The Dragon's Pearl Of Great Price: A Brief History Of Sobriety

A bright pearl has entered my constellation of cherished images, joining the likes of the moon and ice cubes and bridges and water and thieves and fire (burn it!). I keep finding pearls in my dreams. I notice them strung around the petite necks of women, on the lobe of a Vermeer, and the moon—it’s lately yearning to be a pearl. I don’t know why. Asking why insults the pearl’s bright white confusion of myriad colors that perhaps want to shine because shining is enough.

The images that populate my thoughts and writing are never derived consciously with the aim to symbolize things in a one to one type of meaning equation. That’s the way writers work and, lately, I’ve been feeling more like my life itself is immersed in some mysterious and unarticulable art project (artist unknown) as opposed to feeling like I want to craft little yarns spun by my clever ego. 

Certain images become of their own accord important to me and they both invite and resist interpretation. Rich, ambiguous, open to revision, but always, first and foremost, the image itself—the bright pearl, not what the bright pearl might stand for or what it means. Rather, what it might mean shoots off the image like sparks, losing me on paths of reverie and wonder but always leading back to its original source, the numinous image that calls and beckons, the bright pearl.

I have already alluded to the pearl’s strange communion with the moon. 13th c. Zen Master Dogen Zenji had much to say about the bright pearl. Alchemical texts refer to the Dragon’s Pearl of Great Price in relation to the Philosopher’s Stone. There is the strange notion of the pearl emerging as a result of sand or grit irritating the oyster. And this—because we’re wandering—leads to metaphorical resonance with my being sober for a year today and the great irritable price of that sobriety. 

Again, and I can’t stress this enough, these are all just secondary sparks of potential meaning that lead us back to the bright pearl as the bright pearl. The image is always and ever the thing. We mustn’t forget to give our images the room and time to interpret, change, and go to work on us before we kill them with our premature interpretation of what they mean. Let the pearl pearl awhile. Let the bridges connect. Let the fire burn and burn and burn until the city smolders in black ruin.


My history of sobriety is cloudy and fragmented and so many people, myself included, have different versions of the story that I want to provide a quick outline of my relationship to alcohol and then swear on my mother’s life that I haven’t taken a drink in a year, a fact for which I’m grateful and humbled.

I drank the first time when I was 12 and I loved it and did it as often as I could until my first introduction to AA at 19. I stayed sober 90 days and relapsed during finals week of my freshman year at Michigan State University. I got sober again when I was 20, February 16th, 1992, and stayed sober until the day after Thanksgiving in 1998, making me 26. I got sober again when I was 30 on July 31st, 2002 and stayed sober until November 10th, 2008, another 6 year run. My wife at the time was out of town in Seattle for work and that’s the night I began my extramarital affair with Kate via Facebook. Not engaged in a full blown relapse of frequent drinking, I drank with Kate in Chicago, July, 2009, and again with Kate in New York City, August, 2010. I left my wife later that month and my alcoholism flared out of control. I drank with Kate in Edmonton, October, 2010, and my drinking all but ruined a meeting with Kate in Portland in February, 2011. I made efforts to quit after that but couldn’t string together any time until Mother’s Day in 2011 that lasted until November of 2011. The hardest drinking of my life was between November of 2011 and August 20, 2012, because it was an absolute secret to everyone. It was semi-controlled (infrequent binges), insofar as no one knew about it—not even Kate—but it grew and grew in frequency and exploded when my relationship with Kate ended in August, 2012. I drank from morning till night for 8 days, mostly blacked out, until I woke up on August 20th, defeated, shaky, and finished. I read Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami and cried and cried and cried until I could finally stop shaking and consider alternatives to suicide. Pearls are created in an oyster’s reaction to sand and grit.

And here I am a year later, still alive, with a year of uninterrupted continuous sobriety for the 3rd time in my life. Good morning!


You may have noticed that my longer stretches of sobriety began when I was 20, 30, and this current year began when I was 40. I don’t know what that’s about but I honestly don’t believe I have room for another relapse and a recovery at age 50. I feel pretty done. Skeptics will wonder what’s different this time and I don’t know what to tell them. I can only say that, for the last year and especially today, for the first time ever, the 12 Step principles aren’t in conflict with the fundamental perspectives that shape my vision of what and who and where we are. In fact, the last year has created a forum for a very congenial conversation between the 12 Steps, Buddhism, the Post-Jungian psychology of James Hillman, and the philosophies of Nietzsche and Heidegger. And if certain areas of this conversation do initially appear to be irreconcilable, I merely utilize Keats’ concept of negative capability to allow for contradiction and the ability to endure the tension without the irritable need for immediate resolution. 

