Back, caught you looking for the same thing
February 16, 2019
So endeth my longest absence from here. Longer than I’ve ever been sober, but it’s close right now. 111 days and no one believes me, and I don’t blame them. What’s happened? Same old. Riches to rags to riches story, now somewhere in between. No more talk of rising. I spoke to my son today in a way the Jetsons predicted 50 years ago. So much like me. I’m sorry.

I was in town today
February 19, 2019
Had lunch with one of the oldest friends I have. I do not deserve the friends I have. And in a totally opposite way I don’t deserve the love I’ve gotten. Baby bird. One breadcrumb at a time. Then I went to my therapist, whom I love which is weird, because I’m not quite convinced of the efficacy of talk therapy. She reminded me of an aphorism that now rings in my ears. She said, “If people keep giving you breadcrumbs, they’re not feeding you, they’re keeping you starved.” And I’m sure she wasn’t lecturing me. But it sounds like a Ted Talk to me now. One breadcrumb at a time. Our current roadblock is this: insight doesn’t give a shit about pragmatism or change. Knowing why you’re fucked up does little to stop you from fucking up. Trust me, there are not too many scenarios left for me to ruminate on. I’ve literally thought of nearly everything and I’ve seen everything from every angle. And I’m not fond of any outcome I’ve predicted. All prongs in all the forks in all the roads all end the same way. Badly. There is no easy escape. I’m not sure I’m looking for happiness anymore. Its pursuit intrigues me.

Crabs aren’t insects
March 3, 2019
You know how I know I love her? Because I’m infuriated by the stupidest thing. “Yes, roaches are insects. But you’re wrong. Crabs are not. “I tell that through my spleen. And look at her like she’ll cry. She never cries. Only then can I realize it didn’t matter. I was right. But I made her feel stupid. For what? I get caught up in the middle of my mind and I take it out on her. Why? Because my dad hit my mom? Because I was scared? My cousin molested me? That was 1974. We have the worst President ever. And against all odds, I have the best girlfriend ever. I need to tear down the artifice of ego. And constantly build up the Other. She gets to be mad. She gets to say things like that. I need to learn to say, “I know. You’re wonderful no matter what you’ve done.” And mean it because I do. Then shut the fuck up. I’ve never done that. She’s a precious, angry, sarcastic angel. She is melic. A sort of mirror. I have to learn how to bite my tongue a little bit harder. Swallow the bile from nineteen seventy whatever. Then go home and you know. And enjoy the smile.

Saliva bears
March 3, 2019
You are ferocious and responsible. I used to be afraid of bears. But you never really see them. You’re like a saliva bear. It feels like a kiss and then my stomach starts burning, and there are bite marks I can’t explain.

Four billion more
March 3, 2019
Choose to discover what it means to be free. I know you already have all kinds of shit to do. Tomorrow the sun is going to rise like it has for more than four billion years. And will do it for four billion more. You say I’m controlling. Control is an illusion. Time’s biggest lie is told whispering. “I am linear.” When everything is actually happening at the same time.

Four inches
March 3, 2019
You have me to cheat on. You’re angry. I would never betray you. I never have. I can’t make you do the same. I hope it’s your choice. Beautiful, angry, messy Delia. Love is supposed to represent our dreams. The next generation is four inches away from where I fucked up. Four inches in front of where I fell. But in front. Turns out that life is improvisational. If only we could be strangers again.

Brighter than creation’s dark
March 5, 2019
I’m loathe to admit when I’m wrong. Especially when I’m wrong. I only used to ever see four in the morning from the wrong side. The sunrise is just as beautiful with heavy eyelids and a racing mind. Benign reflections and genuflection come easier. Sleep is easier. For thirty years my mantra has been furtive pleas complaining of the difficulties of sleep. Endless nights of late-night television and Netflix. And when I say nights, I mean years, mean life. I don’t make it to the first commercial now. One of my favorite lines by one of my favorite writers, Gerard Manley Hopkins speaks eloquently of my recent epiphany. I am gall, I am heartburn. God’s most deep decree bitter would have me taste: my taste was me… I’ll encapsulate for those uninterested in poetic vivisection, i.e., most. Those sleepless night you blame on the Universe? You only need look in the mirror.

The birth of a zero
March 6, 2019
When did zero get invented? They’re not really sure. Of course, there was always nothing. The Chinese probably invented the circle space. Something to separate the nothing and the one. I swear to God I was born for that metaphor. I was nothing and you are the one. How else would we come together without a zero?

I know it when I see it
March 15, 2019
I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.” – United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart in Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964. In the same way that the exclamation point in the name Panic! at the Disco precludes any further disparagement of the band, the adjectives porn and punk free their correct usage from any further explication. As Justice Stewart (literally) observed, there often exists an archetypal shorthand for concepts that at first seem too subjective to define. The ethos themselves are anything but capricious. And they are uniquely valid descriptions of many things beyond the sub-genre of two aesthetics first described as hardcore in the 1970s, then proactively, and retroactively, applied to their influences and influence. Anyone that truly knows their meaning, however, will inherently know that Hank Williams is punk, with no further explanation, in a way that Green Day is not. Sonically, this doesn’t seem to make sense. It just is. For the same inexplicable reason The Evil Dead Part II is both porn and punk. I didn’t invent the rule. I just know it when I see it.

