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Captain Robert
Abney Park
Letters From a Little Boy to Himself As An Adult 
2nd-Nov-2012 07:19 pm


In the Novel I'm writing, most chapters directly correlate to an Abney Park song. Here is the Chapter about "Letters From a Little Boy To Himself As An Adult".


When I was a little boy, my mother and father shared an office in our house. It was filled with hundreds of dusty old books on Anthropology and Psychology, masks and headdress and weapons from various tribal peoples lined tops of books shelves and hung dusty on walls. A massive oak desk stood in the center of the room confidently holding a massive beige electric typewriter. And on an antique sewing table in the corner of the room was a Chronofax.

A Chronofax (“by Calgori Industries”, boasted a little brass plaque on the side) looks like an antique typewriter with a small greenish screen on the top. Its keys were round, like coat buttons, but laid out somewhat similar to a contemporary keyboard layout. Just above the keys was an abacus like slider, with dates on it.

If you typed on the keyboard, your words would appear on the screen. Then, when you pulled a lever on the side it would make a “shunk-chiing!” sound, and the words would disappear.

Supposedly, this machine would send your message forward in time, reappearing at whatever time you had set it to. I would type letters to myself as an adult, mostly warnings, but it never seemed to work for me. I’d pull the lever, and the note would disappear, and I’d never know if it went to me in the future or not.

They would normally read like this,

Dear Mr. Brown
I thought myself very clever for guessing as an Adult I would be a “Mr. Brown”, not a “Robbie”.

Dear Mr. Brown,
Whatever happens, don’t give away your toy Millennium Falcon! And don’t turn into a grown up, they suck.
- Robbie

Well, mom and dad got a divorce, and most of the books, and artifacts, and the Chronofax went into storage.

I grew up and moved out, and got a series of lame jobs. I bagged groceries at Safeway, I sold clothes at the mall, I was even an assistant manager at and umbrella store! (you’d think I made that part up, but it’s a fact.) All the while, I wrote music, and I started a band, and we’d play on the weekends whenever we could find time or energy away from our life sucking day jobs. I passed my 20’s slowly starting to hate my life, as my prospects of becoming a “rock star” seemed more and more unlikely, and the dream of becoming an “Adventurer” was so far gone that just remembering I once had the dream was painful.

One day, after having to turn down a great offer to play a concert in Las Vegas (because I had to work that weekend, and the Vegas show wasn’t going to pay as much as my current day job of “sitting in a cubical trying to look busy”) I got an email from my father, saying “Meet me at the storage unit. I am getting rid of some of the old stuff, and I want to make sure there is nothing here you want.

I got there just around sunset as he was leaving. He tossed me the keys, and said, “Take what you want. In the morning I’ll toss everything else in the dumpster.”

Here were the final remnants of my family and my childhood: nobody wanted any of it, and what I didn’t take with me was to be thrown away. Let that be a lesson on life: what you don’t take with you, or make on the journey, you will never have. (note to self: this would be a great lyric theme for a song)

I dug through boxes of art I did in school, old souveniegers from the travels my family went on, boxes of…Who keeps old purple pillows?... and floor lamps, dusty books from the office…and sitting on top of the old piano was the Chronofax.

On its screen was a letter, probably the last thing I typed on it as a kid:
Dear Mr. Brown,
One day I’ll be you, so I thought I would write to you and make sure you don’t change too much, or turn into anyone we’d hate.
Being a kid is not always that great. Mom and dad have been fighting and yelling a LOT. It’s not fun here. I can’t WAIT to grow up and get out of here.
I think it’s very important that you do something cool as an adult, so I’ve got something to look forward to. Please consider being an astronaut, or a pirate or something cool like that.
Please don’t be a looser with a lame job at a bank or something.
If you are reading this please reply and tell me what we are when we grow up.
~ Robbie

Well, I guess the machine did work, sort of! Whatever the last thing I typed on was still onscreen years later, and I’m reading it as an adult.

But this message stung, especially since life was NOT cool and glamorous. I worked a job I hated. After years of working for someone else, I had elevated myself to the position of “Guy who sits in a cubical doing something with a computer”. Excitement in my life came in two forms:

1. Late for work, or left early from work, and now the boss is mad. Ironic, since most of the time at work I was doing nothing, and I certainly would have been doing nothing during these times I was tardy.
2. Waiting for a concert to begin in a small smelly bar some ware, really hoping people would show up to watch it (lord, let there just be enough people watching so as not to embarrass me to the new guitar player!)

