Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award


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Flooding damage

I had a clogged sewage pipe. The basement flooded, about five inches of water. All sorts of stuff needs to be discarded: rugs, mattresses, clothes. But there are two things that just ripped my heart to shreds.

This is a photo of the box that contains the only hard copy of the novel I wrote while living in Europe between 1996-1999. About a Lithuanian orphan who ends up influencing the life of an historian from Santa Barbara, it was never published. Yes…like The Fugue, this one was just sitting on the floor somewhere.

My wife fell in love with me while reading this book. I developed friendships while writing it, and I became myself as a writer, found my voice somewhere in the middle of it. It contains some of the worst sentences I’ve ever written, so pathetically, honestly unfortunate that they represent an organic beauty I’ll never know again.

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The text is ruined. Also in the box were critiques of my writing I had collected from classmates at Columbia, some of whom have gone on to become quite accomplished and acclaimed writers.

The other damage is a box of letters. Those letters date back to the late 80’s; many of them are in old air mail envelopes. The box contained post cards from ex-girlfriends, letters from men who had witnessed the Soviet crackdown in Lithuania; it’s just a box of treasures, memories, mementos, documents to make sense of my identity and past. Many of them will be saved, but some of them are just trashed.

My computer and cameras survived. So did my tax papers and all sorts of stuff money can replace.

Move your treasures to higher ground.


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I bought beer for my high school students

I admit it. The secret has been with me so long. I must finally reveal the truth. You’ve wondered what kind of person buys teenage boys beer? Look no further. I’m the guy.

Read the shocking truth here.

Photo by Bernt Rostad.

Beer


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My life was once a Tom Waits song…

There is a large gap in the story I’m presenting in my latest article on The Good Men Project. It’s titled Missing the Days Before You Were Married, and recounts a conversation I had with a young man at work and the resulting mind-trip. That trip, memories and reconsiderations of the many journeys I had taken before meeting my wife, moments beside closed train stations or deep in the bowels of European ports, is much more complex than what I reveal in the short piece of about 1,300 words.

I remembered, just after finishing the piece, a drawing I once completed in one of those notebooks I always carry around. I actually tried to draw the woman I’d marry. I saw her from multiple angles all at once, definitely inspired by what had been an addiction to cubist art, and the drawing was an embarrassing mess. On another page, I tried to draw her profile and then a representation of frontality, straight on 90 degrees. It was much like composing a poem in high school. You are satisfied with it for a moment, but then embarrassed when you find it later—that embarrassment rises to the pitch of a steam whistle when you remember it as an adult. It is worse than this if you showed that poem to the girl you were imagining. If she’s the only one who has the sole copy of the poem and can use it to blackmail you at any hour, you are constricteed to the space of an atom of lead.

However, I remembered that drawing when, rising from an underpass in Linz, Austria, I approached the tram station where Maria, my wife, was waiting for me, one moment without much emotion, but then beaming so soon as she saw me emerge from the dark tunnel. I realized, when she turned her head, that that old drawing had been a premonition of sorts, or an accurate display of what attracted me, at least in terms of looks. I later went to look for it but found that it had been in one of the notebooks I had left in the States. I never did find it, so I could not test the memory. Had it been tainted by the image of my wife at the station?

There were so many of these private moments in between. I continue to have them, shocking discoveries of what brews in my consciousness, that cocktail of memory and emotion and imagination and reason that, mixed by forces greater than me, equal this construct of “me”.

This essay, published today, is a mere fraction of the experience. But I hope you enjoy it.