Day 10 (Owning a Demon)- 30 Day Writing Challenge

Strummed beat, matched march, dirges as a throwaway tune,
deviancy is salt to bear rubbed tight inside a weeping open wound.
If you haven’t heard the music yet then swallow down your pride.
The life we lead is the life we get and you’ll know it deep inside.
So stagger or crawl and jog or sprint or fly,
the Devil is inside your soul today, just like it is for I.


I thought it would be a fun way to go today with a little poetry of sorts to begin with. This damn challenge thing has me trying to think on my feet about what to write and I seem to be coming up dry, or at least feeling like I’m grasping for straws about what to say. The goal was to just put fingers to keyboard everyday, and I’m happy to say that I’ve pretty much managed to do just that.

So, with that said, on my mind today is the nature of our own personal evils, our devils, our drive to do the untoward and vicious. For me, that takes the form of drinking or drugs, pumping my body full of as much poison as I can stand in whatever way I can get it. It’s always surprisingly shocking when after a bout in the ring with that particular demon suddenly the quality of life I’m experiencing diminishes rapidly and dramatically. I don’t know why it’s surprising is the thing, we truly do generate our own decisions, and those choices play out in the overall feeling of our life and how well we are able to experience the highs and the lows.

That seems like really common sense knowledge, and despite that I have sat remaining in, then feigning ignorance of it. Life truly is what you make it, trite and cliche as the saying may be, there is a huge degree of veracity to it that I somehow missed. It’s like I wasn’t there at school that day and somehow managed to keep missing that lesson for the next 20 years.

With that in mind, addiction is a doubly baffling fucking ailment to explore and endure. You find yourself superseding every survival instinct and rational or logical awareness you have in lieu of chasing further inclement weather, misery, and chagrin–all done for a momentary rush that has faded into boring monotonous repetition long, long ago.

I get that there is a re-wiring that happens internally with addicts. If you show an image of a crack pipe to a crack addict, before the frontal cortex is triggered the pleasure center rings in and says “great times to be had”. That means that addiction literally steps around the “smarts” part of the brain that makes decisions and can bring a logical or determined drive to bear on any dangerous ideas. Which in many ways makes it seem scientifically hopeless to recover.

But people do, in a myriad of ways. Some manage to just go the harm reduction route and drastically reduce their intake, or they transition it to new forms of addictive tendencies that are less damaging, or they actually well and truly get sober. The fact that there is a narrow band of success and the penalty for failure is horror without refrain followed by an early death doesn’t always make a sufficiently motivational case it seems.

Today, I continue the struggle, moving forward one foot at a time, continuing to believe and search for answers or solutions to something that has stymied me for the vast majority of my life. It is my heaviest wish to somehow overcome and share that success as a lesson to my children about what is truly possible as one of the strangest species on the planet.

People are weird, and when we carry monsters in our back pockets, we only get weirder. Part of me wants to just plain rejoice in that insanity and the multitude of characters that are created by the imps at our door, but most of me is just plain done reveling in a well trod and predictable path leading nowhere but an early grave.

Time will tell, as it always does. Plus hey, I still have getting poisoned by frog secretions to look forward to in a short number of weeks!

Day 8 (Howl) – 30 Day Writing Challenge

I just started reading “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg and am already taken off my feet by the remarkably flippant and deep feeling fuck off embodiment of a massive struggle we/he face(d). I absolutely love the thick atmosphere of dirt riddled dis-ease and aggressively sexual overtones that demand I open my eyes and ears to the realism of what goes on beneath and behind the scenes. The title fits so perfectly as the first section seems to roil up a primal scream. A shout for attention to be paid to the damned masses and the rollicking unbridled injustice they endure and are forced to thrive within.

Fucking. Magical. Here’s a snippet:

Who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked and trembling before the machinery of other skeletons; who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight in policecars for committing no crime but their own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication; who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged off the roof waving genitals and manuscripts

Allen Ginsberg, “Howl”

How vivid and intense are the words? How brilliantly anarchistic and rebellious is the feeling? How just, fucking, magical, are those words?

