billfriday.com

fictionary… 8 megapixel artist… bloody awful poet.

Archive for the category “Stuff and Things”

A Day in an Invisible Life: Hour 6

A Day in an Invisible Life (9)

I feel.

(and by the way, I hate it)

I don’t know why.  I don’t know when.  But there are days that, after a rush of accomplishment, there is a vacuum created inside of me.  It’s almost a physical property, like when a low pressure system moves into a geographic location, and soon after, the real weather moves in.  Dark clouds, heavy with rain.  Wind.  Thunder.  Lightning.  You can taste it. 

Sometimes, the hair on your arms even stands up.

I feel this.

(and by the way, I hate it)

I’m feeling it right now.

And just like the weather, I never know what emotion will blow in when the low pressure system comes.  Today, it’s sadness.  But let’s be clear, today it’s ONLY sadness.  Not depression like the depression that came last summer.  That was a fucking weather Armageddon.  That was purple-black funnel clouds, with cows spinning inside them.  This is just sadness.  Like on another day, it’s just anger, or another day, it’s fear, anticipation, or even joy.

Today, it’s sadness.  And I’m writing my way through it.  It’s how I learned to cope, last summer.  And I’m coping right now.  Hell, I’m even writing a blog post and not matchbook poetry, which was about all I could do in 2017.  Matchbook poetry.  Poetry so short, it could fit on the cover of a matchbook.  Yeah, it’s a thing.  Anyway, if you’ve read the first five posts in this series, and shame on you if you haven’t… I’m laughing as I write that… you know that I’m okay, and you are not to call the authorities when you read shit like “sadness”, “anger”, or “weather Armageddon” in a sentence.  Buddha Bukowski 5 BETTER ENDINGYou also know that, while I have spent the last decade writing poetry that would make Mary Poppins cry, I still believe in the better ending. 

Here’s a picture of a shirt design I created that says so. 

And that I believe all these feelings, these feelings that are as common to everyone as they are to me, are just a part of the earthscape that I’ve been put here to describe, in words that are insufficient.  Which is why I try, every day.  Because maybe, if I try, every day, better words will appear than “sadness” and “anger”.  And you will read them, and know that you are not alone.       

Because when we feel, we are never alone.

(and by the way, even if we hate it)

 

© Copyright 2018 William S. Friday   

Advertisements

A Day in an Invisible Life: Hour 5

A Day in an Invisible Life (6)

I write.

Writing is something I never thought I would do.  In the dedication of my first book, I thanked the junior college English teacher who actually, briefly, encouraged me in the notes of turned-in poetry and prose assignments for her composition class. 

Then I did nothing with words for another 25 years.

With what’s left of this morning, I’ll be writing.

Writer’s block is my friend.  The reason I’m a poet is because of a horrible case of writer’s block about 10 years ago.  I thought I was on my way to being an internet-famous journalist, back when there was such a thing.  I wrote for a site, now long gone, and after a few years of doing that, I simply ran out of words.  Looking back, I’m pretty sure what I ran out of was bullshit.  At least that one particular vein of bullshit I had been mining for hits and likes on that site.  Given how small the pond, for a time, I was a pretty big fish in it, and the idea that I would just run out of ideas was something I wasn’t ready for.  I don’t think anyone is ever really ready for a lie to catch up to them.  The truth was, I wasn’t cut out for that kind of writing.  Deadlines and promises and the responsibilities of a byline had sucked all the clever right out of me.  When I sat down in front of the screen to write, all that was left was a head full of feelings, and a string of incomplete sentences to describe them. 

So after a while, I did just that.  I wrote in short sentences.  I used small words.  And before I wrote, I felt.  Because these were no longer word counts, they were what counts.  I sucked at it, but the what counts started bleeding out of me.  My writing changed, and eventually, I changed.  A little.  I’m still changing.

Except for the process of how I write poetry.  I still do that the way I did when I was a wannabe, writer’s blocked journalist.  On a computer.  It wasn’t until the last year of scribbling in a journal (see the earlier post, Hour 2, for that story) that I could write anything poetic other than by typing. 

My last holdover from those bad old days.

So in this hour, after what feels like a whole day has already passed, I write.  It’s a loose habit now.  Less about discipline and more about need.  I’ve written three books this way so far.  Not out of responsibility, but out of desperation.  All those years ago, when the words stopped coming, it was because there was something more important than words on the way to replace them.  A lifetime of thoughts and feelings, love and pain, and the need to translate them into a language I had never known before.

This may take more than one hour today.

 

© Copyright 2018 William S. Friday

A Day in an Invisible Life: Hour 4

A Day in an Invisible Life (8)

I need to eat something.

I have a stupid high metabolism.  Always have.  Hypoglycemic high, even.  It was inherited.  Hungry sneaks up on me like a kitchen ninja, who sneaks up on you while you’re staring into the fridge.  A really boring ninja. 

