Before the start of Final Jeopardy, I slumped over less gracefully than Depression era stocks off the couch, and dropping my bowl of macaroni and cheese, golden fireworks of yellow #5 shot all over the walls of my mother’s home. My heart paused and the brain shuddered. With my back on the floor and my lungs struggling for air, all I could hear was Trebek’s voice through delay and reverb pedals. Canada always did make the worst atmospheric music for aneurysms and spilled Kraft dinners.
My head pounded with the ferocity of an optimistic jackhammer on diamond. The gray matter was forcing itself out regardless of what cranial barriers stood in its way. Blood pumping direct pain to the temples and zenith of the spinal column made me panic. Nervous waves of sheer terror washed over my body convincing me that this was the moment that I was going to die. But thankfully I studied enough American Literature that I could answer the final question with confidence before I blacked out; something which brought me at least a minimal amount of solace in my time of dying.
Yet before the commercial break, and before Pat Sajak took the reins, my head burst forth like Hemingway’s ideal piñata: full of booze, terse meditations on life, colorful confetti, and some shit about bullfighting. Blood and mental bits splattered the walls in a way that would have made David Cronenberg blush. And my brain slithered from the wreckage dragging its eyeballs and spinal cord entourage behind.
I suppose they were too good for me. They’d outgrown me. My organs no longer felt the need to support me.
I laid there on the shag carpet helpless as I interpreted Kafka’s ideas for the modern era. I wish I could describe my feelings in a more engaging way but I found it difficult without any sensory perception. Having your head pound and shatter and make your living room look like a Pollock work of crimson and clover, over and over, doesn’t leave one with many adjectives.
After Mom was gone we had to put our father in a mental hospital. He seemed to be alright without having her around for a little while, but soon the depression set in and consumed him. A cloud of doom fell from God’s hands. He fell into the dark abyss of his mind. Felt hopeless. Worthless. Utterly lost without her. How do you live without the person you’ve spent more than half your life with? Some people find ways to cope, but our father was unfortunately not one of those people.
Susan and I took turns going upstate to see him. We never went together because our schedules wouldn’t allow us, or because we were just being honest with each other that our relationship was falling apart, but finally on this occasion we had decided to go see him together even though it had been so long since we exchanged eye contact. It made me think back to the trips we used to take together. I enjoyed those times with her in the car heading to the beach, or the mountains. We would talk and laugh about everything, would turn up the radio and sing at the tops of our lungs to Fleetwood Mac or The Stones or Vanilla Ice. Be like kids again.
Yet I found myself doing it on my own that Tuesday morning in May when Susan’s youngest daughter was hit by a car. A text message came through informing me that she was not going to accompany me. My heart sank and I collapsed on the pavement before I slipped the keys into the car door. It stung not because of the image of Kyra’s petite body lying in a hospital bed with needles and hoses running to and fro between asphalt burns , but because I was going to face my father by myself. And it may very well be another 10 years until I saw my sister again.
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Somewhere between the sleepless nights, long hours of drink, heartbreak and the endless moments of discontent my creative mind decided to slip out. Like a horny and rebellious teenage Catholic girl sliding out her bedroom window off the roof onto the nearby tree branch down the makeshift ladder and past the dog to the waiting Trans Am around the corner, my creativity abandoned me. Quietly gone, only noticed when I went to lean on it in a time of difficulty or when I tried to tell others about what was going on in my life at the moment. Those thoughts and words were my only friends in low places when I needed them and when I couldn’t conjure them anymore I became worried. With no desire for art, I withered. A dying flower in the harsh unforgiving sunlight of human existence.
I went to bars and friend’s homes describing my brain, hoping that they had a decent lost and found bin. “It’s kinda gray, a little worse for the wear, probably tries to look cooler than it actually is. Seen anything like that around?”
I was usually met with confused looks or words of apology for not seeing such a thing.
“It might be in pieces at this point, I can’t be sure.”
The response was merely shrugged shoulders.
I wandered the streets in search of my cranial livelihood which was driven off by an insufficient amount of social media likes and exceptional amounts of social poison. Not BBD poison mind you, but the legitimate form. Into sports bars with James Mercer and alleyways with worser, I set off on an absentminded quest to find the only thing that truly meant anything to me. But it felt useless. It was gone and I was defeated.
Chain smoking desperation and isolation by the pack I lost myself on the pavement. The cement sidewalks and asphalt roads I trekked during my pilgrimage to my mind wore hard on me, blending into a blurred agony of bullshit social contracts. But when I saw that shadow sleeping in the bushes beneath a beat up Zeppelin t-shirt using a copy of Walden as a pillow I knew I had found my long lost kinship. It was obviously battered and beaten down yet it still had a hopeful sheen upon its fleshy ridges.