In medias res
April 9, 2019
When you’re in the middle of a story it’s not a story. That chair is punishment. Its where you get to fall into. You are exhausting and everything. I take breaths in your hair. You say you want to be intense. Follow the path. Be different. Look away from what you’re looking at.

April 11, 2019
I am not interested in defining this as a disease. There have been choices, and there will be consequences. As soon as you reduce human behavior to a pathology it loses its meaning and becomes far less interesting.

April 15, 2019
The mountains here are green and long. They slope. They are a product of magma running to the sea. There were explosions and there was violence, but it wasn’t the norm. The liquid earth wanted to settle. So different from us. So different from me. Explosions come naturally. Explosions feel right until you look around. A lot of things feel natural. A lot of things feel pretty. More things are ugly. I rub my jeans and grunt and that doesn’t change anything. I don’t like what I’ve done but I like who I am. Blood is red because it’s rusted. It smells like iron and when it coagulates it bunches. There should be other things that happen to your body when it’s hurt. Tears maybe would feel more correct.

April 15, 2019
Now I’ve reached the threshold. I’ve had too much salt and too little patience. I’m probably not my best friend if we can look ahead and see what eventually kills me. My motto for so long has been “I don’t give a fuck.” I remember caring. It seemed worth it. Nihilism is binding in the same way that it liberates. I don’t expect you to understand. I’m constantly surprised by the reaction people have to what comes naturally to me. I’m used to incredulous looks. I’m not thrown off when a person asks, “What?”, in that tone, because it is inevitable. I am not you. I may not want to be me, but I know I don’t want to be you. I’m going to die, and I hate that. I’ve hit my head so hard that everything went away until I could open my eyes again. Is that what dying is? The realization was profoundly more difficult than being unaware. I hate being out of the game.  

Here comes the rain
April 15, 2019
Everyone loves to look at rain. It’s romantic. Everyone likes to fuck in it or be in it for a second or two. Then the problems start. The worst thing about life is that it’s cold and unpredictable, even when it’s hot. People tell you to do what you love. Which is, of course impossible. Love is a broken and divided concept, and it never means the same thing twice. You don’t do what you love; you do what you do. Rain is like love. It’s pretty to look at. It’s pretty to think about. And when it falls it has that moment of pleasant. Then it causes problems you didn’t even know existed.

Counting the days by three
April 17, 2019
The triumvirate is again. My subscriptions are resumed. The thread of recovery somehow runs through Harry’s razors, Elfin book entries, and contact lenses. I suppose they all share a symptom of accountability. Even one as basic as maintaining a current mailing address. I’d like it if everything I write from this sentence on some day reads posthumously ironic. I don’t believe in fate so what’s the harm in tempting it? Perhaps it will make the inevitable easier when days like this can be recalled. Every other need comes first. You will never be first. Eat the last of the oxtail soup. Come on her tits. In the same way that character defects are genetically identical to alcoholism, so are these examples the same. Not similar. The same. Every receptacle reaches a maximum capacity; here there seems to be a hole. I’m not sure there can be an end to this I might be satisfied with. I’m not quite sure what to wish for.

May 27, 2019
So, it happened on one of those days when we weren’t really together. Nowadays that was almost every day. And the calculus of our expected fidelity was never quite calculated anyway. But there was a new glint of something in the reflection of the sun on one of those days. That’s the point, I mean. It only happened because it was one of those days. I had drinks with Jolene, and the first thing I thought to myself, was that she was nothing like the song. Nonetheless, when she spoke, I found myself enjoying listening to her. Maybe the Ray LaMontagne version. That might actually be the perfect allusion, though I always hate when writers I like make allusions to songs I’ve never heard. It is, in fact, how I learned about Nina Simone when I was 15 so there’s that.

June 5, 2019
Or maybe it’s just the ends of things. I’m so good at the beginning. But at the end my spectrum ranges from melancholy to madness. I remember the day of my grandfather’s funeral. I was 10. I was home alone. Watching Tijuana Toad and the specter of the end washed over me. I haven’t really been much of a sleeper since. I still sleep with the lights on if I’m alone. And sometimes even if I’m not. I was asked once by a school counselor if I believed in heaven or hell. And I guess both to me seemed like much the same thing. An eternity of long white rooms. Heaven with other people. Hell alone. Still not able to sleep.

