Failing at one's first attempt to Save the World (or a Small Portion
Thereof) is definitely cause for alarm. I wanted to lie down and die,
first time I was sure nothing more could be done -- and was pretty sure
it was All My Fault.
Once, when it was all falling apart, I called my friend V. -- a
nuyorican dyke from the bronx -- long-distance. "There is no place, V.:
everything's fucking corrupt," I whined. "I just wanna lay down and die.
Ain't no amount of joy ever gonna equal the pain I feel right now."
V. went stone serious. "You listen to me," she started. "The time for
heroes is over, mami. Ain't about no fucking revolutions no more. You
always think you're gonna walk into a room with your intellect on fire
and taunt people like a little kid sing-songing on a playground: 'I've
got a bo-omb.' When you gonna learn? Heroes don't make changes; they
just end up bleached- out faces on t-shirts. You know who gets things
done, mija? It's the dull, ugly people with the bad teeth and bad breath
who sit in the back rooms of office buildings quietly their whole damned
lives, just digging a little at a time, not making a fucking bit of
She stopped, because I was crying. Her voice softened then. "People will
always shame you when you do the most honorable thing, mi amor. Don't
internalize their shame. Do not take the stick from their hands and beat
yourself with it. You go. Just go. Get yourself and your family to safe
ground. Then, from some sneaky little place far away, maybe just in your
own heart, you just take their damned stick. Don't even beat them with
it. Just take it and see how they act without it."
V. paused, and I could hear her pulling on a cigarette. The smoke
exhaled with her last words. "As noble, as intact and as whole as you
have ever been, you walk out of there, you hear me? You drive yourself.
Don't you leave feeling like anybody drove you out of there. You get to
safe ground, and you call them on it. As noble, you hear me?"
So I wrote about that.
And things were better, for a while.
Then more bad things happened.
And I tried to lie down and die.
Then I wrote about that.
And things went still and quiet for a very long time.
I didn't write. I painted some, though.
And something shifted in me. I heard, "tell the story, tell the story"
over and over inside.
Which is maybe what I'll do next.
But I know I'm not a *total* fuck-up, cuz some things are good. And some
things are not, but whatever. I'm not the Queen of the Universe anymore
-- I'm just somebody, just me. And, most days, that's hard enough.
So be nuts, if you wanna. Be obsessed. Write. Paint. Sing.
Thing is, yeah: you're ef.
And you have choices. Which is a good thing, not to be dismissed.
> i am starting to feel like a total fuckup. oh, i know it ain't so,
> perhaps in some eyes, but me, i think, here comes the hole.
> things-to-dust, what's-the-use, etc.
> i have to let go of the romania thing cause i can't continue. i
> can't, i have run out of resources, you know, every kind, i think. i
> strongly suspect that my friends are starting to think me nuts.
> obsessed, ya.
> which is probably the truth.
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