until you see my face, ten years don't seem like such a long time
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"When I remember that dizzy summer, that dull, stupid, lovely, dire summer, it seems that in those days I ate my lunches, smelled another’s skin, noticed a shade of yellow, even simply sat, with greater lust and hopefulness—and that I lusted with greater faith, hoped with greater abandon. The people I loved were celebrities, surrounded by rumor and fanfare; the places I sat with them, movie lots and monuments. No doubt all of this is not true remembrance but the ruinous work of nostalgia, which obliterates the past, and no doubt, as usual, I have exaggerated everything."

Michael Chabon, final paragraph of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

I just finished rereading this novel, and the final paragraph hit me particularly hard, because the first (and, until now, the only) time I read the novel was in 2004…and I am now writing a novel based on some of the events of 2004, and yes, this is how I feel about that summer of my own life, that whole year of my own life.

(via rustbeltjessie)


"

The Sick Room:

A tiny, poorly insulated room with brown walls and an off-white, water-warped ceiling. A small closet, mostly full of Maggie’s stuff. Across from that, a window that looked out onto our apartment’s screened-in back porch. Our bunk beds against one wall; across from them, my dresser (with stereo on top). A few crates of our odds n’ ends - zines and books, records and cassette tapes. A few typewriters and ancient laptop computers, all in various states of working vs. broken.

Maggie nailed keys around the doorframe, so many that hardly an inch of paint showed through. “Why keys?” I asked. “Cos they look cool, and also I heard that if you nail keys around a door, evil spirits can’t cross the threshold.” Dolores donated black light paint to our cause; we sponged stars onto the walls, and I painted the cracks in the ceiling to make it appear as though they were bleeding. We designed the official Sick Room logo, and Maggie - the artist of the two of us - painted it on one wall: a skull with two burning cigarettes behind it, in place of crossbones. Other things adorning the walls included: dead, dried roses slowly disintegrating into powder, plastic skeletons, headless Barbie dolls, the iconography of various saints, photographs of punk rock icons, old time carnival folk, and pin-up girls, naked pictures of both myself and Maggie, and even a photo of the two of us making out. (It was a good way to weed out the squares, we figured: if our potential friends and lovers couldn’t handle seeing naked pictures of us, or knowing that we made out sometimes, they weren’t worth a second glance.) Later, we added Sharpie’d messages to the walls. I started it - drunk one night and listening to the Murder City Devils, I grabbed a black marker and scrawled the lyrics on the wall beside my bed (the top bunk): “Drinking when I should be sleeping, sleeping when I should be waking up. Never hung over. Either wide awake or WAY TOO DRUNK.” After that, we asked visiting friends to pick up a Sharpie and add whatever words they wanted, and so, after a while, the walls also said: “Oh, look at me, I’m as hip as I can be.” “Live fast die first.” “Fuck art, buy tacos.”

And how could I forget our altar? Below our skull’n’cross-cigs, we hung photographs of our personal gods: Iggy Pop (mine), and Bruce Campbell (Maggie’s), and then built an altar to them. The altar consisted of candles, a Freddy Krueger action figure, a small lawn gnome, and an empty bottle of Jameson with a Celtic cross hanging from it.

The Sick Room collected other, less purposeful decorations, as well - coffee and ink stains on the wooden floor, sangria splotches and cigarette burns on my sheets. A trashcan overflowing with empty beer cans, cigarette butts, and used condoms, gloves, and dental dams. I mean, it was The Sick Room, after all.

"

Rust Belt Jessie, excerpt from Chapter One of Real Dreams That Never Go Smash.
"

I had a dream that he’d taken the lighter I’d left in the motel room, kept a hold of it all these months, even though it’s long since run out of fluid. When I last spoke to him, I asked him about it, and he said: “Oh my god, how did you know?” It was a small blue lighter, and I’m glad he has it; lighters come and go, I was not attached to it.

Since we cannot be together, we hold on to scraps. Handwritten notes, photographs, empty lighters, and voicemail messages. I wish I had stolen his shoes.

