Dead Heat

It isn’t a butterfly exactly but it could be something similar, like a fire, like something which purifies, burns and then resurrects. A phoenix, is that what it would be? I just don’t want to ink something permanently onto my body that I can’t get behind, that I don’t feel absolutely belongs to me. I want a design which reflects the magnitude of the transformation I have gone through this year. Sober day one was six months ago but it could have been a lifetime, it could have been many years and it could have been yesterday. They tell you to take one day at a time because otherwise there is no reliable sense of time at all. You are ten thousand years old, you have lived and died ten thousand times, you are new born every morning, every evening, every minute of each and every day.

As it happens, this particular Saturday afternoon is gray, rainy, and not hot, which is a relief to me because I hate the heat. I am also not terribly fond of the sun or sunny days, though it seems they bother me less now that I am off the drink. I’d no idea how imbalanced my hormones, my inner chemicals and therefore my emotions and feelings, were – shot to shit by my daily indulgences. Did you know that drinking kills off your ability to experience pain and also pleasure, and not just pleasure from drinking but all pleasure from doing anything? It’s fucked up but it’s true. These days the thought of licking on an ice cream cone sends watery anticipation sliding all across my little pink tongue. Back then I couldn’t imagine wasting time, money or calories on anything that didn’t promise to sever my prickled senses from the unbearable pain of reality.

It is still strange to me, jarring in a way, to see people drinking in movies. I think because I have no immediate or instinctual desire to actually pick up and do it, too. I could never have watched people drinking before. Not without joining in. Whether they were with me in real life or not, drinking was always the thing to do around other people. Or alone, as it were. Didn’t matter. Only the drinking really mattered. Only the beautiful euphoria of the numbness softly blanketing my limbs and organs and brain. Maybe I’m not supposed to romanticize that part but christ it was so sweet, so smooth, so divine. And that is exactly why it is so hard to clutch sobriety close to your precious chest each time you think you want to drop kick it in the mouth. You know what rock solid bliss you’ve got but damn if you don’t still, sometimes, secretly, fantasize about what you once had. The shimmering siren of succulent self-abuse.

I should shower but I’m sick of showering every goddamn day. Instead I sit sipping coffee and observing the long tendrils of my lovely green ivy plant as they sway gently in the breeze which flows through my open bedroom window. I’m preparing to send my manuscript out to a very cool small press on Monday, they issued a call for submissions and they seem very genuine, very devoted to the beautiful craft of writing.

For no real good reason, I think of all the friends who have come and gone in my life and wonder what some of them would think of me now if they knew I was clean. It doesn’t matter. All of my old lives are very much over and done with. At this very moment I am all alone in a room not missing or wanting for anything or anyone. No cravings. No illusions about writing or alcohol or relationships or life in general. No nothing except for what is. And how this is what life is for the most part, little did I ever previously realize. Just empty nothingness, unchartered waves of peace and confusion on repeat. Until we crash in with our arrogance and greed and trembling anxieties, roughing it up just to fuck with the silence because the silence doesn’t answer to us and that pisses us all the way off, which the silence doesn’t care about either. It just stays and stays because it’s got nothing to prove and no one to please.

Sucker Punch

Early evening drapes itself in hazy light and a kind of warmth which is too heavy, too insistent. I finish my espresso as I stare out the upstairs window into the street. The sun is too high but that’s all I ever say. I’m dying to write but all that spills out of my empty brain are these few words worth so little. I read somewhere that fame is what most people crave not realizing it’s the best way to kill off your creativity. Privacy is a must, secrecy a necessity, and these days we are hella short on both. A friend sent me something by Hemingway about having to do the work of writing for no applause. I get that. I do that.

