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    Run For Your Life, Black Hockey Jesus!


    There are times when just hearing a strain of E Minor makes me cry and I feel like a stone. I don't want to move or talk or act like a person in the throes of various roles. Two lines of Neruda arise unbidden: "The smell of barbershops makes me sob out loud / I want nothing but the repose either of stones or of wool." I know the repose of stones. Or no. Maybe that's all wrong.

    Rather, I feel more like a murky bog and I experience the world like so many stones tossed in. Everything, what I see, what I hear, what I think - it all just sinks in, kinda slow (you know?), down and down and down - I can't say with any certainty at all that there's even a bottom down there. It's too dark.

    But does the bog care about a stone tossed in and the subsequent ripples? Or the kinds of stones? Not really. It's just a plain old bog. It doesn't really mind or complain. But it doesn't think much is funny either, Danny Evans*.

    But then again. I'm not granted the humorous reprieve in at least not being as bad off as those crazy motherfuckers who hear voices. For it's when I inhabit this depressed perspective of being a stone catching bog that my identity slips through my cracks and begins to animate what is conventionally considered inanimate. The book appreciates my careful fingers turning her pages and thanks me for the chance to talk. The dishes sing while I wash them, grateful for their bath. One never merely sits in a chair. He embraces you. The chair missed you.

    I don't know where my sickness ends and my health begins. Perspectives.


    She flips, bored, through a magazine and says "See here? It's a stone mushroom and it goes in your garden. See? It's a mushroom. But it's really a stone. So of course I need it. If you loved me, you'd buy me this stone mushroom."

    I'm too depersonalized to even know she's joking. I look at the stone mushroom and squint. I turn it around and around in my mind until I finally say with slow flat seriousness, "That's such an odd thing to desire."

    Her smile fades and she gives me a concerned look that, over time, has come to mean "Please don't kill yourself. It's true that you don't have many useful skills or much to offer in terms of practicality. But it's your perspective. We'd miss your perspective."

    And the lamp is smiling; the coffee table nods; even that stupid stone mushroom seems to agree. I should buy her that stone mushroom, chop it up, put it on a pizza. Think I will next time I'm a man.


    *This is not a negative critique of Danny's book as such. I'm merely pointing out that it's hard to find humor from within the perpsective of depression. I think he'd agree. However, I did find the attempt to normalize depression while continuing to make a mockery of more serious mental illnesses a shortcoming of the book.



    I believe that leaving crumbs all over the countertop is a despicable act. My wife loves toast.

    When I see crumbs all over the countertop, I lose the ability to think in abstractions. There is no future beyond cleaning the crumbs off the countertop. It’s damn near mystical. The crumbs call me forth to their wiping, for that is their Way, and I am just this sponge. Or some such.  

    My doctor recently moved me from the little orange ones to the not so little blue ones.

    But then again I’m oblivious to floors. Perhaps this is a function of my tenacious optimism, always looking up. Probably not. Dreamy? Head in the clouds? Who knows? But there’s a fine line, you must admit, between a clean floor and a dirty floor. And long before I notice the line has been crossed, Jenna’s already vacuumed, swept, and mopped.

    Which is of course my way of asking: Who’s to say what clean is?

    Because there’s a fine line between fending off anxiety and melting like a clock in a Dali painting.



    In much the same way that I don’t like people smashing the door off the hinges, terrorizing my family with guns or knives or other blunt weaponry, and stealing all our valuables, I don’t like people knocking on it.

    It feels rude to me, this door knocking.

    Especially when it becomes more and more insistent. As if I didn’t hear the first knock so they keep right on knocking, louder, then louder still. I automatically hate them for this. I mean really. Is the whole world supposed to stop merely because you’re outside knocking on my door? Well contrary to what your knocking ass thinks, I’m doing something. I know that may surprise you. Perhaps you imagined me on the edge of my seat all day, hoping and waiting for your unsolicited arrival. Well guess what. I wasn’t. In fact, the image of you never even entered my mind. It’s only there now because I want to kill you.

