07 June 2013

2013-06-06 13.20.32Today I stood in the back yard of my shitty house and realized how much I’m going to miss that shitty house. In two weeks, I leave it forever. If I wasn’t headed for California, I would probably be even more sad than I already am.

I have written a longer farewell piece about my house, which I will post soon. For now, this will suffice.

I love you, shitty house.

(If you look closely, you can spot Dante somewhere in the picture. He was too scared to join me out there. He preferred to have a quick escape route.)

07 June 2013

Idea dump:

  • She had a pulse and I could tell that what she was doing was blinking and breathing, but behind the eyes you could tell there was nothing but sawdust and dead electricity.
  • I’ll tell you what’s in Providence, you rat bastards: Providence is in Providence. I had never been there, I told them, so I may as well go. I almost felt like it was my duty. What if Providence was the United States’—or even the world’s—best kept secret? Maybe we had all been conditioned to dismiss the great state of Rhode Island and its fine capital as part of some well-intentioned state government initiative to keep the riffraff out. “Don’t go to Providence, Rhode Island!” the billboards had said, maybe, in our collective memories, which were badly warped anyway. “You might get killed!”
  • Gritt’s shotgun had, at one time, been a police standard-issue pump shotgun. Over the years he had heavily modified it to suit his needs. He had the barrel filed down and the stock was carved out like a jack-o-lantern to reduce the overall weight. The ammo capacity was increased from four to ten, and a scope was added to the top of the gun. He called his creation Sin-Daddy Slim.
  • That night, I was alone and sprawled out on the hood of a compact sport utility vehicle in a podunk American town that no longer knew my name. I was ruminating on things that I thought were interesting or useful, like molecules and dark matter and orgasms and tangerines and even rock and roll. I laughed like hell thinking about the movements of Earth—that wild, unseen carnival ride I had been strapped to as long as I could remember. With my arms folded behind my head, I gazed upward with blank eyes, letting that blue-black darkness and all of its little points of light fill the space inside of me where there had been nothing before.
  • It’s funny: you can look someone straight in the eyes—and I mean really look deep inside—and tell them an absolute truth and they’ll think you’re nuts anyway. I’m starting to think that half the bums and lunatics who have approached me have had some truth to their insane tales: freaks and creeps—outliers—with nowhere to go, nothing to do, and no one to love them in a broken, diseased world that doesn’t make a lick of sense.
  • An animal who is bored or lonely or sad will wander off and find something to make that go away. With humans you run the risk of them buying an automatic rifle and picking off children as they get off the school bus.
  • In the twilight of my time on Earth, I decided I would attempt, one last time, to understand my own species. I would study them in their sinner’s paradise, in their hedon parade. . . .
  • This thing is so God damn bloodless. Cheap sentiments and no substance.
  • There have been people like me over the years. We never last long. We’re here to give you a few books or a few songs and then we leave quietly.
  • If I survive this, it will be a halfway decent book. And if it isn’t then I truly am mad.
  • Light a plant on fire and the secrets of the universe faintly enter into your brain.
  • I awake and become aware of my surroundings. First I define the physical properties of the world before filling them with the memories I have of them.

Ain’t nothin’ better than ideas, man.

02 June 2013

Most of the many letters I write every week end up in someone’s mailbox, and then that someone will say to me, “I got your letter.” And I’ll say, “Oh, that’s swell.”

Sometimes those letters go nowhere. Sometimes they come back to me.

In February I wrote to a friend in Baltimore. After several weeks, I asked if she had received my letter, and she said she hadn’t. I figured it was lost to the void, never to return.

But it did return. It went all the way from Austin to Baltimore and then back to Austin. It is sitting on my desk, inches from my coffee cup, written with neat handwriting in black ink on lavender paper. After reading it over again, I’m glad she didn’t get it. She probably would have been freaked out.

I don’t mind freaking out the rest of the world, and I hate to think that words ever go unread, so here it is:

Dear S.,

I hope it was nice to open that envelope and discover that I have written this letter on lavender paper. I don’t care what anyone says: lavender is a great color. Purple is, after all, the color of kings. I’m not sure why it is commonly associated with adolescent girls. They don’t own it! It is everyone’s color. I am taking it back—someone has to.

Even though Austin has relatively mild weather, I’ve still felt the cold and darkness recently. I guess wanting to avoid feeling like this was hoping for too much. The sun is already on its way out, and it’s not even 6 p.m. By the time I get home from work, it will be completely dark outside. No sunlight for me today, I’m afraid. Still, I guess it’s hard to complain when it’s probably twice as cold and miserable where you are, in the doom metropolis of Baltimore—in the dead city.

I have, for a long time, wanted us to be close friends. I think I’ve published that exact sentence on the internet many times before, actually. So I hope it’s OK that I’m going to write to you as though we were close friends. Friends confide, I think, yes? You may confide in me, anyway. . . .

