“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.
“Well I just came up on the midnight special how about that?
My car broke down in Texas she stopped dead in her tracks.
Just called to tell you that I need you,
Just called to tell you how I feel.
I feel like some old engine lost my drivin’ wheel,
Feel like some old engine lost my drivin’ wheel.”
– Roger McGuinn –
Sometimes I figure it got made out so I just can’t find the right way up. There is never a solid spot to stand for too long. Like standing in the middle of a rushing river, you may be in one place but all that goes around you changes and moves. No matter what you do. I mean this not to be too melodramatic. Just saying that these old ghosts and the new ones that tie themselves to them never stay quiet too long.
Okay man, I’ll stay back from the metaphor truck. Homespun wisdom is pretty easy to do when it’s done at arms length…Shit! That one slipped out.
So I got a punch or two in the gut the past couple weeks. Maybe it’s just life letting me know I ain’t made to win. Just made to be out there in the ring for the fight. I’m going to be out there for all the rounds and when it comes down to win or lose, well it will up to the judges to decide. I feel tired, I feel used up and I feel skinned raw. Goodbyes are far more common than hellos and betrayal, hurt and the politics of love and distance are just a way of living.
You know yesterday was the 30th anniversary of Ian Curtis’ death. I know this because I got a massive influx of visits to this blog, I have written about him before and for some reason Google indexes my blog by Ian Curtis’s name. And I spent some time meditating on his choice, his decision to leave. And I just can’t fault him. You know I can’t fault anyone for making that big step. I once read some thinker write about suicide as the only one true liberty anyone can take. I guess he had his reasons. I have mine too….I just sort of linger. Maybe someday I won’t. In fact if I were a betting man I’d say I won’t. It’s just a door. And opening it makes sense sometimes. Like laying down when it’s time to sleep. Running on empty can only go on so long. Then it’s time to rest.
Fuck ain’t that a dark thing. Well it’s honest and you know what man? I am sick of people who ain’t honest. I am sick of niceties and being polite. It seems a man can’t talk to no one no more in life. Lest you offend their sensibilities and beliefs. Or you say the wrong thing and hurt their feelings. That making it all better ain’t about some fucked up poem printed on a picture of a beach. And there is always someone trying to tell you they know just how you feel. When it is quite clear from the empty looks and tainted smells they haven’t a clue. You want to know who knows how I feel? Hank Williams knows, when he laid down in the back of that Cadillac and never got up. He knew just what I feel. Henry Rollins knows what I feel. When he writes about the agony of trying to reach out only to break the wrist that reaches back and the bug spray smelling rooms. He knows. Charles Bukowski knew, when he wrote about the losers, the bums and the dying beauty. He knew. And the guy you cast your sideways glance at as you roll by in your hermetically sealed, air-conditioned rolling iron. He knows…He’s me. I ain’t even the kind you’d think twice about as you pass by onto something more important.
I’ve seen enough of the world. More than most. I’ve seen things could make you sore with grief and things that could take your breath away. I have known secrets that mean more than anything you’ll ever find in your little world. I am the animal/machine, the last of the hardcore troubadours. And maybe I just don’t want to know any more…Maybe I am at the point in the trip where I can say that there is no port in the storm and the storm never really calms, it just rolls back a little and gives you time to bail the boat.
What the fuck am I trying to say??? Maybe I am just sad, maybe I am lonely, maybe I am tired of playing this game.
Here’s a story, it’ll maybe make you see…
When I was 10 my family drove across Canada to visit my Grandparents out on the west coast from our home in Toronto. We had a camper van and were making a real road trip of it. My dad spent weeks planning and was just as excited as my brother and I. We were going to stop at all kinds of places along the way and he planned time to take little break and picnic or sight-see. Well we reached the shores of Lake Superior. And there was this pretty park with rivers going through it and waterfalls too. It was a hot day and so my brother and I set into the river above a waterfalls that was about 25 feet high and then off the water rushed into the great lake. We soon found that there were rocks worn smooth and the rushing waters would sweep you down these little chutes, it was like an ancient old water slide.