At least for me, reading Ginsberg is an unfettering of the constraints and standard normative I find in so much of my own and other writing. It takes me back to the wilderness of my own mind and demands that I purge the violence and sickness that resides there in some glorious fountain of verbal spew that it might infect the mainstream with decades of sweat and tears and failure and endurance and broken spirits and unbroken souls.

I am so glad I picked this up, and sometime in the next 30 days I might start an homage piece to what I’m personally characterizing as (with my limited scope of awareness to be sure) one of the most scandalously beautiful pieces of literature I have ever run across. Thank you for your pain and horror Mr. Ginsberg, thank you.

Day 5 (Frog Poison) – 30 Day Writing Challenge

Self care is always one of those mysteriously challenging yet o’ so crucial aspects of day to day life it seems. More often then not the prospect of going for a walk, reading a book, meditating, exercising at home, journaling, or any of the rest of the litany of options available to each of us, seems like such a long stretch after the necessaries of the day are taken care of.

Sometimes, it takes a totally different form.

In roughly 3-weeks, I’ll be joining in with a ceremony circle and spending 9-days engaged in holistic medical practices from (mainly) South America. There may be opportunities presented to partake in Ayahuasca, Peyote, and a host of other intriguing substances like Kambo–essentially frog poison–to attempt a system reset.

Whether or not you would qualify sitting in shack with a shaman and ingesting quantities of herbal and animal toxins mixed to unknown strength and potentially lethal consequences as self-care or not I guess depends on who you’re talking to.

For me, it presents a unique opportunity to stretch my acceptance and belief system to try and encompass something that many would consider “woowoo” kind of pseudoscience magic and embrace it as something more. It also provides a chance, depending on the validity or hell, even the placebo effect, to help me disarm some of the more disagreeable parts of my psyche and behavior patterns (like addiction or smoking cigarettes which I still struggle with) that have remained reticent and resistant to all other forms of treatment at this point. I don’t believe in magic bullets, but I do believe in the prospect of rewiring connections internally, both mentally and physiologically if resetting parts of the DNA or bodily interactions which may have become messed up over multiple decades of drug abuse.

So there we have it. In the meantime, I’m getting out to ride my bike more regularly, and had a dog not chewed off the top of my thumb recently, doing some more general exercise while attempting to practice better health practices overall. It’s a multi-stage process I suppose, every little bit helps the whole to develop and grow.

While it may see strange, this is not intended as just another story to put in the bank, taking 9-days to really focus on healing, nutritional changes, not bringing any smokes or being in a location where they will be accessible (nor will drugs and alcohol) cannot help but be beneficial in the long term. In the short-term, it buys me a period of time away from my normal day to day where I occasionally flounder and struggle for direction or conviction to stay the tried and true pathway to life, love and happiness.

So bring on the frog poison, bring on the dream tea, and bring on open-mindedness to something which is beyond my normal ken. Time to expand that awareness a bit.

Day 3 – 30 Day Writing Challenge

Nearly ever morning my girlfriend and I sit outside on the back patio and sip coffee while shooting the shit. There’s something wonderful about sharing the early morning moments with another living being, it puts us in tune with each other and sets the pace for the day.

Today, stepping outside into 55F degree air and feeling that cool Fall-esque weather wash over me was incredible. It’s always been a point of question for me as to whether other people experience what I coin as joygasms since I was awash in one this morning. For me, it’s that moment when everything seems to line up just perfectly, usually with music accompanying it, where sight and sound and feel all mesh in a bucolic fashion and leave me tingling with excitement or peace head to toe.

It’s so rare to find those moments in life, particularly considering the seeming catch-22 where if you’re looking for that moment it seems to move further away. Only in the unexpected and spontaneous times when we are to be caught unaware do they sneak up to wrap you in absolute bliss.

