Jim Trainer

Archive for the ‘therapy’ Category

More New Century Blues

In Activism, activism, alcoholism, anger, ANTI-WAR, anxiety, art, Austin, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, day job, death, depression, Don Bajema, employment, getting sober, Jim Trainer, journalism, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, music performance, new journalism, Philadelphia, Poetry, publishing, punk rock, RADIO, recovery, revolution, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, songwriting, Spoken Word, straight edge, submitting poetry, suicide, the muse, therapy, TYPEWRITERS, working class, WRITER'S BLOCK, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS, yoga, youth on August 17, 2017 at 1:02 pm

It’s been a while but I am at a loss.  The world may have gotten in more than it usually does but I haven’t been without inspiration since the early days at Going For The Throat.  Those days the crisis was real.  If I didn’t make it as a writer I’d be stuck behind a bar or working hospice for 9 an hour.  Dressed like a Hershey’s Kiss on campus or test driving the Golfquick LE in Sugarland.  My definition of “making it as a writer” is broad and wild.  I can sit down and come up with 600 words out of thin air, and by keeping it simultaneously all too and not personal at all, the thing will find its legs and walk its way into you.  The archetypes are free to roam.  The fact that I’ve become a character in my own story, coupled with a 10-ton outrage and Black Irish honesty has made Going For the Throat a success.  My definition of success, too, is unorthodox-but if anything is true about my 20+ year career trekking down the savage road of New Journalism, it’s that the medium is the message.  That means that I’ve got my transmitter, just like in my Radio Days, and I can feel you out there listening.  I’m a writer so I write.  I still got a day gig, one that’s winding down, and I’m not 100 on what’s in store.  I’m booking overtime-I hope to play every night and write every day.  That’s been my dream and charge for as long as I can remember.  “Writer’s Block” is less than a memory for me, but waking up today, fully clothed, in a dead confederate palace with all the curtains pulled back-is taking me back to when I knew I had to be a writer, and tried to do every day what I now do every week.  Back then it was 1,200 and pure agony.   I volleyed the imminent avalanche of self-hatred that would fall if I didn’t become a writer with the agony of coming up with 1,200 words every day.  There was beer involved.  And cigarettes you bet.  It worked but it drove me out of my mind.

I’m just as fond of those hardbitten scoop days for what happened away from the desk.  Hopping fences, getting shitty.  Falling through the Night Kitchen, driving down dark barrio streets with my tongue in Gwendolyn’s teeth.  My hangovers were grim back then, nothing compared to what was coming.  It was beginning to get old but I saw no other way to assuage both the loneliness of writing and my utter dread of never becoming a writer-as the money ran out.  I caught some breaks.  I got a good job.  I met Rich Okewole and Najla Assaf.  I found my community.  I was taken in by the good folks at the IPRC in Portland (and taken right back out by Trump’s America but that’s another story for another time).  Perhaps my hesitation to pull the trigger this morning is indicative of the end of those Salad Days as a struggling writer.  The gravy train has left the station.  Of all my myriad blues and woe, movement seems to be the answer.  As proud as I am of what I’ve become, I’m terrifed here at the midway.  Possibilities that ain’t been realized won’t be and I could die at any time.

It’s got me shook.  I quit my gig of 5 years, should be out October 1.  I bought a car.  I enrolled in this year’s SWRFA and sent 22 booking emails out into the Live Music Capital of the World, even canvassed West 6th.  Survivors Wisdom tells me it’s time to grind it out, hit the road and stop being such a pussy.  Maybe the truth is that struggle is over.  Not this one, but that one.  The battle with self can conclude.  It’s I and I and a good night’s sleep contending for top place on my list of priorities.  I’ve found myself.  I am who I am.  Cruel time has showed me who I am and branded me with the wisdom that there’s not enough time to change that now.

