Gift

The door closes softly— I closed it
It’s an odd lock, was it two turns or three?
I pull the handle, I have to be sure
She’s taking the elevator down— I’ll sleep alone

Out on the balcony, I wait to watch her walk out of sight
She waves and even from this far away I know she doesn’t want to leave
but part of me has been waiting for a lonely night
I need to do this alone
It’s been sitting, waiting for me
I’m not sure any of this is necessary
but I wrote the ending
I have to play it out

I pull the headphones up under my shirt, insert the jack
and my thumb slides around the circle
All the way to the letter T
because you see,
I smoked my first while listening
and there’s poetry in life
Sometimes it has to be made
Other times it’s a free-flowing river

The wheel of the lighter flicks the flame alive
It sounds like thunder
but not terror, no it’s like the thunder in a stadium
WE ARE ALL CHEERING FOR IT
Okay, fine, inside of me is a feeling,
It feels bigger than it is

This is important
(except it’s not)
This is vital
(except it’s not)
I fucking need this
(except I know I don’t)

and then the first taste was stale
The thing was crumbled and wrinkled
and it tasted like dirt, sun-dried pale dirt
That was a gift
Because if it was pleasant, it would have been harder
Sometimes everything falls into place

when I flicked that thing, the final flick,
Few things have ever been that satisfying
While still feeling…
Anti-climatic

Maybe you should try

Maybe you should try.

That might not be the exact words but it’s the meaning that matters and it’s not about what someone told me or that someone convinced me because no one did. It was me. It’s just easier to say “she helped” or to personify the bad thing. Taking credit isn’t easy and maybe it’s a sign of a good person, I’m not sure. What I am sure of is I’m glad I had enough respect for her then and enough will to try, to challenge myself. Because that’s what it was in the beginning. It was New Year’s Eve and I had only one beer left in the fridge. I told myself that’s it. Let’s just see how long you can go without it because yes a big part of me was convinced that I needed it to fall asleep, to cope with life, to be okay with breathing.

It was perfect timing, really.

I had decided I wanted to compose a collection of poems and put it on Amazon but I hated the idea of just sticking a handful of them together and calling it a collection. I still hate that idea. What makes them belong together? So as I was searching for a topic or a concept for a series of poems, I found myself facing myself and all these ideas I had about myself. Like I needed alcohol to subdue the pain and anger and loneliness I held onto, that I always held onto. I always stuffed everything down and then the alcohol helped drown it and store it deep below.

Quickly, the poems flowed out of me. I didn’t even know what it was until well into it. I had stopped drinking and began to notice things about myself, physically and mentally. I don’t want to go into much detail because the poems handle it all pretty well I think. I will say that alcohol does minimize testosterone in the body and then without alcohol your body is free to make more. It was strange—stranger than puberty was for me to be perfectly honest. But the biggest thing was the clarity, like I could breathe and see and listen for the first time. Yes, it was difficult but it all fed into the things I was writing at the time. When I read through that first collection, MY ENVELOPING REFLECTION, some of those I can vividly remember writing and others read like they were penned by another person. The second poem in the collection is incredibly scary for me to read because it is so true and representative of how I was for so many years.

It wasn’t all about the alcohol or substance abuse, perhaps the bigger theme throughout is the idea of manhood. I’ve heard so many people talk about this and especially growing up everyone is always so focused on being a man. And saying “once you’re a man” or competing to be the bigger man. I never understood any of it. I think it really became apparent to me right around entering my twenties that it’s all bullshit because everyone has their own definition. Once I stumbled on that idea I stunned myself because then I had to come up with my own definition. Trouble is, I never felt like a man in that odd sorta spiritual sense, for the lack of a better word, that people seem to subscribe to. Like just because you’re strong and have thick muscles doesn’t mean a damn thing to me. Or like the macho nonsense, yeah I’ve had the shit kicked out of me by bigger stronger “men” but that never seemed like being a man to me. Oh you can beat on someone smaller than you? That’s great.

I’m still not sure if I consider myself a man because it’s a very strange thing. It’s like calling myself a good person. I don’t know if I’m qualified to say that about me. Honestly, I rather not be called a man if all these assholes we keep hearing about are considered men. Too often it’s about pressure and I don’t want to put pressure on anyone. And who likes being forced into anything?

I’m incredibly proud of MER and its “sequel” ARMORLESS AND AFRAID because it’s not about what I’ve done, it’s not about the mistakes it’s about life. I’m alive. I’m probably the healthiest I’ve ever been. The most complete I’ve ever been. It’s been five years since I released MER and that’s incredible. If you bought it, you’re incredible. I truly hope that the people that read it got something from it but honestly, that’s not the point. I got a lot from it. More than I ever thought possible.

I’m proud of myself.

