45 Missed Calls

I’ve been avoiding this. 

I can write short things, small poems, quick hits and move along, nothing to see here, nothing to fear… 

I have always learned about myself by writing. 

I’m afraid of what I might learn, this time, and that’s why I’ve been pretending to have forgotten about my little blog. 

April 26, May 3, May 6, you would think people would show a little courtesy and die on dates further apart so as to spare me the trouble, to spare my hurts from being doubled or tripled or god-damned infinite. 

Matt was a good kid. He looked up to me. He was 19 and having fun and then he was dead on a road in the middle of the night, and his mom and his brother and his dad and by the way his uncle, Big Matt, the 25-year-old that didn’t know what life meant yet, the guy that had so much of his identity wrapped up in a kid that had the same name, none of these people knew what to do, that night changed everything. I’ve read those words before, 

That night changed everything

And I didn’t get it until I was screaming at the sky, drunk and destroyed, a few nights later, after burying that kid, that fucking stupid kid with an easy grin and more mischief than a toddler, that kid changed my life by dying. April 26 

Ethan was a good kid. 

My only kid brother, he was 29 years old and he had never caught a break on his life. Our mother had babied him and never taught him how to live and then, when she was tired of him, she booted him, just abandoned like a kitten on the freeway, he had no clue how to live. Something we had in common, except I was gifted with so many talents and strengths and I had other people to help me, but for Ethan, everything was harder. 

He was a fat guy. 400 lbs of neglected emotion and he was a sweet kid, he lived with all of his heart and would give anything to someone he loved. He did some drugs, he got into some trouble, he was unlucky. 

He broke his leg, and that lead to an infection that went into his heart and he died. A few months before his 30th birthday, he just died, and all of my thoughts about trying to help him and my guilt over being unavailable to him are all I have left. My only kid brother, and what does that mean, I had two kids that looked up to me and they both died young, 

I’m starting to think it’s me. May 3

In fifteen years, I’ve had fourteen deaths land in my heart. 

I won’t go through the whole list. It’s enough to say, some mattered more than others. I think it’s fair to acknowledge that everyone has their own significance, in the lives of those they are connected to…

Some hurt a lot more, when they go. 

Matt hurt a lot. Ethan didn’t hurt as much, but there was more guilt. A few others ripped me up. One in particular that I can’t talk about. 

Ruane, she was good at a lot of things.

She had a life that was both amazing and awful. The entire spectrum of experience was visited upon her, and she lived with undeniable courage. She also made some terrible choices and hurt a lot of people. 

She was my angel. I was her angel. 

We were close, for most of my life. She was a friend, she was a sister and a mother to me, she saved me more times than I can count, she was damnably charismatic and she was absolutely broken, and she was my hero. I looked up to her. She told me, once, when she was going through some hard times, that she looked up to me, because I was trying to live a life of truth and integrity. 

All I had ever wanted was for Ruane to be okay. I had seen the whole story, I knew the good and bad and I understood the choices, I understand still what it’s like to live broken and damaged and somehow still face life with ferocity and courage, I got that from her. She gave me so much. 

I left Colorado because I couldn’t afford to stay. Financially and emotionally. Going to the places where Ruane and I did things, hanging out and living, for close to 20 years she and I lived in those places and the memories were tearing me in half. 

I remember still, and I dream about her almost every night. I am not ready to let go. It may take me more time, for this one. Some of the deaths I’ve carried were momentarily sad, and I moved on. Some have taken years to accept. 

Ruane is still alive, in my mind. I can’t let her be dead, yet. I need her, I have always needed her to help me understand life. 

She dropped her purse from her motorcycle. I hated that she rode it, I was sure she would get killed. She loved the rush of being almost dead and fully alive, going fast and feeling the wind on her body, she told me it was like a drug, and she loved the high. 

It was late at night, she parked on the side of the street and ran out to get her purse. A drunk dude hit her, speeding and not paying attention, and she died on the pavement within a few minutes. May 6

I don’t mean to take anything away from anyone else. I know that Matt and Ethan and Ruane impacted a lot of other lives and I’m not the one that felt it the most…

I’m just the one writing about them. 

People live and people die, and 

I know this life is awful and amazing

And I can only live my own life

But how I wish I could have lived

With them. 

I can imagine Matt, all grown up and 33, still with the foolish grin but a man, not a boy. 

I can picture Ethan, 35 and finally figuring life out. 

Ruane would have been 50 this July. Her grandkids miss her, her daughters miss her. 

What would I have been, if they were alive, if Matt hadn’t changed everything, what would I have become? 

Life doesn’t give anything

Without taking something else away. 

Some Day

One of these days, I’ll look back at right now and remember how I got through. 

It’s happened before, it stands to reason that it’ll happen again. 

One day all of the sleepless nights will seem like a distant memory, a fantasy I created to pass the time. 

Close your eyes…

I didn’t mean forever!” 

(What Dreams May Come)

Some day, this period will seem like ancient history, the Greeks with bronze tools, the Romans with togas and debauchery and deception. 

Some day I will sit at her side while she dies, or she will sit at mine while I go, and whichever way it happens we will remember all of the times we have rescued each other. We will remember the troubles, a little. We will remember the triumphs, a lot. 

Some day our difficulties will make us feel stronger. 

Once upon a time I thought I would be alone and unloved forever. Today I know better, that I have lives in my hands, I have hearts in my mind. I know today what I could not, then. 

Some day I will have the answers that I lack today. The stress and trouble I feel right now will feel as unnecessary as the loneliness I used to live in. 

Some day I will have the hugs and smiles that wait for me, across oceans and continents I have a family of real emotion, spread across the world. They know who they are and I know that they dream of that someday, the same as I do, 

Some day my life will end on this plane and I will be remembered as things I almost was. 

Some day I will think more about what I have done than what I will yet do. 

Spiral

January 11, 2001.

A funny thing happened on my way to commit suicide. 

I had been depressed, desperate, defeated, for as long as I had thoughts I remembered. I had finally given up on changing and made the decision that would bring peace to my life- by ending it. 

I told everyone I was going home, that a change of scenery was what I needed. 

There were no cries for help. I didn’t want anyone to stop me, as had happened before. I didn’t want to be convinced, again, that I could be more, better, that I could live and smile and be happy. 

I complicated the process, of course. 

I took my sister with me, caught in her own spinning wheels, I gave her a respite from dealing with her problems. 

The truth is, I was hoping she would catch on, without a cry for help. 

I hoped that she would see past my facade and we could say goodbye. I didn’t want to be saved, but I wanted to let her know that she mattered to me. 

She didn’t. 

Her vision was blurred by her own desperation. She had a marriage to ruin, an addiction to commit to, she had a life to destroy, and my self-destruction was too cleverly disguised. 

I was happy to take a trip with her, just the two of us. We sang and laughed and forgot that our regular lives were in shambles. 

A stop in Phoenix to see our sister turned into one more thing I screwed up… Young and emotionally overcharged man mixes like napalm and dynamite with repressed married women (word to the wise- don’t get involved in other people’s escapes.)

On that night when we entered the apartment in Seaside, California I was all-go to say goodbye and swim away, maybe become a selkie off the Monterey coast, maybe become a lonely, wandering ghost in the fog of Lovers Point. 

The funny thing that happened was ironically perfect, the universe reaching out to me through a set of fog-colored eyes, familiar yet strange, brand-new and long-lost-home in one glance. 

I remember it quite clearly, these sixteen years later. 

I was pissed. 

Fuck me, I thought. Why now? After all these lonely years, there she is, sitting there changing all of my plans with a single look. 

Our story is a good one. Romantic, sweet and seemingly pre-destined. 

I’m working on telling our story in my next book (tentatively titled Hurricanes and Promises, coming later this year) and that will be there… A story for another day, as they say. 

The thing about depression that I usually don’t hear, see or read-

It doesn’t go away. It’s not a metaphor. It’s not a literary device. It’s more treatment-resistant than cancer, and it’s more insidious than a decently-made ghost movie. 

The trouble is, depression is not an invader. It’s not a foreign body doing damage. 

It’s me. I am the perpetrator of the crime, and I commit the same crime, all day long, every day. I hurt myself and I hate myself and I damage myself. 

And knowing that it’s me doesn’t help. 

