The world’s falling apart, as usual, giving me plenty to write about should I to get worked up enough to dig into it.
Syria, Turkey, Russia, Daesh, Iraq, us. Armed Islamophobia in the streets of the U.S. More harassment of poor people. Each of those make my heart beat faster but I’m just not feeling the urge to write about them. They aren’t capturing me, if you will.
My mind recently has been captured by thoughts of the past and future, though. On the past, it’s, as usual, beating myself up for not having done more with my twenties than rack up $80,000 in undergraduate debt at a private school (I had no idea what I was doing at the time); quit the Air Force; work for years in Democratic politics in Texas(!?) and, especially, spend years serving a certain state representative who I allowed pay me below-poverty-level wages. That’s on me, though. He may have broken his promise, but it’s on me for not quitting earlier. But now I have a good job with a good boss. Unfortunately, the follies of my twenties survive on my credit and debt record — making it still difficult to survive.
I have to start reminding myself more often of the value of the experiences I did have in my 20s. I’d have different stories if I’d stayed in the military or continued working for The Arc of Texas instead of digging deeper into actual policy or traveled the world, but I wouldn’t have the stories I do have. I wouldn’t know the people — the characters that populate my stories, my friends.
Brian/Brianna, John, Mike, Mitch (fucking asshole), many Sarahs and Mikes, John, James Anthony, Just an Architect Rick, Erin, Sun, Raya, Raia, David, Trey, Wayne, Craig, Adam, Stephanie, Wendy, Charity, Annie, Chad, Curt, Oscar, Jorge, Joaquin and, god, so many others.
They were all brilliant. They wrote books and painted pictures, and if they ever stopped talking, which I was sure they would never do, they planned to change the world.
I’d have never gained the appreciation of art that I did from working side-by-side on a daily basis with Brianna. She may have painted while I wrote, but I gained not only an appreciation for visual art but for the self-discipline and motivation it takes to create art every day. If Brianna is anything, she’s an example of one who pushes through those painful beginnings on a blank canvas or sheet of paper or screen or identity on her way to a fullness of expression.
John’s dedication to music is similarly inspiring. The way he will spend hours playing guitar on a little pignose in the corner of a coffeeshop — so low no one but he can hear himself playing. But if you listen really, really closely, you can make out the beautifully struck chords of a real New Orleans jazz/bluesman.
A side story: In college, John stayed with me for a while — against school policy — in the common area of a small five-bedroom, two-bath, no-kitchen structure on campus. My room was upstairs and John was downstairs in the common area with its oh-so-comfortable school-provided furniture.
At the time, I was interested in — and, thus, upstairs in my room with — a girl named . . . I forget. I know it. Let’s call her Corinne, ’cause that’s close. — I remember! It was Leah! — She was Quaker. Very intelligent. She was a neurobiology major or some such. Had an annoying boyfriend (because he existed).
We were lying on my bed and we were talking about John’s music and she mentioned an anger or pain or something beneath it. She said, and I’d never thought of this before and found it very insightful and perceptive, to listen to how he plays the chords. There’s a violence in the way he plays, she said.
As an abrupt closing out (because I’m tired and don’t feel like writing more right now):
My feeling is that if I write anything of any significance (be that weight or meaning), it will be about Ruta Maya. I mean, how could it not? And given distance — plenty of time has passed, I think — it may start seeping out on the page or screen. If nothing else, it will prove geographical stagnation to be one fewer excuse.