Are You Not Entertained?

I’ve been feeling my darkness lately. It’s a pluming miasma of bubbling evil which spreads out around me like a fog and fucks up all that it touches. Some poor fool kid drove his truck too close to mine a few days ago and his tire exploded as he passed. He made it safely into the ditch, but our eyes met as I continued on. His said “what the hell?’ Mine said “sorry dude.” I knew it wasn’t a coincidence. The same thing happened to an elderly Navajo woman a few months ago. She drove by, my bad juju latched on to her car, and then boom, no more right rear tire. She too made it to the ditch. She had help with her in the car, and if I had stopped and gotten too close to assist, her three remaining tires would’ve suffered my proximity. So on I went. My dark cloud of evil influence and I continued down that arrow straight stretch of desert road as her memory faded in my wake of dust.

 

Have you ever heard one of those pseudo gangster types say “real recognize real?” Sure, they misuse it because most of them aren’t even remotely “real,” but they have a point. One of my best friends back home is one of those badass semi-pro cage fighters, and every time we’d walk into a bar, there’d always be at least one other simian alpha male who’d seek him out. They’d play looky-loo from a distance, their hooded gazes interrupted now and then by passersby, but eventually, they’d get too close. The night would always end with the other guy on the ground as a gaggle of bouncers asked us to leave. I guess similar people recognize something in each other which draws them together. Fighters recognize fighters. And as it turns out, dark, brooding, assholes encapsulated by evil clouds recognize each other too. I picked up my daughter from one of her extracurricular trappings a while back, and as soon as she got in the car, she told me that “some old famous comedian guy” had killed himself. I looked at her in my rearview mirror and asked if it was Robin Williams. She said that it was, and asked if I had already heard. I hadn’t. But I had seen him on the Daily Show a few months prior, and I’d seen it in his eyes. Real recognize real. Dark recognize dark.

 

My daughter asked how somebody who was so funny could be so unhappy. She thought it was ironic. I thought it was axiomatic. I looked back at her and tried to explain, but it would’ve been easier to explain why water is wet; you know, it just is. And that’s when I started thinking about Robin Williams. He had never made me laugh. I’d enjoyed his movies, and I’ll admit that he deserved the Oscar which came from his performance in Goodwill Hunting, but his standup always felt like artifice when I watched it. It was like he’d found some mathematical formula he could use to formulate jokes, and everybody in the crowd always fell for it. They looked at his expression, they followed his gesticulations, and they listened to his words. I looked at his eyes. Eyes truly are the windows to the soul, but with Robin, everybody always seemed to look at the windowsill. When he was on The Daily Show, he likened Canada to an apartment above the meth lab which is the United States. The crowd laughed. John Stewart thought it was hilarious. But I remember thinking “good one Robin, that’ll keep ‘em off your trail for a while.”

 

He gave his all for his audience, but that laughter never sank in because deep down, he knew that he had earned their joy via his equation. It probably felt hollow to him as he stood there with his sad eyes and broad smile. He kept giving it out, but nothing nourishing came back in. So in came the drugs and the consumption. Holy shit I know exactly how that feels. I don’t want to speak for Robin because I didn’t know him, but I think he spoke loudly enough for himself with that belt. I understood Robin Williams as he joked, just as I understood Jackson Pollock as he dribbled paint onto the canvas at his feet, just as I understood Hemmingway and his never-ending pursuit of Kilimanjaro’s summit, and I recoil from their bodies of work because their clouds get too close to mine for comfort.

