Ko-Fi

Friday, June 23, 2017

Ear Worms and Screaming Brains

I need to tell you this story.

Before I do, don't judge me.  I get ear worms.  Badly and often.  I get songs stuck in my head and they just don't leave.  Sometimes I'm lucky enough to have good songs stuck in my head but other times, my luck is typical of my life--shit.  And that's when I get horrible ear worms.

Earworms for me are often triggered by memories.   Last night, before I finally fell asleep, after days of not sleeping more than an hour or two, I was reminded of my time working at a gas station in Freeport.  I worked the late shift until close at midnight every night.

I have a lot of stories about those days.

But there's this memory that popped into my head.  It was back when cellphones first started to have ringtones you could adjust and replace with sound bites from your favorite song.  A regular customer, a beautiful eighteen year-old girl, had her phone ring while she was in line to pay for her gas.  It was a pop song that was so distorted I couldn't understand any of it.

She started dancing.  But it wasn't just dancing, it was this elaborate set of moves while she sang.  Sure, she was beautiful, but she was squirrely.  I like squirrely.

I asked her the song and she weirdly began to sing the song title.  "Rockstar," she said.

I went home that night and got on Youtube.

Something about me I should say right now--I have OCD badly when it comes to music.  If I hear a piece of a song, I have to know what it is.  I have to know who the artist is and what song I'm hearing.

I have to.

If I don't, then I need to find it.

True story.  I worked at a pizza place owned by Sicilians.  They had an old cassette tape with Italian love songs recorded into a mix tape.  One of the songs had this woman sing in a haunting but beautiful voice in Italian.  Nobody knew who she was or what song it was.  But I remembered the melody.

I would spend time once in a while trying to find it on Youtube.

And then something happened.  Maybe my life took another spin.  Maybe more unrequited love ate away at me.  Or maybe my brain began yet another tailspin.  Whatever.

I logged onto my computer and spent thirty-six hours straight looking for that song.  Thirty-six.  I didn't sleep.  I just drank caffeine and listened to old Italian songs.  I never found it.

Sometimes, I still hear that melody and her voice.  I tell myself that now is not the time to search for it.  I promise myself that one day, when I have time, I will.  I made a note of it mentally.  Delaying it to the future helps me get through the OCD moment.

But this beautiful woman.  Blond hair, long and curly down her back, blue eyes, tall and incredibly thin, tripped the switch inside my brain that forced me to find this song.  So, in about ten minutes, I did.  I'm really good at finding things.

It was one of the shittiest pop songs a person could like.  Horrible.  Vile, trite, cliche, and all of the things I despise about pop music.  I get angry when I hear it.  When it pops into my brain, I wonder if perhaps I picked up a brain fluke from bad water someplace, and as it eats away at my frontal lobe, it produces excrement that somehow mixes into the wiring, like a wrench in a gearbox, and triggers this song.

Prima J--Rockstar.



Don't judge.  It's not my fault.  I'm sick.  I'm very, very sick.  I hate this song and everything about it.
But that's why we call them "ear worms."  They are disgusting things that get lodged and we can't stop them.

Lately it seems has if my brain is screaming at me.  I slept last night.  Collapsed, really.  I was a zombie until I finally sank into oblivion.  And that's when the dreams started.

First, I dreamed I was upstairs in some house.  The Incredible Hulk was there, running room to room.  He wasn't smashing anything or breaking anything.  He wasn't roaring or shouting.  Sure, the doorframes were broken a bit because he had to get through them, but at least he was using the doorways and not just blasting through the walls, right?

He smiled at me.  He seemed to be there protecting me.  And I hugged him.  The Incredible Hulk let me hug him.

The second dream, I was in the basement of a recently built house.  It was one of those split-level ranch homes that are so common.  The basement was a finished basement.  You know the type--wood paneling painted white, off-white carpeting, crappy second-hand furniture that doesn't match.

This basement went on forever.  It was massive.  Room after room.

It was raining outside.  It was a cold, winter rain.

I searched the basement for something to drink.  I was thirsty.  Every time I found a kitchen, the refrigerator was empty.  One kitchen had about twenty pounds of raw bacon set out on the counter but the refrigerator had the door removed.  I found about five kitchens in this basement and each time the same thing--nothing to drink.

