In today’s journal excerpt, Snow reflects on her first meeting with Jo.
Street people, homeless people, invisible people. None of these labels place the emphasis on the most important word, the one word we all have in common–PEOPLE.
I don’t know what it was about that Jo when I first met her. I didn’t think anything of it really, not at the time. Oh sure, there was the locking of eyes, the pull of someone “Seeing” you. Of getting you. For an instant it opened up a channel, like a switch on an electric circuit connecting. But it clicked off so quick, with a squirt of fear—Don’t look, don’t look, I’m ugly, don’t look.
Which is funny, that. That fear. Usually I’m like, look at me, yes, look at me you bastard. I dare you to . . . look . . . at . . . me.
Because they don’t, you know. They glare at you maybe. They may even notice you enough to step around you. But hardly nobody ever really looks at you. So why should my rage, my challenge to see me, turn to fear when someone actually does?
I don’t know. I don’t care. Enough of this bullshit. Let someone get close and they screw you. Everyone knows that. Think too much and you screw yourself.
So fuck her. Fuck that moment, fuck that instant of hunger and longing and pain. Stuff it all down deep into the dark core of ugly and save it up for that day you need all the rage you can find.
Ever wonder what stories occur behind the scenes of your favorite novel? Check back often to read read journal entries by your favorite characters from BEND ME, SHAPE ME. Here's an entry from Snow's Journal now.
They’d hate me if they knew. Hate me and lock me up. They put kids in jail these days and try them as adults. Age don’t matter. Don’t matter, neither, that it’s all fuzzy to me now. Like a movie screen not focused right, not edited right. Choppy pieces of film spliced together, over exposed and running at fast speed. Dark images, too.
I only see it myself when it gets dark. Not dark like in sunshine and light bulbs. I mean dark that weighs heavy on you. It dulls sounds, burns hot and fills me so full I gotta explode somehow.
That’s when the movie plays in my head, sometimes silent, sometimes loud with only scraps of words, screams. Blood on my hands, on the knife in my hand. Screaming in my ears. Every time the movie gets this far, the rage kicks in and the screen goes black and I gotta kill something, smash something, beat something with my hands, with my bleeding, bare, fucking hands.
Another entry from Jo Sullivan's journal
The 36 point headlines are the ones that stand out, the stories that sell the daily papers and capture the attention of Chicago newspapers. But it’s the throwaway paragraphs found hidden in the back pages that draw my attention again and again.
“Teen Picked Up For Prostitution.” “56 Bed Shelter Closed Down.” “Homeless Kid Keeps Pet Rat.”
Throwaway stories. Throwaway people.
Newspapers do print good news sometimes. “Aid Worker Helps Get Dancer Back on His Feet.” “Homeless Youth Given a Sign of Hope.” “Northside Center Gets A Facelift.” My desk is littered with research like that. There are over thirty shelters listed in a resource book put out by Emmaus Ministries in Uptown, ten of them for youth. Maybe I should write a story about each of them.
A homeless shelter reviewing system if you will, like they do for hotels and motels. Why shouldn’t homeless people know ahead of time what they’re getting into when they seek lodging?
Another entry from Jo Sullivan's journal.
In the cubicle next to me, I can hear Ed Logan clicking away at his terminal in a frantic race to meet the 2:30 deadline. I turned in my stories over an hour ago. My vision is fogged from fatigue. The springs in my desk chair creak like an old woman’s bones groaning for mercy. And yet I still can’t let go of this project spread out in front of me.
It’s a series for my Street Stories column that focuses only on homeless teens from the past. Did they evolve into homeless adults or did they make it out somehow? How many of them are even still alive?
I’ve been scanning microfilm in my sleep every night. When I look in the mirror every morning the circles under my eyes remind me of kids shooting dope and smoking crack. When I see teens hanging out on street corners I wonder if they have a place to sleep at night. When I glimpse kids riding school buses I wonder if they know how lucky they are.
Obsessed much? Damn right I am, but I don’t have time to worry about that. And besides, I’m writing some damn good stories.
Ever wonder what stories occur behind the scenes of your favorite novel? Check back often to read read journal entries by your favorite characters from BEND ME, SHAPE ME. Here's an entry from Jo's Journal now.
What is it about the city that draws me to it? I came from Iowa, for God’s sake: corn-bred and cornbread, rolling green hills, potlucks, farm fields stretching across acres and acres. And cows–God, I miss cows with their soft brown eyes and wide noses.
Yet I am drawn to, no–energized by, the dirt and grime of Chicago, the press of buildings and people, the road rage.
Don’t get me wrong. I also love the country, the wide open spaces. Oh God, I long to just to sit on the shore somewhere and watch the waves beat against the rocks, or to be isolated in the wilds of Canada, in a peaceful shaft of sunlight streaming through a canopy of pine boughs. The birds and the squirrels and the wind like sustenance for my soul.
But here I’m–intense, alive, wrapped up in life. You can’t exist in isolation, not anymore. Life isn’t peace and contentment and pretty flowers sniffed by the noses of perfect, happy go lucky human beings. Life sucks. It’s hard and dirty and tries to grab you by the throat sometimes and choke the life out of you.
But you can’t let it. That’s what make life so interesting, that’s what makes life worth living. The fight to not let the darkness win.