Food is always boring.  Boring like that ninja in your kitchen.

Unless I’m actually hungry, because… hypoglycemia.  Except on THIS day, I haven’t been to the grocery store for 5 days past when all the food I want to eat is gone. 

When I’m hungry, food becomes almost exciting.  Not like most people… okay, people who aren’t me… think of as exciting.  Not like 5-Star dining with a whisky bar the size of the closed end of the LA Coliseum exciting.  More like, I have a can of refried black beans with jalapenos, a 6 month old frozen slice of beef brisket, 2 eggs, a jar of salsa past its expiration date, and a few street taco sized corn tortillas, exciting.

Kinda like the ‘I’m hungry and can’t go anywhere’ version of Food Network’s Chopped.  I become competitive with myself.  The-contestant-judging-himself kind of competitive.  Where the only win at the end of the game is, did I like it enough to eat it.  On this day, I did.  And, a little secret, I’m getting good at making my own pan fried tostadas.tostadas png

Apologies to all my Keto brothers and sisters.

So, since you can’t all eat my homemade desperation cooking, here’s a bonus picture.  Sorry if I’m too hungry to talk about it, anymore. And now that I’ve eaten, let’s see what kind of trouble I can get into for Hour 5.

 

© Copyright 2018 William S. Friday

A Day in an Invisible Life: Hour 3

A Day in an Invisible Life (3)

I Read.

I tell myself that it’s important to do that.  When I was at my deep darkest, it was first reading… not writing… that turned my face to the light again. 

As a child, I was reading on my own before the chairs got warm in kindergarten, but like anything an undisciplined child accomplishes too soon, that child takes it for granted, and if left to wander too long on this path, that child loses his way.  At least this child did.

As an adult, it turns out, the ones I love the most, read the most.  It wasn’t that I set out to reclaim my lost path by finding and loving those who read, it just worked out that way.  Like Guy Montag in Fahrenheit 451, maybe readers just found me.  To hear of their love of this thing I took for granted from childhood made me curious to know them, and this love that filled them up.  Without meaning to, they showed me the empty inside myself.  They spoke of reading like a person in love speaks of their special someone, corporeal, as real to them as the touch of another human being.  Of a love that fills their soul.

And I needed to fill my soul.

I read now.  Remedially.  Not because my comprehension or vocabulary is stunted, but because the muscles in my brain that should be running reading marathons are atrophied, like someone waking from a coma, and falling on the way to the bathroom. 

I read now.  Slowly.  Chewing on every word, often aloud, to let the taste and weight of every word satisfy me.  I get filled up so easily, and it hurts to take it all inside, so some days it’s all I can do to read a few lines before I have to stop and digest what new thing I just took in.  Some days it’s poetry, others, classic fiction.  But most days, it’s something I’ve never tasted before, and I chew on it like a baby chews on that first bite of peas or blueberries.  Cautiously, curiously, the way someone who lived life without friends makes friends for the first time.

So today, in this hour, I read.  Not for others, but for myself. 

Because I am empty, and I am so hungry.

 

© Copyright 2018 William S. Friday

A Day in an Invisible Life: Hour 2

A Day in an Invisible Life (5)

Hour 2

 

I keep a journal. 

It’s not what most people think as a journal.  It’s what I imagine therapy would be like… if I’d ever gone to therapy… which I haven’t.  I have nothing against therapy.  I have friends who go.  I think it speaks volumes that my kids go to therapy, and my eldest grand kid… and my kids’ mother.  And since you’re reading this on a blog, you might think that I subscribe to that very-often-quoted maxim, “I don’t go to therapy, I blog”.  But I don’t.  Subscribe to that very-often-quoted maxim, that is.  I’ve read blogs that purport to be self-therapy for their bloggers. 

All I can say about that is, those bloggers need therapy.

Oh, yeah.  I keep a journal.

It was about a year ago that I finally gave into someone’s idea of a daily practice that could best be called ‘self-care’.  It started with the only thing in my life at the time that could be identified as such.  My morning cup of coffee.  One cup, about a half-hour to drink it, no more—no less.  It was to become a quiet time, a sacred time, filled with nothing but my thoughts… or lack of thoughts… as I sat in remembrance of what was, and the day that was to be. 

That was when my journal came to be.

Originally a place for gratitude, eventually this journal took the shape of… well, a landfill… for thoughts and feelings that had begun to overflow my ability to process in the moment.  I’ve hinted at this in blog posts before, but the truth of things is, about a year ago, I was in the midst of an undiagnosed depressive episode.  My long-overdue first, and since, only, fall down a mineshaft of emotional and spiritual darkness.  To sum it up in a sentence, I was in a really fucked-up place.  But it was in those months that I began to listen to the words that had become stuck inside me, and wrote them all down as they surfaced, in real-time.  The words were full of sadness and anger, hope and confusion, love and hate.  It wasn’t fun and it wasn’t easy.  But I learned that there was a landfill waiting for a whole lifetime of garbage to fill it up. 