I used to do it with a lot more magic, a lot more lust and juice. Lust for what I am not really sure anymore. But I did have this thought earlier today as I drank coffee and stood at the copier machine: where has the magic gone? I swear I once had it. I once had poetry and desire, visions and hungers, thirsts, cravings. Part of my trouble, of course, I know. But also the beauty of words, their power to seduce, electrify, and enchant, once held me completely captive to their charms. I struggle to even grasp any of that now, in this muggy regular late afternoon. What used to excite me simply doesn’t anymore.

I pick up a black ball point pen. Draw snakes wrapped around long stemmed roses in the pages of my notebook. They are not very good but it doesn’t matter, really. You know, I wanted to tell you that when a sick kind of oppressive menace grips a culture, one that demoralizes, shreds, skins, deadens you inside, there are no marchers in the streets screaming about it, because of the deadness. It is not a ferociousness which cries out in the heat of night but a colossal silence, a cripple of inability to speak, to dream, to flower. Each day is the same as the last, each day is as gray and plain and sad but not impossible to get through. Just emptier. More vacant. The way it happens is the magic slides away. Dismay disorders the soul and clouds the eyes.

The Fuck?

As I wander the tiny boutique shop off the main street of town, my eyes skim over all the various outrageously over-priced items: fancy stem ware, stuffed animals, books, candle holders, scented bath crystals, etc. I stop in front of a small table adorned with assorted charcuterie boards and tiny cheese slicing knives which are accompanied by a package of cocktail napkins (8 for one hundred thousand dollars). The napkins are white with bold black cursive lettering which reads – and I am not making this up – “Shut Up, Liver, You’re Fine.” Aside from being really stupid, the napkins make me cringe in another sense entirely. I find myself imagining actual people at an actual festive event, attempting to *party* around these pitiful napkins whilst trying not to think about their disgusting livers which are, apparently, speaking to them? Begging for mercy? It’s so gross for so many reasons, not the least of which is that I guess we’ve now graduated to a next level kind of collectively kitchy suicidal alcoholism? Like literally on purpose offing ourselves in plain view at social events? Cool, cool, cool.

I’ve not had a lick of alcohol in 188 days. I run like the wind and sleep like heaven. But I still wake up and live in this same bizarre, ignorant world which makes so little sense to me, drunk or sober. I try to wrap my head around going back to the office and working as the country I live in descends further into absolutely horrific, chaotic madness. The thing is though it isn’t totally chaotic in the sense that it is not uncalculated or random. Any semblance of a rational, sane society is willingly dismantling itself right before our very eyes. We take the lunacy and give it ammunition. We take the innocent and we make them weaker and blinder and dumber still. And idiotic we stand laughing and snacking and partying all around it.

Killer On the Road

Jim Morrison had the sexiest voice of anyone ever and now he’s gone but still he sings gravelly voiced from the speaker down the hall as my husband takes a bath after his morning run. This country is fucked and we are stuck right down in it for better or worse (worse, mostly, it turns out). I’ve no idea what to do about that but I feel it a lot deeper than he does, this I know for sure.

Not much I can do about that either. Can’t yell or scream or cry or seethe enough to make it as real for him as it is for me because he is a man and he is from another generation. One that may actually be taken care of til it dies off. But I am a woman and I am of a generation which will likely not be taken care of even though I have earned it, doesn’t matter. Faith? Hope? Drugs? Lies? Truth? Life? Addiction? Death? Who is in charge and who is not. Do we fight or do we flee. Should I post on the blog today? I think this over as I sip my coffee. What to say? Why am I doing this and who is it for? I have recently considered becoming addicted to cigarettes on purpose just for something shit to do.

I text with a friend about moving to Costa Rica. I know nothing at all about Costa Rica but turns out I know pretty much fuck all about America, too, so whatever will be will be. Independence Day is hilarious. Peace and love, hot dogs, water ice, and bullshit all down your naive throat. I don’t blame myself for getting drunk all the times I did. Or trying to blunt the pain of this extremely painful life. Outside my window there are green trees and soft breezes blowing through them like whispers of a time when I was too young to understand how my life was being disassembled right out from under me.

