et me say it before you do: This is weird. That I’m writing this. This
is, and has been, Richard’s arena, his place to do what he does to set
the tone, to tell you how he’s looking at this issue, his attempt to tint
the field in Richard-colored tones—for those reading serially, that is,
though many of my friends start at the back, with the list of who’s what
and where, then jumping to those that appeal best to their own color schemes—and,
so I’ve been led to understand, it’s often an attempt on his part to force
a kind of cohesion that otherwise may not exist; or perhaps, and this
is probably likely, it’s that he does see something and he wants you to
see it too. But here I am now, sitting in for him and part of me thinks
that it’s one of the mildly cruel jokes my father and Drew so love to
play. They made me write Drew’s section a few years ago, after he had
his wisdom teeth pulled and spent a week or so holding his head and moaning
and swearing and refusing to do anything. The fact of that was, it turned
out, Drew had already written his section, a perfectly fine piece, very
much his thing, but they thought it would be fun to make me write it,
to see what I—at 12 years of age—would write. And so I wrote it, and they
edited it for me, and then they published it, and there it sits, my
first literary embarrassment.
they ask you the question, you must not hesitate: do not wonder, do not
ponder, do not consider the vast array of grays lurking inside the interrogative,
and above all, do not affirm or vacillate.
“Are you a danger to yourself or others?”
Backpedaling is ugly. How do you convince your psychopharmacologist that your meds no longer work and yet you are not in the mood to check-in to the hospital?
“I came here, give me some credit. I didn’t go to the gun store.”
It’s not like it doesn’t happen every couple of years. If we can make our own magazine, we can make our own hospital. That’s what I told Drew. And I told Amy she could write my section (which, it seems, only made her hostile). If you want your dreams to come true—as my grandma always said—then don’t sleep.
So I took a couple (11 actually) weeks off from work and we made a little hospital for me: I bought a folding card table and set it up with paints and brushes, cardstock and glue; I bought saftey scissors and yellow pudding; I turned off my phone, got into pajamas, and renamed the living room the “Day Room.”
Painting is fun when you’re crazy. The perspective’s off, everyone looks like a monster, and you can decide that everything—battlesmoke, skin tone, buildings—needs to be a shade of blue. I painted Civil War scenes (A metaphor, perhaps? chides the disembodied voice of Dr. Jones) but I don’t know much about the Civil War. “On to Richmond!” featured Mr. T with six arms trying to free the slaves. “Attack on Fort Sumter” had a giant monkey with eyes like wedding rings eating sandwiches against a background of pennies, flowers, popsicles, explosions.
I still made sure to go out once a day for coffee so my peoples could look upon me and decide if my hospital was working or if I’d have to go to the real hospital. A few days were dicey, sure. There was that cartoon in Che’s Lounge that was trying to kill me. There were the red birds flying all around that everyone else denied seeing. And there were a few nights where I thought I was speaking English but I wasn’t. But this, like everything, passed. I feel much better now. Just in time to help send off this issue.
I told Amy to contextualize, which she didn’t, so I’ve cut her off. She blathers when she’s scared—and she gets scared when grown-ups freak out, which I guess I did—but blather doesn’t fly in my magazine, and this is still my magazine. I do like her story, though. And mostly she’s a good kid.
Here’s some context then: you can build your own anything if you want to. If you write a story, you can build a magazine around it, to hold it. If you lose your beans for a little while, you can build a safe place around yourself, to hold you. For those of you who like what we do here at spork, we ask this: get a lamp, a chair, and a bookshelf; make a little place for us in your world. And really, I feel much better now.
The rest of Amy's text is as follows (not in the printed version): —shapes they don’t want to assume, to throw them jagged and broken… but that’s not the purpose here, that’s not my point either. What it is, is that we are not mastered by the words—we are not subservient to their whims, but rather we are more like their Lords. Masters over them, yes, but more important than that, we are responsible for their well-being and happiness. Our duty is to govern them kindly, wisely. You do that and they will do your bidding joyfully and often before you even ask anything of them. They’ll anticipate you. But force them or use them ill, and they will turn on you every time.