So I filled it up.  I still do.  Some days I miss, most days I don’t.  And every day I do it is one more day that I stay out of the mineshaft.  Also, in case you wondered why I don’t share it on the blog, it’s because I don’t believe a blog is therapy.  I believe therapy is therapy, just like I believe a journal isn’t therapy.  But between the coffee, and the quiet, and the pen, and the ink, I’m not where I was a year ago.

So this day, I’ll make a second cup of coffee, sit in the chair between my bed and the window, and drop another page into the landfill.

 

© Copyright 2018 William S. Friday

A Day in an Invisible Life

A Day in an Invisible Life

Prologue…

My days begin in anonymity*. 

Nobody knows who I am, really.  Maybe that’s because I lead a double—life.

There are hints here and there.  Some days… nights, actually…  I call work and tell them I can’t come in.  That I have “something going on with that other job”, and they understand.  But around this town, nobody has a clue of who I am, and what I do. 

 

Hour 1…

The molten sun pours through my window blinds between 6 and 8 am.  I don’t remember it being this way when I moved here last July.  It’s like that scene near the beginning of the movie Jaws, when Chief Brody says basically the same thing to his wife, and she explains it to him.  My observation being not the angle of the sun, or what season I moved in, but that Chief Brody had a wife.

In another minute I decide there’s no use fighting with the sun, and I grab something that passes for pants to wear on the walk downstairs to make coffee.  I’m not against making coffee naked, I just don’t want to be seen doing so by my landlady.  She’s not at all a morning person, but that one time I did laundry naked now shapes the way I make morning coffee for however long I end up living here.

I work nights, and I’ll get to talking about that.  But for right now, I have editing to do.  Not my own, or I’d probably push that off till tomorrow, or the next day.  This is for someone whose book is on deadline, and I don’t intend to be that guy who can’t make other people’s dreams come true.  I’ve been that guy, and that guy has no place in my life, anymore.  So, while my slower-than-a-kid-late-for-school laptop boots, I shuffle downstairs… clothed… to make the magic happen.

Coffee is magic.

I drink my coffee and edit the book, and the sun asks if I wouldn’t mind opening the blinds a little wider, just to make it easier on both of us.  No, the sun doesn’t really talk to me.  That would be crazy.  But I get the hint, and do it.  My room fills with slat-filtered daylight, and the coffee seems stronger for it.  As I search the pages of the book on my screen for errors… and I do find a few… I know that what I’m doing now is important.  It has invisible value.  I guess, like my invisible life.  As I read and make notes on paper, in ink, I forget about the coffee, growing cold in the cup that sits beside me on my bed.  I think how this may be the most important thing I do all day. 

This book is magic.

 

*I began this “day in the life” at the suggestion of a trusted friend.  When I realized I couldn’t jam 24 hours into 600 words, the idea of serializing my day was born.  Next up, Hour 2. 

 

© Copyright 2018 William S. Friday

Reader

IMG-7730

I’m not a reader.

Now let me explain.

I’m a damn good reader.  No disorders that I know of, comprehension through the roof, the ability to cold read, out loud, in public, strong as it gets.  I’ve been reading since I was a little over a year old, or so they said when I was growing up.

No, I’m just not a reader.

I grew up reading every day.  Prose, mostly, and that, contained in the sports section of the LA Times.  I never read comics, except for the papers on Sunday, and I was never encouraged to pick up a book during my childhood, except by command of teachers, and then, not until high school.  Along the way, I read some things, mostly by accident.  Some Peter Benchley… sharks fascinated me… and some pulp journalism style stuff you could find on the book rack at the grocery store while my mom stood in line to pay.  Besides that, the only two things I read like they meant something were Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, the World Book Encyclopedia, and the 1973 Baseball Encyclopedia.

But none of that is reading.

In the years that I should have been indulging my creative consciousness on everything from Swift to Burroughs and Dickens to Baum, I was memorizing batting averages, the etymology of 19th century English words, and the names the crew gave the mechanical shark in the movie Jaws.  I wasn’t reading, I was collecting… nonsense, mostly.  I read quickly.  I read to absorb, to obtain, and to satisfy curiosity, not for the love of the words themselves.

At least that’s the way reading was explained to me.  That it was a love affair with words, and with the stories that the words would unfold for me, if I would only let it be so.  As you might imagine, school was a nightmare for me.  I got by, barely.  Not by reading, but by listening.  I listened to every word the teachers said, and made copious notes.  Page after page of classroom notes, writing down every meaningless detail of these frustrated storytellers, never once looking inside the textbooks they ordered us to read.  Because of this, obviously, math was a killer.  English was hard because all the questions on tests were neatly tucked away inside the books I didn’t read.  History worked for me, because teachers of history fancy themselves “historians”, and would rather act out the full contents of the books themselves, than leave the interpretation of history to the transcribers of history.  I took notes, and answered the questions from them. 