Fireflies. Fireworks. The smell of a charcoal grill and the feel of a cherry popsicle dangling from my tiny little mouth. There was an innocence to summer grass beneath my feet and the red and blue twinkle of July 4th party lights reflecting on the surface of the pool in the yard at night. I remember it and smile for a second, smile briefly but sincere none the less. I hate it here. Jim Morrison is drowned out by hedgetrimmers. Poetry is a wheel of cotton candy pink birth control pills that some bible thumper prude Christian refuses to distribute to a hot young thing at the local Walgreens because #religiousfreedom. I never want to have sex again because everything is politics and smells like stale beer on abusive breath and tastes like the butts of cigarettes drowning in the stagnant water left for the mosquitos in the bird bath which sits peeling and rusting in the 12 noon suburban sun.

Tampon Luxury

In real life I despise the guy and everything he stands for. He hates women but disguises his hatred with grand performances of fake affection and by ‘disguises’ I mean hides it in plain sight for anyone who is paying the slightest bit of attention to notice which admittedly seems to be few and far between. But in my dream, I’m hugging him tight and crying on his broad sculpted shoulder as he soothes my hurting heart. I couldn’t tell you why it hurts so much exactly but I tell him it’s because no one understands me and that’s close enough to the truth if I have to use words to convey the jumble of emotions which lies tangled in a ball of ache somewhere between my chest and my throat. I’m inclined to explore the chakras there for clues to unlocking my highest potential but don’t because I am exhausted. I don’t want to lift a finger or even my head from the pillow when the day rolls out and tumbles in through my window, splashing me with its somber gray light.

I change my tampon and its like a fucking murder scene. They say these days in these times I shouldn’t put this information onto the internet but I am old enough now that my cycle is all kinds of over the place so whoever is *tracking* the intimate details of my very basic life can fuck all the way off. I pull on my hooded sweatshirt in an attempt to disappear my bloated creaky body entirely, put the coffee on in the hopes of feeling less dead inside, and wonder about all the girls out there who are already pregnant against their will and staring down the barrel of carrying a life to term in a way that can only end their own. Forced smiles have become forced births and we act like that is such a stretch from one to the other. We have made the girls and women into machines.

Across the street, the neighbors have strung-up a shimmery pink sign that reads Welcome Home Baby Girl and there are pink balloons everywhere, too. We all congratulate the young father who is hugging his little three year old before returning to the hospital to tend to the new mommy and I feel sick to my stomach. Maybe it’s because I’ve got my period or maybe it’s because the thought of getting pregnant literally physically sickens me. It always has. Baby making was never my calling and by calling I mean my desire. There is no such thing as a ‘calling’ we just want certain things for ourselves so deeply they won’t stop bugging us until we either get them, do them, or breathe our last breath trying to make happen one or the other. The problem is that capitalism tells us what we want is a cute sundress delivered overnight, the sexy glimmer of immediate satisfaction thereby stifling our much grander more beautiful, imaginative, and dangerous cravings long enough to bleed us dry of the cash it might require to obtain them.

Increasingly, and I am not about to say anything shocking mind you, the “United” States has become a most menacing place to live out one’s life or what remains of it. While you are so busy being secretly terrified of getting caught unsuspectingly in a mass shooting as you go to collect your Cinnamon Toast Crunch at the local grocery store, the high court slashes a line across your rights to do with your body what you decide is best for your body and that’s the end of it. Everything is a lie built on top of the biggest lie which is that white men get everything they want because they are entitled to take it and women are nothing at all except decorations or easy bake ovens meant to either pop out infants or die in the process of attempting to fulfill that duty. We are little pink balloons and ribbons which adorn the bloodiest of battlefields.

