“The Red Pen Entry” (Journal, 11/01/03) Doc. #012

Explaining the Text:

Most of the pages in Document #0002: Lime Green Sketchpad and Document #0003: Green Notebook are filled with a type of “writing” that is difficult to categorize. Perhaps the kindest way to think of it is as free-writing at its purest – free of convention, free of form, free of fear – just the mind alone with itself, some mind-altering substances, and a pen.

Random quotes from real life and television appear alongside hastily done doodles that sometimes have clear connections to the text and at other times do not. Poetry will arrive and depart within a few muddled lines. Stray thoughts fly across the page. Self-reflective questions abound. It is the self-exploration of the writer and fledgling drug-user in the playground of the blank page.

Basically, it’s a bunch of rubbish.

Today will be my first attempt to translate and analyze one of these psychological masturbation sessions. Please enjoy.

The “Text”:

Red Page 1

1. (Red ink 11-01-03) (Age 17) All I could find to write with on the Saturday I got stoned and scribbled this was a red pen. This was one of the rare occasions where I noted the date I was sitting down to write something. So many pages in these books are undated, which makes placing them in time a hit-or-miss proposition. References to events that were happening help, but some of these pages are so random and impersonal that remembering when I wrote them is impossible.

2. (Things got a little out of Hand →) Self-commentary, it would seem, has been a running theme for quite some time. I’ve lately realized that I don’t like to be definitive in my descriptive writing. Everything is “a little” or “a bit” or “quite.” I so rarely say “A was A.” It’s always, “somewhat A,” “kind of A,” “very much like A except for the ways in which it is like B.” I bet it’s a little bit annoying to read.

As far as what got out of hand on the next page, I cannot say. The answer is probably “me.”

3. (The End) Another difficulty with reading these entries is that they are non-linear. Clearly this is not the end, there are three more pages after this, but it was the last thing I “wrote” on that day, and so it is “The end.” This can be interesting when thoughts are in conversation with each other on different parts of the page.

Red Page 2.JPG

4. (the candles are lit. BRRRRrrr…. (it’s cold))Winters in Western New York are known for being particularly brutal. In high school I lived in my parent’s basement to avoid having to share a room with my little brother.  The only source of heat was an electric space heater on one side of the long, rectangular room. The power had gone out that night, which was why the heater was off and I was using candles.

5. (That was a big tangent) No idea what I’m referring to here. It could be the fact that I wrote the word “Brrrr” so large. Just a guess.

6. (Oh no, the idea is ruined!) Again, I have no clue what “the idea” was, or how I ruined it.

7. (Today it is time to be different) I’m going to be honest here, I was pretty f***ing different every day, so I don’t know what made this day special or how I intended to be different. Perhaps it had something to do with that night’s approach to writing and I somehow “ruined it.”

8. (we are warm and you are cold) This is a reference to an episode of “Boy Meets World” in which Cory and Shawn are sitting on a billboard as part of a local radio contest to win concert tickets. I believe this line was supposed to be part of a hallucination Cory has as he succumbs to hypothermia. Or at least that’s the way I remember it.

9. (we’re going to crash) Whoever was supposed to have said this was apparently correct.

10. (the heater is off) In case I had forgotten?

11. (Acicrack) Now this is a reference so obscure only a handful of people could even possibly remember it. “Acicrack” was another best-friend-Tim invention: a revolutionary new drug that combined LSD and crack cocaine, and sounded like “ass crack” when you said it. We made a promotional video for it which is still on YouTube to this day. We did not mix LSD and crack in real life.

12. (Today is a day for no organization. Shit!) I wish I could remember what I was attempting to do to “organize things differently.” The “Shit!” is clearly an exclamation of frustration at realizing I had failed to do whatever it was I was attempting to do.

Red Pages 34

13. Just let your mind flow free.
      You will start to hear
            the rhythm of the word
      How people sniffle their
      (Every eighth beat)
     Or how your personal
           heater snaps
    (Every 4orth Beat) (see “Reflection” below)

14. (Last Line: Feel the beat of the Earth) I guess I decided this poem was good enough to continue writing with an end-goal of this line.

15. (10:55 Think about that you stupid fucker) I assume that I am the “stupid f***er” I am referring to, though I don’t remember what it was that I was supposed to think about. My bedtime? 


There’s no point in “critiquing” this; it was clearly not intended for public consumption. But the poem snippet from #13 could use an extra moment of attention. It’s not awful writing. The idea I present here is one I still think about from time to time: the rhythmic flow of speech and writing.

I have experienced several times in my life, moments where the sound of someone speaking felt identical to a memory of someone else speaking in the past. The words were different, and yet the rhythm of the words, the pattern of the delivery, felt familiar and predictable, as if there were some underlying pattern to human speech that had nothing to do with the ideas being expressed, like effective speaking is a kind of specialized singing.

This particular attempt at expressing this idea is terrible, but I might take the subject on again in a future piece of writing.

Back to the document in question though. I remember this night vividly (probably because of the novelty of the red pen). When I read the words on the page, I can remember the chill of the basement that night, the glow from the candles, the way the red ink looked black in the dim light. Besides being chilly and without television that night, it was a good evening. I was pretty stoned and enjoying my quiet time with the empty page.

My daytime life around this time was pretty excellent. I had spending money, a car, a second-hand computer with Internet, good grades, a weed dealer who wasn’t an idiot, and a girlfriend I didn’t appreciate (more on her another time). It was my Senior year of high school and I was comfortable in my role of socially-acceptable nerd. I split my time between a group of stoners and a “nice bunch of kids” that included a boy who wanted to be a priest and a girl whose mom took her to Disney World every year. I was the bad influence in one group, the responsible one in the other.

It really was a good year. In terms of feeling like I knew myself and was living the way I wanted to live, that year would be a high point until I met my wife. But time and education complicate the mind. The shameless, over-sexed, all-knowing hippie that I was, could only survive so long in the social fishbowl I was about to find myself in. But I was a glorious bastard while it lasted, let me tell you.

Anyway, I hope you liked something here, and if you did, please click one of those SHARE buttons below! Thanks for reading!


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