    The same goes for the phone. A ringing telephone trumps all other forms of more concrete presence. Why? It’s just like any other jerk interrupting you with no finesse for transition. I’m talking to my wife. RING. I’m eating dinner. RING. I’m reading. RING. It’s rude. Isn’t it rude? And yet people drop everything to answer the telephone. Have you ever carefully observed people around you when a phone rings? They startle. Whatever they were doing SNAPS off and they look around frantically like they only have 5 rings before a bomb explodes.

    I like to ignore the door or the phone when someone (WHO I INVITED) is over. “Did you hear that?” they ask. “Yes.” I reply. And then they look perplexed, like they can’t possibly imagine why I might value being with them more than answering some invasive knock or ring.

    I imagine a lot of you are just like me when it comes to the door and the phone. Because you are, after all, reading this blog. Which makes you weird. But, for me, this excessive irritability in response to intrusion extends all the way to people speaking to me.

    JENNA: Hi.

    BHJ (knits eyebrows): So fucking rude.

    JENNA: What?

    BHJ: I’m just sitting here, thinking, minding my own business. What gives you the right to just explode into my awareness with your cheerful greeting? It’s like what I’m thinking about doesn’t even matter to you. No. Of course not. It’s much more important to bombard me with the sound of your voice and force me to dwell on its implications.

    JENNA: What implications?

    BHJ: Well you say ‘Hi’ and it dominates my entire field of consciousness. It implies that I too should say ‘Hi’ and then continue down a road of small talk, abandoning my own considerations.

    JENNA: Well jeez. If it bothers you that much, don’t say ‘Hi’ back.

    BHJ: Oh no the damage is already done, honey. So… Hi.

    JENNA: You realize that, when the time comes, I’m just dropping you off at the institution’s door and getting on with my life, right?


    My imagination frequently returns to the fertile event of the European confrontation with this “New World”. What a sublime cultural challenge. These continents were littered with rich pockets of diverse cultural systems, each with their own unique vision of religion, art forms, and ways to be. Would the foreign invaders embrace this richness, use it to inform and enhance, broaden, expand, their own visions of the world? Or would something inherent to their own culture require them to extinguish the intrusion of all things new and strange.

    They might have left some babies / crying on the ground.


    I don’t like the way I am or defend it. I may pose like I’m this mad open wild thing, ready to grapple with destructive philosophy and all the weirdest ideas, but how does my 11-year-old son feel about approaching me? I wish I could be reading a book and absorb his intrusion like I’m interested in a zany new culture instead of feeling like a shattered window. My legacy in his memory concerns me. Will I be just another distant Fatherly ghost, inaccessible, unresponsive to my children knocking on my door?

    The knock at the door signifies the need of the strange to come inside, sit down, and have a cup of tea. I want to become better at opening doors.

    But the phone? Still an accursed contraption suited more for bullets than answering. RING. I want to shoot it, stab it, and smash it with blunt weaponry.



    I’m in no hurry. You know that guy on the highway? You can’t get into the left lane because it’s a swarm of caffeinated speedsters and you’re trapped behind some fool going 5 under. That’s me. Good morning.

    I had a friend. Skip. Every time we parted, without fail, he’d say “Take it slow”.  

    My path to work winds through a cluster of yawning mountains. Just before the sun rises, the top, just the bare tip, of the jagged horizon’s all lit with the glow of a faint orange hum that aches to be something – looks like the mountains are about to have a big idea, like something’s about to happen. You know what I mean? You know that weird feeling you get when something’s about to go down? Your kid is walking with a glass of juice. A man stares too long at a woman’s purse. You take the first drink. Something’s about to happen.

    There’s a subtle negotiation between the black sky of last night and the sleepy orange morning waiting for its time. A deep staggering blue, stumbling, confused. Sometimes it’s blood purple. In some vague space between words, it doesn’t know what it is. But it’s not bothered by this. It’s in no hurry.

    I may have missed my calling as a cab driver. Can you imagine? I would look in my rear view, check out my passengers, write little stories about their pasts and futures. That guy. He keeps checking his watch and calling someone who doesn’t answer. I’m taking him to a part of town where only a couple things happen. The crying lady. Going to the airport. And those two, kissing, groping, wearing wedding rings that don’t match. Everyone’s going somewhere. They start out here. I take them there. But me? I spend my days in between. Lingering between what just went down and what’s waiting to happen.