That’s something I never thought I would feel. I always felt like I was destined to not see past 25. Next month I’ll be 31. Next year I’m getting married. I’m marrying the girl that said “Maybe you should try to go without the alcohol.” When she said that it was something I had never considered like thinking about the sky being bright yellow instead of blue. And those words climbed into my head and every so often they wouldn’t leave. I think it was early December she said it and by the time New Year’s came around, I was ready. Not because she had any power over me, it was because I loved her (still do!) and I respected her. I didn’t know at the time that by taking that comment seriously I was saving our relationship and building it stronger because if I had kept with the alcohol we wouldn’t have stayed together.

If you are reading this and know someone that is struggling with some sort of addiction, the advice I would give you is to be genuine. Don’t say “you should quit” because that’s the worst. It only ever made me want to do it more. I LOVED SMOKING. I put that past tense only because I don’t smoke anymore. Everyone is always saying it’s bad for you. We all know. That’s not enough. The money isn’t enough either. I think the best way to get around all that bullshit is to talk to that person about what they want from life. Even if it’s a crazy dream, get that info and see if there’s a way to do it. Chances are there is a way. Chances are it’s easier than that person might think. In my case it was publishing a book, I haven’t quenched that itch exactly yet but I sorta did. I’m not sure if that is helpful at all but that’s sorta what happened with me. Focusing on MER gave me something to do when I felt bad about the withdrawals and whatnot. I poured myself into that, rather than pouring things into myself.

You don’t overcome, you swap. Think of it more like batteries than flaws. Gotta swap these batteries out for working ones.

Flicker

This is self destruction
I’ve leaned on this for most of my life
Does it really bring better thoughts to the front?
Oh but it is hypocrisy
I am shoving strife
Down the paper barrel
Within silenced halted breaths
On the other end it shoves its own down upon me
So flick it
Flick it away

Why are you reaching for another?

The quieted breathing is what calms
I just give credit where credit is not due
And I can feel, yes I can feel the damage caused
The damage I’ve self inflicted
This is a flaw
Yes this is a flaw
And a representation of the person I used to be
But can I really say that?
Cuz I’m writing this with a burning stick between my fingers
My chest says be stronger, resist
But behind it comes a larger wave of anxiety
Welcome to the undertow
I feel like I am dying here
Right now
There’s a voice of reason rising
And I know it’s right
I’m just not sure
It’s easier to say I’m not capable and move along
But look around, the voice of reason says softly
Yes you’re right, again that idea of giving credit comes to mind
And now I’m writing this while wondering:
What is it I’m trying to say?

The answer is simple but strangely scary:
Fight for life

Cosmos

As luck would have it,
There was a perfect tiny tool
Dirt and filth will always find its way to us
I’m there for you as much as I can be
Like how you’re there for me as much as you can

Mother Nature is often times an enemy
but today she’s a friend
This twig acts as a tool to clean your name
I know you understand that I wish I could do more
If I could I’d love to wipe away all the dirt
because you are not what they say
No WE are not what they say we are
but we both know the stains on your name run deep
They are inside of the hearts and minds of our kin

This is the closest I can ever be to you
and yes it hurts but it’s not our fault
I’ll never blame you
I wish it could have been different
but sitting here like this… it’s strange
I thought I knew what relief was
and I’m comfortable enough now to admit I was wrong

The way I am feeling today is slighty scary
Is this what acceptance feels like?
Is this what it feels like to know myself?
I felt you yesterday, you knocked and I didn’t answer
Today I realized it was you
Today I listened
To both myself and you

I sit here reflecting on a soaked morning that is winding down
and the comparisions are clear
In spite of the gray sky outside
Mother Nature is drowning the blades of grass
and I remember doing something similar
but today I’ve done something different
I’ve found something new that feels unlike anything else
Read my mind and you’ll find words like peace and renewal

Again I say to you: Thank you
I’m glad you are my blood
I’m proud to call you my Uncle
and I think I’ve found what I felt I was meant to find through you

Halfway through 2018!

Earlier this year I posted my goals for the year, here they are again:
**Finish new sci-fi short and begin submitting it
**Continue writing and working on novel
**Be more consistent on the blog
**Continue the application process to bring fiancée into the country
**Travel across the world, collect fiancée and bring her home
**GET MARRIED
**Be happily married
**Switch shifts at work

