Methamphetamine Smiles

I absolutely have to finish The Book. There is no reason not to finish it. I have ideas, I have structure, I have words…but somehow I cannot bring myself to put the bastard to bed. There is the intense pressure I have placed upon myself. There is the subtle squeeze that comes from friends and family all eager for me to succeed. There is the overwhelming weight of a dwindling bank account. What I need to do is barricade the door, hole up with frozen pizza and energy drinks and just write. Until it is done.

Instead, I decided to walk across the river to catch a poetry reading at the 3 Friends Coffee house. Down the stairs and onto the street, I was confronted at my front door by a 15 year old meth head, complete with hallow features and scabs on her face. “E-E-Excuse me sir, I’m trying to stay the night at the hostel…”

I was tempted to tell her to fuck off.  To tell her that I live on that block, and get hit up for change 15 times every day, with 15 different sad stories, recycled in 15 ways. To tell her that she’s in the wrong neighborhood, that the hostels are in the other parts of the city. To tell her that I didn’t have any money anyway. She looked up at me, her sad story finished with the most pathetic look on her face.  She was truly heart breaking. Fuck it. “Here, good luck, be safe.” She smiled, a broken smile, but warm all the same as she put my nickel and dime dollar into her grubby road cargos. “thank you sir,” she said.

I thought about that on my walk across the river. When did I become a sir? What happened to that girl’s family? I walked across the Burnside Bridge and replayed the scene. Could she have guessed that I will actually miss that dollar I gave her? Where were the rich people of the world, why weren’t they taking care of this girl? I see them everyday, rolling through my neighborhood in their shiny foreign cars, windows rolled up, and doors locked. They pay top dollar to live above all this. To live in the West Hills and look down on Oldtown, to look down on poor people trying to help each other. Just trying to live.

I got to the comfortably eclectic coffee shop on the Eastside, but hesitated to enter. I stood at the front door, in front of the big shop windows and watched all the people inside. The literary people, the writers, the poets; those just a part of that scene. All warm and comfortable and this funky little shop in the city, out celebrating their silly arrangements of written words. Wearing boutique thrift store clothing, trying to look poor. Trying to look like that teenage meth head, trying to look like me. I hated all of them.

I didn’t end up even going inside. I turned around and walked back across the bridge, back to Oldtown. I’d found motivation.


9 responses to “Methamphetamine Smiles

  1. I love the way you take such simple, everyday exchanges and turn them into heart-touching stories like this. You GOT this, Sean.

  2. yes, you definitely could write a book, sir! 😉 rich people don’t care… they have no soul. sigh. and the indie thing, or the cultural thing, or the whatever thing of “trying to look poor”.. i get lost in that too. it’s maybe just as bad as the rich people.

  3. I’m new to your writing since about 57 seconds ago. And Enthralled.

    And coincidentally, a wise person told me yesterday that all you need to actually do something is one, single good reason.

    Go book!

  4. seanmcdonnellbrown

    that truly IS a wise person, thanks for reading Cessie!

  5. wow.

    I just came upon you via doniree and free & flawed, and couldn’t feel luckier. You have talent, sir. TALENT.

    And your writing reminds me of my years traveling through hostels and going to oh-so-many poetry readings in Prague. Thank you.

  6. seanmcdonnellbrown

    I have a desperate need to get to Prague, I’ve heard great things, thanks for reading Emma

  7. Really enjoyed that story. Excellent insight about the literary culture and the pseudo intellects of the urban landscape.

    Look forward to more tales from Portland.

  8. seanmcdonnellbrown

    cheers Joe, thanks.

  9. That was awesome. No pressure to finish the book – you’ll get there, whenever it’s right.

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