Being the kid who never knew how to be careful or scared I kept searching for a longer and faster ride. Until I finally found one that gor hold of me and blew me through like a wave. I went down it once and then got to the shore and made my way over to some stones above it and went down again. Only this time I missed my jump off point. And suddenly I saw I was headed for the falls. And there was no handhold or place to pull out of. I was so quickly filled with dread I couldn’t react. And it was then I heard from about 100 feet away “Jeffery, relax! stay upright!” it was my father and in some act of bravery and strength I have never seen before or since he was walking into the river against the current toward me as I rushed to the edge. “Take it easy boy, I’ll get you. It’s okay.” he said in a clear and calm voice. And I believed it like it was the voice of God himself. And almost like walking on a downtown sidewalk he was there behind me. He reached down and wrapped an arm under my arms and across my chest and in my ear he said “C’mon boy, get to your feet, I’ll lead you out of here.”
And he held me up and then braced me until I walked to the river’s edge. When we got there I turned to him in shock and he looked at me and said “Geez kid, I thought we were going to lose you. Are you okay?” all I could muster was a nod and just like nothing ever happened he said “Okay get up the river and get your towel, we got to go.”
Years later he told me he shook like a leaf for hours afterward, but I have no memory of that. Not at all. I just remember that my dad was there in time and strong enough to pull me to safety.
And I think maybe I feel like that kid again and I am in this river and I have lost my footing, the current is pulling me and the edge gets closer all the time. And all I want is to feel my dad’s arm slip beneath mine and hear that voice “C’mon boy…I’ll lead you out of here.”
But just like everything else, he’s gone. And I am here on my own…Barely keeping my head above the water. Almost at the falls.
I watched the documentary “Be Here To Love Me” last night, probably for the 2oth time. It’s about Townes Van Zandt. A great singer/songwriter who is no longer with us. He died in 1997. From what amounts to complications caused by alcoholism. And the documentary is a strange mix of sad, beautiful and sometimes ridiculous. It’s a great watch and anyone with interest in roots music or fringe writers would get a kick out it. There’s a memorable scene in which he’s being interviewed on the old Nashville Network and the interviewer asks about a pair of songs he wrote. Townes looks at him and says “I know that one song is mine, but I ain’t never heard the other” and it is one of his better more well-respected songs. But there’s great scenes and recollections from most of his contemporaries as well. Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Guy Clark, Emmy Lou Harris and Steve Earle. If you’re interested I have a link to a streaming copy of it online. Just leave a comment.
I am sort of unfocused today. So writing is more an exercise than a real attempt to say something. I want to write brilliant entries every time write here, but I guess you have to just bang out the ugly ones once in a while to clear the way for the beautiful. Writing works like that. Least I think so. For a good writer there is a dozen crappy pieces for every golden one. I figure the creative mind gets cluttered and has to be swept clean every now and again. And that’s where I am at. Least it feels like it. And I don’t want to write about the same stuff over and over. I am not sure you want to read either. See what I’m saying?
But I will say that today I feel lonely as all get out…I need to reach out somehow and connect. So I guess that I am doing it here. Just stretching my arm all the way out hoping my fingertips reach you, that you see me and know I am here. It’s the human need for someone to feel that they are not alone. An empty bed, an empty room or an empty chair can be the scariest thing in the world some days.
Be well, be love.
“I hate graveyards and old pawn shops, for they always bring me tears, I can’t forgive the way they robbed me of my childhood souvenirs.”
Parenthood was something I never really had sussed out till I was a parent. I mean as a wise old 20 something I had it expected and almost wanted. I had all my rules and lines set in store. There were things my parents done and things your parents were doing that I wasn’t going to and the things I was going to do because it just seemed like the right thing to do. So many unfounded ideas and thoughts but brother let me tell you I was sure of them. And don’t you argue me when I am sure. Because man can I speak in the definitive and I can throw in some arcane and vague fact, figure and trivia. I got me a shovel and I know how to dig down into that great big pile of bullshit I call my intellect.