So, I sat on the old piano bench in the storage unit, and pulled the Chronofax onto my lap, and angrily typed reply. I didn’t think for a moment it would go back in time, I just couldn’t let that little boy have the last word.

Dr. Little Boy,
I’m doing my best up here, but it’s REALLY hard. I have to pay ALL these bills, which I barely make enough money to pay. I have to buy clothes I hate, so I can where them to a job I hate, and I have to buy gas to keep my car running while I fight gridlock on the way to the job I hate, and I have to pay for parking at the job. All of these add up to more money then I make at this job.
Being a Astronaut is silly, there are like maybe ten in the whole world. Being a pirate is dangerous, and illegal, and cruel, and it does NOT mean you have a cool old pirate ship, and a sword – pirates are not really like that.
No, I am not something cool, I’m just doing my best to stay afloat, and it sucks.
- Robert Brown

I was pissed, and bitter, and I pulled the leaver, and the words vanished. Then I felt a tinge of gilt, how depressed would any little boy get to receive that?

Instantly a new note appeared on the screen, and sent a shiver down my spine.

Dr, Mr. Brown,
That CAN’T be what life is like! It doesn’t make any sense! You’re lying! You suck.
Why would you work a job you hated, so that you could only barley afford to live a life you hate! I would NEVER do that!
You lie. I hate you.
- Robbie

Wait a second, I think I might remember this! Didn’t I get a couple messages from this machine when I was a kid? I told dad, who took me too talk with a guy at his work, who asked me a lot of questions about my parents impending divorce.

Shortly after that, the Chronofax disappeared from the office, and shortly after that all furniture was moved into storage, the house was sold, my mother moved to California, and my father started dating.

However, that day…then and there in that storage unit, I called the band and said, I don’t care about our day jobs, we are playing that show in Salt Lake City!


Letters From A Little Boy To Himself As An Adult
Lyrics by Captain Robert

''Robert as boy:''
Dear Mr. Brown,
One day I’ll be you and
Although I’m only eight now,
You need to hear my rules
Never stop playing
Never stop dreaming and
And be careful not to
Turn into what I’d hate

''Robert as adult:''
Dear little boy,
I’m doing my best up here but
It’s a thankless job and
Nobody feels the same
You work long hours
Watch your credit rating
Pay your taxes and
Prepare to die

''Jody Ellen:''
I have tried to keep my soul
I lost the fight to keep a hold
Now I am not awake
Now I’m not awake

''Robert as boy:''
Hey Mr. Brown,
That can't be what life is like!
I’ve watched some movies,
And I've, I’ve read some books
Life should be exciting
And sometimes scary but
What you’re describing doesn't
Seem worth the time

''Robert as adult:''
Hey little boy,
I think you are always right
I’ve dropped that worthless life and
I’m moving on
Life should be adventure
I’m stealing back my soul
I’ve lost too many years now
I’m awake

''Robert and Jody Ellen:''
You were right
I nearly lost my soul
I will fight to steal back my soul
Now I am awake
Now I’m awake
Comments 
3rd-Nov-2010 02:27 am (UTC)
I think this song will always make me cry.
3rd-Nov-2010 03:07 am (UTC)
Anonymous
It makes you cry? I think it is inspiring! It makes my heart lift in hope and joy!
3rd-Nov-2010 03:20 am (UTC)
Right now I am not living my dream.
3rd-Nov-2010 05:07 pm (UTC)
I completely know what you mean, first time I heard this song I burst into tears in the middle of a crowded bus.
3rd-Nov-2010 02:43 am (UTC)
My favorite on the new cd, by far. Wonderful lyrics, and Jody's voice and yours just work together so beautifully. Absolutely love it.
3rd-Nov-2010 02:55 am (UTC)
Wow. You inspire me.
3rd-Nov-2010 05:28 am (UTC)
I need to get a job so that I can afford this CD, it sounds wonderful.
At the moment, much as I disgust myself by admitting it, I'd love to have a job that kept me in a suit and tie in a cubicle, working at a bank or even...a law firm...as long as it was some sort of gainful employment. It is hard to write a CV filled with lists of places you've worked that have either burned down or had their owners die soon after you stopped working there. Makes you seem like a bit of a Jonah to anyone reading it...
3rd-Nov-2010 02:17 pm (UTC) - Perfect
Robert,

thanks for this. its trashing my day... but in a good way.
3rd-Nov-2010 03:27 pm (UTC)
It's one of my favourite songs on the new album (not to mention that all are great and it's hard to decide which one is the best)
But this song makes me also cry *sigh*
3rd-Nov-2010 05:28 pm (UTC)
Has this ever happened to you; when you need something you find it, even if you didn't know you needed it or didn't even try to look for it? That just happened to me when I read your post.

