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the letter reader

It is the third time I sit down to record The Letter Reader. The laundry rack has been pushed back, the lights dimmed. There is a flat grey sky outside the windows. The song has changed key three times. I even tried it a capella, the guitar just resting on my knee. The words felt hollow and empty when I heard them playing back. Unlistenable. The struggle is a familiar one - between the glowing idea of something butting up against the reality is presents as it enters the world. We are all famous in our own minds - heroes, geniuses, rock stars and saints. In the real world, we are flabby, and fallible. We are painfully human, and no angels. How to align all of this? How to put yourself in front of a microphone, or an empty piece of paper, an open road, a classroom full of children, an office?

Maybe there are glimpses of greatness. Maybe there are little cracks of something magical, if you wait for them, if you nurture them, if you struggle for them. I often find myself yelling at tv sc…

bears

Snow is falling, with the loose-boned abandon of a wounded animal. It is colder then cold right now, -30 at night. A wind whips up. Trees are cracking as they bend into it. The baby is restless. There are dirty dishes in the sink. A guitar leans against a stand, unplayed. I move from room to room, catching my reflection in the iced up windows. As usual, I do not recognize myself. I am not that man with a crust of bread in his mouth and a few slices of hard cheese balanced in a bowl. 

Everything comes to a complete stop. 

January is always like this. It is not a new story. 



Someone is painting in the hallway and the reek of turpentine and chemicals wafts under the front door, one more selfish act. All of the rooms are kept closed to keep in the warmth, but I throw doors and windows open hoping the fumes will go away. The air runs into my nose, hard sharp breaths inside. I decide to go to buy bread.

In the path, a handful of glittery hearts flip in the wind. They are scattered in all directions. Maybe someone got married today, and they are on their honeymoon in a hotel room far from here. Or, maybe they are just upstairs sipping strong tea. I kneel down, convinced I need to take a picture of one of them. An old woman appears out of nowhere, grumbling behind me, cursing as I delay her. I gesture to the red and purple hearts and she sneers. She hobbles past me, her ancient fur coat like the shell of a bear hanging from her tiny shoulders.






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