Soon after posting this list it changed, such is the way I suppose. I realized quick that the short story was really flawed and wasn’t working. I could make it work but seeing as I’m not a huge fan of short stories, I felt fake putting so much into writing something I don’t enjoy. I do like writing them but reading them is often a chore. I probably just haven’t found the right collection or writer. So that story is safely tucked away until I decide it’s time to revisit. There is an idea worth revisiting there, character is the problem.
I finished the third draft of my first novel on June 10th 2018. I believe I can complete the thing by the end of the year and be querying agents before 2019. I’m not backtracking with it again by rewriting from the jump like I have before. The foundation is set, time to go into the smaller details.
As far as the blog is concerned, I’ve been more active than I think I have in a long time. Not sure I’m consistent, more like haphazardly posting things. It might be an accidental pattern. The problem is when I get sucked into a draft, I don’t think about the blog.
The rest of the above bullet-points are all under one umbrella, I just didn’t want to have one bullet-point because it’s far from one item. The things I have listed above don’t even begin to cover it. Her and I have decided to wait until the spring because getting married in the winter sounds like a fucking drag (that’s an understatement). The first stage of the paperwork should be finalized somewhere around September and by then we should have more of a timetable/plan for the rest of the things that feed into us finally being together for real. In a nutshell, I’m getting married next year!
Oh and the job, um… hopefully next year for that as well. I’m waiting on that as well.

This is the halfway point of the year and I think I’m doing okay with it all. There’s always room for improvement. I’ve written somewhere around 80,000 words so far this year. At the end of May, I did try to go without a “zero day”, as in words written. I didn’t quite make it a full month so new goal is to start with July 1st and try to go the rest of the year without a zero day. It does seem to inspire me, trouble is when there isn’t a focus on a project I get distracted. Not that I’m feeling guilty. The focus remains on the novel and I think I did need a break.
Let’s break down my new goals:
**No more Zero Days!
**Finish novel by year’s end and…
**Begin querying agents
**Blog more consistently
**Revisit, revise and release A CIRCLE OF TEMPORARIES

That last one is a bonus. I think it’s possible but I’m not sure exactly how much work that needs, seeing as I have yet to examine it as a whole. That’s slated for next month, after I do another pass of the novel before sending it off to be read by some people.
I am experimenting with scheduling things and so far so good. It’s just a little strange working on secondary projects. Especially since I feel so close with the big one and I have big plans for it. Hopefully I’ll be able to share some of that sooner rather than later.

This is the 2018 I am making…

It’s officially one week into the new year, and yeah I’m still reflecting on the past year but I wanted to stop for a minute and share some of what 2018 looks like for me. If you’ve been following along at all, you know that I have a novel in the works and whether you know it or not I had planned to release it in May 2018. Well that isn’t going to work anymore.
Over last summer I hammered away at a 2nd draft that while writing it, I was I immensely proud of, and I am still proud of it but also… it sucks. Except it doesn’t. I see writers saying that a lot but it’s not true. Because I can see how it can be better, I can see how I can make it better. It doesn’t suck, it just needs work. A lot more work than I thought it would need when I was writing it so I’ve pulled the throttle back on my plans. You see, my original plan was for this book to be off with an editor now and I’d be knee deep in writing the sequel. That doesn’t work because if I had started work on the sequel based off of the 2nd draft of the first book then I’d not only have to change one book but two.
Perhaps the biggest factor is money. In order to present this thing properly and professionally I need much more money than I can afford at the moment and in the foreseeable future. The priority here is getting my fiancée into the country, which costs a small fortune— more than I plan to spend of the initial release of the book (to put it into perspective) but it’s looking to be more like a blessing. This being my first novel I’m still learning and rewriting this thing is a learning process because it’s not at all the same as editing a short story. If the May release window was still possible then I think I may have rushed everything together just to meet that date. I don’t have to release it then. What I have to do is be smarter about money and work on putting out the best novel I can.
I do think I can still release it in 2018 and that’s where the big goals of the year come in. My plans for January are pretty busy. Lightspeed Magazine opens for submissions next month and so I have about a month to get this short story done (if you would be interesting in beta reading, let me know) the idea is to sell a short story or two to help fund the book launch. That makes more sense to me than begging for money and I don’t really have time to run a Patreon community or something similar.
Speaking of time, if there’s one thing that sort of fits a New Year’s Resolution, it’s time management. I suck at it so much and need to get better, I think this busy year will probably help me quite a bit.
To put it all in nice list, here are my 2018 goals(in no particular order):
**Finish new sci-fi short and begin submitting it
**Continue writing and working on novel
**Be more consistent on the blog
**Continue the application process to bring fiancée into the country
**Travel across the world, collect fiancée and bring her home
**GET MARRIED
**Be happily married
**Switch shifts at work
I was going to put a lot of those things as one bullet point but I wanted to illustrate how big it all is. To put it into terms that are easily understandable, it’s like having three full time jobs.
Similarly to how I felt like a “real” writer last year while I was collecting rejection letters, all of this makes me feel like a true adult. Rather than a pretend one. It’s all exciting and terrifying and overwhelming and so many things, as soon as I focus on one I’m feeling another and then another and it’s like a finger spinning a globe, scraping across all of the countries in a flash.
Here’s to a BIG year!