I pray.

I ask for help.

I conceive of a Higher Power that evokes paganism and animism and a spark of life undermining the eachness of each thing in the inseparable eachness of each moment, all connected and mirrored in pasts and futures that exist only in the imaginative song of presence.

Which lately coheres in the image of the bright pearl. The last 21 years is a pearl. Sobriety is a pearl. Today is a pearl. Everything is a bright, bright pearl that both contains and displays its differentiated resonance while declaring itself above all as a pearl—bright, brilliant, radiant, an image that sings with the voice of luminescence.

I wonder. What images capture your imagination? What are the actual tangible things that call to you, alter, inform, and change the way you see and live your life? What makes you wonder? What speaks to you about the many different ways your life can mean? What images need you to tell their story?


iPhone Airplane Ramble Part Whatever

I'm on an airplane to Chicago next to a member of the Chicago roller derby team, which is ranked 2nd in the world. She is also from Grand Rapids, MI, 30 miles from where I grew up. Born so close together, I hope we don't die.

People on airplanes seem to either be afraid of taking off or landing. I'm the only one I know who is genuinely concerned about collisions in the air with other airplanes. I have no rational basis for this fear. The news is not filled with devastating instances of fiery crashes in the air. However, it only takes one hung over air traffic controller and, bam, air collision, screaming through the sky strapped to this row of 3 seats. I suppose I would shout at the Chicago roller derby woman and try to calm her down. I would tell her "There's so much more than this! It's going to be really good, I promise!" Worrying about air collisions makes for a much higher stress level than the other fears. Take offers or landers have only a small window of terror, whereas I prepare for impact the whole flight.

I suppose I'm that kind of guy.

Being plagued somewhat by calendar based superstition, I'm for the most part certain that I'm going to Chicago to get dumped. This is of course a completely faulty defense mechanism because there's really no readiness in the fear of getting dumped. It's still a shocking jolt to one's worldview, which seems like an overly nice way to put it but I'm writing on an iPhone and not big on editing at the moment.

I've just been remembering myself, with compassion for what's coming for that guy, last August 5th. I was in Nova Scotia, naive, unsuspecting, not even considering the possibility that I was merely days away from the end of the relationship that had ended both our marriages. Cruise control. La-di-da. August 11. Fiery collision. I would drink at the airport and stay drunk for 8 days until a car accident raised my bottom high enough to start working Steps. There's a good argument for me deserving everything I got and there's even the bright side of sobriety but, man, the big lesson is that you just never see it coming. How about these poor fuckers who get peeled on the highway? Think too hard about it and you might never leave the house unless the carbon monoxide drives you into the street where a bus mows you down.

But this is all excessively negative. Being aware of the inevitable demise of everything can also make you alert in ways that you might otherwise neglect. Last night I had ice cream with my kids and it was so sweet and delicious. Eat everything as if you're on death row. And I made sure to hold my gaze into my son's eyes for an extra uncomfortable second and really add an extra POP! to my daughter's kiss because this goddamn airplane comes with no guarantees.

And what choice do I really have but to get on this plane with the assumption that it will land safely and to go to Chicago with the assumption that I'll leave on August 11th with my heart still in my chest? I can fear the worst and feel anxious but, if the last year taught me anything, it taught me to act better than I feel. Seriously. Just act better than I feel and, strangely, wondrously, I slowly begin to feel the way I'm acting. Gwen made a blueberry pie. People plotting to abandon you don't tend to make you blueberry pies. Unless there's arsenic in it. But, today, I will act as if there's no arsenic in my blueberry pie, just as I will act as if this plane will soon land and the Chicago roller derby girl next to me will live another day to skate and bash other skating women into submission, to rip apart their dreams, and even they too, the defeated ones, will rise once more to skate again, and again, because that's what we do: rip ourselves open to each and every seamless moment of creation and destruction, saunter on to airplanes, love again with reckless abandon and wide open hearts, and we eat the damn pie as if we're on death row, hopefully, faithfully, smiling, quivering on the razor between life and death as blueberry filling drips down our happy nervous chins.



“So you’re 15. For some reason that sounds a lot older than 14.”

“I know. It’s weird.”

“It’s absolutely insane. You’re approaching a time in your life when many young men mistakenly believe they pose a physical threat to their fathers. Have you considered swinging on me?”


“Do you want to take it to the mat for some Greco-Roman style wrestling?”


