Love, loss and the fickle muse…


Posted on November 18th, by James McAllen in Uncategorized. 2 comments

 

When we last left our hero, he was $650 lighter after being rooked in a Craigslist ticket scam. At the time I was pissed beyond belief, but as it turns out, my blog entry for that week was read by 4 times as many people as would normally tune in. I simply posted a warning on Craigslist with a link to the page and VOILA! New readers. Hopefully, some of them will come back from time to time. I certainly could not have gotten that many readers if I had paid for $650 in advertising. Plus I got the added bonus of seeing the kid that beat me in handcuffs, so it wasn’t a total loss.

And of course, I got to go see Pearl Jam twice and they were amazing both times. The crowd in Brooklyn seemed a little more energetic than in Philly, but then again, I’m highly biased.

For whatever reason, I haven’t written a blog since then. I don’t really know why; it’s not like nothing has happened in the ensuing 4 weeks, but there was nothing that I really found blog worthy. I’ve grown accustomed to making my blog as humorous as possible and I guess that nothing funny occurred. This morning I decided that the drought had gone on long enough, so I was determined to write a blog, regardless of whether I had anything to say, or whether it sucked.

On a sadder note, one of my favorite uncles passed away a few weeks ago.. He was a hunter, and a baker, and a fisherman, and a carpenter, and a painter, and an ex-Marine, and the father of 6 daughters.  He passed away 6 months to the day after his wife Mary, my mothers older sister, departed this earth. I love the romance of that idea. He lived the last 40 or so years of his life as a sober man, and he was the first person to introduce me to AA and the idea of giving up drinking. I was maybe 16 or 17 at the time and I had no intention of giving up anything, but I went to a few meetings to shut my family up, and as they say, the seed was planted.

In 1983, as a directionless 17 year old with no place to go, I followed my aunt and uncle when they moved up to Youngsville NY hoping to escape the rat race of the city. They lived there for the next 30 years. I lasted 3 months. But during that time, I developed a love for the woods and the countryside that still endures to this day. Eventually, I bought a piece of property of my own, and hope to someday retire in quiet solitude. Right now, I’m still trying to find my way through all this noise. A few days after the wake, I went back to visit my cousin and to take some last pictures of a place that I called home for a short period of time. Hard to believe it was 30 years ago. Seems like 5.

It was an honor to know you, William. I miss you already.

Subsequently, Valarie and I headed north, to the upper reaches of the state, to the town of Milford, just outside of Cooperstown. This is where the McAllen Ranch is located. At the moment, it’s merely 25 acres of woods and swamp, but it’s all mine. I purchased it impulsively when I was young and newly sober, and then I immediately got sick to my stomach. The next day I wanted to back out of the deal, but I was afraid that I would lose my $500 dollar deposit, so I didn’t make the call. Best mistake I never made.

I spent the next few days clearing brush and digging in the dirt and hiking through the back 40. Actually, I cleared brush for about 2 hours and then nursed a sore back for the next two days. On Sunday, before we left, we sat in the Adirondack chairs and just listened to the woods and watched the portion of life that we never get to see in Brooklyn. In that moment, I actually start to think that maybe it would be better to live in the rural parts of the world; away from the grind and the traffic and the subways. Then I realize that I’d last about 3 weeks before I lost my mind. Or until I wanted a good slice of pizza.

Three hours later, when we had reached the outskirts of the city and were dodging through traffic and breathing in fumes, I was cursing and punching the steering wheel in frustration, I contemplated the thought of abandoning the city of my birth. I didn’t give any thought to where I would live or how I would make a living, but that’s what dreams are all about, ain’t they?

And yet through all I this, I didn’t write. It’s not like I didn’t have topics. It’s not like I wasn’t inspired. It’s not like I didn’t spend hours sitting at my computer anyway, but when it came time to hammer out a blog, I found something else to do. One morning I starting working on another novel. I wrote about 2½ pages and then tossed it in the drawer with the rest of the unfinished novels that I’ve started over the years.

When I was a kid, a confused teenager with no place in the world, I wrote in my journal nearly every day. Bad poems, song fragments, letters to Hollywood starlets. It didn’t matter, I just wrote because I had to.  This pretty much continued throughout my adult years with few exceptions. Over the years the content changed, and there were of course interruptions for things like work and illness and concerts and hockey games, but it wasn’t until this year when I found myself writing less and less. Now, as 2013 winds down, I can look back and see that… I got a new job, got a new girl, published a book, quit smoking and got two cats.

Do you have to be miserable to create art? Is it possible that at 48, I’ve attained happiness? Perish the thought.

On Tuesday, I will get in my car and I will drive east until there is no more road. Hopefully, it will be cold and gray and dank and miserable. I will pack up my typewriter and sit in a dusty hotel room on the beach and I will crank out the first pages of the Great American Novel.

Or at least a funny blog entry.

Until then… Have a great Monday.

 





2 thoughts on “Love, loss and the fickle muse…

  1. So sorry about your uncle, but it’s nice to hear that you are happy go lucky lately. And thanks for blowing us off for Abby’s birthday dinner. I would have texted you but since you no longer respond to me I am forced to leave this cheerful message on your blog. Love your writing but would also have loved to have had you over. Dinner was nice, Abby is officially 1 year old and Gwen would love to see her godfather. I would say come by for thanksgiving but I won’t hold my breath. Sorry if this seems nasty, I’m pregnant and hormonal. Talk to you soon xo

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