My song

I’ve always wanted a song. When asked what song did I call my own, I have been known to respond jokingly, “Nowhere Man.”

It wasn’t because of the lyrics. If I had listened to the lyrics, I would have known that wasn’t me. I just liked the title.

I’ve thought about Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer.” Love the song but it’s one of those pick-my-rear-end-out-of-the-dirt-and-get-on-with-it songs.

It does that. And it does it in aces. But I can’t say that it is a song that defines me.

Then I heard Greg Lake of Emerson Lake & Palmer perform his “Footprints in the Snow.”

I chanced upon the song by accident. I had heard that Keith Emerson had committed suicide. To honor this great musician whom I had loved in my youth, I went back and listened to several of their albums, then I found Footprints. At first, I thought maybe Greg had written it for Keith–and that may be so. I found it on the 1992 “Black Moon” and began to re-evaluate. Maybe Greg composed this song for one of his children. Or a lover.

But there seemed to be more to it than that. At least, for me. Over the years since that 2016 night, I’ve listened to Footprints hundreds of times. Wasn’t sure why I loved the song but I loved the song.

The other night I pulled it up and listened to Footprints once again. And it hit me. This is a song about my relationship with myself. It’s a struggle of trying to come to terms with that relationship.

“First time when you looked at me
You tried to hide but I could see
A special beauty in your eyes
Passion flying like a spark
Like an arrow to the mark
I feel it sting my jealousy

Before you know there’s footprints in the snow

Desire like a river flows
Where it comes from no one knows
It isn’t heard, it isn’t seen.
Love just like a flower grows
And then God only knows
It comes down like guillotine

Now I feel the rain
of love torn by a hurricane
One night eclipsed the sun
How deep still waters run

How deep they go like footprints in the snow

Take my love into your brest
Commit my spirit to the test
You will see him like a knight
His armour gleams
We’ll fly upon his angel’s wings
Above the clouds in rainbow rings
We can sail a ship of dreams

If you will take my hand
We can cross this desert made of sand
We can break in through the ice
And feel the wind of paradise
We’ll feel it blow our footprints in the snow

Anytime you feel alone
Just raise your hand, pick up the phone
Take in my number, there I’ll be
If one day your stars won’t shine
I will give you some of mine
Cause they could fall so easily

We both know there’s footprints in the snow.”

Do you have a song you claim as your own? What is it, and why?

Near 500 words: TW’s Search For His Novel

Episode 5 of The Writer.

Sunday morning, post-Cat-feeding and post-breakfast, TW (aka The Writer) was back at his computer. With Cat snuggled on his feet, he looked at the last thing he had written the night before.

“This is the first chapter. And there will be a lot more from where that came from. Monkey looked at Shark and fired his gun. The bullet hit its target, Shark’s heart.”

“Who is this Monkey? Who is this Shark?” he asked himself out loud. He didn’t have a clue. Then he decided that this would not do. There was no inspiration, no Muse in it. It was just a bunch of dead words on the page the way that Shark was dead.

And Sylvia would know it.

Where did that come from? It had been a month of Sundays since he had thought about Sylvia. She had been gone for twenty-three years and now he caught himself thinking about her. Was she his Muse? Was she the one who would show him the way to write a novel? The last he had heard from her was a letter some five years ago. She was living some place in the Himalayas. Some place called an ashram. And the people there had proclaimed her a guru.

Imagine that. Sylvia once upon time was an atheist. Now the folks were saying she was some kind of saint or some such. Her letter had said that the locals thought of her as the incarnation of a goddess.

If she was a goddess, why couldn’t she help him with his novel? That wasn’t much to ask.

He erased the words from the previous day. Then he leaned back in his chair and ran his hand over his bald head. He looked down at Cat. She stared up at him with those eyes of hers. Eyes that told him how smart she was and how caring. “Yep, still no hair,” he said to the big green eyes.

Maybe I’d better get a cup of coffee.

Nope, not going to do it. I have to earn it. I have to write that first paragraph. Otherwise I will sit here all day and bore myself to death. Didn’t that sound like fun?

He looked out his window into the back yard. It was a nice day. Maybe he should go for a walk.