I was away for a week on vacation which was nice. I’m glad I am home now to sit alone with my laptop, my thoughts, and my words. Not writing for a week always feels very strange and sad. Even the morbid thoughts need somewhere to go. Especially the morbid ones. When I speak to people about the dire state of the situation here in the States I don’t seem to get anywhere. People are tired and they have developed a callousness or a fake facade so they don’t have to feel the obvious way we should. I get that. I do that sometimes, too. But I feel rage of a quietly destructive kind. Not the kind which takes screaming to the streets but rather which stands in the corner watching and plotting and seething with acute disregard for obedience. I feel like throwing away everything I have just to try to remove the stench of the life I have surrounded myself with. The life that made all of this oppression possible. All the shit I have bought and nonsense ‘safety’ I have bought into which made me such an easy target. Patriarchy chugs right on along because for the most part, you trap yourself inside of it all on your own. As is so often the case, the women do most of the work by gruesome design.

Sunday morning. Church goers, murders, theives. Liars, beggars, winners and losers and little to be done to change any of it. People post to Instagram their happy little ideas and bits. Photos no longer being good enough to really capture the essence of nothingness, each and every share is now a whole movie reel complete with intro and finishing credits. My god. I do not understand what we have become but it feels much too small and far too distracted like we are animals obsessed with pouncing upon a beam of light. Not because they know where it came from or why or what they need to catch it for, just because the illusion of something solid to hold onto appears to be climbing up the wall that happens to be in front of them. Much like this writing, in fact. It wanders and goes nowhere in circles and I know any editor would curse it all to hell. But these are my circles which may be nothing more than spirals of death and hot air yet I am so sick to death of dancing to any other person’s tune. Least of all those with any authority in this fucked up world at all.

Roe

It’s not about babies or life. We aren’t stupid, we aren’t blind, we all know it. The overturning of Roe is about oppressing, dehumanizing, ruining, raping, and killing women. With heavy emphasis on the girls and women and all people who can become pregnant who are already the most disenfranchised. When I got sober it was in many ways a great big Fuck You to the patriarchy we live under that can only exist if it keeps women numb, weak, and terrified. Well. I am not numb or weak or terrified anymore.

Pissed? Yeah I’m quite entirely pissed.

But I’m not surprised. Yesterday’s ruling hit like a gut punch to my every internal organ. Knocked the wind out of me. I cried I screamed I lost my shit. But I didn’t drink. I stayed. I stayed here in the goddamn middle of this hellhole shit storm of what doesn’t even pretend to be a democracy anymore. I felt every rage-filled thing. What “conservative” radical white supremacist extremists are doing to the people of this country is calculated and disgusting. It is the most pathetic, easy, cheap, vile thing to go after the women who are already broken, abused, and left for dead by the richest society in the mutherfucking world.

And I felt all of that hatred course through my veins yesterday. I felt all of it in this body that I now know fully and certainly and completely is my own.

Fuck your laws. Fuck your annihilation of my protection, my safety, and my sanity. I own myself and I answer only to me.

Pretzel Logic

There is the kind of tired where you need rest and the kind of tired where you need peace. Or so I have just read upon the social media. I am tired for sure. My brain is so very hugely tired. From the mental stretch of getting sober. From the first six months of this year as they skid to a halt over my worn out little head. From the insanity of what this society calls sanity. What to do when you are exhausted of all the things they tell you you need to keep up with. The job to get the money to buy the things they need you to need to keep this whole ball rolling right off whatever cliff we are headed towards.

The sun is still high in the sky at 5:26 in the evening and it is so thoroughly nauseating. Shut up already. Shut up with the light and the daytime that bleeds arrogantly into the dark time. I’m tired of running a household. I’m tired of reporting where I am supposed to report to at any given hour of the day, morning, noon and night. I’m crippled at the thought of this very evening, in fact. The same thing followed by the same thing. And I should be grateful. And I should be thrilled to bits with my adorable privileged problems.

Fuck.