“You’ve got, like, bushels of hair in your armpits, dude. It’s freaking me out.”


“I just. I can’t. Piaget. The. You understand, right, that I used to wipe your baby ass?”

“I gotta believe that’s true, yes.”

“Like 1000s of times—I wiped your ass.”

“Got it.”

“And now you’re, like, I don’t know, this guy.

“Who’s going to drive your car in 6 months.”

“It’s like this surreal, um, totally not a pipe type of situation.”

“What’s the big deal? So I’m 15.”

“Man, you’re gonna go to college in like 3 frickin years goddamn!”


“And then when you’re done, I’m done. You understand that, right? That’s what your grandpa did to me. He wrote me a check for $1500, told me good luck, and never gave me another thing—not a single penny.”

“Grandpa says you owe him $600.”

“That’s between me and your grandpa. See? That’s exactly what I was talking about. You wanna wrestle?”

“I said I don’t want to wrestle.”

“Wait. No. I think wrestling’s maybe just a metaphor for, like, I don’t know, wrestling to communicate or something but, see, it’s bigger than the standard generation gap. It’s more like this goofy postmodern goop where I want to tell you something but the words don’t mean anything.”

“Circle purple monkey drum.”

“Exactly! Now you’re talking! Listen, boy, it’s like this. When I look at your face and I see this this—this man, I feel like I’m choking on something, like I can’t breathe.”

“Do you detect, in my becoming a man, your own inevitable decline into old age and death?”


“And the absurdity of death creates this crisis of meaning that you’re metaphorically representing with the desire to wrestle me?”

“I think maybe yeah.”

“But why me? Why wrestle me?”

“Because I love you! Listen, man, we gotta get this done before you go waltzing off into the world and I fade away into the dying of the light. I love you. I mean, damn, it’s so goddamn strange. We’re all just these weird ass sentient goofballs in this bizarre world of crazy shit like hammers and bananas and vacuum cleaners and switchblades and we stumble all over the place and, I don’t know, walk through doors and get haircuts and watch fireworks and give people money for eggs and toothpaste. And for what?!? Who the hell knows? Nobody fucking knows. But here’s the thing and I think this might be the thing that makes me choke. Honestly, I don’t even care about for what. And the reason I don’t care about for what is because of the simple fact that I get to do it with you. I get to do this whole charade of ridiculous nonsense with you. So what I mean when I say I love you is that the bushels of hair in your armpits are existential facts that overshadow the threat of meaninglessness. Absurdity itself is buried in all that armpit hair. See? I love you. Do you understand?”

“Only as far as understanding is possible in a world with no grounding foundation. But I love you too, Dad.”

“Fair enough. Happy birthday. Let's go raise some hell.”


Off The Trail

All paths are possible, many will work,
Being blocked is its own kind of pleasure,
Getting through is a joy, the side-trips
And detours show down logs and flowers —GS

A piece of a Gary Snyder poem he read 17 years back. That snapped into something she said last week. Big leaps. Across time and the synapse. We know so little about the people we love. We’re just a few facts away from being strangers. But then a piece will snap into place and what more can we ask for? The whole picture? He doubts such a thing exists at all. And, if it does, it moves way too fast to see. 

“A path is something that can be followed, it takes you somewhere. ‘Linear’” —GS

“If we’re going to go on hikes, you have to bear with me because I don’t do trails and I always get lost.” she said as she veered off the trail. “Bring lots of water.” He watched her march into the thick green woods. The lines of Snyder emerged just then with the vision of her little black Converse climbing over a fallen tree that blocked the way woven together with his fear of snakes and the knowledge that she grew up in a rainforest. Who is she? All this: poetry, fear, questions, relentless complexity.

“The relentless complexity of the world is off to the side of the trail.” —GS

Another piece. She spreads pieces all over the coffee table. They have iPhones, Mac Books, Wi-Fi, Blu-ray, and she wants to do a puzzle? Yes. She wants to do a puzzle and, because she wants to do a puzzle, it becomes apparent, as she flips over pieces and searches for the ones that will create the border, that they’re going to do a puzzle. (Another piece.) Kind of boring, he thinks. Tedious. And just as he begins to think something about how they’re in their 40s, for crying out loud, his eyes alight on two yellow pieces that maybe, he wonders—snap. A pencil? A banana? The sun?