 

My mind is a jar full of buzzing insects which I can’t control. They’re rabid, frenzied little assholes who fly around on incessant wings in a huge storm of thought I can’t steer. It’s fine if I feed them. If I give them something to work on, like a short story or a drum solo, they all fly in concert for a while, and they make something truly incredible. But when I sit idle, they still need to feed. They start to sting and fly into dark places, and I’m taken with them because I’ll be damned if they aren’t the little pieces which make up the whole of me. They help me when I ask it and they hurt me when I try to find calm; they’re the second edge of my double edged sword. This is my truth, my life, my shitty dichotomy. The people far away from me never see my other side. They see my creativity and my humor. Those who are close to me feel the cut when I’m sitting in a lull. Those who are close to me came close because of the good, but they hurt when they get close enough to feel the bad. And at times, I’m not sure anything else should’ve been expected. I feel like a bloodied gladiator, alone in the arena of my mind, standing over something dead at my feet and I want to scream “are you not entertained? Is this not what you came to see?”

 

Maybe that’s how Robin Williams felt. All of you, who were so far away from him, loved him for the good. I’d be willing to bet that his two ex-wives and his widow see things a bit differently. They got close enough to feel the cut from his double edged sword of humor. And lately, as I’ve been watching that man’s story on TV, our similarities have become ever more discouraging. When I heard that he’d described his childhood at his dad’s house as “growing up with one thousand toy soldiers for friends,” I held my breath and looked around to see if anyone else had noticed my reaction. That’s exactly how I grew up. It’s all just so damn obvious to me. The dark makes people like us interesting, but it takes its toll. Everyone else was appalled when Robin Williams took his own life. I wanted to stand up and applaud him for making it to sixty-three, especially given his recent diagnosis. He deserves credit for making it as far as he did, for accomplishing what he had given his handicap, and I truly felt something at his passing. I have no idea what came next after his heart stopped, but if he’s now battling his demon on some distant plane of infinity, I wish him all the best. Through my writing now, I’m saluting him with my own double edged sword; may his blade be ever sharp and true.

 

***

 

I write most of my blogs in one sitting. This one has taken me four. And the narrative of who I am has fluctuated greatly over these past seven days. The story of who I am is a liquid thing. In the words above, I simply plucked the sad things out of my life and stitched them together to abstract the story of who I was at the moment, as I’ve heard it described before in a RadioLab episode by someone much smarter than I, but it’s not a complete tale. There’s also a bright side to who I am. When I’m on top, I can shoot out of my eyes lasers of positivity which can evaporate that evil miasma around me. I have a damn good wife and two crazy cool children, and they help me through. I’ll be alright in a little bit. Someday soon, I picture myself standing akimbo atop a cliff, backlit by the sun with wind in my hair, looking down on the vanquished body of my demon. My voice will boom out around me like a claxon as I laugh in triumph at my victory. I’m taking steps to get there. In a while, the story of who I am will be just as saccharine and happy as a gumdrop rainbow. On my way home yesterday, I stared at the back of a large water truck in front of me as I drove and ruminated over where I was in life. And I shit you not, one of his huge back tires exploded in a cloud of black smoke and roadway detritus. I laughed, because I guess tire explosions come in threes, but those happy lasers were burgeoning in my eyes and I knew that this most recent one had nothing to do with me.

 

I’m not suicidal like those aforementioned greats; hell, I’m not even great like those aforementioned greats. But I will be. I’m going back to school. My first week is nearly over. I need to study so I can finish the derivations for my own formula which I’ll use to keep you reading. But this will be my last blog for a while. I’m bleeding out from too many cuts, and I need to apply a tourniquet. No more recreational reading or writing for a while, not as much physical fitness, no television whatsoever; these are the wounds to which I’ll apply pressure so I can focus on family and school. I’ll try to post things occasionally as my schedule allows, but in the meantime, I’d like to thank you all for reading, and for your kind words of encouragement. You’ll hear from me soon.

Tired

No Pets Allowed

I have a knack for finding dead or dying things by my mailbox. If you’ve been following my blog, or if you’ve read my books, you’ve read of Kismet. If not, she’s an ugly bitch of a kitten I found mauled and close to death on the ground by said mailbox a few Halloweens ago. I have this latent flaw deep in my emotional foundation which causes me to anthropomorphize pathetic creatures. I don’t yet fully understand it, but when I see something weak mewling at my feet, I see myself. I see redemption lying there, covered in blood and desperation, and maybe if I can save it, I can save myself. The urge is a palpable constriction in my chest. That kitten brought tears to my eyes and milked hundreds of dollars out of my wallet. I spared her, and to this day, she hates me. She’s since spawned her own brood, and now a whole new progeny of my flaw is running feral through the desert as a testament to that which dwells in my head.

