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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   

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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

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

Asphalt Sky Asphalt

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December 22, 1975… A little before sunset.  I rode my bike, a green, Schwinn Ram’s Horn Fastback, to the Rexall to buy a roll of Scotch Tape to wrap Christmas presents with.  I took the back alley on the south side of Artesia to the light at Casimir Avenue, and saw that it was green for me to cross.  I sped through the intersection on a yellow, and as my light went red, I heard a sound… like metal, pounding into metal. 

That was the sound of the ’63 Studebaker hitting my bike as I crossed in front of it. 

I no longer knew where I was.  All I saw in the next moment was dark, then light, then dark again.  My mind picked up the story again with me wobbling to my feet about 20 yards away from the intersection where my bike now lay, twisted and useless.  Someone, I don’t remember who, led me to the curb to sit as I heard the police siren in the distance.  What felt like seconds must’ve been minutes.  Adults were everywhere.  A woman, the driver of the car that turned my bike into scrap, came over to where I was sitting.  Confused as I was, I could still tell she was scared shitless.  I mean, she did almost kill a kid, on a bike in a crosswalk, trying to beat a line of cars into traffic before her light turned green.  She could have tried to make a break for it, but westbound Artesia at 5 o’clock was bumper-to-bumper, even in 1975.

The cop who showed up a minute later drove me, and my green wreck, the few blocks from there, home, and waited with me… in the days before cell phones… for my dad to come home from work.  As I sat in our living room, it came to me what it was I saw right after the BOOM of the car and my bike. 

Dark, light, dark.

Asphalt, sky, asphalt.

A front somersault from the pedals of my bike, end over end, landing on my head more than 50 feet away.

Landing, and walking away, without a scratch on me.

Every time I watch the M. Night Shyamalan film, “Unbreakable”, and see the train wreck scene at the beginning of the movie… the one where Bruce Willis Is the only survivor, and walks away without a scratch on him, I remember that day.  Today, forty-two years to the day from when it happened to me, the movie was on TV.  And I watched.

Then I wrote this.

And after, in my journal, I wrote,

“…anyway, forty-two years ago today, I almost died.  And forty-two years later, it’s time for me to live.

Let’s close out the remains of ’17, and take ’18 like it’s a Giftwrapped Best Present EVER.  Tear the wrapping paper clean off, rip open the box, and GO!  Shouting all the way,

‘It’s exactly what I WANTED!!!’.”

2017 was a whole lot of dark, light, dark.  Asphalt, sky, asphalt.  And that makes 2018 a present. 

Giftwrapped. 

For me.

And it’s exactly what I wanted.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

When an Empath has no Empathy

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I undergo profound changes every November. 

Cataclysmic, visions-of-a-personal-apocalypse life changes.  It’s happened three Novembers in a row now.  Sure, it’s only a blog challenge, but I’m generally blog-challenged, being a poet and not really a blogger at all.  So when November rolls around, it seems like I’m just not allowed to ignore all the seismic emotional upheaval that something of this creative magnitude rips open for 30 days straight.

See, here’s the thing, because you knew there’d be a thing, right?  The thing is, I’m kind of an empath.  Not the ‘I shake your hand and know where you’ve buried the bodies’ kind of empath.  Just the ‘I feel things deeper than most people’ kind. 

My feelings. 

Your feelings. 

Friends’ feelings. 

Strangers’ feelings.

Hell, I even feel your dog’s feelings.

Did you ever see the movie “Species”?  The original, where the government assembled a team of previous strangers with varied skill-sets to capture and/or kill the Escaped Sexy Female Alien Hybrid, on the loose and looking to mate?  Then you remember the soft-spoken empath, played by Academy Award™ winning actor Forest Whitaker.  This version of the B-movie empath wasn’t a psychic, or in touch with the spirit world, or whatever other way B-movies portray the empath.  This version could simply feel what others around him were feeling, and tell you what those feeling meant

I liked that interpretation. 

Because at the roots, it’s the closet I’ve ever come to being introduced to mine. 

And then there’s the downside. 

The thing is, I’m kind of an empath.  Not the ‘I shake your hand and know where you’ve buried the bodies’ kind of empath.  Just the ‘I feel things deeper than most people’ kind. 

My feelings. 

Your feelings. 

Friends’ feelings. 

Strangers’ feelings.