No wonder no one wants to get sober. No wonder I didn’t want to have to see the dust on the houseplants and books, and the fly shushing around the window. Stupid goddamn thing banging its tiny head-body against the foggy glass over and over and over again. Ten million eyes and not a fucking clue. I make myself a double espresso. It is perfectly rich, strong, hot, and delicious. It’s too late and too early and everything that is supposed to have fallen into place already a long time ago is in pieces in my mind and the pieces don’t settle into anything. My mind is a whole new puzzle and this world is full of the same old shit. Same holes, same shapes, same ditches, same grooves. Same tricky traps and same temporary rewards.

The title of this post is also the title of an album by Steely Dan. I told my husband I was gonna use it as the title of a blog post and now I’ve done it. He has just walked by naked on his way to taking a shower and when I inform him of my keeping the promise about the blog post title he smiles but not enthusiastically enough for my liking. I’ve accomplished no other feats so far this week. It’s only Monday, though, so maybe stay tuned. I’ve taken up running and I am not sure if that is considered a sport though I suspect not. I ran 2.33 miles this morning. Perhaps that is an accomplishment worth mentioning, come to think of it. I always swore I would never be two things in this life, one is sober and the other is a runner. And now I am both and I am insufferable.

Think I’ll swear off swearing I’ll do or not do anything for a while. At the very least it’s nice to just do whatever you feel like as long as it isn’t getting drunk. I know there is no definitive answer to the following question and there are as many answers to it as there are fools who swear they know the correct one but my tired ass has to ask it even if futile, even if rhetorical: what in the fuck is any of this for anyway?

Sunday, Late Afternoon (audio)

I saw this beautiful boy on the internet, a poet. His words were captivating, heavy with melancholy. He could enter into the silent parts of you and whisper against the walls inside. His imagery is haunting. A beautiful, beautiful boy. And he’s not posted anything for almost seven months now, at least not to Instagram. Lotta poets on there, or there used to be. I was one of them. Years ago, years gone by.

Times change. So do people. So does poetry and trendiness. So do platforms and the space they hold in our minds, which have changed a lot in the past few years, too. I think we are afraid. And we are searching for the things that make us feel less so but underneath every stone we turn over we still find that we have the same fear. It hasn’t changed that much since we were little. It is still there. This fear of silence. This fear of death. This fear of living. I see these poets who fall in love, fall our of love, and as they fall they are desperate to bring all of us down with them. Listen to me. Listen to my ache. Hear how this infatuation haunts me, grips my throat and fills my lungs with noise. It is so bad. So very very cruel and bad this sweetness which crushes me.

There was a time when I wrote poetry and sold it. My little clips and collections were received with such warmth and light. Even my darkest words, my deepest wells of desire and fear, longing and eroticism. It all consumed me then. Not so much now. Now my immersion in life is of a different kind, of a different texture and spin. What I used to hold so tightly I have all but let go of and forgotten. Almost so easily it makes me smile, as I am doing now. What I had thought was a given in a schedule or a day or an activity or a relationship, I see now is not. It’s all up to me. It’s all up to us to decide what belongs and what does not. Where we want to be and where we don’t. It’s all a made up thing.

This life, like poetry, we come to it in silent reverence, we leave it, we come back. I sit now by the open window in my writing room. I remember my place inside myself, this home that I wrecked and left. I’m eating these little candies I used to eat when I was a kid, these fruity gummy things. The sunlight is the softest I have ever seen as it suffuses through the late afternoon. We meant to do so much more than we did today but it’s Sunday. So what. I don’t want my poetry back. I don’t believe in going back because there was a lot of pain there that I couldn’t see but I could feel. If I let myself, I could have felt it so completely. But I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t half the woman I am now. So healed after having been so broken. So in love with the silence that even the fear falls asleep and I can finally dream.

The Power In Walking Away

Sometimes there is power in walking away from a fight. We rarely hear about this, of course, in our battle obsessed culture. Because we are taught to be strong and by strong they mean fight back, stand up for yourself. They mean: be stronger than the thing you are fighting with. We are taught never to back down. We believe that in order to be powerful we must fight to the death. If we admit defeat we must be cowards or losers or just not trying hard enough.

Each day for many days during many years, I would hope to have a chill drinking experience. I didn’t want to fight, I just wanted to mess around a little. You know like the kind of good go-around with the drinking they advertise to you with the glass of crisp white wine and the smiling, sexy, sophisticated lady and her lover sharing dessert in an outside garden or the laughter and cheer as she frolics about with her girlfriends as they live their best lives in some Tuscan vineyard and all that shit. What a great time wine always is! How relaxed and cool it makes us all. Except that wasn’t it. It was, in fact, the opposite of that. Because after the fifteen minute happiness, it became more dull than chill. And then after the first two or three glasses, an almost imperceptible agitation would slither in and as the wine kept flowing that subtle irritation just keep blooming and blooming larger and larger like the flower of a nuclear explosion.

I poured wine on my anger and anxiety like gasoline. On a good number of occasions, I was completely out of my mind by the time the bomb went off. Didn’t care. Didn’t even know. I had to come-to the day after and feel the pain of realizing some of the destruction caused. Assessing the scene. Piecing together fragments of what I could remember. How often it was a hell of a fight before I inevitably got knocked out. Wine glass left half full on the coffee table. Me, face down on a mattress and the wine quite literally still standing. As long as I could pry my eyes open and peel myself off the floor, the wine was ready to go another round.

The power in the face of that scenario is not obvious. Or should I say, what seems like the one with the obvious power is the wine. The alcohol, when I crawled into the ring with it, “won” so to speak. I get that now. It shreds my heart to pieces to think about, but I get it.

But to say I was powerless to alcohol, while true and while very necessary to admit, I agree, is not a full enough statement for me to leave at face value. Women are relentlessly reminded of their powerlessness in this society. This culture reminds us incessantly that we should stand down, watch our mouths, bite our tongues. Our human rights are under constant threat. It is exhausting, being bludgeoned over the head again and again with our “powerlessness.”

But in a much broader sense, there are many kinds of power. The power to destroy is alcohol’s kind of power and the only one it inherently possesses. But there is power in walking away from a battle you have no business engaging in. This is true if the opponent is far stronger than you, but it is also true if the opponent is beneath you. If the opponent doesn’t deserve to engage with you in the first place. In my case, the power exists in my ability to lay down the fight entirely. I do not fuck with alcohol. I do not answer its calls to get in the ring just one more time to see if I can finally get the upper hand.

We are done here. This ends here and now. No more fighting.

There is power in the peace of that. To lay down that fight is to stand in a kind of power that is entirely my own. No shame. No guilt. No fuckery. There are many kinds of power: the power to destroy and the power to rebuild, recreate, resurrect, reorganize, reevaluate, regenerate. Alcohol only has one. But I have them all.

Upswing (audio)

When you stop drinking alcohol entirely, the world looks very different than it did before. And I used to think that was because I am just so clear headed now but I think it’s more than that. I think now I’m looking at the world with entirely new eyes. That’s why it looks different, because I am. And I know that probably sounds one of two things: melodramatic or completely made up. Either I am making too big a deal of sobriety or I am faking a feeling I think I’m supposed to feel and trying to convince myself as I try to convince other people how glorious it is to turn down the wine I once coveted with everything I had. There is a lot to pull apart here. But the thing is, and I mean this sincerely, my experience of absolutely everything is new because my perception of it and where it belongs in my new lifestyle is new. Sobriety is like rearranging all the rooms in your house. Once you get the living room sorted out just the way you like it, you’ve gotta do the dining room because it’s right there, and then the kitchen and then since the downstairs is looking really good you move on upstairs and start sorting all that out, too. Or not. Or you exhaust yourself just thinking about moving through all that change and decide you are very sincerely tired and don’t feel like lifting a finger. And as long as you aren’t lifting a glass full of wine to your lips you figure you’ve done enough for now.

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