At the End

“At the end of your life, go out with a bruised-up, worn out heart that gave too much and loved too strongly, and felt too fiercely.”

— Unknown, sourced from Sarah Snow

Posted at at May 27, 2018 on Sunday, May 27, 2018 by |   | Filed under:

Let Him Roll

He's a wino, tried and true. 
Done about everything there is to do. 
He worked on freighters, he worked in bars. 
He worked on farms, 'n he worked on cars.

It was white port, that put that look in his eye 
That grown men get when they need to cry 
And he sat down on the curb to rest 
And his head just fell down on his chest

He said "Every single day it gets 
A little bit harder to handle and yet" 
And he lost the thread and his mind got cluttered 
And the words just rolled off down in the gutter

Well he was elevator man in a cheap hotel 
In exchange for the rent on a one room cell 
He's old in years beyond his time 
Thanks to the world, and the white Port wine

So he says "Son, " he always called me son 
He said, "Life for you has just begun" 
And he told me a story that I heard before 
How he fell in love with a Dallas whore

Well he could cut through the years to the very night 
When it ended, in a whore house fight 
And she turned his last proposal down 
In favor of being a girl about town

Now it's been seventeen years right in line 
And he ain't been straight none of the time 
Too many days of fightin' the weather 
And too many nights of not being together

So he died

Well when they went through his personal effects
In among the stubs from the welfare checks 
Was a crumblin' picture of a girl in a door 
An address in Dallas, and nothin' more

The welfare people provided the priest 
A couple from the mission down the street 
Sang Amazing Grace, and no one cried 
'Cept some woman in black, way off to the side

We all left and she was standing there 
Black veil covering her silver hair 
And 'ol One-Eyed John said her name was Alice 
And she used to be a whore in Dallas

Let him roar, Lord let him roll 
Bet he's gone to Dallas Rest his soul 
Lord, let him roll, Lord let him roar 
He always said that heaven 
Was just a Dallas whore.

-- Guy Clark, Let Him Roll

Posted at at May 26, 2018 on Saturday, May 26, 2018 by |   | Filed under:

The US-101

Just as I thought I had finally broke free
I saw three miles of taillights in front of me 
The city was so grey today
And I’d almost reached the sun 
But it was bumper to bumper on the US-101

There’s an exit to the right.
I’d turn on my blinker,
But it’s not polite to do that on the US-101

Traffic inches forward on a one way street
Lined with clapboard houses I could never afford
Oh Lord, you won’t even buy me a Honda Accord
The street signs have an italicized cartoon font 
You can even live here if you want 
There’s Sothebys and Keller and Century 21
With convenient beachfront access and the US-101

There are no restaurants here,
There are no stores.
I wonder what people in this town even eat.
They must breathe in the air and get the nutrition they need from their earbuds and iPods as they jog with their dogs 
Making better time in the bike lane
Than all the people like me
Trying to break free
From the traffic situation on the US-101

I’m being passed by a skateboard
The occasional bike 
A waving shirtless jogger
Some guy in a green Prius
Who must think that his car is a bike
I’ll see him again soon on the US-101

At every other intersection
A disembodied voice says “turn left here.”
No thank you. 
I am not going anywhere near the US-101

Until I reach the reason for the delay:
A woman with a wrecked Mercedes
Being towed away 
Second driver today
Who had managed to have spun
Across all three lanes of the US-101

Wrapping a fur coat around her tightly 
It’s cold outside but she looks okay 
Her yellow lab is relaxing in the sun
With his tongue sticking out,
Tail happily wagging 
It looks like he’s been having fun today
On the US-101

Top down at the rest stop in Gaviota
With a wide open throttle
Escaping the last several inches
of the traffic and the smog from LA
Where the freeway ends 
The PCH begins
And I have exactly three hours left
Until the ranger chases me away






Posted at at May 22, 2018 on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 by |   | Filed under:

Naming Conventions

If some evil mean mess can put on a wig and demand that from now on we all address her as "Octo Goddess" and you are all like "yes queen, slay" as you obediently comply with that request, then you can stop hissing and rolling your eyes or pretending you're confused when I introduce myself.

You know damn well what dead naming is, don't be a cunt.

Freddie told his friend Jeff he doesn’t even know what my last name is anymore.

