I Am Become Ernest Hemingway, Writer of Booze

Tearing through my parents’ basement over Christmas break in search of several missing WARHAMMER pieces (shut up), I stumbled across a few notebooks from college. Still a bit high from the fun and hilarity of my MORTIFIED experience this past Saturday evening in Cambridge, I skimmed through the notebooks, placing certain moments back at specific times in my life. (there’s certainly a lot crap, but a bunch of great lines / idea gems in between the crap that maybe someday I’ll revisit in song)

One thing in particular that stuck out to me — pages I have been dying to rediscover since it happened — was a bit of writing I did in July 2006, my first summer spent living in Boston between my sophomore and junior years. 2006 in general was definitely a very significant transition year for me, and while some of that anxiety might slip through here, that’s not really the point. I remember the evening when I turned to my then-roommate, Layne, and said “Ya know, Layne, you hear about all these artists, songwriters, etc. with horrible, horrible addiction problems, but still somehow creating their best creative while completely obliterated. But I’ve never actually done that.” So naturally Layne, being the kind and considerate soul she was, walked directly into the kitchen and poured me ten shots of vodka in a line. I looked down at the counter and looked back at her, eyes wide with fear. “Go,” she demanded, and, well, I did, because Layne was just that kind of person that you could never down on, even when it was a terrible idea (because you knew that her worst ideas usually made the best stories).

So bam. 10 shots of vodka in a row, right down the hatch. No dinner. A quick chaser of Diet Coke, and I locked myself in the bedroom with a guitar and a notebook and a pen. I didn’t even turn the lights on; it felt more poetic that way (whatever man, I was 20), and there was enough light bleeding in through the window from the construction site next door. And I just went, pouring out my every thought in some strange semblance of verse.

Eventually, I compiled some of these lines into a piece called “The Ballad of Gideon Stargrave,” but the first time ever, here are my (mostly) unedited ramblings from that fateful drunken night:

I’m stuck somewhere between
Myself and I

(And the lock keeps locking loudly
when I’m sleeping late past 12)

In a city full of strangers
Or a town that’s full of ants
I’m an albatross awaiting flight,
a soldier’s final dance
before his life and pride are blown apart
locked on target for his heart
his pen’s the only missile
that he flies
but he’s still somewhere
between himself and I

This section was titled “Don’t Tell Mom & Dad That I Sold Out”

There’s a letter in my drawer
that I wrote when I was four
with a crayon
Though the wax is coming off
and my handwriting is rough
and my spelling hasn’t bettered in years
I think it says it all
There’s a flyer on my wall
from the local rental hall
where I booked shows when I was just 16
and we still sucked

But I’ve tried to find the words
that best describe my frame of mind
It’s hanging from the mantlepiece,
a mix of nails of twine.
The string is strung out
and nails are warped

WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT EVEN MEAN
I MEAN
I’M FINE, IT’S FINE
WE’RE FINE
WE’LL ALL BE ALRIGHT

Yes, I actually wrote that, scrawled across the page. I assume that I was disappointed with where my words were going — though looking back, I may have been on to a cool idea with that whole motif of a literal physical frame my mind.

Maybe.

Anyway, it kept going:

Like a charm wearing thin
Like a light shining in
from the street
because I can’t afford electric bills.
Like a fish drying out
Like a boy in a drought of love
Only love
In a land of snakes and donkeys
and the elephants that eat them
towering above them like a
lamb without his wool
but he’s offering his blessing
to the boy out in the cold
because he’s given all that
he can give
he’s left with just a face
and though the girls can swear he’s handsome
it’s just not to his taste
without his arms, without a neck,
without his feet, without a heart,
he’s more than alive
and it’s more than a start

Clearly I was going for some deep political themes here. I understand the symbolism of elephants and lambs and snakes and donkeys but….what the hell does that even mean?

I think it’s the start
of a beautiful day
when the robots have all gone home
and away
The sunlight sneaks in
through the blinds and
tears through the crust that your
allergies left on your eyes.
The lids peel apart and just
to find the calm of her
back fast asleep within mine.
Your lips part and stretch
in a smile as you
observer her warm chest
rise and fall, rise and fall,
to the side and you can’t
help but smile and sigh
as her faint lips part to breathe
your air, you long to taste
their salty embrace and
you long for just once to
feel right

He gave me most of his mind
He asked me to write
To color his life
But a poet is lost when
his life is alright
When the girls are in love
When he sleeps through the night

There will be bells
and trumpets and choirs
that sing to the world
when I fall in love
There will be wars
Once hot but frozen
Both hands will shake
When I am in love
And there will be clouds
that will bring in the rain
but in moments so precious
our lips must stay moist
and there will be boys
who discover their parents
discover their future
when i fall in love
and there will be grass
where dirt resides barren
without so much a flower
or lone daffodil
because the last dandelion
that I will become
will someday fall in love
when he someday breathe his rest

There’s another way to
find ourselves in love
There’s another way
to find a man
within these every walls.

Later I’ll be sure to post photos of each of the pages, so you can see how hilariously my handwriting devolved as the night went on.

Naturally the next day I awoke with the sun (because I passed out before I remembered to pull the blinds down), wearing all my clothes and cuddling with my guitar. Surprisingly, I still seem to remember at least a few of the melodies and riffs for the music I wrote during this session…

College was fun.

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