Damn near wordlessly, for three hours, they listen to music and struggle with the puzzle. Being blocked is its own kind of pleasure. Getting through is a joy. The silence is not the kind of silence that bars communication. Rather, their minds—snap—are one thing that controls 4 hands and 4 eyes and this weird one mind beehive thing has 2 mouths that smile a lot. She fits, he thinks, and he is silently grateful for this night, its pace, this new piece that snaps together so perfectly with getting lost in the woods. The only way to love a puzzle is by carefully tending to its pieces while respecting what’s missing. Exhausted, they leave it on the coffee table, incomplete, and—snap—go to sleep.

Lost, they were dirty, tired, covered with mosquito bites and tree snagged scrapes. His right shoe was swamp wet. Sweaty, thirsty, divorced, in their 40s, living 2000 miles apart—there was no trail in sight and yet they rambled on together, side by side, piece by piece. 

Recall how the Dao De
Jing puts it: the trail’s not the way.
No path will get you there, we’re off the trail,
You and I, and we chose it! Our trips out of doors
Through the years have been practice
For this ramble together,
Deep in the mountains
Side by side,
Over rocks, through the trees. —GS 


Flux, Tattoos, Snakes, And The Irrational Discontinuity Beneath All The Changeless Things

So not much has changed except everything, but most of the distinctions are blurred so it continues to look as if not much has changed. I love crazy ideas that fuck with the obvious. Like, you know how scientists say that, within a span of 7 years, every cell in your body has regenerated? That’s the kind of shit that gets my attention. Because that means I could see you today and, then, when I see you again in 7 years, you would be an absolutely different entity. Nothing of the you I knew will be the same and yet we’d still call you you. If your name is Jim, the ONLY thing that remains the same is the word “Jim”. Now we can start goofing with ideas like reality itself being constructed with the bones of grammar. There’s no selfsame person to whom we apply the name Jim; Jim is the word that gathers up and calls forth the Jimhoodness of this thing we call a “person named Jim”.

Is this the truth? Real? Verified by science? Who cares? It either interests you or it doesn’t. For me crazy ideas are generative; they open up alternative ways to live in and experience the world, which makes everything a lot more interesting and exciting than what everybody takes to be so obvious. People who hear this and say with sputtery disdain “Of COURSE we’re still US! Myah Myah Myah. So OBVIOUS! DUH!” have already stopped reading this post. If you’ve made it this far, we must be interested in the same kind of goofy things. Or if you’re forcing yourself to keep reading just so you can say “See? Black Hockey Stupid FACE is a stupid pretentious TWAT,” you might go look into reading some self-help books, partner. Go light. Take it slow.

For Hakuun Yasutani, being regenerated every 7 years is a far cry from radical. In his commentary on Dogen’s Genjokoan, Flowers Fall, he mentions that our bodies are created and destroyed 6,400,099,980 times a day. (!!!)—how can you not love Buddhism? Ideas like that are so exciting (and probably borne out by quantum physics but, again, science schmience). The frickin implications are boundless. Ultimately unfathomable. But, at the very least, wouldn’t it be a tad bit liberating to conceive of yourself as being in the midst of a constant process of rejuvenation as opposed to being the same old sack of shit for 80 years. The former generates awe and poetry. The latter generates, well, a sack of shit—albeit an OBVIOUS sack of shit. Commonsense, as they say.

Anyway, not much has changed except everything. I got a tattoo of Miro’s Bleu II across my hip, a painting that expresses Miro’s obsession with the landscape of dream and infinity. How many of you noted, just now, the way I leapt from ceaseless flux to the permanence of a tattoo? Stay on your toes. Me and Gwen are taking off for 2 weeks to go stay in a little cottage on the shore of a little island. I am for the most part excited about this trip except my study of the island revealed an above average density of snakes, like, everywhere. My imagination wavers between a smiling Gwen in a black bikini on the sunny beach and the need to watch my step on an island sized Indiana Jones snake pit. I’ll need to train for my half-marathon on the island and snakes. I’m beginning to lose control of this post’s sentence structure snakes. I’m exaggerating, of course. Mostly. Or not. Snakes are fucked up. Though none of the island’s snakes are poisonous, none of them have legs and they generate locomotion with naught but pure evil. One of the prevalent species is called the smooth green snake and this motherfucker is a bright and horrible shade of green found only in the palette of nightmares. Gwen grew up in the Indonesian jungle so she’s acclimated to an occasional python in the tree or cobra on the path but, as far as I’m concerned, fuck a green snake.

