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Letters to Writers #1

April 26, 2017
Downtown L.A.
My phone reminds me dad’s birthday was yesterday
Should that matter now since he’s dead?
In life, a stranger anyway
Another stranger
A writer, a filmmaker
Why I’m here today
I reach for his hand but get a hug
He asks me questions
Won’t let the answers stray
He writes notes and I don’t
Bites his nails
Lifts his already short sleeves above his shoulders
Thinks I should write about groceries
I say it’d be a 24 year story
On how to be unworthy
Says later he’s having friends over
To preview some work and watch some old movie
Invites me
Starts at Eight

July 31, 2017 at 9:03pm
Subject: This Is Where I Drink Wine and Ramble

Hey. How are things?

I know it’s been a while since we met but I wanted to thank you for making time to meet. And for inviting a stranger into your home.

Much of this will probably not make much sense. Or worse. I mean no harm…I’m just rambling, just feeling my way with words. I wouldn’t write about you without your blessing (not that anyone would see the words anyway). I say that out of respect for what I understand as your personal ethics on writing about others. I actually think that we don’t owe that to who we write about. Our words, our life. At least that is my current standpoint. I’m more comfortable with being temporary now.

I’ll be 48 soon. My forties have been a challenge. I upended everything but held on to my son. Half of me wanted to run, said he’d be better off without me. The other half said I’d be damned if I chose that. So, I stayed and did the best I could. Which feels mostly like failure and still running, but in place. I keep trying.

Here I am. Who am I?

I have doubts that I’m a writer.

Even if I am, so what?

Even if I find the discipline, if I write a book, what will that mean? I don’t believe in success. At least not the definition I’ve been fed from birth. I think we’ve been born into the era of loss. We’re on the descending side of the bell curve now. It’s a dual decline…economic and social. I speak generally. I think the White Male has been due for an identity crisis. I haven’t been much a fan…but that’s partly my self-hatred talking too.

You said my time as a grocer was a story. How can I write about something that I hated so much? What stories are worth telling?

Talking with your friends…and Bukowski came up. Haven’t read or studied much of him, but enough to know that Bukowski was an asshole. Am I an asshole? Yes, at least sometimes, probably. Trump is an asshole of galactic scale. He made it to the tip of the pyramid despite everything that he is. How in the fuck? Do we just love assholes? Nothing makes sense. The center does not hold.

There was a part of me that was chilled to the bone when I read Claire Vaye Watkins “On Pandering” in Tin House. Clearly a writer’s life can get messy quick. Writers write. If they are authentic, they write truth and sometimes that truth turns into punishment…instant karma for words written without wisdom or awareness. I don’t know if I want to be that vulnerable, even though I already have. Lack of exposure has kept me safe, mostly. I shut down all my social media accounts except for Facebook…even then I made almost everything private. I think I read that Cormac McCarthy doesn’t associate with other writers. Is that why?

You and Claire showed me that knowing other writers is dangerous.

So when you pulled out a notebook when we met, it caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting that. I didn’t come with an agenda…at least I don’t think I did. I decided not to react or ask questions. Do you think you use a notepad as protection, a way to keep people at arm’s length? I felt like our meeting was an interview of sorts. Was it? You seemed nervous. I mean, I am a fucking stranger, so I get that.

Is this part of being a writer? Is my paranoia normal? Are writers vampires, sucking interactions dry for words on a page?

I don’t ask that in accusation. I ask because I don’t know what to think.

When I saw you post about the job with Epic Magazine, I thought about applying. Then I laughed. Who am I? I’m certainly am not my greatest fan. So I didn’t.

I have a denial fetish.

Hope you are well.

-Cab

Photo Credit: fotologic/Flickr
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