Thank you.

PS - I hope you get your CD in the mail soon.
4th-Nov-2010 02:59 pm (UTC)
This song always brings tears to my eyes. Mostly because I understand. And mostly because I wish I had an 8 year old version of myself to kick me in the arse and motivate me harder to leave my corporate drudgery and pick up the path I want to follow. Life is too short to settle for a safety net & a watered down version of the life you dreamed about.
4th-Nov-2010 06:36 pm (UTC)
One of my favorite songs on this amazing album. Thanks for posting the lyrics!

Two years ago, I quit a job because the new management basically wanted me to sell my soul. I'm now writing full-time and doing a webcomic. One of the reasons I love this song and some of the others is that it makes me feel like I'm not the only one "crazy" enough to follow my dream, and reminds me of all the reasons I did it. Thanks, Robert - I needed to hear that. :)
4th-Nov-2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
A person would be crazy NOT to follow there dreams. That, or they will go crazy by not following them.
4th-Nov-2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
I hope the Novel is finished soon, this really makes me want to read the rest.
Can not wait for it to be out. Any idea on a time frame as to when it would be available?
4th-Nov-2010 10:12 pm (UTC)
Still about 6 - 8 months before its done. Then I have to figure out if I will self release, or go with a publisher. I've had some publishers show interest already, but I havn't yet gotten as far as seeing what they can do for me.
4th-Nov-2010 06:55 pm (UTC) - "Letters"
I cried the first dozen times I heard this song because it reminded me that I put off living MY life for the "good of others" for over a decade; it's really easy to tell yourself that you're working for the greater good when what you are is paralyzed by fear of [fill in the blank--it morphs with each new year]. I did go back to school and earn that BA in English and start working on a Masters degree, and I did become the example for my children that I wanted to be, but those 'lost years' are gone, and I don't know if I could face my younger self with how I let her down. I think the reason so many of us are viscerally moved by this song is because we all have these moments--where we didn't fight for what we wanted, where we gave up on a dream--tucked away in our memories, eating away at us. I find it cathartic and freeing to look back and say "I'm sorry" to myself, and resolve to be the change in my life instead of waiting for it to come from somewhere else. Berthold Auerbach once said, "music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life," which is how I feel about most of my playlist, but GREAT songs wash away the silt that has been collecting for years, and lighten the soul.
4th-Nov-2010 10:10 pm (UTC) - Re: "Letters"
Well Said.

I think "settling" is one of the worst things anybody can do to themselves or others. Those who don't settle are constantly striving forward, constantly achieve. Those who "settle" are just constantly disappointing.


And as far as setting aside ones dreams for the good of others goes, I'm constantly reminded of the airplane safety policy of "put the oxygen mask on yourself, but you put it on the person next to you." its a simple logic: you can't help someone else if you are dead. Depression works the same way: you can't help some one else out of it, if you are yourself stuck in it.
11th-Nov-2010 03:09 pm (UTC) - yes!
This is currently my favorite from the new album. SO incredibly poignent and thought provoking. I need to learn to keep the magic in my life so this song is serving as a sort of personal mantra to keep dreaming.
20th-Nov-2010 09:04 pm (UTC)
Very nice story!
23rd-Jan-2011 08:28 pm (UTC) - Letters...
This song touches me right to the depths of my soul. You really captured the essence of innocence we had as children, and how sometimes life takes a miserable turn, not exactly a dark turn, but how we seem to give up on our dreams and settle, and, I dont know, maybe if we all had a chronofax of our own we would break out of our self made prison and be free.

It reminds me so much of someone who... well, means everything to me. I recently introduced him (forced at pistol point) to the true joys of AP and he has taken to it better than I had ever dreamed. I made him listen to this song and told him how it reminded me of him. He agreed wholeheartedly.

I hope he understands just how much I hope and pray that he will soar, awake, beautiful, strong, and happy.
27th-Feb-2011 07:38 am (UTC)
It makes me cry too D:
But it's also not too late for myself, so it is inspiring. Thank you. <3
I love you and what you do
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