"

―Rust Belt Jessie, “Remnants” [from Sad and Beautiful World #6, late 2004/early 2005.]
"Shopping list: one can of tuna. One loaf of whatever bread is on sale. One small container of milk. Three packs of Camel filters. One two liter bottle of Coca-Cola. 750 milliliters of Jack Daniels. A box of lubricated, ribbed, extra-sensitive condoms. A box of burgundy hair dye. Two boxes of pepperoni Hot Pockets. A six pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon, just in case. Some kind of sugary cereal. Coffee. And tea. Maybe a bouquet of flowers for the kitchen table, if I can afford it. A pack of gum. And some vitamins - wouldn’t want to be unhealthy, you know."
―Rust Belt Jessie, “Shopping List” [from Sad and Beautiful World #6, late 2004/early 2005.]
[originally appeared, in slightly different form, in Sad and Beautiful World #14, May/June 2009; it’s about 2004, these events will be retold in the novel, with some of these words woven in, consider this a sort-of preview of the novel.]
Past the taqueiras and Santeria shops of Pilsen, past the blue line L tracks, Maggie and I wandered the trainyard. We waved at latenight commuters on the Metra train, climbed around on empty boxcars. The wind whistled through gaping hole-eyes of abandoned warehouses. We sat down amid spindly weeds taller than our heads, and broken glass like stars brought down with slingshots to the earth. Maggie had smuggled a bottle of rum in the folds of her black trenchcoat, she unscrewed the cap and passed the bottle to me. I splashed a sip of gold and saffron fire down my throat, let it trickle down to my stomach which ached with loss, throbbed from the empty place beneath it where the son that never was had once been gestating, before – before I told Carmine that I was pregnant and he said Oh, what’re you gonna do about it? Before I took care of it, had the fetus vacuumed out at the cheap city clinic; before I told Carmine that I’d taken care of it and he pulled the What right did you have, my child too card. Before I got an e-mail from an anonymous mutual friend informing me that Carmine had been fooling around with God knows how many girls for the entirety of our relationship, telling me that he was a lying sleaze, a bastard who happened to be utterly charming. I picked up a handful of gravel, flung dusty pebbles one by one, to hear the sharp ping!s as they clattered ‘gainst the metal of lifeless boxcars. I threw one for every lie Carmine ever told me, one for every charming, extravagant word I believed was true.
Maggie took a swig from the bottle, handed it to me again, she sat silently trying to block out thoughts of her very own lovely-boy-liar, prince of her heart, demon of her dreamterrors. I wasn’t the only broken girl in that trainyard. I turned my eyes toward the sky, which was thick with ghosts & airplanes. I could see the cloud factory in the distance. It sent out billows of graywhite that floated up, up, then out across the lake, toward other cities, other states. I wished on the airplanes, on the ghosts, that one of those clouds would find its way to Carmine, that it would travel crosscountry, gathering water along the way, and when it found him, it would burst open, it would pour & weep, it would follow him and remind him in my stead. I was done crying. So I laughed, a short, ragged exhalation of air, and said – Serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard.

[originally appeared, in slightly different form, in Sad and Beautiful World #14, May/June 2009; it’s about 2004, these events will be retold in the novel, with some of these words woven in, consider this a sort-of preview of the novel.]

Past the taqueiras and Santeria shops of Pilsen, past the blue line L tracks, Maggie and I wandered the trainyard. We waved at latenight commuters on the Metra train, climbed around on empty boxcars. The wind whistled through gaping hole-eyes of abandoned warehouses. We sat down amid spindly weeds taller than our heads, and broken glass like stars brought down with slingshots to the earth. Maggie had smuggled a bottle of rum in the folds of her black trenchcoat, she unscrewed the cap and passed the bottle to me. I splashed a sip of gold and saffron fire down my throat, let it trickle down to my stomach which ached with loss, throbbed from the empty place beneath it where the son that never was had once been gestating, before – before I told Carmine that I was pregnant and he said Oh, what’re you gonna do about it? Before I took care of it, had the fetus vacuumed out at the cheap city clinic; before I told Carmine that I’d taken care of it and he pulled the What right did you have, my child too card. Before I got an e-mail from an anonymous mutual friend informing me that Carmine had been fooling around with God knows how many girls for the entirety of our relationship, telling me that he was a lying sleaze, a bastard who happened to be utterly charming. I picked up a handful of gravel, flung dusty pebbles one by one, to hear the sharp ping!s as they clattered ‘gainst the metal of lifeless boxcars. I threw one for every lie Carmine ever told me, one for every charming, extravagant word I believed was true.

