Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Good Fight

I left my apartment today. 

That's normally not big news but for me lately it's huge.  I've become a reclusive shut-in and it has been harder and harder for me to leave my apartment.  I get anxious, lazy, lethargic, and I just don't want to do it. 

It's been like this for months. 

When I post on Facebook or Twitter that I'm going to leave my apartment, it means I'm psyching myself up to do so and it's not easy.  It takes effort.  Once I get on the road, I'm fine, but getting there is oh so very hard. 

Today, I drove to Madison, about an hour north of me, to hit some Asian stores and get supplies for my new lifestyle.  It was the first time in months I was able to do so and the first time in over a year that I did it by myself. 

Last night, I had a powerfully vivid dream.  In that dream, there was a Korean man named Han, and references to my wife and daughter.  The family I lost.  The daughter I torment myself with.  The guilt came back. 

In that dream, a friend of mine made an appearance.  It was her first guest shot in my dreams.  She and I might chat once in a while on Facebook, but we haven't seen each other face to face in well over eight months, if not longer. 

Tonight, we just happen to run into each other at the grocery store.  How's that for coincidence? 

But I took the road trip north.  All the while, the anxiety got worse and worse.  The further I got from home, the more certainty I had that I was doing the wrong thing. 

I almost turned around and drove back home several times.  At one point, I flipped on the turn signals, and hit the brakes.  Nobody else was on the road at that time. 

I was certain my car was going to break down. 

I was certain there was something wrong with my tires and it wasn't handling right. 

I was certain I was going to blow my motor. 

I was certain my brakes were going to fail and I would be stranded in the middle of nowhere with no chance of rescue. 

But I kept driving. 

Once I reached Madison, there was the usual traffic.  That's when the anxiety started. 

I used to love driving.  I used to drive into all kinds of busy places without a problem.  It never bothered me in the least.  I knew what was up and I just kept on driving. 

But not today.  No, today, I had major anxiety while driving for the first time ever.  By the time I reached the Asian grocery store, I had chest pains, cottonmouth, and and a headache. 

But I kept driving. 

Pulling into  the parking lot of Yue-Wah Grocery, I felt like I'd scored a victory of some kind, as if I'd done something special that wasn't easy and I had to fight to achieve it. 

There's been a lot of that lately. 

This morning, I woke up to a pair of legs that were almost normal sized.  Almost.  One was but the other has a bit more to go.  But they are the smallest they've been in almost a year.  And right now, as they swell throughout the day, the biggest of the two is half the size it was two weeks ago. 

This is a victory, too.  This is a minor victory and I know it for what it is.  It means the efforts I have put into being healthy have begun to work.  Today, I put on a pair of pants and they felt just a tad loser around the waist.  And there was more of a gap between my belly and the steering wheel. 

Things are working in the right direction but I'm miserable. 

This withdrawal from sugar has altered my brain's chemistry to an extent that I've been incredibly depressed.  I'm constantly getting upset over things.  I'm having nightmares that are twisting me around in knots. 

The other day, I re-lived a relationship with a woman I still care about.  This time, I knew what was going to happen right from the beginning so I did everything different I could to keep her with me but in the end, I failed just the same, and she left me.  She slowly pulled away and I went insane because I knew it was going to happen and I just couldn't stop it.  I woke up despondent, upset, and alone. 

It just keeps happening, too.  Horrible dreams, depression, and for some reason the past keeps bubbling up to attack me. 

Going to the Asian grocery store wasn't easy for me.  The smells and sights brought me back to my past.  A time when I was happy.  A time when I wasn't alone and I had a family and things were going in the right direction, or so I thought.  Sometimes, I think going to those places, and having that sensory overload, is just another way of torturing myself.  The guilt isn't enough, I need to twist the knife, and that does it. 

It's just cutting without the blades. 

My daughter's birthday is coming up in a few weeks and I'm just not ready for it.  I didn't handle the last one very well and I tried.  I really tried.  I tried to be honest and confront things but it just didn't go so well for me.  And right now I'm compromised in a lot of ways. 

But after writing this, I'll do some yoga and meditate, then focus on the moment in front of me.  I'll deal with that day when it comes. 

For now, today, I can say there are two reasons to be happy.  I can say that I made progress with a couple of things I never thought I'd make progress with.  So, I'll take that, and keep fighting the good fight.  The rest of it I'll just have to deal with as it comes. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

This Black Box of Mine

This blog started out over three years ago as a way for me to vent the bile that would build up during the week of working my horrible job.  I would wrap it up in witty comments, make a few jokes, and people would laugh.  Somehow, over time, this turned into my own personal black box, like on an airliner, so if The End did come, there would be some kind of record.  A man documenting his own slide into madness, depression, addiction, and disconnection from the world and himself, until he was gone.

And then last week I made changes.

I called professionals and made appointments, I changed my diet, and began exercising daily.  I cut sugar out of my diet as completely as possible.  The only glucose in my system is from the few carbs I get when eating fiber-rich veggies and beans, and even those are more grams of carbs than I should be having.  Ideally, I should keep it under 20 grams daily, but that's pretty hard to do for me.  Expensive, too.  I haven't done the math today, but I think I might be at about 40 grams today, maybe a bit more.

And I feel like shit.  I've had a headache off and on for most of the day.  Despite sleeping last night and then taking a nap this morning into the afternoon, I'm exhausted right now and having a hard time keeping my eyes open despite it only being 10pm.

Everything hurts.

I just ate a couple of hours ago and I'm not hungry at all, but I don't have any energy at all.  I was warned about this.  I was told to go easy on getting the sugar out of my life.  I thought because I was having more carbs than I was supposed to, I would be okay.  Apparently that's not the case.

My body is not adjusting well.  Or maybe it is and this is all temporary.

Here's the thing--I didn't do this for me.  I did this for my friends.  I did this for the people who have been telling me for years to make changes in my life.  Years.  Not just one friend, either.  Pretty much all of them have told me to make changes.  Some were upset enough to cry when they told me how worried they were about my health.

So I did it.  I made the changes.  This isn't for me, though.  These changes were made so my friends wouldn't worry so much.  So they'd stop being disappointed in me.  So they would stop treating me like the guy who burned a winning lottery ticket because he didn't want to pay the taxes.

I really don't care how this ends.  Live, die, it's all the same to me.  And that, dear reader, is how I got into this mess to begin with.

There's a motto someplace about how if you bring the body, the mind will follow.  And if you bring the body and mind, the heart will follow.  I'm gambling that this will be the case with me and eventually things will improve to a point where I actually give a shit.

But right now I need to get over this hump.  I'm sitting here at my desk nodding off.  Caffeine is having no effect on me at all.  I'm wondering if I should eat something with sugar in it, as if that might help.

People are telling me to do this for myself because this is the first step in trying to attain what I want in this lifetime.  I don't know what I want.  If I won a million dollars, I'd be dead in a matter of weeks from one vice or another.  If I was granted three wishes, I'd be so confused, I wouldn't know what I wanted.

I've spent most of today confused.  Today, while cleaning my kitchen, I was putting dishes away and I caught myself staring at my cupboards for a good minute trying to figure out which plastic containers go where.  I was having issues before because of the depression.  I was forgetting simple things.  And recently it has gotten worse.

But this is just how it goes.  Sugar is a major addiction in this country and we're paying the price.  I'm living testament to that.  We were told fat was the enemy, sugar was natural.  And now?  We're a nation addicted to the shit.  Getting off sugar isn't easy.  The body goes through withdrawals. 

9/10/2017, 12:30 AM

Today, I spent the afternoon with my mother.  I told her some things but not everything.  I can't tell her everything.  She doesn't need to know and it wouldn't do any good. 

Mom is moving and downsizing, so she had boxes of stuff for me.  Inside some of those boxes were stuff from my wife and daughter.  She asked if I wanted them and all I could manage to say was, "not yet." 

I'm not ready for that.  It's too painful. 

But we talked.  We went over some things.  And I think she's got a better understanding of just what I've been dealing with and just how difficult all of this has been.  But I'm doing it. 

I recently made a friend angry at me.  I hate doing that.  I hate having somebody I care about angry at me.  And it kills me to have somebody disappointed in me.  It's shameful. 

My friends have been on me for a long time to make changes in my life but I didn't because I'm a stubborn, obstinate person.  Plus, I was planning on dying.  Suicide by indifference.  I was eating myself to death and I didn't care. 

I'm not out of this mess by any means.  In fact, the momentum I have in the wrong direction is still taking me further. 


My pee smells different now.  It smells fruity and sweet.  It's not like I'm sniffing it, but it's hard to miss, and the change isn't subtle.  I looked it up and it could be one of several things.  It could be diabetes or it could be ketonuria.  

