Jim Trainer

Archive for the ‘getting old’ Category

The Ocean Doesn’t Want Me Today

In depression, getting old, getting sober, mental health, mid life, middle age, self-help, sober, sobriety, straight edge, suicide, travel writing, Writing, yoga on June 8, 2017 at 1:23 pm

All they will find is my beer and my shirt…
Tom Waits

The obstacle is the path.
-Angie Knight

Now he’s just a mean old bastard when he sings the blues…
Master of Disaster

The number one thing that makes us grow as human beings is pain.
Damien Echols

I came down to fix myself.  Didn’t know how hard it was gonna be.  Last night I woke from a nightmare with a bright ringing of pain down my neck.  My first two nights here were shot through with headaches and soreness and that ain’t the half.  When they ask you, in Paradise, how you’re doing-do you tell them you fantasize about suicide and you’re harboring a daytrip to one of the bars inland to remember and forget over shit bourbons paid for with weak American dollars?

“Good!  How are you?”

On the bright side, it only takes one connection to save you and I’ve made two.  Sweet Jenni, the medicine woman, has shown me more warmth, wisdom and compassion than three Kerrville hugging lines.  Coffee with Paulie has sometimes lasted an entire day.  He just adds water to his and I’m happy laughing and bullshitting long after my Americano’s drained.  We practice twice a day down here, which is also good news, but Yoga’s only a tool.  It won’t take the pain away but maybe give you something to do while you’re working through.  Doom and suicide ideation are my evening practice, when flow is slowed and we’re urged to just be.  I don’t need to go into how I fell out of love with Yoga, but will instead say that the Tao that can be named is not the Tao.  Yoga is a practice, not a cure all, and certainly not an extension of my crumbling vanity.

It’s only because wisdom can’t be communicated, Good Reader, and ha ha, nothing lasts.  Not vanity, not what you thought would save you.  Not your looks or lightning wit.  The money’s gone and the good times too.  I don’t mind telling you like it is because it’s the end of the fucking world.  Maybe I’ll get myself sorted.  I’ll win the next round and put depression back in its cage.  Then we’ll watch the world burn to an ashy rind.  Or we’ll get firebombed on vacation.  Or we’ll be picked off by anything worse than a common cold because we can’t afford Affordable Heathcare.  I’m sure there’s a Buddhist way to turn all this around but I’m spent, Brother.  I spent it all.  I haven’t been breathing right for over a year, I’m fat and indentured with nothing to show for the last 5 years except three books of poetry and a rickety and newfound sobriety.  My shitlist grows every day and it’s a reel of resentment I go over in my head, late at night here in Paradise.

If all this sounds dirty and grim, well, you got that right Sister.  I didn’t realize how bad it was until my second night here, when my health and grand mal disatisfaction stood in bas relief to the warm wind through the palms, and the gulf outside my window, and Yoga and vegetarian cuisine three times a day.  I’ve really let myself go.  I haven’t felt this rotten since I was 15, but I’m 42 now, and my own death is a spectre looming longer than the sky.  I’ve wasted too much time.  I’m where I am and not where I thought I’d be and no amount of dreaming will save me.  Apparently the third year of sobriety is the real bitch, which could explain this falling apart and dire need for motherfuck change that has risen.  Of course I stayed too long in college town and probably drank and/or fucked away my intellect and movie star looks.  I guess I should mention, since y’all are such beautiful, caring and compassionate people-I’m ok.  This ain’t my first rodeo.  We tell it like it is at Going for the Throat, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it’s dark down here.

And that I’m getting better.

See you on the mainland motherfucker.

