Jim Trainer

Archive for the ‘yoga’ 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.

Advertisements

Beautiful Friend

In alcoholism, Austin, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, day job, depression, employment, getting old, getting sober, journalism, Kevin P.O'Brien, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, music journalism, music performance, new journalism, news media, observation, PACIFIST, PACISFISM, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, police brutality, politics, PROTEST, publishing, punk rock, recovery, self-help, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, straight edge, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS, yoga on July 13, 2017 at 4:49 pm

Let’s focus on the steak, not the peas.

-Minchia

Liberals want our country to be more like Canada. Conservatives want it to be more like Mexico.

-Realist

Raising a kid with medical needs is a very, very steep climb in the best of circumstances, and so when we say Medicaid is like the handholds that you’re using to scale up and get your kids to help-without those, there’s nothing below, there’s no safety net once those supports get pulled out, you just fall off the cliff.
-Robert Howell 

If they were to collaborate they could strangle data access to parts of the internet, it’s not an understatement to say they could influence history.
-Elliot Brown

One need only look closely at such drag queens as Michelle Visage or Violet Chachi on the RuPaul show to suss out the cruel, cold-blooded lizard that lurks behind the eyes of the Illuminati elite.
-Stephenson Billings

What the hell.
-Jared Yates Sexton

I wish I had let go long ago.  Not long after I quit smoking I began to experience a shortness of breath.  I’ve had to teach myself to sing again.  Psalmships’ “Little Bird“, again and again.  Up high in the mountains of Minerva and out here on the blistering plains.  What felt like the broken middle finger on my left hand has moved to the thumb on my right.  If it’s arthritis, then, what the hell?  I should’ve never quit, shoulda kept drinkin’ and womanizin’ and waking up dead in a dead confederate palace, with my pants at Kim’s pool and the aching yellow sun splitting my skull like a shiv, until I could down 400mg and tell her to get…OUT. It’s painfully apparent, these are the end days.  I should’ve never left the life but I wish I’d let go a long time ago.

The stupid truth is the life never helped me let go either.  I was as hung up then as I am now and drugs never worked.  You’re not going to believe me but I could never enjoy myself on drugs because I knew it was only a drug.  How terribly unfun and what a fucking drag, eh Brother?  The closest I came was on mushrooms down at Stone Harbor, on the shore in the dark, with the Reverend and Butch as a storm rolled in. I lost myself that summer but never before and never again.  I’ve kept myself locked tight, fought against it in my 20s but embraced it until now.  I perfected my isolation and my Father’s poker face.  Like him, the world only hurt my feelings and to be obvious was to be played. What the hell? How did this thing rear and turn into a psychoanalytical journey and examination of why I’m no fun but still wishing for the days?

Oh well, if it brings us to the truth then I can live with that.  However we got here, we’re here, and these days I prefer to drink dark coffee with honey, read the news and pretend I’m smoking cigarettes in my mind, like a mid-life Cassavetes and type here in the center of a crumbling palace amidst:  piles of poetry collections, poster-pressed covers, a copy of Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, CDs and receipts and guitar strings, stacks of typed and handwritten poetry-edited in red ink, the trusty NAS plugged in and humming beside and a cold cup of Italian Roast, in the blasting AC in what I thought at one time was the center of the Rock and Roll universe, in one of the most expensive zip codes in the country-the Pearl of the South and the Velvet Rut, Austin Texas Hippie Town U.S.A.

Incidentally, that moniker and euphemism for the good vibes and pretty white girls that grow on trees down here has become outdated.  All the hippies live in Smithville now and I’m outta here, too.  Call it The City of Izods&Boots, or, the Town of Technocrats or simply, Bro Country.  Call ’em the New Rich or Fancy Dog Walkers, call ’em whatever you want because I am outta here.  It’s been a long time that I should be far from here and 5 years since I wrote that elegiac paen to my departure from the barrio.  Facebook says I been on there 8 years today, which makes for an interesting capsule of my time down here-beginning with my very first post, a video of Cory Branan singing “Survivor Blues” and ending with, well, “The End” by The Doors.

I’ve learned a lot.  I’m a different man.  I’m making the seismic changes that come from staying in place.  It was real and it was fun but it wasn’t real fun.  I’m staying on this side of the river but I am getting the fuck out of dodge.  I’ve got 4 gigs booked in the next 2 months and 2 pages of contacts on legal yellow, letter-sized paper.  Work in media suits me.  I don’t mind the world, from a good safe distance, and writing about it transforms it somehow, makes even the horrid and unconscionable worth going through.  I’m a fire walker on here, a hard bitten scoop in the hard lands.  And, lovely and overwrought I bring it on home to you, good Reader, my Friend.