We both know there would never be enough time but that didn’t stop us before ain’t it though.  We rebelled.  We clanged against the deathhead, came for the Gods and offered them the head of the King.  We bled for it, we had something to prove.  It was useless, futile and fatal and the biggest waste of time.  We squandered our youth.  The youth is gone.  It’s time to get off social media and take to the territory.  Our lives are depending on it.  I got witchy women mixing up the medicine for me and an Ayurvedic scholar laying out a diet plan.  I got Brother Don on the telephone and Sister Sarah at the other end of a computer screen.  I’ve got friends like blood, holding vigil and corroborating and besides all this big love-a fear of death that is all too real.  The prime motivator.  The best time to hit it was a long time ago.  The next best time is now.

I better see you on the streets motherfucker.

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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.

In Nine Hundred and Three Words

In anxiety, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, blogging, depression, getting sober, hometown, Jim Trainer, mental health, mid life, middle age, new journalism, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, poetry reading, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, RADIO, recovery, self-publishing, sober, sobriety, solitude, Spoken Word, straight edge, therapy, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on March 9, 2017 at 12:07 pm

…it is in the shelter of each other that the people live…
Pádraig Ó Tuama

Let’s keep hustlin’.
Brian Grosz

…without you my address would be the wind…
-from All in the wind

…you’re going to have to accept that a lesbian chainsaw dominatrix or two might be involved.
broliloquy

My name is Jim Trainer and I wish I was somebody else. I mean, there’s something in the way. I mean, I took the last 2 days off work, for my birthday and to “get some stuff done” and the result was only epic laziness. Lunch and gift swapping with a friend. Driving into dusk to see musicians perform in plays. Eating water ice and falling in love with Austin again. Before I chalk up the last 2 days to “not living my dreams” or being lazy, allow me to invoke the wisdom and language of psychotherapy, and ask-what am I getting out of it? The answer is dumb-I had a peaceful couple days with no torture, no monkey, no blues. Basically I was hiding. This doesn’t bode well. Psychologically speaking, I’ve set it up so I will have to live my dreams. Using the alchemy of inner dialogue I told my Self, “If you live your dreams I won’t come down on you for being a piece of shit.” There are so many ways to deconstruct this deal I have with my Self, and none of them are good! Ah, but don’t too wise, for writing is my rabbit in a hat, and this blog my weapon of choice-and this is how. By the end of this graph I have had some insight, a revelation that there within the dialogue with my Self is the kernel of it-the micro and the blueprint. My life has been always being 2 steps ahead of the whip.  What a fucked up way to live, let alone think and react.  Out of fear, like a slave or Catholic.  For shame.

Not to mention I feel great.  I mean, today I woke up at 7:45AM, like always, but I went back to bed after I put the coffee on.  I dreamt that my boss had wiped his hands on my tux shirt and when I went to confront him about it, his door was closed and his room was dark with a note on the door (and it was my Mother’s bedroom door wtf).  Tangential but relevant.  It’s a circus in my mind.  Fear is the carnival barker and the crowd has lined the tent 2 times round, clutching their dirty children and tickets in hand.  I’m sitting here typing this in the bright light of day with my Hugh Hefner robe over the clothes I wore to bed last night.  I feel rested, which is necessary.  Hell I even refused sex a couple weeks ago because the call came in after I was already in PJs.  Do you have any idea how baffling it is for the male mind to refuse sex?  It can short out the man-wires.  I woke up the next day confused and ashamed, like I had done something wrong-but I was so rested I forgot about it and got on with the day.  My point is I feel rested today, after 2 days of  hiding from the whip, instead of hustling 2 steps ahead of it, and somehow not being a “piece of shit”, according to myself anyway, the Mind.  In body I couldn’t feel better.  I just wish I was somebody else and here’s why.

