“I raised my head. The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed somber under an overcast sky–seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.”
– Joseph Conrad –
Sometimes when I write here I feel like I am tossing clandestine notes out through a hole in some great wall. Hoping they be found by someone who’d care enough to read them. Maybe care enough to feel what I am saying is worthy enough to cross some imaginary divide and climb a great hill to set a signal fire. Set it alight in the dark night and shine through the darkness “I am here! I can hear you!”. And maybe just in that hope I keep writing. Though often I don’t know why.
I have been quiet lately. I have been shaving the pitch and throwing off the bodies to cut down on the drag as it were. I have gone through a strange period of reminders, birthdays, anniversaries and even dreams. I am currently off work due to a temporary shut down. Yesterday I laid down on the couch and fell asleep. I dreamed I was a kid again, back home, my father was alive and my mother was still there. My brother was the dopey kid I both protected and tormented. And it was summer and I think it may have been my birthday. I was happy and I was home. And I didn’t need or want for anything. It was home…And when I woke up I was so sad, so overwhelmed by it all I sat on the floor and couldn’t bear to cry, because if I did I thought I would bray and howl like a child. Lost and scared. I just ached so deeply, like nothing I can describe. I have longed to be back again with someone I loved, to find them again and have them love me again. But it couldn’t compare to the pain of wanting to go back to a time and place. To an innocence and possibility. So I just sat and shuddered and felt even more alien here. More the animal/machine.
I wrote to someone this week that anyone who says you mustn’t live with regret has truly never experienced regret or guilt. And if you can experience it and still dismiss it and leave it behind then you are truly an abomination…And I thought about it and there is a world full of people who can do just that. Who can look at the past shrug, mumble, salute and step over the carcass. The rare ones are them that feel it. Them that suffer the weight of truth, living, dying and the mistakes we make. Who have skin not galvanized. But get cut and bleed. They are truly the few. And while most ignorant things will tell you how they are deep wells of thought and feeling. It’s an illusion. A lie and a fraud. The secret ones who ache don’t speak, because it feels awkward, it feels wrong and it feels misunderstood. And the truth is that when they do speak there is always one vain and stupid beast close by who will chime in, in some nasally and over-whelming voice “Oh I know, I get the same thing”. And the depth of the insult is never known. They ignorant feel enlightened and the pained feel dulled and robbed.
So this leaves me in a place I knew was coming. A paradox. Where I know I want nothing anymore, but I need everything. I would not miss anyone anymore, save one little girl. But I cannot live without the contact, the input and the touch. There is knowledge in me that I am an utter failure as a human being, but I long to be close to another one. I lust and want and still repulse. I am becoming the curmudgeon. The lonely man, the eyes that see but really never speak.
Life isn’t made for me. It’s not something I can negotiate, any more than a blind man can drive a car. It’s a truth, attach all the “what if we…” to it you want. He’s never really driving. It’s just an imitation of an action that in truth he is incapable of. And that is exactly what life is for me. Something I am incapable of doing. Am I in the wrong time? The wrong place? Is there some thing I could do? I don’t know. Honest. It’s far past the point of a Oprah approved vacation and book reading. This machine is rusting and crumbling. A little more each day. And eventually it will stop. It will go still on the tracks. And the night will overtake it and envelope it. The decay will exceed the ability to regenerate. As the ancient old engineer looks at the pieces and parts it will become obvious it’s just shut down, that’s all that’s left. To turn the engine off and let it go cold. The machine has run it’s course. Has served it’s usefulness out and now cannot be asked for more.
Such as it goes I am not sure this scares me or saddens me. I just accept it. Sometimes I wonder if this feeling is what a condemned man feels as he watches the time pass toward his moment of execution. A sort of acceptance, clenched and scared. But carefully balanced on finger-tips because if the tray turns and it spills the connotations are going to be horrible.
It’s a little disappointing. There are things I wish I could do. But for reasons (often financial or legal) I never will. Or I just cannot find a way to it…
- Learn more about classical music. Not just read about it. Not just listen but learn from a great teacher. Not how to play, but the stories behind it. The terminology, the names, the parts. I have only ever seen a symphony once and I felt like an alien more than ever. But I would love to see and understand what I am seeing. I once went and saw Handel’s Messiah at Christmas by myself and was nearly brought to tears but refrained from it because I saw a big hall full of people who looked like they just wanted to get this damn thing over with and get to their restaurant reservation where they’d preen and eat a meal that costs more than I spend on food in a month.
