Jim Trainer

Archive for December, 2016|Monthly archive page

Tonight The Monkey Dies

In anxiety, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, day job, depression, getting old, mental health, mid life, poem, Poetry, politics, punk rock, self-help, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on December 29, 2016 at 7:42 pm
Yesterday I got a call from the outside world
but I said no in thunder.
-Jim Harrison

The problem with storytelling is you need an ending.  Closure.  For the audience.  But life is messy.  Some (me) might even say chaotic.  Beneficent, malevolent or indifferent (me again).  I like to consider myself an optimistic nihilist.  Like Maureen Ferguson, I believe in everything and nothing.  It’s because I like to keep the slate clean, and I should hope that if there is a God he exists somewhere outside our grasp, certainly not the God here, in these mortals’ minds, telling you what to do and killing each other just to live.  No.  Not a fan of the plebeian mind.  Simple truths are the best kind but the story doesn’t end until the teller takes his last breath.

I’ve had the title in my draft box for a long time.  I don’t know if this post will do the idea justice, but, fuck it-I’ll have a go anyway, sitting here drinking tea in a dead Confederate’s palace in the Pearl of the South.  Other titles in my draft box are Inner Critic, War and Radio Days.  We both know I confront myself on this platform, because I’m a transmission junkie with an accountability problem.  I’ve melded a need for self realization with the desire to perform.  When I tore the fourth wall down and invited you in, I was able to write about wanting to be a writer-which is the biggest boon and most beneficial thing to ever happen to me.  It’s unfortunate that the subject will always be me, but you see yourself in the work and I’ve built a robust readership for the blog writing about what I know.  Maybe D.C. is right that”blogs are passe”-but the only problem I have with it is coming up with an ending.

Another week has blown by.  The sands of time are wearing away the bulwark of me.  I’m steadied in the storm of it but I’m worn away and getting closer to diminishing returns…All we are is dust in the wind and there’s something extremely important about that-there is no other time to come together and do work.  This is it.  We won’t know what it all meant until it’s over and even then we can spin it in any way that helps us go down to rest, gone forever but here to stay.  What the fuck has just happened here?  I’m scared to die but worse-scared I will have never lived.  It’s our work that will save us.  Every time.  Our work that will connect us, free us, build us up and knock us down (ye tyrants take heed).  I feel a grave need to get on top of these years, get my kicks in and make my mark.  I want to be of service.

Ever since November 8 you’ve heard me say I want to be political.  But I can’t even do my taxes without my eyes rolling back in my head.  There isn’t a positive spin to the calamitous and grasping mind.  Ain’t any closure here, really.  Just some signpost between rage and sloth, a plumb line for us to gauge how far we’ve come, and how much monumentally more we must do.  A slick 600 words like this keeps me from bloodying myself on the bars, helps me paint with all the beautiful colors of pain. It ain’t the end and it’s never over until it is.  But see, if we do our work and put everything into it but the blood on the boards, then we’ll march on.  From the blackest night we’ll yell down through the centuries.  Love is stronger than death.  

See you next year motherfucker.

 

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…a question of Fuel…

In anxiety, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, Charles Bukowski, depression, employment, getting old, getting sober, hometown, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, music performance, new journalism, new orleans, observation, on tour, PDX, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, poetry reading, Portland, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, TOUR, truth, Uncategorized, Writing, writing about writing, yoga on December 22, 2016 at 10:10 pm

Introjective depression – the autonomous kind, on the other hand, is characterized by intense self-criticism and there is frequently, then, an intense drive for achievement to offset the internalized sense of inferiority and self-scrutiny.  These individuals can be extremely critical of others as well as themselves and can be intensely competitive, often achieving a great deal, but with little sense of satisfaction – no amount of external validation seems to satisfy the harsh and demanding person that they can be in relationship to themselves.
-Karl Stukenberg on Sydney Blatt’s Developmental Theory of Depression

it seems we lose the game,
before we even start to play
Everything Is Everything

Got my walking papers.  Guess this means the gloves are off.  5 years can feel like a lifetime or it can go by way too fast on shift, on the clock and working for the man.  If it sounds like I’m complaining it’s because that’s my voice, I’m charged with it-fiery and riled and launching these missives through the barrel of a gun.  It’s because the last thing I want to do is tell you a lie or waste your time.  It’s this voice I honed and came to grips with, working for Mr. Fox.  The job gave me a bedtime, gave me the morning, still hated but doable, forced me to eat meals and sleep and watch movies and be lazy.  Above all it taught me what I need to be high functioning, and it’s hardly what I thought it would be.

