I am a frustrated writer. Random words, phrases, and images flow through my brain like relentless electrical impulses, plaguing me to a torturous degree. Sometimes, a single word or phrase floats around between my ears taunting me, daring me to use it in some context that makes sense. I pick at my fingers waiting for all the fodder to flow in a logical shape. When I was nineteen, the phrase “moral ambiguity” was a continuous reprise, nearly driving me mad. I wrote it down, hoping something would materialize. “Moral Ambiguity. Moral Ambiguity. Moral Ambiguity… Moral Ambiguity?” Often resorting to repeating the phrase into tape recorder. But that was simply a failed attempt at therapy. My sister and I had a single wall that separated our bedrooms. One night, she heard me repeating the phrase through the wall. Without even a thought or consideration, she pounded her fist on the wall, “Shut up, I gotta get up early! What does that mean, anyway? God, you’re weird!” With a soft click of the Stop button, my therapy session ended. I spoke of my condition, how I wrestle with words and how to use them, to my English Professor. He told me that it was important not to dwell on a single word, phrase or topic, and that if I didn’t stop, I might not be able to get beyond it. This suggestion, to me, was akin to saying, “Don’t forget to do good,” on a test. However appropriate the advice, my professor was stating the obvious and I continued to be tortured by the written word. I still managed to get an “A” in that class.

During the summer of that year, I sat outside evenings attempting to compose my opus. I had such high hopes then, and at least enough support from my teachers, family, and friends; I needed to prove to myself that I could write something great, but I was certainly not as convinced as my supporters. On a steamy night, the blank sheet of paper stared back at me, mocking me with its pristine canvas, and all I could muster was my typical soliloquy “moral ambiguity.” My Father, who is a talented writer, yet undiscovered by anyone save himself, saw me biting at the tips of my fingers. He brought me a cold glass of iced tea and sat across from me at the patio table. Seemingly cavalier, “What are you doing?” he asked. I seized the opportunity and told him of my crisis. It was my Dad who labeled me a frustrated writer. He said I had one of two problems, “Either, you’re a frustrated writer, or you have questions about your morality. And I don’t think at 19 you’re having a crisis of morality.” My father’s commentary was like a grenade, stopping in long enough to deliver the goods and then leave you to ponder. Buried in his rhetoric, I found a compliment. My father was the first person to call me a writer. Although frustrated, still a writer. I wrote with fervor that night. I don’t remember what I wrote about, and I didn’t use the phrase “moral ambiguity.” It no longer mattered. Every day, up to this moment, I still cannot distill the electrical impulses of words, phrases, and images. Instead of stopping, like the advice of my English professor, I accept it. I remain a frustrated writer.

I am a frustrated writer, frustrated musician, totally devoted husband and father, giving son of many mothers and fathers, faithful friend to all, veracious reader, casual observer, reluctant politician, federal government employee and part of the problem, legend in my own mind, superhero on the weekends, dreamer of movies, spelling bee winner, possessed by the spirts of Jim Morrison and Hunter S. Thompson, lifelong Redskins fan despite the dry spell, a forever Kiss fan, alive and kicking, and most importantly a metal fan ‘til the bitter end. Viva la Rock-n-Roll!

A.K.

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