What I'm trying to determine is if ketonuria is a sign of being in ketosis.  Ketosis is when your body is burning fat for fuel because you're not feeding it sugar or carbs.  This is the goal of a ketogenic diet.  What I'm wondering is if this happening already or if the smell is from diabetes.  I just don't know and I won't be able to see a doctor until two more weeks. 

I asked the friend I pissed off, disappointed, and offended if she thinks I should try to get in sooner.  If she says I should, then I'll make the call on Monday. 


Why?  Because if I decided that if I'm going to do this, I'm going to do this right.  This is my death I'm confronting and if I'm going to walk to the finish line, I'll need to have a good explanation for why I didn't fight.  And if I did fight, I'll need to make sure I did so honestly, and didn't just go through the motions. 

I've gone through the motions for a lot of stuff in my life.  For this, confronting my failing health, declining mental state, and various habits and patterns, I need to do so with sincerity. 

I can't phone this in.  I just can't. 

So if my friend tells me to call for a sooner appointment on Monday, that's what I'll do.  I'm wondering if I should be worried instead of curious.  I'm not worried right now.  Maybe I should be. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Enemy is Me

There's an old joke that gets told around a number of peer-to-peer recovery groups like AA, NA, and on various websites.  It's been passed around for decades.

"My head would kill me if it didn't need me for transportation."  

It's something that's been said for a long time.  What it means is this:  My brain runs on emotions that are powerful, strong, and painful.  And that's a big problem.

It's not supposed to run on emotions.  A mind is supposed to run on logic and rational thought.  But mine has been filled with conflicting emotions that are building in intensity.  This has been going on for the past couple of years and this winter they began to grow exponentially.  I can't stop it.

My rational mind is screaming at me about how this is pointless.  My rational mind, well educated, logical, and looking out for my best interests, is fighting a war.  It is struggling to not get put in a corner, bound and gagged, while emotions run riot.

The emotional side is rampant and deafening over issues it shouldn't be even bothered with.

It's like being upset that you didn't get a job that involves touching shit with your bare fingers for minimum wage.  Who would want such a job?  Who would apply for such a job?  Getting turned down for that job would be a blessing.  But the fact that it's a rejection is enough to spin emotions into a tornado.

The rational mind screams out, "But it's a job touching shit with your bare fingers!  Why in the fuck would you want such a thing?  Why?  Why would you be upset that you didn't get that job?  Why be upset that you were rejected?  That's a blessing!  You dodged a bullet!  A gross, nasty, unhealthy bullet!  You should be thankful you're not doing that job right now!"

This is the war that goes on inside my head every day, several times a day, with a handful of choices, decisions, outcomes, and interactions.  Over and over again.

It happens with relationships that don't work out, or even take hold.  It happens when the past comes up.  It happens when somebody doesn't get back to me after I send them a text message, a PM on Facebook, or an e-mail.  It happens when somebody needs time on their own because they're an introvert and need that quiet time.  It happens when a short story gets rejected.  Life is full of small disappointments but my brain turns these into soul-shattering, life-changing events.

This is why my depression has been growing and worsening to a level I have not encountered in almost twenty-five years.

This is why I have been so miserable for the past few months.  Ever since this winter, I have been out of control and I just haven't been able to reign things in no matter how hard I try.

I'm losing this war.

Emotionally, the chorus chants all kinds of awful things like the Strophe and Antistrophe of Greek theater.  They never shut up.

I do what I can to silence them.

I'm eating myself to death.  I'm addicted to things I can't shake.  I can barely walk down the block before my hips hurt too much.  Soon, I won't be able to walk at all.  But then again, I might not make it that long, because my blood pressure is so bad, my legs are massive and ripe for a terminal infection like the one that killed my friend, Derek.

Because of this, I haven't gotten much done this year.  This entire year has been spent having daily battles to survive.  And while I win the battles, I'm losing the war.  I don't have much time left, either. If I don't figure out a way to knock this shit off, I'm going to be dead.

This is not a suicide letter.  This is not a suicide threat.  This is not suicidal ideation.

For all the reasons listed above, it has taken so many years off my life, that coupled with how isolated I am, and how little human interaction I have, the odds of me lasting another year are slim.

In January, I was driving down the road, self-talking myself into making better choices and having a better attitude about things that had happened in my life.  I was angry, heartbroken, depressed, and confused.  I tried to come up with reasons to keep going and I couldn't think of any.

I couldn't come up with a reason to live.  I tried and tried only to fail.  The impact of that was so powerful I had to pull over because I just couldn't stop crying.  I had no reason to wake up in the morning and despite all of my efforts, I couldn't think of one.  Not a single one.

Up until two months ago, I was perfectly content to die.  Heart attack, stroke, diabetic coma, or more self-propelled methods.  I didn't care.  I was ready to go.  I couldn't keep doing this.  It felt as if my life had run its full course and there was nothing left for me.  There was nothing out there for me and I was going to die alone.  The only question was how old I would be when it happened.  I was convinced I would die alone in an apartment full of books.  And I was okay with it.

Two months ago, friends talked me into staying.  They talked me into making another go of it.  They told me it's not too late and that I can pull out of this nosedive.

I often use the allegory of my life as a story told in mythological terms.  What lessons would somebody learn?  What could I pass on to somebody else?  When you do that to yourself, when you look at your life as something of value that will teach a lesson to another, you realize it can't end with a guy giving up and just letting death come collect his soul.

It can't end like that.  It just can't.  There are rules here and the rules clearly state that Our Hero can't just give up and die.  He has to get up and even though there is absolutely no hope whatsoever that tomorrow will be any better than today, he has to at least be around to see it.  He has to make the effort to make tomorrow better despite all the odds being against it.

I have no faith that my life will be better.  In fact, I'm almost certain it won't.  I will continue to lose.  I will continue to have things just out of my grasp.  I will continue to have everything I earned or was given taken away from me by powers beyond my control.  I will still die alone.

But that's not the point.  The point is, I need to be alive just in case, by some miracle, I find happiness again.  I'm told that it's possible.  I'm told that happiness might actually be possible.  So is winning the lottery, but I doubt I'll win that, either.

But yes, I chose to live.

It was a hard choice for me to make.   Last week, I asked people on Facebook, "What's your reason for living?"  Those who answered said things like family or their children.  As you know, I'm alone.  It's just me.  In fact, I'll go almost an entire week without seeing another human being, much less speak to them.

So I had to choose to live for me.  I had to do it for myself and I really have issues with self-esteem and self-worth.  It stems from being raised to believe I was stupid, lazy, worthless, thoughtless, careless, and just not a good person.  It also stems from something else I won't get into right now.  As I've said before, I didn't even consider myself to be human until I was in college.  I thought I was something less than human, something lower, and not one of you.

I'll never forget the look on my therapist's face when I told him of my epiphany.  I was genuinely happy and excited to tell him.

"Andy," I said.  "Guess what I learned this week!"

"What's that?"

"I'm a human being!"

That's when he finally realized how far gone I was.  It was at that moment he realized that we had a lot of work to do and a long ways to go.

So doing this for myself isn't easy.  Doing this because I'm somehow worth it just doesn't compute to me.  If you pay me a compliment, I will tell you a dozen things wrong with me in just a few seconds.  I know me, and I'm not that great.  It took me years and years before I could accept a compliment and simply say, "thank you."

But when you decide to do something big like this, and do it for yourself, because you're worth it, I'm learning you don't need to quantify it.  Instead of telling myself why I'm worth it, I'm simply accepting that I am and the reasons why are just not that important.

There are a lot of things that go along with making that choice.  When you choose to live, you have to do certain things, like take care of yourself.   I've never taken care of myself.  I've never eaten right or gotten the sleep I needed or did anything just because I like myself.  I've never done something for my health because I'm worth it.

In the past, I took steps to take care of myself just because to do otherwise would make things more difficult the next day at work or if I had plans, like to see a concert.  It was a means to an end, not just because.

Today, a friend came around, and she told me that I was worth it.  She told me I had a lot to offer people because I was smart and a kind soul with a good heart.  And I broke down.  I don't know why, but it got to me.  Being told I'm a person of value has always been an emotional thing for me.  Being told that I'm worth keeping around has always hit me hard.

I felt so bad breaking down on her like that but I couldn't help it.  These past few weeks have been so emotional for me.  Friends have reached out to tell me they care and to tell me I can do this, that I can pull out of this nose-dive and live.  That I can drop this weight, fix my head, clean up my act, and find some kind of happiness.