Bigger than Jesus
June 5, 2019
This is when you’re supposed to be depressed. At 3:45 am on the Thursday morning before Christmas, listening to Amy Winehouse explain You Know I’m No Good and Peter Gabriel tell you to keep Digging in the Dirt. But even at that point, I’m pretty sure the heavy stuff isn’t quite at its heaviest. You loved me and you’re not allowed to write. And still I write. And you are not allowed to say a word. I spend Christmas day alternating. Vomiting blood, reading, writing. The guy blames the chick, the chick blames the snake. I’ll just blame the fucking snake. She hates me when she says, “I love Dylan.” And I say, “Dylan who?” I stay out super late, put something a little stronger in my 7-Up then most people probably have and take it with me. I can see my pulse in my hands. My nose runs and bleeds. I’ve been seeing double. I’ve been having trouble reading small print. This life may be killing me, but I don’t know how else to live. Perhaps in a way everybody’s life kills them. Some a bit more painfully than others. I’d say my choices are about halfway up that spectrum. No one is stabbing me or shooting me in the face. I still cry. I feel half-awake most days. If you see me on my knees, I’m begging. I really did try to get close to you. I say I hate these kind of stories and you say, “But I know they’re true.” “Everything I was most scared of has manifest, with my complicity–at least–if not my outright choice. Is this place then an ultimate failure or a triumph of the will? I can endure what I was most afraid of? Something like a combination of both? I may never know the truth but can’t face it. Did I go too far this time? It’s my own fault I’ve been to Hell.   I pray. That something watches and helps us be wise. Because I’ve lost my way.

Bikini’s grill
June 5, 2019
I don’t remember how I got to Bikini’s or why. It was across town in an area I’d only ever driven past. But I knew when I went there, I needed a drink. My right hand was shaking so badly that I had to hold it with my left as I took a long draw from a tall glass of beer. I was self-conscious about my shaking until the realization came that it’s probably not that big a deal for any bartender who’s been working longer than a day. I took a shot of rot-gut tequila and fought the immediate urge to vomit on the bar. I caught the waitress’ eye and with a twirling of my right index finger ordered another round. I traded the burning sensation in my throat and stomach for the warm glow of calm and confidence. My hands were still.   Now, again, why was I here? I looked around the bar and suddenly from the recesses of my memory realized that I had been here before. In 2006, before the fall, I had come here to watch BJ Penn in some Ultimate Fighting Championship or other. I chose it because there was no cover. It was a rip-off of Hooters, with a uniform of various states of undress. Bikini’s was actually a misnomer. Despite no obvious protest from the clientele, nor the hall monitors from the health department, there were breasts, buttocks and pudenda with close proximity to nachos and chicken wings. I was here for the salad. Tequila and lager were merely dressing.

Now that it’s really over
June 5, 2019
Now that it’s over, really over, it’s easier to think. And as you now know, it’s never over just because you or me or both of us is done. Some ass clown never wants to leave the party. Stated preferences in times of high emotional volatility mean as close to nothing as you can get without actually being nothing. That heavy, chest-crushing pressure, once subsided, becomes almost comical. I don’t remember what the war was declared over, and almost nothing about its specific battles. I just wanted to be right, and more than that, I needed the last word. I’m pretty sure there was no evil, at least to start, and words hardly count as evil, especially ones thrown over the humorously tone-deaf rantings of Twitter, Facebook, and text. Especially out of context. I re-read some of the things I’ve written, and I can completely understand how a rational person might rationally conclude that I had lost my mind. I shudder to think how a jury of my peers might judge some of my more acerbic shouts out to the universe, to the void that person might have left.   This was a classic case of trying to jam myself into a situation or a place where I had no place being. Just because something fits, that doesn’t mean it’s where you should put it. Plenty of things fit in places they don’t belong. 

You are not punk (in the good sense)
June 5, 2019
Your use of the phrase literally gives me a pain in my stomach. You are the antithesis of punk rock. Unless you mean Blink-182 or Sum 41. In that case you are its perfect embodiment. Your casual misuse of the word is blasphemous. Listening to hard music and being a slut in your twenties doesn’t make you a punk (though it wouldn’t exclude you) any more than reading the Bible in school and mocking non-Protestant, Abrahamic religions makes me a Christian.

Pizza and wine and East Austin
June 5, 2019
I’m pretty sure I remember when it was bad. I tell people the story about my apartment in Austin and they think I’m exaggerating for effect. I know it’s not possible to not leave a room for two years. But as possible as it is, that’s what I did. I didn’t turn on the air conditioning in the summer, or the heat in the winter. I left only to buy pizza and wine. I got beat up for my iPhone and the concussion left me with seizures. I went weeks sometimes without actually speaking a word out loud. I spoke only on Facebook. And I let the memory of her, and what could have been us, kill me drop by drop. It’s scary to look back and see how successful I was at almost giving it all away. How do you convince people you’re back? I guess you have to be back for a while first. Try not to do anything too stupid. Lay off the over-the-top allegories in your metaphors, or the death-wish jokes. I am back though. You can hear it in my voice if you choose to listen.