If ya ain’t laying it down on a marriage license with me then mind ya own damn business. ;)

Posted at at May 21, 2018 on Monday, May 21, 2018 by |   | Filed under:

Homecoming

Nacuntie sashays up to me on the sidewalk.

I gave him the once over and asked "Holy shit, are you still sober?"

He gives me the once over and shrieks "Bitch, how are you still not dead? Girl. I have been lighting candles for you. I have been saying prayers for you."

"Were you summoning me with black candles and a pentagram drawn on the floor by any chance? Poof! Here I am!"

I haven’t been back to the house in 5 months and I showed up just as the gas stopped working. 

I told them someone probably kicked or bumped the gas meter and tripped the earthquake valve.

Grab me a jewelers screwdriver and I'll show you where it is.

I went downstairs and caught a whiff of gas in the basement. I re-lit the pilot on the water heater. How they manage to not blow the house up when I'm not here is beyond me.

They put on coffee and they're watching MSNBC. Something about Trump, Giuliani, Russian Collusion. All I can think of...

Princess Carolyn: "Bojack! Are you watching MSNBC right now?"

Bojack: "Great question! Well, I didn't fall down on my remote, randomly changing the channel to MSNBC, while simultaneously crippling myself thus forcing me to watch MSNBC, so no. I'm not watching MSNBC right now!"

Dustin’s run off to San Francisco, where I’m sure he’s peeking out the blinds and masturbating on adderall at the community college. We have some new guy who likes to garden and plant flowers. I think I prefer him.

I am told that I just missed the Secret Service showing up at the house on Friday because of somebody’s Mein Orange Cheetoh Drumpf Hitler social media outbursts.

They called all the phone numbers on the whiteboard.

I don’t have a computer or a social media account and they’re welcome to look at my phone. I’m pretty sure that when they go through my meme and shitposting folder they’re going to quickly realize it wasn’t me.

I got lunch. 

It was a 45 minute ordeal in traffic.

I’m tired.

I want to turn the car back around.

Posted at at May 20, 2018 on Sunday, May 20, 2018 by |   | Filed under:

Texas in my Rear [view mirror]

Seven months and another transmission rebuild later, I'm reunited with my car. 

I went to my old home group in Austin. The only people really left were the ones I had been closest to. 

They had welcomed a stranger and been kind to me. 

Sometimes the winners and the losers aren't who they say they are or who they are said to be.

I forgot about that sweet spot at about 79MPH when the whole car has this weird industrial sounding hum. 

I lock into that sound and resonate with it. It’s pleasant for some reason.

I am sitting in the nuclear reactor.

Click, set, go.

I drove through all the hues of Texas and watched the lightning lick across a wide open desert sky for hundreds of miles late last night. 

It was neat. If I could be anywhere right now this is exactly where I'd like to be.

Posted at at May 17, 2018 on Thursday, May 17, 2018 by |   | Filed under:

Church

Melissa Etheridge's "Brave and Crazy" is on the mandatory playlist in Arizona.

I used to listen to that all the time when I was 15 and working as a tour guide for the city museum. 

It was a small town. Visitors were few and far in between.

I got picked on in school because I "wasn't from around here" and didn't go to their church. And they all laughed at my ankle monitor in the gym shower. People started to whisper about how I’d transferred here from the juvenile prison.

Their nickname for me was "Church."

Suicide was starting to cross my mind when Lizzy Londerville handed me a cassette tape of Marilyn Manson's "Antichrist Superstar."

She wrote a sweet and encouraging note and said "evil within will allow you to be you."

Never underestimate what a kind word will do to someone who hasn’t heard one in a while. I’ll circle back to this and underline it again later.

From that point forward I huddled with the goth crowd. They took me in and people mostly stopped fucking with me. 

One of the times I was heckled one of the goth boys grabbed me and made out with me. 

We hated the army recruiters. I'd walk up holding hands with one of the goth boys and we would flip through their brochures feigning STRONG interest in enlisting. It was hilarious.

We didn't really have the internet just yet — BBS and dialup shell accounts, sure — but I was born a troll. One of the goths figured out that the admin password for the LanTastic software was "Football" and I started going into home directories and downloading test answers. 