To me, happiness has always been the same as telling yourself over and over again the shit sandwich you're eating tastes good.  I already have diminished expectations on life, I don't need to lower them further just so I can continue to be here in a miserable existence.

There has to be more to life than this shit.  There just has to be.  But if I'm dead, I'll never know.

Plus, as I've mentioned before, I honestly think my soul is here on this plane of existence, in this situation, so I can learn a valuable lesson of some kind.  If I don't learn this lesson then I'm going to be spun into another trip around the block reliving all of this misery again.  So I need to solve the puzzle this time around.

Two days ago, while working, I had an itch on my leg, so I moved my hand down to check it out.  I never scratch my legs because of how swollen they are--especially the right one.  So, I put my hand down and it came back wet.  I had a blister on my leg that had popped, and puss was running down it.  It's been oozing ever since.

Today, my friend had a look.  She was a nurse for many years.  "Yup," she said.  "That's a textbook diabetic leg.  And that ulcer you have will multiply if you don't see somebody."

There's not a doubt in my mind that I am now a diabetic.  It's been a long time coming, really, and I've been on this path for a while.  As I said, I honestly didn't give a shit for a long, long time.  But now I do and it bothers me.

But I also think it's the best thing that could have happened to me.  This is the furthest I will allow it to go.  I've hit my bottom.  There's nowhere else to go for me but up.

I'll end this by saying I don't really want to live but I'm going to anyways.  A few weeks ago, a friend called me, crying, and telling me I can't kill myself.  She forbids it.  I'm not allowed.  And she wasn't talking about me eating my gun and painting the walls with cherry pie.  She was referring to death by indifference.

I care now.  And I know what to do to pull up and out of this nose-dive.  It's been hard for me to implement these changes because it is totally alien to me but I'm working on it.  I'm trying.  Because the story can't end like this.  My story can't end like this.  And right now, that's good enough for me.    

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Eleventh Hour, Sixteen Minutes

Lately my friends have been telling me something that I used to take as an insult.  They're calling me "soft-hearted" and "big-hearted" and shit like that.

Them's used to be fightin' words.  I'd throw down over being called something like that.

I'm an evil, mean-spirited man, goddammit!  I want to do terrible things to you in your sleep and I drive a creepy van around quiet neighborhoods at night.  I'm not "soft-hearted" or whatever that means.

A bunch of years ago, I watched something play out at a card game that reminds me of this.  It was Chris and Ed.  Eddie was a backwoods redneck and Chris was a scruffy, dirty, smelly, lying thief. He had a thing for hookers and for him, the lower they were, the better. Seriously.  He was a piece of crap.

But anyways, these two were playing cards.  Eddie was drinking and Chris was on whatever drugs he had gotten ahold of that night.

Eddie sets the cards down, burps, looks at Chris and says, "Goathead."

Don't EVER call somebody Goathead.  Chris was highly offended.


Eddie, not to let it go, countered with, "Dick!"


And it escalated.  The two went back and forth, trading insults.  Eddie pulled out a Buck hunting knife and slapped it on the table, and took another slug of the cheap whiskey he'd been swilling all night.

"Fuck you, you fuckin' fuck!"  And Chris stood up.

Eddie burped again, blinking, while holding up a finger.

"Wait a minute," he said.  "Let me speak good English."

Eddie pushed the cards closer to Chris and said, slowly, "Go ahead."

You never know what somebody means when they say something because words can get jumbled on their path from our brains to our tongues.  It makes communication a real bitch.

But yeah, my friends have been calling me "soft-hearted" a lot lately.  I get attached to women quickly and deeply.  I'm stupid that way.

I try not to be an emotional moth on a suicidal run into a halogen lamp.  I really do.  In recent months, I've met a lot of women who were looking for something.  A couple really got some good shots in that I just had no defense against.

In those times, I learned a few things.  I can't tell the difference between a woman teasing me, flirting with me. toying with me, taunting me, or rubbing my face in who and what I am.  Over the years, I've had women do all of those things to me.  I had one woman, years ago, who felt the need to really show me cruelty.

This woman would rub my belly and tell me how badly she needed sex.  And on the next day, she would tell me about how her boyfriend tore her up.  Then, she would pout and say, "But you don't have anyone, do you, Ted?  You're alone.  All alone.  What did you do last night, hmm?"

And then she'd laugh and walk away.

I have more stories like that than I'd care to admit to or recount.  I'm an easy target for these women. I realize that.  I'm getting better at ignoring them, too.

I met someone very recently and she and I have been chatting every day.  In our first chat, on the day we met, we chatted for about six hours.  In that time, I had a lightbulb moment about my own life and the patterns in it.  Specifically, one pattern in particular that really bothered me.

This was an incredible feeling.  I told my friends as if I'd discovered gold in my flower pots.  It was a Eureka! moment for me and I was proud and happy.

This never would have happened had I not met this woman.  It never would have happened had she and I not had hours of frank and candid conversation without filters.  Those conversations were important and productive for both of us.

Seventeen Minutes....

I was told recently not to label myself.  It's hard because I'm used to it.  I'm used to derogatory labels telling me I'm a "trainwreck" or "damaged goods."   It's easy for me to go back to those labels time and again.  The real struggle has been going forward without them.

I'll admit that it was a bad idea to have given up on everything all those years ago but I honestly couldn't think of anything else to do.  Everything had failed up to that point.  Because every path had led me to nowhere, I just figured I'd run my course, and it was getting close to Checkout Time.

But that was a long time ago and I'm still here.

One of my biggest fears is the cosmic joke I seem to be confronted with time and time again.  In this case, the joke would take the form of my purpose on this planet being fulfilled just as I begin to discover happiness and POOF I'm gone.  Just like that.

Maybe that's why I'm alone.  This way, I can't drag anybody down with me.  Nobody gets hurt.  It's a clean finish with no survivors left behind to mourn.

Sam Kinison was killed by a drunk driver just a few weeks after getting married.  John Candy died just before he was to begin a radical exercise and diet program.  Life is full of those cosmic jokes and death seems to always be the punchline.

So, I decided to pull out of this tailspin.  I don't know why.  I don't.  I have no idea why I'm doing this.  

I'm sorry I'm bouncing around so much.  I know this is hard to follow.  I've written this a dozen times and in so many ways, but it's all jumbled.  My mind is jumbled.  I'm so sorry.  These past few weeks have been so very hard on me and people have been bugging me about finding hope or whatever.
And anymore that seems to be the only thing that makes me angry.  I don't give two shits about much of anything but if you talk to me about hope, I'm ready to take the gloves off and throw down.

My brain has been a very ugly place.  And instead of dealing with it I've been filling my head with as much distraction as possible.  Cartoons, food, idle chat, games, re-run movies, old crap on television, and numbing substances I really shouldn't be doing.  Anything but dealing with reality.


And I just can't withdrawal far enough away.  I can't.  Everything is too much and I can't get away from any of it.  I just want to unplug for a while and I haven't been able to do that.  I feel like I'm under siege by the world and it just won't leave me alone.  That's why I don't go outside much.  That's why I don't talk to anybody on the phone but for a phone call to my mother every ten days or so just to let her know I'm alive.  Those calls usually last no more than three minutes.

Is it possible to be hurling out of control towards two very different fates simultaneously?  Because that's what this feels like.  Something is going to happen and I'll be standing on the last brick before the abyss on two paths.  I don't have much time left, either.  I'm on the last last chapter of the story or the last chapter in the book.  Or the first chapter in a new series.    

Saturday, August 5, 2017

What the "Long-View" Means to Me

I don't get too excited about certain things.  And often I find much of what people do to be meaningless and boring.

But I'll let you in on a secret--I've been here before.

When I was just 3 1/2 years old, I used to have a nightmare over and over again.  In this nightmare, I was bound at the hands and feet with rough, abrasive rope.  I was under water, next to the wooden hull of a ship, and I was struggling for air.  Panicked.  Desperate.

Then I'd wake up.

And I was just 3 1/2 years old.  I swear, this is the truth I'm telling you.

I didn't know what that dream meant until I was in college and somebody explained to me what keel-hauling was and how horrible it was to die that way.

There's more.  Lots more, really.  But it's too personal and I'm not going into it here.  Needless to say, however, there were other lives.  Other deaths.  And there was a soul-mate.

So yes, I take the long-view of things.  I don't need to sow my wild oats, I don't need to do a lot of things to sieze the day.  I don't feel the need to go out and "live life to the fullest" because honestly, unless there's something in it for my soul, I'm not interested.

And this is important for you to understand--I'm here for my soul.  I'm on this plane of existence because of the lessons my soul needs to learn as I journey through this world.