So: I am miserable, so fed up with this thing, that I almost feel nothing at all. That sounds laughable coming from me, I’m sure! I have almost made sadness a commodity with my dumb overwrought writing. That’s why I’ve almost completely stopped publishing work on the internet: I feel like a parody of myself when I try to be honest. That being said, please believe me! It has been a long while since I have shifted from the stagnant, reliable warmth of day-to-day melancholy to the frigid waters of existential dread. A long while!

Now I struggle to find meaning in anything I do. I cannot. Everything feels cardboard and weird and meaningless. I cannot go on any longer pretending to care about my job or my car or my things. I want to feel things again—want to go to places and make friends and be productive. But I’m having the hardest time even remembering to eat dinner or go to sleep before 3 a.m. I mostly ride around my neighborhood on my bicycle and try to envision dreams of the future. Sometimes I just want to hear other human voices, or see the light of the moon. My roommate and I are just too different, and my girlfriend goes to sleep early. I don’t think I really even have friends anymore. I’m mostly alone. The other night my father called and told me that my older sister almost died. I haven’t seen her in seven years. People may think it’s all a show, but I really do have a hard time with everything. I try so hard to change that, but I think I’ve failed.

I have felt, my whole life, that I am an alien having a temporary human experience. Not literally, of course (I don’t think). But I never shook the credo of so many American teenagers: No one understands me. At work, in public, during dinner with friends, holidays with my family—I have to censor myself, act happier than I am, and “play along” because my mind works so much differently than the people I surround myself with. I have to keep it all a big secret. Who wants to be around someone who can’t find meaning in anything—who is perpetually despondent? What kind of woman wants a partner like that? I feel diseased and weird.

In reality, I just want a few things that I am seemingly denied: for people to be nice to me, to feel as little pain as possible, and to be left alone sometimes. I think the word “peace” will suffice as a blanket term for my wishes for happiness. I am not (too) out of whack and delusional. I’m just a harmless, overly sensitive, overly analytical, moody sad-dude who dreams of a world that isn’t so tremendously worthless. It’s all a bunch of dumb chaos. And I feel as though my “kind” are unwelcome on Earth. (Jesus, listen to me! I sound like a dope.)

For the past three days, I have watched Donnie Darko (the director’s cut!). There is this scene where Donnie’s dad explains that most of the world is full of frauds. He calls them “bullshitters.” And man, isn’t that true: “Whatever happens to you, be honest—tell the truth, even if they look at you funny. They will. [. . .] Almost all of these people are full of shit. They’re all part of this great big conspiracy of bullshit. And they’re scared of people like you, because those bullshitters know that you’re smarter than all of them. You know what you say to people like that? ‘Fuck you.'”

Look: I have written something called “It Ends Badly”—and it’s about life and death and time travel and money and sex and all that. I’m not sure what my aim is—I guess to put ideas out into the universe. It is written from the first-person perspective of an old man who may or may not be me (I actually haven’t decided yet). I’m not sure where I’m going to put it, but if you want to better understand the dystopian future I envision, that would be a cozy read. (Note: I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am concerned I may come off that way!)

So: Hey! How are you? Are you still moving to California? I think June is when I’m going there. Come visit me in San Francisco, if that’s what you feel like doing. I will see you in LA at some point, I’m sure. . . .

Be well. Don’t despair. I love you.

—R

01 June 2013

2013-05-31 22.45.14

My cat can be self-centered, supercilious and willful, but more often than not he’s a charming little dude and I sure do like him a whole lot. And really, have you seen a more handsome domesticated quadruped in your life? If he still had his testicles . . . shit, we’d all be in trouble. (Man, that’s kind of a weird thing to say but whatever.)

01 June 2013

Is there anything more heartbreaking than seeing an adult sitting alone in a park after midnight, pondering some secret thing in their terrible head? Shit, you see these people stumbling around in the darkest parts of the night trying to feel something again . . . totally unable to connect to the world around them. . . .

And then you become one of them. It’s sad but it’s comfortable. I have enjoyed it, in some strange, unhealthy way, these past few months.

Last week I got roaring drunk in a park near my house. No one bothered me as I drank my six beers and listened to the frogs and crickets by the water. At one point I put on my headphones and, because I was horribly twisted and spaced-out, I heard almost nothing but noise. It was good noise—good chaos. But you know how it goes: the brain hears what it wants to hear—it is actively scanning the world with its invisible feelers to find things it likes. So while the nice young man with the guitar was talking and strumming along, I was able to block most of it because I was more focused on the electricity going round and round up there. I would lift my arm or close my eyes or stretch my leg and marvel at my body’s obedience. So neat!

Later I sat there appreciating gravity—just throwing things around to see where they would fall. (Neat as well!)

An hour later I was crumpled up on my lawn—the skeletal reindeer aglow, the clouds above whipping by at a thousand miles an hour—and I wondered how long I could realistically stay there before someone noticed and called the police or made me go inside.

29 May 2013

I woke up this morning and wrote down a fragment of a dream:

“How many times did you have to pray to Satan to get that job?” I said.

“Twelve times,” she said. “I prayed twelve times.”

