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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…

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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