I can say, it’s me doing it, so I can stop. 

I can actually stop. 

For a week or a month or a year I can be kind to myself. I can love myself and praise myself and do what makes me happy and at the end of every day, 

I’m still there. The ‘me’ that made me miserable. The ‘me’ that hurt me so much. The ‘me’ that is my enemy. 

I’m not separating myself into two entities… I am the person that loved me. I am the person that hated me. I am both up and down, and no amount of talking or analysis or love will ever change the truth. 

I didn’t want a reason, on that January night, to learn how to live with my depression. 

I wanted an end. 

I’m not bitching about finding love- I’m happier than I could have believed possible with my wife. She has made me a good man, she has lifted me. 

But when the wind blows from the wrong direction, I still taste the metal in my mouth, the cyanide in my veins runs cold, 

The end is always hanging around my neck. 

It’s a little too easy to listen. 

It’s a little too easy to believe. 

Which leads me here…

To you, kind reader. If you feel what I feel, if you recognize the way my mind fucks me and you know what it’s like…

Choose to believe in the more difficult idea. 

Decide to believe that you can get through. 

Make a conscious effort to quiet that voice, that insidious and familiar old enemy that whispers your secret fears. 

Climb back up that spiral, and enjoy the struggle. Realize that your strength is much more than you knew. 

You can do this. 

Why Life Hurts

I have a sister I’ve not met. We know each other through words on a screen and the occasional photo. We are close to the same age but have lived wildly different lives. 

She is the person behind 

Our Lady Of Lust And Grace

www.ourladyoflustandgrace.com
On Facebook, and her blog is the first I ever followed. She has a way, she has a style that hits my brain like sugar cookies, she says things that feel like  home and she calls me Brother Matt, because I told her she is my sister. 

This was written in response to one of her blog posts, if you don’t read her you should. 

“I love this. I love you. It’s not up for debate and does not require any action on your part… It’s what I am. 

I have been debated and disagreed with on this point, but, my definition of love seems to me to be accurate. After seeing what is said and done, for four decades and in hundreds of varied relationships, I have narrowed it down to a one-word topic:

Love is service. 

A mother loves her child, and there is no use in arguing, because when she loves her child it can be seen (and if she doesn’t, it can be seen)

Spouses love each other when they put in effort to show love to each other

Siblings love each other when they make sure to exhibit love for one another

Strangers display their love for other strangers, for the needy, for the lonely, for the random asshole that needs a bit more concern… When one person feels love in their person for another, they act. It’s used as a catch-all go-to default setting type of thing, but so often it’s being used to imply some type of obligation… (Of course I love you, now do what I want)

But…

If I love you, it means I will help you, I will work for you, I will go out of my way to give you a part of me and whether or not there is any tangible return from you, my love is being shown. 

Love is service. Love is given. Love is acted. Love is Eve and her children are the gifts of nature. Love is an apple tree heavy with fruit. Love is a flowing, ice-cold stream of clear water, waiting for you to drink. Love is gifts left on a doorstep with no ‘from’ address. Love is the unnamed stranger changing a tire and leaving without a word. 

Love is not a weapon… Love is a choice, a decision, an action, a thought that brings a smile. 

Love is, it just is, love is. 

Love must be. “

Transmission


The time has been decided. 

What hurtles toward this collision hides yet from clarity, which reality will be left after the meeting is impossible to predict from where/why I am,

This will not be an end. 

Endings are one-sided, from a place of limited perspective. For the dying the world seems to be ending, for the Walker, when the path runs out a new one must be written. 

When we get there, you’ll know why we came, and so will we. 

If a message is received from unknown sources, how then is the veracity of the message to be measured? Where enemies and allies have not been determined, how then will a treaty be transcribed, negotiated, collaborated? 

 When the well runs dry, how long do thirsty people wait before seeking an alternative source? 

The arrival of new information does not always change the verdict of a trial, yet it must be allowed consideration. Fault lines are not cracks where the earth splits, rather they are laugh-lines, wrinkles left from expression, what fear cannot damage is the coming of dawn, when stars shine closely we name them and record in our ledgers how far, what size, colour and shape, yet when they are too distant we claim they have died. What is not understood is rejected. 

