Weekly Pig-Trough

I went on vacation, mental GreyHound to the inward Death Valley. I hadn’t intended on it, I have never intended on it, but all intentions piled and it keeps happening – peaks and troughs, strikes and gutters, ups and downs.

I spent the week feverish, sleepless, constant state of Go!

And by Thursday I couldn’t write: typed a couple of pages at night, then went idle-minded. So I drank wine and read a book. And then I had trouble writing on Friday night, so I finished the wine, waited for my wife to come home (after midnight) from work with a six-pack, stayed up to drink with wife. Hung-over on Saturday: lump of shit. Drank another wine bottle Saturday evening. Hung-over on Sunday: lump of shit.

I’ll concede I still got some work done this weekend.

I haven’t been depressed, I simply hit a wall. I spent all week working all day, home to toddler, get toddler in bed, write 2 hours, read, sleep. If wife’s not working that day, I come home from a 10 hour shift, write write write, shower, eat, say hello to wife, and if things are right the Hello goes on a few hours, and then it’s midnight and I have to be up at four.

Go go go, put everything out, and by the weekend there’s nothing left in me. So, what do I do? I consume, consume, consume, and don’t move a god damn muscle.

Will-power is a battery – if you’re going to exert it, you’re going to recharge it.

But I can’t keep doing this, and it’s been going on for a while now. I’m 27; I have a wife and a toddler: I can’t keep doing this shit.

I can’t hit the wall and turn to drunk indolence and junk food and TV. I don’t have the time, I don’t want that behavior to be a part of my life because it disgusts me, and is wildly hypocritical, and not the behavior I want my kid to grow around.

I’m going to fix this. I can change the pattern, damn all for if it’s been undulating for years, I’m going to go up, and not come down. The battery will recharge some way other.

All I need to do is to Push Through. I’m going to get to the rough edge towards the end of next week, but I’m going to Push Through. If I’m tired, I’ll sleep. Then I’ll write, and if writing isn’t going well take a god damn walk and leave the booze to be.

I’m going to want to crash, and crawl on the couch, or back in bed, but I’m going to Push Through.

It needs to happen.

Fuck relaxing.

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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

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.

Honest New Year Resolutions

I hereby resolve, in the year of 2016, to get a grip and to:

  1. Break fewer household items
  2. Drink less
  3. Spend less time trying to get laid (Yes, this continues into the married life)
  4. Nap less
  5. Go to bed when I’m tired
  6. Watch less TV
  7. Debate less on the internet

The goal is to control what’s inside of me and to focus myself. I already don’t watch much TV and it’s not difficult to avoid the news sites where I like to argue with strangers. What’s going to be difficult is tapering the drink and the intercourse-cravings, and keeping myself from breaking appliances when I’m angry.

Several probably-simple measures to keep myself focused on writing.

A Christmas Will-Transfer

I dread Christmas. I try to get as much writing done as I can in the weeks following Thanksgiving, but I never get more done than I usually do and then I get sick because Christmas means I Don’t Get To Write.

My wife and I grew up in the same area 500 miles away, where both of our families and friends still live. We visit home over Christmas each year. I’ve protested these trips in the past but it’s always been worthless and now I only have flaccid complaints: my wife has her initials stamped on my testicles (this is often a stipulation of marriage and child-rearing, and less painful than imagined (if you’re lucky)). The drive takes a whole day, and the week of Christmas is spent packing diaper bags and dashing between relatives’ houses.

In the past I’ve tried to keep up writing over Christmas but it never works – for me, excusing myself to someone else’s office or spare bedroom to write is the same as asking for a stack of Hustlers and announcing that I’ll be locking myself in the bedroom for two hours – writing is a Very Personal ejaculation of something deep inside… So, it takes 20 minutes to get to the library and find a secluded table, then more time suppressing indignation towards any person who sits down near me, or walks by, or speaks within my ear-shot. And I don’t have my typewriter. And I can’t focus, because the only way I focus is by writing every day and by spending the intervening hours in aloof contemplation of whatever it is I’m writing. When I’m dashing between families I haven’t seen in a year, there isn’t time to think, no time to get my head into Writing Space.

I’ve never been able to write at my parents’ house, either. I tried once, struggled to write in the house I grew up in, but between the noises and the swampy vapors of childhood I couldn’t get anything decent down, then I hit a wall, and spent the next 3 months drunk on a couch.

When I’m not writing well I get moody and I hate humanity and I can’t stand doing anything that doesn’t include writing something decent.

(That ejaculation of something deep inside, it’s my heart, the thoughts and emotions somewhere deep in my mind’s basement that I cannot otherwise access: the self that I did not create; writing is how I dredge and build piles, how I exert and exert control over my determined self: writing is my ego. When you’re a child you are at the will of your parents; I cannot pull myself out of myself in the place I grew up.)