That didn’t work out so well, in high school, or in college, after.

I gave reading one more shot in my 20s.

The girl I was seeing was a reader of book club selections, and I would read books over her shoulder, at night.  For a while, I became a reader like she was a reader.  Picking novels that sounded interesting based on my already-cultivated curiosities.  Bad sports stories, the occasional adventure, and spooky stuff.  Spooky stuff that would have caused childhood me to keep both hands and both feet inside the covers at night.  Blatty’s Exorcist.  King’s Stand.  A bunch of other crap I barely remember.

In this time, I realized that I read the way a cow eats, deliberately, and not in any hurry.  Not the way a predator hurriedly consumes its prey, but slowly, chewing on words and phrases, taking them all in, and then barfing them back up in the form of re-reading without actually finishing the book first.  It took me forever to read a book this way, but when I was done, I maybe knew the stories better than the authors.  

Then the girl became wife.  The wife stopped reading.  I stopped reading.

Because I’m not a reader.

At this point in this story, I’ll save you the exposition of the next 30-something years.  I’ll just tell you that, while I am not a reader, I am reading again.  I have to.  Something I discovered about the silence that only reading brings.  The silence that, I didn’t know until now, brings healing to a soul that fed on only noise, and a mind that, for most of a lifetime, knew only confusion and pain.  Words and stories that should bring healing, and a minimum of confusion and pain.  From Murakami to Bradbury, Goldman to Gibran.  I will read these, soon.

I’m not a reader, yet.

But I’m going to be.      

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Nothing Ever Spoken

nothing ever spoken

I offended someone today. 

Not you,

because you weren’t there. 

And not the person who,

gently,

let me know of my offense. 

The person who told me that I had offended someone. 

Sometimes,

I’m insensitive. 

Okay,

more than sometimes,

I just cover it well with most people. 

Sometimes,

I let it slip. 

And this time,

I almost let it slip to cause someone to fall. 

I didn’t want to. 

I spoke,

randomly,

or so I thought. 

But nothing ever spoken is truly random,

is it?

I offended someone today. 

They just didn’t know it,

but I do,

now. 

Not you,

because they weren’t there. 

But someone was,

who cared.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Please May I Have a Coma?

nano poblano photo 30 png

“Please, may I have a coma?”

 I said that in a conversation with a friend the other day.  There was no correlation to any one thing I remember talking about.  It was just a stand-alone thought.  This sort of thing happens often with me, seeming, usually, completely disconnected from whatever train of thought or flow of conversation I’m having in that moment.  Most people, even those closest to me, miss it.  That instant when my consciousness gets invaded by my subconscious, and my Freudian Slip starts to show.

I used to miss it, too.

But a lot has happened over the last year so that, on this day, I didn’t miss it at all.

I, and most of my nearest and dearest, have had a hard year.  I can’t explain why.  Okay, maybe?  The same way people try and explain how a half-a-dozen women, in regular near-proximity to each other, seemingly sync their periods.  Or how, when you buy a make and model of car you never really gave much thought to, and then it seems like that same car is on every street, and in every parking lot, everywhere you go. 

The collective unconscious, manifested.

And no, I don’t believe for one minute that, like periods or late-model cars, any of my friends and I wanted our collective shits to happen, but maybe there’s something equally invisible going on that drew us all together before, so that we could be here for each other in the during, and rejoice with each other in the after.  Because that’s why human beings have friends. 

“Please, may I have a coma?”

Now that the end of another November is here, and with it, the end of another National Blog Posting Month, I think it’s time for a re-examination.  Priorities that held this priory together last month, last year, last life, no longer belong in my life.  Things that once felt important, no longer feel that way.  And I’m educated guessing that the same is being said by many of my friends.  But human beings are nothing if not creatures of habit.  One of those habits is holding onto to things we’ve outgrown, or that have outgrown us.  I don’t know what you’ve outgrown but, like a closet full of last decade’s fashion disasters and fat pants, for me, it’s time to make room for something new, or maybe for nothing new at all, but only for what’s most important. 

Because a closet full of winter coats does you no good if you live the rest of your life in the sunshine.

“Please, may I have a coma?”

Okay, but only for a little while.  It’s time to empty out my storage, give away what I won’t be needing, and decide where the sun shines brightest for me.  But don’t worry.  You’re ALL my friends.  And I’ll leave breadcrumbs on the trail, wherever it is I go. 

Thank you for reading my words these last 30 days.  And thank you for allowing me to spend it reading yours.

Till then. 

 

Always,

Bill

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: