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Nothing to it, but to do it.

As a self-identified static ball of anxiety, when I received the syllabus for my first ever creative writing class in college, my heart immediately began to pound against my chest, my hands turned ice cold, yet clammy, and it felt like my body was irradiating nervous tension throughout the room and everyone could see it.

The syllabus was three pages long in the standard 12px Times New Roman font, with loads of repetitive details that I saw in all my other classes, but the only line that seemed to glare back at me was the required workshop presentation. Dread swept over me. I immediately tried rationalizing picking myself and leaving the classroom mid-introductions (another favorite classroom activity of mine), and yet I remained. “Don’t be dramatic…” I scolded myself.

Blessed (or cursed, depending on how you want to look at it) with a last name that helps me practice my grade-A neurotic-influenced procrastinating nature, I was able to choose my presentation date first when we did the sign-ups in alphabetical order. Shamelessly, I picked the very last day possible, hoping it would never come.

Well, my wish almost came true. This was the year good ol’ Sandy hit and school was closed for a week. I thought that maybe I can somehow get away without presenting, but really, I was just lying to myself. I knew that I had to do it—it wouldn’t be fair if everyone else had to and I didn’t.

I should mention that the class was Creative Nonfiction—aka: Shy & Private Person’s Worst Nightmare 101. Or maybe that’s just my nightmare. Anyway, December 6th was fast approaching and I had to be strategic in what I wanted to present to my classmates. I remember thinking to myself, “Don’t reveal too much,” and “You’re an emotional wreck. Don’t write anything that will make you cry.” Even though our classroom was a safe-haven and everyone in it was respectful, I still didn’t want to let anyone in. “Keep a safe distance and please, for once, don’t embarrass yourself?” At this point in my undergrad, I was quite proud of my self-depreciating sense of humor and figured to be ahead of the game: make fun of myself before anyone can make fun of me. The tone of my story was set. I refused to write a depressing story about a depressing episode in my life—too much misplaced pride mixed in with an irrational fear of looking helpless.

All the while, I complained to my partner about this assignment. “Nothing to it, but to do it,” he said. And that was all I needed.

The story I wrote was probably corny (excuse me, as I peer over my glasses, but do the kids still use this word today?), but it explored the relationship between me and my partner–my co-pilot–and our support system. I wrote this short story with an emotion I didn’t know I was capable of conveying. It highlighted my messy and awkward personality in it, my (un)award-winning self-deprecating humor, and a small touch of my heart.

I love my short story now, but moments before I had to read it, I thought its proper place was in my middle school’s literary magazine. Particularly, when they were scrambling to meet the 20-page mark and were accepting any submission coming in from bright-eyed 7th graders. It belonged somewhere in the middle of the magazine, too, where it would go unread, due to poor attention span and so many words! But then, when I realized my personal apocalypse was about to commence, I took a deep breath and said quietly to myself, “Nothing to it, but to do it.”

It felt like I entered face first into the fiery pits of Hell while the rest of my body was submerged in Antarctic waters. I could almost see the steam coming off my skin as I read the first sentence aloud. And then it was okay. I remember smiling as I read, which made some of my words come out funny, and after what felt like an hour’s worth of hearing my own voice, reading my own words, of my own deeply personal story, it was done and I did it.

My classmates laughed and I didn’t cry. I probably forgot to breathe.

This short story, I’m still convinced, is the closest I’ll ever come to feeling like I own my writing. In all its roughness, pre-critiques, and silly typos and grammatical mistakes, it is still Mine, dedicated to someone who helped me in ways I thought were too hard to put into words. I received about eleven copies back, adorned in different colored ink and handwriting styles, with productive and helpful feedback (so much that I applied it to my future writing projects (ex: Watch out for those hyperboles! There’s too many interjections!­) (Side note: I still struggle with both of these, clearly)), but the feeling I had when I wrote the original remained unmatched. In under three pages, I accomplished many things and overcame my (many) silly fears. Really, there was nothing to it, but to do it. :)

Sharing my writing for the first time–again

I’ve been writing stories ever since I could remember. As a kid, I would bring a notebook with me everywhere–to school, on car rides, to my friend’s houses. I didn’t even have to write, and half the time I wouldn’t–I just had to have it with me, just in case.

