September 2

She woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me that my mom shouldn't have married her son. She said she was ugly and she called me such a disgrace. She grabbed my hair and said all you have to do is take one look at me to see how far they'd gone wrong. She said we make her jesus cry (yes, she has her own jesus I guess). As if jesus (any jesus!) would care about what I wear or what color my hair is. I started to argue with her, but she said she'd make me sleep in the shed again. I'd do it, but there's no AC out there. Haha.

I am beautiful. I think.

November 9

I found another note from Summer. I wonder when she wrote it? How long ago? I wish I could just look into her eyes again. Just once more.

Today was pretty shitty. I've been staying at some guys house. I don't even know who he is, just some friend of a friend. They think its cute that I still write in this diary but its the only thi

October 21

Troy and I had a fight. He says I need to go back home. I don't even think my parents know I'm gone--they haven't tried to find me that I know of. I told Troy to mind his own business. I keep telling him I'm going to leave and he just says Yeah, just like last time.

November 10

This guy is insane. It's just me, him, and Heather. He beats her. He's chased all the others away. It's only a matter of time until he comes after me. I don't want to stay here anymore. I don't even want to be in this town anymore. I think I'm just going to walk out of here. The streets will be better than this shithole. I don't need the drugs anyway.

October 23

I had to do something last night. I don't want to talk about it.

November 11

Me and Heather decided to go together. She took the keys to Jay's car. He was so fucked up I don't think he even knows we're gone yet. This won't be like the last time.

October 19

It's been a long time. I haven't had much luck on my own. I can't get a job. I can't stay in school. I've been living on streets and sometimes staying with friends. It's getting cold though. One things for sure, you can't be homeless in this shithole city in the winter. I have to go somewhere. Some old dude at Fran's overheard me and Troy talking about me trying to find a job, he told me that I could go to New York and make a killing giving blowjobs. Fat ASSHOLE!!!!

Sometimes I wish I could leave all my dreams behind.

September 23

Haven't been home. I don't even know if my parents are even looking for me. They haven't called Troy or his parents. They don't know R's parents so whatever.

Guess what. Summer came over. We made out for a little while. She said she liked it when she knew I'd been with Troy. Whatever. I told her that she shouldn't leave me without saying goodbye. She said she never says goodbye to anyone. Maybe I'll return the favor some day. Yeah right. Like I have the guts to run away.

October 26

I went back to Summers place. She was pissed off about something. I think I know why. I found one of her notes in my diary. Funny thing is that she still lets me stay here, but she says I have to stay on the couch for now. I stuck around for a while but ended up going out.

Troy found out I've been staying here. He was sitting on the front porch when I came home. We went down to Fran's and talked for a while. He says my dad was at the school today talking to the principal. He didn't hear what they were saying though. Whatever.

Troy is seriously in love with me but I don't know if I feel the same way. I don't even know if I'm in love with Summer. It's depressing. Who am I supposed to be? Troy says that he could make me happy, but will I still be me if I'm happy?

November 5

Troy said he didn't want to see me anymore. I think someone told him what I've been doing. I can't love him. He's a good friend and I tried, but it just felt wrong. I don't think I'll ever love anyone really. Not even Summer.

I asked Troy to not tell anyone. He said he wouldn't, but Captain Kirk was already telling everybody anyway so it'll get out eventually. Fuck everbody. Fuck my life.

Troy called again. I asked him where he heard about it and he said that Captain Kirk saw me and some dude in a car parked behind the 711. I told Troy I didn't have a choice anymore, I needed money. He said he was trying to understand, but he was scared for me. I told him not to worry about me. Why is everyone worried about me? This is my choice. Isn't it? I can take care of myself. Can't I?

October 25

Not much going on. Summer disappeared before I got up. I wonder what she does during the day? The two other girls are in college, and they barely speak to me. I'll just stay in Summers room.

Fuck this. She doesn't have a TV and shes been gone for hours. I'm bored!!!

October 24

Summer said I could stay with her which is good because it's getting fucking cold. I'd never been to her house. She lives on Hitt in some shitty little place with two other girls. Still it's a place to stay.