See you in Hyde Park motherfucker.

New Century Blues

In Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, Buddhism, buddhist, christianity, employment, hometown, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, new journalism, Poetry, poetry reading, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, Spoken Word, working class, WRITER'S BLOCK, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS, yoga on June 29, 2017 at 12:30 pm

Greetings from the wasteland and hello from the high rooms.  I’m writing this from the War Room, a kitchen in an apartment of the last Confederate Governor of the U.S.’ old place, in sweltering downtown Austin.  I’m writing it on a Monday so I can get the world off my neck.  The afternoons are best for poetry but I blew it out yesterday with a poem so bitter I won’t be able to share it with anyone, except maybe the Devil himself.  Although, when it comes to offending folks, the creation of Art usually wins out.  As it does over:  sentimentality, decency and even privacy-yep, all of these and especially privacy are rolled over in favor of getting product out.  Be it a poem, blog post, Youtube clip or article-content trumps everything.  Which isn’t to say I wanted to hurt you.  That’s not true.  There are some of you I was trying to hurt.  At least I’m not trying to offend.  Whoops.  That’s not true either.  What do you want from me?  I’m a digital garbage man so stick out your can.  If I don’t put out at least 600 words a week, black detritus piles up in my mind and I start weighing heavier and less savory options, if you know what I mean.

I started this blog 7 years ago, emulating Dr. Thompson and all but killing for his place on the pulse, his connectivity and prescience, his wit and high drama and even his gloomy war drum tone.  His predictions always came home to roost, leading Frank Mankiewicz to dub him the “least factual but most accurate” reporter on the Campaign Trail in ’72-and we all know what’s happened since then.  Trust me on this, Brother, if it got too weird for Hunter Thompson then you know we are in for one hell of a ride.  Nutter’s Rule.  I’ve written on it before.  A future on the order of raining frogs and swarming clouds of locusts is all but imminent-because that is the power of dreaming and it’s all those Nutter’s could hope for.  The music they play in mass alone should hip you to the sad imagination of folks who don’t have premarital sex and are afraid to die.  In their defense, we’re all afraid to die-it’s just that some of us have the sense to understand the Wisdom that living their way is just like dying, so we may as well get on with it, which is probably what Dr. Thompson was thinking on that black day in Febuary 2005.

That’s what is wrong with my generation but don’t get me started on my generation.  Or, do.  It’s only Monday.  My next 600 ain’t due up until sometime Thursday, and that’s plenty of time for me to examine my place in this culture and where I fit in to my Generation-because I certainly didn’t know it or fit in at the time.  Shaving your head and donning braces and boots wasn’t popular where I come from.  Neither was skateboarding, or doing anyting except getting your 12 year old girlfriend pregnant and drinking a case of Bush big boys at the trestle on a Friday night.  Playing in a band wasn’t either, believe it or no, at least not the type of music we were playing-but we did it anyway.  Of course I’d want to go back there, like the song says, but if I can’t then I’ll settle for the attitude we had back then.  Because goddamnit, the Buddhists were right, attitude is everything.  We did shit back then, that no one else was doing.  Because we were bored and our parents didn’t care.  We smoked and drank post-Nevermind, and we wrote.  Those journals are gone, or burned, or on a shelf in a cold garage in Middletown, Delaware at my father’s house.  It’s a shame what happened to those journals and the young idea is gone.  We’re all alone in the New Century but connected somehow in the hall of mirrors of social media.

It’s all fucked and I guess it always was.  The real kick in the balls is that never stopped me before.  I haven’t been breathing right for the last year and a half.  It’s been a long time that I should be far from here.  I got a Monk’s Robe Orange 2009 Honda Element with 53,000 miles and some hail damage on it that bothers me way more than it should.  I’ve got 64 copies of All in the wind’s pressing of 150 left, and orders are still coming in.  I’ve got clips of me reading and telling stories that I shouldn’t post if I cared about certain poets in my commnuity’s feelings, which I don’t, so I will.  In 23 minutes I’ll have to report back to my boss, smoke him out and make a dinner run.  5 years ago I walked out of the food service industry for good.  I threw out my serving blacks and began the search for meaningful work.  I’ll let you fill in the blanks as per if I’ve ever found it, and offer that the only meaningful work there is is for yourself.  You can be a slave in the service of another but you’re still a slave.  You can draw your own conclusions, of course, but I should’ve been gone 2 years ago, when I looked back at my life in horror and knew that if I stayed any longer I’d only be dying.