From the cool comfort of this airport, waiting to fly to Chicago, I can logically appreciate the fact that my fear of snakes is completely irrational. However, in the presence of an actual snake, fear’s irrationality trumps logical appreciation. Fear of snakes simmers beneath the skin, in my blood, lurking, like a coiled up snake, in the cellar of my brain. My frontal lobes can tell me all day long how they’re not poisonous or they don’t bite or it’s only 6 inches. But a real snake slashes into me like that streak of red on Miro’s blue background. From whence this fear of the serpent?

I’m still sober, quickly approaching a year, but focusing only on not taking a drink during the day in which I happen to find myself. For instance, today is June 29th and, certainly, I can get my head to a pillow tonight without taking a drink or 9. Each moment, 6,400,099,980 times a day, is a decision, a prayer, not only for me but for you as well: that your island vacation may be free of snakes, that someday, everyday and every moment, you arise into a sense of renewal, and that consciousness itself will appear to you as a great and constant prayer. Nothing need change, and everything after.


Brain, Child, Redefining This, A Charmed Life, And Your Concept Of God

Sometimes you just have to write a post that has no beginning, middle, or end. A post that resists coherence via unified metaphor. A post that begins with a lot of sentence fragments. Because the post itself is a collection of fragments, albeit a bunch of gem like fragments, maybe diamonds or, less cliche, hunks of shimmery black obsidian (oh, obsidian, what secrets do you hide in your resistant black glare?). This is a post like that. Fragments.

First, I am once again writing elsewhere. This time at the highly lauded literary publication, Brain, Child Magazine. If you are so inclined, you can read my first post by clicking here. It's not a happy post, but if all posts were happy, we would soon forget the meaning of happiness and our lives might be one long terrible Khalil Gibran poem and then what? I don't even want to imagine. Feel free to LIKE their Facebook Page, and if enough of you LIKE my posts on that page, I earn millions of dollars. I'm not sure if I was supposed to tell you that, but I don't understand a lot of professional things.


I hereby renounce the label "Dad Blogger" and anyone caught calling me a Dad Blogger will be hunted down and kicked in the shin so hard that you'll wish that you could go back in time and reconsider calling me a Dad Blogger. Dad Bloggers, a horrible collection of delusional men with questionable writing skills, are becoming more and more concerned with how brands portray dads in the media as they earnestly seek more just representations of dads making salads and braiding hair ON THE TV and I give so little of a fuck, hardly a speck of a fuck, about issues such as these that I can't continue to share the label with these men. In fact, they make me yearn for the security of outworn stereotypes by lapsing into macho processes like challenging them to duels with pistols.

Of course, by renouncing the "Dad Blogger" label , I inevitably sacrifice the distinction of being the Greatest Dad Blogger In The World, a position now occupied by Charlie and Andy from How To Be A Dad. Congratulations, guys. Now there's a couple of real swell guys, on the serious, and not anything at all like the above described whiny hucksters squeaking about gender bias.

It remains to wonder, then, what I am. What is Black Hockey Jesus? I was recently discussing this with the above mentioned Charlie (now 1/2 of the Greatest Dad Blogger In The World) and we both agreed that we hated the word "blog" because, frankly, it's a stupid word. Hence, Black Hockey Jesus is not a "Dad Blogger" nor is the space it occupies a "blog". So much for what it's not. Let's cast the fishing poles of our thought into the seas of what it is. Black Hockey Jesus is a Magical Undefined Virtual Space Where Language Emerges To Language Forth, Speak Its Say, And Vanish (MUVSWLETLFSISAV) and I, no longer a "Dad Blogger", toyed with being a Virtual Oracle or Divine Messenger when Charlie coined the phrase "Digital Prophet", which I liked very well, so Black Hockey Jesus is a blurry mess of the place, a magical undefined virtual space, and the digital prophet through which the language gushes. Both nouns, this dual definition of Black Hockey Jesus jams all logical channels until Black Hockey Jesus is itself the act of flying away and/or escaping: a verb. I/this (BHJ) is a verb. Hope that clears shit up. Again, not a "Dad Blogger". Let the Dad Bloggers fight their own little battles with Huggies and Kleenex.


Yesterday I spent most of the day writing a new piece for Brain, Child about my daughter and her inevitable transformation into a sex object by the scripts of our culture and when I say "writing", I mean deleting a lot and ending hours with only about 120 salvageable words. I called my sponsor and expressed my frustration about getting so little done and my reason for including this little anecdote is that, man, I was frustrated. With my focus honed in on what I didn't accomplish, I produced an unhappy man whose primary adjective was "frustrated". Eliciting more talk from me in a general conversational way, my sponsor heard me talk about spending my day as a writer (the way I've always dreamed of spending my days), about going on a 10 mile run, about how I see my kids every day, how they're spending next weekend with me, about the incredible weekend with Gwen I just had in Salt Lake City, about being sober 300 days on Father's Day, about talking to my dads, about how I'm here for two more weeks before me and Gwen go on vacation for 2 weeks, and it was here that he said "Man, you have a charmed life. You have one hell of a CHARMED life." And it wasn't like he was trying to counter my frustration; he just interrupted me to state a fact.