Of course, most of my life has been spent searching for the opposite, mired in drugs and alcohol to the point that there seemed to be a morass of misery punctuated only periodically with small glimmers of stolen happiness. It is very possible I have this whole thing backwards and in reality it is possible to take control of this life situation and legitimately hunt those special moments done.

I suppose, actually, if I were to take that logic leap in general it might help restructure and redesign my interaction with the world around me as a whole. There’s a reasonable chance that that belief might guide me down some better roads. Well shit, look at that, a weird epiphany moment 3-days into this writing challengemajig.

This comes at a time when I’m mentally trying to prepare myself for a 9-day shamanic healing retreat in the wilderness in Oregon. I have been graced with an opportunity to work with a healer who uses plant medicine to address a myriad of issues, including addiction and the struggles that materialize from it.

While I’m thrilled at the chance, it will be the longest I’ve spent out of touch with my significant other since we got together and there is of course apprehension since it’s been such a wild ride up until this point. That said, the risk, any concern or latent fears based on insecurity, really much anything, falls by the wayside to the looming possibility that maybe this time I’ll land on something that can genuinely help heal the madness and wounds inside that so regularly lead me back down the darkest of paths.

Either way, an early October camping trip onto a beautiful property with good people and communal living sounds like one hell of a way to start wrapping up what has been (much as for everyone) one madcap year. I’m eager to start anew and continue finding those things and people in life that bring me a spark.

Maybe I’ll even find some joygasms along the way.

Addiction is a Beast

To highlight the feeling of insanity that comes from active addiction.
Feels about right.

A sense of calm resignation is starting to settle in. So often shunted aside still for madcap panic and desperate flailing as this faltering shell of a body which carries an acidic sonofabitch that wants out while refusing to take pleas, no’s, or prayers as a hint to get lost. It’s there on the outskirts as the magnitude, the absolute fucking magnitude of how colossally I’ve screwed the lives of those around me up, while trying to ruin my own existence..

It always sat there just on the outskirts, even when it should have been blatant. The self concocted cocoon of ignorant bliss I had woven around myself to keep the realities of life and the need for growing up at bay made sure that even if I was looking at it head on, I wouldn’t see. I’d spin it internally, sometimes to deflect the judgement and actions needed, sometimes to punish myself further and feel so amply deserving of it while begging confusion to those closest to me.

God help me. I sat there blind to love, affection, nurturing, opportunity, friendships, my children, the actuality of LIFE itself. 

All in favor of an endless repetition of the same monotonous actions. Awake, chase, get high, drink, crash, rinse and repeat ad infinitum, The same rhythm that most humans are going through their awake, cabinet, coffee, drink, functional, productive, competent portions of their day to day.

What has it cost? 

I’m sitting in the mountains which are my peaceful place, body too exhausted to hike or sleep. Dimly aware that I’ve imploded yet another beautiful person’s life, tucked mine into an 18’ trailer, and spiraled into oblivion while desperately fighting a battle that can’t be won on my terms. Beginning to come around the edges of what that actually means–to be so viral, so toxic and caustic in someone’s life that you can literally see it reshape their entire being from what they were prior–knowing that even if it wasn’t intended, that’s what happened. 

To know that the fiber of your being is so saturated in selfish self-hatred that it closes you off to the possibility of trusting and believing that anyone could actually love you for a person you don’t even know any longer, yourself? Knowing that sounds like Narcissistic Personality Disorder and digging around to see if there’s ways to be less of a screaming manchild asshole only to find that if it’s really the case, there ain’t shit to be done?

To realize that I don’t even fucking know what things I actually enjoy in life? To have focused so many countless hours on a single destructive course that it has literally obliterated all remnants of understanding about what joy means. How love is shown. What fun is. How to treat others or myself in any sort of a humane way laced starkly with the deep confusion of always being at odds with myself to begin with. That I have erased inborn gifts, destroyed my mind, poisoned my body wildly–that I will die younger than I had to and may never have the chance to see my children again. That my children have been growing up without their father.