- Visit Vienna, it sort of fits the classical music thing. I want to see old streets that bled music.
- Germany, France, Italy, Greece…I always wanted to go to a place where mankind is ancient. Not just a couple hundred years old. Where culture and life exist in every stone and cloud. I cannot even afford bus-fare right now…And because of my history I cannot get a passport. So instead those places will be filled with asshole American tourists who see nothing and soil everything.
- I have little left in me for God and faith, but I always wanted to go to Israel and get baptized in the river Jordan. I figure if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.
- Galway in Ireland…I want to visit there and take my little girl. Walk the strand. Down to the Salthill Prom. And show her all the pretty houses there.
- Before this becomes a travel wish list…I always wanted to do a job that didn’t involve using my back to get paid. You know you paper pushers don’t know how lucky you are. If you have a rotten day you just fluff a little more and play with your cubical distractions. But men like me, when we have a bad day we got to muscle through force our bodies to do more than they want and then keep going, we strain against limits in the same way a marathon runner does. I guess I always wondered what it would be like to not need to wash the day off in a shower.
- This one…I dunno…Walking into a bookstore and seeing my name on the cover of a book. But the truth is the written word is dying. And I have nothing I could say.
- Here’s pie in the sky…A day where my life doesn’t physically cause me pain and discomfort and the scars and breaks don’t make me ashamed. I’ve beaten myself up pretty good. And every day I am reminded of it. And the truth is some of it could be fixed, but once again, the all mighty dollar prevails. Misery never bests profit and upwardly mobile need.
- I wish I could make enough to be sure my child never needs.
- The freedom to run…To get in a pick up truck, toss a sleeping bag in the back and go till it’s time to sleep. Then wake up and go again. Until I hit an ocean or peace, whichever comes first
I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Anyway. I’ve got one future, the grumpy old guy in some shitty one room apartment with a cat and a pile of books. Who no one notices except to scoff at.
And for the love of all things holy…Save the “nothing is impossible” speeches. Seriously Tony Robbins…That’s the bait you throw at the ignorant to keep them chomping, chomping, chomping at that carrot…Come on little fighter, work a little harder, produce a little more, consume…You’ll get there. It’s a fable just like Goldilocks. It doesn’t happen. Go take a drive through a ghetto. Go hang out at a bus station. Tell me nothing is impossible for these people….Oh wait! I read an article about this girl in Kansas. She made good…La la la la…One in six billion…The poster child, the string holder for the carrot…
Maybe I’m a little angry. Because I can’t believe the lie.
Maybe I just don’t want to delude myself enough to believe the lie.
Maybe I just want release.
“It isn’t enough for your heart to break because everybody’s heart is broken now.”
– Allen Ginsberg –
Sometimes I think I know what I want to write here, I set out to say something specific. This ain’t one of those times.
So here I am sort of dancing around the pieces and thoughts. There’s no music and nobody to see. I feel like Dylan calling for his Tambourine Man. Maybe I have no one to meet, And the ancient empty street’s too dead for dreaming…You know how I mean?
There’s a loneliness that has settled on me. It’s not heavy or difficult. But it is listless and tired. I find myself unable to reach past it and connect very much anymore. I look at the calendar and chose dates for some great escape. Something I may never do. But take comfort in the planning. A big run at the sunset. Maybe I am too cowardly, maybe I’m too selfish. Maybe much to my own chagrin I am hanging on to some vague hope. That there may be a lightning bolt come down on me. A re-awakening of Frankenstein’s monster. Trundling and falling alive. Why is this so hard? Seriously. Without the fancy words and the crazy prose. Why is life never easy, not even for a minute. Sometimes I even find myself looking at the commercials for antidepressants and thinking that maybe that’s my play, maybe that’s what’s wrong. But I have tried that. And it just fucks my libido and empties my emotions in some bland homogenized stew of nothingness.
I’d rather live in misery than live in that medicated shade of gray. You can send that quote to Pfizer. My God what a terrible place to be. Living in that dullness. I believe I was built to question, to struggle and turn over stones and examine the secret words I find there. To turn boldly into the Beast, the thing that most people run their whole lives from. The black places, the deepest nights and darkest urges. That’s the Beast, I reach for it and get dragged into the fight. And I want that. But it seems the one truth I know about myself is that I have to give up to live amongst you. Medicated and placated. A dial to be turned. Man what a miserable thing to be…And the most troublesome part in all that is the people I see swimming in all the bullshit, all the acronyms and diagnosis’ and the symptoms that they manifest simply out of obligation to some label. It’s a crazy world folks, to be crazy is to live.
I think too much and my head races and I can’t find anyone I truly can talk to. So I feel lonely. It’s the trade-off. I get lonely, but man do I ever think up a universe. When I was a kid they were testing me for all kinds of intellect ratings and the emotional pieces that get nailed to it there was a teacher who broke the fourth wall and spoke to me like a human. And what he told me is that “There is a fine line between genius and madness and you must always be careful how far you tip either way.” And he was right. In my whole life there have been very few truths told to me and that was one of them. One of the others came from my old man who used to say “Boy the only way you can do anything is the hard way…And I don’t have a clue why.” He was right too. As a matter of fact I have come close to getting “The Hard Way” tattooed where I can always see it.
And in this all I find I miss the company of the fairer sex…But I got to ask. Are you all completely loopy?
No elaboration there. None needed.
“People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order so they’ll have good voice boxes in case there’s ever anything really meaningful to say.”
– Kurt Vonnegut –
In a few days I turn 39. THIRTY FUCKING NINE! And here’s the truth. The honest to goodness truth, if I’d have known I was going to live this long I would have done more and taken better care of my life. But I have lived like a terminal patient…No plans, just funeral arrangements. I was startled when I made it to thirty. Geez man I was even kind of taken aback that I survived to twenty. I mean I turned 19 in a treatment center for addiction and alcoholism 1500 miles from my home. And I sure as hell wasn’t done tearing myself apart. Man I did it for…Well a long, long time after that. And in all that time I have learned things. Observed things, gained opinion the hard way, by living it.
So in the spirit of earned wisdom, here is what an old dog thinks about as the time turns…
WAR – Or to be more exact, the current conflict where young men and sometimes women die far away from their homes. These are neatly covered corpses, draped in flags. Processed in a somber tradition. But the truth is that these folks don’t die for ideals and beliefs. They die for money, the true reason most of these kids are there is because THEY’VE GOT NOTHING ELSE! THere’s no rich kid in a foxhole. These volunteer soldiers are mercenaries. They do it for money for education. They do it so they can access benefits Walmart or McDonald’s won’t give them. And in many cases it’s the only job they can get. These lost lives were lost before they ever set foot in some desert. And that’s why we can’t win. No matter how many of the “enemy” they kill. It cannot be won, because they are fighting for a belief and for a cause. And they won’t just stop. It will go on and on. And if western powers pull out it will still go on. Unfortunately these belief systems are violent and are antagonistic. You cannot legislate morality or peace. The human animal doesn’t work that way. And you sure as hell can’t shoot a man full of get along. It’s almost cause and maybe if someone would just say that, cut our losses and bring back all those kids. Give them decent wages and a chance at a good life at home. Maybe in time, a long, long time the rest of the world might just fall behind us. We need to learn to lead by example, not might.
MUSIC – Music today SUCKS! It’s plastic and tinsel. I recently watched a documentary about a band and it talked about their struggles 30 years ago to get off the ground. They spent 10 years changing line ups, playing shitty gigs, driving in cold vans and living for the music. And the whole time they were growing and becoming better musicians. But now there are television shows and networks who pre-empt the experience of growth and development and in 4 or 5 auditions and a few special evenings featuring the music of some lame ass “legend” these pieces of crap become celebrities first and then maybe they sing a little. Play a little guitar. It’s manufactured and contrived. I hate it…There is no exceptions to this. And I think what makes me most annoyed is that you all eat it….Hey world, just because someone puts a pile of dog shit on a pretty plate don’t mean you have to eat it. Come on man have some dignity and taste.
SEX – Okay this is a quick note. To women mostly. I love you all, you’re attractive, sensual and smell nice. But get the fuck over yourselves. Really. I know this is going to sound slightly misogynist and angry. But it’s what I see. You have the right parts and even if you’re funny looking and the most annoying creature on earth, there are men that are going to want to touch you in places your bathing suit covers. And you know what? I hate being told what to like or being given this bullshit beauty standard, this myth of the “perfect woman”. The blond cookie cutter chick that is drooled over on TV and at car shows, dance clubs and shoe stores are fucking boring. I love curvy girls, I love a woman with thoughts and interests. I love a woman with a nice laugh and sweet voice. But please….Please. Stop taking yourself so fucking seriously. I see these girls every day. Ones that believe that because some rutted up stud on a Saturday night swore to them that they were beautiful. Doesn’t mean we all are going top fall over you. Example. I see this girl on a daily basis. I smiled at her the first few times I saw her and was just being friendly. I never got a response to the smile not even a returned smile. So I figure fuck it, she’s a douchebag…That’s okay we all got our crutches. I had no intention of approaching her or trying to talk her up. But now every day I see her now I am quietly amused to see quite intently trying seem like she isn’t noticing me, it’s that out of the corner of her eye watching me to see if I am looking. Which I am, but not for the reasons she thinks. And when she walks past me she does it with her nose in the air and a look of arrogance. And it amazes me. I know a few women like this. Men are assholes and clueless when it comes to just what they are like. But damn girls you’re a delusional bunch…For the most part. I need to add that there are times where I see a woman and am just taken aback by how beautiful she really is. And she has no idea. She has done nothing in particular to look beautiful, in fact in many cases she has been told by the media and by the pricks and prongs in the world that she isn’t. But her light, her smile, her eyes, her shape or maybe just the energy she shines makes her absolutely stunning. And I of course become shy and can’t say anything, because I am in fact no better off than I was when I was 14 and used to blush when a girl smiled at me.
Except I’ve got some wicked moves…I’m like Kung Fu Love…Just saying…Ladies if you want to know how just you wait and see.
Wow! My inner pimp just struck…Maybe I should erase that? Naaaaaah!
WORK – This is a short thing but important. If you work in an office or you work in some capacity that allows you sit around fucking with a computer all day. You don’t work hard. Don’t tell me you do. I don’t care what some sitcom tells you about the dog eat dog world of cubicles. You’ve got it pretty sweet. Okay Dilbert? Until you’ve served slop to hungry fat faced ignorants or worked in heat that will melt your clothing, or shoveled shit all day you know nothing about hard work. I work hard. Harder than many of you. I am not bragging (well yeah I am but I am attempting to be modest) but I come home after spending a full day on my feet, covered in burns, oil and cuts. I get to sit down MAYBE 30 minutes on a good day and that’s during breaks. I made my choices. I am a machine operator. Actually a die caster. I am responsible for my life. But it makes me irate when I hear someone complain about how hard it is for them at their air-conditioned little cubical farm. I mean I know it’s a bitch when someone messes with Troll dolls and pictures of you and your BFF being “wild and crazy” on your last vacation. But really. Be aware, you’re lucky. Hell I know I am lucky. There are people out there, even right here in my city, that would want to do what I do, to make what I make. There is some poor young guy who is dealing with entitled selfish pricks for minimum wage while mopping up shit who would give anything to get a chance to do my job. I see them coming in whenever we post an ad and they interview. It may be tough. But it’s respectable. And I am grateful I live in a country where I can make a living wage and drink clean water and believe what I want and I can live in a space that in many other nations is a home for multiple people. Every night I go to sleep thankful for my own furniture, my own home and my fridge with food in it. I’ve known poverty real fucking gone hungry poverty. But it’s still nothing like the poverty the MAJORITY of the world lives in.
FAITH – I don’t have a clue…I just can’t believe in anything anymore. It doesn’t add up.
FATHERHOOD – Tomorrow is Father’s Day and I have been thinking about my dad. And about my own daughter. Here’s all I can conclude. Nothing has been so heartbreaking and rewarding as being a father. Sometimes at the same moment.
And I miss my dad, very much tonight. I miss the man he may have been. As a grandpa. As a father. He would have fussed over my little girl and never missed it when she wore a new little dress or did something amazing. He would have sat through endless run-throughs of the ABC song and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and he would have loved it. He’d be so proud of her. She’s clever and funny and willful and all the things he taught me to be.
But he’s gone and he never even got a chance to hear her say “Grandpa” and maybe in a life full of things I can regret that is one of the biggest ones.
