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Thunder Pie | Scroll of Jawns: Episode 1

I am who I am. We are who we are.

jawn /jôn/ noun – (chiefly in the greater Philadelphia metropolitan area) used to refer to a thing, place, person, or event that one need not or cannot give a specific name to. Jawn is a neutral, all-purpose noun used to reference any person, place, situation, or object. In casual conversation, it takes the place of the word ‘thing’. Example: “These jawns are very inexpensive.”

jawn one.

Baby birds are fascinating, magical, and slightly alarming. And this time of year, we are surrounded by them where I live. But they’re also harbingers of sadness and vulnerability, the way I see it. Watching a mother robin feed her three newborns on their nest outside my kitchen window, I was struck with how weak and feeble these little things were. Even Lil’ Mama couldn’t weigh more than a bag of chips. How does that even work? How do fragile creatures that own no heft, whose strength lies in flying and fleeing exclusively, make it in this world? Everything is so dangerous. Everyone is so cruel or careless or crazy as fuck. I washed my coffee pot and looked at Lil’ Mama coughing up worm slime/ beaking it into her blind kids’ gaping upturned mouths/ and I cannot connect these almost mythical puffs with survival in this cold hard world. And yet, off they’ve gone into the ether. Pulling it off yet again.

jawn two.

The fire pit in our yard is a place that I built for us to chill at the end of long warm days. It isn’t fancy/ there is no built in pizza oven/ no paver patio big enough to land a medevac copter on. It is basic redneck backyard standard. But we sat at it the other night and a couple of the kids showed up and for a while I was reminded of why we made it in the first place. Charlie and Milla threw old pine branches onto the flames and they sizzled and folded down into the hell door at the base of the pit. Each toss, although never addressed as such, was, I sensed, an exercise in release. A kid throws a thing into a raging fire behind the house where they live and there is something both primordial and futuristic about it all at once. The past rises from the furnace in the form of the ghosts of all the old fires and all the kids who once gathered round them, but who are now long gone. The future comes at us in the smoke of tomorrow/ the thick scent of dragging past moments forward with us into the unstoppable hereafter.

jawn three.

A few weeks ago I began the switchover from one mental health drug to another. I used to take The Zoloft, but now I’m on The Prozac. Why did I switch? I’m not exactly sure. Just like trying something new with this whole JAWN format, I guess I wanted to try some slugs from a new bottle, you know? I feel a bit more energetic, which is good. The last drug had me sleepy as hell. And I also think I feel less bloated, which is a weird thing to actually write, but fuck it. I felt bloated on the other drug and I looked more bloated too. Plus, I sometimes wonder if I’m missing out on some wonderful alternative version of myself simply by not being on the right pill. Is that weird? You’re goddamn right it is. But it’s also deeply true. I am who I am. We are who we are.

jawn four.

Loosely following the Trump trial going down in NYC, I make no claims to be any kind of an expert on the comings and goings of this dystopian sideshow. But I will say this. Motherfuckers have gone mad. MAD AS FISH. MAD AS HATTERS. Progressive, liberal, conservative, Christian fundamentalist, snake handler, give-a-fucks, pro trans kids, anti vacs, I don’t really care who you are (or who you think you are) these days, the fact remains: we did this to ourselves. And we’re only just getting started. Not that we could have prevented anything, mind you. The wheels of history unfolding are spun by a lot of different things happening at once across spans of time and experience. There is no one pivotal moment; Custer kind of died long before that Last Stand, you know. Still, it’s eerie and strange to watch things like this. Chasing our tails. Never further from this truth or that one have we ever been, I’d say.

jawn five.

Two of our five kids absolutely killed it at their charter school’s Monsters of Rock show last Friday. I wrote last week of my visit to the school, but what transpired on the evening of the actual show was beyond most of my skill/ability to spin you a yarn. Here’s the thing. Both Milla and Henry are in 7th grade and they are each members of one of the two 7th grade rock bands that the school maintains and nurtures. And each of them was just mind-blowingly awesome. Not just by throwing down sinister chops and mad skills (although I’d say they did that, too), but more in the way that they each handled themselves on the stage. They both talked to the crowd during their respective sets. They both moved and grooved and didn’t stare at their shoes (which is a common and understandable trait amongst green rockers). And best of all: they both seemed to be having a hell of a lot of fun up there on the stage playing to a full house on a Friday night. All of the other bands from the school were equally incredible and it was just a night that- when it ultimately ended with all of the kids in the building bouncing up and down in front of the stage as the last band of 8th graders played their original songs- well, it felt legendary. It felt as important a show as probably any of us in the room had ever witnessed. Which is always the hope with these things. Always the idea as we walk into the room. I was proud on a trillion human levels. I was humbled by a force mightier than any I’ve ever known. It was all so mega.

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Serge Bielanko lives in small-town Pennsylvania with an amazing wife who’s out of his league and a passel of exceptional kids who still love him even when he’s a lot. Every week, he shares his thoughts on life, relationships, parenting, baseball, music, mental health, the Civil War and whatever else is rattling around his noggin.