It sat up as I approached but scurried away when I tried to reach for it, frightened. And it followed me home keeping a safe distance. I could tell that it wasn’t happy with its old surroundings and I understood its hesitance to return to its old stomping grounds. Still, it hopped along behind me with some interest and that was inspiring. At least it wasn’t gone forever.
Derrida with cat. Break it down for me man.
Commencing from the lowest sectors of social stratification, we presently find ourselves in a glorious state.
Commencing from the lowest sectors of social stratification, the entirety of my close knit group of compatriots have (expletive) arrived.
Emanating from the lowliest of origins, we have overcome obstacles in our pursuit of success.
Emanating from the lowliest of origins, we have overcome obstacles in our pursuit of success, racial epithet.
I have attempted to keep my existence honest and sincere from the onset.
I resided with my mother at her domicile for a spell, and on occasion, we would be at loggerheads.
African-American slur, I strived to be self-sufficient.
I labored beneath the moonlight, and my travels home were arduous.
My father’s brother often inquired of my location and activities.
He was typically upset that I borrowed his vehicle without returning it in a timely manner.
Aforementioned slur, I find humor in the way events play themselves out.
I travel much, receiving vast sums of money for my entertainment engagements.
Youth enjoy expounding tales of wise men.
How dare you doubt my ambition and ability to overcome, slave trade shorthand.
I can mold your children into upstanding citizens.
Little happens without our input and effort, KKK’s favorite word.
We only desire adulation and respect when it is warranted.
I am narcissistic and rarely concern myself with your affairs.
Plantation employee, purely as a motivating factor for myself,
I display all of my wealth on my person despite being visible to the public.
My business partners and I do not appreciate new competition.
We have little respect for fairweather friends, but do stoke the fires of legitimate friendship.
Defending a stance is not our strong suit.
I’m remaining true to my alibi.
Here’s a little recap of my favorite musical material that I was either exposed to last year, or tracks that got heavy rotation. It was a good year in music.
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Never has so simple a message touched me so deeply. It is such a deceptively small perspective to illustrate, but perhaps one of the most profound. It’s something that’s easy in speech, yet difficult in practice, but the philosophy offered here has been of great benefit to me. And so, without further ado…
Forgiveness. Man…that’s a difficult thing to do sometimes. Oftentimes it feels better to be vindictive to prove a point or to find some version of fucked up skewed solace or bury our feelings behind a moat and drawbridge and castle built of hate to protect our self-centered view of the world. We build walls to keep pain out, but those walls end up being our own prison, and the residence of even more torture. Really original stance I’m taking on this issue I know. I read this tirade in an overly wordy fortune cookie. It’s true though. That shit we do to protect ourselves and our best interests only wind up hurting us more in the long run from isolation and paranoia and doubt.
But it’s just so basic to let it go. The simplicity makes perfect sense. Leave your chains behind.
It’s taken me a long time, but that’s what I intend to do. I’m going to leave all that dumb bullshit behind because it serves no purpose. The only purpose it did serve was making me feel lonelier and more confused than I ever have in my life. And who the fuck wants to live like that?
Maybe it’s time to let it go.
Since my writing is currently operating in other places besides this one, I figured I’d just play a little music. Allow me to dig out some of the deep cuts inside my memory banks.
Lloyd! A bit of the old jazz-funk my brother.
Every time I feel like forgiving someone, I also feel like I’m compromising my principles. In most instances, forgiving someone for their actions is equivalent to saying that what they did was okay. That I can accept it. But sometimes I cannot, and I struggle with it more than I care to delve into at this juncture. It’s an extremely difficult thing to cope with.
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Or am I?
I guess I don’t really know anymore.
A hipster used to be the derogatory term I used towards kids with hideous mustaches, high top Converses, and Pabst tallboys in hand. It was a group I had inside my head that brought a bitter taste to my mouth. A self-righteous clique that seemed to overtake the collective consciousness. People who appeared as though they tried too hard to be something they were not.
Yet in Vegas, when some smart-mouthed drunken desert person slyly threw such a usage at me in an offhand manner, I was forced to reconsider my position.
Perhaps I myself was the thing I came to despise so much. Maybe I was one in the same.
Pretentious in the eyes of others. Desperate for acceptance. More ironic than an Alanis Morissette song. Fond of weirdness. Striving to be different. Critical of the things that don’t agree with my world perspective.
Well…I do probably fall into such a category. And I will be the first to admit it. But I feel that the discrepancy lies in the fact that my behavior and personal choices feel more honest than my contemporaries.
However, such an attitude discounts others who express themselves in a similar way. And most likely I’m being too harsh towards individuals who share my same disdain.
I think it boils down to my hatred of middle class white people, including myself. A group with privilege who finds joy squandering their time and resources in trivial pursuits and bored games. Those that judge their food and their friends under the same standards. The produce may be organic, but what you produce is not.
I suppose trying hard is a quality of what I’m against…….fuck it.