I deleted the principal's resume and I kept her dot matrix printer busy from time to time printing out Marilyn Manson lyrics. I preferred to do it when she had left for the day and I could waste all of her paper.

The one asshole who used to physically assault me and shove me into lockers and shit (no one would do anything about it) used to drive by and scream "Hey freak are you going to church?" at me when I walked to work or school.

He crashed into a tree drunk and died at 21. 

Today I listened to an old favorite album and gave my first thought in decades to those long, hot, and sleepy afternoons sitting in the Tobacco City Museum listening to Melissa Etheridge and k.d. lang, waiting for the occasional visitor who I'd be forced to say something nice about Edgerton to.
If I could go back and give some advice to 15-year-old me, it would have been to throw away the tour guide script and make up my own until someone fired me:

"Welcome! So, they used to grow tobacco here but that was a hundred years ago. Now there's just a Piggly Wiggly store and a bunch a racist shitheads. My favorite part of Edgerton is Highway 59 leading right the fuck out of it, you can see it out of this window on your left. Do you want me to show you some rusty old shit that people have found in barns and farm houses in the local area and donated to us? Some of it's kind of neat. I guess."

Melissa and k.d. were my main points of reference for being gay at the time, which everyone but me knew that I was by then. I would look at the cover of Melissa's self-titled album and I knew right then and there that I wanted to dress just like a lesbian.

Our ignorant ass principal would look at my leather bracelets and my turquoise bandanna with a rainbow on the front of it and she'd say I couldn't wear it because it was "gang related."

The goths discouraged my desire to dress like a lesbian and steered me towards such edgy and original apparel as black mascara and dog collars and Nine Inch Nails T-shirts. I sighed at everyone saying "this is the real me, expressing who I am," honestly I only dressed like that because I enjoyed that "dead inside" look in the principals eyes that told me how badly she was wishing that I would go home and put my old clothes back on.

I had a girlfriend who shared my love of Melissa and k.d. and she turned out to be a big ole lez too. She ended up turning into kind of a bitch so I just stopped calling her one day and that's okay because the only other thing we had in common besides our love of Melissa was our mutual relief that neither of us ever wanted to have sex with the other.

The last time we ever spoke on social media I casually asked her what it's like being a single mom and I haven't heard from her since.

Posted at at May 17, 2018 on by |   | Filed under:

A Dream Within a Dream

I was sound asleep and cuddling with someone in my bed when the phone rang in the middle of the night.

I heard a woman on the answering machine sobbing and saying she needed to talk to me. Who in the world-? 

He said "I think it's your mother."

It was very familiar and casual like we were together or something.

I jumped out of bed and I tried to dial my mother’s number. It was some sort of complicated PBX extension mounted on the wall. 

My companion hit the "outside line" button for me.

My sister answered the phone.

I asked what was wrong and if mom was okay.

She started unloading about how bad things had gotten.

I told her look, it's your decision. This is what happens when you put a bag of dope in your arm, and if you like what you're getting out of it then keep doing it. 

I said I don't even want to talk to you. 

“You lie. And you lie. And you lie, and you lie.”

I slammed the phone down onto the receiver.

He was not even slightly fazed by this interaction.

We went back to sleep. I had a dream within my dream.

My companion was at my side and he felt like he belonged there. 

When I woke up he was there.

We were out walking around somewhere together.

It was early. There was a little mist on everything.

The sky was grey and the grass was soaked. 

Perfect hoodie weather.

The grass and the trees made me think we were somewhere in the Midwest or the Northeast.

We crossed a street. 

I told him about the dream I had.

He said he felt the same way.

My heart soared.

I kissed him.

Then I woke up alone in some Holiday Inn in fucking Texas.

I mumbled "Fuck,” instantly remembering who and where I was.

Posted at at May 15, 2018 on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 by |   | Filed under:

Kids

My mechanic is cool. Since I've been gone he's converted part of his house into a church. I can read just enough Spanish to decipher the signage.

I asked him if he was a Minister Mechanic now. He laughed and said no. He is a beautiful man with clear and kind eyes. Good man and a good father.

People ask me why I take my cars to a dude who takes months to fix my shit. I don’t know. I like this family. It’s always an experience instead of a shop transaction.

They’re always like are you in Los Angeles? Are you in Chicago? Where are you going from here?