Maggie took a swig from the bottle, handed it to me again, she sat silently trying to block out thoughts of her very own lovely-boy-liar, prince of her heart, demon of her dreamterrors. I wasn’t the only broken girl in that trainyard. I turned my eyes toward the sky, which was thick with ghosts & airplanes. I could see the cloud factory in the distance. It sent out billows of graywhite that floated up, up, then out across the lake, toward other cities, other states. I wished on the airplanes, on the ghosts, that one of those clouds would find its way to Carmine, that it would travel crosscountry, gathering water along the way, and when it found him, it would burst open, it would pour & weep, it would follow him and remind him in my stead. I was done crying. So I laughed, a short, ragged exhalation of air, and said – Serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard.

[originally appeared, in slightly different form, in Sad and Beautiful World #14, May/June 2009; it’s about 2004, these events will be retold in the novel, with some of these words woven in, consider this a sort-of preview of the novel.]
In the year of Heartattack 2004, Maggie and I shared a cramped room in an apartment just off Belmont Avenue. We developed a pastime during our months there, one we turned to when we didn’t have enough money for a cup of coffee or a ride on the L, or when we did not feel like going anywhere. It involved climbing up to the roof of the apartment building. See, our second-floor apartment had a screened-in backporch. There was a hatch in the porch ceiling, and if a ladder was set up beneath it, we could climb up, push the heavy wood lid aside, and emerge onto the roof. We could see all the way to downtown, the outlines of buildings materializing from the smog; we could look down toward the sidewalk and survey the neighborhood. We were up on the roof day and night, in all kinds of weather. Nighttime posed no problem; we had flashlights and the glow of streetlamps. Cold weather didn’t faze us; we wrapped ourselves in sweaters and blankets. Even grayslick April rainshowers couldn’t keep us off that roof.
Some days, we blasted ancient ska mix tapes on my crappy handheld tape player – it only had one speaker, so everything was in mono, and it emitted a high-pitched hum, but we drank pineapple Jarritos until we had a sugarbuzz, and then we skanked around the rooftop, very nearly falling over the edge a few times. When our neighbor, Miguel, got home from his job as a video game tester, he shouted up to us: What’re you two doin’ up there? Miguel was a beautiful Mexican punkrock boy with slicked-back black hair and eyes as shiny and dark as oil puddles. He always wore a leather jacket, even on the hottest days. He had a dazzling wit and a constant supply of really good weed. So we shouted back: What’re you doin’ down there? And that was his cue to come up and join the party. The three of us got high and sat in a circle, passed the pipe, told jokes and stories.
For our nights on the roof, we always had several bottles of booze with us. Whiskey, wine, and beer. Jameson and Guinness, if we had extra cash. Maybe Wild Turkey, on the nights when Maggie longed for her southern Io-way home. Or Jack Daniels, if one of our friends stopped by and brought us a drinkable offering. When we were broke, we drank the cheap stuff – rotgut whiskey, forty-ounces of Icehouse or Milwaukee’s Beast, Boone’s Farm or Mad Dog 20/20. We drank and drank and talked; told tales of our teenage years, our scalawag friends, or whatever boy or girl we were dating/fucking/obsessed with at the moment. We talked until our voices – cracked and hoarse from cigarettes and alcohol – gave out. We drank until all the bottles were drained, and then we threw them into the street, all our frustrations and little, foolish loves melting away with the sound of the shattering glass. On many nights, we stayed up there until the stars (the few that you can actually see through the light pollution of a Chicago night) and moon faded from view, and the sky tinted heliotrope with the earliest touches of morning. Often, on those nights, we slept on the rooftop, not minding if we got coalblack streaks of tar on our arms and cheeks. We curled up under dewdamp blankets and sleeping bags, and turned our faces to the dawn sky.
On a drunken rooftop night in May, Maggie told me about a group of musicians and circus folk, a group of true American firespirits, dreamers, tricksters, children of Coyote. She’d met them once, the summer before, and they had enraptured her completely with their songs and stories and magician’s tricks. She told me they were going on tour come June. The two of us had already decided to leave that apartment and go on the bum for a month or so, and all we needed was something to decide our course in lieu of a map, and the thought of meeting up with those rambling miscreants seemed as good a reason as any. That night, half-asleep and half-drunk on the roof with the city-stars high above me and the moon winking down, I dreamt of a midwest and east coast odyssey, of drunken adventures, and of a mandolin-playing punk named Carmine.
It all turned out to be a bad idea, but then, going on the road is always a bad idea.
***
Me and Maggie’s rust belt duo and Carmine’s ragtag group from the City That Never Sleeps converged in Pittsburgh. There was dancing in a dingy room and drinking in dark alleyways, there were thinly-veiled threats to burn down City Hall and attempts to steal everything. Then Maggie and I got into my beat-up red Sin Wagon and followed their van to the outskirts of town, to a seedy strip motel situated near the Allegheny River, the train tracks, and a rock’n’glow bowling alley. The night was all flirting, all my dress creeping up ever further above my thighs; the night was passed pipes and shared beer, 2 a.m. games of bowling, laughing at nothing, his gang telling me & Maggie to follow ’em to Philly and then on to New York; the night was all of us chasing the train that’d been chasing all of us throughout our summer travels. There was so much more to that night, I could write a whole book about that night, it was the culmination of everything - me n’ Maggie found these people who knew us so instantly though they’d only just met us, we’d found our family, our tribe.
Sometime near dawn, the booze & drugs all gone, we all decided it was time to sleep - they were off to The City of Brotherly Love the next day, me and Maggie were set to return to the City of Big Shoulders. Maggie and I shared a bed, Carmine shared a bed with a couple other people, and L. slept on the floor. (I prefer the floor, dudes, he said, when we protested, it’s better for my back.) I could not sleep, but I faked it. A bit later, I felt the burn of someone’s eyes on me, and opened my own. Carmine was kneeling next to the bed, I could only see the hint of a sly smile, and he said - I can’t sleep. -Neither can I. So, as stealthy as we could be considering our inebriation, I slid out from under the damp bedspread, and the two of us stepped over L. and locked ourselves in the bathroom. What I’ve never told anyone is that we spent a long time talking, maybe hours, in the yellow light of that motel bathroom. He had a flask in his pocket, full of vodka, we took turns sipping from it and we talked - about jazz and punk, about scars, about the tumultuous affairs we were in or had just gotten out of. (I wasn’t as naive as I’ve made it seem. I was 22, he was…older, but I knew he had a girlfriend, okay, I knew. He said – It’s over. As soon as I get home, it’s over. I need a girl more like…you. It wasn’t a lie, he meant it at the time. And I didn’t care one way or the other.) And then we were kissing, and I bit at his lips ‘til they bled, and his five a.m. shadow scratched my face raw, and our clothes fell off, and he laid a sour-smelling terrycloth towel across the bottom of the mildewed tub, and we fucked. Again, again, again. It was sleazy and beautiful, dirty, and sweet. His hand at my throat, bruises forming on my knees, whispered wishes in my ears. Trying so hard to be quiet. He never suggested we use a condom, but then, neither did I. When we were too exhausted to go on, we held each other on the cold tile for a long while. More talking, a shared cigarette (ha! and he was s’posed to be a non-smoker), we made vague promises - If you visit me in Chicago, I said, I’ll show you my punk rock bar, my favorite trainyard, I’ll let you brand me with that damn key you wear ’round yer neck. -If you visit me in NYC, we’ll go on a date to Coney Island, we’ll do too many drugs and sleep on a rooftop, we’ll write songs together.
We talked of our dreams, both the “this is what I want to do with my life” sort and the chimerical-visions sort. He did not think I was crazy when I told him that I already knew him from my dreams: I’ve been having dreams. About you. A month or so ago, Maggie told me all about you cats. Specifically about you; she said that she knew we’d hit it off. She showed me a picture, and then after that, I visited you nearly every night. -Shit, man. I started having the dreams a couple months ago. I couldn’t figure it out, or forget about them. Here I was, having these intense, vivid dreams about a girl I’d never met – a girl I didn’t even know for sure was real. When I saw you tonight, I almost fell over from the shock of recognition. It was her, it was you – the girl I’ve been dreaming about.