    People honk their horns. Flip me off. They gotta get what they’re going. But where are they going? Do they even know? Enclosed in their cars, they lip-synch enraged profanities. But I’m in no hurry. I take it slow. I was born. I’m gonna die. And I love this vague space in between.


    When You Really Think About It, Fucking Your Wife Is A Lot Like Writing For Yourself, But Not Really Like Emily Dickinson Masturbating

    This morning I emerged from a 4-day-long depression and these little cartoon birds – blue ones – descended from out of nowhere and landed on my shoulders. I smiled and nodded my head while they whistled and sang. The blue cartoon birds were lit with that vivid cartoony brightness that makes everything else look pale and stupid (depressed?). You might think the birds are just metaphors for 1 mg tabs of Xanax but they’re not. This morning! Happiness, smiles, cartoon birds, etc!

    That image of me smiling and nodding with singing cartoon birds made me smile, so I’m going to publish it because all the best Blog Sages say you should Write For Yourself. So now, I’m only writing for myself. Not for fame, popularity, money, or phone numbers. The Buddha says all that junk is mere illusion anyway. I’m not saying I’m enlightened or anything, but I do have cartoon birds on my shoulders so there’s that going for me. Nonetheless, even though I’m writing for myself and myself only, I’m also putting it out here for you to look at too. Otherwise, who am I? Emily Dickinson masturbating?

    [NOTE: If you were just about to start a blog and didn’t know what to call it, I would definitely consider Emily Dickinson Masturbating. That’s probably the second best blog name I’ve ever heard in my life.]

    I got an email that said I didn’t unify my metaphors. Another email asked me if I was ever gonna write like the old BHJ. These two emails virtually paralyzed me. I’m not even sure what a unified metaphor is. I couldn’t write for days.

    For example, I saw Jenna crouched down by the refrigerator. I stared at her ass. It made me want to fuck her. I started a blog post in my head: Jenna. I want to fuck you like wait wait wait. You must be cautious about creating similes comparing something to wanting to fuck your wife using “like” or “as”. One wrong move and you’re sleeping on the couch. You see? Writer’s block. Paralyzed. The only safe bet was writing “I want to fuck you like I want to fuck you.” but that’s a tautology and there’s nothing dumber than a blog littered with tautologies and metaphors that don’t shore up.

    Oh fuck is this post “meta”? All the coolest blog kids think “meta” posts are absurd and ridiculous. This was supposed to be about depression. Depression sells. But, dammit, that shouldn’t matter because I’m writing this for myself and myself alone. In fact, I’m scoffing at you right now, Reader. Scoffing, and baring my teeth. Anyway, depression…

    I can’t really say why I was depressed for 4 days. Does your depression have reasons? Mine doesn’t. For me, depression has always been a perspective, a mode, a way of seeing.

    For example, one minute I was munching on a piece of pepperoni. Twenty minutes later, I was driving in the car and my eye felt itchy. You see where this is going, don’t you? It’s called foreshadowing. So yeah. The memory of pepperoni stained my fingertips and I smeared it all over my eyeball.

    Oh fuck Mary virgin mother of baby Jesus that hurt.

    But it’s not like smearing pepperoni on my eyeball depressed me. Rather, I was already depressed and perceived my pepperoni smeared eyeball through the lens of depression. Let’s get all scientific and compare my not-depressed and depressed reactions to pepperoni in the eye.

    NOT-DEPRESSED BHJ: Goodness. I just rubbed pepperoni in my eye. That really stings. What an unfortunate event.

    DEPRESSED BHJ: I just rubbed pepperoni in my eye. The world hates me. I don’t know why I even try. The world is pepperoni and my life is an eye. Is that a unified metaphor? Probably not. I should kill myself. I can’t think of an apt simile for fucking my wife. I can’t write like my old self. I will never be my old self again. Look. A gun store.

    Do you see the subtle difference in modes of perceiving?

    Sometimes, little blue birds are not symbols for little blue pills. Sometimes, cartoon birds are just plain old cartoon birds. And pepperoni in your eye is not necessarily a sign for the way the world feels about you. It’s just a stinging eye. And you know what? A simile for fucking your wife might actually, in the end, diminish the meaning. Because maybe there’s exactly nothing quite like fucking your wife (if she’s reading this, there better not be).

