Tuesday
Jun042013

Emotional Residue

I’ve told some stories about my old friend, Skip, in two meetings during the last week and it’s been going something like this:

I was sober for around 5 years when my best friend, Skip, relapsed. I spent the next 2 years doing everything in the scope of my limited power to help him regain a footing in sobriety. We toured all of Michigan’s treatment centers, often driving for hours only to have Skip get us kicked out within minutes of beginning an intake assessment. We disappeared into the woods of northern Michigan, to let him dry out up there, only to watch him drink again in less than 30 days. And, as a last resort, we tried more than a few times to detox him at home, weaning him off alcohol slowly in conjunction with using benzodiazepines to keep his nervous system depressed so he didn’t have a heart attack and die in the goddamn living room.

It was during one of those home detoxes when Skip woke early in the morning and asked me to put my hand on his head. It was POUNDING and “pounding” is not just a fancy way of saying I could feel his heart beating. I could feel his heart beating but his head was fucking MOVING—it’s like his pulsating veins and arteries were damn near exploding. It was insane. Ever the teacher, he instructed me to keep my hand there as he drank half a beer and, as he guzzled, his throbbing head began to slowly relax until my hand no longer detected any movement at all.

Blew my fucking mind.

And, at the same time, it undermined the way I understood myself in terms of being an alcoholic because THIS—Skip’s physical withdrawal was alcoholism (an outright victory of my own alcoholism—I understand now—but nonetheless, that’s how I, age 26, sober since I was 20, eventually thought myself out of having alcoholism). I was drunk within 6 months and Skip eventually stabbed himself in the femoral artery with a buck knife and, full of spite and malice, painted the walls of his apartment with his own blood before he bled out and died.

So look for similarities; not differences.

That’s the advice lingering in that little parable and it’s sound advice. But here’s the deal. I’ve told this story twice—three times now—and something gets lost in translation when I use that story simply as a utilitarian means to instruct. Something is missing and its residue clings to me and makes me want to scream.

And I think it’s as basic as wanting people to know that Skip is more than a prop for me to illustrate 12 Step clichés. I loved that guy. I miss him. I think about him every single day and I just wanted to yell that somewhere and be heard. I was a witness to his life and worth on this inexplicable planet. And I hate him too. And there is something both constant and unstable about a mad rushing river that engenders comfort as one hurls profanities at the moon.

Saturday
Jun012013

What Missing Can Find

When you miss someone you might perhaps find some solace in remembering the cliché that the world, after all, is a small small world and the distance between Las Vegas and Chicago can kind of sort of in a roundabout way be reduced to merely a mental construct, just a chasm in the mind, and there’s a quirky kind of closure that can begin to occur when you imagine what she’s doing in Chicago—reading a book, watching TV, carefully folding thin crisp paper into an origami crane—because she is doing something in Chicago, as far as you know, and so you too are doing something in Las Vegas as well and, due to the simultaneity of this mutual doing of somethings, in addition to the insight that all the world’s phenomena are shot through and bound up with interconnection to all the rest of the world’s phenomena, you are together. It’s like you’re writing in one room and she’s reading in another and the rooms are different cities, but you’re together, in the world, each at the same time doing something in concert with the entire phenomenal world of doing as it does. 

Or perhaps you can use your imagination to, as thoroughly as you can, imagine who she is and what it might be like to be her. Remember every biographical detail she’s ever told you, everything you know about her, combine that with the totality of your experiences with her—the process by which she translates her thoughts into words, her word choice, what makes her laugh, how she laughs, how she walks, chooses dresses, uses a fork, chews—and really really imagine that you’re her. Then grab the book of poetry she left in your apartment and slowly, cautiously, read each poem but do not read the poems from the perspective of your own subjectivity. Be her. Read the poems the way she would read the poems and pause for a long time to think when you find a page she folded or you see some words she underlined. Recite her underlined words out loud until the words get inside you and change you and you miss him so much that your eyes mist over as you jot down notes in the margins.

Find some solace in remembering the cliché that the world, after all, is a small small world and the distance between Chicago and Las Vegas can kind of sort of in a roundabout way be reduced to merely a mental construct, just a chasm in the mind, and there’s a quirky kind of closure that can begin to occur when you imagine what he’s doing in Las Vegas—reading a book, writing a story, standing outside and talking to the moon—because he is doing something in Las Vegas, as far as you know, and so you too are doing something in Chicago as well and, due to the simultaneity of this mutual doing of somethings, in addition to the insight that all the world’s phenomena are shot through and bound up with interconnection to all the rest of the world’s phenomena, you are together. Hell, you’re more than together. What is missing but forgetting the truth that you are him and he is you?

