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A Dusty Old Cassette

This is all a lie, or at best, a partial truth.  All of this is a caricature, a persona, a mask.  You don't get to see me; you don't get to know me.  You get what I share and this is it.

So I have something to say and I'm not sure how to say it, or if I mean what it is that I have to say; I'm just going to pound the keys and hope for the best.

I saw something written about the current political situation that said, in effect, on the bright side, think of all the great punk music that will come out of this tumultuous period. It suggested that this may bring about a revival, that there will be a resurgence of the punk movement.

I said, hey asshat, we've been here the whole time, just doing what we have always done, without your permission or notice.  We do not need you.  We don't want your approval, we don't care what you people get up to out there.

It was a reminder that we are outside for a reason, that legitimacy is not something to strive for, it is the beginning of the end of your movement.

We all drown in the mainstream.

I don't know what the point is, if there is one.  I have been listening to live sets from punk bands, and the sound quality is a wreck, the guitars are being drowned out, and it sounds hollow and shitty, some garbage footage shot on someones cell phone in some shitty basement, and there are people talking in the background, and all I can think of is that it sounds like home.  That is what we did, remember?  Before we had the means to pay for a recording session in a studio, we would just press record on some shitty tape deck, and we would play, and it sounds like shit but it sounds like home.

I left my hometown and I chose a good peaceful life.  I am a father and a husband, and I like to think I'm a good one, and I try my best to not be a fucking maniac.  I don't drink anymore for just that reason.  And I know maybe you are thinking would I want my own kids to read this?  and I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.  I chose a good life, I chose peace over chaos, but there is a part that will not be silenced, there is a voice that tells me that I am a faker that it is only a matter of time until it all comes crumbling down.  And I can hardly claim Punk anymore, I am just a chubby middle aged dipshit, a bloated mockery of my ideals.

And here I am in an office and I feel like my bones are on fire, I feel like I want to smash my hands through the monitors.  I look in the mirror over the sink and I wonder who is there looking back, and I wonder who am I really?  Am I a good daddy, the same guy that ran behind the bicycle on our safe little suburban sidewalk, that said I'm going to let go now, but I believe in you, you can trust me, you've got this?  Am I that man that changed all those diapers and got up with a sick kid so the wife could rest, that held those little hands through stitches and dentist visits?

I've got broken bones in my hands from hitting walls, I've got a half dead liver, a weakened heart, shriveled lungs, and a stained and blackened soul, and I am scared that no matter what I do now, that I am still destined for Hell, no matter how many meaningful conversations I have, no matter if I can fix my appliances or if my lawn is properly manicured.

Before I left my hometown, at a party, my best friend in the whole world took a swing at me.  I was leaving, see?  Fuck you he said.  Fuck you Ralph.  You're abandoning us.  We were drunk, we had just played a show, one of our last, in some stranger's garage.  It was late and instead of fighting him, I grabbed him and I hugged him and I told him that that's not true, I wasn't abandoning him.

But I was.  I did.

I couldn't stay; the whole town was too filled with painful memories, my head and my heart were crushed to a million shards, I was a broken ruin, a black hole, collapsed in on itself.

So I ran.  I tried to run and hide, but the problem wasn't the town or the people, and it took a long time, but I have stopped running, and I will no longer hide.  I am finally at some approximation of peace, I am at peace, or something that looks a lot like it, but there is this fire that still burns, and I wonder if I am just a pretender, if I am still acting, if I will ever really be fine, if I will ever really know peace.

I am scared that I abandoned them.  And I am scared that I will never be free of the poison.  I am scares that this is how I will always feel.

I chose something different, and I think it is easy to forget that it is a choice, everything we do is a choice, and sometimes we choose poorly and things fall apart, and sometimes we do the right thing.  I tried to do the right thing, I tried to choose well.  I have a family that loves me, a wife that I am crazy about, and I know that my death will be mourned, that someone will remember me.  I have made every mistake, touched every flame, and maybe the problem is that after all that, I don't think I deserve this, and I see others that don't have all the blessings that I do and I wonder just who the fuck do I think I am to have everything, who do I think I am to believe for a second that I deserve this peace, who do I think I am that I believe that this can last, that one day I won't wake up and everything will be ash sifting through my trembling fingers.

I wonder if I will ever feel complete, if the teaching my kid to ride a bike guy can ever fit in the same body at the same time as the screaming animal, straining against the chains.

And I want forgiveness.

And I have forgiven, I swear it, but I cannot forget.

This doesn't mean anything.  It is a shitty recording in a garage or a basement, and the songs are dumb, and it is rough and filled with feedback, the sounds of clinking bottles and half heard conversations, but I played loud, and you might want to sing along.  It is imperfect, but we never asked for perfect, all we wanted was heart, all we wanted was a voice.  And there are those that will not understand this, but there are those that will recognize my intent, that sometimes it is not meant to be polished and tight and sharp, that sometimes we just need a shoulder to throw an arm around, sometimes we just need to feel less alone.

We are all dying, and none of us belong anywhere.

I am wood splinters in a vacant lot; I am a broken statue, shattered by a blow to some fundamental flaw.

This is my shitty recording, on some dusty old forgotten cassette.

Still Writing,



Sometimes people ask me what something I wrote means, and I wish I had a better answer than a shrug, but I don't.  I always think, hell, you read it; why don't you tell me what it means?  Seriously.  Tell me what it means, if you think it means anything.  Comment here, or where ever you feel most comfortable, and tell me what it means.  I'm most accessible on Twitter @RDPullins, or you can email me if you feel so compelled: dissent . within at gmail dot com.  I'm nearly never on Facebook anymore, but I check for a day or two after I post things, so hit me up there, too, if you wanna.  Cheers.


  1. I know what you mean Ralph.. sometimes I don't feel cut out for this stuff either.. I have fantasies of leaving it all and just seeing what shows upI am always praying for your peace as well
    As mine

  2. You seem to be contrasting your past self and your current self, and drawing the conclusion that your current self is somehow less authentic. Is it because it's more conventional? I get it...I've struggled with my inner Martha Stewart since I became a parent.
    Me? I think choice is the key concept. Ain't nobody going to tell me what to do. If I want to be outside on my lawn with a pair of manicure scissors and the whole neighborhood gets to see my ass in the be it.
    Great visual imagery, BTW.
    Thanks for this.

  3. I bet there's people out there that are like: "Yep, I've got this down. There's absolutely no way I'm going to mess this up." Kinda be nice to be one of those lunatics, huh?

  4. I think the thing is that I am authentically both, and that I just get to express my father-ey side most often, because that is the one that is dominating my life and choices now. I think the choice thing is key, because if you choose things, you are no longer victim to your circumstance. If I find myself romanticizing the past too much, it helps to remember that the past was a struggle then just like life is right now, and the real truth is, I honestly don't know where I would be if I hadn't been given the life I have now. I might not have survived, and even if I did, I sure as hell wouldn't be as close to comfortable and happy as I am consistently, despite my many and varied personal shortcomings.

  5. Being more of a groupie on the outside of the old loop you often revist in your head of then and now...I can relate in one parallel you might not understand but I do and thats all that matters.My experience as a soldier serving over 9 years in the Army and leaving my comrades behind . Today I am a father of six and a warrior of other sorts and all is not as it was in this black hole you escaped ,or is it?
    Take care Ralph

  6. Six! I tapped out at two; you're a bigger man than I, that is certain.
    One of the best parts of writing weird vague garbage is the stuff that people find there that I didn't realize was in there. I am always slightly surprised and gratified that someone somewhere is interested in these strange ramblings. Cheers, man. Thanks for reading, thanks for serving. Bless.


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