And then my mom came downstairs.  She was sick with a cold or the flu.  She didn't talk to me.

Mom sat down at the shitty kitchen table set out in the middle of this basement room.  She was eating a bowl of cereal or oatmeal.  The table was one of those with the thick brass-colored frames and faux-wood tops.  Mom's old, ratty bathrobe hung off her shoulders, revealing tattoos covering her back.  They were Asian in theme but Western in artwork.  Her back was covered in them.  For the record, she doesn't have a single tattoo in real life.

Mom had an oversized can of 7-up that was about the size of those oil cans we used to get oil in up until the early 80's.  It was empty because she drank all of it.

I wasn't wearing a shirt and I didn't want to get too close to her because I didn't want her to see the scars on my upper arms.  I had new ones from when I melted down with a meat cleaver in January and I didn't want her to see them.  She freaked out twenty years ago when she saw them then.  New ones would not be good.  She was worried enough about me as it is.

We didn't talk.  I woke up.

There was something about this dream that has lingered with me all day.  I feel disconnected and disjointed.  Something changed.  Something ended.  I missed something.

I feel like a door closed on me and I don't know which one.  An opportunity has been lost.  I lost.  I missed out on something.  I failed someplace and failed to make something happen.  But I have no idea what.

I feel like mourning.  I've felt like mourning all day and I don't know why.

My brain screamed at me last night.  It wanted me to know something and I don't understand what.  I'm not going to demean myself by saying I'm stupid or something like that.  I'm not.  I just don't get it.  I wish I did.

I wish I knew what was needed to fix whatever is broken.  But for some reason I have the sneaking suspicion that it just might be too late to fix it.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Eleventh Hour, Fifteen Minutes



I've been working on a short story this weekend and my fingers aren't doing what I want them to do.  I know exactly what I want this story to read like and I know exactly how I want it to unfold.  The problem is, I can't seem to get the words in the order they need to be.  

So, I write a few, delete a few, and repeat.  Lately that's been my writing style.  Instead of editing, I go forward about two paragraphs, delete most of what's in there, and save a sentence.  Maybe.  

It's different from just throwing it on paper and calling it done.  Hunter S. Thompson used to make a joke that was repeated in the movie Where the Buffalo Roam. Bill Murray did a good job being Thompson.  


  • No need to panic. I'll just lash together a few raw facts, a little bit of old Negro wisdom, and this nightmare is over.



I loved Thompson's work but he bitched about money too much.  And he was obsessed with getting screwed over in his race for Sheriff back in the late 60's.  It just gets old after a while.  When I was a kid, I wanted to be like him.  It was cheap.  Cheap, and so beyond derivative, it bordered on thievery.  I was a stupid kid.  What can I say?  

Plus, Thompson never once wrote about being dopesick.  Any doper worth half a damn will know what that's like and they'll write about it. Being dopesick is something you never forget and it makes an impact on your very soul.  Just the thought of being dopesick grips an addict with a fear a person who hasn't used could never understand or fathom.  

I've been writing things that have been out of comfort zone lately. This week, I got a rejection for an anthology I'd submitted a short story to, and was put on the short-list for the final ToC (Table of Contents) much to my excitement.  This was a biggie.  A highly successful series of books with some heavy hitters that paid well.  To get as far as I did was really something.  But the fact that I was rejected really bugged me.  That story I sent them was different from most of what I've written.  

For starters, it had a sex scene.  As many of you know, I just don't write those.  There's a lot of reasons for that.  But for some reason I threw one into that story.  

I still haven't heard back from the published I sent my novella. It's been damned near four months and the fuckers haven't even told they got the shit.  I'm pissed.  

I'm also getting back to poetry.  Reading and writing it.  There's a project I'm working on.  Like everything, it's a matter of what needs to be said.  These things are always like that.  

Get the stuff said that needs to be said before I get out of here. Or at least the stuff that I need to say.  

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Dousing Embers

It's a funny paradox that those who want to get under our skin are usually already there.  They're already a presence in our thoughts and hearts.  What they never fully realize is how their efforts just make it easier to walk away from them.

Maybe.

I've found that for myself, the emotional attachments I have to people never quickly drop.  You could show me a video of them putting puppies in a blender while laughing hysterically and quoting from Mao's Red Book, it wouldn't change how I feel.

