Soul Sludge And Disgust For Comfort

I don’t get Writer’s Block, I get soul-sludge. I’ve written best during the week after getting home from work, getting The Baby fed and to bed – run around the whole day, and get two hours in at night.

Why? Because I that’s when I feel alive, when I don’t have a moment to think, the whole day a blur of Getting Things Done. I don’t want my life to be comfortable, ever. It used to be, in high school and in college, and I resented it. I dropped out of college because I had Soul Sludge. And the next few months were a rapid blur of drug-use and frantic writing.

Except then I had nothing to do. I wrote, I worked part-time, I imbibed intoxicants. Writing was half-decent, but I was feeling stagnant, and it was eating at me. So I went hitchhiking, back and forth across the country.

Hitchhiking was amazing. Every day a new town, new state, new city, new people, new experiences I’d never thought I’d experience. I’d never felt so full of motion, so god damn full of life.

I have a wife and a child now, a full-time job. During the week I don’t stop moving, frenetic and dashing from work to baby to writing and then finally crashing into bed. In school I could never fall asleep – heart gnawing unfulfilled days.

But on the weekends I hardly leave the house – I’m on baby duty. And while the kid gives me plenty to do, once the baby’s in bed it’s just me, and an empty, silent townhouse. There isn’t a gnawing, but my head stays fogged, as though I’ve been staring at the TV for 72 hours. Spending hours outside helps, sort of.

And once I finally get to the typewriter, Saturday and Sunday nights… but my head’s stagnant, and I can’t get the neurons out of the fog of inactivity. I feel dead: stare at blank paper, crumble shitty sentences into the waste-basket, check the blog, masturbate, there’s no beer and I’m upset about this, I hate TV, I’ll eat pancakes out of Syrup Lake, hating myself, Soul-Sludge, can’t sleep because I’m not tired, the wall hurts my forehead, I can’t focus, focus, focus, it’s not happening, god damnit, I wish I could just sleep. And there’s no beer.

Christmas Week was a blast. We visited family in NJ (All of our family is in NJ, 500 miles away). We didn’t stop moving, dashing to see people, running around buying shit for people we know little about. The entire week was a blur of activity. I didn’t get to sleep – I crashed when I could. The entire week talking, talking, talking to everyone I love and haven’t seen all year. I didn’t write the entire week because there was Absolutely No Time. And it was the best week I’ve had in months, and the whole week was in Family Gear. And drinking with Great Friends.

This is what I want out of life, not material gain and success and happiness, but just fulfillment, days of constant motion, weeks passing in cartoon speed-blurs. It’s the only way I feel alive. I need something to keep me moving, and after watching Child all day, the distant dream of writing for a living is too intangible to excite my blood.

I want Neal Cassady energy. I have it, I can tap it, I can focus it into work, work, work – but I need to be moving. Move all day, sit and write for five hours and crash. I’ll love it, when I get it. Till then, digging out of the Soul Sludge.

 

This is labeled My Most Poorly Written Blog Post, because, Soul Sludge.

 

But to continue the Mind Spool, maybe there’s a novel out of this. I’m desperate to write a novel. I’m putting a self-published series of short stories in a few months – 5 Stories for $5. You’ll buy it, thanks in advance. I have a hitchhiking novella I’m desperate to write, a true story, and then I Need To Write A Novel. And I’ve been wracking to get the theme before I can find a plot.

Theme: Soul Sludge. It’s generational, a Decadent Ailment of the times. A catharsis of youthfulness repressed by college and consumerism, loans and useless expenditures and the full-time jobs we drain our vitality into just to pay for it all.

There was the Lost Generation, the Beats, Hippies, Punks. And now, nothing. Oh, sorry, are you “Alternative”? How’s your 9-5? Is your health insurance paid up? Of course it is. Because there isn’t anything but college debt and health insurance and smartphones, no matter how many tattoos you have, or what Indie concerts you attend. You went to Bonaroo? But then back to the office. Because for one week out of the year you pulled your feet from the Soul Sludge.

Soul Sludge – it’s ruined America’s youth.

It’s What Your Soul Feels Like

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How Writing Became My Ego

A few years ago I hitchhiked from North Carolina to Los Angeles. I didn’t have much money or much of anything else, but I did wrap my little Acer laptop in bubble-wrap and brought it with me. There was a girl I knew from high school who was living in Venice Beach and whom offered me her couch. She didn’t let me live in her living room for very long.

And the LA coast was fantastic – hours trolling Electric Boulevard and the Venice boardwalk, getting lost in alleys and in conversations with vagabonds and old hippies and the beautifully destitute who can See Through People; prostitutes, beaten boxers, a man desirous to Destroy Everything In The Void. I didn’t know anyone in Los Angeles and had nowhere to go and I wasn’t about to turn around and hitchhike back East. Besides, it was November.

So I went Urban Camping, and I kept my blog going: where to pitch your tarp, how to graft food from tables before the bus-boys clean them, where to find showers. I was having a blast.

Along the Venice boardwalk are a handful of stores with doctors who prescribe pot – it’s LA, the Pot Docs are everywhere. I’d gotten my hopes up of finding pot on the sidewalk, and had taken the habit of watching the gutters, and I found half a joint.

I was sleeping behind bushes in Marina Del Rey, right on the marina. I was warned by several other Urban Campers not to camp in the marina because security was very strict, and I took this to mean there wouldn’t be drug-addled manic-depressives to contend with for a camp site.

On the marina is a massive, ritzy apartment building, a dozen stories tall and a hundred yards long. Lining the front is an impenetrable hedgerow, ten feet tall. I found a hole through the hedgerow and on the other side was four feet of soft dirt and then a concrete wall. This was where I camped. On the other side of the hedges was a brick-paved promenade right on the marina, where spandex men would jog in the  mornings and women would walk their manicured terriers.

I waited till it was after midnight before going back to my campsite. I had the half-joint and my Moleskine and a copy of the Beatnik Reader and I found a bench looking out on the marina. And then I got stoned.

Good drugs erase your sense of self. It’s the omniscient, tangible love of LSD; MDMA blowing you full into the Endless Moment; DMT replacing your consciousness with swirling crystal space-time; the paranoia of pot that takes out your sternum and exposes your soul to the inspections of others.

The docks on the marina had inset lights, sensuous glow-orbs on the hulls of clean yachts and sports boats; shimmering ritz of hotels and condos across the water; the promenade with antique lampposts disappearing into focal points on either side; the underwater echos of porpoises.

And I was alone. I didn’t know anybody in LA: the only person I knew in California had come to resent me. I owned nothing, had no food or money and was eating out of trash bins, sleeping in bushes. I had been doing well in school, I was going to have a good career as a journalist and I dropped out because I was impulsive and myopic and stupid. (I am an idiot and I have ruined my life.) And there was nothing but mercury in my stomach. The atmosphere thickened and the air was black, it was death, humid and thick and my skin was porous. I was sweating. My head was nauseated. I wanted to run into my mother’s arms. I’d abandoned everyone. I’d squandered the opportunities I’d been given and I’d never get out.

I took out my notebook and I began to describe the marina, the boats, the lights, the water. It wasn’t anything good or memorable, but it settled me, and I began to feel whole again. The pores in my skin closed and my heart focused on itself and I found control. The edges of the Void dissipated and I was here, alive and working, and in control.