Saturday
May042013

I Said I'm Charming, I'm Dashing, I'm Rental Car Bashing

 

Wednesday
May012013

All The Gossip You've Heard About Me And Keep Googling Is In This Post And So Is Snoop Dogg

Sometimes being a dick catches up with you and you have to do something nice to balance the scales of justice or the scales of justice balance themselves and then it’s your ass.

So.

I’m going to run a sub 1:40 half-marathon in Chicago on July 21st to raise money for Megan McKeever and other kids with Juvenile Dermatomyositis. Afterwards, I’m going to be sore for a couple days and then my muscles will heal. But Megan’s muscles won’t ever heal until we find a cure and that sucks.

Read more about Megan’s story here.

The problem with asking people to cough up dough for charity is that you think you need to cough up $100 or whatever and you don’t. Snoop Dogg donated $5 earlier today and that’s awesome. $5 is way better than seeking self-knowledge, loving yourself, healing, and finding your Truth. It’s helping little kids.

Some woman named Patty said she’d match me $1000 if I managed to raise $1000. When I wrote this, I had $130.

Help me, Patty, and Snoop Dogg find a cure for JM by clicking here. Five bucks. Balance the scales. And, while you're at it, please use the buttons on the right side of the page to share on Facebook and Twitter. ~bhj

Give up dem Lincolns.

Sunday
Apr212013

Not A Bowl Of Fruit

I can't think of anything to write tonight. The moon is a locked door, something you can't remember, a dream letter written in a foreign language. I want to say something that is not language but is the way you see a field of shocking purple flowers, all at once, like a fist to your jaw or a woman wearing a yellow dress. I know I'm writing like this because I read her Neruda in the bath last night and the candles and the cautious cat keeping her secrets and the flickering shadows. Neruda. Now that guy wooed some ladies. Because the moon and cherry trees and the green knife, the lines of poetry, coming and going like waves crashing in the dark. I am the first man ever to see the moon undressed on the water's surface, quicksilver, her three-colored eyes, fireflies. It is just this slow opening of the window and singing, the way she dries herself with a white towel, lit by candles, in the mirrors, infinity. I want to do to her what the thunderstorm does to the dark quiet sky. No. I can't think of anything to write tonight. Because these words will never be a bowl of fruit. Watching her walk across the room and disappear into the big white bed will never explain who she is or what she means. For meaning only ever truly resides in music, painting, shadows, and the infuriating silence of cats.

Friday
Apr192013

More Rambling On My iPhone As I Fly To Chicago

I fell asleep immediately on this airplane and I missed the free Diet Coke and peanuts so I don't know why I even try anymore.

I'm on my way to see Gwen and if you don't know Gwen then that's your problem. Maybe Gwen will stop somewhere so I can buy a Diet Coke and some peanuts, but it won't be the same. Is there no end to the pain of being sentient?

Everyone on Facebook is all "Yeah! We got you, bitch!" about the Boston Bomber but there are still people in the world who sleep through the free Diet Coke and peanuts. Somewhere, a bunny is squealing in the talons of a Hawk and a clown is getting fired from the circus. Can you imagine a clown getting fired from the circus? He will no doubt succumb to his taste for bourbon and pedophilia. Man, fuck the world.

I just woke up. This is how it is. Bob Marley says it'll be alright.

Maybe I should pray. God. Free me from the bondage of my self so that I can be useful and help me not hate everybody because resentment creates separation while trapping me in the perspective of my ego. God. Free me from my own perspective so everyone's not an asshole and life isn't just one long torture chamber with no free Diet Cokes or peanuts. Amen.

There. That's better. I hope you feel better too. I need somebody to help. Do you need a sponsor? Give me a shout if you need a sponsor and we'll do the Steps and there will come a day when the things inside of you that make suicide necessary are put to rest. Promise. They're resting in me and I was very recently almost dead.

A guy came to work drunk and it wasn't me. I felt really bad about it. Guys are coming to work drunk. People are blowing up marathons. And the pedophilia clowns? Mercy!

But I mustn't dwell on the negative. Soon, this plane will land in Chicago and me and Gwen will be freed from the bondage of our clothes. For today, that's my contribution. You guys can get revenge and argue about guns and make everything equal and fix the world. I just want to make out like crazy and do it well. Is that selfish? Man, you are full of shit. Just imagine if everyone shut their fucking yaps and made out like crazy. There's redemption in abandoning yourself to the mania of kissing.

I still need someone to sponsor.

What else? I've been running a lot again and feeling good. My little sister got married today. Bless her. All my sibs are married now. Looking forward to the summer and being with the world the way me and Gwen are when we're with the world. A lot of people still bug me about the novel so I'm 80% sure I'm going to dick around with it one more time and self-publish it with Amazon. I've lost a lot of ambition in terms of being A Writer. Makes people ugly. Enough about that.

The plane's beginning to drop. Hope it does so safely. But even if it doesn't, I could die with an easy conscience. I have done what I can to see and reveal beauty in the world. I've struggled, crashed, died, risen. I continue to conceive of my life as an art project on the canvas of soul.

