Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Just finished my rounds in the Gator. It’s crisp outside at 20F but not too bad.

I really like living in a town where I can see the Milky Way at night. I work with people whose company I enjoy. I have the happy expectation of gardening and all the fun that planning for that entails. I’m making steady though very incremental progress with school. I’m certainly not starving. My dogs are healthy. I have a few very good friends.

These are the moments that banish loneliness, regret, anxiety, and the incumbent sadness all otherwise ubiquitous at my age. None of those things are far away if I care to prick that pregnant vein with a point of desire. But it takes a very short list of these qualities of life for which I am thankful to make all that negativity recede into the mist. In this way I may midwife my own happiness daily and remain engaged. I can lay my head down tonight thankful for all of that, because I looked for it and engaged in it willfully.

I don’t expect happiness. I simply want life to be interesting. And I am never disappointed, because I am always interested in the smallest things about my days and grateful for them all.

Life is a big adventure.

Tuesday, 25 December 2017

My principle memories of Christmas decorating from my childhood are of the things we did by hand. Mom would pop a big batch of popcorn, and I would take a needle and thread and create long ropes of it to drape around the tree. I would also make chains of aluminum foil to go around it as well. I don’t think I would even consider doing that now as expensive as aluminum foil is today. We also made ornaments from egg cartons with Elmer’s glue and glitter by taking the individual pieces of the carton separate from the rest and gluing them together and making them sparkle and sticking a hook in the top. We made stars with drinking straws and tinsel.

We had plenty of purchased decorations as well, of course, and we were hardly poor by any measure when I was a child. But the things we did by hand made the tree our own. We always had a real tree, and we always purchased it on the Saturday before December 15. Everyone had a stocking, and our Santa presents were placed around that with the remaining gifts, including the ones from our parents under the tree. Santa presents were generally more spectacular and never wrapped.

My sisters were excited when I was born, because it meant they got to have Santa for another twelve years. But I think we always had Santa gifts and parent gifts every year anyway. It was just a thing with us. Santa would give me a bicycle or a Lost in Space robot, and he would give my brother a new Motorcycle. We did well when I was a kid. My parents were generally in hock from Christmas to vacation and then back again over one or the other occasion. They spoiled us rotten.

After morning at our house we trekked to my father’s parents house, first at the farm in Grapevine and in later years in Irving, and we would enact the entire thing over again. Most years we took a trip to my mother’s parents in Austin as well, either just before or after Christmas for a quieter celebration at their historic old house on W31st Street.

When I was older and living with dad, and my sisters and brother had children of their own, our traditions changed a bit and became what my nieces and nephews would remember today – my mother’s fish soup on Christmas Eve and dad’s trip to Grandy’s chicken on Christmas morning for cinnamon rolls and other treats before we all ended up at his mother’s house for the big early afternoon meal and food coma. My grandmother would inevitably present one of my sisters with a handmade quilt or some other treasure that would bring them to tears.

I don’t generally join other people’s family celebrations at holidays, because my own memories are too precious to me. I’ve managed this year to enjoy the holiday as something of an attenuation. So many of those people are gone now or thousands of miles away. Last night I walked down to the community supper at the Methodist church here in town, so I could be around people and have a hot meal with company. A woman from California sat next to me with her daughter, and I struck up a conversation with her. I found myself feeling a little sad for the first time in ages. I touched ever so lightly upon that deep current of loss, and I retreated from it before it carried me very far. However, for several days now I’ve carried the image of stringing popcorn in our old kitchen on French Street with my mother, of the excitement I felt at pulling out the boxes of old family ornaments and the creche we set on the piano every year.

I never once doubted as a child that I was loved or that I was a part of something larger than myself that had its own story of which I was simply the latest expression. I had a place and a right to exist. I still have that, and I treasure it today. I can’t imagine a better gift than that at Christmas time.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Well, I just returned from a trip to the Island of Misfit Toys where I paid someone $13 to watch me pee.


I want to thank the staff of ATC for making urination special again. I’m going to get a pair of Huggies Pull-Ups for my next trip.

I have finally begun to make progress on school again after some period of indolence and stagnation where studying was akin to wading through cold molasses on a daily basis and almost anything that offered itself as distraction was sufficient to pull me away from my work. I will make it through reimbursement methodologies somehow, and then medical terminology should be a breeze for me and pretty intuitive.

In the month since I was released from boys’ camp it’s taken more effort and time than I would’ve expected to adjust back to regular daily life on my own. Otis should be back by tomorrow night, and then things will truly be more normal for me again. Living in a dorm with forty or fifty other guys for five months was a big change for me, but I got used to it.