I’ve published 3 books in the last 5 years, written hundreds of blogs and letters, and played more than 120 gigs, not counting spoken word and storytelling gigs, since I was hired on.  I’m glad to put it this way, and catch a rare reprieve from the inner critic.  The first sentence of this paragraph riddles the inner critic with buckshot, stuffs its mouth with gauze and sends it 6 feet closer to Heaven.  I might not be Henry Rollins but I’m gaining on him.  The pace is fucked.  I’ll never be happy with how long these things take and that’s probably because I’ll never be happy with myself.  I feel like I’m behind before I even wake up in the morning and wonder of the wisdom, sung by Lauryn Hill, in that song from days past.  But there’s so much more to it than that.

Up against it as we are, fucked and doomed to play their game should be enough to motivate, and it does.  The specter of death, terribly advancing on us from the day we’re born should be enough, and it is.  Never being Henry Rollins, never being good enough, has been fine motivation these slipshod and lean years-I know where it’s gotten me but I draw a blank when I think about what’s next.  It’s because you can’t build on a negative.  Anybody who’s ever quit anything knows that not doing it is only the beginning.  You must substitute it with something you are doing.  Quitting smoking, for example.  Of course, I had to first stop doing it.  Once I did the space opened up for something else.  Saying FUCK FUCK FUCK in my head seems to work, until I rupture a blood vessel, but certainly got me through terrible and troubling hours at the IPRC a few weeks ago.  At every step of All in the wind‘s production I was struck with the anxiety of never living my dreams-a great dread that neatly incorporates my fear of death and incredible lack of self esteem into a thorny and torrid cocktail called WHY I WORK ALONE.

Fear of dying will get you out of bed in the morning.  You bet.  A voice in your head telling you you’ll never be anything, never were anything, your parents were right and just because you left your hometown doesn’t mean you got away can also be great motivation, but not in the long run.  I’m 41 and I feel like I am just getting started.  Yogic wisdom tells me that all we are ever doing is getting started, and completing tasks with the quickness of Shiva’s wheeling hands.  The twisted cocktail of death and low self esteem, and the example of great men like meteors burning across the small town sky of my psyche can be potent, virile and all the ingredients needed for a bomb-but I feel like I’m gonna need a fire and for a fire you need fuel.

Work in media suits me.  It’s probably the only kind of work besides performing in which I feel like I am making a change.  I’m struck, sitting here, that it was just over 5 years ago when I decided to do something meaningful with my life and said goodbye to the bars with a few answered ads for Caregivers on craigslist.  In the last 5 years I was able to produce consistently as an artist by going to sleep at a certain time every night, and getting up at the same time every morning.  I had to make enough money to fund the first pressings of All in the wind and September , and have enough spare cash to fly out to the many unpaid (if not thankless) gigs in Philly and Louisiana.  HAAM paid my healthcare premiums but I was only able to get behind the trouble in my mouth with a begrudging loan against an inheritance from my mother, who sent me a check made out to the dentist.   Which is nothing I want to get into now.  It should be noted that I’m sitting on a lengthy backlog of posts, inspired by the prospect of being on RawPaw’s payroll in the Fall of ’14 and a request from Bean Maguire to recount my savage road to sobriety.  The point, now mangled and drug down this winding graph, is I only did it with a whole lot of gumption, even more bitterness and a little bit of luck.

I discovered what I need these last 5 years.  What I want has never been in question, but the crossroads of dread and inspiration at the hated age of 41 has me asking other questions.  Like, how will I hit 20 major cities a year and maintain my bedtime?  How can I possibly create without seeming to be in control of what happens within my own 4 walls?  Simply, maybe I’m not Rollins.  It’s not exactly in the cards to be on the road for over 200 days a year.  Knowing what I need is a start, knowing that it’s fuel is even better, and how I can be at my strongest and even ease the grip of this dream, live a little and breathe is healthy, and necessary.  the area of pause, as Papa put it.

Bukowski, as close to an example and road as I have, lived most of his life at War, but the man knew how to rest, too, and the author’s photos on his later works showcase the hard earned, worn and warm smile of Hank-a man aware of his limitations and therefore resting fully in his own power, if not in love then at peace.

…outside is America…

In austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, christianity, day job, journalism, new journalism, news media, PDX, Poetry, politics, Portland, PROTEST, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, War, working class, Writing, writing about writing on December 15, 2016 at 5:49 pm

Hello darkness my old friend.  I’ve got a kink in my neck.  It’s a few twists away from being a real fucking problem.  There’s a leak coming from my kitchen ceiling.  I went up and talked to the Kid, but we couldn’t figure out where it was coming from.  I came home from Portland on Sunday, after being snowed in for 2 days, with three-hundred Letterpressed covers for All in the wind, but no books.  I’m scheduled for a binding session at Minuteman Press on Monday.  We hope to have 150 copies done by end of day Tuesday.  I’m playing House Wine tonight, beneath the palms for 3 hours in 50 degree weather . There are far worse ways to make a dollar.  I oughta know.  I missed deadline filing my income tax for 2015 so there’ll be a gap in my healthcare coverage.  The Boss tells me the plumber will be by at 9:30 tomorrow morning, and I go back on shift at 5.  I’ve been fighting with one of my homies, and it all seems stupid and trite, and that’s because it always is.