27 May 2013

Shark put his hands on his hips and looked at his old friend with amusement. “Look at us,” he said. “Just like old times. Hell, I never thought we’d be doin’ this shit again. If Turgett and Zilker and Woofboy and all the rest of them boys were still alive, shit—we’d really give them Junkyard Ghouls hell. Think they’re lookin’ down on us right now, Gritt?”

With his boot on the wall of sandbags surrounding the machine gun turret, Gritt again looked up at the moon wistfully. Instead of a lonesome ball of grey dust, he saw his son’s face.

“Gritt?” said Shark. “You OK?”

“Yeah. Just thinkin’ about . . . well, nothin’. Forget it.”

Shark lowered his voice: “You’re thinkin’ ‘bout Andy, aren’t ya?”

“No point in hidin’ it, I guess.”

“Shit, Gritt. I’m sorry, man. I know them scars ain’t never gonna heal. How long’s it been now, anyway?”

“Ten years today. But don’t you worry ‘bout me. Thinkin’ about Andy keeps me balanced when shit hits the fan. And shit’s gonna hit the fan any minute now.”

What the fuck am I doing with my life

23 May 2013

I used to care a lot, and now I don’t care at all. There’s probably a causal relationship to be found. The simplest explanation is this: I cared so much that I probably fried some sort of receptor in my brain and now I am unable to feel anything at all. Yes, that’s probably it.

Last night, in an effort to care again—to poke at the world to see if anything happened—I rented a convertible Mini Cooper and drove up and down empty Texas highways at breakneck speeds while listening to delicious psychedelic rock music. I pointed that bastard toward San Antonio and really worked the engine. It seemed to do something to me: At first there was an aha! moment followed by the sensation of something resembling comfort. It melted into me like warm petroleum jelly. The circuits in my brain lit up, my eyes hummed with electricity, and everything inside of me screamed upward in a way that wasn’t horrifying. Maybe I’m not doomed after all! I thought as I swerved to get out of the way of a tractor trailer that was barreling up the on-ramp. . . .

This feeling—this fantastic elation—was followed by four hours of stone-sober darkness. Four hours—that’s about as long as I can sleep these days. And when I woke from the void—and I call it the void because I have stopped dreaming altogether (my waking life is the dream, and in my sleep I am dead)—I felt that same nasty dread creep up my spine and then plummet into the deepest parts my poor brain. Every unquestionably good part of me was charred once again . . . the part of me that isn’t spent rocketing down hundreds of miles of nowhere in little European cars in the dead of night as the summer breeze rolls by, which is to say most of me.

On my way to work this morning I sat in silence, listening to the blood inside my head. It’s all I can stomach these days. No more news for me; no more sickness oozing from the radio. Without thinking, I screamed “FUCK” ten or twelve times, I don’t know. I did it until my vocal chords burned, telling me, “Hold up there, boy.” And then I screamed again. It was all very primal, coming from some place I don’t fully understand.

Eight hours later, I’m wondering how much longer I can live in a world to which I am totally indifferent. It’s on fire, it’s sick.

Jesus, someone should really just put it out of its misery already. Race it toward oblivion with the top down and some of that good music playing real loud. . . .

22 May 2013

At a party where I knew virtually no one, I walked around in a fog and touched other people’s hands when they wanted to touch mine. “I’m so-and-so,” someone would say, and their name would burn up in the atmosphere on its way into my brain—instantly forgotten. There was dancing. I watched people dance. A big guy with glasses and a soft voice gently pulled me forward until I was in the middle of the whole writhing mass of bodies. I felt OK as I studied the human vibrations, thinking, “It’s all a smeared flash of neon and perfume, anyway. What’s the difference between 5-second pass at life or 90 years of it. . . . ?” If my life had been nothing but that sliver of space and time, smack dab in the middle of those wonderful people in the year 2013, then I could safely say my life had been a good one and spent wisely.

But the night ended with a friendly police officer reminiscing on my front lawn about his “wilder days.” His little thoughtful gaze at the moon, the organ between his ears washed in distant memories that were sparking someplace dark. . . .

“I would love her if she let me,” is all I could think about. We were both standing there now, cold as glaciers.

I would love her if she let me.

What happened next was a “Thank you and good-night”—and then a rapid heartbeat and a search for comfort. Inside I drank a half gallon of water and shuffled over to unplug the skeletal reindeer out front. From the black hole of my living room I saw a girl smoking on the porch next door and for a moment I considered talking to her. I knew her face and her name. She’d seen the reindeer go dead. Maybe that upset her. The night is over, the night is over. . . .

“God damn hell of a party, if you ask me,” is probably all I could have mustered. The little glow at the end of her cigarette was dying and I could tell that she was barely alive anyway. Better leave her to it. Nothing new to offer this poor girl.

I went into my room and closed the door behind me. Peeled my clothes off a pale wiry frame and sat down on the bed. The blackness shifted and swirled into terrible imaginary storms. The sun would soon come up and I didn’t want to be around to see it. I flattened myself out and lay there still. Eyes open, mind empty. Dante appeared from the gloom and curled up next to me, resting his little cat head on my thigh. We were both gone by the time the new day awakened.