Anyway, I’m stoked for Otis to come home.

Sunday 4 June 2017

Even as my employer slumbers yet will I momentarily set about silently and assiduously increasing the leisure of others, first at the pool, then in various and sundry other places here in the park. I have, in fact, become the cantankerous old man of Scooby Doo fame who, if not for those damned kids, would have succeeded in his fiendish plot.

so now I’m over in the west dorm. Murphdog took one for the team last night, and I’m over in the air-conditioned, double-matted comfort with my buddy Nate, so our gay-ass jailhouse bromance may continue to flourish. That is as it should be, but I’m rather surprised at Murph for being so selfless and taking a top bunk. We steady talk shit to one another every day. I’m not sure how to act now. Though I will get on him about his mess, albeit politely at first.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

I have web access in this joint. Who knew? It is, however, fast approaching the moment when I have to get offline, so this is necessarily brief. Anyway, things are not so bad here. I have civilian clothes and books. The food isn’t great, but I’m cleaning my plate just the same. I never saw a vending machine with five separate selections of Ramen noodles and canned sardines. I imagine I will lose some weight while I’m here, so there’s an upside to everything.

I miss Otis and Buddy. I won’t dwell on that today.

29 December 2016

Yesterday was supremely difficult and uncomfortable, and this morning I woke with something of a new attitude once more. I’m like a goose, I suppose; every morning it’s a new world. Yesterday I was in a state of paralysis dwelling on a seemingly unending chain of loss and despair and, frankly, shame. Once more I traced the outlines of a fading image, knowing I’d burned my ships on the beach and could never go home, knowing that much of that notion of home was itself just another illusion I’d constructed and informed to find something authentic in me and, failing that, had destroyed and discarded. This morning I am once again in the present moment.

The last few months have been something of a winnowing process as I have continually stripped and shook away attachments and become willing to let go of old ideas and find some kernel or essence of myself upon which I can build something new. I find that there is something of value to be preserved, but there is much clutter. And maybe this was necessary. Maybe it took this shock to create an environment sufficient for me to be willing to even stop and look. I’m sure it did, actually. And it took this sense of dread over what lies in front of me to force me to remain in that state of willingness and effect that change and to behave differently.

There is much work to do. I used to think that life continually handed me an open-faced shit sandwich on one slice of bread, and my job was simply to chew and smile and declare that the taste was to my liking. The truth is that I made that meal every time. Life handed me a never ending set of possibilities, and I chose the ingredients that suited my appetites. That truth is difficult to chew and swallow, but it provides a much better nourishment than the plate I created in the past. And it gives me the freedom to choose a different menu now.

Is it necessary that I face more? The difficult certainty for me is that it is. My only concern at this point is that I have something to build upon and a place from which I can move forward. The truth for me is that I can create that out of nothing, and the world will cooperate if I am, in fact, truly willing. There is a great deal of fear for me in that, and that is the real bogeyman in my life at present. That is the thing to be faced.

I don’t think I could have ever done that so long as my father was alive. Perhaps I could’ve never even done that so long as any of those old men in my life who behaved as surrogates for him were present. My attachment to my teachers was always too strong for me to carry their example forward and walk alone. At fifty-three I can sometimes still be very much a child in that respect. That is also a difficult truth for me.

There is another truth I have discovered. I was prepared to fake compassion but not to feel it. It is an awkward instrument in my hands,  but its effect on me has been surprising. I have begun to reach out and find it in that space between me and others who are fumbling around in this same mist of uncertainty and fear, this fog of attachment to old ideas and muddied thinking. It is a powerful tool, so long as I wield it from a place that is authentic to my experience and grounded in a motive of honest willingness. I have found that I can be kind for the sake of being kind.

I am thankful for today. I am thankful for my sobriety. I am thankful for my friends near and far. I am thankful for George. I am thankful for the companionship of my dogs. I am thankful for the roof over my head and food to eat. I am thankful for my health. I am thankful for the possibility of continued change and understanding. I am thankful for the talents I possess and the opportunity of their expression. And I am thankful for the gift of willingness.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

I have too many books open currently. I was happy to be reading again, but my focus has diffused over too many titles. I have The Spanish Anarchists, Merton’s Ascent to Truth, Ram Dass, Rudolph Rocker’s intro to Anarcho-Syndicalism, and another I can’t remember offhand. This will never do. This is also a nice problem to have at the moment.