This is water
June 5, 2019
There’s a pretty good speech by David Foster Wallace by that name in which he speaks about three fish. As the younger fish swim by, an older fish says to them, “How’s the water, boys?” The two younger fish are confused and after a time are inclined to give this reply, “What the hell is water?” I’m often asked by readers, after a certain post, especially one they think they might recognize themselves in, if the described events actually happened. My disclaimer notwithstanding, my answer lies somewhere between sorta and why does it matter? Much of it did, but it all comes through the prism of my memory which, though very good, is only mine. Even if it were perfect, it would necessarily be subject to bias. I realize that. This isn’t an historical record. And some of the things I did make up are truer to me than anything that I ever actually experienced. I’m going to share a little secret. Like most sites, I track who visits this one. Unlike most personal sites, I obsess over this. I can tell you the city, state, country, or continent of everyone that passes through. I can tell you what version of Windows was used, or whether someone’s checking on an iPhone, or from work. I know what time of what day someone clicks through to me. I know how long everyone stays. I know where you came from, I know where you enter, and I know where you leave. I know the resolution of your device, and how many colors your monitor is capable of showing. In fact, if I know enough about you, I can track your every movement. Why am I sharing that? And why does it matter? It’s because there are certain visitors that lurk in the shadows of the past and the present, wrongfully assuming their anonymity. For them I’ll repeat what I have said here before. This site isn’t about your truth. I’m not trying to get it right, except on a higher level. I find it interesting to see repeated visits from people that have myriad ways to connect with me but choose not to. In a strange way this is probably for the best. My chosen words are a more realistic revelation than any 15-minute conversation or email might be. For the record, I’ve never hidden from anything, and have instead, even to my detriment, sought the solace of this spotlight. Narcissistic? Not really. I can see beyond my reflections. Solipsistic? Sure. But that never stopped me from having an opinion about something or someone else. You want to know who I am or what I think about anything, especially you? Just ask. Now back to the fish. I’m really trying to make a point with this. The purpose, my purpose, for writing this started as a way to seek a sort of clemency. Vindication through total transparency was the burning need for me at first, but now it goes beyond that. Like the young fish in that story, it is so easy for me to miss the very essence of my being, because in many ways it’s too close to metaphysically see. This place, these words, are my way of reminding myself. This is water. This is water. This is water.

The Wiggles and “No Show” Jones
June 5, 2019
There’s a strange juxtaposition at the library this morning. Out of my view I can hear a group of toddlers singing nursery rhymes familiar to me from my tours of duty with the Wiggles. Earlier this morning as I was drinking coffee and writing, iTunes slapped me in the face with George Jones’ Choices. One might think that such different musical influences might provoke different feelings in the same individual. One might be wrong. George Jones. His is a death that one is hard pressed to feel melancholy for. Shit, he made it 81 years living that life. Elvis only got 42. And surely you’re familiar with all of the self-hating 27s that couldn’t make it pass that age. Then the darker thoughts come. You only have 38 years left until you’re 81 and, frankly, he beat some pretty good odds getting that far. He had already accomplished more with that voice by 43 than you are ever likely to with whatever the hell it is you’re trying to do. Which is what anyway? So carry that forward to the Wiggles and story time. Of course, that takes me back to a different life. Offices with windows and a five-bedroom house in the suburbs. The squeals of delight from the seated two- and three-year olds ring familiar and again George comes to me. “I’ve had choices since the day that I was born. There were voices that told me right from wrong. If I had listened, no I wouldn’t be here today, living and dying with the choices I’ve made.” We all make choices. And mine have left me mostly living. How I do miss the high-pitched giggles of my children’s youth. And this cost. Was there ever a choice whether or not I’d pay? I have to finish what I started, throw good money after bad in the hopes to turn it all good, and try not to self-destruct