See you coming out the grave, motherfucker.

Our Art

In Activism, alcoholism, anger, ANTI-WAR, Being An Artist, depression, getting sober, mental health, politics, PROTEST, self-help, sober, sobriety, straight edge, suicide, travel, yoga on June 15, 2017 at 12:35 pm

…when you’re sitting across from a doctor in New York and you know that you’re going to have to live out the rest of your life without drinking, and know that it’s entirely impossible to do, to almost 17 years without a drink-it’s impossible not to have some sense of gratitude.
Richard Lewis

You don’t just fucking fall into the abyss
.
-Vinne Paz, BSBB

without which
bones
are the only trace
of our being
having been
-Christia Madacsi Hoffman

Bury me in the colors that everybody hates, and I can take them with me.
Omar Lahyane

You are God hiding from yourself.
-Hafiz

Aho.  This could be some kind of epilogue to the “suicide blog” I wrote last week, drinking Americanos and Bui at the bar in Paradise.  I’m back from the island and healthier than ever but I’d still kill for a cigarette.  I’m in love with Yoga again and it’s a healthy love.  It’s devotional and daily.  I think I might’ve mistaken it for a panacea, and rightly so-the way it made me comfortable in my own skin, something I hadn’t felt for decades before that shiny Fall day in South Austin when I first went to a Yoga class.  Of this I don’t need to remind.  My time at Bat Manor is well documented.  Scroll back through the letters and screeds, the posts, rants and interviews for a Portrait of the Artist As A Beer Swilling Pussy Hound.  Somehow in the middle of all that anger and madness I found Yoga and it’s blossomed in me, and put me through the ranks from a pouch of Norwegian Schag and 6-pack a day to the odd and dysfunctionally sober writer before you.  I still fantasize about smoking, but my desire for bourbon in the a.m. has ceded.  I left it in the sand, out front the patio of my hut where I talked about alcoholism with my friend Jenni.

It’s back to Babylon and putting the time in, on the job and living out my end days in this commune, waiting for some warm thing to come along.  Politics are fucked, that’s nothing new, but I can’t in good conscience sit here in apathy, typing in my underwear with a cold cup of Italian Roast, and not reach out to my congressmen.  It’s the least I can do, especially considering I don’t do anything else politically, or actively, barring this blog and opening the channels of communication about sometimes feeling like you should end your life.  When Affordable Care first came through I really had to reevaluate my anarchistic beliefs about government and man, but that was back in the heady days of the New Century, when Obama was the man.  It was a gravy train.  I was high on the hog living here, sleeping with my Editor drinking whisky in the jar.  Then the other party moved in.  They fucking swarmed.  They had you behind them, The America, because you’re afraid of black people.  So they’re trying to take it away.  It’s business.  It ain’t a two party system but a system that either fucks you outfront or from the back and it used to be the best show in town before you voted in a pro wrestler to lead the free world.

As far as mental health and suicidal blogs are concerned, y’all really surprised me.  You get it and I’m never alone long, here at my outpost in the wasteland.  You understand being in pain so acutely the only way you can see out is the Great Exit.  Or, you don’t, and frankly, some of youse’s ideas about depression and suicide are as archaic and ineffective as bloodletting.  Shame on you if you’ve ever blamed someone for mental illness and what the fuck is wrong with you?  You know that’s their game, right?  Mike Pence would love to try and fix you if you love anything other than a hetero partner you call Mother by your side at all times to keep you from getting The Gay.  Christ.  Sorry.  Ain’t even been back a week and anger’s rising, the angst and ire, my friends and fuel, flooding the veins like a fix.  Now I’m at a loss and I don’t know what to tell you, Brother.  Except this…

Shit’s fucked.  We know this.  People like Mike Pence and Tucker Carlson are walking around breathing the same air as me and you.  But in the other hemisphere they’re learning that empty patriotism and tired American tropes are deadly, Sister-taking out villages full of mothers and children who, like you, only want to live and see another day on this shrinking black ball.  If you can get away then you must.  Disengage. Get the fuck out of dodge and get the world off a you.  I’ve pulled myself, back from the brink, and I’m here to tell the tale and do what I can.  You’re not alone.  You’re one of us.

And if you’re one of them, well, I’ll see you on the street motherfucker.

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.

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

…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.