When I was younger, I would let everyone and anyone read my stories, even though they were all cripplingly embarrassing. My pride and joy was a story named “Hamster Island” that I wrote and illustrated in third grade. For an entire year, I wrote through the perspective of a dog. I wrote graphic murder mysteries to try to shock my babysitters and my fifth grade teacher. By middle school, I was writing hundreds of pages of fanfiction and clearly inserted myself into some of my favorite shows. I was stubbornly proud of these horrific pieces of writing, though years later I would drive to a garbage can far, far away to dispose of them.

I started to become more secretive about my writing once I moved towns and entered high school. That’s when the stories became less about fantasy and more grounded in reality; they became about my life, my experiences. They were personal. For years, I wouldn’t let anyone read what I had written.

At the end of my junior year of high school, my English teacher asked us to write a short narrative. I had moved almost three years earlier, but I still missed my old home. Before New Jersey, we had lived on the East End of Long Island. Every day after school, I would drop my backpack and go for a walk on the beach, even when it was absolutely frigid. We were one of few families that lived there year-round. Sometimes I’d run through the yards of empty houses and peek through the dusty windows at the furniture covered in sheets. There was something calming about having so much space, about waking up and falling asleep to the view of the water. When the moon was high in the sky, it would sear a white line across the bay. During a storm, the placid water would turn into  whitecaps, which would break and carry on the wind to lash against our windows. In the winter, the whole bay would ice over, and the wind from the blizzards would create mountains of snow and ice that my brothers and I would try to scale. One time, during an unseasonably warm November day, I fell in a river that my friends had just successfully jumped across. We ended up swimming home in our clothes; we tied our shoes together and threw them into the water in front of us, our laughter echoing across the empty beach.

Our congested suburban town in New Jersey was an hour’s drive from the water. There was nowhere to go, nowhere to walk without someone asking, “What are you doing?” After school, I often just went home and stayed in my room.

So I wrote about my old home.

A few days after receiving the narratives, my teacher said he had chosen a few of his favorites to read out loud. He would read them anonymously and see if we could figure out who had written each piece. We were advised to keep our poker faces as he read.

He started with mine. I stopped breathing after I heard the first line. I looked down and felt the blood rush to my face. I tried not to smile, but barely succeeded at holding it back. When he finished reading, the class clapped enthusiastically.

For me, this was one of my most rewarding pieces of writing because it was the first time I had shared something so personal–and by a stroke of good luck, had it warmly received. I’d later go on to study creative writing at college and get ripped to shreds in the writing workshops, but I enjoyed the heck out of it. I began craving constructive criticism and the shared experience of making meaning. After that day in high school, writing stopped being a solitary act.

St. Robert, Patron Saint of Writing Skills

Mr. Wicke. Mr. Robert Wicke (wik-ee), as in Robert Redford. One was a high school English teacher; and the other a Hollywood movie star idolized by millions of female fans. Well, the Robert I knew was Mr. Wicke—a Redford doppelgänger who was so handsome and worldly that I often forgot I was in a classroom when he spoke. I was living a “trope”-schoolgirl crush on older teacher. While learning what caused King Lear to go mad, I noticed the way he flipped his buttery blond hair after he emphasized a point. It reminded me of Redford in “The Way We Were,” when a few, rebellious wisps would escape from his side-parted locks and graze just below his eyebrows. Consistently distracted, I always tried to think of a question to ask him after class. “Excuse me, Mr. Wicke,” I would say, as I nervously reached his desk; and as he looked up, he would stare just a bit longer than what was comfortable, (although this was probably wishful thinking). Besides, he was forgiven for any faults. He looked like a prep school senior, with his elbow-patch woolen sweaters over an oxford shirt and tie, although I’m sure he was in his early 30s.  And as a testament to his influence, two of my closest high school friends also became writers—one as a middle- school English teacher, and the other as an author and journalist. I pursued a writing career too, (later in life)–and we all credit Mr. Wicke and his unconventional, but disciplined writing style for inspiring us. It was in his class that I understood the reward of writing well.