Getting to Even (Part 1)
June 6, 2019
My life has no boundaries. That’s the thought in my head as I clear the last of the desert foothills and begin the gradual descent out of California. In the distance, spilled out into the sand on either side of the road, a sprawling mass twinkles dully in the early morning sun. On approach, the object deconstructs. It divides to countless, random points before suddenly revealing its order: casino lights. The road levels out and brings a glut of information to the emptiness: Speed Limit Reduced, Unlawful to Litter, Lotto jackpot, gas prices, cheap food and liquor. Both states mark the area near their common border with pleas of Welcome and Come Again Soon in either direction. The exact divide lies unmarked, somewhere in-between. The car knows the point before I do. The ride becomes smooth. The highway has changed from solid black to gray macadam. Now Entering Nevada. I know I shouldn’t be here. Less than forty miles to Vegas. The drive is almost done. Minutes pass. Only the empty hum of the car on the desert road. Speed Patrolled By Aircraft. I look to the sky through the blue top of the windshield. Paranoid. Jean, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City. More miles. And the hum. Straight ahead, two more casinos purposefully flopped, again on either side of the highway, the sun above the mountains to the east. The lights flash, but in the day move hopelessly about the scattered buildings. No welcome sign, but this is Jean. In every direction there is nothing else. I don’t want to be here. But the drive is almost done. The desert sun stares harshly into the valley. From this distance, in this light, it’s easy to dismiss Las Vegas as anti-climactic. From here the buildings that rise in a line on the Strip, look more like trees growing on the banks of a river then the heart of a city. But at close range these monuments are nothing less than awesome. Defeat thrives here. The constant movement betrays the desperation. From the addition of absurdly themed gambling halls, to the streets that push further into the desert, to the endless view in each direction of duplex apartments, strip malls, and single-level homes, everything seems to be simultaneously under construction. Even the traffic seems to assemble on the road around me. Strangely the mundane task of navigating the clogged freeway, which I normally find almost unbearable, brings a sort of calm to my situation. For the first time since this all started, I look back and instead of chaos, I see an ordered series of events. Of course, I would drive all night to be here for the morning, rush-hour traffic. Of course, I would come ill-prepared, uncertain, isolated. Of course, I’d be alone again. What other choice was there, really? What to most people might be an absurd set of circumstances is the only possible outcome for you. She wrote that to me in a letter once. At the time I was hurt by this realization. Now it liberates me. My whole scattered life is justified. This idea is so comforting, that the momentum it builds threatens to overwhelm me. It drives me through traffic and into the city. It spits me out on this street, toward that hotel. It valet parks then finds a vacant payphone. It has exact change. It dials the numbers. It completes the call. It waits two rings but ignores the voice that answers. And it opens my mouth. “Room 558.” Four more rings. “Hello.” I’m not your responsibility. If I choose to believe in you, I know it’s at my own risk. Sometimes I think I’m just hanging on to see what happens, to see how this ends. I’ve been rehearsing versions of the speech all night, but instead say, “I just can’t make it stop.” “Where are you?” she says.

I love you, but you’ve chosen darkness
June 6, 2019
In times of trouble, we invent definitions of our desires as unique. We forget that somebody in this world, probably more than one, is sick of the person or situation we put on a pedestal. We incorrectly believe wants are needs. We exaggerate the importance and the value of what we desire and choose pain as a sort of martyrdom. We abandon reason as the means to achieve our goals, and instead bask in the self-centered nature of depression. No other emotion can achieve the all-encompassing preoccupation with “the self.” It provides us with a state of almost complete self-absorption, a reward that is subconsciously so powerful it eclipses what our conscious minds want. It becomes our internal voice that repeats the myth of our lives we have created for ourselves. We believe this voice whether what it says is true or not, effective or not, self-destructive or not. When ruled by our feelings, we are incapable of making clear choices let alone rationally reflecting on their consequences. People trapped in this cycle repeat patterns of counter-productive and self-destructive behavior. The tortured artist is the prototypical example. But even the word tortured incorrectly implies an outside source that is somehow in control. That pain is self-chosen.

7 April 1998
June 6, 2019
I found this excerpt from my journal from 21 years ago. Can you feel the angst? And yes, all of my journal entries were written for a potential audience, with the explicit goal of being perceived as clever. “Love, or more precisely the feeling that one is in possession of this emotion, is the decisive factor in determining the failure of an erotic relationship. And by this, I do not mean that failure is the result of some absence or inadequacy, but rather it is the mere presence of love that prescribes failure. So many of our resources are used in the pursuit of love, and the success or failure of this pursuit is so intertwined with how we define ourselves, that the day-to-day dynamic of most relationships present an emotionally unacceptable risk.”

The reformed apologist
June 8, 2019
It’s not out of place to read my opinions here. Some are jokes. Mostly I enjoy inflicting theories, predominantly my own. And when I say “theories” in this context I mean unproven or unprovable hypotheses that are so consistent in correctly predicting an outcome that I regard them as true. The way evolution is true but still referred to as a theory. I guess I should qualify that last statement; when rational people refer to evolution as a theory they do so in this manner. Abrahamic monotheists that believe their myths are verbatim transcripts to be read literally? Well. You know how I feel about that. In fact, the recent public “debate” about evolution (and the incomprehensible, but very real, need to refute creationist propaganda at school board meetings) was one of the key factors in my renewed rage against religion. But I’m afraid I may have for too long been an unintended (mostly apathetic) apologist. I wasn’t proactive, by any means, but in retrospect I feel a certain culpability in my silence. I treated so-called piety as a harmless form of denial. As long as they left me alone, l would do my best not to mock the ridiculous specifics of their belief system, or the fact that they had chosen to eschew thousands of years of human progress to instead embrace a violent, misogynistic, fear-based set of Semitic tribal fairy tales as the ultimate arbiter on questions of science, philosophy, morality, and ethics. But when their unsolicited involvement began to threaten private, independent lifestyle choices, i.e., porn, gambling, and booze—you know, necessities—I knew that I had been, in the parlance of the enemy, giving comfort to the wicked with my silence. I resolved then to be more proactive in my refutation of their choices. They invent an unpredictable, omnipotent no-show for a supreme being, then take every opportunity to project their own blood lust, tribal bigotry, and neuroses on him, while simultaneously paying lip service to supposed ideals like faith, hope, love. The result? The deity character is so unrealistic that the early fiction writers who composed the poorly edited anthology of testaments and gospels made a rare, wise choice to split him into three separate characters (father, son, and super ghost), and give each one a different part of the personality to represent. Otherwise, the capricious violence, hateful cruelty and jealous possessiveness god exhibits throughout both testaments would be a hard sell for the supposed king of the universe. Even with that use of creative license, god still seems more of an asshole than someone you’d want to be with forever. You will have no other gods before me? If god were a person, he would need a restraining order.

