Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Plea to Damien Rice

Today, I want to step into the shoes of a tortured mythical hero.  I want to do so because I have no other way to express to Damien Rice how his music has taught me empathy, and how if he stops making it, I don’t know what I’ll do.  So this is my plea:

Five minutes and fourteen seconds.  That’s it.  That’s how long it took.  In five minutes and fourteen seconds you managed to completely, utterly, irreversibly fill my sorrow.  Not a little bit, not mostly.  Completely.  It has been filled to the brim, almost overflowing, hovering at the meniscus of the words you borrowed from the only place you’ve known.  This is how completely you have filled my sorrow.

So my question is, why would you do that?  Why would you do that to me?  That’s a huge commitment, man.  Do you know what that does to a person?  Do you realize that now it can never be filled with anything else?  Seriously, why would you do that? Why would you ever sing Hallelujah if it meant nothing to you?

I don’t mean to be harsh.  You have to understand, it comes from a place of deep, profound respect, a place of pure and unadulterated love, a place of remembering being in a post-five-minute-and-fourteen-second state of extreme Delicacy.  There is no going back, you have to understand that.  I cannot forget what it felt like to sit there and wish that I’d never heard it, so that I could hear it again for the first time, and then forget it all over, and so on, and so on, as if I was the victim of some ancient Greek punishment, as if I was Prometheus, my liver being eaten alive every day by a giant, hungry Eagle, only to have it grow back every night.

I want to be the Prometheus to the Eagle of your songs.

Punish me with your words, destroy me with your voice, torture me like the Greeks, only don’t stop.  Don’t you dare stop.  Don’t let me off the hook, don’t let me get away with it, do not forgive me for what I’ve done.  Do anything else but that, I beg of you.  Use me, dispose of me, haul me outside, leave me out with the waste, I don’t care, only do not stop now.

What is it?  What do you want?  Is my liver not tasty enough anymore?  What do you want to hear?  You want to hear what I have to say about you?  You want to hear if I’m going to live without you?  What the hell do you want?

Fuck you.  Fuck you, fuck you and all we’ve been through.  That’s what I have to say about you.  I will not live without you.  Is that what you want to hear?  I will die.  I will do anything, I’ll beat my drum, I’ll beat my drum if it will make you come back.  I know I have sinned but I will fall upon my knees, whatever it takes, whatever you want, whatever you need for five more minutes, for fourteen seconds more.

This has got to die.  Did you hear me?  I said this has got to stop.  Enough now.  You have a duty to Zeus to disembowel me on a daily basis.  It is your job.  Don’t you understand?  I am a boy you can break, I deserve to be broken, I deserve to bleed by your hand and I need to know that you will back the next day to do it again.  So whatever it is you need to do, do it, because my fate depends on it.  Sit on a chimney.  Put some fire up your ass.

I gave Man that fire.  Now eat my liver.

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Some Big Shoes to Fill

shoes too big

I don’t blog.  Well, I guess now I do.  I didn’t blog.  I never wanted to.  What would I talk about?  Who would care?  Would I care?  I still can’t answer any of these, but now I have a blog, so, here we go.

Story time: The other day I was finishing a class assignment in which I pretended as if someone was casting the story of my life and needed a breakdown of the lead character (which would be me, if that wasn’t clear . . .) and this is what I came up with:

“Alex is weird.  He can smell a good song, he hears Bach when he bites into a cheeseburger, he can taste heartbreak.  Alex is also curious.  He wonders (often) what it’s like to be a dog, where our memories go when we’ve forgotten them, what dreams may come when we’ve shuffled off this mortal coil of fear and hatred.

Alex is a titular Shakespearean tragic hero. He is Caesarian in his ambition, Macbethatical in his darkness, Learian in his madness.  He is Othellian in his jealousy, Hamletic in his wit, and, most importantly, Romeomatic in his love.

Alex is other people’s shoes.  He is the sneakers of a bully’s victim, the boots of the bully, the heels of a girl embarrassed to be around him.  He is the Chucks of a crying sister, the Clarks of a friend that’s lost a father, and the bare feet of a child that does not need luxury to know love.

Alex has also been alive for twenty-one years, stands five feet, eleven inches tall (six  flat when he’s confident) and weighs one hundred and sixty-five pounds.  But that’s not who Alex is: he’s a weirdly curious Shakespearean hero wearing other people’s shoes.  Cast accordingly.”

I wanted a picture that would complement this breakdown, and was drawn to the idea of a pile of shoes, a lot of shoes, all different kinds, piled up on the floor.  So I ran to my trusted friend Google Image Search and typed “giant pile of shoes.”  I would wager that 40% of the results were images of Holocaust victims’ shoes eerily preserved in huge piles on dirt floors in dark, haunted rooms.  It was a rude yet extraordinarily moving slap to my rarely optimistic face that had expected colorful piles of secondhand sneakers in a DSW warehouse.  While I did not ultimately choose a Holocaust picture as my accompanying image, it remains a powerful reminder of what I was talking about in the first place: stepping into other people’s shoes.

That’s what I want to explore, and what I’d like you to explore with me: what does it mean to see through another’s eyes, to walk through the world laced into another’s shoes.  It’s an age-old cliche, but if we stopped talking about age-old cliches they’d quickly become age-old relics, fossilized pieces of humanity that get dug up by inquisitive robots or, even worse, forgotten about completely.  I want to talk about empathy before we descend into apathy.

This will not be easy, but I decided (just now) that you can’t start a blog if you’re going to talk about the easy things.  That’s what breeds apathy, what forces me to ask who would care, would I care.  It will be hard, and goddammit it should be.  It will be hard the way walking in size 13 shoes when you’re only a size 5 is hard.  We have some big shoes to fill, much bigger than size 13’s, but we have to try.

Plus, I’m tired of my shoes.

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