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    Run For Your Life, Black Hockey Jesus!

    New Year's Dissolutions

    Having just run at least a mile a day every day for a year, you might expect, from the character I sometimes portray on the internet, a big braggy whoo-hoo post about how good I feel and how you’re fat. However, this is not that post. Bragging would only bolster the lie that running, day in and day out, whispers the truth about.

    When the subject of running comes up and meanders to the issue of frequency and the person I’m talking to ultimately says “Every day?!? What the fuck for?”, I usually just shrug and say something lame about trying to stay fit or loving it or I’m crazy, whatever. Because what for is hard to explain. It resists explaining. Imagine a trail, shaded by maples, winding through the thick woods. Now try to imagine no one there. Throw in some wind.

    I run because I don’t want to run. I keep running because I want to stop running. Because I hate myself and want to die. These jarring statements come close to saying what wants to be said and yet wildly miss the mark. Because there’s something bigger than me, a thing that both includes and negates me, that carries me away. To speak of a “me” that hates myself and wants to die continues to imply this something that hates and wants and it’s the very lack of this something toward which running runs.

    I run away. In a way.

    Running in a way, away, requires a brutal distancing from desire and instinct and the unrelenting dissolution of habitual consciousness. I run from hope and wishing and the longing for rescue and salvation. Not resolve. Dissolve. Or melt or explode or die. No pain, no loss. My healthier, better looking body is just a weird paradoxical side effect of my perpetual self-destruction.

    Whereas therapy seeks to solve the problems of the ego, thereby strengthening it, and church seeks to save your soul, running runs past all that to a placeless place where there’s no path along which no runner runs. But that’s not to say Nothingness. It’s still running. It’s just running. All the world’s nouns submit to the verb of pure running. Running runningly runs. That’s what for.

    And then what? You take a shower and emerge once again, you, new, renewed. You scrub your startling muscles, still panting, and smile like you know some unsayable secret.


    Notes On The Distinction Between Being A Bored Man Weeping On The Couch And Thinking about Him

    There’s a huge gap between being a bored man weeping on the couch and thinking about being a bored man weeping on the couch. And I mean HUGE. You can fit all kinds of shit in there. I think maybe the salvation of the world might lie in that distinction. And I should know. I was just bored and weeping on the couch AND thinking about being a bored man weeping on the couch. AT THE SAME TIME. Yeah. My brain melted and everything started glowing with this crazy yellow hue and it all looked like the Buddha or the Dharma or one of those fancy Eastern words. Seriously. I’m raising my flower, Mahakashyapa. Watch closely.

    If you’re just a plain old bored man weeping on the couch, you’re being selfish. Literally. You’re a self who’s totally ish. Trapped inside yourself, you only see the world in relationship to who you are and how things are going for you—in this case, bored and weepy. Weepy about what? I don’t know. Maybe you lost your dog. Maybe Michael Vick kidnapped your dog and all you can do is sit on your couch and weep while he makes millions of dollars playing football. Who the hell knows? Make up your own reason for weeping. You can’t just sit around and read my blog without participating, lazy.

    But if you go beyond merely being bored and weeping on the couch and begin to think about being bored and weeping on the couch, you will have forged a quirky new relationship to yourself and inaugurated a revolutionary form of dislocated consciousness that will engender a profounder compassion for all sentience. Totally fucking serious.

    How now? Simple. Because the moment you create that breach between merely being you and thinking about you, you are no longer limited by the you who’s bored and weeping. In fact, you’re no longer you at all, are you? Of course you’re not. You’re something else apart from you that’s detached and interested. Some form of consciousness that observes and thinks about the selfish form of you who’s limited by your own bored weeping. Something finds your boredom interesting. But what?

    Could be anything. The blessing is that you are not simply you. You are any number of dreams that constantly erupt from the snoring earth.

    Perhaps you’re the couch itself, upon which selfy you is bored and weeping, and the couch, loving you, is only there to listen and hold you in the arms of all her plush comfort. Yes. When you think you’re thinking about you, maybe “you” are actually the couch, a form of consciousness inhabiting the couch instead of you (because you have to admit that your bored weepiness must bore the shit out of consciousness—just like your friends). Or maybe this strange, detached thinking about you is actually the lamp on the table next to the couch, steadfastly casting its light upon you in order to illuminate broader contexts from which to view your life and situation. Yeah. Maybe thought is a light that seeks to outshine the bounds of selfhood. Until your eyes finally dry and you rise from that couch, curious again, interested, luminescent.


    Aunt Julie

    The door is locked today. But it won't be forever. And someday we'll both understand that it never was, that the door was never really locked because there's no such thing as a house from which a door might lead from inside to out. But today it's locked. And there's no use banging on it. Because no one's home.