As always, thank you for reading.

2017 in review – my favorite albums part 2

If you missed part 1 – click here!

This whole list is not in any particular order, except for maybe the last one on here is last for a reason. But this half of the list is seemingly bigger, with meatier releases but that could just be a psychological thing going on in my own head. Anyway here it is:

Elder – – Reflections of a Floating World

This was special because I wrote most of the first draft of my forthcoming novel to their last release, Lore, and here we are two years later and I’ve gone back to that novel with new Elder to listen to. I described this one to a friend as taking the scenic route versus Lore which is more like taking the highway. There’s more room for reflecting here (get it?) and it seems a lot bigger. Though, as I write this, I’m not sure which one I like more. Of course they have more albums, it’s just easy to compare the two most recent.
This is one that I think the back end of the album is much stronger than the first half. Mostly because I think the first track goes on too long. I’m clearly still poring over this one, even after months of steady listening. I can’t think of a stronger compliment to give to a piece of music.

The Contortionist – – Clairvoyant

One of the surprises of the year for me. Years ago, I had checked out their previous release because someone had compared them to Periphery but no, not my thing. Way too much deathcore going on and so I wasn’t really paying attention this one. I think I was bored when I tried this new one, there wasn’t anything new in my ears for a bit and I didn’t feel like getting lost in Bandcamp. I’m really glad I did. This is probably the finest prog album I’ve heard all year. The deathcore sound is all but gone. It’s an incredible album, stunning start to finish. And it seems to be endlessly listenable. This one has only been out for a couple months now so it’s hard to really put it up with other things. I’m sure I’ve already got twenty or so listens in. It’s so good. Especially “Absolve” and “Relapse”, I could listen to those forever. Very pleasing.
Another one that’s great to really listen to and obsess and scrutinize every detail or just put it on and let it float.
We all float down here.

Ed Sheeran – – divide

I wasn’t expecting to like this as much I do. Mostly it’s that itchy anti-mainstream voice in the back of my mind, it’s one monkey on my back I haven’t been able to fully dispose of. This album has one of my favorite and most memorable album openers I’ve heard all year. Put the fire up front, don’t make people wait.
I didn’t get around to listening to this until late October, when I was in Macedonia with my fiancée. By the power of music and the human mind, it’s permanently tied to her (like I am) and every time I hear “Galway Girl” I see her and hear her dancing and humming as she leaned over the table to move her Monopoly piece.
And after listening to it on laptop speakers for a couple weeks, I listened with my Klipsch earbuds and whoa, it’s like a different album. There is so much going on in these songs, it’s exceptional. The hype is real.

Mick Gordon – -Prey OST

I played the demo of Prey and loved it and there’s one song that plays when things really go through the roof, action-wise and that made me check out the soundtrack. It’s incredible and easily my favorite music to write to. Whenever I needed a boost, whether it be of inspiration or just a word count boost, I’d put this on (if I wasn’t already listening to it) and I’d almost always surpass where I was looking to be. It’s short but oh so sweet.
I’m worried about playing the game now because I’ve written to this so much.

Linkin Park – – One More Light

If there’s one thing I’ve learned to count on, it’s that Linkin Park will stretch and bend expectations and I’ve come to love that. I especially loved on this cycle that they trolled the fans that want them to go back to their early sound by releasing songs called “Heavy” and “Battle Symphony”, and I confess I didn’t like them much on their own. But putting them in context of the album, yeah I enjoy them much more. The album as a whole is much simpler listening experience, it’s free of the bells and whistles and other add-ons. And within that realm, they really shine. “Sharp Edges” if you listen to only one song from this, make it that one. I fucking love it so much. It’s hard not to cry and that’s not because… but because of the song.
When I finished listening to this for the first time, I immediately felt that excitement of “I can’t wait to hear what they do next.” And now, there’s so many other thoughts that have all but destroyed that one. For most of the month of June, I was knee deep in the 2nd draft of my novel and most mornings on the way home from work, I’d listen to Hybrid Theory because few things inspire me on the level that that album does. And after work, often it’s hard to get my butt to do anything but doze off. It’s a symptom of working in the middle of the night, the body wants to sleep at night, often it can feel like I’m trying to paint the sky red with a paintbrush. And so when July 20th came along, everything came to screeching halt. It’s difficult, still, to get my head around it all and I know that I’ll be thinking and most likely writing more about how it has and will affect me. Especially when it comes to the way that particular day went for me. There’s still so much to unpack.

Thank you for reading.

Next in my 2017 in review series is about movies, which came out a bit differently than I expected. I set out to write a review for one movie and instead I review my movie viewing experiences and opinions of the past year. It’s all encompassing. Look for it in a few days!