Hell, I even feel your dog’s feelings.

Especially my feelings.

Which in the past, I could ignore for my own sanity’s sake.  But last November, after writing a super-concentrated month’s-worth of feelings, I lost the ability to bury mine.  No more clearly-marked boxes for emotions.  No more handy compartments for feelings to go.  No more mindless default ways to ignore them.  They were, for the first time, all on the same great big plate like a 64-box of crayons melted together in a microwave oven, and it was a fucking mess. 

My fucking mess. 

And I had to choose my path before it killed me.

The title of this post is, “When an Empath has no Empathy”.  It comes from a random thought that popped into my empath head a couple of days ago, about someone from my past, equally gifted with the ability to ‘feel all the feels’ like I do.  A random thought that goes, “What if you were an empath with no empathy?  Wouldn’t that just make you a sociopath?” 

And after reading everything… okay, a few things on Reddit… my non-clinical, non-scientific answer is, “Yeah… I think it would.”

But is that how I want to live the rest of my life?  Just surviving like a spiritual grifter, living off the feelings of others instead of feeling all the feels and helping those who need whatever it is I can do with all the messed up feelings.

My feelings. 

Your feelings. 

Friends’ feelings. 

Strangers’ feelings.

Hell, I even feel your dog’s feelings.

Especially my feelings.

So this November, I was left with a choice.  Do I want to spend the rest of my life finding new ways to shut off all the feelings and face the consequences of knowing and not caring?  Or do I stay on the path, as I suppose was originally intended, and learn how to be who I am?  Feeling, and dealing with my choices.

Like I said, I undergo profound changes every November.

And I can’t wait until December.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Black Friday

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I don’t go near Black Friday anymore. 

The last time was in ’08,

or maybe ’09. 

I left the headlights on while I shopped,

didn’t have Triple-A,

and had to find a tow that would take cash.

 

Today, I don’t have cash.

 

But that’s okay,

because I got Black Friday out of my system. 

After the split. 

Before the long hours to pay for what I needed to dig out. 

For what I still need to dig out.

 

Today, I don’t have cash.

 

I’m still tying off the loose ends of my life. 

I’ll see the grandbabies for lunch,

kiss them,

and pretend that everything is good. 

My own little girl will look me in the eyes,

and my eyes won’t lie to hers.

 

Today, I don’t need cash.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Even If I’m out of Time

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This is a throw-away post. 

It was bound to happen sometime this month.  I just didn’t expect it to happen like this.  To be brief, my computer and my phone are working.  I still have the internet, and I’ve been good physically.  I haven’t run out of ideas, and I haven’t run out of words, either.

What I’m out of is money.

And because I’m out of money, I am also out of time.  I’m out of time to sit and contemplate what to write over the last week-and-change of National Blog Posting Month.  I’ve been busy chasing the money necessary to keep the creditors at arm’s length while I complete my comeback from the work-related depression that forced me to quit my job last June.  Yesterday, I sold my pickup truck to the highest retail bidder.  Sold it for a couple grand less than it was worth, just to get the cash.  The cash that won’t be in my hands until after some bills go to collection. 

I’m not bitching about life.  On the whole, life has been pretty good to me.  For now, just not THIS part of life.  I’ve been told, repeatedly, that life… God, the Universe, whatever floats your philosophical boat… takes care of me.  But today, I can’t say I know that.  Because today, I’m writing a post saying that I could be living in a twenty-year-old Dodge in a couple of weeks.

And the downside to all of this distraction is, I’ve got no time to sit and contemplate what to write.  Not what to write for myself, because I do that every day, but what to write for you.  Because some of you read me every day. 

And I don’t want to let you down.

So for the rest of National Blog Posting Month, I’ll keep trying and meet you here, every day.

Even if I’m out of time.     

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Long Beach my Long Beach

A post, in pictures, of my adopted home.

Long Beach, California.

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PALM TREES HOLDING UP CLOUDS… Pacific Coast Highway near 2nd Street.

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HALLOWEEN MOON… Redondo Avenue near 20th Street.

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CITY LIGHTS – LONG BEACH TO DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES… Signal Hill.

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BACK ALLEY… 4th Street near Cherry Avenue.

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THE PHOTOGRAPHER… Home.

 

 All photographs © Copyright 2017 William S. Friday 

 

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