And my frustration, composed of shortsighted emphasis on what didn't work out the way I planned on a particular day, exploded into 1000s of pieces of many colored confetti that rained slowly to the ground and I felt charmed. My life is charmed. And the only reason I told you that is because maybe your life is charmed too. It probably is.


This last fragment was supposed to be about my developing concept of God, but BORING, and this post is already too long. But I will say this and then ask you a question: the major revolution achieved by my particular brand of substance abuse recovery is the inclusion of the option to CHOOSE your own conception of God and, though this is the most liberating approach to God EVER, it's still been a tripping point for me over the last 20 years because, no matter how hard I try to believe, God is stupid. Nonetheless, despite myself, a concept, and indeed a relationship, is developing but, rather than bumble through trying to articulate it here, I'd rather ask you: How do YOU conceive of God? What God means to me can be evoked by the process described above in traveling the distance between frustrated and charmed. But what's God mean to you?

Email me at blackhockeyjesus at gmail dot com. Comments are for blogs.


I think you are a good person worthy of love and good things, but your vision is clouded by deluded thoughts that revolve around yourself. Forget everything. Climb a tree. Seek council from the wackiness of birds. _bhj


Nothing's Free

Hello Black Hockey Jesus Reader and consumer of absolutely free internet content with no ads. Why are you here? What do you want from me? My heart? My soul? Blood! Guts! Addiction! Sordid Tales of Infidelity!

What? Tell me. I’ll write it. Send me an email. Ask me a question. Give me a topic. Do you want a poem to read at your grandma’s funeral? Send me some details. I’ll write the damn thing. Don’t you see? The Black Hockey Jesus Internet Extravaganza Page (blogs are dead) is for you, Black Hockey Jesus Reader. I’ve got nothing to sell you. Nothing to promote. There’s no big splashy My Real Name across the top to convince you I’m some bigger deal than I am. This is where I have the pleasure to not be “the real me”. This is where me comes to die. I write on the computer. It appears. It vanishes. It’s a metaphor. Think on it.

When I’m writing for fun and for free, I forget to worry about taking. When I forget about taking, I forget about my self. When I forget about my self, I’m paradoxically introduced to my self and—GUESS WHAT—knowing my self is a lot like knowing nothing, and it is, but it’s also more than you ever imagined at the same time.

If you’re confused, then just give me some money. Or if you’ve ever read something here for free that you enjoyed, then give me some money. Please. It’s not for me. If it is for me in any way, it’s a roundabout way for me to inflate my charitable ego and feel good about myself, but at least I’m aware of it. Isn’t copping to a residue of selfishness in my front of selflessness worth something? A measly 5 bucks?

Here goes.

I’m still planning to run the Chicago Half-Marathon on July 21st and I’m still trying to raise $1000 to help cure juvenile myositis. It’s this weird fucked up autoimmune something disease about muscles. I’m not a doctor, man. I’m just a guy who met a guy who has a daughter who has JM. Her name is Megan and this is her:

I raised some money for her in 2009 and then I got to have breakfast with her and I thought things like Man, you can actually do things that are bigger and more important than provoke Internet controversies about obesity and broken marriages. And also, selfishly, it occurred to me that, hey, I have a daughter and, if she was sick, wouldn’t I want people to run half-marathons for her and raise money to help cure her? Of course I would.

So I’m going to run fast, Megan—as fast as I can. So far I’ve raised $495 and that’s really cool, but the awesome part about maybe making it to $1000 is that some Saint named Patty (not that St. Patty) will match my $1000 in reader donations—that’s $2000 for Megan, the kids, and a cure.

If you can make a contribution, no matter how small, please click here and click the blue DONATE button on the next page’s upper right. Also, feel free to promote the next page by spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter.

And I promise to keep writing here for fun and for free with no hidden motives apart from possibly alleviating loneliness and giving some comfort, to break through my readers’ excluded encagement in the self (purpose of literature copped from DFW).

Again if you want to make a donation, CLICK HERE. Thanks ~bhj


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.