Reflections on Sobriety: One Year

This post looked different initially.

I had this idea that I would write a lengthy tell-all exposé of my previous debauchery. It was going to include everything–the entire narrative: the little (still weirdly tall) wannabe-precocious kid with the alcoholic father with his own tragically alcoholic and tragically dead father, growing up emotionally unstable in a town where the most interesting thing to do was drugs. The kid’s coming of age. His propensity for the philosophical versus the ritualistic self-imposed constraints on his consciousness, and the contradiction thereby established. His gradual use and misuse and abuse of All The Drugs and the curiously linear relationship between grandiosity and insecurity. His noxious, suffocating fear. And, most importantly, the people along the way that he disappointed, let down, or otherwise hurt, and his conscious awareness of the pain he caused them, and the shame of it all.

I was going to write that post. I started to, at least. But it didn’t feel right.

It would be disingenuous as well as dangerous for me to tell you that I’m all better now. It would be disingenuous as well as dangerous for me to tell you that I’m not still a deeply insecure, self-obstructing kid. It would be disingenuous as well as dangerous for me to think that day 365 is any more significant or deserving of celebration than day 3 or day 366.

But what I do want to say–I guess the reason I’m writing this post–is that I’ve found a certain clarity in sobriety. There is a vantage point that before I didn’t think existed; a lighthouse ashore on which I can stand elevated and protected against the battery of waves that is the thinking mind. I’m not always up on the lighthouse. Shit’s not always clear; in fact, more often than not, it’s not. That’s okay. There is an inner peace. I know it because I’ve felt it.

This is the part of the blog post where I have to tell you that I’m not particularly interested in talking about God (unless it’s in some Spinozan pantheistic sense, and even then…). I don’t give ten flying dicks about a Higher Power. The topic is just. not. important.

What’s important is the mind. Your mind. My mind. What’s important is our stability and some shared, sustainable happiness and our ability to circumnavigate the torrential emotional stresses that affect our every decision and maybe, if we’re feeling up to it, to have the cajones to get our shit together, to man up and get our minds right, so that we can cultivate some real kindness, however meager, and do everything within our power to prevent this world from going to shit. What’s important is our flourishing–mine, yours, our species’–and becoming the best possible versions of ourselves.

At least, that’s what’s important for me. Maybe you disagree.

I don’t know that I won’t drink or smoke or abuse prescription pills tomorrow. I don’t think I will, and I really don’t want to spelunk back down into that cave of shadows, but I don’t know I won’t. I do know it’s extremely, extremely unlikely that I drink or smoke or abuse prescription pills today.

And isn’t today what it all comes back to? Isn’t that why I was so put-off by writing at length about my past? Right now, I don’t want to think about the past–right now, I want to think about right now.

Because right now I feel really, really good.

Hail Satan, Tonight!

Observation: I don’t do well on less than eight hours of sleep. It’s like I’m notallthere. Here. Right now. I’m notallhere.

Been going to bed at a reasonable time, somewhere between 10-11pm every night, but recently I’ve been having trouble actually falling asleep. So many thoughts and ideas and anticipations and possibilities. A life of possibilities.

(CONTROVERSIAL OBSERVATION: this is one of the best songs ever written)

I think it’s good that I’m aware of this, the trouble of the falling of the sleep. First step to fixing problem is identifying problem, or something. And the solution, of course, is to come back to the breath. The neverendingpath of thoughts and ideas–the torrent of words and dreams and fantasies constantly flooding my mind–that shit is useful at times, but it’s not real. What’s real is the body. What’s real is the breath.

Come back to the breath. Breathe.

(Or don’t, and continue fantasizing hollow fantasies wonderfully spectacularly unreal fantasies future thoughts fantasies wow, and have trouble sleeping. Your choice.)

Nts. 6/5

For the eight months immediately following my resolution to stop drinking and the implementation of that resolution, I couldn’t breathe out of my left nostril.

Sometimes if I put a finger to the right nostril, essentially cutting off air flow of that channel, which I often did out of sheer boredom and frustration and then eventually habit, a slight but steady train of good ol fashioned air would squeak in through the left; the nostril, while not completely gone, was at its death throes.

One day it kind of just started functioning again.

ass still to air

He drags himself across the intersection shirtless, ass-exposed.

By the looks of things, he’s either 30 or 80 years old. All you can say for sure is it’s hard to say for sure. One reason for this is that hair protrudes from and grows with the skin on his skull like untended shrubs outside an abandoned house, obscuring any good look at his face. And the hair from the top of the skin of his skull, once dreadlocked but now unshackled and wild with dirt, grows over and with his shrubs of beard to form a single menacing haircowl. There is more hair than face on his face.

His legs, too, are hairy, and loosely covered in what look like they might’ve been black cargo pants a very, very long time ago. They girdle his waist like normal pants, his pants, but then on the backside drape into a thong from which scraps of pant hang and expose his hirsute skin. The fact that the dangling thong of pant is not stitched to its kin on the frontside by way of some tween-leg-gooch connection is uncomfortably obvious. Oblong ovoid shapes have been torn, or somehow otherwise been removed, from the back of each leg. A man before you with a thong of pant between cheeks and no shirt and it’s what, 8:30?

You think to yourself it’s almost like his pants and normal pants differ in teleologies.

