Sulfur, Creosote, Mold, Brimstone

It takes the first sulphurous whiff of a papermill on my way in to town to smother my hope and raise the vapors of despair in my soul. The decay and desparation in Texarkana is palpable. I may have been born here, I may have spent the bulk of my young life inside these city limits, but after finally, resolutely, pushing my way out and staying out, every time I come back as an outsider, I’m reminded of every reason I left.

Every family business shuttered because the next generation left town. Every stately house with a blue tarp hanging over some part of the structure. Every vacant lot that was previously the homesite of someone’s dreams. Every gas station turned into a payday loan store. Every quickmart turned into a smoke shop. Every stand of pine trees turned into a stripmall. Every stripmall turned into a godbox. Every steel-sided structure with a brick façade and a cross on top. Every block of homes bulldozed for a hospital parking lot. Every hospital turned into a juvenile detention center. Every bogus statistic that tells you to fear the boogey man, because crime is on the rise (the cops said so). Every downtown intersection with the stoplights pulled down because it costs too much to keep them running. Every downtown business throwing in the towel because the money is along the interstate.

I hate change, I really do. My internal behaviour indicates this. Why? Because it’s uncontrollable. Change happens. I’d rather it didn’t. I’d rather things didn’t change, only improved, only maintained. Instead of letting things rot, instead of tearing them down, instead of building a new thing in its place, why not just maintain? We have no connection with the past; no sense of history. Our only sense is that old things are old and worthless, and new things are what we need, but now the only place to get new things is Walmart. And those new things are worthless, but we want them.

I think I’d rather have all the delapidated, crumbling structures torn down a la Detroit. Just vast swaths of nothing, empty spaces sold for their true value: nothing. This was once a booming industrial town — now it’s an in-joke. When I ask, “so, what’s there to do here nowadays,” the residents just look at me and brokenly laugh, shrugging, “This is Texarkana.” Why is there not anything worthwhile here? I currently live in a city where distractions are a dime a dozen. I mean, there’s got to be life here, activity aplenty, right? There’s got to be interesting things with lasting value here, right? Right? It just seems so small, so unimportant. So desperate.

Decay has happened, Texarkana. You did it. You let it happen. You failed yourselves. You stopped caring. You looked at the fuzz in your own navels and found it more interesting than your community, you sons of bitches. You had all the power to make your town a wonderful place, but you let it all go to Hell. Your fault.

My own problem with Texarkana, truth be told, is that it’s a reminder of my own failings, a signpost marking the source and shape of my own failings. It’s a damage that I’m trying to overcome. Were it not for my family who still call this place their home, I’m pretty sure I would have no problem with never coming back again.

Clam

I think I am going to shut up now. I have opinions. Opinions on things that matter. They are empty opinions with no force, no defense. I cannot defend them, because defending means struggle. I cannot struggle.

Matter of fact, I am a coward on the things that matter. I wish this were a joke, but it is not a joke. I am too old for jokes.

That, of course, is another indefensible opinion.

On the Occasion of My 43rd Year

On Wednesday I turned a corner into another year. What have I got? After running for the past week with south-by, of going, of reacting, of trying to hunt for distraction, of taking care of business, I took the birthday off and had what looked like a typical Saturday. Slept in, made breakfast, got a haircut. Tooled around, not much to show for it. Rode high on the birthday well-wishes. Little bright spots. Little strand of holiday lights.

What then, though? I’m tired most of the time. Fatigued. Out of shape. I’m no spring chicken anymore; most definitely in my August. Came home early tonight from happy hour and the cafe. Coworkers on a rager; cafe patrons without names. Cup half-empty, that sort of thing. All I wanted to do was sit still, unplug, silence all the notifications, for once. Watch something complicated. Of all the people I know, and of all the passing conversations we have, the hunger of missed connections these years wears me down. I am, was, involved in multiple avenues of communication. The necessity of my actual life pulls me away from meaningful connection and, instead, feeds me these tiny little dimestore dialogues. Ever feel like nothing really speaks to you or meets you where you are?

We all hope for growth. It’s the customary human drive. I want to grow, but if I can’t have that, I’d much rather try to maintain.

L7 Zero, Square Round

It’s about time i got modern and joined the rest of the world. That’s right, i got a smartphone. Now i can do the very thing i used to point fingers at while clucking my tongue…now i am one of those people.

Awesome.

Well, at least I’m not totally reliant on Wi-Fi anymore. Heh.

(By the way, this was typed out on my phone with swipe…certainly not fast, but it gets the job done.)

Focus

Sometimes, I feel like I could overachieve my goals, exceed my horizons, conquer the world, write the best stories, craft the best music, win the greatest triumphs, if only I had someone to do it for. If only I had one person to impress. Not the multitude of faces all around me all day, every day — one face. One person. One partner. One desire. One love. If there was one person I was trying to impress, I think that would be enough to push myself past the friction of stasis, past the “why bother”, to get the wheels rolling, to move the world. But there is no one, just everyone. I look around my apartment and see my projects half started. Sketches, notes, ideas, fragments. Everyone is not enough. The thought of a million eyes watching means my performance is personal. But to have two of the most important eyes watching makes it personable.