The little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which I work with so fine a brush as produces little effect after much labour.
Jane Austen at least left behind some perfect jewels of novels about a world even smaller than my own, and all I have is some poetry, some fragments of novels, a corner of the internet of dubious quality and copious angst that started out with a processing of my feelings of city, homeland, place, and, like someone who starts reading Zinn after a diet of perpetual red-blooded Murkan jingoism, there is more out there than this rust belt town like so many others.
One of my good friends and neighbors was on a panel last night that was ostensibly meant to discuss writing in the context of region but mostly turned into an analysis of boosterism vs. coming to terms with the legitimate and deep problems of the city, which only peripherally has anything to do with writing at all, though maybe it was an understood subtext as I'm sure damn near everyone who has a blog remotely related to the region was in the bar that night and so much of what was said, my own voice added to the fray despite the shyness that almost kept me from going.
And I look around the room, and we're all products of a technocratic society, of multiple degrees, of time to read blogs at the office desk or coffeeshop, and probably have a degree in liberal arts or social sciences, because like me, everyone who talked was in the information fields to some degree, or writing a book, and the vast majority were white, don't have kids in the school system, and could choose what neighborhoods we live in rather than getting stuck somewhere, and are generally between the age of 18 and 35, forgetting that not everyone is in our position.
We can talk about innovation all we want, and being positive and seeing the good things, but blogging about the groovy things we do doesn't change the school system, the party machine and power structure that siphons away millions of taxpayer dollars to the pockets of millionaire cronies for stadiums and casinos and urban playgrounds for the well-heeled, tax breaks for "nonprofits" whose directors make six figures and token gestures to "the children." The innovation has not trickled down to the masses, and even something so world class as the Cleveland Clinic prefers to build swanky campuses in Dubai while closing the emergency room in East Cleveland because of the cost-benefit analysis.
When I muster up the guts and foolishness to bring this up, there are blank stares and someone in the back starts yelling that if I don't like it so much and if I'm so negative why don't I just move and in the noise of that I retreat to my seat to scrawl passive aggressively on a halfsheet of notebook paper and observe the drama that transpires as people not-so-subtly snipe at each other and we're not talking about writing anymore, and people are ranting and before it can get too crazy it's time for the bands to go onstage and I'm out of there.
I've made an effort here to put down the roots that were already growing, to build a life, because I don't believe I can change the world or even change the city but I can at least try to do something in my own small sphere, without attaching some kind of deep significance to it. I've attempted to understand every corner of this city from the lakefront mansions to the abandoned factories, learned about immigrant communities and housing projects, and listened to a lot of people talk who aren't from my age group, income bracket, or socioeconomic strata. With everything, it's way more complicated than black or white or political party or personal taste. There's legitimate celebrations and equally valid grievances that are damn near impossible to distill coherently.
It's hard to "give back" to the community when you're working a couple jobs and trying to stay afloat. It's hard to "innovate" when there's no loans or capital to start with, or the prerequisite palmgreasing and red tape. What I might want is not what my neighbor might need because we're at different places in life.
What I do in my world is not for Cleveland personified, I'd do this anywhere, this is just where I ended up. But I'm tired of boosterism and bitching and honestly regret that I've pigeonholed myself into this regional corner. I may still post here, but I came away feeling disconnected from both sides, like the microcosm of the "love it or leave it" bumper sticker slogan mentality that comes with most kinds of patriotism and provincialism that ultimately shuts down the conversation and chokes out the life.
We still sound like the desperate girlfriend whose tries to overcompensate with the insecurity by talking about how great and unique she is and how beautiful she is. Cleveland is not my Paris just like I'm not Megan Fox or whoever you dudes think is hot. Let the others do the talking and stop with the self-absorbed conversation because it's boring and old.
For those who want to continue to follow the musings and randomness, I'll continue it somewhere else with hopefully a wider scope. I'm really glad that this has enabled me to meet some really fabulous people but I just want to drop out of the conversation that brought me here at this point.