We exchanged e-mail addresses, and I thought: Who knows if we’ll ever write to each other? He’s kind of a rockstar, and I just act like one. I wish I could sleep next to you, we both said, but when we left the bathroom and climbed over L. once again, I got back into bed with Maggie, and he with the others. I slept for all of an hour before Maggie jolted awake, her green eyes blinking wildly - I had weird dreams. What did you do last night? -What did you do last night?, I snapped. Let’s get outta here, we both said, knowing that if we stayed just a little longer we would follow those rambling miscreants East and never be going back home. We left without saying goodbye, the only traces of our presence that remained in that unholy motel room were a small blue lighter, a couple copies of our respective fanzines, and a note we wrote that said, simply - Thanks for everything. See ya down the road. We got in my car, and I told her nothing of what had transpired after she passed out, I was reeling, delirious, and I wanted to tell her, I tell her almost everything, but I almost didn’t believe it myself.

[originally appeared, in slightly different form, in Sad and Beautiful World #14, May/June 2009; it’s about 2004, these events will be retold in the novel, with some of these words woven in, consider this a sort-of preview of the novel.]

In the year of Heartattack 2004, Maggie and I shared a cramped room in an apartment just off Belmont Avenue. We developed a pastime during our months there, one we turned to when we didn’t have enough money for a cup of coffee or a ride on the L, or when we did not feel like going anywhere. It involved climbing up to the roof of the apartment building. See, our second-floor apartment had a screened-in backporch. There was a hatch in the porch ceiling, and if a ladder was set up beneath it, we could climb up, push the heavy wood lid aside, and emerge onto the roof. We could see all the way to downtown, the outlines of buildings materializing from the smog; we could look down toward the sidewalk and survey the neighborhood. We were up on the roof day and night, in all kinds of weather. Nighttime posed no problem; we had flashlights and the glow of streetlamps. Cold weather didn’t faze us; we wrapped ourselves in sweaters and blankets. Even grayslick April rainshowers couldn’t keep us off that roof.

Some days, we blasted ancient ska mix tapes on my crappy handheld tape player – it only had one speaker, so everything was in mono, and it emitted a high-pitched hum, but we drank pineapple Jarritos until we had a sugarbuzz, and then we skanked around the rooftop, very nearly falling over the edge a few times. When our neighbor, Miguel, got home from his job as a video game tester, he shouted up to us: What’re you two doin’ up there? Miguel was a beautiful Mexican punkrock boy with slicked-back black hair and eyes as shiny and dark as oil puddles. He always wore a leather jacket, even on the hottest days. He had a dazzling wit and a constant supply of really good weed. So we shouted back: What’re you doin’ down there? And that was his cue to come up and join the party. The three of us got high and sat in a circle, passed the pipe, told jokes and stories.

For our nights on the roof, we always had several bottles of booze with us. Whiskey, wine, and beer. Jameson and Guinness, if we had extra cash. Maybe Wild Turkey, on the nights when Maggie longed for her southern Io-way home. Or Jack Daniels, if one of our friends stopped by and brought us a drinkable offering. When we were broke, we drank the cheap stuff – rotgut whiskey, forty-ounces of Icehouse or Milwaukee’s Beast, Boone’s Farm or Mad Dog 20/20. We drank and drank and talked; told tales of our teenage years, our scalawag friends, or whatever boy or girl we were dating/fucking/obsessed with at the moment. We talked until our voices – cracked and hoarse from cigarettes and alcohol – gave out. We drank until all the bottles were drained, and then we threw them into the street, all our frustrations and little, foolish loves melting away with the sound of the shattering glass. On many nights, we stayed up there until the stars (the few that you can actually see through the light pollution of a Chicago night) and moon faded from view, and the sky tinted heliotrope with the earliest touches of morning. Often, on those nights, we slept on the rooftop, not minding if we got coalblack streaks of tar on our arms and cheeks. We curled up under dewdamp blankets and sleeping bags, and turned our faces to the dawn sky.

