the grammar is atrocious, but hopefully it peaks your interest.  Without further ado:


I am writing this on the cusp of dropping out of college.  This was a decision that I did not make lightly or hastily.  For me, this is the second time that I have dropped out of school.  The first time I left, my fiancee had just cheated on me; she left me for a halfway houser.  I remember fighting with her in my parent’s basement.  Threatening suicide and failure to keep a failed relationship afloat.  She told me I was too reliable and intelligent.  I was a middle class white guy with too much arrogance to spare and was too favored to make money, so I was automatically “safe” and thus not worthy of a chubby, middle class white gal.  My naivety believed it.  I left school and focused on work.  I didn’t write.

I’ve met some truly talented and intelligent individuals.  Grocers who will clearly and concisely discuss that certain kind of cadence of Hunter S. Thompson’s work and Metal drummers who wash dishes.  You have to make the rent somehow.  On the flip side of that, I’ve met people who have run headlong with a stolen television into a glass wall and men who have thrown deli meats while drunkenly stumbling backwards into a cart corral shrieking, “You don’t know me!?”  Sadly enough, both of these groups go to school, and many from both camps receive degrees.  This tells me that degrees don’t equate to intelligence, but rather money and time.  Passion and intelligence are not required.  Check your coats and wallets at the door, because that is where the university rep will be pickpocketing your parents while they stare, frothing at the shiny ball.

Nevertheless, I digress.  I lacked focus when I was in school.  Even before my fiancee cheated on me I had checked out.  I was going through the high school rigamarole.  The proverbial motions but nothing more, and inevitably–I got fed up with the bullshit.  Principally, I couldn’t deal with irritated professors who let out their insecurities upon their students, students who receive degrees with no interest in them, parents who flit their kids’ bill so that they don’t have to work while going to school, and a system built like a business.  When did universities and unions become businesses?  It would make our forefathers sick.

My mantra is simple: if you love the art you’ll succeed, no matter what.  I’m taking this sentiment and my new found opportunity, and running with it.  Essentially, I’ll be testing my self-worth, while putting my money where my mouth is.  I’ve played it safe, so now I’m going balls to the wall.  This collection is me.  At times, it may seem erratic, disturbed, and misguided, but that is because we’re all human, which means we’re all erratic, disturbed, and misguided.  This collection represents the many different versions of me.  At moments I’m witty.  Am I witty all the time?  No.  Am I depressed at others?  Absolutely.  Am I a deviant at others.  You betcha.  This collection is exactly that.  It is the many versions of me, and hopefully the many versions of us.

We are all human.  We are a broken and lost people, but we try.  We always try.  We all look for love, we all strive for success, we want our name and legacy to persevere emboldened by the lights.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  We hit ‘wrong’ territory when we begin to judge others, and we strike vile when we plaster it across the media, when we vote on it, when we challenge basic rights to avoid death, war, torture, and human rights.  When we trick ourselves into thinking we’re better than someone else is the moment we lose a piece of ourselves.  The moment we sneer and bedaub ‘aghast’ across our grease smeared faces at the sound or sight of something different is the moment we trade our humanity for Skittles.  Homosexuality is not wrong, and neither is transsexuality.  Being a Republican or an immigrant isn’t wrong.  Enjoying sex, a cigarette, and a drink isn’t wrong.  Loving to paint, to rap, or to teach isn’t wrong.  Birth control…not wrong.  Blacks, Latinos, women, veterans, and the handicapped…still not wrong.  None of these things are evil.  None of these things challenge our personal rights and well-being, and more-importantly, none of these things challenge our happiness.  We’re all different, but we’re all human.

And, this is why I have named this collection “Human.”  We are all unique, but we are all human.  We all have versions of ourselves.  A version that we show coworkers, a version that we show our spouse, a version that we show our family, a version that we show strangers, a version that we show friends–we’re not lying or keeping secrets we’re being honest with ourselves.  All of these versions are us. We are chaotic, complex creatures always grappling with emotion and thought.  Being acutely aware of time is a gift and a curse.  It makes us do things in the heat of the moment, and it makes us meticulously plan for a future that may never come.  I named my collection “Human,” because these are the many versions of me.  These pieces are a fraction of my chaotic complexity.  This is my soul bared.  This is my love of pop culture.  These are my one night stands.  This is my love of literature and women.  This is me broken and witty.  This is me,

Our lives are confessional nonfiction.  I like vodka, women, writing, and sex.  I know, and now you know.  I tell you this in the hopes that you’ll tell yourself your own secrets and accept your versions for what they are: You.  Take each tale you read in this collection as a moment in my life, a ‘version,’ a thread that I decided to pull, a rabbit hole I decided to travel down.  At the time of writing this I am twenty-four years old.  I have lived many lives–lives with lovers, lives with strangers, lives with others…and I know absolutely nothing.


A.R. Schultz


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