Sometimes unfinished, fragmented thoughts are the best thoughts. Here is a selection of abandoned writing and blurbs, all of which reside in a small word document filed under “experiments and attempts.”

went for a swim. like sea waves, the memories rushed back, all at once. the blazing timer, the tight wall turns, the limp lane lines. the winter practices. dashing from the steamy pool and greeting a biting wind. swimming in the rain. the stadium lights, the bleachers. the intervals and sprints. the laughter, the tiredness. the past will never return as the mirrored past, but I haven’t wished for something so ungraspable in a long time. oh, come back, just once. just once.

That’s why playing music (truly) is exhausting. That’s why, when done right, reading literature and listening to voices and trying to understand people are all exhausting. You are feeling every inch of pain, ecstasy, suffering, through your fingers. You feel it vibrate through your body, you feel the agony and joy, the tenderness. It feeds through you like running water, like a chasm being filled with screams. There is no middle ground. You either feel it or you are oblivious to the real thing.

“The world is neither beautiful nor ugly. It’s just there. The two characteristics derive from us, from humans. We choose to see beauty and we chose to see destruction. But the problem is, beauty can be found in nearly everything.”

“Then what about war? Genocide? Disease? Slavery?”

“Well, we choose to see those as ugly and destructive, and that’s good. Because that’s how we know life is the beautiful one.”

It took me a minute to realize that music was seeping through the bedroom door. Slowly, I got up and went to check on her. When I pushed the door open, there she was, sitting on the couch with empty eyes, smoking.

“You don’t smoke,” I said.

“Apparently I do,” she said. The words that came out of her mouth were pale and toneless. “I’ve always read about smoking, read about characters who smoke, seen those lanky soldiers smoking in those television shows about World War II. I thought I knew what it’d be like. But I guess you don’t actually know something until you try it. Feels like shit.”

I nodded absentmindedly and glanced around. Her room had transformed into a time capsule overnight. Vintage photographs were strung everywhere, a box of yellowed letters sat in a corner, and she had unearthed the plastic case of cassettes. The old, cracked tape player sat nestled under the nook of her resting arm. Miraculously, it still worked and was currently crackling some springy concerto, probably by Haydn or Mozart.

“We could have been anyone,” she then said, ignoring my survey of the room. She often changed subjects. It was her way of moving conversations and making sense of her thoughts. “We could have been managers of some company, we could’ve cured some disease, we could have run for Congress. And yet, we’re here: a poet and an painter, broke disappointments to society. Why?”

I thought about that. “Because we needed it.”


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