On a drunken rooftop night in May, Maggie told me about a group of musicians and circus folk, a group of true American firespirits, dreamers, tricksters, children of Coyote. She’d met them once, the summer before, and they had enraptured her completely with their songs and stories and magician’s tricks. She told me they were going on tour come June. The two of us had already decided to leave that apartment and go on the bum for a month or so, and all we needed was something to decide our course in lieu of a map, and the thought of meeting up with those rambling miscreants seemed as good a reason as any. That night, half-asleep and half-drunk on the roof with the city-stars high above me and the moon winking down, I dreamt of a midwest and east coast odyssey, of drunken adventures, and of a mandolin-playing punk named Carmine.

It all turned out to be a bad idea, but then, going on the road is always a bad idea.

***

Me and Maggie’s rust belt duo and Carmine’s ragtag group from the City That Never Sleeps converged in Pittsburgh. There was dancing in a dingy room and drinking in dark alleyways, there were thinly-veiled threats to burn down City Hall and attempts to steal everything. Then Maggie and I got into my beat-up red Sin Wagon and followed their van to the outskirts of town, to a seedy strip motel situated near the Allegheny River, the train tracks, and a rock’n’glow bowling alley. The night was all flirting, all my dress creeping up ever further above my thighs; the night was passed pipes and shared beer, 2 a.m. games of bowling, laughing at nothing, his gang telling me & Maggie to follow ’em to Philly and then on to New York; the night was all of us chasing the train that’d been chasing all of us throughout our summer travels. There was so much more to that night, I could write a whole book about that night, it was the culmination of everything - me n’ Maggie found these people who knew us so instantly though they’d only just met us, we’d found our family, our tribe.

Sometime near dawn, the booze & drugs all gone, we all decided it was time to sleep - they were off to The City of Brotherly Love the next day, me and Maggie were set to return to the City of Big Shoulders. Maggie and I shared a bed, Carmine shared a bed with a couple other people, and L. slept on the floor. (I prefer the floor, dudes, he said, when we protested, it’s better for my back.) I could not sleep, but I faked it. A bit later, I felt the burn of someone’s eyes on me, and opened my own. Carmine was kneeling next to the bed, I could only see the hint of a sly smile, and he said - I can’t sleep. -Neither can I. So, as stealthy as we could be considering our inebriation, I slid out from under the damp bedspread, and the two of us stepped over L. and locked ourselves in the bathroom. What I’ve never told anyone is that we spent a long time talking, maybe hours, in the yellow light of that motel bathroom. He had a flask in his pocket, full of vodka, we took turns sipping from it and we talked - about jazz and punk, about scars, about the tumultuous affairs we were in or had just gotten out of. (I wasn’t as naive as I’ve made it seem. I was 22, he was…older, but I knew he had a girlfriend, okay, I knew. He said – It’s over. As soon as I get home, it’s over. I need a girl more like…you. It wasn’t a lie, he meant it at the time. And I didn’t care one way or the other.) And then we were kissing, and I bit at his lips ‘til they bled, and his five a.m. shadow scratched my face raw, and our clothes fell off, and he laid a sour-smelling terrycloth towel across the bottom of the mildewed tub, and we fucked. Again, again, again. It was sleazy and beautiful, dirty, and sweet. His hand at my throat, bruises forming on my knees, whispered wishes in my ears. Trying so hard to be quiet. He never suggested we use a condom, but then, neither did I. When we were too exhausted to go on, we held each other on the cold tile for a long while. More talking, a shared cigarette (ha! and he was s’posed to be a non-smoker), we made vague promises - If you visit me in Chicago, I said, I’ll show you my punk rock bar, my favorite trainyard, I’ll let you brand me with that damn key you wear ’round yer neck. -If you visit me in NYC, we’ll go on a date to Coney Island, we’ll do too many drugs and sleep on a rooftop, we’ll write songs together.