The Unrequited Sologamist

In Austin, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, blues, depression, employment, getting old, getting sober, Jim Trainer, magic, mental health, mid life, middle age, Poetry, poetry submission, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, self-help, self-publishing, sober, sobriety, solitude, submitting poetry, suicide, therapy, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on June 1, 2017 at 2:43 pm

It’s actually kind of brilliant and dumb at the same time.
Sologamy

That is that other snake’s super ultra lottery lucky day.
Christopher Reynolds

I’m just not going to do it.
Matthew Malespina

We couldn’t… we had no control over anything, and it’s just taken us a while to—it sounds weird to say—organize our emotions. Otherwise you just can’t live, really.
Nick Cave

Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance.
James Baldwin

So I didn’t get in my 600 last week and I’m feeling it.  How fortunate I can pen 600 words, neat and fine, like I’m regurgitating a live snake, and get back to the grind and on with my life.  I didn’t realize what a service we do for each other down here at Going For The Throat.  I was up to my neck writing my resume and buying a car, and I thought it pertinent to soliloquize and do something in remembrance-offer something eternal up to the fading and ephemeral parade.  God knows Chris Cornell hadn’t been dead for 48 hours before some of my friends were judging me for suffering from depression.  Which is also a great way to segue into the grim admission-it happened again, I got depressed.

Now normally this would mean whisky and cigarettes, maybe a lost weekend with a loud and crass Betty who only cares enough to kiss me on the cheek before leaving me in a sad and soggy torpor.  In the new age, depression can look like too many days indoors, Brother, and nights of shoddy and sore sleep.  You heard me, not only am I depressed, it’s manifested.  I threw out my left shoulder and my head is raw and pulsating.  It’s all enough to make a fella fall off the wagon because-what’s the difference, right Sister?  I don’t know what this is, this phase, but I’m burning new pathways down the middle of my brain the hardway.  I’m thirsty and miserable but a dry drunk at least.  Allow me the bold alacrity to say, other than the fact that depression is a medical condition and a disease, the thing that brought it on this time was the Lie.  Or, the many lies that came tumbling down covering my ass living here and working this job and this situation I am in.

Fact is, no one’s to blame.  Folks love me in their own way.  It’s never enough but besides the fact that I ain’t ever satisfied, people are who they are.  My situation has stagnated but it’s all so strange.  What I am trying to say is while walking through old Austin this morning I could’ve cried thinking about the last 5 years of my life.  But see, I was also out there, in the territory, walking under the tall oaks and staring out into expanses that don’t exist on Judge’s Hill.  I was way out on Burnet, walking from my mechanic’s to a car2go on Allendale, smelling the fresh morning air and getting philosophical texts from a sexy blonde in Dallas.  My sadness was there, it was palpable, but so was the magic.  Something I can’t and would never explain.  The best way to describe it would be the strangeness of mortality, the impossibility of you, the uncanny and profound nature of survival.

This is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere, worked anywhere-you name it.  The fact that I was 37 once, way back when, when I first interviewed for this gig in a pompadour and black pencil tie, makes me incredibly sad.  The fact that I got my shit together, published three collections of poetry and prose and wrote at least 600 words and a letter to the post every week can’t and should not ever be taken lightly.  If I were to pull away from the writer’s desk and step into my living room, I can pick up a copy of each of my books and hold them in my fucking hand.  That’s not nothing, as my lovely Sister Sarah says.  It’s something.  And the fact that we’re here, you’re reading me, we’re not hanging ourselves but hanging it on the fucking wall week after fucking week, is not nothing and more than something.

It’s everything.

See you in Paradise motherfucker.