When we get there,

 we will know why we come.

You will know, also. 

Dreams are not safe places. The dead beckon from across veils and accompanying them means leaving this world, he died in his sleep, and now nobody will hear the tale of the love and the loss, the romance and the comedy of a life seen from a balcony, a life lived with minimal involvement and maximum emotional investment. 

Dreams are not safe, to achieve something great a great price must be paid, balance finds itself no matter how the mountainside falls, no matter how the deck tilts as the waves toss toy ships around a child’s bath, balance will be, 

It must balance. 

 The ending is not what it seems, there will be no post-climactic wind-down. No neatly wrapped loose ends, it will be sudden and fierce, there will be nothing left and no survivors. 

The beginning will not be what is believed, there will be no deafening bang, no creator speaking of light in the darkness, 

There will be nothing, 

And then there will be everything. 

It approaches, pretty up your face

It approaches, tidy up your room

It’s coming, from the depths of outer space

It’s the bride, walkin’ to the groom


Ready, Set, Go

My life isn’t ending, but my life is beginning. 

I reserved a trailer. I put in notice at my rental and my work. I have opportunities lined up, and soon (fingers crossed) will have a new place to live waiting. 

We’ll drive for two days and leave the mountains behind. Going to the desert by the ocean, where our hearts have been waiting for our return. 

A lot of life has been terrifying and unsure. This is exhilarating and unsure, but I’m not scared. I’m not worried. I know that whatever happens next, I have my life in my strong and capable hands, and I’m going to succeed. I’m going to win, with my Queen by my side and my sails unfurled. 

Set a course for glory, 

We’re coming. 

Crashing Waves

I feel my soul in those rocks, 

Standing against the onslaught.

Eventually everything is eroded, 

But for now, I stand, 

Eventually everything is washed away and worn down to grains of sand

Rage, I yell to the ocean, 

Give me all you’ve got

Give me all I can take

I will stand, as it crashes on me, 

I will wear away one tiny piece at a time

River

Electricity hums in the lines as it runs through neighborhoods and across towns, the towers go up and everyone only looks down. Pieces of dreams transmitted through the sky don’t know if they will ever live or when it’s time to die, I want to stack what I lack next to empty backpacks scattered haphazardly so the whole world can see what really matters to me, the words of praise don’t flatter me, it’s sad to see what couldn’t be left behind monuments and statues of what shouldn’t be, what wouldn’t I give to see a better way to live or a national day to give thanks to the stories of glory, history is full of gory tales that don’t get told, advertising all the lies that get sold for dollars no longer backed by gold, we got jacked and they hold all the cards, why is it so hard to find out the truth?

Love begins and ends and new faces become old friends as love that used to fly free is caged and locked away, shelves stocked with what we didn’t say, tomorrow becomes today and yesterday fades into lost memory. New ideas are met with skeptical review, because how could we stop doing what we knew, how difficult it is to accept that traditional methods were based on misconception and misunderstanding, what the previous generation was handing down was a smile painted on a weeping clown and we don’t look around to understand what’s fair, just to say that what’s there is only what we knew we would see, nobody wants to find a new way to be free, only old paths to familiar locations, hearts fill with desperation and lonely longing, rights are trampled with the desire for belonging to groups that sit on thrones, old piles of bones and fossil fuels generate more wealth for the wealthy, and leave poverty everywhere, kids living in unhealthy homes don’t know why they can’t get a share. 

We borrow time from unborn descendants, and leave less than was left for us, our reality is porous and shaking but we don’t believe in creation, we worship the breaking and destruction, break ground for new construction while the sweat of overworked lives goes unnoticed. We give our energy to the holders of finance notes and they party on fancy boats while we dream of peace, but there’s always a new lease to sign, there’s always a new design to keep what we’ve had and nevermind if it’s always been bad for the majority, they call people minorities as dozens rule millions, the bottom lives on pennies while the top stack their billions. 

In the river of life we all drown eventually, we all flow downstream. 

In the collection of lost dreams and unheard screams, we all own the blame for what we ignore, we all play as pawns while kings and queens sacrifice what they don’t care about, what they don’t hold dear, nobody knows what the cost truly is in tears and years, nobody wants to know what they fear. 