I'm not here for fun, I'm not here to get laid, and I'm not here to party.

I have nothing to prove to you.  Please don't take that to mean I don't care about you, it just means I don't feel the urge to show off, and I'm not interested in following the crowd.  Just because you're doing something doesn't mean I'm going along with you.  I've got my own path.

I'm here for my soul.

This is why I look for love, not some good time.  This is why I'm looking for that emotional bond before anything else.  This is why I do things with my heart firmly committed.

It's also why it's hard for me to feel passionate about things.  I'm selective and choosy.  But when I do, it's deep.  When my heart is in something, you'll know it.  You won't be able to ignore it.  And if you're close enough to me, I'll drag you with me in my wake.

I've gone through past-lives regression therapy.  I've done self-hypnosis as well.  Those helped me piece together random memories I've had with re-occuring dreams until I was able to put together a narrative that made sense.

What I can tell you is this--I have some bad karma from past lives to work through and I made some mistakes.  Plus, I did some things out of love most would never understand.  Because of that bad karma, there have been some issues in my life to work through.

One of the reasons I'm so nice to people is because I don't want to add to my bad karma that follows me around life to life like a stalker.

I cringe when people tell me I only have one life to live and to make the most of it.  I've already done that a few times.  I know why I was keel-hauled.  And I've killed plenty of people.

But there were some problems.  I made choices based on fear and rage.  The result was carnage and bloodshed.

So, I'm here to learn how to be a better person.  I'm here for a few other reasons I'm not going to get into right now.

But please don't tell me I only have one life to live.  Please don't tell me the seize the day.  I promise you--I've seized more days than you can count and I've lived lives on an edge you'd never understand. I have memories of events that are soul-crushing and heart-breaking.

I refuse to be stuck in those past lives or be held hostage by them but I need to know what I'm supposed to learn so I can stop going around and around the block.  There is somebody on the other side of the veil waiting for me to get my shit together and I'm here alone until that happens.

So that's my quest.

Before you write me off as some guy with a mental problem or a writer posting experimental fiction, I'm going to tell you a true story.  I swear, it's all true.

I used to play around with something called remote viewing.  Remote viewing is when you project your mind on a distant place and see what's going on.  That's the simple version.  I was also practicing astral projection at the time.  Those stories are for another time.

But with remote viewing, there is something called "beginner's luck" where your first serious effort gains results, and then you spend months trying to get back to that point in your list of skills.  It's weird.

At that time, in college, I had a girlfriend who broke up with me because she met somebody else.  She broke up with me, headed right for his dorm room, and started fucking him.

How do I know?

I remote viewed.  It was traumatic as hell, too.  It really messed me up to watch the woman I cared about and had just broken my heart having sex with another man.

But I was a kid with serious issues back then.  So, I did what you do when you're a kid with issues and you've had the experiences I've had--I told her all about it a few days later in an online chat.  I told her what I saw, the positions, the print on the bed sheets, details about his dorm room.

She freaked.  She thought I was just a nutcase and there were cameras in the room.  She accused that guy of making a video of the two together and he thought I'd sneaked in a spy camera of some kind.

Why?  Because I was right.  I was right about a long list of details that could only be known if I was actually there or had taken pictures with a camera.  Nobody believed it was remote viewing.

I've walked a dark path for a long time and I'm trying to not go back to that.  I've gone a great distance in my life to get to this point and I've still got a long ways to go.  But I'm doing the footwork and I keep my focus on the long-view.

Right now, I'm struggling to take the next steps.  My friends are there for me.  I'm lucky to have the best friends in the world.  After you've spent enough time in the darkness, it calls to you when you're not there, it beckons with a smile and a promise of peace.  It's a lie.  I can say that now.  It took me a long time to figure that out.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Natural Selection's Little Helper

More people need to die in this world.

The planet Earth, our home, isn't overpopulated with humans as much as it's overpopulated with idiots.  It used to be, natural selection helped keep those numbers down, because the dumber they are, the more easily they died and hopefully before reproducing.

We're all familiar with The Darwin Awards.   You receive the award only if you die after doing something stupid.  The point of it is to make people think but in reality we all read their website because it's funny to know how stupid people can be.

I'm in a bad mood right now.

My allergies are manifesting and my sinuses are swelling totally shut.  I mean, so tight, it hurts.  The swelling is so great, it is having an effect on my vision.  I need to be able to breathe for a variety of reasons.  Drinking water, talking, sleeping, eating.  All the big things we humans do.

I need a drug called pseudoephedrine.  Often, this is known as Sudafed.

Before you send me an e-mail asking me "Well, did you try _______?" please don't.  Please?

I've tried all the tricks.  Hot compress, cold compress (frozen beef liver), steam, peppermint oil on various places of my hands and fingers, Vicks vapor rub, eating spicy foods.  I hate a whole tablespoon of a sauce called Holy Jolokia.  It's over a million Scoville units and it barely burned me because of my nose is too plugged.

Mind you, a tablespoon of that stuff would normally put me in the bathroom freaking out about how badly my mouth burns but because I can't use my nose, I can't taste.

I tried some generic allergy meds to no avail.  They simply don't work for this.  I need something to reduce the swelling and the only thing that will work, or so I've been told by a number of people in the medical field, is pseudoephedrine.

Here's the problem: because so many meth cooks and users need that drug to make meth, it's now only available behind the counter.  You have to go see a pharmacist and they have to scan your ID before they'll let you have it.

I'm fine with that.

But the pharmacies around here all close at 6pm on Saturday nights.  I didn't know what I needed until 8pm when it was clear the other stuff I tried wasn't working.  So, I'm fucked until 8:30am tomorrow.

Normally, I accept shitty corporate policies like this because I get it--the legal teams need to protect their client from lawsuits.  We're a nation that's circling the bowl and all the greedheads are scrambling to keep what they have.  Fine.

But why couldn't the minimum-wage zombie working the register scan my ID herself?  What's the difference between a college-educated person with a state license scanning my ID and an under-paid, over-worked zombie doing it?  It's not like I'm filling a prescription from a doctor here.

I used to buy this shit off the rack for years.  The state changed the laws because of meth cooks.  So why not treat it like booze and just let the clerk scan the fucking thing so I can get some sleep tonight?

Because of the harsh laws and regulations, I won't be able to sleep at all tonight and I have to work tomorrow.  This really sucks.

But I'm also pissed off.  Why do we continue to try to protect people from themselves?  Has the stricter laws done anything to keep meth from being manufactured and sold?  Are there fewer meth heads in the world because of those laws?

Perhaps it's time we allowed people to endure the consequences of their actions.  I'm fat.  If I die of a heart attack or a stroke, nobody will be shocked, because it will be a consequence.  I knew of those consequences when I sat down and ate some ice cream a few weeks back.  I knew of those consequences when I sat down to watch a movie and ended up binge-watching about 5 episodes at once.

Nobody is trying to stop me from having those consequences.  They tell me about them all the time, but nobody is stopping me.  Maybe it's time to let everybody deal with their own shit.  Granted, once somebody asks for help, then the game changes, but up until that point everybody should have potential consequences to deal with.

We've all heard the stand-up comedians talk about removing warning labels and letting everybody sort things out for themselves.  And we agree with it, too.  Nobody's fighting this.  It's time to bring this belief out of the comedic quips and into the legal arena.  It's time to make it into a law, or at least give it a legal backbone.

I say we change our legal system so that idiots who die are laughed at and their families denied any right to claim injury.  It's bad enough we keep idiots alive so they can reproduce, but we have a system in place that tells them it's not their fault if they do something dumb and it gets them killed.

We need to protect our species by ending our protection of the stupid.  A jury can easily determine is somebody was being an idiot or if they had a reason to believe they would survive their choices.

Using a plug-in electric razor in the shower?  You're going to die.  That's called suicide.  Your family doesn't get to sue.

Get served coffee so hot it's nearly boiling?  That's dangerous.  I mean, c'mon--if it's that hot, nobody can drink it anyways, so it's no surprise that if somebody spills it, they'll get 3rd degree burns.  You deserve to be sued if you're serving anything that hot to people.

It's much simpler than it sounds.  If your family member dies, and you think someone was negligent, and you want to sue them, a jury would determine if they had it coming or not.  It would be a Death Jury.  In many ways, we already have that.

But I say we take it much further.

I say, if you're doing something dumb and you get hurt, but you don't die, the Death Jury could vote to finish the job and kill you.  It was be a mercy killing, really.  Somebody should show society and this planet mercy and get rid of the idiots.

