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this is the day

This is the day. The epic banging downstairs has subsided, appearing randomly at no earlier that 6 at night when it does. There is no good explanation for why I restrung the old guitar today, and then the new one. I am almost drunk on the smell of their cases, like a museum of good intentions - here are scraps of paper with old lyrics on them, a spare cable, a phone number from a show three years ago. I have been writing these songs for over a year now, and today is the day the good microphone went on a stand.

That is how things happen - when you least expect them.

It is a fairly terrifying moment.

I think we all like to say "we need to get out of our comfort zones" which mostly means something like bungee jumping, or getting a new haircut. The idea of singing the confessions of a bunch of imaginary people feels like walking a tightrope with no net. Seeing it done well does not give me any false confidence. It just makes me respect those brave souls that shoulder a guitar …

talking to the trees


Most experiences cannot be discussed. No one wants to hear the ugly truth, and chances are you will be attacked for sharing it. To be able to speak freely means that you need a willing listener, otherwise you are just talking to the trees. Time and again I have come to understand that there is no difference between New York and Moscow, no difference between East and West. They are just cults of personality, built on violence and money and moral quicksand.

The life of an expat evolves from those early, awkward victories to one of assimilation or in cases like mine - eventually understanding that you have no country you can (or want to) call home. I am left with just these four walls and my family. This apartment is the only place I actually belong. This is the only place I do not need to soft-pedal my thoughts, where I do not need to apologize for what I have unearthed. The river of betrayal runs deep whether I look outside, or across the ocean. Willful ignorance, willful indifference, hate, fear, echo chambers, blind patriotism, blind faith, outright hostility - there is nothing new about them, but that does not remove their sting as you stumble across a fresh version of an old story.

The months march along, with identical waves of muddied half-truths that are gobbled up, spit out, reposted, shared and lionized by strangers. Shared next to diet tips, and promises for new ways to get rid of ear wax, next to targeted ads based your search history. It is very hard to say what actually changes, except for the price of milk, or oil. There is alway a war. There is always a dragon to slay. There is always a dumbed-down hero's welcome, a watered-down parade, a ship of fools, an army of reporters rushing to bless them or demonize them or forget how to pronounce their names - and then it is time for a commercial, it is time to shout about dandruff or a weekend getaway, or a celebrity wedding or maybe a divorce or what tragedy might be on the nightly news.

Or, you can talk to the trees on a day like today.


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