I’m the loser but this college town isn’t even awake as I cruise the street that’ll take me to Interstate 380.
Why can’t I pierce through the trashy feelings about who I am and realize the road I’m taking means more to me than college classes do to the dormant college kids in Burge Hall—the ones that I just walked past after I hugged my girlfriend goodbye?
The light dew clears from the windshield of my Pontiac Sunfire as The Roots’ Things Fall Apart rattles my broken speakers.
If I could just explain to the adults around me that this album restores in me a genuine love that’ll guide me towards a life that’ll fix me—and that college and a conventional life won’t even scratch that surface.
Questlove’s drumming assures me following that foggy compass will lead any human to the richest outlet of self-expression.
But telling someone from Iowa in September 2004 that the feelings I get from Things Fall Apart are building a foundation to be a creative entrepreneur will be used against me.
But I’m gonna do it. I’m going to take this action. It’s worth the embarrassment.
There’s no traffic on this onramp. Thank goodness.
Each bar of Malik’s verse on The Next Movement takes me to later in my day when I’ll journey back to Iowa City for my studio time at the Public Access TV station.
Maybe I'll create a rap, a monologue, or a one-person sketch.
“Touch this illa fifth dynamite” blares as the sparse traffic grants me time to give any thought tender room to grow.
I could do that one rap I wrote a few days ago and maybe film an intro.
I could freestyle too.
I could make a story about Larry the evil meteorologist.
Maybe I’ll play with a female character named Fifi Furfurfester.
And what about that Gus the caveman character I was messing with?
I could film a piece where I argue that the news does more harm than rap music and call it socially acceptable.
My car’s environment is a blank canvas for droplets of ideas to ripen.
There’s no need to speed on this road. I’ll get to my job in Cedar Rapids before 7 am and have plenty of time to organize my thoughts before I head in to make and ship textbooks.
The loving origin of my ideas finds nourishment in the surroundings I can’t admit I created.
A shovel of musical inspiration clears brush from this unpaved path.
Mos Def’s husky voice on Double Trouble emboldens the feet of my
A courage I can't express anywhere else is given life as my mental pencil scribbles on the paper of my imagination.
I place ideas in the sculpture of my mental project then proudly brush it clean like the dust of pencil lead from a finished worksheet.
The flame of my inner furnace flourishes from these gently laid, energized sticks of action.
Only bravery will bare your step-by-by step recipe for following the intrinsic beats of your authentic heart.
Action gave me this compass and map.
I'm living it but I don't know it yet.
The expected loneliness of a foreign course, which was fear moments ago, finds relief in Erykah Badu’s voice on You Got Me.
If I were in a plane, I’d see a Pontiac Sunfire exit Interstate 380 and weave through a few intersections as it zooms directly to its destination.
But I don’t see that point-of-view. No. Not as I’m using music to find the certainty of myself in the clouds of society’s huffy disbelief.
I pull into my job’s parking lot at 6:52 am. Perfect. Time for one more refreshing song to guide me through a day that feels right to me.
Looks like 380 is getting busy.