Failed suicide attempts, for instance.  We've all heard stories of people who tried to kill themselves but some over-reaching doctor and a medical team keep some brain-dead lump of meat's heart beating and call that "life."  That's not life, it's a fucking horror show.  A Death Jury could vote to finish the job for that person.  Why waste resources on a lump of meat that will never walk and talk again?  They're gone--pull the plug and move on with life.

The other part of having a jury would be to take into account all the various factors that go into measuring a human being, such as age and experience.  I remember what I was like in my 20's and frankly, when I think of the shit that flew out of my mouth, I cringe in embarrassment.  I'm thankful we didn't have cellphone cameras and videos all over the place like we do now.

These juries would help deepen the gene pool by eliminating those we don't want to breed.  They would provide a service that was once a much-valued natural mechanism.  It's not about weak or strong, it's about those we don't want more of and those we don't need to keep around.

As many of you know, if you'd read a previous post, I'm currently reading the novel Dune by Frank Herbert.  In this novel, humanity became helpless and pathetic.  It was only after a revolt did they began to think for themselves.  Herbert's view of humanity's future depicts a species so dedicated to improving itself that it stops at nothing to become smarter.  The brain is a muscle to be exercised and pushed.

But we don't live in that society yet.  Instead, we are becoming lazier and weaker.  Only by eliminating the stupid can we hope to move forward as a species.  And then, we can sell allergy medication on the shelves once again and not have to worry about shitheads using it to get high.  I might, they still might do it, but when they die we simply won't care.  It'll just be part of thinning out the herd and improving our entire species.

Addendum:  The Day After

At some point early this morning, I tried steam for my sinuses for what I would guess to be the fifth or sixth time.  It worked.

So I turned my apartment into a sauna.  I shut the windows, turned off the fans, and steamed this place up so I could work my ten-hour shift.  Sweat rolled off my fat, pale body while I dealt with body blows mentally and emotionally.

And then I started working.  And idiots started calling me.  And I started having a personal conversation with somebody while emotionally remaining detached because I'm a nutcase with severe emotional issues.

But I was able to breathe.  Thank Satan, I could breathe.  My apartment was like a massive armpit and smelled worse, but I could breathe, so I was able to work my maddening job on the longest shift of the week.  Oh happy day.

What bothered me was what if the Death Jury gave me a psychological test?  I'm the first person to admit I'm bat-shit crazy.  And then I realized--my own rules would kill me.  The Death Jury is just another form of suicide.  Instead of pulling the trigger myself, I'm advocating the social equivalent of a Rube Goldberg device to do the job for me, because I'm not ready to do it myself.

It's been a rough week for me.  It really has been.  I've got three blog posts I've started writing but stopped because they were just too crazy and you guys wouldn't understand.  Or personal and you guys didn't need to know this yet.  Or true and I didn't want my family know this stuff.  Or final and there might be a tomorrow, so it's too early to say Goodbye.

But just in case, they've all been written.

So would a Death Jury eliminate me?  Does the insanity between my ears disqualify me from the deep end of the gene pool and leave me in the shallows with the floaties, water wings, and those ugly goggles with the nose pinchers?

Maybe by advocating the Death Jury I'm somehow cheering for Lenin as he triumphantly enters the Gates of Kiev, jumping up and down, screaming at the top of my lungs, in hopes that sees me and remembers that I was on his side early on and he didn't need to send a goon squad to my hovel in the middle of the night to kick me out of bed and throw a black hood on me.

You don't need to put me in front of a jury, I'm with you.  I wanted you from the beginning.  I'm on your side.  So you don't need to judge me because I've already been judged by the Death Jury.  See?  I'm blogging about it.  I'm blogging and talking about it and advocating it early on, so you don't need to judge me.  My genes are great, my mind isn't too far gone, and I am the way I am out of comedic process, not by default.  Let me help you!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Dune Club--Thoughts about The First Session

For the first time since college, I am participating in a group discussion of a book, and today was our first session.

The club is hosted on Twitch by ComicBookGirl19 and the book we're discussing is Dune by Frank Herbert.    

I'm loving it so far.  

I'm thrilled I finally get a chance to read this book.  I've wanted to read Dune for a long time but I'm easily side-tracked and my list of books to read is long and growing.  

And I dearly love ComicBookGirl19 (CBG19).  She's incredibly intelligent, well-read, and sure she's stunningly beautiful but honestly, I don't care about that.  You guys know me and you know all I care about is what's between the ears.  And a woman smarter than myself will always have my attention.  

Plus, she's soulful and she brings that to the table when discussing Dune, which is far more soulful and spiritual than I expected.  

Sadly, I have to work when the discussion is live, but once work was done I began following it.  I'm listening to it right now.  

She broke the book into five sessions and tonight we discussed pages 1-59.  

What stood out to me instantly was how over-developed the people of that world are and inferior I felt while reading about them.  

In the Dune world, machines (computers, AI) took over the world and subjugated humanity.  Humanity was left stupid without their machines to think for them and were enslaved until they revolted and re-established their dominance.  As a result, humans forbade machines be made that can think like a human.  Humans instead developed themselves mentally beyond anything we can comprehend today.  I felt stupid reading about these people.  

The MC of the book Paul Atraides, is hyper-aware of not only himself but of everybody around him to a point that is exhausting.  His mother, a witch, taught him to pay attention to minutiae that makes a human.  I find similarities in what his mother taught him and all kinds of various beliefs and religions.  Even Satanism teaches hyper-awareness of your demeanor and in observing another's.

There were a few obvious moments thus far.  Back in the 20th century, if you wanted your bad guy to be instantly hated, you gave him a Russian name.  So, the Barron's first name is Vladimir.   Obvious.

Something else I found interesting while reading the book was how bare the descriptions were.  After having seen the movie from the 80's several times, I was really looking forward to detailed descriptions of the planet Caladan.  Plus, I had hoped to learn more about the day to day lives of those in that hyper-advanced world.  But no, Herbert keeps the story moving forward, and doesn't give us much to work with.

There is some serious wisdom in this book.  The lines about "Fear being the mind-killer" is famous but also true.  How many times have we, as humans, be ruined by fear?  Or made bad choices because of fear?

I'm really excited about this book and I'm really happy about the book club.  I can't wait for next week and tonight I'll read pretty much all of the part for Session II.  And I'm so happy my friend Brittany gave me this book to read.  I would have never been able to afford to get it for my Kindle this week but she totally hooked me up.

This is exciting for me in a lot of ways and I have to wonder just how many of these books I'll end up reading.  But I'll worry about that later.  For now, I'm just happy to have another book to dive into and just enjoy.  It's been a while since I've found a book I can dive into like this.  Dune has really absorbed me unlike any book has for some time.     

Friday, July 7, 2017

The G-Forces of a Downward Spiral

It's 6:11am.

Our Hero can't sleep.  His sinuses keep swelling shut due to the allergies he has every summer.

An evil Mind Gremlin sneaks out the window, unseen by him, but the spell put upon him certainly worked.

Our Hero has been re-living the past.  Certain, select days from the past, in a three-day block from 27 years ago.  The way events unfolded in that memory, deep scars were dug, making them not easily forgotten.

The original events were difficult.  Families, abuse, alcoholism, and anger.  Lots of anger.

What the evil Mind Gremlin did was shine a bright light on that distant memory, highlighting it, calling it forth from the shadows, and forcing Our Hero to relive it over and over again.  But this time, he began to fantasize about what he could have done differently.  What he should have done differently.

It was the emotional equivalent to dumping a ton of gasoline-soaked straw on a dying fire.

Suddenly, Our Hero found himself in a battle inside his mind.  Rage.  He was consumed by rage as he thought about how he should have handled the situation.  He should have thrown the man down on the ground and kicked the shit out of him.  He should have beat him within an inch of his life.  He should have beat down upon him the sum of all his resentments while accusing the man's mother of being responsible for all that was wrong at that moment.

Our Hero found himself in a battle with a ghost.

But this battle is pointless and stupid.  He knows this.  Or rather, he's supposed to know this.  The spell put a fog on that knowledge.  So after a few minutes of rage flowing around in his brainpan, he came up for air.  He looked around his apartment and took a deep breath.

Then he focused on the moment in front of him.  The present.  The small actions of his fingers on the keyboard, the distant thunder of a storm that went around his village, the feel of the fan blowing in his hair.

So often, the solution to a problem is right in front of us.  The present.  What we're doing at that exact moment is far more powerful than any memory or dream or hope.

Our Hero doesn't own a time machine.  He can't fix the past, re-do certain events, or fix the many mistakes he made.  He can't foresee the future and he doesn't know the winning lottery numbers.  But he can focus on the moment he is in, at that exact time, and he can do something about it.

