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the empty

The fat girl as they call her, came to school with a hypodermic needle in her backpack. It may have been to defend herself, it may have been to instigate something. She comes from a broken home and this is her second or third school. E steers clear of her, and the bullies she tangles with. It was never understood  - how things began, who threw the first insult, the first punch, the first grabbed book but the end is a chronic cycle of violence. At one point, the girl's mother got the police involved and this was seen as offensive, a step too far. The police did not resolve anything so it was all just a lot of saber rattling. That is the most common sound here. The empty threat.

Last week, there was a sobrani, sort of a cross between a parent-teacher conference and a school meeting. I was busy, so E went by herself and took notes. Five minutes in she messaged me, that I was wise not to be there. Nothing about this girl was going to be resolved.
"Boys will be boys" was all …

the dinosaur and the cockroach


I grew up on this fantasy that someone from my generation would write the next great American novel. Then it became the all-encompassing album. These structures, these great houses, the traditions I went to school to learn how to build  - they became dinosaurs in a handful of years. Do people still try to pull off this minor miracle, this speaking directly to everyone? Of course they do. There are always survivors - brittle, tough, unyielding die-hards that think this is still possible.

Plenty of catch-phrases make things easier to swallow  - "Three chords and the truth is all you need."  or "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." In truth, these are optiates, soothing pills to lesson the pain. Sometimes it feels like a curse, to be born in-between the end of something  and the beginning of something entirely different. At what point do you abandon ship, and try on a lifejacket? I am not a person who surrenders easily. One more catch-phrase hangs in the air - "No one likes a quitter." 

Maybe reinvention is the greatest obstacle for an artist. Nostalgia is a heavy load to shoulder. We all feel the hot sting of loss at one point in life. How to say goodbye to stories half-told? How to look at the world with fresh eyes? It is like getting a divorce. Everything you poured into that cup, it leaks slowly to the floor, wasted. Lost time, lost money, lost ambition. And then there is that low flame of embarrassment, for the nights you talked in a hushed voice about all you would accomplish, a drink swirling in one hand as the ice slowly melts. 

You choke on what you abandon. 

Of course, you can just keep on going with blinders on. Keep your nose to the stone, hacking away at that pile of dog-eared pages. Jot down lyrics on scraps of paper in the wee small hours of the morning. Yes, stare out the window while you are on a train thinking about the book you will write after this one, if the next collection of photos will be color or black and white, if that film title still works or if you need to cook up a new one. 







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