    I thought of you as I ran today and started sobbing, which looks ridiculous, so I ran a little bit faster, to keep myself from sobbing, and remembered a little fragment of Rimbaud: "The pathways are rough. The hillocks are covered over with genista. The air is motionless. How the birds and springs are far away! This can only be the end of the world, going forward." I'm not sure why I remembered just that little fragment, so I assumed it was for you.

    I don't understand things, Aunt Julie. I had a friend who told me once that things are difficult to understand because there's nothing to understand, which sounds kind of cool and mystical but the problem with things that are cool and mystical is that you can't hug them, so they piss me off. I bet you're really pissed off. I bet people are telling you about "better places" and "mysterious ways" and you're probably thinking FUCK YOU I WANT MY FAMILY! FUCK YOU I WANT MY FAMILY! FUCK YOU I WANT MY FAMILY!

    Anger is a gift, Aunt Julie. Zack de la Rocha said so.

    So, after I started running faster to stop sobbing and remembered Rimbaud, I got pissed. I looked at the mountains and scoffed, grimaced, tried to melt the snow off their peaks with mere spite. I ran faster. God damn it! I was getting pretty worked up. But there is a place, Aunt Julie, where anger explodes into a raging diamond that reflects the entire moon in each of its myriad facets and, together, all these moons blur into one single flame that will flicker tonight on the tip of the candle during the vigil I hold for you. The end of the world will go forward.


    You there, Reader. Say a prayer for my Aunt Julie. Her husband died, not two years after their only son died. If you don't pray, give it a try. It's not hard. Just get on your knees and say "Help".


    Recovery With Raul I.

    My name is Raul I. and I am an alcoholic.

    And no—the I. does not stand for Iglesias, so stop guessing. Besides, my name is not the point. Alcoholism is. What does alcoholism care about names? Or other petty things like occupations? I am currently a professor at an anonymous California university where I teach courses about postmodern fiction, Buddhism, and ecology (it’s complicated). However, I spent the bulk of my earlier career in America picking various melons. You are no doubt impressed by my path to success. However, alcoholism is not impressed. Alcoholism doesn’t care if you’re the CEO of a powerful software company or a whore pedaling blowjobs for $10 (which, by the way, is a very good rate but, of course, not the point).

    I have been sober for 19 days and I have a sponsor named Aurelio P. He told me to read a chapter in the AA book called The Doctor’s Opinion every day for 7 days. I told him that sounded excessive. He said my alcoholic brain wants to kill me and that I shouldn’t listen to it, that I should just read the same 7 pages for 7 days. I am concerned about my alcoholic brain wanting to kill me and I am wary of listening to it. However, I’m the one who is wary of listening to my alcoholic brain, which makes me wonder if my wariness is trying to kill me as well, meaning I should then actually listen to my alcoholic brain, to trick it. It is no easy thing, this alcoholism. But what if Aurelio asks me to mow his grass and trim his hedges? I will no doubt object to such menial tasks as beneath me and my education. Will that, too, be my alcoholic brain trying to kill me? Maybe I should ask Aurelio. I would, but he’s off getting gas for the mower.

    The Doctor’s Opinion says that all alcoholics have one thing in common. When they drink alcohol, they become overwhelmed by the phenomenon of craving and this craving clouds all mental control regarding further intake and behavior. This is precisely the case with me. If I try to tell you in the future that I do not experience the phenomenon of craving when I drink alcohol, I will be lying. Don’t believe me. Unless you don’t believe me now.  I will leave what you believe to your own discretion.

    So far, the only difficulty I’m having in AA is the constant pressure to call people all the time and engage in fun sober activities. I want to be alone, to read, and to write. Aurelio says this is yet another manifestation of my alcoholic brain trying to kill me. I asked him how my sobriety could possibly depend on eating pie with him when I wanted to go home and read Miranda July. Aurelio thinks I’m hopeless. I can tell.

    But I used to pick melons in the relentless sun and now I’m a professor in the air conditioned halls of academia. I believe things can change. I know they can. I have witnessed the day fade into night as a woman undressed in the yellow moonlight. Anything can happen. I believe it. I will leave what you believe to your own discretion.

    Keep a good thought. I will always be your sober, honest…

    Raul I.



    This morning I took out the trash and snapped a picture of my glass recycling bins. The picture was totally staged because the glass recycling bins didn't even need to go to the curb. They were empty. They looked like this.

    That's what my glass recycling bins look like after I've been sober for 15 days. Here's what they looked like two Sundays ago.

