A crumby love story


“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”

J.D. was my first love.

I’d flirted a little with Ray. William S. was the one parents recommended, and he seemed stuffy in comparison. Charles was an old friend, nothing more.

The battered collection

The battered collection, minus one on permanent loan.

At 14, I’d never been properly introduced to Earnest. William F. was too dour, and Kurt wouldn’t come until later.

J.D. was different. Banned in serious circles and nearly all school libraries, he came into my life through the wisdom of a teacher and a permission slip. And for a brief time, I was entranced.

We sat alone, late at night, when the house was hushed and the only light could be seen filtering under my bedroom door. I traced many a line under his words, wanting to digest everything and smiling at perceived secrets and comical moments.

I never really outgrew J.D. But the relationship ran its course – there were others to meet, others to revere and explore. There would be other loves.

But every so often, I’ll take those memories off the shelf and rediscover the pencil marks. The guy still knows me pretty well.

“I live alone (but catless, I’d like everybody to know).”

– Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction


My name is GASTKA

White keyboards, the height of newsroom technology.

White keyboards, the height of newsroom technology.

Just call me GASTKA.

Computer systems play the name game. And in a newsroom, the place of profanities and personalities, some of those monikers are bound to stick.

Such is the case with a few of the naming conventions of an ancient Harris pagination set-up abandoned a decade ago. In those days, it was Windows 95 and giant monitors. No survivor of that period has escaped without the need for glasses.

Each employee’s sign-on consisted of four letters of their last name, followed by two of the first. In my case, that was GASTKA. It rolls off the tongue with an Eastern European flair that my French-derived surname cannot.













With the exception of three, those were all names thrown around in the sports department. Some remain employed there – and still find those aliases yelled across the department or used in conversation. Sports has a different language, and the time I spent there while in college made me mildly fluent.

The current nom de guerre, KGASTON, seems predictable in comparison.


Katie: An Introduction


Longtime journal devotee
tries ‘website thing’

That’s the suggested headline for this story. The dateline? Peoria, Ill. AP Style will be strictly enforced, thank you.

As a newspaper copy editor, I’m more accustomed to the idea of paper-and-ink publishing. So it should come as no surprise that I have a stack
of journals spanning the last several decades, starting with a
heart-shaped book – matching lock included – and bubbly, cursive script.

It’s time to try something new.

I’m coming out of the box. Just don’t ask me to give up my typewriter.