 

A few weeks back, as I walked up to my mailbox, a hummingbird tried to attack me. At least that’s what it felt like. The little bastard flew at my face with his lance of a beak and nearly skewered my eyeball. I shooed him away with a manly scream and a flick of my hand. He left. I turned and got my mail, but as I walked back to my truck, I saw him on the ground, teetering on a precipice of consciousness, in nearly the exact same place I found Kismet. So of course, my chest got tight. There’s nothing frailer than a hummingbird. And this one, mostly black wearing a band of shimmering purple feathers like a breast plate, pierced something far more vulnerable than my eyeball with his lance.

 

I picked him up. He was lighter than I expected a living thing could be, almost as if I held feather covered nothingness. I could see the thing in my hand, but it felt as if he didn’t exist. He looked at me with his black orb eyes. I crumbled. I ran quickly to my truck and got a water bottle. I took off the green lid and filled it with a bit of water. Upon my hand I set it. I inched it closer and closer to his head until finally, he stuck in his beak and took a few drinks. His dart like tongue flickered in and out just below the water’s surface. Little plumes of blood blossomed in the water as he drank. His beak was such a fragile thing. How had I considered it to be a lance? This was no weapon he wielded. This little thing couldn’t hurt me. What could be the harm in holding it?

 

He tried to fly and made it aloft into the air for a few moments before crashing back down. I picked him back up. I offered more water. He looked at me. His little lids narrowed into a distrusting squint. Son of a bitch; that little humming bird hated me just as much as Kismet did. Damn it, I was only trying to help. I had no idea how to fix hummingbirds. For fuck’s sake, I didn’t even know how to fix myself. Why couldn’t he just drink and then be free? I could’ve gone home where I belonged. He could’ve flown off and spawned a whole squadron of lance wielding asshole hummingbirds. But I kept trying anyway. Every time I picked him up and offered water, he’d fly a little farther. On the fourth time, I took him into a shady copse of trees which was much further away from my truck than I should’ve walked. He fluttered around in the air with humming wings for about ten seconds before landing on a bush. He was a remote control helicopter with dead batteries. And still, as he perched on what would soon be tumbleweed, he looked at me with those tiny baneful eyes. I knew he was going to die, all I did was try to help, and this is what I got. You know what? I hate that hummingbird too. I hate my inside, I hate the part which makes me want to help, I hate that which makes me need it. I walked away. After it was all over, all I had to show for it was a few pictures and an ample quota of sadness.

 

I got back into my truck and tried to head home. I’m still driving. I’ve learned that you can’t make a loving pet out of Kismet. I’ve learned that some things are best left where they lie. I’ve learned that I shouldn’t externalize that flaw because it can’t be filled by veterinary bills or misplaced sentiment; I’m learning to fix myself. And now, I’ve adopted a policy held to fast by the hotel in which I’m typing this: No Pets Allowed.

Hummingbird

I Might Be an Alien

I can’t come right out and say that I am in fact an alien, because if I did, it’d violate the prime directive handed down to me by my species before I left. And frankly, that doesn’t really make much sense, because if you know me and you think about it, it’s pretty fucking obvious. Hell, I even have O negative blood, and there’s an entire society of crazies out there who run a website dedicated to proving that everybody with my blood type is at least partially extraterrestrial. Seriously. Google it (my next mission is to silence these uppity fools). So anyway, “hypothetically speaking,” I was sent here to observe humanity and report back my findings after I phone home and hitch a ride back to the motherland via a floating thingamabob that’s way too cool for your merely mortal mind to comprehend.