    You hear a lot of dramatic stories in AA about people destroying their families, going to jail, losing their jobs, going insane, dying, coming back to life, etc. Well here's my story. I looked at these recycling bins.


    I've been going to AA and cooperating, for the most part. Listen to me, AA people, before you get all frothy and excited. The AA program is simple and wonderful and it works. However, just like everything else in the world that's cool, it's the PEOPLE who fuck it up and make it stupid. So I'm going to partially use this space to articulate my struggle to adhere to the AA program and stay sober while dealing with some of its cult like idiocy.

    I'll start by addressing the likelihood that someone will probably call me out for violating AA's 11th Tradition: "Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films."

    1). Guess what. My name isn't really Black Hockey Jesus.

    2). Some of you are under the mistaken impression that my name is Jon Something. However, you only know what I want you to know. So here's the truth - the real super truthiest truth: My name is actually Raul I. I'm not telling you what the I. stands for because it's an ANONYMOUS program.

    3). Besides, this is the fucking internet. It's not press, radio, or film. Let this serve as a lesson for the weird culty people who think AA's Big Book was whispered by God into Bill Wilson's ear. If every word in the Big Book was inspired by God, how come he left out the internet? You don't think GOD knew the internet was coming?!? He's fucking GOD for Christ's sake! What I really mean to say is that this is why people make fun of us. We sit in a circle and you talk about how profound that book is and you freak people out. That's not ATTRACTIVE. Knowing God's will is totally 9/11/2001, AA. Time to find some genuine humilty and get a little less certain.

    4). Lastly, the Traditions were written to protect AA back when it was a fragile program with an uncertain future. Well it's safe to say that AA is here to stay and it has absolutely nothing to fear from a cocky jerk with 15 days of sobriety who writes a blog.

    5). Even more lastly, I don't care about rules. How do you think I got here?



    This Is A Love Letter To The Person Who Tried To Get Me Fired And Failed Because Fuck You

    As many of you know, I’m just a humble coal miner from Webster County, Kentucky. I work in the depths. I get my fucking hands dirty. I like Carl Jung, Bob Dylan, and strippers who take it all off. I speak my mind, tell a bunch of lies, and I’m not afraid to poke an eye. Turn your cheek; I’ll poke the other one.

    Check this out. Someone sent an anonymous email to my coal mine’s human resource department and alerted them to this blog and my Twitter account, apparently worried about my fellow coal miners and their impressionable young minds. The next think you know, HR calls my boss and—BAM—I’m in her office.

    MY BOSS, MAYA: Are you Black Hockey Jesus?

    MAYBE BLACK HOCKEY JESUS: I might be, Maya. Who do you want me to be?

    MB, M: Well, if you are Black Hockey Jesus, HR needs you to know that you can’t blog or tweet during mining hours. But, after speaking with our lawyers, we can’t make you stop blogging because of free speech and also because of the way Black Hockey Jesus intentionally fictionalizes parts of his blog and you can’t really tell fact from fiction.

    MBHJ (nodding): Hrmm. Well. If I were Black Hockey Jesus, I’d be listening very closely and obeying all your demands.

    MB, M: Do you want to have dinner and stay out too late drinking margaritas?

    MBHJ: I don’t think that’s an appropriate proposition, Maya, given your position of power.

    MB, M: You’re doing that fiction thing right now, aren’t you? Where you just make shit up as you go along? You are awesome and complex.

    MBHJ: Maybe, Maya. Maybe. But I cannot commit to saying either yes or no because I’m unable to commit to fiction or nonfiction. I also can’t get dinner with you because I’ve got to go pick up Jackson and Lucy, which may or may not be their real names.


    So ha ha hater. Big middle finger in your stupid meddling face. There’s this little thing called The United States Constitution that guarantees my right to free speech and all you did was snag me a bunch of new readers: the people at HR, their lawyers, and my boss (who all, by the way, think the blog is very well written and funny too, albeit overly profane in places with hookers and murder and junk).

    But—good God—you’re lucky I didn’t get fired because there’d be nothing left for me to do except go all Liam Neeson from Taken on your ass. I’d blow up half of Europe hunting you down. In the process of finding you, I’d dismantle a child prostitution ring and drive a motorcycle the wrong way down the highway. If someone got in my way, I’d snap their neck without flinching because, before I was a coal miner, I was special ops CIA where I learned how to be invisible and fly and kill a man in 0.2 seconds, quietly.

    My leads would lead to dead-ends. But I would keep finding new ones. To Chicago? Florida? Orange Fucking County? And there would come a day when—popping from your closet like a ninja or Rambo or some fucked up alcoholic clown who lost his circus— I’d hold a knife to your neck and whisper:

    This part is not fiction.