His back is at a 40-degree angle relative to the street; he looks more like a four-legged creature trying to walk on two legs than a two-legged creature trying to walk on four. A black hefty Hefty trash bag filled with godknowswhat is slung over his shoulder as if it were a bindle. He might wish he had a bindle except for the fact that it’s been a long time since he wished anything. The bag rests behind his unlocked locks on his barren back and hangs just above his waist so as to not obstruct your view of the cheeks.

Things are tense now. Although your first thought is something like where did he come from this man just came out of nowhere, eventually you reason he must’ve been coming south on Brazos from up where the shelter is. He had to come from somewhere, right? Unless he actually did come out of nowhere, that is, get dropped here through some black hole worm hole time manipulation 5th-dimension shit. The idea is worth taking seriously given the fact that this man does not belong here in front of you at this moment. But here he is.

Because the thing is it’s clear this is not just another panhandler or bum–he’s not like the rest of them that sometimes you see on the streets looking dejected and resigned and pathetic. He is not asking anything from anyone and he is not pathetic. He is ravenous and horrible and wild and kinetic and naked, mostly naked, with anger so palpable it radiates from him like light from lightning. His gravity does not feel good. He drags himself across the crosswalk and, looking at him, you quiver.

And you didn’t notice it before but now, scanning his body again, you realize it’s not just his hair that’s dirty but every square inch of skin and clothes. Dirt so enmeshed in his skin that dirt has become skin; so much dirt that you can’t distinguish between what is dirt and what is hair and what is skin and what is he doing here this creature what is his story and what is happening? What has happened?

His ass and its cheeks are especially dirty.

And so but here he is, a human male covered in crud and not-so-covered in scraps of black pants and holding a trash bag close to his body, who has now made it across the street and who, strangely, is now standing still with his eyes closed, like a monastic about to light himself on fire, outside of some of the most expensive condominium apartments in the entire state.

The vectors of venture capitalists and project managers and techies walking to work turn parabolic in the early morning air. These people cannot get farther away. The lengths at which they go out of their way to avoid the creature are almost comical, and you might even laugh if before you weren’t this hyena prowling mostly naked in the cool sunrise air of central texas downtown texas austin texas the liberal oasis of all of texas and a paragon of progress for all the world to see.

No one says anything.

And suddenly without opening his eyes he drops the Hefty and puts his face way down close to the ground. The thong of black pant rises on his back as he bends over and you think Jesus Christ as if this could’ve gotten more indecent. But you keep staring anyway. And once he feels sufficiently close to the ground, once his face is like violently near the sidewalk, he forms two sickles with his two middle fingers and puts them right down on the ground right next to his disheveled skull and he cries out like some ungodly apparition, loud enough for the entire continent to hear, “FUUUUUUUCK YOUUUUUUUUU.”

And then he picks up his sickles and his trash bag and turns the corner of Brazos and 2nd, ass still to air, and goes out of sight. And a couple seconds later you put one foot on a pedal and kickstart off the ground with the other and ride out on 3rd to work and all you can think is this man will probably in all honesty be dead by this time next week and no one will ever see him again and he will never scream fuck you again at the sidewalk on 3rd and it will probably not be a graceful death

and all I really want to do is give you a hug and a bath and tell you I am so, so, so sorry.

you are good

what does it mean to why do i keep what the fuck. chill. chill man can’t you be chill. like them. nothing. remember that time. dude that is so stupid. haha. her face. what. worried you smoke too many cigarettes. jesus why do these people listen to such bad music. where is he I need a cigarette fuck. why is she. you still got it champ. beer bongs are great. something to smoke. remember that time. i am hunter s. kerouac. this is it. fuck that. i want sex her. where is weed. hahahahaha. have to piss. you are grotesque fuck mirrors. vonnegut soul. is he coughing now on a bathroom floor. bob is crazy. this shit is crazy man. where is carl. where is she. can’t believe we’re here. fuck belief. another cigarette. outside is better. kerouac died from liver cancer. this shit is awful. stop being lame. you are good. what does it mean to why do i keep what the fuck. these people are so god damn boring. nothing. weed for everyone here. good shit man. remember that time. twenty one years old wow. how did you get here. you still haven’t started that thing. what will you do tomorrow. nothing. shit is getting out of control. no taste beer. stop staring. go talk. or was it cirrhosis. who wants a cigarette. colorless piss small dick in the cold. better cirrhosis than a shotgun to the dome. maybe not. chill. why is she and what does it mean to why do i keep. this shit is crazy. fucking this music and everyone. you’re stilling stare. is kicked that. remember time that and yes so why doesn’t this feel like it used to and why doesn’t this feel like it used to and why doesn’t this feel like it used to and why don’t you feel like you used to and why don’t you feel like you used to and why don’t you feel like you used to and why aren’t you what you used to be?

Emotivism for a Fledgling Buddhist

Missiles. Missiles. The launch of missiles.

United States missiles. Missiles. Sixty missiles in sixty seconds missiles. Missiles. Yay missiles boo missiles—missiles. Missiles trump missiles. Missiles. Syria struck missiles Assad missiles, can you believe it US of A missiles.

Missiles. Democratic missiles. Imperial missiles. Missiles for Christ’s sake god damn it missiles.

This is the day that no lord has made.

Ah, but have you forgotten?  Life contains itself in you. And fleshbag that you are, insignificant and full of shit, you are the maker.  You are the lord and this is your day. So from the ribs of your own body, what will you breathe into life? In the face of chaos, what will you make?

Smile at the grocery attendant and ask the UPS deliverer how is your day going, sir? There are enough missiles. You needn’t be another.