It's 6:30am.  Our Hero is still wide the fuck awake.  His sinuses are still clogged and he can't breathe through his nose in order to sleep.  But his head is quiet.  The ghost is gone and he's left with the empty moments of his life, alone in his apartment, his fingers on the keyboard.  It's the best he's got to work with right now and the best he can do.

He wonders, when his story gets re-told around the campfires, if this lesson will be included.  Small victories in isolation in the middle of the night rarely are and it's a shame.  They're usually the biggest victories of all.    

Friday, June 23, 2017

Ear Worms and Screaming Brains

I need to tell you this story.

Before I do, don't judge me.  I get ear worms.  Badly and often.  I get songs stuck in my head and they just don't leave.  Sometimes I'm lucky enough to have good songs stuck in my head but other times, my luck is typical of my life--shit.  And that's when I get horrible ear worms.

Earworms for me are often triggered by memories.   Last night, before I finally fell asleep, after days of not sleeping more than an hour or two, I was reminded of my time working at a gas station in Freeport.  I worked the late shift until close at midnight every night.

I have a lot of stories about those days.

But there's this memory that popped into my head.  It was back when cellphones first started to have ringtones you could adjust and replace with sound bites from your favorite song.  A regular customer, a beautiful eighteen year-old girl, had her phone ring while she was in line to pay for her gas.  It was a pop song that was so distorted I couldn't understand any of it.

She started dancing.  But it wasn't just dancing, it was this elaborate set of moves while she sang.  Sure, she was beautiful, but she was squirrely.  I like squirrely.

I asked her the song and she weirdly began to sing the song title.  "Rockstar," she said.

I went home that night and got on Youtube.

Something about me I should say right now--I have OCD badly when it comes to music.  If I hear a piece of a song, I have to know what it is.  I have to know who the artist is and what song I'm hearing.

I have to.

If I don't, then I need to find it.

True story.  I worked at a pizza place owned by Sicilians.  They had an old cassette tape with Italian love songs recorded into a mix tape.  One of the songs had this woman sing in a haunting but beautiful voice in Italian.  Nobody knew who she was or what song it was.  But I remembered the melody.

I would spend time once in a while trying to find it on Youtube.

And then something happened.  Maybe my life took another spin.  Maybe more unrequited love ate away at me.  Or maybe my brain began yet another tailspin.  Whatever.

I logged onto my computer and spent thirty-six hours straight looking for that song.  Thirty-six.  I didn't sleep.  I just drank caffeine and listened to old Italian songs.  I never found it.

Sometimes, I still hear that melody and her voice.  I tell myself that now is not the time to search for it.  I promise myself that one day, when I have time, I will.  I made a note of it mentally.  Delaying it to the future helps me get through the OCD moment.

But this beautiful woman.  Blond hair, long and curly down her back, blue eyes, tall and incredibly thin, tripped the switch inside my brain that forced me to find this song.  So, in about ten minutes, I did.  I'm really good at finding things.

It was one of the shittiest pop songs a person could like.  Horrible.  Vile, trite, cliche, and all of the things I despise about pop music.  I get angry when I hear it.  When it pops into my brain, I wonder if perhaps I picked up a brain fluke from bad water someplace, and as it eats away at my frontal lobe, it produces excrement that somehow mixes into the wiring, like a wrench in a gearbox, and triggers this song.

Prima J--Rockstar.

Don't judge.  It's not my fault.  I'm sick.  I'm very, very sick.  I hate this song and everything about it.
But that's why we call them "ear worms."  They are disgusting things that get lodged and we can't stop them.

Lately it seems has if my brain is screaming at me.  I slept last night.  Collapsed, really.  I was a zombie until I finally sank into oblivion.  And that's when the dreams started.

First, I dreamed I was upstairs in some house.  The Incredible Hulk was there, running room to room.  He wasn't smashing anything or breaking anything.  He wasn't roaring or shouting.  Sure, the doorframes were broken a bit because he had to get through them, but at least he was using the doorways and not just blasting through the walls, right?

He smiled at me.  He seemed to be there protecting me.  And I hugged him.  The Incredible Hulk let me hug him.

The second dream, I was in the basement of a recently built house.  It was one of those split-level ranch homes that are so common.  The basement was a finished basement.  You know the type--wood paneling painted white, off-white carpeting, crappy second-hand furniture that doesn't match.

This basement went on forever.  It was massive.  Room after room.

It was raining outside.  It was a cold, winter rain.

I searched the basement for something to drink.  I was thirsty.  Every time I found a kitchen, the refrigerator was empty.  One kitchen had about twenty pounds of raw bacon set out on the counter but the refrigerator had the door removed.  I found about five kitchens in this basement and each time the same thing--nothing to drink.

And then my mom came downstairs.  She was sick with a cold or the flu.  She didn't talk to me.

Mom sat down at the shitty kitchen table set out in the middle of this basement room.  She was eating a bowl of cereal or oatmeal.  The table was one of those with the thick brass-colored frames and faux-wood tops.  Mom's old, ratty bathrobe hung off her shoulders, revealing tattoos covering her back.  They were Asian in theme but Western in artwork.  Her back was covered in them.  For the record, she doesn't have a single tattoo in real life.

Mom had an oversized can of 7-up that was about the size of those oil cans we used to get oil in up until the early 80's.  It was empty because she drank all of it.

I wasn't wearing a shirt and I didn't want to get too close to her because I didn't want her to see the scars on my upper arms.  I had new ones from when I melted down with a meat cleaver in January and I didn't want her to see them.  She freaked out twenty years ago when she saw them then.  New ones would not be good.  She was worried enough about me as it is.

We didn't talk.  I woke up.

There was something about this dream that has lingered with me all day.  I feel disconnected and disjointed.  Something changed.  Something ended.  I missed something.

I feel like a door closed on me and I don't know which one.  An opportunity has been lost.  I lost.  I missed out on something.  I failed someplace and failed to make something happen.  But I have no idea what.

I feel like mourning.  I've felt like mourning all day and I don't know why.

My brain screamed at me last night.  It wanted me to know something and I don't understand what.  I'm not going to demean myself by saying I'm stupid or something like that.  I'm not.  I just don't get it.  I wish I did.

I wish I knew what was needed to fix whatever is broken.  But for some reason I have the sneaking suspicion that it just might be too late to fix it.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Eleventh Hour, Fifteen Minutes

I've been working on a short story this weekend and my fingers aren't doing what I want them to do.  I know exactly what I want this story to read like and I know exactly how I want it to unfold.  The problem is, I can't seem to get the words in the order they need to be.  

So, I write a few, delete a few, and repeat.  Lately that's been my writing style.  Instead of editing, I go forward about two paragraphs, delete most of what's in there, and save a sentence.  Maybe.  

It's different from just throwing it on paper and calling it done.  Hunter S. Thompson used to make a joke that was repeated in the movie Where the Buffalo Roam. Bill Murray did a good job being Thompson.  

  • No need to panic. I'll just lash together a few raw facts, a little bit of old Negro wisdom, and this nightmare is over.

I loved Thompson's work but he bitched about money too much.  And he was obsessed with getting screwed over in his race for Sheriff back in the late 60's.  It just gets old after a while.  When I was a kid, I wanted to be like him.  It was cheap.  Cheap, and so beyond derivative, it bordered on thievery.  I was a stupid kid.  What can I say?  

Plus, Thompson never once wrote about being dopesick.  Any doper worth half a damn will know what that's like and they'll write about it. Being dopesick is something you never forget and it makes an impact on your very soul.  Just the thought of being dopesick grips an addict with a fear a person who hasn't used could never understand or fathom.  

I've been writing things that have been out of comfort zone lately. This week, I got a rejection for an anthology I'd submitted a short story to, and was put on the short-list for the final ToC (Table of Contents) much to my excitement.  This was a biggie.  A highly successful series of books with some heavy hitters that paid well.  To get as far as I did was really something.  But the fact that I was rejected really bugged me.  That story I sent them was different from most of what I've written.  

For starters, it had a sex scene.  As many of you know, I just don't write those.  There's a lot of reasons for that.  But for some reason I threw one into that story.  

I still haven't heard back from the published I sent my novella. It's been damned near four months and the fuckers haven't even told they got the shit.  I'm pissed.  

I'm also getting back to poetry.  Reading and writing it.  There's a project I'm working on.  Like everything, it's a matter of what needs to be said.  These things are always like that.  

Get the stuff said that needs to be said before I get out of here. Or at least the stuff that I need to say.  

