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Many people have asked me in the last few months if there will be a sequel to I’m Trying Here, my first book. The answer is no, at least not right now. I never rule out the possibility of future projects, but for now a continuation of my first work is not where I am headed. My next book that is on pace to be done by January or February is a more serious work, a book about the Holocaust, and my experiences learning about it, and visiting Auschwitz. It is a cross-breeding of genres, part historical, part philosophical, part motivational, and part memoir. I don’t want to give too many spoilers, and I am not ready to unveil the title, but I would like to leave a few small excerpts for anxious readers. Stay tuned for new updates on the book’s progress, title and cover. I am very excited about this book, and as a young delusional artist, I of course think it will be a masterpiece on par with New York Bestsellers. But until I reach some modicum of fame, I need you to go purchase my first book. If you already have, there are still two invaluable things you can do to help my career. You can leave a review on Amazon and or Goodreads, and you can tell a friend. Okay, enough begging for favors. Here are the excerpts, let me know what you think.
“I wake up. It’s 3:21 a.m. I’m twenty-seven years old. I haven’t been on a school bus for years, and I have long since left Arizona. I’m alone in a cheap hotel room in Warsaw, Poland. A familiar song reverberates in my foggy head. Its chorus repeats the simplistic and symbolic words, “I’m coming home, I’m coming home.” I go to the bathroom and return to bed wondering what elicited such a vivid and frightful dream.”
“I looked towards the main entrance and saw white birds flying around in what looked like figure eights. I thought about how eternally free those birds were and how their whiteness and freedom contrasted so greatly with the victims of Auschwitz, the ghosts behind the barbed wire fences.”
“I stood there and held back tears for the mothers who would never see their infants again, and my stomach churned for the fathers that would never teach their kids how to throw a ball, or anything for that matter. I thought of my own parents and the love that that they had woven into my life from day one. In the same way that you put yourself in the shoes of the protagonist in a dramatic movie, I put myself in the shoes of the family members that lost so much. I was reminded of the ingenious brevity of the author Thomas Wolfe who scattered his novel Look Homeward, Angel with the phrase “O Lost!”
“In the middle of the mountain of stolen suitcases, the name Greilsamer poked out, beneath it lay luggage of a Mr. Steindler. In the distance, barely visible, I saw Orov protrude through the rubble, almost as if to say, “Remember me?” I thought of my own surname and what it would look like on a discarded box of my belongings. The whole idea of it all ripped me insides apart. I shuffled on laterally and saw dozens more names, Slavic names I couldn’t pronounce. But I knew they all had a history, a past full of holidays, newborns, smiles, and Bar Mitzvahs. I would never know the contents of these suitcases, nor would anyone else, and for some reason that bothered me.”
The other day I was in a foul mood. My day was fine, but my night left me unsettled and on edge. I got in a little fight with someone I care about, and it left me sickened at night. Sleep barely came, but then it came fully and enveloped me in my warm bed. I woke up feeling like crap, and not wanting to get out of bed. I was sick of the monotony of my own life, and bothered by a lack of excitement, an absence of wonderful. I lay in bed long after I woke up, dreading the day, and thinking up reasons why staying in bed all day was socially acceptable. Then I got a call from a close friend.
All he said was “Bro, let’s go on an adventure.” My first thought was no. I needed to be productive, and I needed to feel bad for myself, which is hard to do in fine company. But as he spoke on, enthusiastic as ever, the seed of negativity I had planted in myself the night before started to incinerate. Maybe a little spontaneity and sunshine was all I needed, a little recharging.
“An adventure” is wildly ambiguous, but I kind of loved the ambiguity that day. My friend picked me up and we started driving with no real course of action or destination. “Where should we go?” he asked. “Let’s go east,” I said. So we drove on. My buddy cancelled his meeting later that night, and I wore a new smile. We rolled down the windows and felt the air, but really felt it. We would over the course of the next six or seven hours make many stops through the canyon highway to explore abandoned homes and lost graveyards. After traversing streams, eluding curious farmers, and stopping in on an all but forgotten town, we made it to Price, Utah. We knew there was not much to see there, but we knew there would be a nice place to eat, and a place to sit and converse of real things.
We found a delicious diner. As we waited for our food, I wrote down a few words. It was not my finest prose, but I wanted it out on paper before my memory deluded things. The words of William Faulkner leaped into my mind. Speaking of the urgency to write and record, he said, “Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” I followed suit and scribbled down this:
“We stopped to stretch, and kick around the skateboard. A couple sat nearby on a bench and affably called us over, recognizing our out-of-townness. The man was burly, with a soft smile and grimy hands. He wore a bandana and heavy jeans. His woman was clad in some gaudy neon top and pants she should have given to Goodwill years ago. They both respectfully blew smoke in the opposite direction. They were clearly still in love, and ate their McDonald’s in innocent happiness.
Our next stop, five miles down the road was the loan diner in town. It was a Thursday, but the place was packed. Men sat in silence after long days of working manual labor jobs. The men were the types that wore their cellphones outside of their belts, in large phone cases. They had sturdy workshoes, and tattered T-shirts with motocross insignias and demolition derby designs. On my way to the bathroom I saw two cute girls probably in high school dining together. Needing a reasonable excuse to talk to them, I said ‘Hey me and my buddy are just passing through, is there anything we should see while we are here?’ They smiled nervously as I eyed both of them with seductive possibility. One spoke up confidently, yet flatly, ‘There’s nuthin’ to see here, it’s a pretty sucky place to live.’ I laughed, complimented the town’s culinary achievements, and moved on.”
After dinner we rode home in dark bliss, listening to music from high school. The whimsy and glory of the day completely reset my attitude and recharged my batteries that had been corroded and dead from a couple rough days. The fresh air, keen friendship, and spontaneity were exactly what I needed. A true friend, a nice meal, and a change in the routine were a simple thing, but precisely what my soul required. Sometimes we need to recharge, reboot, and start again. For me, a little writing, a little exploring, and a little attention was what I needed to propel me forward again. What do you need to feel better again? There is not a panacea for stress, and there is no cure-all for the blues, but there are small things that can rejuvenate us, and set us back on the correct path. Maybe we need that, or maybe we have been so blessed to realize that someone close to us needs that.