I found the list of topics for today’s assignment daunting. Nothing was really resonating with me, and then I opened Facebook this morning and found an update from an old friend.
“I’ve been mulling over my thoughts in silence the last couple of hours, trying to nail down my feelings. Shame? Embarrassment? Humiliation? Then it hit me: anger. Pure anger. No one who works a full time job should have to go to the food bank to feed their family. What is wrong with this country?”
This week my friend had to decide between laundry soap or fruit. She owns no car, has no cable TV, has good credit, rents her house and is struggling to raise her high school aged son. She works full time at a university bookstore, doesn’t drink or smoke, doesn’t use drugs… and yet she struggles to survive.
In the U.S. we are at the start of what will no doubt be a very long election cycle. Later today I plan on sending a portion of my friend’s post in identical letters to our candidates, asking how exactly they can help. My friend is not alone, she’s one of the millions of working poor in this country, where basic needs aren’t being met, where their lives and future is uncertain. And I want to know what our presidential candidates are going to do about it.
Today’s Writing 101 topic was to make a list. I love lists! I wasn’t entirely convinced I’d be able to finish this one in time to post it, but I’m going to give it a try.
I spent my twenties (and then some) working at Tower Records, a job I loved which gave me a lifetime of memories and adventures. Tower had a free magazine each month, Pulse and in each issue there was a section called “Desert Island Discs” which featured an artist or industry icon’s list of 10 albums they would want with them on a desert island. I’ve made this list dozens of times during my Tower years and many times since. Here is my most recent list (in no particular order):
The Beatles – Abby Road
The Smiths – Hatful of Hollow
Peter Gabriel – Passsion
James Taylor – Greatest Hits
Radiohead – OK Computer
R.E.M. – Reckoning
Bob Marley – Legend
The Police – Reggata De Blanc
Rufus Wainwright – Rufus Wainwright
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Michael Brook – Night Song
** edited and updated with youtube links to listen to the albums (hopefully) **
It started with Pink Floyd. I would find myself explaining that I’m somehow missing the genetic marker to enjoy them the way others do. That it’s not for lack of trying, or failure to appreciate their musicianship, but simply a genetic defect. I have found over the years a few other things that many of my friends or lovers simply adored that I just didn’t ‘get’ the way I should. I present to you my list of genetic defects, those missing bits of DNA that I should otherwise possess but sadly do not so I am unable to appreciate the following as I wish I could.
1) Pink Floyd. I’ve tried for decades, I can like a few songs and appreciate them in the abstract, but there will never be a time when it will occur to me to listen to them on my own.
Why do you write?
I started writing as a child because I didn’t like the stories being told. One of my first ‘long stories’ (as I called them) was the origin story of the characters on a TV cartoon I loved. The TV show never addressed how the unlikely group got together or where they originated, perhaps it was something the writers were going to address later but never did, but I felt compelled to write their story.
The next long story I wrote was a crazy dystopian future story that was heavily influenced by the cold war and the threat of World War III (it even had Nazis). I wasn’t trying to create a better reality, I think I was more trying to prepare myself for the worst case scenario.
I write now because I have something to say. I write this blog as a warm-up, the daily stretch on my novel writing marathon training. To stay in the habit, to ensure I’m moving forward and staying in practice.
There are so many stories to be told, so many ideas yet to see born on page (or on screen).
I write because I feel compelled to write.
I will admit to being really really into ABBA as a kid. I remember seeing them on American Bandstand and being so excited. My uncle and I would dance around the dining room listening to them.
more after the break