Giving This Up

I tried.  I really did.

I tried to give up this blog.

I cancelled the account.  I voided the renewal payment.  I tried…

And it lasted all of three days.  Shit, even my one pathetic attempt to give up coffee lasted longer than that!

Look, for most of my adult life I’ve lived according to DeNiro’s wisdom in Heat: “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.”

I talk and joke about not buying in to nostalgia.  I talk and joke about being the hobo who just ups and abandons everything from time to time.  I will even occasionally talk — but not joke — about the very real fact that I never let get myself too attached…to anything, or anyone. Yeah, yeah, I know — some aspiring therapist could probably put the next five generations through college trying to fix me…

Look, I’ve lost everything before.  I’ve lost everything, and I decided in the aftermath that I would never again give in to the weakness of having anything or anyone I was afraid to lose.

Okay, fine, so those were the sentiments of a hurt, terrified idiot trying to be all edgy and emo, but still…

Yeah, they were pure bullshit then, too.

I just can’t give it up.  I would love to say something pseudo-insightful like “I have poured too much of my heart and my psyche — of my self — into the hundreds of thousands of words I’ve written on this site to give it up.”  I would love to say that, but not even my ex-marketing-weasel soul could write that without an overwhelming dose of irony.

Oh, you and I both know just how much of me goes into my words here.  Just like we both know just how much I need these words to keep my sanity.  In almost every story/piece I write, I allude in one way or another to that demon I fear so much, to that lonely night and the rope…

I’ve held that demon off for a long time now.  I’ve held it off, and the words are a big part of how, but that still ain’t the whole story.

Writing is a rush.  Even when you miss and struggle, there is still that dopamine-flood that is so addictive.  When you nail it?  Oh fuck, when you nail it…

Look, I stopped counting countries a while ago because it got to be too much.  Forget countries, I’ve chased fun — chased sex and drugs and abandon — in more than half of this world’s fucking time zones.  I’ve played hockey against NHL players.  I’ve dived on WW2 wrecks.  Crawled into occupied bear dens.  Successfully completed itemized tax returns.

I’ve done all of that and more.  Far, far more.  And still, even with all of that, there ain’t much that can compare to the feeling of nailing it with my words.  It doesn’t happen often, but when it does…

When it all really works…

Shit, like a heroin junkie, you just need more.  The more you get, the more you need.  The more you need, the harder it is to get.

The number of times I’ve legit hit that high…

The number of times I’ve really nailed it…

I don’t care how few those are, how could I ever give that up?

{Musical Note — yep, it’s an old Simon & Garfunkel tune. Nope, I don’t like their version. Gaslight Anthem has a couple of versions that I really do like, however. The album version that I’m using here works best with the post above…}

That Terrible Inertia

It’s a tough choice right now.  Obviously, I haven’t been keeping the blog up.  Obviously, I have left vacant my seat at the bar.  Far too often have I left it vacant.

I wish I could say the words had stopped because there were no more words…  Well, at least I wish I could say it was because there was no more need for the words.  But that would be a lie.  There still is a need.  There still are thoughts and emotions and dreams crying out to be written.

There still are my ghosts, haunting the back of my mind, crying out to be heard…

Crying out to be written.

But I’m a creature of habit.  I’m a creature of habits far more bad than good, by the way — one need only look at my current waistline to know that.  Writing is, for me, a thing of habits, too.  It is a thing of momentum, and of focus.  When everything is clicking — when I am writing with that full momentum behind me — it is an unstoppable urge.  I could no more stop my fingers on the keyboard than I could stop my lungs.

When I stop, however…

When the inertia takes over, when Newton’s 1st Law is proven all too true about objects at rest…

Yeah, to start up again after you have surrendered all movement?  Yeah, that’s the hard part.  Something has to act on that object to get it moving.  Something has to act on me…

To put it in plot terms, there needs to be — yet again! — some inciting incident.  In our stories, out protagonists start out at equilibrium.  Whether that stasis is a thing of happiness or misery doesn’t matter, they are at rest until something or someone* acts on them to change that equilibrium into the motion required for both plot and character development. 

*Us writers, we’re the stone-throwing, stasis-breaking bastards that ruin everything.  When you get right down to it, we are entropy incarnate.

I’m right back at Chapter-freaking-One.  I’m right back at “It was a dark and stormy night…” and I don’t like it one bit.

Of course, there had to be an inciting incident to even get me going this far — how many thoughts and urges have I let pass without so much as scratching out a single word in the past months?  Too many to count.  So what was, that thing that drove me to write?  That drove me to reconsider my silence?  That made me acknowledge my own inertia?

The bill.

No, honestly, it was the invoice for my upcoming renewal for this seat at the bar.  Now look, a  blog is cheap to own and run.  I know this.  Hell, you probably know this, too.  A custom web address with a .bar domain?  Yeah, that ain’t so cheap.

So I looked at my notes and drafts to check if it was worth it to keep things up.  That’s when I noticed just how long it had been since I had posted a piece here.

Then, of course, I had to go and look at the dates on my fiction stuff…

*sigh*

Those ghosts…they’re screaming at me right now.

Even with all the screaming; even with all the voices; even with all the need…

I still can’t make up my mind.

{Musical Note — because, dammit, there has to be music!}

Hiding Away

Just how many times can I start and stop a blog post?

Just how many times can I highlight everything I just typed and hit the Delete key?

Just how aimless and mindless and focusless* can I possibly be?  I very much have the “kinda, sorta” disease this morning, by the way.  I kinda, sorta know what I want to say…but I just can’t get the thoughts and words into any kind of order.  I kinda, sorta have the want to write, but not the right mindset.  I kinda, sorta have the right music playing, but its not right enough to immerse me in creativity…

*I’m pretty sure that one is not even a real word, but I’m going to use it anyway…

Hell, not even the coffee is helping.

This piece might end up being one of those posts that just sits there, a quarter written, until focus and momentum builds again.  Or it might be one I have to bin entirely.  It’s that, or I make it one of those where I just sit here with my fingers on the keys and force the words into existence.  I’ve certainly done that a time or two…and always regretted the results.

Well, shit.  This is no way to start a day.

***

Okay, so it’s a few days later.

Err…

Actually, it’s six fucking weeks later.

It’s not that I haven’t been thinking about writing.  Nor is it that I haven’t wanted to write.  The truth is…

Well, the truth is that I have been hiding.

Look, let’s be honest here: until you have heard that black dog howl, you have no idea just how seductive is the drive to hide away from the world.  For all the booze and drugs that I have experienced in my life, nothing compares to that particular impulse.

If I was a kid still, I would have built the biggest, strongest blanket fort in the universe and dived beneath the covers.  Unfortunately, I think my parents would have objected to me taking a fifth of scotch down into that fort, so I guess I’ll have to throw away the idea of being a kid again…

Ahem.

So what got the dog to howling? I hear you ask.  Fear.  More accurately, the fear of things spinning out of control.

I think we know each other well enough by now for everyone to acknowledge that I do not surrender control easily.  Umm, I don’t surrender control at all, as a matter of fact — just why the fuck do you think I’m single?!

Okay…so…can we skip that particular bugbear please?

This loss of control is more real and less emotional, anyway.  I’ve mentioned before that I’m trying to open a brewhouse.  Well, a bit more than “trying” actually…

And I’m terrified.

I’m terrified not because of the business itself, but because the numbers and concepts behind the business have become far larger and more urgent than my original plans.  Oh, where things currently is better…but better is as frightening as it is exciting.

I have faced danger in my life.  I have faced danger in every sense of the word, to be honest.  I have stood there and faced as stoically as I could all kinds of danger and loss; the loss of success, the loss of ease, the loss of freedom.  I have faced, even, the loss of life.*  And none of that danger and loss has been half so bad as what I currently face.

*I still write thank you notes to the very, very large mama bear who didn’t eat me when I unintentionally came between her and her two cubs…

And that fear…well, that fear bought a drink for the isolation of being in a new place  with no real friends and they hit off it off.  Those two got together and had a little baby that looks and sounds a whole lot like the black dog with whom I am so familiar…

I heard that dog howl and I hid away.  Yes, that is an excuse of sorts.  But, well…

I don’t do nostalgia.  I don’t do memory.  But this past Christmas…

This past Christmas I stood outside and tried to look at the stars.  I saw only light reflected from the towns and cities around me.

I stood outside and tried to listen.  I tried to listen to my heart.  I tried, to be honest, to listen to the wolf packs howling in the night.

I tried, but I heard only cars.  Cars and the howling of the black dog….

{Musical Note — you have to listen to the words. All of the words. This song works. Like all good songs, it builds. Oh, and by the way, I love live music. I will always choose live music if I can — especially if that live bit is recorded in someone’s back-freaking-yard!}

Now Comes the Black Horse

There’s a cream cheese shortage.  No, I’m not kidding, there is an actual, honest-to-God cream cheese crisis happening in the US at this very moment!

For the love of all that’s holy, how have we not mobilized FEMA?  How have we not started a milk-based Apollo Program to get out of this misery?  God forbid we have to take truly severe steps; when the rationing starts, so do the riots!

Does Washington not understand just how strategically vital is that crucial spread?  The only thing that would be worse of course is a coffee shortage, and not even in the depths of my embittered, cynical soul do I care to examine the consequences of something that horrifying…

I knew we were in trouble when I couldn’t find the real stuff on the store shelves.  I knew it, but I managed to lie well enough to myself to ignore the problem.  I’m good at lying to myself, by the way.  I’m good at pretending disaster is not impending, and that the world can and will keep going just the same as it ever has.

So, no real stuff.  No big tubs of the dense, smooth wonder with a recognized, trusted label.  Just small containers from some generic manufacturer.  Just insignificant containers of some strange, clearly artificial paste described as “whipped”….

Whipped?!

Whipped, you say?!?!

What is this nonsense?  Is this how you fool the shortsighted and placate the desperate?  Is this how you keep the world from ending?  Is there even so much as one real cow anywhere in the supply chain for this?  If I were French, I would spit on your “whipped” nonsense.

Err…actually…if I were French, there almost certainly would be very real riots happening over a such a travesty as this.  You can say what you want about the French, but Gallic pride and intransigence would never allow their world to descend into the misery of a cream-goddamned-cheese crisis!

Why do I write of such things, I hear you ask.  Why remind others of the miseries and pain to come?  Why focus on the naked bagel that so ruined your morning?  Because, well…

Because the Broncos suck, and I don’t want to write about that.  Because 2021, which once promised so much, has delivered so little.  Because there are still masks and vaccines and viruses exacerbating the differences between that need no more exacerbation.  Because everything else is falling apart, so why not the goddamned food chain, too?

And, no, I was neither kidding nor lying about the cream cheese shortage, nor about the travesty of finding only the generic “whipped” version.  All of that is the all-too-painful truth.

*sigh*

It really is a sign of the coming apocalypse.  Remember, while Death rides the pale horse, and War the red, Famine himself rides the black…

Crap, if I can turn cream cheese into freaking Armageddon, just what will I do if — or, sadly, when — coffee starts to become short, too!  I’m adopted, so I have no idea if I have French blood or not, but I know the language and the history and the culture — when the coffee runs out, it definitely will be time to go all Gallic and take to the streets.  I wouldn’t go and riot over much, but my daily pot of dark roast Ethiopian is worth fighting for!

{Musical Note — okay, so obviously not a terribly serious day. Let’s go with something that evokes, well, something else. Let’s just go with youth, and days of thoughts and worries very different, shall we?}