These are my problems on a warm winter afternoon in Hippie Town.  Everything happens at once or nothing happens at all.  That’s this life I’ve bought into.  These years I’ve traveled down, trying to be anything other than a company man, a factory man.  Never wanting to be anything like my old Man.  The years slide past, nice and sleazy, while I crank out poetry on the dayshift, and play rock and roll music in wine bars, to women and friends and have an unbelievably sober and fine time.

Things are different in the other hemisphere.  Folks are dealing with a whole other hierarchy of problems-shit that could relegate 90% of what’s wrong in America to an entitled and candy ass complaint.  Which isn’t to say there aren’t dark corners right here at home.  Somewhere someone is paying and you always do-unless you’ve got healthcare and your country isn’t being bombed and you’re white, and you can afford security to stand down the high walls of your gated community.  To watch Vice’s A House Divided is to be lividly reminded that what split this country between hateful racist yahoos and the rest of us was Universal Healthcare.  Which is what we deal with over here-each other and pitted so by an oligarchy with a Christian hardon.  As hard as it is and as undignified is the slough we feed from in the end days of Empire–it’s probably better than anywhere else in the world.  Except maybe the Netherlands.

See you in Amsterdam motherfucker.

Emerald City Blues

In Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, getting old, getting sober, mid life, middle age, PDX, poem, Poetry, Portland, publishing, publishing poetry, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, sober, sobriety, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on December 8, 2016 at 11:03 pm

What a week.  Feels like I lifetime since I last sat down with you at Ford Food+Drink, to wax on the political nature of everything.  I’ve spent days and days at the Independent Publishing Resource Center, a cold building just west of the Willamette River in Portland.  Saturday I took a 6-hour Letterpress workshop with IPRC Studio Manager&Letterpress Artist Caitlin Harris, and came away with some smart looking cards with a line from a poem on them.  Sunday, Caitlin and I got cracking on my cover.  Pre-production took about 3 hours, so, when I was inked and ready to go, I kept going until I had 300 covers and the center closed.

The book blocks I had travelled with, all the way from Austin, were useless and I really wish I’d been assured of the correct dimensions for the design because, other than the $679 I won’t get back, I spent the rest of my time in Portland designing file after file of the book in InDesign.  I was dispirited and out money, so I designed the book again, from scratch.  Once done, I was told the dimensions were off, the final paper size way too large for a 5×7 book.  I designed the book yet again, but was unable to open the file when it came time to print a mockup.  The final design was done last night.  I came back to Butch’s and was up at 8 this morning looking the copy over.

I got into the center today right before snow started falling, tweaked the file and printed my mockup.  Someone from the center would have to help me bind it.  If it looked good, I’d have to find a printer who could turnaround 150 book blocks by end of day, so I could bind them with Binding Steward Derrick, but have to fly back to Austin with the books uncut to size.  The IPRC shut down though, due to weather.  So, with the snow falling I loaded up my Uber with the covers, a ream of Eclipse Black paper and the polymer plate from September‘s pressing.  We stopped at New Seasons’ grocery and I got back to Butch’s, ate a frozen pizza and fell out in front of the vent on the third floor.

Sometimes I’m able to make sense of the torturous minutiae of everyday life. Sometimes I’ll take us fancifully away, to a place far from Heaven, and more honest.  I won’t lie, blogs where I can get some vengeance, go for the throat and bring down the beast satisfy me greatly.  The robust readership of this blog has silenced that impulse some, but I’ll never explain those kinds of blogs to anyone.  I like those kinds of blogs.  You do too, I gather-they weild us a little power and connect us, and cockroaches hate the light.

This post is the other kind-a factual reporting back, a checklist, a recounting of disappointing news.  I’m disappointed and I’m sorry.  But I laughed allot with Butch this week, and I was touched by a poem and a letter that came to me all the way from across the continent.  True friends only confirm the horror of having a heart in a heartless world, and laugh at it with you.  We should die laughing.  As far as vengeance is concerened, there is no more total revenge than laughter.  The fact that 2 former street fighting men can stand in a kitchen in pajamas on a cold night in the suburbs of Portland and laugh is uncanny-just twisted enough to be real, wracked and bent and salty with outrage as we are.

One of the best gifts of sobriety is vision.  Seeing clearly without delusion.  My eyes keep getting opened.  I don’t like what I see, but it’s better than being blind.  This is just a setback, a reouting.  Some of you are keeping me alive.  I hope to have copies of All in the wind available for you before Christmas, so we can celebrate that way, with each other and reveling in the heart’s work.