Fuck

In alcoholism, anger, anxiety, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, Boredom, depression, getting old, getting sober, Jim Trainer, journalism, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, music journalism, music performance, new journalism, news media, politics, PROTEST, punk rock, self-help, sober, sobriety, solitude, straight edge, TOUR, War, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS, youth on May 18, 2017 at 10:53 am

It’s beautiful down here.  Great weather. No stress. People come here, they live to be 100.
Joey Merlino

We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death.
GY!BE

As long as we live in this world we are bound to encounter problems. If, at such times, we lose hope and become discouraged, we diminish our ability to face up to what challenges us. If, on the other hand, we remember that it is not just ourselves but everyone who has to undergo hardship, this more realistic perspective will increase our determination and capacity to overcome what troubles us.
-The Dalai Lama

We are living in a news cycle that can be measured in nanoseconds.
-Dan Rather

If this doesn’t take you down,
it doesn’t mean you’re high
-Soundgarden

Yo.  Trainer here, at the bougie coffee shop, where the jazz is smooth and the skin is white.  I can’t complain but I will.  It’s been a long time that I should be far from here, and I’m way past being sick&tired of my own bullshit.  Probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to spend some time with others, hang out and fraternize, but-most of them are worse.  What an existential stalemate I’ve reached and for shame, too.  I’m in the prime of my life with money in the bank but all I can do is bellyache about how easy living is down here in the Pearl of the South, crank out another 400 words and go home and jerk off.  Oh well, it could be worse, I could be satisfied with life, like any of these feel goodies here at the coffee shop seem to be, listening to Curtis Mayfield, eating bananas and grinning like imbeciles.

This could be a great opportunity to take to the streets, or hit social media and throw my complaint onto the pile.  I can’t even pretend to care anymore and it could be because the whole thing has been at hysterical pitch too long.  No wisdom can be discerned.  I see outrage and I understand.  I see smug complacency and I didn’t think I could ever understand but-look at me, with my fat stomache and apathy, black clothes and apolitical angst.  Whichever side you’re on, one thing is certain and that is the genie can’t be put back into the bottle.  Racism is the biggest problem in this country, barring imminent ecological disaster, and the American experiment has failed.  We ain’t gonna make the nut.  It’s all over baby blue, big business has trumped all and the thing that really spurred it on was as dumb as the color of our skin.  I can’t pretend I’m not entitled, no matter how much I ignore the national scene.  Does my apathy anger you, Good Reader?  If so, then use it-impeach the fucker, eat the rich people, start a riot in the street and burn it all down.  Let these be the chronicles of a sorry bastard who didn’t care, or whose own emotional load was too close to capacity to affect anything except putting out fires.  It’s that bad.

We came up with a soft date for my departure, and it’s after the summer and the over 3,000 miles we’ll be doing up to the Adirondacks and back.  I looked at a car today.  Lady wanted to sell it to me at almost a grand over the Kelly Blue Book value, and that was after my mechanic found about $500 worth of repairs she claimed unaware of.  It goes on.  Psychologically I suppose I’m at a crossroads.  The worst is done.  I’m sober now.  I’ve survived and I don’t even entertain the bad drama needed to get laid anymore.  Mr. Excitement has retired, the dreamer is fully woke.  I suffer bad anger and terrible boredom though, the former flaring in my abdomen and stiffening my neck and upper back, literally getting my haunches up and cursing to myself in the dark.  I can’t carry that burden anymore, either, Brother.  I feel like there’s an opportunity here, that I could do a lot better than cranking out 600 word complaints to you and generally just getting by.  My first time on the therapist couch I’d been up for over 72 hours on whisky&cocaine.  Safe to say I’m over that.  I’ve survived.  Maybe it’s time I give my man a call and see if we can thrive.

See you next week motherfucker.

Eunuch Blues

In alcoholism, anxiety, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, Bevan McShea, Charlie O'Hay, getting old, getting sober, hometown, Jim Trainer, mental health, mid life, middle age, on tour, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, poetry reading, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, sober, sobriety, solitude, Spoken Word, straight edge on April 20, 2017 at 11:22 am

Recorded live at Brickbat Books, Philadelphia, September 2016

Catch Jim Trainer speaking in Boston next Wednesday April 26, at the Middle East Corner, with the Reverend Kevin O’Brien, Duncan Wilder Johnson, The Droimlins, and Jim Healy.
8:30PM, $5 advance tickets, $8 day of the show.  Please click here.

