Born of Frustration

Happy Birthday Jack Kerouac. This is for you.

James was brawny and tall, 6″4″, with a coif of long blonde hair that layered over his impressive head and shoulders. I couldn’t stand looking at him, well, at least in the way everyone else beheld him. I felt like a little boy, a pipsqueak of nothing. No matter what I said, tried, did, played, or wrote, it fell at his feet like broken arrows in a bad television western. I was too young to understand that James was a moment in time not an era of accomplishment. We were early twenty-somethings trying to figure out if screwing or doing or brewing was the way to be men. He called me by my last name, an insult that kept me in a place, my pathetic place, of insecure discontent that walled much more anxiety that I already experienced through my own disordered brain. Women tossed their bodies at James, he’d treat most of them with groupie indifference, work when he wanted, and get away with things that would’ve crushed my reputation. I would get lost in plotting, scheming, and pontificating how I would make the idiots around me see how I was smarter and more interesting than him. Nothing ever worked. Instead of getting attention or, God forbid, poetic justice on the smug lug, my words and thoughts would wander like smoke trailing into my nether region of envy, born of frustration. Time showed James peaked, back then. He was only what he was in front of everyone’s face. My 5’8″ brown-haired twitch of motor-mouth, dark moods, grunge clothed, music lyric spouting, notebook writing stress ball was a work in progress. I was minor league to his major league. But looks fade, people change, things move, thoughts matriculate. I used to see James as this Goliath and me this pathetic David, slingshot unarmed, a fool’s view. Years have a way of evening scores while maturity and gravity laugh at them over lunch, something grilled and diet, of course. Cheers, James. Hope you’re well.

*****blogger’s note****

In celebration of one of the truest artists in history, Jack Kerouac,  and a nod to three prompts; StudioThirtyPlus’ “Envy” , Trifecta Writing’s “Trail”, and Write on Edge’s “This week we’d like you to write about a time you found yourself comparing yourself, unfavorably, with someone else. Focus on how the comparison affected you, negatively or positively.” I wrote in the unstructured, stream of conscience style of the late beat superstar. It’s a great day to celebrate being a writer.

Today’s song is a distant memory. This is something emo and dumb and almost forgotten that I listened to during my time of comparision to someone else. Here’s James – Born of Frustration.

43 responses to “Born of Frustration

  1. Very Jack Kerouac “screwing or doing or brewing was”
    I could taste this guy’s frustration and jealousy, and I had to look twice to find trail (which is my favorite way to hit a Trifecta word – so it doesn’t feel at all forced, just what you would naturally say in the story)

    “He’s treat them” — did you mean “He’d treat them”?

    My favorite song off of Seven is “Next Lover” which also fits here. (And of course, I first came to the group through Laid.)

  2. I haven’t heard that song in forever! And well written piece… the progression from envy, working on beyond to a place of looking back with almost amusement was really good – a sense of those things that flowed but at a jagged pace, like life.

  3. This was f**king awesome! I love Kerouac, but I did not know that today was his birthday. I should have known since Pisces dudes and I have this thing. Seriously, wonderfully done, mi amigo.~

  4. Oh, that seriously brought back some memories. I was best friends with James. Well, a female version of him. I consider it an irreplaceable learning experience. One of those things I used to reflect on a lot while trying to “find myself,” that awkward period after high school when you realize that the name you made for yourself over the past 4 years means absolutely nothing. Without question, I am who I am, in small part, because of her friendship. The only thing that makes one aggressive enough to be first is the experience of being second to an idol of your own making. Never again.

    • yes, uh huh, all of that

      I don’t begrudge James or anyone else like him back then. It was back then. It thickened my skin and made me ready for what happened later. Kind of cool to remember some of it.

      Thanks dues

  5. I love this because I know guys like James. My first husband ironically enough was named James and was much like your anti-hero here. It’s always refreshing to read a piece of prose that doesn’t make you feel less intelligent than you know you are after reading it. What I mean, I suppose, is that this is straight-forward, well-written, and truly sucked me into the story.

    Good luck in the challenge!

  6. There’s a version of James in most people’s lives.

    I bet there even was in James’s, even if they didn’t appear until later in his life.

    You nailed the feeling of inadequacy, though. I remember it well.

  7. I think the most telling part is the. It about being called by your last name. Smug and dehumanizing. I’m glad you’re past this time and on to happier things and relationships!

  8. Btw, i’m sick with the flu and blame all my typos on no sleep and this damn ipad held up at an angle by me knees in bed. That is all.

  9. Loved it! And I must say, I bloomed late and am now quite content with that. Because while time has been unkind to many of my popular high school counter parts, I find that I am doing quite well!

  10. Jack Kerouac was the final jeopardy answer the a few weeks ago and I got it right. Just had to share that with someone that might have cared. I felt smart for a day!!!

    Also …. I love it!

    Your true-er stuff is my fav!

  11. Ah, Jack Kerouac…. love him love him love him. I’m in the middle of reading “The Subterraneans”.

    I held my breath reading this piece. It was so good. The style was perfect for it. Loved it. Gonna read it again.

  12. Love this! Tight, clean writing, and you nailed both the character of James and your own feelings when comparing yourself to him. The last few sentences are brilliant. You evoke pity for people who peaked too early, even if they made others’ lives hell while doing it.

  13. This is great, Lance. I love everything about it, from its fast pace to its startling honesty, from the vivid character sketches to the homage to JK. There’s loads in here to read over and enjoy. Nice job indeed. Oh, and I’m glad we didn’t get landed with James at Trifecta…

    Look forward to reading more over the weekend.

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