 

I’m just writing this to vent a bit of frustration, because sometimes, it’s just so damn hard to fit in with the rest of you. I feel alienated, and rightfully so. I feel it deep in my bones which are covered in this fleshy disguise. I stand in groups of my newfound friends and feel so damn far away. I’m supposed to be one of you. I’m supposed to feel at home here and be welcome. But my species is violently allergic to small talk and all the idle chit chat. It makes me want to shoot lasers out of my eyes which would both cut down on my number of friends, and blow my cover right to hell. So I hold it in. I wear a smiling mask. I stand there in a sweat of anxiety and tell you what I’ve been doing. I compliment the food at dinner parties. I even ask back trivial questions to secure my place amongst you, but always inside, I await the deeper conversations which will give me clues as to what it means to be human, because I simply have no idea. And now, to make it worse, I’ve gone and married a seraph like gorgeousness human woman and reproduced. I’ve co-created two beautiful, mostly human girls. Can you imagine the strain that’s put on my mission? Now, not only am I supposed to learn everything about your wonderful species, but I’ve also been tasked with not fucking up two of your greatest specimens.

 

I feel like a monster at times with these two girls and with this wife of mine. When my first daughter was born, my green eyed mini-me, I anxiously awaited the findings from her first blood test. I got lucky. It was AB positive for Catelynn; there wasn’t anything to be O negative about. But I wasn’t in the clear. In my head, and in my true form, I’m this beastly and black muscled being with glowing red eyes and clawed hands who’s trying to hold on to a precious creature. Can you picture that? Imagine an evil demonic form, all angles and smoking malice, holding an outstretched weapon of a hand in which rests a pure and beautiful child. Her skin is alabaster and her doe eyes look up at the creature who sired her as if to ask “what do I do now father?” My cracked lips purse, hiding my fangs, and my red eyes go wide in fright. One of those cartoonish thought bubbles comes out of my horned head and says “Oh shit. Oh shit oh shit oh shit.” What the hell am I supposed to tell her? I have no idea how her species functions. And if I try to hold her, the spiky claws tipping my fingers are sure to pierce her heart. I’m screwed. I’m sure my second daughter will be fine, because for some reason, she was born with a superpower which allows her to climb and play on my claws as if they were monkey bars, but I fear truly for my first daughter and for the gentle wife who chose me.

 

At times, I want to let go. I feel them slipping away from me and I know that my grasping hands are imparting scars. I grab and grab and stab and stab and it doesn’t matter that my intentions are pure because my family bleeds in my clumsy haste. I know exactly how Edward Scissorhands felt when he tried to hold on to his maker or that girl who was later accused of stealing from a department store. That poor fool was only trying to hold those whom he loved, but those black handled shears cut them deeply. Edward was able to carve works of art into ice and shrubbery; I’m able to type adroitly on these keys with my claws and string together words which make you keep reading. Holy shit; Edward Scissorhands is my spirit animal.

 

I cut my family recently. I got lazy with my emotions and let them govern my actions. Emotions are new to me, because on my planet, we don’t have emotions. We’re governed by rationality. We speak in calculus. Love and trust are alien concepts to us because they come from light-years away. I’m learning too slowly, and perhaps it’s too late, but I’m trying. I met with a human, a human who knows humanity better than most humans, and she’s showing me how to behave, but I have so far to go. I’m down in a pit; it’s a pit which I dug with these cumbersome hands. But maybe these claws can be tools too. Maybe these claws can give me purchase on the walls of this pit as I climb out. Maybe I can learn just in the nick of time what it means to be one of you and I can scramble above the rim of my pit and let the sunshine of our species crumble away the chitin of my false carapace, and then I can stand on even ground with the rest of you in the glory of who I’m supposed to be. All I can do is hope. All I can do is fight. And tonight, as I write this, that’s exactly what I’m doing. The report I’ll write before I phone home will be a good one. This mission will be a success.

photo