It’s been a long time that I should be far from here. I know that my desire for the artist’s life is how I got this far. It’s not what I thought it would be and I know I could do so much more. Knowing you could be more is strange. Well, not strange-it’s evolution, it’s growth. It’s savage, amoral and bloody. Birth comes from death. Knowing you could do more is heaps more manageable, if slippery. I can’t say I’m not accountable to myself. I can’t say that there isn’t a chasm between who I am and what I’m doing and who I think I am and what I’m doing. It’s all so very twisted and fucked and I can’t see the bottom. All I can do is live my best today, try harder this time.  (Do you know how exhausting that is?).     It’s just so fucked because I know I’ll find myself here again. Dissatisfied. I need a life coach who’ll tell me that everything’s gonna be ok before she fucks my brains out and kicks my ass out the door.  Sorry.  If I’ve lost you it’s because I lost myself.

What I am trying to describe here is what has gotten me this far.  Dissatisfaction is why I dropped out of college, left the hometown, found work as a DJ, singer songwriter, orator and spoken word poet.  Dissatisfaction is why I spent weeks on the road, sleeping and driving for as many as 7 weeks a stretch, across Canada and the midwest, along the Gulf and up the West and East coast.  Dissatisfaction is why I’ve had 3 books of poetry published in the last 5 years and dissatisfaction is the sole reason that 2 of them were published by my own press.  Dissatisfaction is why I left Philly, and tried my hand hawking wares and doing everything from handing out lunchmeat to donating plasma to walking around campus dressed like a Hershey Kiss.  I’ve lost you.  I’ve lost me.  Is seeking and forging the life I want born of dissatisfaction?  Or is it something else?  Is knowing I could do and be more the same as hating myself?  That’s certainly how it feels.  And as far as how it feels, this, we know, is my remedy.  These 903 words.  This post.  This time at the knives, hacking and working it out.  We do it ’cause we have to.  As far as pace and productivity, goals and the ability to relax and unkink without fear that the whip will come down but yet still pushing on?  You know if I had the answer, good reader, I would give it to you.  Right before I fly out the door and hit the streets after the heart of this dream.  A lonely hunter indeed.

It goes on.

 

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

Is Something Wrong?

In anxiety, Austin, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, day job, getting old, getting sober, Jim Trainer, Maureen Ferguson, mental health, mid life, new journalism, new orleans, on tour, PDX, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, poetry reading, poetry submission, Portland, publishing poetry, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, sober, sobriety, Spoken Word, Submitting, submitting poetry, the muse, therapy, TOUR, travel, travel writing, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on August 22, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Does a bear shit in the woods? Does the Pope wear a funny hat? Is the government corrupt? Did your parents lie to you about what it was really like out here, in the wide world slaving the hours away for some shekels and a piece of bread, 4 walls and the game on Sunday? Yes, something is very wrong here and Mr.Jones ain’t the only one who don’t know what it is.

Another 4 days, another email sent. Christ.  Had I started walking with the message it would’ve got there sooner than it did when I finally hit ‘Send’ this morning. Things I’m not up for are things that must be done. Unless I don’t mind the dayjob and am perfectly happy being a wage slave, locked in a gilded cage and living in a yellow mansion here in Babylon-Hippie Town-Austin Texas-the Velvet Rut of the world. This town is like a mirage but the livin’s easy, nowhere near as brutal as Hostile City but never as real either. It’s where the Californians come to die, tech babies and plutocrats live in gauche condos in the sky and the artists and Mexicans beat the heat in pools far east of any metropolitan action. Fuck. Sorry. I  drank too much coffee and the jackhammers up the street seem to be boring into my skull.

Why anxiety? Dunno, good reader but after talking with pillar of strength and badass redheaded wicked witch of the North-none other than the lovely whipsmart Maureen Ferguson-this morning, I think it high time to up the ante. Time to book myself within an inch of my life, lest it take me days to send an email and too long to book a tour and I’ll find myself napping away what precious time I have left in my 40s to do this thing.

“This thing” is be an artist. Which, as discussed in blogs previous, is foregone-and right now looks like publishing 1 book a year at the IPRC and hitting the road every summer on the Gulf Coast junket and the East Coast in the Fall. It’s taking me too long to do things though. I feel retarded and unworthy.
Which as you know by now good reader, is only how I feel about it. The truth is I’ll have hit 6 of the 12 new cities I said I would’ve by the end of October. If I ever get back in front of the Great White machine I’ll have punched 6 submission deadlines to the pubs with flash fiction, essays and poems by the end of August. So, I am busy. And I don’t feel like I am. And rest never comes easy when you’ve got a chip on your shoulder and no college degree.