Jim Trainer will be speaking and reading from All in the wind, his latest collection of poetry and prose, at Toast Philly on Thursday April 27 with local favorites Charlie O’Hay and Lamont Steptoe.  
7PM, Please click here.  

Jim Trainer returns to the Mill Street Cantina for a special 90 minute set on Friday April 28.  
9PM, Please click here.  

Won’t You Celebrate With Me?

In activism, alcoholism, anger, ANTI-WAR, anxiety, Austin, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, birthdays, blogging, blues, day job, depression, getting old, getting sober, hometown, Jim Trainer, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, music performance, new journalism, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, songwriting, Spoken Word, straight edge, therapy, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS, yoga, youth on March 2, 2017 at 4:12 pm

…this way or no way, you know I’ll be free…
-David Bowie

In 92 hours I’ll be 42 years old. That sounds heaps better than I could’ve ever imagined in the angry, useless days of my youth. I’d been pushing it hard until 30. I didn’t think I’d make it, which was a perfectly dumb and tragic thing for a young punkrocker like me to say. The reality was I didn’t want to make it, but to say I wasn’t afraid of dying is only half true. I was obsessed with it, caught up in its vicious thrall, and those were the days. With a profound and fortunate bit of sorcery I had somehow sublimated my utter fear of death with growing up to be anything like my old man.  So on my 25th birthday I began celebrating my birthday properly-I celebrated myself. If I wasn’t doing anything to get closer to my artistic ideals for 364 days of the year, then I would deliberately do something to further that end on March 6, every year until I died.
On my 25th birthday I strung up my old bass.  It was a small gesture that eventually brought music back to the fore, as I’d been concentrating all my efforts on spoken word ever since I failed my audition for the University of the Arts in the Fall of ’94. I couldn’t have known the importance of planting that seed but many birthdays to come were celebrated by playing a show. I bought myself a 1969 Gretsch Single Anniversary Archtop, and switched from playing upright bass to being at the front of the stage, singing and belting ’em out for years in Philly, until I pulled stakes and followed that high, lonesome sound to Texas. The pendulum swung back to poetry and spoken word with the publication of Farewell to Armor, but the healthier I get the more I feel the need to get back up under the hot lights and scream my fucking head off in a post-punk or junkrock outfit. Getting healthy took me out the birthday game.  My 40th only found me circling the chimneya outback with a young redhead in knee highs, smoking all my Marlboros ’cause I didn’t want to wake up a smoker.

I’m back in the birthday game, mon ami, and I’m going full throttle into the Arts and doing what I love. I’ve got the resources and, after years of going without, I know what I need to get by. As much as I loathed another day on the planet, let alone aging another year back on the too-small, working class streets of Philadelphia, I couldn’t be more excited about being 50, and that’s because it’s 8 years from now-8 years tightening the screw and devoting more and more of my life to Art. It’s incredibly strange and ironic that I’m swinging upward as the world begins to really roil and spin, darkly and further out from our beautiful potential. Far be it from me to ignore what’s going on out there on the street, I must be steady and find a way to affect and interact with the people that I love. We both know it’s fucked out there. My point is, it’s been fucked in here, for as long as I can remember, but now I can feel something resurrect, and I ain’t stopping but considering my health and sanity and what I can give to those in need. There’s a war raging out there that never had anything to do with me. I know that these days it’s probably acceptable to fault me for that attitude. But concentrating on my community is the only way I know to get higher. The rest, it seems, is just furor and hyperbole, diverting us from the heart of the matter. For my 42nd birthday I’ll be doing me and I is another.

It’s never been more important to be punk rock then now, Brothers and Sisters. We are all we have. Let us do work.