LIFE – Lately I am left wondering why…
““Anything, anything would be better than this agony of mind, this creeping pain that gnaws and fumbles and caresses one and never hurts quite enough”
– Jean-Paul Sartre –
Sad Sunday night. It’s become a regular thing. I go through it every time I send my little girl back to her mother. I cry every time, after I give her back I retreat and sit alone and cry. I mutter an apology, to her and afterward to time and fate. I never meant for it to work like this. I never meant to set her up like this. My guilt and my responsibility are tangible there. There in the delivery room in some gushing and frightened exhaling statement of faith and truth I swore to her I’d never do this. I’d never fail her. I’d never let her hurt because of my actions. I would never fall short in the ways that I experienced.
Yet that’s what I did, somehow. I am not sure of who’s to blame. Exactly. But mostly I am sure it was me. I gave her a broken home. I never cheated or strayed. In fact I tried the hardest I ever have to get myself into a place of sincere and ferocious dedication. But things were so decayed and the erosion so complete that the relationship caved-in anyway. My crazy machine spinning it into the sun.
My father’s death, my emptiness of faith, my flawed being, my violent being, never quite at rest. Like a simmering pot that rattles and steams. And the actions of the universe and the organisms that act in selfish attraction all combined to destroy the home I wanted to have my child grow to and know. If you do not fully understand yet, I can say it without prose and flowery sentiment. I fucked it…Badly.
And now my penance seems to be these tears, this loneliness and this feeling of failure. And in that I feel this great shame too. I know many people who live this way. Who are parents who only visit as parents. And yet I seem to be the only one who hurts like this. Who goes through this. And maybe it’s because I am just too fucking sensitive. Too introspective. Too fucking messy. I just don’t seem to be able to grow the callousness to let it pass. I fucked the one thing I swore I wouldn’t and I can’t forgive myself. And nothing anyone can say will make it better. The stupid feel better speeches and the idiotic one line fix-alls “Turn that frown upside down” , none of it will change my feelings. My failure.
This is just another on the list of things that have shoved my away from the river of life you all seem to move in. I feel drawn back to grow thirsty and dry. My experiences and my battle damage…All of it. It adds up. Like an old soldier sitting in the very back of the barroom staring off into some unseen tragedy, I have hundred year old eyes. And nothing in language or gesture can share with you the experience I have had that has left me this way. Sore and sensitive, cold and misfiring, angry and frightened. No matter how I try I cannot relate to you and yet I still hope and pray that you never feel these things. the flawed existence. The lonesome so deep and permanent you cannot blow it away with a hundred mega-tonne bomb.
I can tell you what it was like to stand over my father’s lifeless body, the livor mortis discoloring his shirtless torso. The smell of foulness and death in the room. The feeling of overwhelming disgust that filled me with shame. But you would never really understand.
I can tell about watching a car pull away from a curb, in the back seat she looked back at me crying. Because she swore she’d never leave, but always knew she’d have to. The heartbreak that drove me to linger on a bridge too long and contemplate the feeling of flying you may get before you hit ground. But you would never really understand. Though you probably have had your heartbroken too. As it goes we all got or breaks and scars.
I can tell you about the nights where I could feel my life slipping away and not giving one good god-damn if it did. The warnings of doctors and family that I would died if I lived this way. But they meant nothing. A slow suicide really knows no shock. But you’d never understand.
I can tell you about jail cells, hospital rooms, institutions, bedrooms that smelled of expensive perfume and false hope, streets where hunger and need are all that you really own, I can tell you about the battles, the fights, the feeling of holding your organs in your body, of the blood collecting in a paling shocked hand. I can tell you about all of it..But you wouldn’t understand.
And here’s why. Because I don’t understand you. Because your lives are all so enigmatic to me. How do you save money? Buy a house? Own a car for longer than it takes to wreck it? How do you love and keep it alive? And failing that how do you heal your broken heart and just move on? How do you buy patio furniture? And how do you talk to a God you are so sure listens? Or how do discount a God you’re sure is folly? How the fuck do you live inside the neatly painted lines and stay sane?
Me I am fucking crazy…I am a broken-hearted father with a strong urge to…Fly away. Bye bye. I feel like only Bukowski, Earle and Burroughs really saw the world I know. And spoke of it in language I know.
Good Lord this shit is too heavy.
Next time I promise I’ll write about my top ten favorite CDs or the sunsets I’ve seen or about naked women, that might lighten things up…Maybe I’ll put up pictures of kittens. Kittens prancing. Kittens prancing in flowers….Next to naked women. This is the internet after all…It’s all out there.