Be good to hit the ground running, in a Honda 2-door instructing Yoga and playing gigs until I can get out on the road again. Streamline the MAMU so that wherever I land will be a portable War Room and the fun doesn’t have to stop. Perhaps I should be grateful. I’m in good health and beside an enlarged prostate and being out of breath when I tie my shoes, I do get out of bed every morning. The words keep coming even though I’ve stopped offering libations and black hash smoke to the muse. I’ve no lovers in my life but no trouble either. When I look at the map of the Continental U.S. on the wall of the office I think I can do it. And when I reach out for help, I usually find I’m the most able-bodied and ready soldier in the room.

So what the fuck is wrong? Dunno, good reader. Dunno. One thing’s for sure though and that is it don’t take much to bring me around. I just hit the 679 mark on this post and it’s my 4th and last day off before I report back to the dayjob. Have I slain the dragon of anxiety? Hardly. But now I’m up on the mast again. Me and Ahab. Coursing the deep and ready to take another stab at nailing down the East Coast, compiling the new effort and booking the room.

See you on the road motherfucker.

Trainer
Going for the Throat

 

 

Nicorette Blues

In anger, anxiety, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, Charlie O'Hay, day job, depression, Don Bajema, getting old, getting sober, Jim Trainer, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, new journalism, new orleans, on tour, Performance, Poetry, poetry reading, politics, self-help, singer songwriter, sober, sobriety, songwriting, Spoken Word, therapy, TOUR, travel, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on August 8, 2016 at 10:49 am

The blog’s been on lockdown.  Letter Day.  Poetry and songwriting-don’t get me started on songwriting.  We’ll save that can of worms for when we’re up the road a piece, with some space between me and this anxiety ridden nest of calendars and seltzer cans, Amtrak itineraries, rental car agreements, press releases and road maps.  It’s a mess.  I’m excited to get out on the road with wonderful poet and friend Bernard Pearce in a few weeks.  I’m looking forward to hitting the east coast with Brothers Don Bajema and Charlie O’Hay in the Fall-and I feel compelled to this life.   It’s time to transition out of that old skin-book the dates, order merch, press the EP and sink deeply and irrevocably into a dream.  But it took me 4 days to send 2 emails last week.   I’m sunk with the day job, sometimes sleeping and lying around for the whole shift.  My identity as an Artist isn’t on the line.  My heels aren’t licked by the maleficent flames of personal anguish.  I ain’t on the run.  Everything is fine and it’s not fucking fine. I don’t need to write myself out of anything-unless it’s this, six hundred words with myself and with you, good reader, to stir the pot and galvanize, get this rig the fuck unwound and smoke the day job with real work.  Because in the meantime it’s been torture.  I’m slothfully doubled down in middle class comfort.  I eat ice cream by the pint and take naps on the hour.  I hit literary target and I’ve smoked the idea that this is a hobby.  But instead of getting to it, I’m horizontal, watching old episodes of The Howard Stern Show and listening to Henry&Heidi, or worse.

I’ve asked you to consider me, the Artist-consider my work and know I’m here and what I’ve come for.  I had a breakthrough in therapy when Ol Don Jones said
“We’re just gonna do away with you thinking that you’re not an Artist.”
So we did.  And now I’m out here in the wide world.  Blowing off ordering more books.  This morning I wanted a cigarette more than, in the last 8 months, I ever have.  I needed something to bring me out and set me straight.  I jerked off and laid down, tried to sleep off a caffeine headache and forget that today is a day I won’t get back.

I try to keep in mind that I’m lucky.  I’m closer to living my dreams than I’ve ever been.  I’m practically straight edge, unless you count Nicorette-which I chew incessantly.  As good as life’s been to me it feels pretty fucked and I guess there’s no one to blame but me.  I feel locked in, stuck and without drink or drug or sex  I often have nothing to reach for.  Just these words and you.  So I do.  It don’t take much to bring me around.  Five or six hundred words with you and the undeniable power that comes, if not from solving, then identifying the problem.