June 9, 2019
I was never lazy. I knew what I was good at. I was even better at what I liked. I hated our fucking mango tree. I resented the weekends and I hated that life. In retrospect there may have been something bigger that I hated more than mangoes. My father would lay on the couch while the weeds grew waist high. A bad influence, but in all honesty, he was never an influence. I knew who he was pretty early on. Sometimes he’d hit my mom. Less often, but with equal ferocity, he might hit my brother or me. Sometimes he’d hit the dog. I remember once he beat our Irish Setter, Winston, for not knowing better to not eat some handwritten note or other. I watched my father get smaller with every flail. I’m losing my point. I think I was talking about laziness. When moved to do so, I work harder than almost anyone I know. I still hate yard work. I still hate raising a finger. I’m not like most people. Then again, I haven’t met that many people.

They tried to make me go to rehab
June 12, 2019
The weird part is that you don’t see it while it’s happening. But in hindsight, the needle and the damage done are clear. Even though I didn’t use needles; there is a cost, however it is denied or paid for. I shudder at the image on the left; I had forgotten it had even been taken. That’s me actually “dressed up” to meet friends. For anyone still struggling with the bottle, with the pipe, with the needle. I can’t tell you what to do or anything you don’t already know. But the obvious changes in my appearance are dwarfed by the changes in the space between my ears. A year ago I asked for help. So many people, many I hadn’t spoken to in decades, reached out. I stumbled at first but caught my grip. Thank you. So many apparent missteps in the past 16 months. But I wouldn’t be standing here if I didn’t take them all.

Letters from Del Valle
June 12, 2019
Part 3. Letters From Del Valle
Dear Mom, No one can quite grasp the specifics of my situation. This scares me. Each person I share my story with serves as proxy for a potential juror, eventually to be culled from my bank of peers, whoever they are. And as their eyes inevitably glaze over when I try to explain the nuances–critical to my defense!–of ghost email accounts and temporary I.P. addresses, the task of telling a cohesive narrative–a persuasive cohesive narrative–seems to be currently beyond my grasp. I give up for the day. Today. Sunday. My third Sunday here. It’s late afternoon, maybe early evening here in Del Valle, Texas. We’re just beyond the east border of Austin proper, near the airport. Austin-Bergstrom International. Trips to and from court pass the airport each way and the freedom that place represents is a painful reminder of my current situation. Incarcerated. Sundays are normally difficult for me anyway. They have been as long as I can remember. And in my memory Sundays always play out at dusk–not quite darkness–and its reflections always tainted with a vague, unnamed melancholy. In here, of course, that sensation is realized exponentially and manifests now in a heavy-hearted silence. I can hear myself breathing. Love, Me   Linda, About ACL, I wouldn’t have gone, even if I wasn’t here–Hell, I missed it the last two years–but the fact that I couldn’t if I wanted to has been one of the few things this month that have made me bristle. And your favorite band headlining Saturday night had me resisting the urge to puke. I know you and your band of incestuous Beaumont idiots will be there in full force, no doubt happily numb and stumbling around Zilker as the temperature drops and the night’s tide rises. I hate your happiness. I hate the idea of it. I hate the idea of you. My only consolation in this regard is that so do you. -K.   Merry, With my eyes closed, laying on two shirts spread out on the grass, I can feel the breeze blowing over my shirtless torso and tousling my hair. The warming sun colors my closed eyelids an orange pink, the smell of cut grass abounds, the wind whistles. The sensations are so sensually pleasant, that it’s almost possible to ignore the chain-link fence, topped all around with countless outstretched, razor-wire Slinkies. For one hour a day the divide between here and there dissolves so that it’s difficult to discern the difference. These past few days I’ve felt better than I have in months, maybe years. A few difficult decisions, now decided, and the whole world has become a better place. And though I may eventually come to regret what these have wrought, their sum effect cannot possibly be as bad as things have been since that night of the epiphany, now almost three years past, that soon-to-be-famous moment of existential angst. -K.

The end of the end
June 13, 2019
Your cve moving a little less than 40,000 kilometers per hour. Stand still. Don’t breathe. It doesn’t matter. If the world stopped your body would putrefy. The stop of gravity would cause fire you can’t comprehend. Imagine a car going that fast then stopping. It would end happily fast.

Hank Williams
June 13, 2019
She lifts her dress up to her knees and walks barefoot to the pool. Those delicate feet. I’ve had them in my mouth. Clean from the shower I tasted the feel of her veins. You can lick anywhere you want. I hate that she said that to anyone else. But I understand. We all want that feeling of touch. That moment of excitement when you feel wanted. So, it hurts but I’m not mad. I’m mad at me. But in a way were all mad at ourselves. This one is not the same. It honestly felt there was a god when she came out of the stupid internet. Then she was real. Then she cried because I hurt her. Then she laughed because I’m funny. Then she said I wasn’t funny. She makes me listen to Hank Williams and understand lost highways. I don’t think she knows who Hank Williams is.