On the first day of class, he announced matter-of-factly that no one ever had earned an “A” in his classes; on occasion, he might give some students a “B,” but it was rare. Many received “C’s,” and quite a few soundly saw “D” on their report cards. He explained quite casually that no one is “superior,” which is what an “A” represents; “B” meant “very good,” and “C” was average, which he considered most of us. I wasn’t sure whether to take him seriously—he could have been a poker champion in that his facial expressions never belied his intent. As an academically ambitious 17-year-old senior who hoped to be in the “top 20” at graduation, this was both a blessing and a quandary. I had a teacher who was a Robert Redford look-a-like—yet enjoyed playing mind games with a group of naïve Catholic school students.

My Wicke’s idea of a test was to take a passage from a Shakespeare text we had read, and write an analytical, three-paragraph essay in 25 minutes. With a dictionary on the corner of my desk, it was a battle against time.  By the second semester, I had finally earned a “B” in the class, with the “high grade” of “84” on most papers. Many classmates often received an “F,” on their papers, because any misspellings guaranteed a failing grade. Another sin was the phrase “in conclusion.” If written to begin the last paragraph, this was also an automatic “F.” He said this was implied, so it was redundant. He required concise language and objected to flowery prose; he called wordiness “padding,” which usually resulted in a “D.” These literary “pet peeves” became an internalized template that I had memorized. And although I never received an “F” on a paper, Mr. Wicke thought that adding “Sorry!” after a failing grade would soften the blow. Students were either permanently scarred or permanently motivated.

Although I cannot remember a specific piece of writing as “rewarding”, that “B” I earned launched a writing style that I still embrace. I am still amazed at the profundity of Mr. Wicke’s influence now that I am in graduate school. Not only did I have the advantage of Mr. Redford-I mean Mr. Wicke, as a high school English teacher, the skills I learned are still relevant. Sometimes when I read “in conclusion,” on a paper, I can imagine Mr. Wicke’s handwriting in his familiar red ink, gracing the top margin—and whisper a “thank you” to my literary patron saint.

On Creative Writing and The Magic Tree House.

As the English poet, essayist, and critic Samuel Johnson once said, “The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” The importance and influence of broad and thorough reading on writing is as true for a woman as it is for a man, and I am either insightful or vain enough to consider myself a living example of this.

One of the first book series I followed as a child was Mary Pope Osborne’s The Magic Tree House. I read the first chapter book, Dinosaurs Before Dark, when I was in second grade, or seven years old. I worked through the volumes my little school library had on its shelves, then moved on to those in the public libraries in my town. When the Scholastic Book Fair came to my school, I raced through the catalog with such speed that I often ripped its pages in my haste to find the latest Magic Tree House. These books were valuable to me, I now realize, because they provided information, escape, and entertainment all in one text; I was interested in the more historical and literary elements of the chapter books because I was so engaged in the adventurous narrative and characters who reminded me of myself.

That annual Book Fair catalog arrived like clockwork when I was a nine-year-old voracious reader, and it held more than news of a new Magic Tree House installment: Osborne announced a nationwide writing contest. In this announcement, Osborne encouraged her readers all across the country to write and title a sample chapter of a Magic Tree House book of their own creation. The winner would receive their own “magic tree house,” or a life-sized cardboard cutout of the famous titular structure, and a letter from Osborne herself. At nine years old, I had written and illustrated several of my own “books” (a little series about a girl-detective named Crystal Harper and her friends), but I had never attempted to write for a contest with such a genuine audience and (what seemed at the time) proper stakes. My love for the series was more than enough to motivate me to research and write my own chapter for a new Magic Tree House book, Sunset on the Sahara.  