We talked of our dreams, both the “this is what I want to do with my life” sort and the chimerical-visions sort. He did not think I was crazy when I told him that I already knew him from my dreams: I’ve been having dreams. About you. A month or so ago, Maggie told me all about you cats. Specifically about you; she said that she knew we’d hit it off. She showed me a picture, and then after that, I visited you nearly every night. -Shit, man. I started having the dreams a couple months ago. I couldn’t figure it out, or forget about them. Here I was, having these intense, vivid dreams about a girl I’d never met – a girl I didn’t even know for sure was real. When I saw you tonight, I almost fell over from the shock of recognition. It was her, it was you – the girl I’ve been dreaming about.

We exchanged e-mail addresses, and I thought: Who knows if we’ll ever write to each other? He’s kind of a rockstar, and I just act like one. wish I could sleep next to you, we both said, but when we left the bathroom and climbed over L. once again, I got back into bed with Maggie, and he with the others. I slept for all of an hour before Maggie jolted awake, her green eyes blinking wildly - I had weird dreams. What did you do last night? -What did you do last night?, I snapped. Let’s get outta here, we both said, knowing that if we stayed just a little longer we would follow those rambling miscreants East and never be going back home. We left without saying goodbye, the only traces of our presence that remained in that unholy motel room were a small blue lighter, a couple copies of our respective fanzines, and a note we wrote that said, simply - Thanks for everything. See ya down the road. We got in my car, and I told her nothing of what had transpired after she passed out, I was reeling, delirious, and I wanted to tell her, I tell her almost everything, but I almost didn’t believe it myself.

The View by Modest Mouse 3,061 plays

yourlittleampersand:

Modest Mouse- “The View”

If life’s not beautiful without the pain, 
Well I’d just rather never ever even see beauty again. 
Well as life gets longer, awful feels softer. 
And it feels pretty soft to me. 

from Sad and Beautiful World #1, May 2004.

from Sad and Beautiful World #1, May 2004.

[from Sad and Beautiful World #1, May 2004.]

There’s nothing sadder in the world than a diner being torn down. Okay, so that’s an exaggeration. There are sadder things, but a diner being torn down is pretty damn depressing.

It made me feel old, seeing Marina Gardens all half-wrecked. Someday, I’ll walk past that lot, which will be housing a chain restaurant of some sort, and I’ll say: I used to spend so much of my time there. First, before I was twenty-one, sitting with friends, talking for hours in the fishbowl of the smoking section. Then, in later years, I’d go there to get coffee and fries after bar close, try to sober up a little before driving home.

They still had some of the lamps on inside, dimly lighting the fry-cook area and the counter, the swiveling stools. Where will all the men go now, after they get off work, third shift at the factory? Where will they go to drink their coffee and smoke their cigarettes?

***

Oh, but then I found out that they aren’t even tearing it down, they’re just remodeling it. Trying to make it modern, with better ventilation and booths with vinyl that’s not cracked and dirty. I don’t know why they’re even bothering to clean it up. It’s still going to be the usual cast list of scumbags that hang out there…

"Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a Jim Jarmusch film, all those down-and-out characters following me around. Especially late at night, Krystle and I take a walk to the 24-hour grocery store in the empty afterhours stripmall. We’re going to get smokes and a bottle of whiskey at two a.m., after everything else is closed. The yellowy streetlights make the smoky air look shadowy; black, white, and gray. We puff on cigs and converse in hushed tones about philosophy and plans for spray-painting under the bridge. Plastic bags and dead leaves swirl through the empty parking lot, a lone car circles around. A quiet tune is rattling around in my head. It is a sad and beautiful world."
―Rust Belt Jessie [from a longer piece in Sad and Beautiful World #1, May 2004.]