June 16, 2019
A large majority of people that describe themselves as religious literally do not know what they believe in. Let that sink in. It sounds oxymoronic, but it’s true. I have a theory on this. Religious training is rarely a moment of epiphany. It is a patient, years-long inculcation. It is not a moment of conversion, but a life-long assimilation. For a person to self-identify as “religious,” therefore, means that his indoctrination was for the most part already successful. At this point what a person believes is nowhere near as important as who. Any successful brainwashing program does not measure success by the comprehension of ideology, but by submission to its authority. Obedience, and willful self-ignorance are far more reliable than accurate recall. If a person never truly understands a concept, but has been taught to accept its veracity, not only are others less likely to change his view with fact-based arguments, but he is also less likely to question his own beliefs. Let me give you a real-world example. Most people that have gone to church their whole lives cannot name all ten commandments in order. In fact, if a person can name more than seven correctly, in any order, they are the rare exception. Rarer still is the person who knows that on three separate occasions Moses presents different versions of the Decalogue to the Israelites. The first set, and the one most people would recognize from the movie and Sunday school, are Moses’ impromptu recollection of god’s words after returning from Mt. Sinai. Humorously the version that relies on Moses’ memory is not even close to the ones that eventually appear on stone. The contents of the second set are, technically, never shared in the Bible because Moses gets pissed at the Israelites for creating idols and smashes the tablets on which they are written (Moses can’t take a piss without some asshole forging an idol and worshiping it). The third set, the only one specifically referred to as The Ten Commandments, would be unrecognizable to most. #10 in this version? “Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.” (And, yes, they’re talking about a baby goat.) Timeless advice, isn’t it? Yet this is the supposed basis for the entire system of morality and ethics on which our society is built. The depressing truth is that this is essentially the system that provides a large part of this country (and world) with some of its ugliest talking points. Given the deity’s description in the Bible it is a reasonable conclusion to believe that god actually does hate fags. (Why he’s been silent on more prevalent transgressions like ham, divorce, and multi-cloth garments, which are all unequivocally verboten, is anyone’s guess.) With all this, believers are still not the only ones with culpability. Non-believers have been complacent. I am. It’s a common platitude for polite agnostics to say when referring to the Bible that, “It’s a beautiful book with bad interpretations.” Wrong. The problem is not the interpretation of the material, but the source material itself. Yeah, I said it. I have a suggestion for those of you that disagree. Read it. Cover to cover. No skipping to Christmas and Easter. The book suffers from far more than lapses in logic, difficult syntax, and enormous continuity issues. Like its main character, it is usually self-serving and often morally repugnant. Taken as fact by too many people, the outdated tome is systematic superstition, obfuscated by numbing ritual, and received with blind acceptance. It is the primary source of ideology for countless hate crimes and atrocities. It has and continues to inspire apocalyptic fanaticism, nonexistent next-world dystopias, and repressive theocracies, that thrive on fear, intolerance, and the truncheon. Even if I have to do it myself, I’m calling bullshit. In the past, my half-hearted attempts to be tolerant resulted in a disingenuous labeling protocol, i.e., the sheep were misguided rather than ignorant or malicious. Their brainwashing was so pervasive, and their assimilation so greatly rewarded, that it hardly seemed fair to rage against the inevitable. No more. My new passive-aggressive strategy to defuse potential interference by this confederacy of dunces is to respond to their condescension in kind. To wit, when confronted with ignorance, I proceed to stare doe-eyed in the direction of the chosen one(s), slightly shake my head with quiet pity for their children; compliment their Orwellian ability to suspend disbelief; patronize the mantras they use in place of empirical evidence; act incredulous over their inevitable hypocrisy; and, take comfort in the fact that they don’t practice what they preach. They don’t even like it. Exhibit A pornographic movie sales and rentals earn more than the entire output of mainstream Hollywood movies. I didn’t buy all 32,987 copies of Pocahotass.

Tell them July
June 16, 2019
“So, you’re single now?” “I’ve been single since July.” “Only in court.” Our divorce was finalized on July 11. “No, everywhere.” “Didn’t look that way to me.” “You weren’t looking close enough.” “You could have given me a heads-up.” “I don’t see why you even care. No one’s even going to notice.” “You’re kidding right?” “No. Why?” “Because I’ve already gotten three phone calls asking when we finally broke up for good.” “Tell them, ‘July.’”