    The only thing like fucking your wife is fucking your wife. There’s nothing to compare it to. But watch the mystical turn. If it’s like nothing, then it’s like everything. It’s at these extremities where distinctions begin to blur into their opposites. Lights incense. Bows. So fucking your wife is like the errant path of a wandering firefly seeking the secret of dusk. It’s like taking your favorite book down off the shelf. Fucking your wife is like writing for yourself.



    On the way to the Green Day show I looked at my 11-year-old son in the rear view. "Are you ready to rock?" I asked him. "Yeah. I guess so." This was not a very rocking answer. He looked out the window. I bet he was thinking about Legos. He didn't look remotely rocking.

    At the Green Day show, Billie Joe Armstrong demanded that we get off our fucking asses and burn the place down. This seems to have been a turning point in my son's development. I blinked. He became someone else.

    He screamed "YEAHHHHH!" from some hidden dark place. It was the deep guttural "yeah" of a pissed off teen, somewhere in his future, clawing and tearing away at his 11-year-old skin. He wanted out. This snake was molting. He pumped his fist in the air and abandoned his body. His whole body morphed into nothing more than a wild reaction to the defiant music. Drums made him jump. He winced at power chords. He was an ecstatic victim of violent rock sadism. You know? I didn't even recognize him. I had no idea who this kid was. Occasionally, he would turn around to look at me. Was he checking on me? Making sure I was still there? Assessing my reaction to the show? No. None of that feels right. I had a vague creeping sensation that what animated his stony gaze was the bubbling desire to kill me.

    After the Green Day show, my son wanted to drink 9 beers and bang some chicks. I told him it was late, that we'd better get home. This set him off like a firecracker and he tipped a man over in his wheelchair. I told him "You are taking things too far." Couldn't he ease a little more gently into his youth rebellion? But he said I was stifling his emerging identity and that I would never crush the creative expression of his angst.

    Then he creatively expressed his angst by shooting a cop. It seemed to me that he was now just seeking negative attention, so I ignored it. I mean. I get it and all. Shooting a cop was supposed to correlate with a general disrespect for authority but I wasn't gonna let him suck me into a power struggle. I just walked to the car.

    The parking lot was a battlefield of explosions. Little dude was hurling Molotov cocktails through windshields and blowing up cars. I told him I was going to have a serious talk with his Mom about all this, but he just laughed. There was some peach fuzz above his upper lip. The whole left side of his face was covered with acne. Damn. That's gonna leave a scar.

    I was in the middle of yelling "Young man! Get into the car this instant!" when a silver Lexus exploded and stirred something old in my memory. I stood captivated by the orange eruption and the roiling black smoke. How long had I been so ardently maintaining order? When did my life become such a ceaseless struggle to baton down security?

    I grabbed my son's head and rammed it through my driver's side window and we laughed and laughed. He bashed me in the mouth with a baseball bat. Where'd he get a baseball bat? Who cares? It hurt like hell! I spit out a bunch of teeth and smiled. The moon was full and yellow and bursting with approval. We battled on and on like that all throughout the parking lot, urging each other forward with ruthless acts of violence, finding ourselves in strife.



    I just had my blood drawn.

    I asked the blood drawing woman "How are you today?" and she said "Fine.", but she didn't ask me how I was doing and that's a shame because I was really getting ready to open up. I was thinking maybe we should share some dark secrets, you know? Like I could tell her I had anal sex when I was 7 with the neighbor kid, Randy, and she might tell me about a college date rape or some such.

    It's intimate, this blood giving. But she was all business. Like a prostitute.

    When she put the needle in, I looked away and wrote verses in my head.

    You took my blood, whore, / and in return? / Silence / Faint breeze through the leaves of a sycamore / This pale loneliness.

    We could of had something, blood drawing woman. Maybe lunch. But then at lunch you could have told me how you have big dreams, that you're really so much more than just a phlebotomist. How do you see yourself, blood drawing woman? Do you write songs that drip out of you while you strum an acoustic guitar? Do you paint impenetrable abstractions? Wait for just the right light to snap photographs of paint chipped fences? Or is there a novel in there, bursting out of your scrubs?