Slow Day At The Office

In alcoholism, anger, anxiety, Austin, austin music scene, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, day job, getting old, getting sober, Jim Trainer, journalism, media, mental health, mid life, new journalism, PDX, Performance, politics, Portland, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS, yoga on October 21, 2016 at 1:40 pm

It had nothing to do with drugs, the F word or being cool, and everything to do with the fact that Thompson never lost his sense of appropriate outrage, never fell into the trap of accepting that moral compromise was somehow a sign of growth and adulthood.
-Matt Taibbi’s Introduction to the 40th Anniversary Edition of Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 by Hunter S. Thompson

Nothing on climate change, nothing on poverty, nothing on ending the war in Afghanistan, nothing on banks, on housing, on education, on campaign finance, health care, racial injustice….

Jeffrey St Clair on the Presidential Debates on Wednesday 

Welcome back motherfucker.  ‘Tis I, the bitter and grizzled one.  I’m siting here sipping iced coffee with a bum leg-amidst piles of poetry, calendars, lists, and Hunter Thompson books.  I just finished Generation of Swine this week and I’m a quarter into Fear And Loathing On The Campaign Trail ’72.  I have a lot to say about the good Doctor and his eviscerating view of politics in this country but not a damn thing to say about what was going down on just about every TV set in the country last night.  To the disappointment and chagrin of every hard working and earnest participant in this thing we call democracy I am not voting on November 8.   That’s about all I have to say about it.  One less voice oughtn’t tip the scales, right Brother?  The way some of you are carrying on, my silence can only improve the landscape, or at least afford me the peace of mind to get these 600 words written and posted up for you, good reader.

The psoas is cranked tight.  11 days on shift with an anger problem has fucked me, Pilgrim.  I take hot baths and do what Yoga I can.  That, and sessions with the lovely Cecily, coupled with long bouts on my back has been the sum total of my time off so far.  I stepped out to see Turning Tricks With The Darlings chop a man’s dick off onstage last night at Bedpost Confessions; and with these scant hours before my Third Thursday at House Wine tonight, I’ll try and get to the kernel of it.  The Wisdom, as Dr. Thompson has eloquently referred to it.  The reason, the meaning, the gist and the thrust-the why if not the how.
Truth is I can’t tell you nothin, man.  I mean I just spent 296 words telling you how I’m gonna come through with 300 more, and that they will have weight and discern some meaning from the spinning circus of birth and death we are all caught up in.  And just as I set that up and build enough tension and thrust around the thing, I tell you I’ve got nothing.  That I’m laid up in between gigs and the day job with a bum leg and an anger problem.  That I couldn’t give less of a fuck about the dog and pony of Presidential politics, I’m behind deadline on the next book-I should’ve been in Portland by now, and without drugs or alcohol, without the cigarette I need so fucking bad right now, the only thing I can do is write to you.

Oh but what a blessing, eh Sister?  That what’s wrong with me is what’s right with me.  That anger and anxiety, lust and greed and spiritual poverty-this is what spins the wheel of dharma round.  That I’m totally gone and halfway to nowhere.  I don’t mind standing at the back of the theater, dressed in black and sipping seltzer, laughing at Nikki DeVaughn.  That I’m the King of Irish Goodbyes and I don’t mind being alone for long periods of time.  I’m a freak and you’re a freak and we’re all freaks in this Circus-except for the squares, who ain’t right, at all.  In a geeked out way I feel I’m really coming into my own.  I feel like I’m gonna wanna be sober for what comes next.  Life is the strangest trip and I don’t want to miss a thing.  The dark can take its turns, the job can take its pound of flesh.  And the TVs can blare blue light into every house and home as the Autumn rages on-and our days dwindle and we find what little love there is in these waning hours and dare to give of it and make it last.

And that’s all it is.  This blog.  You, me.  This thing we got.  A torch.  Thank you for burning yours back at me.  See you next Thursday motherfucker.

Trainer, Going For The Throat
Austin TX-Nationwide

Dharma…it has to do with one’s life calling. It seems that many people either get way off-track or come close but no cigar. Few actually hit it right on. I’m not necessarily talking about the ‘dream job’. It’s nice to be able to monetize a passion, but there’s often a compromise that happens there.
It’s bigger than that. It’s the burning desire that drives you… its the process of it, the feeling you get from it, it’s all that good stuff you’d do if money, situation, practicality and laziness were not an obstacle.  All of it.
I feel like you have to persistently and tirelessly head in the direction of your Dharma, always. You might feel depressed and unfulfilled if you don’t. Sometimes that can be suppressed and sometimes you have what I call a “self-correction moment”-a midlife crisis, a Saturn Return, a meltdown, or just a big, bold-as-fuck life changing decision. The decision has to be to move toward your Dharma.   It has to be. 
-Brother Chris, from out on the road somewhere in the Pacific Northwest

