“In my dreams there’s a horse, he stands eighteen hands high
He’s as white as the snow and there’s fire in his eyes
And he’ll bear only me though others have tried
And together we’ll travel up across the divide.”
– Steve Earle –
Lately I’ve been thinking. About memories and what a child holds on to. My daughter is three years old. And I wonder what she’ll remember about this time. What will get through. I have these blurry eyed memories of moments of my childhood at her age. My mother very pregnant with my younger brother. Sitting on the floor of our dining room eating cereal as my parents get up in the morning. My father bringing me home surprise gifts after work. Eating oatmeal and watching cartoons on our first color television. But nothing cohesive. It’s more like samples and sounds.
I wonder what my girl will remember of me? Will she remember that tonight she laid her head in my lap and I stroked her hair till she fell asleep with a sigh? Or maybe it’ll just be a smell, an aroma or sound. The smell of my soap or the sound of the insects outside the open window. Will she suddenly be struck with a mysterious sense of peace and calm 20 years from now and she’ll not know exactly why. Maybe she’ll be sitting with a boy and just assume it’s love, affection and the man of her dreams. I won’t figure into it at all.
There’s so many questions I have. About life right now. And really no one to ask. No one to work it out with. And that’s maybe just how it is. I was never built to be a coffee shop buddy circle type. Where all of my life and conundrums fit into a couple of cups of overpriced shitty coffee. I don’t even think there is a therapist qualified to walk through the minefield in my head. There’s a spiraling sinking ringed journey through damnation in me that would make Dante Alighieri scratch his bearded Italian chin and throw his hands in the air and proclaim me lost.
So I seem to build this momentum, this escape velocity. Casting myself into the void. I’ve got nothing but perspective from this vantage point. Maybe I’ve got judgment too. And I simple find most people frightening in their capacity to harm one another. Their need to grind off the skin and flesh of each other and proclaim the writhing bones for their own. It seems many of you are just…Well..Fucked…You have no real concept. Of living and existing. You treat hurt, disappointment and injury as an invitation to strike out. To cut into others. It seems the philosophy that prevails is “You must bleed like I bleed.” And I don’t want to bleed. Not for you. Not for your broken heart, not for your disjointed thoughts and rancid libido. I don’t care to even be compassionate anymore. And it makes me a fucking hypocrite because I seem to seek compassion most in my exchanges with the animals in the jungle. But I maybe have the advantage of being aware of what a foul beast I truly am and making not the slightest effort to clothe myself in the finery you sell.
What’s left? The sense that everyday brings me closer to some goodbye. Some great leap. Into what? Into what…I’d be fucked if I knew.But the change, the tectonic movement is here. It’s in the moon and in the hollow sidewalk sound. In the vague shadows of windows that I pass, that suggest life inside, but you can never be sure. Mansion or mausoleum.
But I want to know that no matter what. My memory stays. That I am part of something…Something greater than this. I can’t just dismiss the burden and years have added up to nothing. Maybe that’s why men built pyramids and great stone heads. To be a memory that stays.
“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.
“…we call him happiness
Oh that happiness
Is a miserable son of a bitch”
– Matthew Ryan –
Mr. Ryan is brilliant and often more insightful than I could ever be. And he’s right too, happiness is miserable, willful and fickle. It comes as it wishes and leaves without excuse or explanation. It’s mean and unforgiving. Don’t believe me? Next time you’re happy, do something that makes you sad or miserable or grumpy…How fast does happiness come back? The answer? It doesn’t…It’s a fucking coward and when resisted upon or push up against something it doesn’t like it runs.
So I say FUCK HAPPINESS!If I’m going into battle I’d rather go with misery, grief and suffering…They have real staying power.
Anyhow. Now that I said that. I’ve been thinking on love. Because to be honest nothing else is worth thinking about. Ignorance could truly be bliss, so please hit me with a brick. Render me ignorant. Let the flashing numbers, lit boxes and flesh coloured flashes of lust make me content. Let me fuck, drool and stare at flickering stories that could never be and become an ideal nothing.
