Artist Statement:

I use the best tools I have, my words to engage the world around me. I hope my words give you a new perspective or at least shed some light on the dark recesses of the world that need illumination.

The other side of the wall

Rachel Stanford


I bet Axl Rose wouldn’t have made his girlfriend carry his equipment into bar, even if his tour bus was a ‘98 Taurus Station Wagon with a heater that only worked after you drove for two hours. He looks liked the kind of guy that would give you herpes from a bleach blonde backstage bimbo, with bigger tits than yours and when you called him out on it, would hand you some itch cream and remind you of your small pathetic boobs; but I bet he liked his women well-manicured. He wouldn’t make them do manual labor.

I contemplated dropping, Vicki, Betsy or Lucy, whatever he was calling his guitar today, slip on a patch of ice, flying feet in the air, smashing to the asphalt below me, and “accidently” let Betsy neck crack into pieces—just to see who he would run to first. He might even believe I didn’t do it out of spite, if I hadn’t been eyeing Betsy and the window so much yesterday.

On the other side of the stage, you never think about the waiting. My boy handed me a camera and told me to take pictures to pass the time. I was the obvious choice for photographer with my innate ability to cut off the heads of everyone involved.


We’d want them someday, he said, so I made sure there was one of us. Matching in eyeliners, my bright blue eyes shone, knowing they wouldn’t sleep until class the next morning waving over a kill-me-now smile, contrasting his watery brown eyes and a scowl that was supposed to make him look hardcore. I thought he just looked constipated.


The tiny bar was empty when we entered except for a cardboard cut out of Chewbacca with doodled on balls and a couch, a waxy scotch guarded couch that looked like you’d fall down it like on a Slip n Slide on a summer day. It begged me to rest on it until some drunk vomited the last Hurricane they had in my hair.
I first noticed the graffiti wall when they shoved us in the back room. The most amazing sight of the crappy rundown bar, every facet twisted with new colors and shapes.


The cramped room, filled with cigarette smoke, and soon the whispers of the waiting crowd came bogging down the night with promises of tomorrow. Against the wall, the boys fiddled with their instruments, their girls, save I, watching in amazement.


The sleepless night playing that bled into frustrated day fights of uneaten breakfasts, blistered fingers, and empty apartments called home exploded onto this wall with one crummy pen stroke.


I contemplated reading the book I had brought for tomorrow’s class, for spite. He had begged me not to, going so far as to throw it in the snow when we left the apartment. I wanted to chuck it back at his head, but I had lousy aim, and he had the keys to the car. Instead, I wiped it off and slide it under my coat.
He wanted my complete attention, for me to swim around in his notes and lay down an offering to his shredding hand that made him into Zeus.


Besides, he said when he made it big, it wouldn’t matter. No need to worry my pretty little head.


So many names. Multiple colored names. Rainbow vomit names. Scribbling that looked like first grade had gotten a hold of a Sharpie names. Loops upon loops- the sort of signatures you’d see on something important, a birth certificate or divorce papers. Drunken squiggles. Nervous squiggles. Ones with dirty pictures. Ones with band logos. Brothers of the big break.


As the sound check stole them away, I thought I heard him beckon for me.


As a child, I had wanted to be a teacher, with a white picket fence next to my best friend’s house. Our husbands would come home, suit and tie, and enjoy a glass of wine before settling down to a political debate. We stopped by each other’s on the weekends; maybe have Sunday brunches together to talk about our jobs or the kids’ soccer games. I might even own a cat.


Maybe I wanted it still; I had slopped through three years of college for it, though my library nights were traded in for house parties gigs in dingy basements with weathered, pleather groupies and wanna be frat boys, practices in cramp basements, bad bar gigs that didn’t pay enough and cooking meals for two that only one ate.


Maybe the past only matters yesterday. My hand ran over the smooth surface, tracing each name. A couple of women’s names—probably a token girl who picked up a bass and hiked her mini-skirt to show her thigh highs. Or a shaking girl who could eek out a tune. The wall filled with brothers of the fret.

He interrupted my thoughts, yelling for me, or maybe it was the camera.


The dirty, once bright white shinny wall, the first snow of winter, marred with the permanence of their hopes and the dirty unsure mark of drunken lines— brazen cocky blocks of pen covering every inch of the simplicity, overlooking today for tomorrow. The unsure squiggles of names I didn’t know and who never knew.


The waste of just their signers but every name that didn’t get to sign. I looked for a pen, but could find none.


My nails dug against the plaster, but the boy came in, begging for a last chance photo. He pulled me away.
I turned away.


One photo of us-weather, pack away in a box, water stained and waiting.


Euphemism Campus Box 5555 Illinois State University Normal, IL 61790