Nope, not going to do it.

He looked over at his bookshelf. He reached over and pulled a volume off the shelf. Without searching, he opened the book to a page. He perused the page and it hit him. He knew just what he should write. He slid the book back into place and turned to his computer and began to type.

It was the week after Mrs. Dish ran away with Mr. Spoon. All because of the Cat and the Fiddle. They had introduced the two at a company picnic. On top of that, Cat had jumped over the moon.

TW stopped there and looked down at Cat. “You think you could jump over the moon?”

Cat didn’t move. She purred away in her sleep. TW thought she was far away in some sort of cat dream world.

Through his window came a chirping sound. He turned to see a robin just outside of his window. “Sylvia?”

Near 500 words: The refugee

The photographer spotted the woman, waiting for a bus. When asked who she was, Iriana said to the photographer, “I am a refugee, a woman with no country. All I own is the clothes on my back and what is in my suitcase.” Her clothes were worn but she wore them with dignity.

The photographer asked, “Would you like a cup of tea?”

“A cup of tea would be nice.”

Iriana and the photographer went to a little café cradled along the street with tables on the outside. It was decorated with colorful umbrellas to protect from the sun.

They ordered their tea.

“How long has it been since you started being on the run?”

“It’s been years. I keep hoping things will change.”

The waiter brought their tea with some pastry. The café was famous for its pastry.

Iriana took a sip of her tea and a bite of the pastry. She enjoyed the taste. “Ummm, this is good. It never changes. Every time I find a place, there is a revolution. The new guy is just as bad as the last.” Then she began to cry. “My father and brother are in prison. They opposed the last man in charge. Now the new man in charge keeps them there.” Then she spat on the sidewalk and said something in her native tongue. She looked up from the sidewalk. There was anger in her eyes.

“Is there nothing to be done?”

She raised her shoulders and stiffened herself with dignity. She was not about to let anyone else see her weak. She had to be strong for her father and her brother.

“Nothing. They are not important names for the world to care about. For all I know, they could be dead. They are probably dead.”

“Well, maybe I can help.”

“How can you help?”

“I could make their name known. That might pressure the government to release them.”

“Please don’t. That would only give them a reason to execute them.”

The photographer understood. He had heard the same story over and over again. Nothing would help the people he called The Doomed.

“I have a proposition,” he offered.

Iriana was taken aback. “I will not sleep with you. Not for anything. I am a good Christian.”

“No, no, no. Not that kind of proposition. I would like to offer you a job. I would like to ask you to be my assistant.”

Iriana was stunned that someone was offering her such kindness. And a stranger too.

“Then you would no longer be a refugee. Your home would be wherever we went. And perhaps eventually we can work it where your father and your brother are released.”

“You would do that for me?”

“Why wouldn’t I do it for you?”

“I’ve been looking for someone I could depend on for a long time. I think you are the one I’ve been searching for.”

She rose out of the chair and came over and gave the large man a hug. She was crying.

“Please don’t cry.”

“But you’re my angel.”

“One thing is for sure. I am no angel.’

They finished their tea and pastry.

“Let’s go,” he said. “We have work to do.”

On Top of It #17: A Lesson in Humility and Tone

I read this and it brought home the difficult lives and choices college graduates are having to suffer through what with huge student debt. Today’s bachelor degree is what a high school diploma was when I was going to school. Without at least some college education or trade school, it isn’t possible to be hired in most fields these days.

The Drunken Odyssey

On Top of It #17 by Lisa Martens

A Lesson in Humility and Tone: Talia Jane

This weekend, the Internet caught fire with Talia Jane, a Yelp customer support representative who wrote a public, scathing letter to the CEO of her company and, of course, was fired soon after.

I agree with a higher minimum wage. I also agree that student debt cripples the dreams of many young Americans . . . such as myself. And so, I opened the link ready to read a letter written by an educated young woman, a fellow customer support rep, my peer, addressing these points.

What I read was a condescending rant that looked like a long drunk text I might send to the person labeled “Fuckboy” in my phone. Asking the CEO to pay her phone bill? Complaining that she couldn’t take the free food home? Bitching about the $20 copay to…

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