And I say that I don’t even know anymore.

A banner on the wall said "Jesus Cristo es el Rey."

He invites me inside.

His two boys have grown up fast, they really liked me. They were happy, well socialized, totally unreserved. They climbed all over me, curled up with me, and begged me to play catch.

Their English is good but they were really young and I couldn't entirely understand them.

I got the whole "I want to play ball" part though.

I wasn't really in the mood. I was tired and had been out in the sun all day. But I didn't really get to do things like play catch, my dad wasn't that kind of person.

This is fun.

I'm not really around kids a lot. Little kids usually like me though. Maybe it's because I kind of am one and I will never get tired of their curiosity. I love telling them how things work. I love all the "why's?"

I am a terrible grownup: I shouldn't have giggled a little when I came back in and saw that one of them had locked the other one inside of a filing cabinet. But it was funny.

I miss when my niece was like that but for now she's doing the whole sullen blue haired degenerate teenager thing.

Fuck, what have I been missing my whole life.

Posted at at May 15, 2018 on by |   | Filed under:

Oh, “her.”

I blew the motor on my truck the day before my mechanic called me to say my car was ready.

I traveled to Austin to get it.

I was on the fence about going back to AA.

I decided that sitting alone in my hotel room nursing an 8 year old grudge sounded like an addict thing to do. 

How bad could it be?

Posted at at May 14, 2018 on Monday, May 14, 2018 by |   | Filed under:

Well, hell!

I do kind of like being close to my family. Mom, my aunt, and my cousins show up randomly and that's about all I get for company.

There’s no real reason I can’t visit my father other than it always seems to be 2:00 in the morning when I’m passing through that part of the state. I do feel like I need to go see him before one or both of us kicks the bucket though. It’s been a few years.

My sister’s not too far away but she’s completely strung out and in and out of jail. She overdosed on the phone with me one of the last times we spoke. She was shooting up heroin and coke while she was gushing about how she was clean and how wonderful she was doing. Literally with a needle in her arm.

I was trying to piece together the other lies she was telling me about how her day had gone so far and I was sitting there thinking her story didn’t really add up when I heard a loud thunk and my niece and her ex husband yelling. 

The time before that, I was on the porch with her two kids and some of their friends from high school. She tried to say something relateable and what she blurted out instead was “I love crack!”

I was very embarrassed for all of them as I retreated.

When I think about calling or visiting now, I just freeze up and I think ... mmm, better not.

My brother’s 25 and he’s permanently stuck on happy. 

He shows me his legos and his stuffed dinosaurs. He has a plastic doll of some sort who drives a toy tank. 

Her name is Barbie. 

He reminds me that we have to go to Festival to get chocolate milk, bread, and Dr. Pepper. He probably has all of these things, it’s just one of the things that he knows how to say to me.

I say “We’ll go tomorrow.”

He nods and he agrees.

We always go to Festival for chocolate milk, bread, and Dr. Pepper tomorrow.

He sits there rewinding and replaying the same five seconds of Apocalypse Now over and over and over again for hours and hours on end with his headphones on. 

He giggles and presses rewind for the five hundredth time.

This right here is some good wholesome fun, the kid doesn’t even need heroin to amuse himself!

My mom and aunt checked on me on Sunday.

"What's he doing with his brakes?"

"Swearing at them, it looks like!"

Mom tagged along with me to a medical appointment in Rochester today. They're re-upping my disability for another six months and I've been told do not, do not, go back to work yet.

We don’t necessarily talk or hang out often but I do like the two and a half hour round trip in the car when she tags along and it’s just us talking. My brother’s at his program and we both get to get out of the house.

I have four more appointments to go.

And then...

I told my mom I've got the inner restlessness again. 

This idea where I go into a group home or sober living for 2-4 months here and there is kind of working out for me. Except for that whole thing with Dustin peeking out the blinds and waving his dick around and that chick who broke all the furniture and shat all over the place, but look, it makes for some unforgettable experiences for $450 a month. I can only take that bullshit for about 2-4 months at a time and then I guess I can come back home and be bored some more.

She goes "Well hell! I want to go do all of that, too!"

I grinned and high fived her.

Posted at at May 08, 2018 on Tuesday, May 8, 2018 by |   | Filed under: