Photo by Sam Pak on Unsplash

Sure, I had my usual circle of friends, but almost overnight a whole new world had opened up to me, comprised of distinct­-but­-interconnected circles of people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

I was now part of a bona fide ‘scene’ that saw me socializing with an eclectic mix of geniuses, weirdos, and party animals, some of whom were a combination of all of the above. I went from a nondescript social life to getting non­stop invites to parties and other gatherings. I was a young man trying to find my place in the world, and all of a sudden I felt like a real live ‘somebody’.

Looking back on it now, it was like a dream, as fleeting as it was magical. Little did I know it was a small candle…

Photo by Tara Glaser on Unsplash

I was shocked (but delighted) when my first weigh-in showed I had lost six pounds only one week into my current fitness regimen. As I told my Confidante, I had been expecting the scale to indicate no weight change whatsoever.

They asked me why this was, and I replied that deep down, I was somehow expecting this venture to be marked by a sense of futility. (I’ve often quipped, half-jokingly, that my Inner Critic has a gym membership. Half-jokingly, but also half-seriously.)

Among the things I appreciate most about my Confidante is that I know they truly have my best interests at heart, and that they are also blazingly smart and insightful. (They are also very humble, so I’m anticipating some push-back on the compliment once they read this.) …

Adapted from an image by Francesca Woodman (1958–1981),
courtesy of

I have met someone or something, but for convenience we’ll simply refer to it as if it were a person, a man. I feel like I should know who he is, but trying to put my finger on it is like trying to bring the same poles of two magnets together. Whenever I have been around him I have felt entire lifetimes of other people’s of sadness, anger, and fear whooshing past me. It is as if this man(?) is a black hole swallowing all of the innocence of everyone around him(?).

Remember how you told me about that moment…

Semi-nude model 1970s. CC0 1.0 Universal. Courtesy of

It is early afternoon on a hot midsummer day, and I’m standing on the shore of River of Tears Lake, soaking up the sun under a cloudless sky. At this time of day, the lake appears like any other, as it takes the darkness of night to make the light of the fireflies under the water to be visible.

There is a distant muffled sound somewhere at the perimeter of earshot — an indistinct repetitive series of thuds, rapid and unrelenting. At first it seems like the closer I try to listen, the more distant and indistinct it becomes. But…

The Sleeping Princess (1910), by Frances MacDonald McNair {PD-old-auto}

The rest of the day was taken up with exploring Prussian Occupation and its environs. Everywhere I went, soldiers on horseback were impossible to avoid.

As a tourist, I could come and go as I pleased as long as I didn’t make any trouble. The people who lived there were not so fortunate — every now and then a soldier would make a show of force by dragging a local out of their home and roughing them up. Other times, they’d scoop someone off the street and take them to who knows where, and the poor soul would not be…

Obsession, 1894. Printed by Printer: Monrocq, Odilon Redon (French, 1840–1916). Lithograph on China paper laid down on wove paper; image: 36.1 x 22.9 cm (14 3/16 x 9 in.). The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of The Print Club of Cleveland 1931.49. Licensed under the terms of CC0 1.0 Universal.

I would love to know why certain short stretches in a person’s youth loom larger and more vibrantly over the rest of their days compared to later periods that are more eventful, dramatic, or meaningful. Why are some fleeting moments, though taken for granted at the time, remembered later on as an improbable flower that never stops blooming, even though life at the time had felt like a desert, or even an endless dark hallway? Why do I keep forgetting how miserable I had been back then? More to the point, why have I missed that misery in the ensuing…

“The Farmer”, Alphonse Legros (French, 1837–1911). Etching; The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of Ralph King 1920.588. Licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal.

I soaked in the tub for a while after returning to my room at the Old Saloon Hotel, with that conversation in the rowboat still reverberating endlessly in my mind. At the same time, many disparate memories wouldn’t stop billowing to the surface like clouds of cream in a cup of coffee — memories of that distant summer, and of so many times in years to come when I had lost sleep over a certain girl.

Growing tired of such thoughts, I tried to focus my attention elsewhere. I closed my eyes and listened to the raucous group singalong of…

The Apocalypse of Saint John: A Woman Clothed with the Sun, 1899. Odilon Redon (French, 1840–1916). Courtesy of under the terms of CC0 1.0 Universal.

River of Tears (as in the town) is situated on the northern shore of River of Tears Lake (as in the lake). The lake, naturally, is named after River of Tears, as in the river that feeds its namesake body of water from the north, and provides a drain to the south (as in the direction).

The town’s more affluent residents tend to live on waterfront estates ringing the lake. Moreover, these properties are highly valued due to the fact there has been no need for outdoor lighting for quite some time.

I looked out my hotel window to the…

Academic Nude, Reclining on a Sofa, c. 1855. Auguste Belloc (French, 1801-c. 1868). Licensed under the terms of CC0 1.0 Universal.

When you were still with us, you lived to capture ghosts, ghosts that were always trying to disappear.

One tried to disappear into a wall, even resorting to becoming one with the wallpaper, but the wall wouldn’t take them.

Another tried to disappear into a mirror on the floor, but mirrors never accept things at face value — they’ll only ever hand it right back without thinking twice, and so there was never a chance in hell the mirror on the floor would ever take them.

And yet another tried to disappear into the kitchen cupboard, but the kitchen cupboard…

Photo courtesy of

It felt good to check in and decompress after what had been a full but pleasant day so far, the wrath of newly-pregnant teen(?) mothers notwithstanding. I spent a short while puttering around my suite — unpacking just those things that needed to be unpacked, checking out the bathroom to see if there were real bars of soap rather than the usual perfumed toy bars of soap that barely lather, and making a last-minute shopping list.

Said shopping list included: junk food, a six-pack of beer, and a real bar of soap that lathers like a cackling madman in heat.

James Deagle

I like to write about life and make music.

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