It would change how I think.  It would change how I act.  But those feelings and emotions would not suddenly evaporate like hot water thrown into the air on a frigid winter night.

A couple of months ago, I had relationship, of sorts, dissolve.  She wasn't into me and I made it clear I was into her.  But we stayed friends.  In the final months, she reminded me often how badly she needed sex, just not from me.

And let me tell you, that feels shitty.  When a woman you want to be with is super-horny but doesn't want you, but yet she reminds you about how super-horney she is, it's a huge slap in the face.

But as I said, we were friends.  One day, she tells me she's sick from food poisoning.  Then, she disappears.  No online response.  I texted her.  No response.  She's called me often when I was sick.  This was not some stalker-type behavior.  We called each other a bunch of times when the other was feeling sick.

So, about six hours after texting her, I called her and got her voicemail.  The next day, around noon, she calls me and chews my ass out.  She flames me royally.

"You don't need to call me and check up on me!  I was on a date and it was really awkward and it was at a certain moment."

She was finally getting the sex she so badly craved after a couple of years without and in that critical moment, I called, and she had to explain to him who I was.  The call lasted about 30 seconds and it was the last time I heard from her.

A day or two later, she posted something on Facebook with her codes for how she was getting some really great sex.  That was the last post I've seen from her since.  I'm not sure if I'm blocked or what and frankly, I don't care.

I realize then, I just didn't care about her that much and I just didn't care about her in that way.  I had no idea until she did that to me.  And if I never speak to her again, then so be it.  It's obvious how little I meant to her anyways.

That's an emotional situation I can walk away from and not be bothered.  I'm fine with it.

I can walk away from hatred just as easily, too.  If I hate somebody and they do something to prove that hatred wrong, I can switch gears and stop hating them.  No problem.  Anger, rage--all of that is easily ignored.

But love?

Love stays.  Love lasts.  Love is one of those things I've never been able to switch off and walk away from mentally or emotionally.  Physically, sure.  No problem.  Done.

But I still think of them.

A number of years ago, I fell hard for a woman.  I mean, it was an obsession.  She was all I could think of.  I wanted to make her laugh.  I wanted to make her happy.  I wanted to be the person she came to because she knew I'd never hurt her.  You know, all the sappy horseshit that fills pop music, shitty poetry, and sonnets written by 8th Graders.

But she was bad news.  Seriously bad news.  Coke whore, gang bangs, STD's--the works.  She was a porn star and sometimes there were cameras.

I knew to walk away.  Hell, I was flat-out told by people who were close to her to walk away.  And I did.

But not emotionally.  Emotionally, she's still there.  I still think of her.  I still think of her smile, and how much I enjoyed making her laugh.  The emotions are still there.

The same is true for a woman on the other side of the planet.  I'd do anything for her.  Her life has continued on with a path all its own.  But I still think about her and compare other women to her.  In many ways, she's a benchmark.  She and I hardly speak anymore.  But the emotions are still there.  And in just a few minutes of conversing with her, I'm reminded of just how powerful those emotions are, and how badly it hurt to know there was no way I'd be in her life.

Love stays.  That's why it's so powerful.  Love stays with us and we carry it in our hearts and minds for a long, long time.  It sinks in deep, to the bone, where it spreads to all parts.

I've walked away from women before.  Not often, but it's been known to happen.  Usually when I'm losing my mind because it's clear I'm not nearly as important as I want to be.  Those times when the other person clearly isn't interested in me on a level deeper than superficial.

I cannot describe how fast the mind spins in those times.  You want to get their attention.  You crave their attention.  You want to hear them say you're important to them.  You want them to show you how important you are to them.  But they never do.  Instead, they absorb your efforts, like a tackling dummy, or the guard rail at Indianapolis at the Brickyard.

So you think harder.  You try harder.  It feels like burning.  It feels like you're consumed by flames and only they can put out the fire with just a few words or a gesture.

There is a futility in those efforts.  It's running uphill during freezing rain.  It's like cupping water with your two hands as you carry it across the room.  It drips out, it escapes, so you press harder.  You lock your fingers.  Your hands become a vice.  But try as you might, that water escapes, and by the time you get to the other side of the room all you have left are a few drops.  That's it.