But love…I came to write about love.
I fucking love love! No really. I ain’t half as bitter, angry or confused as it may seem. I love love. I am a romantic, a hopeless romantic and the last of the hardcore troubadours. Brother you best believe me. I would walk a hundred miles to see a smile that says “Hey it’s you” and I’d sit all night with you just to say we beat the dawn. I’d crawl inside an embrace to find some secret neither have ever said. Not out loud at least. And love is the only gun I trust. It’s got a cold hard aim, true and clear eyes. And the real thing will take down anything else. There is no wall, fist or folly it can’t beat back.
And I will say this, most people have no clue. Not a single clue what love really is. They know they got a shopping list, a wants collection and they got a picture in their head and if you can fit someone into that cage then baby it’s true love. And if they keep dancing in time and keeping step with some lame and crazy music only you can hear then baby that’s love. If they got some flag, shield and shiny rocks and they let you hang onto whatever you want and disregard the rest. Then that must be love….Right?
Yeah sure…In the celluloid dream you live in maybe it is.
But I know there is more, there is something greater. Nah it ain’t God…That’s something else. But there’s a whole mess of folks out there in love with God because they can’t find the right person to fold into the cupboard they keep for love and well, God is pliable, the most pliable.
Love is the magic seconds…It’s like a light the flashes on for an instant to give you perspective as you feel through the dark.
You want to know what it feels like? It’s that feeling you get, when you hear their key in the door. Not because you are lonesome, not because you are worried and certainly not because you got an itch and a little bit of rubbing and huffing will scratch it. It’s the sound of the key that says to you “They’re here…Now I can breathe”. It’s needing them to be there because you just know they’re the only one that speaks your language, they’re the only one that can read the secret words in the gestures you make and the signs that go unnoticed by the rest of the busy and deaf world.
It feels like you’re going crazy, like you’re giving away your mind…Along with your heart. And you don’t care, because it is the most natural thing in the world.
It feels like nothing else will ever equal it. That you’ve reached a perfect place in your existence. The rest of your life was simply doing time till you found this place and time.
And there is fear, because you got to hang yourself over the edge and you’re letting another imperfect being push or pull you. Not with malice or ill intent. But with the flaws and weaknesses that are made into all people. And that is fucking scary man. That can gut you and leave you to bleed. Loving is dare. And it isn’t ever, ever guaranteed. And two things are certain if you know that. One, not many people ever truly dare. There are few fearless hearts out there. They want the thrills but with the safety nets. And real love don’t have those safety mechanisms built-in. And two, if you believe your love is certain then you are mistaken.
That is the great truth about love. It haunts you, it fills you, it touches you in ways you’ll never truly understand. But it will slip away. It has a wandering spirit and nothing you can do will make it stay when it decides it’s time to go. It will escape. You can’t stop it and the heartache that comes often comes slowly, like watching the train that will run you down from miles away as it approaches. The noise, light and smell of that big cold machine getting bigger and bigger and looming larger and larger. And all you can do is hope that when it hits you it might just knock you clear and leave you scarred but still alive.
Most people aren’t brave enough. To dare that ghost. And those of us who do are often beaten and torn up from it. We don’t group up or shine out. We carry this inextinguishable torch. But only a few can see. But the scars, they are bleeding and obvious and many folks just don’t understand what they see. They see ugly, they see broken. They don’t see that somewhere inside is something they should be privileged to experienced. But instead they disdain and shun.
And it’s a lonely place to be.
Goddamn it’s lonely.
If you’re one of them that see. Please know you are not alone. You are not insignificant and you are not expendable. You are the tissue and skin of the empty hollow bones of life. You matter more. Your life counts. Your heart is treasure. Care for it like it deserves. Don’t come apart, not now, not here. It will come to you…I swear this as truth. I am after all the last of the hardcore troubadours.