I submitted the chapter several weeks in advance and waited anxiously for a response. When I received my letter from Osborne congratulating me on being selected as one of the winners, the joy and pride were unlike anything I had felt up to that point in my little life as a writer. For me, this experience was so rewarding because an author I loved and admired had found my work as engaging and rich as I had always found hers. 

New Beginnings

Choosing my most rewarding piece of writing is like forcing a mother to choose her favorite child. I love all my scribbles equally. Okay, maybe I like my short stories and potential novels a little bit more than my post-it reminders and shopping lists, but that does not change anything. However, if I had to choose only one piece as the most rewarding, I would have to say it is the excerpt of an unfinished novel entitled “New Beginnings,” which I had published in Montclair’s National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) Literary Magazine in Spring 2013.

I had always dreamed of being a published author ever since I wrote my first short story at the end of sixth grade. To see my name in print and how proud my parents were was an outstanding feeling. Looking back at the excerpt itself, I will admit, I sometimes cringe at the way I worded a particular sentence because writing never stops even after it has been published; a writer continues to grow, change styles, and relentlessly critique their own work. Nevertheless, I still cherish this accomplishment.

As a novel, New Beginnings was a great struggle to write. The storyline changed so many times that it was difficult for me to tell whether the characters were even the same people I thought I knew from the start. My babies grew up so fast! In fact, two separate short stories emerged from this idea, which was supposed to be a novel, and seemed to have a happier existence as independent pieces; this realization ultimately led me to submit an excerpt to NSCS. I never expected it would be published.

This piece was the most rewarding because it reinforced, just as my acceptance to Montclair State University had, that dreams do come true. As I struggle to find writing time in my busy schedule, I often reflect on this achievement to motivate myself. Perhaps one day “New Beginnings” may become the novel I dreamed it would be.

Writing about Vermont

When I lived in Vermont, I began reading fiction to learn about the state, to absorb its essence and ethos. This enterprise resulted in the publication of my three guides to Vermont fiction, one of which focused on stories for children and young adults. I want to describe four insights I gleaned from this book.

First, reading has a profound and nourishing effect on the imaginations of the young protagonists. Their favorite books offer them solace, instruction, and a frame of reference. Second, reconciliation is crucial to the process of growing up. The characters initially meet challenges with resentment or indifference but overcome them with understanding or forgiveness. Three, family dynamics and school experiences have an impact on the development and enlightenment of the young characters. They learn about coping with death or divorce from a range of relatives at home and about attributes like discipline or courage from compassionate teachers and librarians at school. Finally, the protagonists are strongly attracted to Vermont. Whether native-born or reluctant arrivals, they become engaged in, and eventually part of, the landscape.

As to the effect of childhood reading on the sensibilities and choices of the characters in these books, In Haas’s Working Trot, a boy concerned about his future relaxes by reading Wuthering Heights, as does the girl in Wright’s Down the Strings, who is examining her next steps in life. The heroine of Kinsey-Warnock’s If Wishes Were Horses broods upon an injustice by rereading Black Beauty, while in Walkers’s A Piece of the World, a girl consoles herself with The Wind in the Willows. Paterson’s title character in Lyddie, a child mill worker, slakes her parched existence with Oliver Twist; in Winthrop’s Counting on Grace, a girl and boy, also mill workers, sustain themselves with The Red Badge of Courage. In Doren’s Nell of Blue Harbor, a young girl, struggling to cope with an adult emergency, wonders how her idol, Laura Ingalls Wilder, would handle the situation.

Reconciliation plays a key role as the young protagonists attempt to resolve problems and face reality. In Jackson’s A Taste of Spruce Gum, the heroine’s young heart feels betrayed by her mother’s remarriage, wounded by her stepfather’s behavior, and offended by her harsh new environment. Circumstances force her into a context in which she not only takes charge but also recognizes how much she loves her new “Papa.” In Stevenson’s Happily After All, the protagonist is forced to come to Vermont to live with a mother who, she thinks, has abandoned her. At first, she cannot adjust to Vermont, which is pretty, though in a “different way,” but she finally makes peace with her mother, who turns out to have been her loving Book Fairy all along. In Graff’s A Long Way Home, a boy sulks when his mother brings him to Vermont and cannot understand why his childhood friend refused to fight in Vietnam. A poignant revelation about the Civil War enables him to grasp the meaning of courage and, in a moving resolution, to respect his friend.