If they're really cruel to you, they'll tell you how thirsty they are, and how they desperately need that thirst quenched.  Mercifully, that doesn't happen nearly as often as it could.  I've been lucky.

Not too long ago, I walked away from somebody.  It hurt like hell but I had to because I was twisted around and in flames.  I wanted so badly to be a priority to her but it was clear I wasn't.  In fact, my importance was declining, and it was so obvious I felt like a chump.  It was beginning to be humiliating.  

But this is about me, not her.  I'm the one who couldn't handle it.  I'm the one who was on fire.  I'm the one who lost his shit.  Each and every day, I would search for replies from her, maniacally refreshing my various inboxes.  I would scour the web looking for things I could do to get her attention, despite already having it, and ways to be more of a priority to her.

I failed.  There was a canyon between us and she was widening it by the week.  There was more and more going on in her life she couldn't talk to me about.  She was clearly upset.  She was clearly hurting.  But increasingly she couldn't talk to me about it.  I tried to distract her.  I tried to make her laugh.

When you try to make an upset woman laugh so she feels better you become a temporary thing for her but she will not go deeper than that superficial dynamic.  So you make her laugh more and become more superficial to her.  It's a cycle.

That was months ago.  I lost my shit and went into a tailspin.  I didn't care, either.  I didn't care about the 1,000 reasons she had not to give a shit about me.  All I cared about was how she didn't.

I avoided mutual places online.  I stopped all communications with her.  And despaired at how easily she agreed with my request she stop talking to me.  For months she was the first person I thought of in the morning and the last person I thought of at night.  And now it was done.

But that didn't stop me from thinking.  And it didn't stop me from feeling.  I tried, too.  I really did.

How do you get somebody out of your thoughts?  You can't tell somebody "don't think of X" because they'll think about X all the time, then.

Time and absence is the only solution.  So, I tried to avoid her, which didn't help.  I was obsessed.

But after a while, I became comfortable with things.  I got used to how events panned out.  The tail-spin stopped and I went through the stages one does in recovering.  I stopped burning.  Somewhat.

She was still in my mind.  And the emotions were still there.  But I knew better.  I knew all the reasons why I needed to keep doing what I was doing.

This morning, I woke up to find a message from her.  My blood pressure spiked to crazy levels instantly.  So fast, I got lightheaded.  I quickly closed the window so the words wouldn't appear.  I wasn't ready to read them.  I wasn't ready for this.  Not at all.  Not one bit.

And then the anxiety came.  It felt like dozens of shrill, screaming voices bearing down on me.  I wanted to escape but couldn't.  It took me a while to prepare to read it, but I did.

She's angry with me.

At first, I was relieved.  I was relieved she was angry at me because I would have had no defense against anything else.  Had she said anything kinder than "I fucking hate you and hope you die" I would have burst into flames all over again.  If she had said she just wanted to know how I was doing, I would have freaked out, and something inside of my brain would have short-circuited.

But no, she was angry at me.  Thank the gods, she was angry at me.

I'm glad she lashed out at me.  Not speaking to her had become more and more difficult for me.  Just recently, it was clear she was going through a difficult patch, and I very badly wanted to reach out and ask if she was alright.  Friends talked me out of it.

I don't claim to make the smartest choices and I don't claim to have my shit together.  And it's very hard for me not to act upon emotions.  It's one of the reasons I medicated them.  It silenced them enough so I could function.  Plus, the very fact I'm using the "L-word" at all says something ugly about myself.  Something is terribly wrong with me.

A friend recently told me she thinks I tend to fall for women who will hurt me.  This is probably true on some level.

But it's not like I can just flush these feelings down the toilet.

There's a school of thought that says, "fuck your feelings, it's all about your actions."  All too often, I've put myself in that group just to keep myself from sticking my head in the wasp's nest.  My head is an ugly minefield as it stands.  Acting upon emotions would just get me into more trouble.  But I'm moving away from medicating and anesthetizing the feelings so they don't bite and claw at my brain.
My chemical suit of armor is disappearing and I really don't know if I can go on without it.  It scares me.

But no, I'm happy she's angry with me.  If she really hated me, she would have said she missed me, and watched as the fun began.  And I unfolded and burned.