This is the first year in many years in which I have planted no trees at all. I regret that a great deal. I’ve planted nothing this year. It is the time of year when I would otherwise be planning my garden for winter and spring, and the lack of that activity is suddenly a void I’m noticing. It may be a long time before I am able to once again have my hands in the dirt in a substantial way. I was unsure if that desire was even authentic to me, but I’m beginning to see that it really is. I was walking the dogs this morning pre-dawn and began sculpting the vacant lot behind the Days Inn next door in my mind and filling it with trees and swales and landscape features to optimize its potential. It is a smallish plot of just a few acres of adobe clay and scrub, but I had it teeming with growth in a few short minutes mentally.

I may have no gift for accomplishing any of that. I know other people who dive right in without a second thought and achieve much where I only imagine it. But I can’t help imagining it everywhere I go. It’s where my mind ventures automatically when I’m not overwhelmed by anxiety and dread or regrets.

I miss gardening with Josh. I miss building with Chris and tinkering around with things. I miss the act of using my imagination and seeing things grow. I miss my sandbox. I miss having Big Plans all the time.

Maybe I fucked everything up. I was lost. I’m still lost in a very real sense. I’m in limbo at the moment. But I have an inkling of a sense of what is real for me now that much of the clutter has been wiped away or tossed for good. I have something to want again that feels authentic to me. I can be happier wanting than I ever could dreading the future. I can endure anything if there is a kernel of desire in my mind for once again feeling dirt between my toes.

It’s possible that I could do all of that right here in the Uncompahgre Valley somewhere. I suddenly have the urge to play again.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Well, I had another of those classes this evening and learned something new. I’m not court-referred to these, but I suppose I will be in the future. I didn’t think it would hurt to let them enroll me in them in any case. And I enjoy inter-acting with the other clients and getting out of the house for a couple of hours to make the short walk over there every Tuesday night. But I didn’t think I would learn something I hadn’t heard before.

The woman who facilitates the class told me tonight that addiction is not a disease. She said we are responsible for our addiction. I told her that the AMA had classified it as a disease in 1973, and she said, “That’s changed.”

I don’t think she’s correct about that, actually, but I didn’t argue. She said, “I don’t believe that relapse is a part of recovery the way they say in AA.”

Well, they don’t say that.  Relapse is never a part of recovery. Relapse isn’t a part of the recovery in any disease. Hence the “relapse” part. And yeah, I’ve heard plenty of people in 12-step programs say that relapse has played a part in their recovery, and I get it. But it’s really just a part of their story. And what they’re saying doesn’t speak for 12-step programs as a whole. I would like to ask her if she believes that the brain chemistry of an addict is different, because that appears to be the latest scientific consensus. Perhaps she is a facilitator on the side with the Smart Recovery people in town or somethin. I’m not sure. I don’t really care. But I’m curious where she stands on current scientific data.  I mean, she does work at the Center for Mental Health, so it would be a comfort to know that she’s on the same page as everyone else.

The best thing that has happened for me this past week has been talking to someone who is having a really rough time with all this in his own life. I also hooked a guy up with my truck so he could find a job and get to work and back, since I’m unable to drive for nine months anyway. And I started doing my schoolwork in earnest and have done well so far on the first couple of modules. I have an arraignment on Friday in Gunnison County where I’ll finally find out when my court date will be. I’m supposed to get an appointment with a psychiatrist to do a complete psych evaluation on me and also get a complete physical sometime soon. Perhaps they’ll find that I have inoperable brain cancer, so I can be tragic instead of pathetic. I don’t really wish for that, but it would likely be easier to deal with objectively. I also need to find a foster home for Otis. I think I have one for Buddy already. I’m not eager to turn either of them loose, even though it would be logistically much easier and simpler for me to do everything I am required to do without having to care for them. They’re all I have left.

I sent out Christmas cards last week for the first time in years, and I had fun doing it. I was a little shocked at how expensive they were, but I didn’t buy cheap cards. Everyone I know well is at least a thousand miles away, so it helped me to reach out in longhand for a change.

I put my house on the market yesterday. It’s already been shown once in that time. That will give me a boost in my finances if it sells before I go to court.

I trust that everything is going to be fine, even if it’s not always fun. I’m always curious about what’s going to happen next anyway.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Today was tough, but I’ll live.

I’m supposed to construct what an ideal situation would look like for me, but I’m not sure I have that capacity for the suspension of disbelief left. If all my present difficulties were lifted tomorrow, I’d have no more idea what I want than I do tonight. I used to construct all sorts of ideas to move toward. At present, I just keep moving forward incrementally toward whatever is coming. I’m not unhappy. I’m not particularly anxious. I’m just at one with my dread and my big emptiness.

I’m not sure that this is at all a bad thing. I am more interested in who I want to be than in what sort of circumstances I’d like to create or find for myself. I do know that I would like to be free again.