The particular ambiances of family, schools, and libraries have a major influence on the growth of the characters. Fisher’s eponymous heroine in Understood Betsy has never been asked to take responsibility or make a decision until she comes to live with her off-hand, eccentric relatives in Vermont; she then remodels her life on their mature and loving examples. Facing disasters like floods or fires, family members unite in new ways. Frost’s Maple Sugar for Windy Foot pits a family against a terrible flood. A young boy is waist-deep in water helping to get the horses out of the barn as another family’s house whirls by. Afterward, with his father, he views the barn “with its dead cattle, its destroyed hay and grain” and the “river-battered acres of what had once been a beautiful farm.” Having come through this crisis together, he feels he is “deep-down friends” with his father.

Complementing the importance of family relationships and the discipline of farm life is the influence of teachers and librarians. In Gauthier’s Hero of Ticonderoga, the two protagonists, both uninterested students, become engaged in and fascinated by research. In Doyle’s Stray Voltage, “The only person in his world who makes Ian feel valuable is Mrs. Worth, his sixth-grade teacher.” In Winthrop’s Counting on Grace, when Grace and her friend must give up school to work in the mill, Miss Lesley tutors them on weekends in her spare time. In Paterson’s Jip, His Story, a young teacher lends him books and assures him of her protection.

The characters have or develop a beneficial and devoted relationship with Vermont. The historical novels emphasize the statement that Meigs, in The Covered Bridge, attributes to folk hero Ethan Allen: “No person has come to live here who did not love the land.” The Vermont scene is rich and vibrant with pride in heritage, family roots in the land that go back generations, the tradition of neighbor helping neighbor, and challenges and hard work. As a boy observes in Haas’s Unbroken, “everything was work here. Everything was food and firewood and racing the summer to get both put away in time.”  The experiences of ancestors’ hewing out a life in the wilderness produce the qualities that the young protagonists find in their households of aunts, uncles, grandmothers, or grandfathers—wisdom, endurance, humor, and optimism.

In Stolz’s novel, By the Highway Home, a young girl mourns her brother, killed in Vietnam. She looks with affection at her books, filled with characters that make her weep—the little Mermaid, Oliver, Little Nell, Charlotte. Beth, and Bambi. She searches for and copies comforting quotations into her journal. In an essay by Simone Weil, this girl finds the following advice about death: “Do not grieve, or keep me always in your thoughts, but think of me as you would remember a book you loved in childhood.” I borrowed a portion of that quotation for the conclusion of my book’s introduction: “We all–librarians, teachers, and parents—remember with affection ‘the books we loved in childhood’ and the incalculable effect they have had upon our lives. The stories in this collection are the stuff of future memories for the young readers we esteem, support, serve, and love.”

Reading fiction about Vermont was the catalyst for my initial appreciation of the role of place in fiction. This experience led to my doctoral dissertation, in which I developed a theory, formed over the prior ten years, that place is the primary element in a piece of fiction because it affects the destiny of the characters.







On Tension, Rebellion, and Resignation

The New York Times‘ Opinion Piece: 31 December 2016.

From the (Impromptu) Desk of Alexander Hamilton.
The Central Offices of The New York Times.
620 Eighth Avenue.
Manhattan, New York.
The United States of America.

It is on the eve of the end of our year 2016 that I write to you, America, you great unfinished symphony (for indeed, you are still and may ever remain both great and unfinished). While, as the founder of The New York Post, it pains me to publish in The Times, I am told by certain parties of note that my publication is no longer of certain unblemished repute. These selfsame parties have called upon me (through temporal and technical means I do not entirely understand) from a place of concern for the future of this country; as a man who was once also concerned for these same reasons, and as a man who helped, in his own part, to mold this nation into the power it has been and is even now, I feel I have several brief remarks to offer on the state of this country and its place moving forward.