I didn’t ask for this
June 16, 2019
I’ve asked myself what it is, and I guess it’s more a kind of darkness. There was enough distraction when I was younger and preoccupied in the establishment of a life, that I was able to ignore it, with situational exceptions. Other proclivities like sex and alcohol sometimes made it feel like there wasn’t even anything to worry about. What I’ve come to learn is that unhealthy sexual shenanigans (if they even exist; I vacillate), or alcohol, or sometimes drugs, were not in and of themselves the disease, but were, in fact, the telling symptoms of something far more dangerous that was just waiting for me with its gangrenous soul, and sad, sad heart. But, oh so pretty to look at. I guess my misguided attempts to always live in full color at high speed with no filter, and in possession of a ferocious, single-minded intensity I sometimes used as a means to those ends, my life became double-edged, semi-charmed, and, more and more, self-destructive. But I can also say that I’ve been to more cities than I can count on Trip Advisor (500+), know more about the subtle nuances of the human condition than I had previously thought was possible, felt deeper feelings (good and bad) than anyone I know not suffering with a serious mental illness, and been in situations that I know most people will never see, want to visit, or even believe exist. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself in a random house or hotel room at three in the morning with some random Mary Magdalene’s, contemplating what to do next and thinking to myself, “How in the fuck did I end up at this moment, in this place, watching what I’m watching? What’s my play here?”) But everything bad that happened was happening too often to be a coincidence. Is still happening in some respects. When the darkness finally rose above, it came swifter and stayed longer than I thought was possible, and consequently damaged and collaterally damaged much more than I could pretend not to care about; everything in its reach got and gets caught in its velvet web. The argument can be made that my experiences have helped make me the person that I am. And for the most part that’s a good thing. I love madly, forgive quickly, feel empathy deeply, laugh hard when I’m happy or sad, make others laugh and smile, and easily make real connections with people. But there’s an opposite side to that same coin that doesn’t sound like charisma, though it has as its source the same dark energy. I catch myself crying spontaneously at almost nothing, hurt intensely with an emotional paralysis, wander the streets lost and lonely, and strike back hard with words when I feel that I’ve been damaged intentionally. Yet I know that I don’t do evil things because I’m not inherently evil. I take action that looks evil not with premeditation, but by following the paths of least resistance and instant gratification, without regard for any consequences, good or bad, until they happen. Someone I love dearly spoke of me once to another person I loved dearly (when I wasn’t there) saying to her, “He’s super smart, kind and engaging when he’s in the mood, and seductive as he wants to be. But there is a dark side.” At the time I was mad at that spilled, heretical revelation. But it’s difficult, disingenuous, and ultimately pointless to speak anger to truth.

July 13, 2019
I think the only thing that works with you are affectations. I know how you feel, and I know how I feel. But I also know that screams to no one are less effective. And perhaps my screaming isn’t for you. The night is sort of used to being deaf and dumb. I scream into my pillow and feel the spit gather and push back. I type in ALL CAPS. And you time your metronomic response. But now, when I can’t help but think about you–his smile in that picture of you when I know he fucked you, or will–the part of my torso that I call my heart is exploding with whatever chemicals say, “Fuck that.” I go to the next thought and talk about why I hate you, or maybe I eat this surge in my chest this once. And I’m not quite sure that, if you were in actual arms reach, that I would reach for you, or whether I would repeatedly hit you in the mouth until I was sure you could taste blood. That ferrous scent that reminds you that the smell means something rusted. Part of me still loves you and that part wants you to know that smell. You ask sometimes what I think. The verb “to think” does not have the required nuance I need to explain to you what I hear or what I see at any given moment.

September 18, 2019
If you can believe it, I believed in you again. And the mynah birds outside laugh together. Belief. Like there is anything to believe in. Belief in what? Something that transcends the eternal nothing we pretend is never coming for every one of us. Ok. Whistle past the graveyard. Maybe not today. Probably not tomorrow. But soon.

September 19, 2019
I don’t feel lucky, I feel saddled. I feel trapped within this bubble of supposed to be. I played along. I really did my best. Best is never enough. There’s always better. There are past mistakes for everyone. Eidetic and see them every time you close your eyes. Close your eyes, but your mind is 7-11; always open, taking anyone in. The power of pathology is difficult to explain to people that function as people. Get married, have 2.3 kids, buy a house, just be happy. There are those of us that look like you. Went to the same schools. Eat turkey at Thanksgiving. We look the same. But this cognitive dissonance between what I see and what I feel. This is punk rock.

September 20, 2019
Were in the park and my girlfriend says, “Fluffy grass.”
“St. Augustine.”
“How do you know that?”
“I used to care.”

September 20, 2019
I’m used to seeing a lot of things. I’ve seen a lot of things. Perhaps that inculcated me to things. I’ve seen death, violence and fear. It’s hard for me to understand your level of fear because it doesn’t include death or violence. Does that make sense? Fear of bees or ants or bad words doesn’t make sense to me because I’ve seen my dad rip my mom’s ear off and a dead body. Maybe I’m not explaining well.

The root of the root at least
October 11, 2019
My account hurts from trying to spend away the problem. My jaw is sore from trying to talk away the problem. My dick hurts from trying to fuck away the problem. The mirror laughs and says look at me. Ignore everything. Look at the eyes.