Let It Hurt

Twelve years, and twenty. 

Two decades ago I came to Colorado, the next stop on a journey, I thought. 

I had no plans to stay here. 

I came for a job, and a place to live, and I had no idea how life would go, 

I came from a place I didn’t like, to a place I didn’t like, and I assumed I would keep going after a short time. 

I had no home, I thought. 

I started working at my current job twelve years ago, today. I’ve been through a lot of life at Crystal Courier, I’ve learned a lot and grown more. Today is my last anniversary with the company. I’m happy to be going home to California, but there’s definitely some strong emotional activity going through me, right now. This company has been a huge part of me, for a dozen years. Highs and lows, good and bad, I have had a support system in place, and I’m leaving. 

The call of saltwater and sunshine is beating on my soul, the memory of a childhood spent unaware of how amazing the place I was in truly was. California has it’s bad parts, and loads of issues, but it has my heart. I was born in Salinas, grew up in the Monterey Peninsula area and later in Humboldt County. I have missed the redwoods and the beaches, the foods and the scenery, for so long that I have accepted that longing as part of myself. 

I have grown comfortable with the homesick angst, waking up thousands of miles away from home and visiting old haunts in my dreams. I have hurt without noticing for so long that I can’t remember what it’s like to feel anything without pain. 

I am packing up my life, my kids and my wife, and we are going to the home I’ve almost forgotten. 

I’m going, going,

Back, back,

To Cali. 

This may not go the way I want it to, and I know that life will happen. I know we will have hard times, we will face challenges. 

My darling wife and I will face them, together, on familiar ground. 

We will make our life work, in a place where we are natural. A place we can call home. 

I’m nervous about details, 

But I am so happy to be going home. 

Un-tinted Glass

concrete dividers crawl past as 

my car sits motionless,

surrounded by impatience
nobody knows I’m here

My phone buzzes 

Again

Telling me that traffic is heavy, heading north on I-25, and I am surprised every time, because this is not a highway,

This is not a thirty-nine year old man, smoking another cigarette and listening to ‘World Class Rock’ on the radio, 

I  am not this.

I am, however, getting irritated by the intrusion of turn-signals as impatience dressed in expensive clothes and fancy cars keep changing lanes in front of me, 

Don’t they know I don’t belong here?

The Lexus tries to merge into my passenger-side door and pulls away at the last second when eyes find me in a mirror, and I wonder if life will notice me too late, will reality crash into me just before seeing me here?

Can you save my heavydirtysoul? (Twenty-one Pilots)

I am sitting on a beach watching my daughter and sons play in the water, the sun shining on my tired face, as I see myself standing on the stone jetty that my brothers just jumped from, they call me to join them, but I see something in the water they don’t, 

There’s a dark figure floating just under the surface of the waves, beckoning to me with a promise of the end, 

It looks peaceful, calm…

We all float down here (Stephen King, It)

I’m watching her walk into the airport, and I know I mean to tell her to stay away, a scared stupid fool, and my heart begs me to run after her, go get her, 

Go get Her 

But I don’t. No matter how many times I see her walk away, I never go after her, and nine years later-

Traffic stops  

I am not here, thirty-nine years old and sitting in a car, smoking a cigarette and hoping the concrete dividers would pick up the pace as they crawl past me, 

I’m not here, and nobody knows it, they don’t see me. 

Impatience rides my bumper and hits the horn, because I am not close enough to the car in front of me. 

All my life I’ve been searching for something (Foo Fighters)

She is there, looking at me, and I am lost. She is my dream, crashing into me just before I swim away, she wants me and I cannot stand how badly I want her, I can’t believe that this is happening, I was only here to say goodbye…

I wonder if life sees me, like she did. Not the image of me, not the idea of me, not the preconceived notion of what I could be or what I was…

Just me. A few flaws, a few strengths, a few laughs and a few years, anger and love and passion and desire and imagination, all packaged in disguise. 

I exit the highway to my destination and I know, I am not this. I am not thirty-nine years old and working for a living, I am not a second-time college student struggling for grades, I am not a twisted soul writing poetry for internet eyes and digital hearts, I am not this.