July 23, 2017
Just like the good old days. Start by marking the date and time. Call attention to what it is I’m doing—writing, thinking, creating, channeling, venting, seeing, hearing, hoping, believing, convincing—add the visions of the day—my kids sleeping, wife smiling, flower blooming through the sidewalk, ants eating a live, squirming worm—and then bring it all back to the beginning. Make it come full-circle. People like that. It’s easy on the heart, the feelers, the mind. And while parts of it are real, like the supporting description and subtle meaning a mile or two below the tip of the iceberg, it’s entertainment. An education. An escape. A time killer. Art, I’d say.
Our ceiling fans have been running for two weeks. If I see my wife has turned any of them off, I turn them on again. My wife is frugal, I’m sure she’s seeing pennies flying from fan blades in every direction, in every room as she goes about her day, and I’m sure she knows that it’s me manning the switches, but she hasn’t said anything. She’s been more patient with me lately. I appreciate that and I’m thankful. I’m not always easy to get along with.
The ceiling fans are comforting. The background noise helps my mind stay somewhat in place. If I don’t have that little bit of buzz-whirring, things get messy. I hone in on my son biting his nails, my daughter’s non-stop talking, the dog’s incessant chewing, the cat licking her ass, and second-by-second I go crazy. What’s even worse is if I’m not fixated on something my brain lets loose and just starts to run. It’s always been this way and there’ve only been two things I’ve known that have worked to stop this. Writing, which I’ve pretty much abandoned since writing Black. And drinking, something I’ve been very good at since I was 19, but that I’ve stopped. For now.
Don’t get your hopes up. I am not going to be twelve-stepping my way to Our Lord, Our Savior, Jesus Christ, and dismiss drinking as an evil tempter that has ruined my life. It hasn’t. It’s put me in some interesting situations—jail, the hospital, and knock-knock-knockin’ on Heaven’s Door—but it hasn’t ruined my life. I’m still here and will be for a long, long time. The goal here is to step back. Stop. And consider where we are on the path.
Probably—and I know most of you will not understand this—the best thing drinking has done is break me down. It’s very important to take things apart. Deconstruction is the key to understanding how everything fits together. How everything stands alone. Drinking is excellent at breaking things down. And sometimes, it takes just the right combination of time and experience to truly understand. It’s different for everyone. Some get it. Some don’t. And there’s also a great big difference between simply realizing it and acting on it. Hemingway, a much more better writer and more practiced imbiber, got it right in A Farewell to Arms, but he didn’t act on it. Ended up dead just like every other person that wasn’t able to take a step back and consider the beautiful ramifications of their existence.
“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”
That’s what he said. It came from his spirit, the bottle, catching a trout, fighting, thinking, believing, or not. And he was right. And still is. And I get it.
So, I’m taking some time. Fourteen days so far, and there’s a lot of work to do. I’m terribly flawed.
There are family and friends to appreciate. A novel and short stories to write. This blog.
The learning, you see, it never stops. Not if you’re able to step back, evaluate your pieces, and listen as closely as you can.
This morning wakes slowly. Cars roll down 2nd Avenue. Sparrows sing in the maples. The fat cat thumps down the stairs as the dog gnaws her bone. My wife sits in her favorite chair and sips coffee under the buzz-whirring ceiling fan.