See you in Hippie Town motherfucker.

Apolitical Blues

In Activism, anxiety, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, depression, getting old, journalism, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, new journalism, news media, observation, PDX, Performance, politics, Portland, PROTEST, publishing, publishing poetry, recovery, self-publishing, sober, sobriety, WRITER'S BLOCK, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on December 1, 2016 at 6:24 pm

Everything is political.
Ian MacKaye

I’m glad that quote reached me from the mouth of one of the greatest intelligences of our time.  I’m sure Angela Davis or Terrence McKenna or Camile Paglia has said the same thing, but it wouldn’t have mattered much to me because, except for my punk rock allegiances, I was apolitical.  You know, too cool to be bothered.  Besides being on the wrong side of whatever side there is, I never stood for anything.  Politics were boring.  Activism was never as fun as bombing through the streets of Houston in a black Bronco with young trust funded Republicans, smoking meth and spouting on about the evils of socialism.  This is gonna be hard to reign in.  Especially while the most gorgeous young lady sits in front of me at Ford Food&Drink in downtown Portland, eating a tangelo and sipping tea in blonde curls and elf boots.

That’s right, Portland, and I fucking love it here.  Anything could be a step up from last week-being called a peasant by the boss and caught in a flame war about Kanye-for Christ-West with a Democratic choad from my past days delivering rich kids luggage in the hills of upstate NY and New England (love ya Nate!).  That, combined with the news these days made it a banner week for shittiness.  The only glimmer was listening to Father Ian on Tuesday and getting the fuck out of town and flying into the Emerald City on Wednesday.

I still haven’t got around to being political yet.  I’ve been balls deep in the design of the new book, waking up every day to find hours of work wasted, gone, and unusuable but rebuilding the book Mr. Miyagi style, my skills sharpened from failure after failure with Adobe’s Creative Suite.  There are some glitches, it’s true, but dealing with their Help Center for hours only to be told it’s not a fault of the s0ftware was time I didn’t have.  I had to get 150 book blocks printed by end of day Tuesday, and board a plane with them on my shoulder at 10am the next day.  All while on shift, you know, the peasant gig, and shutting it down, cooking dinner for the old man, cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry and packing.   I guess it could be worse.  In fact I know it could, which, as stated last week, is the change in me.

This blog is completely self mired and utterly self referential.  I count on the readership of sensitive folks with anarchistic and anti-authrotarian tendencies who feel my pain.  It’s been nothing short of wonderful sharing the plight and the pleasure of being a poet with you, and,  best of all-it kept me inspired.  After all, I’m just a song and dance man, a performer-and this blog has been more a stage than anything else.  As far as being inspired, never having writer’s block as long as the main character in my writing is me-I wouldn’t exactly call it a deadend, as here I sit, 2,000 miles from home, in a cafe full of hipsters in sweaters listening to indie music, with 611 words written at the stroke of noon.  Jackpot and Hot Damn, as Dr. Thompson would say, victory over idleness and blues and for the simple fact that I got out of bed and made it into town and wrote all this down without a cigarette.  I’m useful, I’m writing and I’m communicating.  Thanks in no small part to you.  But when I hear the clarion call almost daily, and it’s been revealed that I’ve been sidelining it for most of my life, well I knew that much and it was in fact a deliberate choice, but that it’s not acceptable anymore and all I can do is write…I’m thankful.  Purposely.  Resolutely.

Ian MacKaye was right.  I’ll always need to get it out, get it down and “frame the agony”, somehow come to grips with the nowness and immediacty of everything.  Seeing Uncle Hank on Tuesday night reminded me what initially attracted me to the man.  He talked about being a hyperventilating borderline child who was on Ritalin until he was 18.  I remembered something about myself that I almost forgot.  I am what you call “too much” (but never how my cuntface X meant it).  Some of us are too much for this life, we can’t contain our energy and love and enthusiasm and pain.  Life is too much, the world is too much, it’s all too much.  So, we lift weights or do Yoga or run or smoke and drink and fight and fuck or, simply, write.   I’m still glad to be here with you  sharing these long hours on the sinking throne.  I know the pump is primed.  I know that, if informed (thank you President Elect Trump) I can write about anything.  I can’t be lazy though, and a Facebook and HuffPo diet have made me feel like I was doing something when all I was doing was being outraged.   Outrage is ok, until folks like Ian and Henry Rollins and Robert Kraft show you how work gets done.  And if you have a tendency to be outraged, like I do, it’s gonna be a long night.

Stay tuned for some incrdible news about the new collection and rest assured, for this week at least, about the political nature of your work, your striving, your song and your poetry.

I speak here of poetry as a revelatory distillation of experience, not the sterile word play that, too often, the white fathers distorted the word poetry to mean-in order to cover a desperate wish for imagination without insight. For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.
-Audre Lorde