In the first place, I understand from conversations had and brief readings conducted prior to the penning of this piece that the nation finds itself in a state of apparently severe tension, confusion, and even rebellion. Rest assured that of this country, this has always been true. The United States of America as I have known it has thrived on the active pursuit of discussion of converse opinions and conflict. For my part, I have always been and, even in the current climate, would remain a passionate and invigorated orator, author, and politician. Further, at the birth of this nation and beyond it, these discussions and the demonstrations, arguments, and even duels to which they lead were not without their proverbial pain and suffering. The investment of the people of this nation and their willingness to argue and struggle for their beliefs is telling, reassuring, and admirable.

In the second place, then, I must reiterate the power and value of oral and written discourse. Silence is and always has been the killer of progress. When America moved to force itself from its place under the thumb of Great Britain and King George III, it did not do so with obedience and subservience; it did so with written and spoken resilience, passion, and rebellion. Further, then, I can emphasize the additional value of further protest when absolutely needed. Americans have always been known for their determined willingness to seek life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that is as true now as it is in my time.

In the third and final place, however, it is critical that, as Americans, we remember the value and usefulness of (it nearly pains me to admit) compromise. While it will sting to concede certain points so dear to consciences and minds, we must remember that, as a nation, compromise will move us forward for the sake of the common and, now, it seems, universal goods.

When in doubt, America, remember that “a nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one.” Pursue justice without fear, without shame, and at all costs in the coming years.

Most sincerely,
Your obedient servant,
A. Ham.

Amelia Earhart Reporting In!

Y’know, I’ve always loved aviation, but I never thought I’d be able to fly into the future! People seem to think I’ve gone missing, but it seems as though I traversed through astral planes! 

Boy, does 2016/2017 look different than my time. Technology has vastly improved, and the planes! Aircrafts of all sorts can be seen flying simultaneously in the sky–amazing. Drones, helicopters, bigger and faster airplanes, even tiny versions with remote controls that children and adults can play (or practice!) with. It seems as though there has been plenty of progress, not only in terms of technology, but also in society’s advancements as well.

I’m remembered for being the first woman in male-dominated spaces–and now look at America. In the 1930s, women were reduced to housewife roles, but now we have women astronauts, CEOs, scientists, and women in fields that were designed by society to be against us. Now, women have a choice in what they want to do in life, from housewife to CEO, and everything in between and women of color are holding great positions of power, a power that was nearly nonexistent in my day. This is so important for young generations to see, that even though society was pitted against you for so long, you can rise above it and prove it wrong.

Though, with all this progress, I worry that we put our young girls in proverbial boxes, even in 2016/17. Objects, behaviors, and ideas are still constantly categorized by gender, such as colors, toys, dreams, and emotions. Why does society still do this, especially considering that gender fluidity is a conversation that has come to life in the present day — and that following gender binaries can be so limiting. If a young girl excels in mathematics, let her. It’ll only stunt her growth if you tell her that math is a “ man’s” discourse. And what makes it so, anyway? Not everything is so black and white – let things just be without categorizing or gendering them.

We must not fall back on the progress we have made–cherish the dreams and aspirations of young girls, of young women of color, and of anyone who identifies as female. All women are important, but have been told otherwise for so long. Society still needs to stop trying to stunt our growth. It’s a fruitless effort, anyhow, considering we will prove society wrong regardless.

Earhart over and out!

Ginsberg Returns

America I came back for a visit and I see that you have learned nothing

America you did what? Donald Trump in two thousand seventeen?
I can’t believe my own eyes.
America when will we stop profiting off of war?
Are you kidding me, still, with your atom bombs?
I came back to see – now I wish I didn’t.
America have you lost the mind you never had?
America when will you grow up?
You don’t even try to hide behind lies anymore?
When will you look at yourself through another lens?
You thought the Troskyites were your enemies now they rig your elections?
America is Standing Rock the next Trail of Tears?
I’m sick of your – Oh I don’t even care anymore.