    I was there for you, blood drawing woman! You could've told me how your Dad's unreachable distance made you question the visibility of your core. You could have confessed to me how you steal Klonopin from the absentminded nurse. So what if you earn a second income dancing in that club? I'm not judging you. I totally dig strippers. Spill, blood drawing woman. Spill it.

    That would've been cool if you accidentally dropped my vial of blood. We could've watched the red puddle spread slowly across the cold floor while reflecting on spilled blood as an evocative image that represents intimacy. But you didn't. You just took my blood. You treated me like a 10 minute appointment.

    And now I have a big piece of brown gauze wrapped around my arm and I feel wounded. It doesn't hurt. But the excessive wrap makes me feel wounded, like I have a story to tell. 


    Swinging With Bums

    After dropping my son off at daycamp, my daughter spotted a park and squealed "Can we? Can we?". Ear to ear smile. Infectious enthusiasm. Full on little girl charm with the gold stars and tiny hearts. Her blonde hair kills me. I have no stock in resistance.

    It wasn't until we slammed the car doors and walked toward the playground equipment that I saw the park's lush grass littered with bums. Most were sleeping. There were a couple heroin (or some opiate) addicts sitting on a bench, freshly fixed, nodding and scratching unconsciously at their tranquilized skin.

    "Good morning." I waved.

    "Is it?"

    Well if we're splitting hairs, I suppose it's relative. I'm doing this middle class thing with the mortgage and anxiety disorders and you're too high to care about being homeless. Is it a good morning? Who can tell? At least we're both still raging against stasis, smart ass.

    The red, yellow, and green playground equipment was shaded beneath a big blue canopy. It was an oasis of good times surrounded by a desert of hard luck. Laverne (my daughter) stared longingly at the swings with her finger in her mouth, weighing her options.

    LAVERNE: I want to swing, Daddy. But there's a dead man in the grass. Ew. Yucky dead man. Ew.

    BHJ: He's not dead, sweetie. He's sleeping. He doesn't have a house so he sleeps in the grass.

    LAVERNE: Gracious, Father. Perhaps we could spare him a couple pounds so that he might procure a meat pie.

    Wait. I'm not Charles Dickens.

    The truth of the matter is that my daughter giggled and wheeed her fool head off on the swing, urging me to push her higher. Developmentally speaking, one might assume that she's too young and selfish to empathize with the plight of others. But I don't know about all that. That story arises from assumptions about how a person should react to a man sleeping in the grass.

    But society's ills aside, there's playing to be done.

    She pumped the swing and her pink Converse soared, blonde hair trailing and flapping. She was beautiful. Against the stark background of poverty and addiction, this smiling spoiled piece of privileged white affluence struck me as sublimely fucking beautiful. Here was no activist rallying for change. Just a little girl with a tenacious taste for pleasure.

    The world's messed up and there's no end to it. War, poverty, environmental devastation. We live these lives in the vague shadows of dusk's twilight. The sun is setting on American dominance, Western civilization, life on earth. The writing's on the wall. This ship is going down. But something defiant inside of me shuns all the frantic attempts to address the issues, to treat the various symptoms of decay on an individual basis. I don't march. I don't protest. I don't write my congressman long letters that decry injustice.

    Don't get me wrong. I admire your noble attempts to make a difference. I quietly support you. But for myself I feel disenchanted by all that. My business is with the prevalent crisis in perception that undermines any serious movement toward change. My business is with beauty.

    I'm inspired by the intuition that saving the world wouldn't be such a big monstrous chore if there were more beauty in it. To find the world beautiful would mean loving it. Saving it follows. Freely and naturally from a fundamental desire to do so, like feeding a baby. Babies are cute. We want to help them.

    And so I'm a beauty stalker always on the lookout. I want to be submerged in beautiful things and write about beautiful things. I want to poke beauty with a stick and make her show her face. We must free beauty from the confines of roses and sunsets and find her everywhere. In concrete, the congestion of traffic, in bums sleeping on the vivid green grass - even death. There's beauty in the way things end. We can rejoice in it all coming apart.

    And so, yeah, my daughter laughs and swings surrounded by hopelessness. Because her Daddy upholds the value of a radical optimism in the face of an informed pessimism that doesn't look away from the facts. The city is burning. But God the fire is pretty. It's so orange and wild and reckless. Look close. The fire. It's laughing at the dark.

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