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Albino (part one)

I began writing Albino two million years ago. I had an editor then, who lived a few blocks away. We would meet for breakfast on Avenue A, quietly forking into home fries as we discussed the structure of the story - the economy of objects. A dollar bill was not just a dollar bill in this story, it was connected to thought and action, to music and transformation. This was the story that told me there was a whole book to dig into, mining for diamonds in the backwaters of America, turning over the ugliest rocks to better understand relationships between fathers and sons.

Last week, I stumbled across a call for submissions - not for a journal, but for a podcast where the work of new writers was read aloud. I thought back to a reading I had done of just the first few pages of Albino - a messy hero's journey,  a young man and a guitar, a man with loss and regret, a man that still had something to lose. That reading went well, enough that I felt a strange elation stepping off the stage i…

imaginary places


It is an act only a New Yorker can be offended by. Anyone else would dismiss it as it happened. There are only so many hours in the day, and so much injustice a person can note, rehash, testify to and eventually absorb. There may just be a razor's edge that defines a normal person from an obsessive New Yorker, or that edge may be a mile wide. I don't know anymore. There are no tools to measure imaginary spaces. There is just the cold Moscow winter, the snow littered with shit and piss many feet deep, in long grey drifts that snake around cars and streets as far as the eye can see.

The life of an expat becomes a surrender measured out over time. You lose contact with acquaintances from back home. You become invisible to many people, transplanted in a land where no one sees you.  You become a ghost, a phantom shadow that does not recognize its face in the mirror. The past is so far away, it becomes someone else's past. A stranger's life two times over. But in this vacuum, this limbo  - there is a possibility to reinvent. You can shed a skin, and paint a new face in its place. You can laugh at the wind, or take up stamp collecting. You can walk in the street and take comfort in your anonymity.

There are bitter pills to swallow, those headlines from the place you come from. They go down easier from a distance. They become a bad movie on a dark screen. You can walk out into the lobby, buy some candies, suck on a fountain soda, and stare out at the street. It is raining, and the cars are sloshing their way through intersections while people share umbrellas and run into cafes to dry off, or fall in love, or argue, or make love or go to get their kids from school. It all happens in these imaginary places.



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