The time is fast approaching when I will have to find a new home for Otis and Buddy. I should do this perhaps before the new year begins or just after. Buddy shouldn’t be difficult to re-home, but Otis may be a challenge. I’d like to find a foster home for each of them, but I could be gone more than a year, even two or three perhaps. I could be gone for anywhere from three months to twelve years, and that’s about as specific as it gets until I am standing in the courtroom. I should be realistic about it, I suppose. I wanted to care for both of them until they were gone or I was. They are all that remains of my attachments to any kind of former life I knew. We have our routines, and we have an understanding, and I talk to them.  This is perhaps the most difficult part of all of this, and it is all my creation.

I want to be kind. I want to be quiet. I want to be still. I want to be free from the tyranny of my impulses, my emotions, my appetites, my desires. I would like to be free of my fears, and I am beginning to think the path to that is to see them all come true and to keep moving forward. I have little choice. My current circumstances are having a paralytic effect. I can move forward only in moments.

So my perfect world, my ideal, is to finish this school and have Otis and Buddy return to me. I would read and write and support myself and learn to live again. I will continue to pray, with or without consciousness of any Presence to affirm that. I will behave as if what I have always doubted and discounted were true.

I think I came up here to buy a farm and live that dream I’d always had. That all seems so remote this evening – the sound of running water, the market garden and the orchard.

The truth is that it was always coming to this moment. That un-purposefullness, that “nothing” that has always driven my movements, that noise between my ears, has impelled me here.

Is there a God? Anything? I am willing to believe in something, if only to see what happens if I do. I am willing to see what kind of person I become. I am willing to let go of everything I thought was important to me, that defined and informed my life. At the moment I am dogged by a spiritual lethargy, partly because I’ve been convinced for some time now that I will die soon. There is a juvenile impulse in me that wishes for that, if only because it would free me from facing any more difficulties. However, life still interests me. I’m still curious about what is happening and even what I am doing. I am still interested in my own narrative, despite the fact that I feel largely a spectator to it at this point.

Life is still beautiful to me. I still have a fundamental sense of wonder about everything.  I still love people, even if I shrink from their company most of the time. I still wish to be kind, though I am most often abrasive and far too candid in my dealings with others.  I still talk to God and consider myself especially beloved while openly talking of my disbelief. And I ignore that bifurcation, or at least I own it as just part of who I am.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Just got home from Olathe and seeing the folks out there.

I started putting up all the old pictures here on the site over the weekend, and I ran out of steam quickly after just putting up what I had for 2004. I’m less interested in swimming around in memories at the moment than I am in moving forward, however incrementally. There’s no magic in my past. There’s little use in it as an escape, since I know every step of the story so far and can feel the plot limping along from one stumble to the next. There were colorful moments along the way and much happiness, however ephemeral. But there was also much misery, and my attachment to all that only clouds my judgment today.

I started my school today and aborted at the end of the first module. I’ll pick it up again tomorrow and go at it once more and keep going at it. I got rattled this morning pretty easily, but that’ll pass.

I’m supposed to ask myself some simple questions every night before I turn in. Was I resentful? Dishonest? Selfish? Afraid? Do I owe anyone an apology? Have I kept something to myself that should be discussed with someone else before I sleep? I don’t generally make it to the end of the day with anything like that hanging over my head, at least nothing that burns very brightly. But how do I define my honesty? And when am I not self-centered most of the time? I’m almost completely self-contained, though in recent months I’ve made it a point to be open to interacting with others on terms other than my own whenever possible. That, for me, is distinctly uncomfortable at times, but I’m somewhat looser and more reasonable as a result of it all.

I had dinner with George tonight. It’s been a couple of weeks at least since I last broke bread with him and talked. He asked as we left Mi Mexico if I wanted to spend more time visiting, and I begged off, saying I didn’t feel comfortable having him stay up too late and drive in the dark. I had things to do before heading to Olathe, and the dogs had been alone in the RV for a while. But I’d like to spend more time with him, just the same. He tethers me, and I act like an adult around him.

I packed away most of my punk shirts in a plastic tub this evening. I have more stuff to pack away, like extra towels and such. I’ll just leave handy what I really use and need on a regular basis. It’s 1030 now, and I should crawl in bed with Buddy and get some rest. Tonight I’m thankful for today. I’m thankful that I’m sober. I’m thankful for my friends near and far. I’m thankful for George. I’m thankful for the companionship of my dogs. I’m thankful for a roof over my head and food to eat. I’m thankful for my health. I’m glad that I have some peace. No more “manic nights spent speculating in the place where love is sold by orange neon glaring light”.

This week I should receive my school materials and my Bakunin and Kropotkin books.

i’m sleepy. Goodnight.