America you are pushing us to the next world.
Your machinery is now your worker.
You made me want to leave this place and now I’m glad I did.
Stuff and more stuff is not the answer.
Burroughs was right to cloud himself from your truth.
How could it be that your practical joke gets bigger and bigger?
How is it possible that things got so much worse?
I’ve given up.
America I’m going back to sleep.
America the plum blossoms are gone.
The newspapers are the same just the names are different.
America do you really have a prime time show about the KKK?
America based on what I see now I am proud that I was a communist.
At least you are legalizing marijuana – finally.
I want to go back to sleep.
One thing is for sure, you will always make trouble.
I still read Marx in my grave.
I have been proven right.
I still won’t pray to your god.
You should listen to the mystics that you’ve jailed on reservations.
America you hated the communists and now you make oil deals with the KGB.

Donald Trump and Time Magazine?
I’m no longer obsessed with Time.
But I saw Trump on the cover and had to come see.
Donald Trump is a Businessmen but is not serious.  But this is serious.

This is gonna get ugly America

I’m going back to sleep.



All Apologies by, Kurt Cobain

The New York Times: Op-Ed. December 19, 2016

All Apologies

Kurt Cobain

Donald Trump is president? How long have I been asleep, and where the heck am I? As I look around here I’ve got to say, I like what I see. People are rallying in the streets and all over college campuses for LGBT and equal rights. Voices are being heard. Changes are being made. I’ve always said, “the duty of youth is to challenge corruption.” That’s what it’s all about man, so get busy; looks like you’ve got a lot of changes to make. I mean, Trump – really?!

The music industry stinks. What happened here?! Auto-tune. Gangster rap. Disney Channel groupies. It’s awful. What happened to writing songs and playing them in crummy bars? It’s all, like, tribute tunes and stolen melodies. Is no one writing original material anymore?! The local bands now are kinda cool, working their way to the top the way we used to. But these ‘big names’ with radio time, It’s all junk. Bowie’s dead, and a bunch of others. I’m not gonna talk about it. Talking about it just makes this whole thing even more weird. It’s all really weird man.

Courtney published my journal. Can you believe that?! All my thoughts, all the messed up things that go on up here, *gestures to his head* it’s all out there in print. Someone can go pick it up for like, 20 bucks, and read it, and think they’ve got me all figured out. I mean, I’ve said it before, “I don’t blame the average seventeen-year-old punk-rock kid for calling me a sellout. I understand that. And maybe when they grow up a little bit, they’ll realize there’s more things to life than living out your rock & roll identity so righteously.” I didn’t sell out. She did. If it were up to me, I never would have published that. But whatever, if people wanna buy it and read it and act like they know me, who am I to stop them. Like I said, “I’ve never been a very prolific person, so when creativity flows, it flows. I find myself scribbling on little notepads and pieces of loose paper, which results in a very small portion of my writings to ever show up in true form.” Maybe it wasn’t good writing. Maybe some of it was okay. Maybe it all sucked. At least I wrote my own stuff. A lot of it was for me, hence the journal. The songs were for me too, I guess. I wrote what I wanted to hear, what the guys wanted to play, and what we thought sounded cool. A lot of it’s still around it seems, which is cool.

There’re all these books and documentaries now, about my life and my relationships and things I’ve said. I never thought I was that interesting. I guess if I have to leave you with some ‘words of wisdom,’ then I’ll just say, “I’m a spokesman for myself. It just so happens that there’s a bunch of people that are concerned with what I have to say. I find that frightening at times because I’m just as confused as most people. I don’t have the answers for anything.” Courtney will probably take this now, and use it to write a sequel to my journal or something. Whatever. As long as I make it back to ‘the great beyond,’ it’s cool. 2016 is weird man, but keep doing what you’ve all been doing.



All Apologies – Nirvana, 1993

Quotes from – Kurt Cobain