Forget yourself. Grab every hand that reaches out to you. Find someone to kiss and kiss them hard and there will come a day when the things inside of you that make suicide necessary will be put to rest. Take it slow. Take care of each other. Take care where you can get it. Take care. And give it back. ~bhj

Thursday
Apr182013

Some Hearts Are Moons

My doctor likes to listen to my heart. He likes also to call interns into the exam room and say “Give this guy’s heart a listen, and tell me what you think.”

Placing the stethoscope on different parts of my chest, they look perplexed. Waiting the doctor out, they don’t venture a guess until he says “It’s nothing. Runner’s heart. Slow. Steady.”

“Yes,” the young woman said today, “but it’s not just the low rate, is it?” She moved the stethoscope again. And again. “The beat itself. It’s so calm. Gentle.”

And I knew then that I was a monster, that all my fire had turned to ice, that I was a student of the silver snow.

Tuesday
Apr092013

Come Back, Miss Codi or Plagiarism Is A Good First Step Toward Finding Your Style

I didn’t mean it that way, Miss Codi. Truly, I didn’t. Dead serious. Nothing up my sleeve. I never meant for you to stop blogging or abandon your Instagram. Do you feel bullied? I never meant to bully you.

Come back.

Seriously. Come back and come in. Take your shoes off. Would you like a cup of tea? This is my little place on the internet and you’re welcome here. Indeed. Come sit on the couch. Would you like to sit on my lap? Or how’s this? Maybe we could get to know one another and snuggle under the covers. Clothes on. Scout’s honor.

I want you to be comfortable. 

On the real, Miss Codi—how could I be anything but flattered? So you stole some (3) posts from my little place on the internet, posted them on your Tumblr, and kinda maybe fibbed a little about writing them yourself. Big deal. I mean—wait. Okay. In a way, it’s not very cool. But not in the way you’re worried about. You’re okay, girl. Leave the lights on.

Listen. People on the internet are straight up crazy. Most of them don’t care one smidge about any genuine ethics of plagiarism. Not at all. What they want is the opportunity to feel insanely self-righteous, shoot off at the mouth about it, lose their fool minds, and beat the living snot out of someone. But to hell with those people, sweetie. My comments are CLOSED.

And to tell you the truth, I’m on the fence about how I feel about plagiarism. Once I write this stuff and hit “Publish,” it shoots all over the world and appears on 1000s of screens and phones. People take stuff I write and make banners out of it or paint it on shit and send me pictures. They quote it. They link to it. A lot of stuff I write Stumbles and Tumbls. It’s cool as hell. Probably the coolest thing I can imagine about the fate of ANYTHING I write is the possibility that someone—anyone, anywhere—will someday remember it. Isn’t that a pretty thing to imagine? Even if this reads like bragging, what it is is fucking humbling. And you know what else it is? It’s enough. It’s more than enough. It’s cup runneth over type shit.

Who am I to claim ownership of these words? They just fall on me, like rain, and I write them down. Can I really accuse someone of stealing them when I’m the one who tossed them to the wind? Besides, it’s all just a dance of 26 letters, some space, and punctuation. What’s it mean to call these words mine? Hell, you’re the one reading them. Now, they’re yours. Forget them. Remember them. I don’t care. Jot the hot stuff down and give it to your lover. If you get some—hell—we ALL win.

I’m glad, Miss Codi, that the things I write impress you enough to wish that you, yourself, wrote them. Sincerely. And the reason it’s not cool doesn’t hinge on ethics and stealing and being wrong and bad. Being bad is awesome; I often am. Rather, to copy my stuff isn’t cool, dear, because it denies you the opportunity to bask in the pure pleasure and unparalleled joy of writing the things that only YOU can write. Only YOU can say what you say the way you can say it. And the real beauty of the whole enterprise is that what only you can say is always right there, right in front of you, waiting to be said. Trust it is all. Trust it. Even if it appears too weird and strange to write. That’s the stuff, Miss Codi. The stuff you resist writing is your style in labor. Breathe. Push. Let it be born.

How? A few quick pointers and then off you go. I never said you could stay all night.

When you’re wondering what to write, shut your eyes. In mere seconds (it can’t be avoided), something will appear. Don’t chase it away. Invite it in. Offer it some tea. Ask it to sit on your lap or snuggle under the covers. Talk to it. See what it wants. Write down whatever it tells you. It might say something like “The moon tonight is a thorn in my side” or “Stare at endings” or There will come a day, if you’re lucky, when all your greatest futures melt into puddles that you splash around in, fitfully, for awhile until they all dry up and you just stand there, looking dazed and feeling stupid.” All the posts you borrowed began just this way, with one quirky little phrase that had a story it wanted to tell.

Go get quiet. Listen. Tell your story. Now shake your ass home and start over again.