Would You Rather…

My wife and I play a game – sort of a sick game, I realize – when we don’t want to talk about what a mess the world is; essentially it’s ‘would you rather.’ Would you rather lose your arms or your legs? I say legs: I could get space-age titanium springs  and shave some time off my 10k. Would you rather lose your sight or your hearing? I say sight, because of music and books on tape. I’ve become fairly adept at rationalizing the best of the worst-case scenarios. But there’s one – my wife’s trump card – that always leaves me holding my head, groaning. Would you rather play music or write. She doesn’t enunciate it as a question because it’s not – it’s a fun way for her to watch me go crazy.

Of course, part of the question is ludicrous: it implies that I’ve ‘made it’ in one field or the other, and the demands of success preclude all other endeavors (plus, everyone’s suspicious of the cross-over hit: Jim Carroll is for me the exception that proves the rule). It’s hard, then, to feel bad for me – successful writer or rockstar – since I’m (hypothetically) living the dream, having succeeded in one of the two most overcrowded and economically Darwinian markets ever conceived. But – and my wife knows how quickly and violently this ‘but’ presents itself in my head – I can see myself, leaning against the tour bus, staring through the window at the new-release display of a Barnes and Noble. And I can see myself, sneaking away from the literati to an underground punk show, standing at the back in nice shoes and clean clothes. The look on my face, we’ve all seen before: the person you should’ve married, the job you should have taken, the life that should’ve been yours.

My wife knows this double bind will torture me; she smiles, gets up, pours me two – maybe three – fingers of bourbon and says, with a smile: well, for now you can do both.

And it’s true, provided I’m not terrifically successful at either, I can do both: play rock’n’roll and write fiction. I’m tremendously lucky that I have people in my life that will support the stubborn attempt to do these things (for very little if any money, and when I really ought to be doing more sensible things). So, that’s what this site is essentially about, what it’s for: a clearing house for my underground life: publications in literary magazines you haven’t heard about and rock shows at bars you’ve maybe driven by once or twice. And if I’m successful, if I finally have to chop off my left hand or my right, well then this will be the place to watch me go crazy.

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