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Dousing Embers

It's a funny paradox that those who want to get under our skin are usually already there.  They're already a presence in our thoughts and hearts.  What they never fully realize is how their efforts just make it easier to walk away from them.


I've found that for myself, the emotional attachments I have to people never quickly drop.  You could show me a video of them putting puppies in a blender while laughing hysterically and quoting from Mao's Red Book, it wouldn't change how I feel.

It would change how I think.  It would change how I act.  But those feelings and emotions would not suddenly evaporate like hot water thrown into the air on a frigid winter night.

A couple of months ago, I had relationship, of sorts, dissolve.  She wasn't into me and I made it clear I was into her.  But we stayed friends.  In the final months, she reminded me often how badly she needed sex, just not from me.

And let me tell you, that feels shitty.  When a woman you want to be with is super-horny but doesn't want you, but yet she reminds you about how super-horney she is, it's a huge slap in the face.

But as I said, we were friends.  One day, she tells me she's sick from food poisoning.  Then, she disappears.  No online response.  I texted her.  No response.  She's called me often when I was sick.  This was not some stalker-type behavior.  We called each other a bunch of times when the other was feeling sick.

So, about six hours after texting her, I called her and got her voicemail.  The next day, around noon, she calls me and chews my ass out.  She flames me royally.

"You don't need to call me and check up on me!  I was on a date and it was really awkward and it was at a certain moment."

She was finally getting the sex she so badly craved after a couple of years without and in that critical moment, I called, and she had to explain to him who I was.  The call lasted about 30 seconds and it was the last time I heard from her.

A day or two later, she posted something on Facebook with her codes for how she was getting some really great sex.  That was the last post I've seen from her since.  I'm not sure if I'm blocked or what and frankly, I don't care.

I realize then, I just didn't care about her that much and I just didn't care about her in that way.  I had no idea until she did that to me.  And if I never speak to her again, then so be it.  It's obvious how little I meant to her anyways.

That's an emotional situation I can walk away from and not be bothered.  I'm fine with it.

I can walk away from hatred just as easily, too.  If I hate somebody and they do something to prove that hatred wrong, I can switch gears and stop hating them.  No problem.  Anger, rage--all of that is easily ignored.

But love?

Love stays.  Love lasts.  Love is one of those things I've never been able to switch off and walk away from mentally or emotionally.  Physically, sure.  No problem.  Done.

But I still think of them.

A number of years ago, I fell hard for a woman.  I mean, it was an obsession.  She was all I could think of.  I wanted to make her laugh.  I wanted to make her happy.  I wanted to be the person she came to because she knew I'd never hurt her.  You know, all the sappy horseshit that fills pop music, shitty poetry, and sonnets written by 8th Graders.

But she was bad news.  Seriously bad news.  Coke whore, gang bangs, STD's--the works.  She was a porn star and sometimes there were cameras.

I knew to walk away.  Hell, I was flat-out told by people who were close to her to walk away.  And I did.

But not emotionally.  Emotionally, she's still there.  I still think of her.  I still think of her smile, and how much I enjoyed making her laugh.  The emotions are still there.

The same is true for a woman on the other side of the planet.  I'd do anything for her.  Her life has continued on with a path all its own.  But I still think about her and compare other women to her.  In many ways, she's a benchmark.  She and I hardly speak anymore.  But the emotions are still there.  And in just a few minutes of conversing with her, I'm reminded of just how powerful those emotions are, and how badly it hurt to know there was no way I'd be in her life.

Love stays.  That's why it's so powerful.  Love stays with us and we carry it in our hearts and minds for a long, long time.  It sinks in deep, to the bone, where it spreads to all parts.

I've walked away from women before.  Not often, but it's been known to happen.  Usually when I'm losing my mind because it's clear I'm not nearly as important as I want to be.  Those times when the other person clearly isn't interested in me on a level deeper than superficial.

I cannot describe how fast the mind spins in those times.  You want to get their attention.  You crave their attention.  You want to hear them say you're important to them.  You want them to show you how important you are to them.  But they never do.  Instead, they absorb your efforts, like a tackling dummy, or the guard rail at Indianapolis at the Brickyard.

So you think harder.  You try harder.  It feels like burning.  It feels like you're consumed by flames and only they can put out the fire with just a few words or a gesture.

There is a futility in those efforts.  It's running uphill during freezing rain.  It's like cupping water with your two hands as you carry it across the room.  It drips out, it escapes, so you press harder.  You lock your fingers.  Your hands become a vice.  But try as you might, that water escapes, and by the time you get to the other side of the room all you have left are a few drops.  That's it.

If they're really cruel to you, they'll tell you how thirsty they are, and how they desperately need that thirst quenched.  Mercifully, that doesn't happen nearly as often as it could.  I've been lucky.

Not too long ago, I walked away from somebody.  It hurt like hell but I had to because I was twisted around and in flames.  I wanted so badly to be a priority to her but it was clear I wasn't.  In fact, my importance was declining, and it was so obvious I felt like a chump.  It was beginning to be humiliating.  

But this is about me, not her.  I'm the one who couldn't handle it.  I'm the one who was on fire.  I'm the one who lost his shit.  Each and every day, I would search for replies from her, maniacally refreshing my various inboxes.  I would scour the web looking for things I could do to get her attention, despite already having it, and ways to be more of a priority to her.

I failed.  There was a canyon between us and she was widening it by the week.  There was more and more going on in her life she couldn't talk to me about.  She was clearly upset.  She was clearly hurting.  But increasingly she couldn't talk to me about it.  I tried to distract her.  I tried to make her laugh.

When you try to make an upset woman laugh so she feels better you become a temporary thing for her but she will not go deeper than that superficial dynamic.  So you make her laugh more and become more superficial to her.  It's a cycle.

That was months ago.  I lost my shit and went into a tailspin.  I didn't care, either.  I didn't care about the 1,000 reasons she had not to give a shit about me.  All I cared about was how she didn't.

I avoided mutual places online.  I stopped all communications with her.  And despaired at how easily she agreed with my request she stop talking to me.  For months she was the first person I thought of in the morning and the last person I thought of at night.  And now it was done.

But that didn't stop me from thinking.  And it didn't stop me from feeling.  I tried, too.  I really did.

How do you get somebody out of your thoughts?  You can't tell somebody "don't think of X" because they'll think about X all the time, then.

Time and absence is the only solution.  So, I tried to avoid her, which didn't help.  I was obsessed.

But after a while, I became comfortable with things.  I got used to how events panned out.  The tail-spin stopped and I went through the stages one does in recovering.  I stopped burning.  Somewhat.

She was still in my mind.  And the emotions were still there.  But I knew better.  I knew all the reasons why I needed to keep doing what I was doing.

This morning, I woke up to find a message from her.  My blood pressure spiked to crazy levels instantly.  So fast, I got lightheaded.  I quickly closed the window so the words wouldn't appear.  I wasn't ready to read them.  I wasn't ready for this.  Not at all.  Not one bit.

And then the anxiety came.  It felt like dozens of shrill, screaming voices bearing down on me.  I wanted to escape but couldn't.  It took me a while to prepare to read it, but I did.

She's angry with me.

At first, I was relieved.  I was relieved she was angry at me because I would have had no defense against anything else.  Had she said anything kinder than "I fucking hate you and hope you die" I would have burst into flames all over again.  If she had said she just wanted to know how I was doing, I would have freaked out, and something inside of my brain would have short-circuited.

But no, she was angry at me.  Thank the gods, she was angry at me.

I'm glad she lashed out at me.  Not speaking to her had become more and more difficult for me.  Just recently, it was clear she was going through a difficult patch, and I very badly wanted to reach out and ask if she was alright.  Friends talked me out of it.

I don't claim to make the smartest choices and I don't claim to have my shit together.  And it's very hard for me not to act upon emotions.  It's one of the reasons I medicated them.  It silenced them enough so I could function.  Plus, the very fact I'm using the "L-word" at all says something ugly about myself.  Something is terribly wrong with me.

A friend recently told me she thinks I tend to fall for women who will hurt me.  This is probably true on some level.

But it's not like I can just flush these feelings down the toilet.

There's a school of thought that says, "fuck your feelings, it's all about your actions."  All too often, I've put myself in that group just to keep myself from sticking my head in the wasp's nest.  My head is an ugly minefield as it stands.  Acting upon emotions would just get me into more trouble.  But I'm moving away from medicating and anesthetizing the feelings so they don't bite and claw at my brain.
My chemical suit of armor is disappearing and I really don't know if I can go on without it.  It scares me.

But no, I'm happy she's angry with me.  If she really hated me, she would have said she missed me, and watched as the fun began.  And I unfolded and burned.    