We start where we are.  Now we begin the practice of Yoga.  Were it not for this blog and our time together, I might have stared down another couple hundred baleful miles of Facebook feed or engaged in self-important dialogue and discourse on the Dog and Pony of Presidential politics.  Without this blog, I could’ve wasted the diminishing hours of my life fucking off in any myriad of pointless and self-destructive American ways.  Of course I could’ve done nothing but then that’s the fucking problem now isn’t it Pilgrim?  I can see the problem.  It has been identified.  The enemy is within my sights.  Writing like this.  Banging on the temple door.  Going for the throat.

#president #presidential #hillaryclinton #donaldtrump #huntersthompson #thewho #goingforthethroat #jimtrainer

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Clearing the Chamber

In anxiety, Being An Artist, self-help, therapy on February 12, 2016 at 2:22 pm

“…that guy is trying so hard to get out, and he’s never gonna be the one to hurt you, believe me.  Let him talk.  Let him tell you what you did that was so bad.  Listen, you know what you did?  You hung on, kiddo.  That’s it.”
-Berger, Ordinary People

Therapy works.  Take it from me.  First time in the chair I was strung out on cocaine.  High for over 30 hours but coming down hard.  Oh, right.  Not my first time seeing a therapist but certainly the first time I wanted to.  I remember sitting in therapy when I was 20, with a swollen black eye and thinking that if I fought this counselor well that would be alright, too.

Generally speaking, something happened and I got buried.  To think on it or wonder why boggles the mind and sometimes there are no answers, no matter how hard you try to find.  Dysfunctional upbringing?  Ok.  But I had become my own man before I even left home. The self-talk I used to help me twist from the wreck of dysfunction worked.  I guess there was more than one way out, but I chose mine and now I’m free.  Or getting there.  The mere existence of self-talk is a loss of innocence.  You’re beside yourself.  Apart.  My brand of the stuff was particularly harsh and unforgiving and, well, ridiculous.  Should somebody have told the rageful 2o year old me that Ayn Rand and Henry Rollins were at best mythical but at least as one dimensional as a page in any of their hard-bitten and overwrought books?  Point is no one could have.  Their and others’ work for me was fuel.  And the point is no one did.

I’m not on here to victimize anybody.  Ok, that’s not exactly true, but I certainly don’t want to victimize myself.  Ok, that’s not true either.  Ugh.  Let’s just say that it’s a wonder nothing short of a miracle that I sit here today, mostly sober, drinking tea and reflecting on the past.  The glory and the wreckage.  I’ve been talked down from the ledge of addiction to cocaine, the depths of alcoholism and the abyss of seeking unconditional love from damaged and narcissistic partners.  Rick, if you’re listening, I owe it all to you.  You’ve been like a father to me, and we roped off my demons and laughed and cried and held on our way to freedom.

Know thyself.
-First Rule of Magic

That I do, good Reader, and often to my own determent do I know myself.  Of course there is the danger of being so active and engaged with your own issues, no one else has to be.  But fuck them.  They can go on living a charmed and unexamined life.  The real danger in plumbing your own depths is simple-you run the risk of isolating yourself.  But, let’s face it, that’s not always a bad thing.  I feel like I’m always heading for the cave, seeking out space and wide swathes of time to “write”.  What’s up for me these days is anxiety.  I’ve roped off the bad blues.  I don’t drink.  I practice Yoga.  I devoutly get 8 hours of sleep every night and fucking isn’t at the fore on my list of priorities.  I am me, at a higher intensity and for more sustained periods of time.  I’m not trying to avoid and I have allot less to prove.  Drinking and fighting and fucking.  Take these off the dais and all I’ve got left is this dream and the audacity of it, calling down to me where I sit and agonize over the details of September‘s Austin release.  I am thinking of all the right things and that’s the problem.  My identity as an artist is on the line and that’s the problem too.  I’ve been strung out on bad anxiety since I published the book, and I’ve dealt with it by laying around and watching Howard Stern.  Jerking off.  I fear the relinquishing of my identity as an Artist to the extent of paralysis.  I let another day go by with my dick in my hand without placing the ad, making fliers or editing the proof.  The fear that I’ll be found out when no one shows up to the reading is my main motivation.  Depression is the slothful bedfellow of anxiety.  Anxiety is the real and it’s a real mother.

