Friday, November 16, 2012

The Only One

We are lonesome animals. We spend all our life trying to be less lonesome. And one of our ancient methods is to tell a story.

-- John Steinbeck

I’ve been a writer and storyteller since I first started keeping a diary in fourth grade, a full-fledged journal in seventh grade (both of which rest next to me on a heap of other writings here in my South Minneapolis basement), and since then it’s been an open spigot of poems, journalism, books, songs, and much midnight and early-morning scribbling that, apparently, is not about to leave me alone anytime soon.

I’ve had this condition for a while now. When I was 16, I gave a speech to a room full of parents, teachers, and fellow students at a speech contest (assigned topic: “I’m Only One”) sponsored by the Optimists Club of Minneapolis. I ended up winning the thing, which somehow validated something inside that had been brewing for a while.

“I’m alone most of the time,” I told the room, my head down at the podium and reading from a paper that had been typed by my mom, which she did for all six of her kids’ homework assignments – some in French. “I like being alone. Because I think so much, I have to be alone. Aloneness is a clean experience. It’s the feeling you get when you lie by a river fishing, and sleeping. Complete solitude. Not caring what people do to you or think about you. I love that moment more than any other moment my mind knows.

“I think a lot. I think about love, life, the unknown, myself, people, planets, and anything else my mind dishes up. When I think of love, I sometimes think that I love too easily. But then I counter with the thought that there is no way in this confusing world that there can be too much love.”

Nutty kid. Nutty adult. Not much has changed. These days I’m a 53-year-old modern family man with as much in common with "It's A Wonderful Life" as "Weeds" living as I do in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the epicenter of the free-thought universe and an area of the world so rich in music, art, and ubercreativity it positively vibrates. It ‘s a thrilling, exhausting, inspiring and historic time and place, and I’m happy to be a part of it all.

I’m also happy to be here with you. I realize I’m late to the game with this blog thing, but for a long time now I’ve been frustrated with the middleman wall that exists between you and me. I desperately need a place to go deeper, a way to exhale as often or as little as I need to, a canvas on which to exercise what Robert Frost said about the act of writing (“a momentary stay against confusion”), and an intimate safe place where I can put down thoughts, feelings, experiences, dreams, warts, all.

Welcome, then, to “My Little Corner Of The World” –
named after the sweet Yo La Tengo escape fantasy, although it could just as well be “Action Hero,” after the sweet Fountains Of Wayne escape fantasy. Thanks for reading.

Sometime after sunset
He is on his hands and knees
He is searching for his keys
At a small Vietnamese place
On East 11th Street

His daughters both at once say
Can we just get going please?
As his wife begins to sneeze
And his son is throwing peas
And eating with his feet

He's an action hero
And he should be fighting crime
Leaping between the buildings
And racing against time
He's an action hero
He's an action hero
In his mind

He drops by Mount Sinai
Where they're running through some tests
And they've taped things to his chest
And they're all doing their best
To make him feel at ease

The doctor says it's really just
An educated guess
I suggest you get some rest
Try to cut back on the stress
Cause I don't like what I see

But the action hero
Swears he feels just fine
He's got to finish saving
The world for all mankind
He's an action hero
He's an action hero
And he's racing against time

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