Monday, May 29, 2017

Summer Night Memories

Dear reader, I want you to ask yourself a question--what memories get triggered on a gorgeous summer night?  

Do you think about that one person you were comfortable with as the two of you cuddled around a campfire?  Or do you think about that one night with your friends where everything felt so good you knew it would never happen again?  

You know that night I'm talking about, too, right?  That night where every joke, every story, ever log on the fire, felt as if it somehow matched everything else so well you never wanted it to end.  You felt, in that moment, at peace within and without, and the universe had aligned to give you a break.  

I had a summer of those nights one year when I was in high school between my Sophomore and Junior year.  

Most people never understand what the marching band experience is like if they've never done it themselves.  And not all marching bands are alike.  We weren't the pimply kids who put on a crappy uniform from the 60's and play tired old tunes out of a book.  We competed.  We put on field shows and got judged.  Our parades were judged.  

The world of competitive marching bands for a high schooler is vastly different.  You get yourself bonded to a group of people and you stay bonded.  I was closer to my bandmates than I was to the guys I played football or wrestled with.  In fact, the sports people picked on me and made fun of me.  The band people accepted me.  

I come from a musical family yet I'm tone-deaf.  I'm the only one, too.  My family used to gather around and sing.  Sure, they'd be drunk, and the songs would be old and boring, but it was tradition and had meaning for them.  I tried to join.  I wanted to join.  As a 6 or 7 year-old child, I wanted to be a part of the family.  But because I was tone-deaf, I was told to shut up.  My mom got mad at me and said I was throwing everybody off.  

So I wasn't allowed to be in that tradition.  

Instead, those songs remind me of having a headache, being tired, and wanting to go home.  Songs like "Good Morning Starshine" make me thing of drunken aunts slurring and bossing me around.  It reminds of me not being able to watch tv because it was too loud but not being able to join the group because I sucked.  

My grandfather was a musician.  He had a band called Farold and his Bluebirds and they played in the speakeasies own by Al Capone during Prohibition.  He played the french horn, I believed.  He was highly talented.  

My mom was the music director at our church for over a decade.  Then my aunt took over for about as long, if not longer.  Another aunt made a career in music and has several albums.  It's what the family does.  

But I was talentless in music.  So when the band director at my high school wanted me to join up, it seemed like the legit offer and something I should do.  And I was going to be on the drum line.  

They put me on a fucking bass drum.  I was pissed off about that.  But because the rest of our drumline had no sense of rhythm, I was the metronome for the whole band.  Our section leader, John, had no rhythm whatsoever.  He was so poor, he used to fuck up rim-shots as the band marched into position.  

But as a unit, our drumline was amazing.  Far better than anything in the area.  Our drumline coach, Romero, was awesome.  And he taught us to be serious at our craft.  Romero also took me aside, and we did a lot of one-on-one work when I did timpani solos in music competitions.  Through him, I learned rudiments and the basics.  

I wanted to do more.  I wanted a drum kit of my own and I wanted to play in a rock band.  But that was forbidden to me and when you're 14 years old, some things are just that way.  It never stopped the dreams, though.  

Our band competed in field shows and parades during the summer.  We went on tour and played all over Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin.  We slept in gymnasiums and lived on McDonald's.  

The long hours under the sun wearing a heavy drum weren't nearly as bad as one might think.  The worst of it was our band director.  She was chemically imbalanced and a rage addict.  She and her father were terrors in the music education world and nobody dealt with them if they could avoid it. In fact, she would lie and break rules flagrantly but nobody would call her on it because of her behavior.  

Dealing with The Director was an exercise in studying a person's disposition and waiting for the next explosion.  You knew it was coming, but you never knew what would set her off.  But we put up with it.  Our entire band was made up of kids who would rather deal with her than go home because home was that much worse.  Home was alcoholism, abuse, neglect, and pain.  

The rages only lasted a few minutes and then she would be okay until the next one. 

Big things were okay but minor things would cause her to scream and rage without mercy. Sometimes she would grab students.  

But not me.  

Funny story:  We had a parade to do in Dixon.  We were rushed to load the vans and we were always running behind anyways, but this time was worse.  We had been doing field show practice and The Director never kept track of time very well.  She was horrible at time management.  So of course, we practiced too long, and we weren't prepared to pack and go to 20 miles down the road to Dixon for a parade.  We get there, and our bass drum carriers, the harness we wear over our shoulders to hold the drums, were missing.  They had been left back in the school's music room.  

The Director was already shouting and getting angry at everybody because it was our fault she was terrible at time management and organization.  Rage addicts normally blame others for situations they created.  So, this time, as her anger built, the inevitable rage explosion was visibly coming.  We walked on eggshells but then somebody had to tell her the harnesses for the bass drums were back in the music room.  That did it.  

The Director, in a predictable rage, went to grab a student and throttle them.  Sadly, the nearest student was me.  Big, six-foot tall, 235lbs, weightlifting, wresting team, me.  She moved towards me, her arms reaching out, only to look up at me and realize there was no fucking way she was putting her hands on me.  None.  I had already decided that if she did, I would go ahead and oblige her engagement in physical confrontation and she would lose badly and painfully.  

So no, she stopped in her tracks, backed up, moved about ten feet to her left and grabbed a much smaller David.  He had a lot of nicknames.  John the drumline leader (and her favorite) nicknamed him Paco Moreno.  And Senior Satan.  I'll tell the reason for that later on.  But no, she grabbed and throttled poor David.  

It was antics like that I couldn't stand.  Several times a day she would freak out and just explode, screaming at the top of her lungs at us.  She did it in front of other bands, spectators, anybody.  During tours, we would have a practice field to use for a scheduled time after our parade.  One hour.  
Other bands used to watch us practice just to watch her freak out.  And then they stopped after feeling sorry for us.  Other band members from different bands would come to us later on and express how bad they felt that we had to deal with such bullshit.  

One time, she was in the middle of a rage fit, and she fell down on the ground, kicking and screaming.  

But aside from all of that, there was something incredible about being on tour.  The hot summer nights, the new smells, new sights, watching the other bands, it created a magical time.  

We used to sit in drum circles and meet other band's drumlines.  We would sit and chat.  We were open and outgoing, encouraging each other, trading stories.  It was at that time in my life when I first had some girl cuddle up next to me.  It was the first time in my life some girl openly gave me a hug because she was so happy to see me.  It was the first time a girl was happy to see me, for that matter.  

In my high school, I wasn't well-liked.  Girls used to treat me like I was a gross, disgusting piece of shit.  They would make exaggerated facial expressions and stick out their tongues.  In high school, I never had a single date and I never went to a single homecoming or prom.  Nobody wanted to go to a dance with me.  

But that summer, it was different.  That summer, I felt a connection with people.  I felt acceptance. There was a belonging and camaraderie.  We were all eclectic, unique people with artistic personalities.  We were expressive and exuberant.  And we knew we could be ourselves in that culture and still be accepted.  I no longer felt like a loser or that I wasn't good enough to be in a group of people.   

It was the first time for that acceptance for me.  It was the first time for so much.  I can still hear some of the bands play their field shows.  I can still hear certain drum line bits for various songs.  I can still smell the grass and the way the night air smelled so differently from home.  

That summer taught me something important.  That summer, I learned that it's okay to be creative.  It's okay to be different.  And it's okay to be artistic.  Plus, I learned that maybe it wasn't me that was the problem at school.  Maybe, it was them.  Maybe.  

I eventually left the band.  The director was a nutjob who played headgames.  She was of poor character and no integrity.  It just became too much.  

But I stayed in contact with a few people, sending letters back and forth for a few months.  And those lessons gave me a lot of traction in life.  

The other night, I was outside, feeling the warm air.  It brought me back to those nights in Wisconsin, a girl I was close to under my arm, her head resting on my shoulder, as we just enjoyed the night together.  I went back inside, went on youtube, and pulled up videos of various drum corps and their drumlines.  That night, PBS played a documentary about the Madison Scouts, a drum and bugle corps out of Madison.  They showed practice sessions that reminded me of our long, hot music camps.  And each person had a gold tan and bleached hair.  

I used to have drum sticks and a practice pad.  It'd play on that for hours.  Over the course of my many moves, they were lost or stolen.  I decided the other day I'm going to replace them.  It's time to get my chops back for no other reason than I enjoyed it.  And most importantly--I'm going to seek out other local writers just so I can be with my own.  

This summer, I'm going to spend more time with artists.  It's been far too long since I've done that and it's badly needed.  I'm going to seek out places with artistic vibes and go there because that's a place where people like me are accepted for who we are.  It's where people like me belong.