 

Buddhas On The Road

In alcoholism, anxiety, Austin, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, day job, depression, getting old, getting sober, going for the throat, Jim Trainer, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, music performance, new journalism, new orleans, on tour, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, poetry reading, poetry submission, publishing poetry, punk rock, recovery, self-help, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, Spoken Word, Submitting, submitting poetry, TOUR, travel, travel writing, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS, yoga on September 10, 2016 at 6:53 pm

“Fuck Yoga,” my partner was saying, “you should take up boxing.”
We were on the long slink into Texas from Louisiana.  Crossing the gulf coast underneath godheads of clouds that rained on us as we passed.
“Something where you can hit someone, and get hit.”
I was wound tight but it wasn’t the traffic.  It wasn’t from my third cup of gas station coffee either.
“Just sit back,” I told him and eased the stereo up to 10.
Suddenly the rain broke and the road wound long to the horizon.  A good sign.  I rolled the windows down.  My partner fell asleep without another word.

The close quarters of a black 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe were enough to make us buggy, rolling down the windows or reaching for the stereo, a set of earphones or a piece of gum.  Any way to create some space.  My partner slept for a lot of the drive.  Most in fact, which was ok, and much better than unsolicited advice about my “short fuse” or spartan road diet of sliced apples and bread and cheese from Starbucks.  It wasn’t all bad and in fact was mostly good.  We had a good run and he offered encouragement with his criticisms, especially after my set at Siberia on Saturday.

The gist of it is that in twenty years of booking bands, Bernard can spot talent and according to him I’ve got it.  As much as I’ve heard that over twenty years of performing, his words sank in, really got in there.  It was undeniable and I heard him.  He also offered that maybe the dayjob shouldn’t be anything but.  When I told him my plans of riding my caregiving gig as long as I could he said it was a mistake.  I heard him, too.  This blog ain’t about him though.  At least not specifically.

This post is about a life devoted to the creation of Art.  An attempt to disabuse myself of fearful notions that have only kept me doleful and caged.  I took the safe route.  Perhaps.  I still made Art.  In Yoga this morning I realized that everything I think is just that-what I think.  This is some powerful medicine, Brothers&Sisters, and between the kind words of my tour partner and the self-realization afforded one on the Yogic path, I can see out.  I ain’t so scared anymore.  So, then- what am I waiting for?

I don’t know.  But my laziness knows no bounds.  There’s been a lot of fucking about since we pulled off LaTex Road last Monday.  I started back working full-time, which ain’t easy.  I’ve submitted some work and attempted to book some.  But much like when I was smoking and boozing and knew I was not living authentically-I know now that I’m not at 100%.  The details of it are shameful.  I don’t know why you’d want to read about it, but you do, and for this I am forever thankful.

Philly is the last to be booked on my east coast mini-tour.  Perhaps that’s how it should be but I’ve known about these dates since May- when I pushed back my usual June shows to September, and added Boston and NYC.  Some shit fell through.  Mostly unforeseen but now I know.  Also, I don’t need to be reminded that throughout my endeavors I will find a way to blame myself, to prove that I’m not good enough or worry about screwing it up long enough to actually screw it up.  Fly into Boston at twice the cost of a ticket quoted in May, without radio, without a local third act and without a place to stay.  Not to mention without New York City booked at all.  Some shit fell through.  Other shit I worried myself into a fit over, while doing nothing but laying on my back and masturbating.

Shameful, I know.  It’s fucking crazy being me.  I don’t know what I’d do without you, good reader.  I’m still kicking against it, the blues, insisting on this life and burning down the savage road I first stepped foot on over twenty years ago.  I’m still fucking it up colossally too, making twenty year old mistakes.  It’s as if I’m doing this for the first time, which, in a way, I am.  Sober.  Completely me.  Raw.  Nervous.  Wanting a cigarette so bad I could cry, at times, but knowing that my pain would only stop there.  It’s quite the ride Brothers&Sisters.  I’m quaking in my boots.  I’m nervous and raw and completely me.  Still after it.  Still alive.  Still going for the throat.

Namaste

There is no Buddha but the Buddha that you are.  If you meet the Buddha on the road you haven’t understood what the Buddha is. It is none other than your original mind. The idea of seeing the Buddha as outside of your self is conceptual-as is “becoming enlightened.” One can not become enlightened because that would assume that you are gaining something that you don’t have. Your basic nature is enlightened, awake, free, non-dual. This is completely experiential and not conceptual.  You have to kill the concept of Buddha both inside and out.
JJ Simon