    Left on Lone Mountain

    I found it, running, at 4 in the morning, when I took a left on Lone Mountain. Up ahead, there was a break in the consistency of street lights. Why would the street lights stop for a quarter mile or so?

    Once inside the absence of light, I wondered in the dark.

    And when I discovered, to my left, the large field of endless tombstones, I shot to the edge of my skin, nearly flying out of it. Graveyards, man—graveyards are fucked up. I wondered if they stopped the street lights to respect the dead’s sleep. And I questioned the intensity of my fear. Why did I leap to the edge of my body? Or maybe, I wondered, something pushed me to the edge of my body. Was someone knocking on my door, trying to come in? The dead, I imagine, must be bored as hell. Sick and tired of peace. If I were dead, what would I miss the most?

    Voice. I imagined the dead as restlessly wishing for voices. Open places in which their voices might sound.


    I didn’t want to turn left on Lone Mountain again but I tend to oppose myself, so I did, and—again, against my own will—took another left, into the cemetery.

    Welcome, a voice sounded, and my eyes were drawn to a headstone that announced the resting place of Thomas Able. “Good morning, Mr. Able,” I said aloud and the graveyard came to life with excited muttering.

    He hears us!

    “How are you this morning, Mr. Chandler?” I asked another stone. I’m dead, he scoffed, How the fuck do you think I am? “But,” I countered, “isn’t death all peaceful and resty and awesome?” It occurred to me that I was running too fast and I suddenly felt the need to slow down. Maybe I should stop awhile and hang with the dead. Peaceful and awesome? he said, incredulous. Dude, it’s terrible. Peace is such a paltry replacement for strife. Contradiction. Conflict. Strife! Strife’s where all the action’s at!

    I ran faster. I was tired, wanting to stop, but I didn’t. Rather, I ran faster. When you surpass your own abilities, your muscles don’t get enough oxygen and they scream. You can hear your muscles screaming. And that’s when you stop if you love yourself. Because you’re worth it. You deserve it. You deserve love and peace and calm contentment.

    Wait! a dead woman screamed. Stop! But I didn’t. Even though I wanted to, I didn’t. I just ran faster, faster, out of breath but still gasping for it.

    Cemeteries are no place to stop. Gasping’s where the action’s at. To gasp is to keep the place where voices sound.


    Lost Again

    He was right. I’ll give him that much. The questions were absurd. Doesn’t the fundamental issue of addiction revolve around the inability to control one’s self? So why then was this nurse trying to get Skip to sign a contract, promising to behave in certain ways inside the treatment center?

    He glared at me with angry defiant eyes that indicated he was about to go off, and I countered with calm patient eyes, begging him to just play the game and sign the fucking paper. This was our sixth treatment center in two years and the shit was getting old. Skip began to raise his slurred voice about the contract being flawed because it presupposed abilities that he lacked, the reason he was there in the first place. I grimaced. Because his argument was not about the integrity of intake documentation. It was about getting down the road to a bar.

    The nurse said he could sign the document or be dismissed, to which Skip responded by throwing her computer monitor through the window. Disgusted, fed up, exhausted by the endless circle of hope and disappointment, I stormed toward the door and it’s there where the memory gets photographically vivid.

    Because I had this huge fountain Dr. Pepper. Fucking Large. And before I stepped on the electronic mat to open the door, I stopped and hurled the monstrous soda as hard as I could. I’ll never forget the way it flew through the air, the lid flying off before impact and then, whoosh, brown pop forming a vertical puddle that creeped down the glass, wanting to be art, to be something beautiful in the midst of so much ugliness.

    And then I ran. And Skip chased me yelling “Jon! Jon! Wait!” but I kept running—I just wanted to run, run away from it all—until he tackled me in the grass that the July sun lit on fire like glowing blades of emeralds. He clutched me tight, on the grass in front of the treatment center, and I lost my mind a little, babbling repeatedly “I want to win, Skip. I want to win. When do we finally get to fucking win?” and he whispered in my ear, ever the mentor, soothing me, “I know, Jon. Me too. We’re going to. We will. We’ll win.

    But, really, honestly, does anybody? Win? Ever?

    Eventually, Skip, defeated, stabbed his femoral artery and died in a puddle of his own blood that swamped his entire living room like one big study of Rothko. And it seems to me that our lives ultimately amount to nothing more than a steady accumulation of losses. Loss after loss after loss. You lose this. You lose that. And then fuck, man. Yesterday, I lost again. The only possible victory resides in the knowledge that you will never win. But, shit, is it even fair to call that winning? I have always been lost. I never stop stumbling in this interminable maze of dark.

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