October 27

The other girls want me to pay rent. I came home in the middle of an argument they were all having. I told them I'd just leave, but Summer told me to stay. It's the first time I ever saw anything like she might care on her face. They all agreed I could stay for a few more days but if I stay much longer on the couch that I should at least pay something.

I woke up this morning (afternoon HAHA) and the house was empty.

Fuck this shit. Why are old guys all creepers? The landlord let himself in while I was getting dressed. He asked who I was. Didn't even turn around, just stood there staring at my crotch waiting for an answer. I told him I was a friend of Summers. He asked how long I'd been staying there and I said just a couple of days. He told me that since I wasn't on the lease that I couldn't stay for more than three days. I told him that was bullshit. He kept saying he'd just kick me out immediately. We worked it out. (His words.)

September 9

A bunch of us went over to R's last night. I had to sneak out but my parents didn't even know I was gone. It was raining so hard I was drenched by the time Troy picked me up Haha. Summer was there. She acted like she didn't even know me. I followed her around in every room she went to. God I'm so pathetic. Will the sun ever shine again? She keeps the sun hidden away.

November 7

Yeah, so everybody knows now. No one even wants to talk to me. Summer asked me to move out, but she blamed it on her roommates, she's such a liar. I think she just doesn't like me anymore.

This will be the last time I run away.

September 14

My parents left me at my grandmothers again. I wish I could figure out a way out of here. I'm just sitting in this room again. Writing to you. Reading the notes you wrote.

August 24

Summer disappeared again, she didn't even call. Why does she do this? I keep finding little notes and messages she writes for me to find. I've started flipping through all of my books just looking for them now. I found a couple the other day. I wonder if she's writing them in my grandmother's stuff? That would suck. What if she wrote in her bible????

September 4

I'm home again, but my parents may as well not even be here. It's like they're already dead. All they do is sit around complaining about their jobs and watching TV. That is when they're even here.

Summer's been gone for two weeks now. I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't know if I can go on. Troy keeps calling too. At least he's still here.

Summers a funny name for a goth kid. Hey, do you remember when you came over here for the first time? I thought grandpa was going to have a stroke!! Haha. I've never seen him be so weird. Its like he knows he shouldn't say anything, but he cant help himself. He just kept shooting goofy insults at us hoping to get us pissed off, but they were just so lame. We just kept laughing at him and he got so mad. He fell down and dropped that glass on the front porch, whisky and glass went everywhere. I thought grandma was going to beat the shit out of him. He'd probably like that.

October 20

Sometimes my dreams scare me. I try not to dwell on them, like feeding them or giving them any attention will make them real. In this one dream I'm walking around an empty house looking for something. Sometimes I spend all the time in one room, other times I'm in a room next to a room I want to be in but I can't figure out how to get there. Sometimes I'm outside the house looking in a window. The house is familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. I'm not scared usually, just a little apprehensive. Sometimes I can smell something rotting, like old food left out for a long time.

November 8

I just needed something to take the edge off. This girl Heather had some stuff that helped. I didn't want to go this far down though. Its like all of the pain goes away all at once, but if you take away my pain, am I really me anymore?

I had the house dream again. This time I was outside, looking in. The door was locked though. But then, like the way dreams do, I just kind of turned around and I was in that same room I always see. The smell of old food or something. It woke me up. I wish you were here with me right now.

September 25

R's parents said I have to leave. I'm surprised they let me stay this long. Summer hasn't been around since the other day so I called Troy. We walked around for hours. He showed me where there was a laundromat with a washing machine that you could get money from. We ended up at Fran's. I told him I was thinking about running away. He laughed at me. He said everyone who ever left ends up coming right back.

October 30

Dude in a limo said he wasn't going to pay me. I told him I was underage. He paid.

September 1

My grandmother is slipping again. Why do my parents leave me here? I'm old enough to stay at home by myself. Fuck it. I'm out of here.