The first house we stayed at this Christmas was my wife’s grandparents’. The baby slept in the office, my wife and I slept in the spare bedroom. I woke up early the first morning, desirous and excited to write. But grandma’s a pre-dawn riser with a compulsion to divulge, so the entire house, which wasn’t big, wasn’t worth trying to write in except for the office, where the baby was.

My wife was pissed at me for waking her up. I was stressing out and getting pissed because I needed to write and had no where to write (no library near grandparents). Grandma came in asking if we were okay. Then I was boiling and trying to keep the lid on, and wife’s furious at me for waking her up to drag a crib with a screaming baby into the spare bedroom, followed by grandma insisting I should write in the living room.

I didn’t get anything down that morning, or for the rest of the Christmas week. I did things differently this year. I decided to turn my head off. I excised my need to write and I decided to be good, personable company. I forgot about myself and didn’t have a moment all week when I wasn’t talking with someone I haven’t seen all year, catching up, chasing Baby around; visiting dozens of relatives, friends; family parties, board games, out to the local bar, diners.

The week was relentlessly hectic and I didn’t think about my desire to write. If I had, the week would’ve been much slower, no different from past Christmas trips.

This was the best Christmas I’ve had. I didn’t receive many presents (baby sure did), but I forgot about my own dreams and desires and I ran myself ragged spending relentless hours with everyone who wanted to see me, my wife, and our baby. Instead of using my ego to further my own ends, I used it to please a whole lot of others. And it turned out to be a wonderful holiday.

Can’t Find A Coffee Shop

Usually I write at home. Work all day, come home, wife leaves for work, I feed the baby and self, and get baby to bed. I have a couple hours each night to write. Weekends I need to go somewhere. I hate sitting inside all day (I work outdoors) and unless I go out, get fresh air, move, I never feel really awake. Staying inside all day to write doesn’t happen – my eyes are heavy, my head a just-woken-up fog, All Day, even with half a gallon of coffee. I watch TV and nap instead of writing and then wife leaves for work in the afternoon and I’m on Baby Duty.

I need somewhere to go on the weekends.

I walked to the library on Saturday. Library doesn’t open till noon on the weekends. Walked 20 minutes back the other way. It’s 8:05 and Starbucks just opened and there isn’t a table to sit at. I’m standing in the front door and people in line turn to look at me, and I recede back out the door. There’s a super-market around the corner with a coffee shop; I’d hate myself sitting there.

Walk back home, get the car. 10 minutes away is a non-chain coffee shop I’ve never been to. Park the car, walk inside. I’m standing in the front door: cheap yellow-wood chairs, small tables, a handful of people in a group I’m judging pretty hard,  golf shirts with business-professional judging-me faces. I recede back out the door.

There’s a Starbucks. There’s a Crimson Cup coffee-chain modeled after Ohio State Football fanfare. A Chocolate Cafe that’s always full of suburban-fancy women gossiping chocolate lattes and/or chocolate martinis. Kafe Kerouac doesn’t open till noon; not enough time before I go Baby Duty.

I miss my old coffee house, The Short North Cafe (Columbus, Ohio), when we lived downtown. It was center-focal of the arts district, the university district, and Rut-Ville (crime-city). It was open 24 hours. I’d go at three in the morning, or at noon, or whenever because it was Always Open. Students studying, poetry slams, local art on the walls, they’d put Pink Floyd on the speakers, always people smoking outside, homeless folks, vagabonds, drunks, kids playing WOW, folks scribbling secretively. The shop was one big room with a high bare-pipe ceiling and lots of giant tables. I don’t remember the coffee. But the tables! I’d have room for four all to myself, big table towards the back and cold open spacious air for thoughts to swell and come down to the page and everyone else busy working or talking, self-conscious because they were on drugs last night or just fundamentally non-judgemental because they too were odd or beautiful in that sort of way. And then, go out for a smoke and hear someone argue Civil Rights wouldn’t have happened without Camus…

But, I’m confined to my bedroom (office-ish, with a desk). It’s 30 degrees out so I opened all the windows and drank a 24oz RedBull.

Lazy Day

After a week of work, forty-plus hours caring for lawns plus the additional hours typing at night, the general lack of sleep and physical and mental deep-fatigue, when Saturday comes around I never wake up. I’ll get out of bed, but then after eating breakfast it’s another nap. I’ll drag myself to my typewriter, maybe ‘work’ for a half-hour, but then my head is again sleep-fogged. So I’ll read a few pages, and fall back asleep. I’ll spend time with wife and child, then wife’s off to work, and any time to type becomes secondary to the care of child. Lazy, without a drive to write, I’m prone to long hours on news-site comment boards, to watch TV, to remain on the couch, and when the baby’s in bed and I’m thoroughly disgusted at having spent the entire day not typing, I’ll masturbate and then see what alcohol’s in the house. I’ll watch more TV, debate more online, feel tired the entire time, and go to bed feeling disgusted with my squandered life.

I hate my lazy days because I take full got-damned advantage of them even though I have so much I want to be doing.