Being aware now of the wreckage and turbulence behind my passing from those unlucky enough to have had me walk into their life “chaos incarnate” as I used to joke. To not even be able to apologize in any sort of a meaningful way yet because time and action is all that really will matter, could matter at this point. To not be able to say thank you sufficiently where I mean it within such limited scopes as I’m tooled to have the capacity for. The endless dreams that have died in lieu of one more hit, one more drink.The beautiful dreams that staggered onward beneath the weight only to have the carpet ripped out from under them again. The smashed hopes that held them aloft for so long.

It is seriously time for a change. So for the first time in YEARS, I’m throwing in the towel, surrendering, and just going with it. I have a bed at a program starting in a few days, a kennel for the dog, a storage spot for the trailer/home, and a hiatus from school while I straighten myself out and make some so critically needed changes. Peter Pan with a crack pipe and a 100u shot–fuck it’s old. 

The next time I write will be on the back end the next 30+ days probably, so until then, thanks for everything and all the kind words, help, camaraderie, and digital awesomeness that is everyone else out there. Addiction’s a beast. Mental illness is a beast. But neither gives any permission to keep perpetuating that cycle endlessly or to inflict them on those around you.

Time to give up the fight and go back to the drawing board, starting fresh all over again.

Night Tan Under the Supermoon

Layer a white cold blaze

in circular pool

hung

where the reflection of day

carries to the infinite

teeming void.

Shadowscape of eternity

ever beyond 

incandescent blue skies,

milky clouds,

beyond sun-blinded sight,

always sitting.

Wonderland of possibilities

bending even science

to use imagination.

Endlessly faltering

towards an unknowable end.

The Gods baubles

spin deftly

through the deepest darks

of cavernous black gone noir.

Never bound,

never stuck,

not clasped tight inside

of opulent bondage 

as we marching mortals

on our madhouse Earth.

Into that idea –

that dizzy concept which

forged new words

to try and constrain

something so terribly VAST –

where all is birthed

through cataclysm,

fiery destruction,

demises so profound

dust from their corpses span eons,

rages as a furnace

crafts awakening

in billions of new forms.

Peace is found

within mirrored 

microcosm eyes

of any

who would choose to pray,

take silent reverie

in joyful awe,

of beauty without boundaries,

and their own

immeasurable nothingness.

A Tiger in a River

Chalk dusted finger tips with an adrenaline jolt, zip-lined neuroses adjudicated by the moment. Lost in torn pants with a carabiner thread, socially anxious and awkward but alone and without the dread. Gripping on with rubber soles to shaky rock faces that feel so full. Flashback moment to a Tinsel strewn river, if I could take it back I wouldn’t pause though time chases me forward and I don’t know how to abscond from it’s endless quiver. I’m still fletched after return though I know somewhere I missed a target, if wishes were fishes I would have at least saw it. Easier to murmur the words to myself, ride the curve up where it’s simpler to stare down at the gulch. I know that it’s basic to stay on a track, ask not the questions that are staring right back.

Creature comforts exchanged for a soul, I suppose that’s one lesson I never learned right when I was out in the cold. It’s wicked out there, in the beauty and grease. Amidst all the foragers of life, love and what to wear while we bleat. If the greatest of tokens was untouchable sadness with no way to atone, then here on a hillside covered in muck, I’d whisper to the shadows that flicker “thanks for giving a fuck.” Without their whistled movements to cast contrast to light, the trees would feel lifeless, faded out, make for a lackluster sight.

Regrets on Repeat During a Rabid Quarantine Contemplation

1000th Album from Out of Line Records
Album cover from German band Signal Aout 42

Give me back the good ole’ days,
when I didn’t know I had been a dick,
before my eyes got opened wide
when I didn’t know I was supposed to think that I was slick.
’cause now there’s nowhere left to run,
the drugs aren’t making new connections,
copper wire all stripped bare and caked in black,
who knew that feeling guilty wouldn’t be so fun.
When disassociation was best friend,
wide-eyed ignorance was true enough
shame comes boiling on
like napalm from
the surface of a once forgiving sun.
So self-important in critique
that I’m burying the good parts inside the shit
convinced that its still black and white
and regardless of the truth,
I deserve to be punished.
for the right, the wrong, the sick,
that stupid mindless babble
even my well-intentioned songs.
Keep it all so serious now,
that panic seems always at the door,
instead of basking in the freedom from
that monster inside that damaged so much the world.
Enjoy the chance to roll again,
spin through ridiculously insane normalcy,
let feet hit a brand new road and leave behind insecurities, all fallacies–

—start the insurrection.

Institutionalized Child Abuse – an outline and a solution.

I’m terrible at formatting on WordPress, but here is a very succinct set of slides on the issue of the Troubled Teen Industry and my proposed 5-step process to mitigate the damage being done to thousands of children annually, prevent further abuse, and compensate the victims and families of those who have subjected to this type of malicious programming.

All thoughts and feedback are welcome, this is a very personal issue, but with movements like #breakingcodesilence, podcasts like #TalkTroubled and the involvement of the Survivors of Institutionalized Abuse – there is a real opportunity to shut down a deceptive, profiteering, and vicious industry that has taken a toll on so many.

Thank you.

-S

Fragile Bully

Tongue twisting
word misted
lofty ethics
suddenly shifted.
Verbiage awry
crooked context,
sand quickens
sickens the truth
with maddening lies.
Bullheaded bully
vacuum packed
morals gone dead
done right
presented cleanly
above suspicion
heartless lips
soulless head.
Accusations flutter
steer recklessly
fly rashly
land poorly
eventually die.
Miserable life
distorted denial
avoids change
ever always en garde
tromping a perilously pointless
and petulant hike.
Existence’s trials
trails marching for miles
dust caked grins always grimy
shiver obscenely
spit softly back at ’em
–shake the fear off and smile.

I’ve been on both ends of the stick I suppose at different points, something that I’m not proud of, but can admit readily enough. Whether it was spawned from fear, trauma, etc, doesn’t quite qualify as an excuse for how I behaved at points during my life, it was my responsibility to “not be an asshole”. Feeling someone play out their own internal sickness in the same way towards me is an eye opener.

Tattered, tired, and angry though someone may be, it has to be an echo of some truly painful and unresolved issues to advise an individual dealing with a mental illness that they are despised and everyone is in the eaves waiting for them to die. Shitty and deeply manipulative behavior, knowing that the recipient can literally do nothing other than just sit with themselves, absent means to defend themselves without seeming more culpable as a perpetrator of something justifying such vicious and cutthroat suggestions. There is no power in the words themselves other than what the recipient gives them.

Maybe though, in some ways, it might just be how a person deals with their particular brand of sadness and pain–the only way they know how, lash out. Go for the throat. God knows I’ve done it before more times than I care to think if not totally in that literal context. A whipcord reaction to hurt those that hurt you, even if it is based on incorrect judgement calls and assumptions.

Everyone heals in their own way, and while that doesn’t make it right, finally, I can put myself in the other pair of shoes and understand the feelings behind the words. Temper my own frustration and resentment at the unnecessary cruelty with patience and accept that it is what it is, and life will continue to move on. It’s not worth giving though or dwelling on someone’s words when they are bent on hating or hurting you, let ’em go by the side and don’t look back.

Someone once told me, if someone’s an asshole and lies or treats you poorly, at the end of the day, they’re the asshole, not you. I’ve been an asshole plenty across my life, and that makes a lot of sense.

We have only ourselves and our actions to control–for better or for worse.