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

by Lucille Clifton

The Coarse Grind, New Journalism

In Austin, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, day job, getting old, Jim Trainer, journalism, media, music journalism, new journalism, news media, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, RADIO, Submitting, submitting poetry, TYPEWRITERS, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on January 26, 2017 at 3:17 pm

What follows is the first installment of The Coarse Grind, my column that was never published.  A local zine and arts collective had asked me to write 3 drafts under 600 words.  I ended up writing 5 of them and sent the first 3 to the editor.  We had a correspondence then, that included the phrase “curating for millennials”, but ended with me accusing her of being “disingenuous” and “silly”.  I can see her point now, almost 3 years later, while reading these over.  I don’t know who could be expected to read anything as long as 600 words as even major news outlets race to publish first, and edit and redact later.  Besides the horror in realizing how long ago this was, I’m emboldened reading these, in full faith that you, good reader, will read 600 words every week, even if it’s the same old story.  That’s the boon and bane of the blogging business-you’ll never run out of material as long as you keep writing about yourself.  Christ.
Stay tuned for the next 2 installments of The Coarse Grind.  

New Journalism

Christmas Eve ’95 I slept in Cromwell Park. I’d been thrown out of my mom’s house for not having health insurance. It needed to happen. And the rest…I suppose. What happened was I fell through about 5 years of daylabor and shitjobs, another 5 as a mad Boehme, 3 on the getting-sober circuit and shit about 3 years working down here, in the Pearl of the South.  What also happened is I decided to be a writer.  I had to be, as clichéd as that might sound.  I was working a string of jobs that were boring the life out of me.  I dealt with it the only way I knew how-with a typewriter and booze.

One of the first things I did when I got here was get a library card. Checked out Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life, a biography of Charles Bukowski by Howard Sounes. It was profound for me to discover the great poet had started writing poetry at the age of 35. I was 34.  Another thing I did when I got down here was pitch to Verbicide Magazine and write blues legend Steve James a letter, to say hello and ask for an interview. Those first months in Austin were a fertile time, days and months planting seeds and business cards. It was like I landed, dropped my bags and said,
“In 3 years I will be a writer.”

Then I got a job.  Then I got laid off.   I stayed on unemployment way past any reasonable amount of time, and fell sadly short of my goal of becoming a writer in 3 years. I had to go back to work.   It was one of many crises of doubt I had experienced, going all the way back to being homeless in my hometown in 1995.  I wanted to be a writer.
I landed a live in gig, in a big yellow mansion inconveniently located off west 6th.  A perfectly annoying backdrop and foil for this phase of my life which I can proudly announce to you is “being a writer”. This is the being a writer period, the being a writer time. Now it always was, I guess, but I didn’t know it then. Neither do you. But I appreciate you reading. It completes me. I feel received. Like radio-a magic jolt to it, an urgent zing to these words coming at you-can’t you feel it?  Right? Wow.
What do I do now that I am a writer? That I’ve cleaned my guns enough to crank out 8-1,200 words, neat and fine, on a whim or otherwise?  That of anything and everything that ever happens I not only have a ticket out of but a ticket into? That’s right, good reader.  I got an inroad to the best game in town and the players? Well shit the players are me&you darling and isn’t that nice?
Now that I’m a writer think I’ll bring it back for you. Tell you how I got here and that I’d like you to join me. In the late night or in the bright morning, I’d like you to join me on the savage road-this is the new stuff-join me in this new media, this new age-this moment. Let’s do some shit. Send out our signal into the hungry land. Let’s send out a song of love or better let’s send ‘em some anger. Let us burn.

Run, Rabbit, Run

In Activism, activism, anger, ANTI-WAR, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, getting old, getting sober, mental health, mid life, middle age, new journalism, PACISFISM, poetry reading, politics, recovery, self-help, sober, sobriety, solitude, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on January 12, 2017 at 5:10 pm

And the harder it gets now, the softer I sing
cause the fight to be human don’t mean anything
-Justin Currie

The budget blueprint is for the guidance of Congress; it is not presented to the president for a signature or veto and does not become law.
New York Times, 4 hours ago, on January 12, 2017

…the vote-a-rama is a wholly symbolic exercise, political theater.
-John McCain, R-Ariz.