I’ve been lucky with therapists.  My first therapist, Rick Ferry, is the man.  We trawled the savage road together for almost a decade.  Don Jones won’t let me off the hook and he’s like the master on the mountain, slapping my self-talk across the face weekly.  If me&Rick went on safari through the rich veldt of the heart, Don and I are in the pit of the arena, where the lights burn the brightest, and we’re doing work.  We will make this dream happen.  It’s my hero’s journey, and how lucky, how fortunate and auspicious that I still got a dog in this fight.

“Of course you know your self-talk is ridiculous and of course you can see the logistics clearly, after the gig.  But that’s of no use to you now.  Not while you’re in it.  You’ve got to track the anxiety.”

It’s Thursday afternoon.  I’m waiting on word to go ahead with the ad for the reading.  Waiting to hear back before I book a flight to Crescent City and a train ride back.  I’ve been shot-through and ridden since I got back from Portland but there’s one thing I can do and that is track the anxiety.  Once a nervous wraith of doubt hung, I turn the barrel around and take the safety off.  I’m not strung out on coke, weighted and soggy from booze or mad with perseverant lust-but a nervous and dreaming boy, wide-eyed and wanting more, wondering if I deserve to have the life I want for myself, but not for long.

My time here is parsed with deadlines.  I’m nothing if not stubborn, my Italian mother’s son, my cocky Irish father’s boy.

 

This wonderful mourning, this grave celebration.

In anger, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, Poetry, publishing, self-publishing, sobriety, therapy on September 2, 2015 at 11:21 am

Follow your heart in all things.
Honey Polis-Bodine

It’s been a banner week. The crews are up the street drilling and wrenching their towers of greed into the sky. We had a slight rainfall and now is this pause between hot&blasing hot. Of the tempest I’ve sunk through and at the rat’s edge of despondency now comes this-what, could it be summer breaking? The terrible summer over? You don’t say. I’m out here on the roof burning down my wish and geeked on cold brew and nicotine. A variety of easy days has come and bounds through that torpor of desperation like a white-eyed vireo. Ah but don’t too wise says the old soldier mind. The grackle are still pensive and the jungle of survival is not absolved. Even if these purple-black beauties have found shade among fallen stalks and petals the color of rust.

I’m completing work on September, due out on December 1 through Yellow Lark Press and the manuscript and screeds therein are art in service to the high order of understanding.

In therapy I discovered that instead of angry I’m just disappointed and that’s an easy pill Brother if not pleasant. I’m disappointed that I never had any support at all as a young man, even though I struck out and did it anyway. The job’s a grind but it’s my grind and working full time affords me the choice between submitting poetry and fucking off.

My dream was to write and print my own work. And as it comes home to roost, I save the accolades and celebration for you my People. Let the rest be cast aside. I’m torn between a decades old heartbreak and an increasing frequency of buoyant days, nose down in the work, not wondering the detriment of flatlining people who didn’t have to share my vision but certainly didn’t have to try and quash it either.

One always had to pay for one with the loss of the other…
-Herman Hesse

Sorry to be cryptic but that razor-thin line is where I am riding now. Relinquishing again the junk of the past. Moving forward and beginning to grieve now, really grieve, for what I never and never will have. What I have is you and I am ever in service to it-connection, transmission, media and music and all the rest. The road is still ours and I am called to pray. For the living to march on and the dead to stay buried.

What else is new?

…set your heart’s beacon ablaze…
-from a forgotten poem