Had that dream again. I was standing in a room looking around. I couldn't find a way out, even though I knew for a fact that there was a door to the kitchen right behind me.


End of part one ...

September 15

Huge fight with my grandmother. She kicked me out. Fuck her. I went over to R's. She's letting me stay with her until I can figure out what to do. Maybe I just won't go home. I feel like I have to get away from here. This will be the last time that I go over to my grandmothers though.

Hi Alice, you saw me smiling at you today, but you were looking through me.
Part One ...

    This project started years ago when I was playing keys in a touring band. We'd been at it for several weeks and had a few nights booked at several clubs around New York City. To make things easier for us, instead of leaving the city every night, we had been invited to stay with some friends who lived in the North Bronx in a fairly decent rent-controlled apartment. We were supposed to stay only one night, but as it turned out, we ended up staying a week and that is a completely different story. The extra time ended up with me getting bored which is what really started this whole thing.

    The apartment had been passed around among friends for years—decades!—so it had become very lived in. An extremely eclectic collection of furniture and other objects which had been left by previous tenants had accumulated over the years: a couple of lamps from the 1970s, lots of art from the '80s, and numerous nondescript cheap chairs and tables decorated the rooms. There was at least one couch in every room, and that included the kitchen. There were three couches in the living room, and walls of shelves filled with books that had been left behind either accidentally or on purpose over the decades. The apartment wasn't shabby or dirty, it was just cluttered, which did have the benefit of softening any street noise that might make its way up to the fifth floor. So at least it was quiet.

    During our stay I happened upon a box of books behind the couch I was sleeping on. None of our friends or the other roommates knew who the box belonged to. As far as they knew, the box had been left behind years before any of them had moved in. The books in the box were never shelved, mainly because the shelves had no room left, but also because the contents were both personal(at least to the person who left them) while at the same time completelely unspectacular.

    I rummaged through the box, more out of boredom than curiosity, and found an old handwritten diary. Several pages had been torn from it and some of the pages that remained were so stained from mold and god-knows-what-else that they weren't legible, but for some reason the parts that I could read really caught my attention.

    From what I could tell it belonged to a 15 or 16 year old girl named Alice who had run away from home. Most of it was the angsty kind of writing you'd expect to find in the diary of a teenage girl, but some of it was just heartbreaking. In the span of a few short months it seems like she just spiraled out of control, swept along by currents stronger than her ability to navigate—prostitution, drugs, extremely unhealthy relationships. The final entries detailed her desire to go back home. Again, I'm not sure why it hit me so hard; it was probably because I had been on the road with the band for so long that I was homesick myself.

    I wondered where this girl was now? Did she ever make it back home? Did she even realize that she'd left her diary behind? How old was she now? As far as I could tell the box was probably only a few years old, ten at most, which meant that Alice was probably close to my age and maybe younger, but since there was no year associated with the diary I couldn't make any assumptions.

    One of the most fascinating things about the diary was the fact that another girl—or woman, I have no idea how old she was—named Summer had written little notes in the margins of it. From entries in the diary I figured out that Summer was from Alice's hometown; a friend (or something more) from before Alice ran away. I scanned through some of the other books in the box and some of those had notes in the margins as well. It looked like this entire box might have belonged to Alice, but the diary was the only thing that revealed anything about her. The other books were just kind of random. A few beat-generation poetry books, a how-to-play-guitar book, those sorts of things.

    A few days later, when we were leaving to get on our way to the next gig, I asked if I could keep the diary. I wanted to take the entire box, but the bus was already packed tight with gear. Our friends didn't seem to care about the diary one way or the other so they let me keep it. I've had the diary ever since. I read it sometimes when I'm trying to recall that time in my life, and to this day I still wonder where Alice might be.

    So, several years ago—or several years later, depending on your point of view—I started thinking about a project based on the diary. I realize that a project based on a found diary is not an entirely new or novel concept, not even that creative really, but I kind of got a little obsessed with the whole thing. It's been a process of fits and starts. Sometimes I worked feverishly on it and other times I put the thing down for months, but I think I've finally pieced together ... something.