Once a picaro, always a picaro.
-Thrall and Hibbard’s thesis on the nature of a Picaresque novel

Fuuuuuuuuuck.
-Brother Ignacio on Facebook last week

I feel the absence of Dr.Thompson acutely.  More and more and every year, the man and his work is the only rudder I can grab a hold of to steer me through the polluted black waters of the New Century.  I suppose there’s Ian MacKaye.  And Brother Don.  Which is to say the only faith I have in these dark times is in the hearts and minds of great men and women who’ve managed to keep their eyes and hearts open.  For me it’s been a journey back, I’m often lost in the blast, not as confused as angry, but it’s an anger that can shut the whole thing down.  It’s unfortunate, but not permanent, and my facilities may come back just in time.  Nobody knows what will happen.  The only thing we can agree on is an uneasiness in the gut as we brace ourselves for the terror of a country rolling backwards into the type of oligarchy I’ve been dreading my entire adult life.

I have a tendency to duck out, hide away-not so much in apathy but utter disgust-a muted outrage.  I’m good in the clutch, I’m steady, but the day to day bores me to tears.  My point is I’ve had to read the same article on NPR at least 5 times now, and I’m still not sure I understand it.  Politics are made deliberately obtuse, which doesn’t make it any easier for a zen outlaw and escape artist born in the Year of the Rabbit like me.  After my second go through of the article, I searched online for a great quote from Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, which led me to William Brinkley and spidered out into unrelated research and ended in a flame war on Facebook with a stupid twat and eventually plugging in my strat and doing some Stinson, Waits and Psalmships covers.  It’s almost 3:30 in the afternoon.  I’m exasperated from waking up at noon to hear the news, and vague and obtuse writeups on NPR and the New York Times.  Can this qualify as activism?  Am I done now?  Can I have some time to myself, take the day maybe, lay in the tub with a copy of Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail?

I am disgusted with myself.  Outraged at the world and about at the end of my rope here, at Going For The Throat.  It’s been happening for a while, probably concurrent with the tidal wave of dread that came over me right after I turned 40.  There was gratitude-and a real sense of power, standing in my kitchen, the last night of my 39th year.  I started to run myself through the ringer, you know, how I do, but then came something else.  You feel an ease in parts of your body you didn’t know you could feel anything.  Know what I mean?  There are parts of us that are so wrapped up in responding to stressors created by the mind that we don’t even know are there, let alone utilize, strengthen and nurture.  Aho I did not expect something positive to come of this post.  It was practically a resignation letter.  That is the power of writing, my Brother, my Sister.  You’ve got to clear the chamber. There is a diamond of you, buried ‘neath the toxic retelling of tired stories and lies.  You are not this detritus of the mind.  You are not your mind.  You are.  Unless you’ve made your exit-downing a bottle of barbiturates, running a garden hose from the exhaust pipe in through the window of your car, or turning the business end of a shotgun on yourself and pulling the trigger-like those 3 writers have.

As sad as it may sound, if not killing yourself is the one great thing you’ve managed to do today, this week, this year-than you can be glad.  I sure am.  But don’t worry about me.  This is not a cry for help.  I may be tired of my own bullshit and have to call myself out in public like this for getting frustrated at the news and dumb girls on Facebook but I won’t be checking out any time soon.  I’ve got work to do.

See you at the readings motherfucker.

Please join Jim Trainer this Sunday January 15th, at Malvern Books, as he and 100 other poets read as part of the National Poets Protest Against Trump and on January 22nd at Kickbutt Coffee, for his featured reading at SpokenandHeard, with wonderful poet G.F. Harper.  

In Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, day job, employment, getting old, hometown, journalism, mid life, middle age, new journalism, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, self-help, self-publishing, working class, Writing, writing about writing on January 5, 2017 at 11:00 pm

The man in me will hide sometimes to keep from bein’ seen
but that’s just because he doesn’t want to turn into some machine

Ahoy, good reader.  Tis I, the rageful poet, about to turn it out and kick out the jams.  I been kept too long, cooped up and strung along working for the man.  I just blasted some Dylan and now all is quiet in the mansion, so I’ll sit down and get to work.  It’s what I do.  600 words is sometimes all that keeps us from a landslide-ain’t that right Brother, Sister?  It’s a shame that issues of interest are often times only tossed off by the Author.  The problem with storytelling, last week, for example.  I’m not sure I’m making a point most of the time and honestly I’m ok with simply making sense.  I need to keep my pen and wits sharp, so I tie it on and have a go as a lion tamer and therapist.  I peel my skull cap back, lower the fourth wall and invite you in.  A most narcissistic exercise, this.  Maybe D.C. Bloom is right but if it wasn’t for your devoted readership and wonderful comments I might hang it up.  The answer may be to do it more but in the meantime I’m glad to be doing it once a week, while I remodel and even find another model altogether for getting my literary&journalistic ya-yas out.  In short, I couldn’t be happier to find that what’s wrong with me has taken a seat at the literary table.  This is literature, you know, you don’t believe me ask Brother Ignacio.  Whether or not it’s journalism will be my charge and challenge in the dark “post-racial” New Century.

The old model was set by a 17 year old skinhead standing on his homey’s steps on a stupid night in the suburbs.  It’s when I first saw a copy of Rollins’ One From None.  Allot has happened since then.  Things have transpired to disabuse me of my dreams, had me do a double think- which is what homelessness will do to a guy.  Maybe I never had what it takes, I got scared and cold, sold out and went all in and the middle class jackoff caregiver before you is only a product of fear.  If I hadn’t heard this story so many times I might believe it.  I’m old, and wise, enough to know that life is made of choices we make and there are choices that are still being made.  The music still plays.  As tired and oft repeated are the voices of doubt within me, there’s a stubborn kernel of a dream I’ve had for so long it’s a part of me.  It’s driven me, gotten me through the countless times when I thought I blew it, flipping burgers in Crum Lynne, working as a sexton at First Lutheran 17th&Spruce, a landscaper in the projects of North Philly and, the second longest job I’ve ever had, working as a busboy for the White Dog Cafe (2004-2005).  Maybe I should consider my current gig as the second longest and reconsider that I’ve been working at my Art, however inconsistently, for 24 years since that night in Upper Darby when I knew I’d be a published poet.  But here’s where things get screwy.

I’ve had 3 books published while working here and it’s been nothing like the 17 year old man in me’s dream to be a punkrock renaissance man, full time and on the road for most of the year-like Hank.  It pains me to consider plugging in to another machine-an $800 1 bedroom apartment, a rental company requiring your income to be 3 and 1/2 times that, with 6 months prior rental history, while I’m making payments on a new car and being gouged by AT&T.  The rub is, as much as it pains me, maybe this is the way.  Despite myself and the dream, I’m able to be the Artist I always wanted to be, I just need to be nestled in somewhere, warm&quiet, working full time for a monthly payment that goes nowhere.  If it’s what’s right, why does it feel like failure?  Am I so fucking hardwired that I don’t know what is good for me?

Something has presented itself and it’s a return to my roots.  Ain’t the best neighborhood and a bit out of town.  Super cheap and solitary.  The point is I worry, will I sacrifice too much comfort, and only be raw and uncomfortable out there below the red line-and my work will suffer?  Or, if I choose comfort, and care for myself in the prescribed and proven effective way, working full time and trying to keep my head up AND do Art-will my work suffer?  No easy answers here.

Looks like I solved the problem with storytelling.  You’re welcome.

Took a woman like you
to get through to the man in me
-Bob Dylan, The Man In Me

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.

 

…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.