But then along come August 2007, and a nurse handed me this tiny little girl we called Ruby. And boy oh boy! All that empty wisdom flew out the window. Here was the most beautiful thing I ever saw and the scariest. I remember looking at my hands as I held her and thought ‘What am I going to do? I still feel like a kid myself.’ And it was then that it all sank in. I guess I am going to do the best I can. I will do as I can whenever I could. And I am going to try to always make the best choice. I knew I already loved her, loved her like I never have loved anything before. I knew that from the moment I knew of her existence swimming around in her mommies’ tummy. That can ever be questioned. And it’s the only part of this whole crazy ride that I am absolutely sure. But all the other stuff. Man I had no clue…I was flying blind.
And as life does I got spun hard. Eleven weeks later my father died of a drug overdose and it broke it all apart. Or at least started a big crack in the foundation and the rest of the house started to come crumbling down. I was devastated. Because it seemed like things were just starting. My old man was a grandpa, something he always wanted to be. And he was already showing that he would do just fine. The last time he saw Ruby he leaned over as I held her in my arms and kissed her and said “I love you baby, I’ll see you again real soon” and I could see that the angry young man who raised me and filled me with fear, the breaking machine that drove me half insane was gone and here was just another man, an old man who’d lived too hard and was softened by it. He’d seen enough miles to know it’s a long trip to go and it wasn’t worth the pain and rage anymore. And I was so hopeful. That maybe I wouldn’t have to do this father thing all by myself and I could call him and he’d always be there and he’d laugh at the good and talk me through the hard. I could see him fussing over a pretty new dress that she was wearing and teaching her silly songs. He would take her in his lap and tickle her. It was as it should be. At least that’s what I thought.
Life being the puzzle I never could solve threw that all across time and told me it had other plans. Grandpa died, I went a little crazy and lost my way for a while. A couple hospital stays and some poor choices for myself took me out. And recovering took some time. In fact it still is taking time. My mother made some choices for herself, my brother too. And suddenly all I had known was gone. I had no real family. You ever want to know how people feel about you and how they stack up? Throw death into the mix. People just scattered. No one called, no one seemed to care and only were there when I came to them and then it felt mostly like they were responding to some obligation that remained unspoken. I don’t blame them. Who wants a hurting and grieving machine firing on two bad pistons sitting in their living room. And I felt more alone…Even more then before.
My relationship with my daughter’s mother went to hell. I became insane, possessive and panicked. I got hit by a bad case of the “hostage taker’s blues”, that’s where you take someone emotionally hostage and become so demanding and determined that it crushes the life from the relationship. And before it’s done you wonder why there’s love at all anymore. Making you even more blue than before. Ultimately it ended. I can say I take responsibility for my part in that. I do completely, I feel guilt and I feel shame and I feel hurt. I regret the hurt I caused and the shame I gave. I don’t blame her for running. Man I would maybe have run too. Maybe even sooner than she did. And so where once there was love there is now distance and contention. Grief is a bitch and it gets in everything.
I have been trying to pull an even keel and get myself together. I have searched out God. Because I know there are questions in my heart only he can answer. I got sober. See I was just like my Dad. An addict with a heart and a mind to want better. But I made a lot of really bad moves in the process. Things I may never atone for and things I owe so much in apology for. To everyone I know. And to me. I live with things I cannot forget and I fight to forgive, mostly I done to myself. I have become a Daddy on alternating weekends and agreed upon days between. I do the best I can. Just like any parent does. Or any good parent. Because more than anything else in this life, that is the definition of being a good parent. Did you do the best you could with what you had? Because I swear here and now, there is no perfect score in this dance.
But man what I wouldn’t give to turn back the clock. To when it was all still there in front of me. Back to when I took it all for granted and made myself a deserving fool. Just to sit down again and see something other than ghosts, hurt and goodbyes staring back at me. When lonely was just something I felt for an hour at a time. Back to another life I sometimes can’t remember anymore.
My father died two years ago this month. And I am scared to go outside because sometimes the weather feels just like it did the day I laid him to rest. The day it all began to come apart. Good or bad, change for the better or not…It started there. And now I live this everyday.
And I miss my old man.