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Something

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I don’t know what to write about today.  It’s not like something doesn’t always come to me.  Something always does.  In words, and in life, something always comes to me.  Once, for an entire year, I had writer’s block.  Then poetry came to me.  Once, for thirty years, I had security.  Then clarity came to me.  Once, for three-hundred days, give or take, I had darkness.  And then came the sanity.

Something always comes to me.

A few months ago, on the advice of others, I began to journal.  Besides that it sounds strange when you turn a noun into a verb like that, one thing the act of journaling taught me was that if you have feelings, you have thoughts.  If you have thoughts, you have words.  And if you have words, you have actions.  And actions are the only way feelings become changes. 

I’m a different person than the one who emerged from the three-hundred days of darkness that kicked off during NaBloPoMo 2016.  Most people won’t know how different, if different at all.  You would’ve needed to know me in the before, and I mean really know me, to see.  And almost no one really knows me.  But for those who don’t, maybe the only way is to read what I wrote a year ago November.  I mean, you can… I won’t.  I lived it, and that’s enough for me.  I will say one thing about it, here.  After I wrote it and bottled it all up in a saved file on my computer, I let it out again after the darkness had passed.  I handed it to someone who really knows me. 

And they are turning it into a book.  A book that I’ll read, I hope, along with you.  The book is called, “That Year I Died… and kept on living anyway”.  It’ll be out early next year, because something always comes to me.  Poetry.  Clarity.  Sanity.

Something.

 

© 2017 William S. Friday

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The End of the World

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The end of the world came in silence,

except for the sound of tears hitting the hardwood floor

a couple of miles away. 

I knew it as I woke,

too late to stop it. 

I tried, but it wouldn’t let me. 

The world is stubborn that way. 

Doesn’t mean I’ve given up. 

Giving up isn’t in me anymore,

I just have to pretend I give up from time to time,

to satisfy the world;

which isn’t fucking easy,

because the world is smart.  

The world is too damn smart for its own good. 

So for now, the end of the world is here. 

I just won’t tell it how bullshit that idea really is.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Journal

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I journal now.

I have attempted this for going on decades now.  In various forms, under different descriptions, and for uncountable reasons why, I have tried to spend a little time with a notebook and a pen, and tell the invisible just how I was feeling.

And failed.

Every time.

Until now.

I don’t succeed every day.  Just like, with life, I don’t succeed every day.  But now, I try.  I am doing this on the advice of a friend.  Not a close friend, because the advice of close friends, for me, has a way of becoming a message that falls on deaf ears.  Deaf ears that don’t read lips all that well, so the well-meaning of others, just as often, falls.  So, where were we?  Oh yeah, forms, descriptions, and reasons. 

Forms: affirmations, observations, gratitude, grief, self-talk, listening, healing, prayer… just to name a few more than a few.     

Descriptions: meditative, stream of consciousness, automatic writing, biographical, dear fucking diary, poetry and prose.  If I left something out, I’m sorry.  If it meant more, I’m sure I’d still remember it.

Reasons: to get in touch with my feelings, to separate myself from my feelings, to find my true path, to stay off the wrong path, to find myself, to lose myself, to know myself, to find God, to know God, to have God know me.

Yeah, I used to journal to God.  But a long time ago I stopped wanting God to hear what I had to say.  So I stopped journaling to God.

I journal now.

When I used to journal, the many MANY times I tried to journal, I couldn’t write freely, always editing the thoughts in my mind before the words scratched themselves into the page.  I’ve always been a stickler for the way words feel as they lay on your tongue, as you silently read them to yourself, like a whisper with no breath to carry the sound.

C’mon, admit it with me, we ALL do that.  It’s the real reason why people move their lips when they read.  Some people just hide it better, or care much more, than others.  You don’t want to be thought of as simple minded, so you keep your lips pressed together when you read, but your tongue still moves between your teeth and the roof of your mouth, because we ALL love how words FEEL in our mouths.

Anyway, in those days, the words had to read perfect to feel perfect.  So I quit, because the prose ended up being prosaic, and prosaic is just another way of saying “droning self-importance”, and the whole point of journaling was to get past self-importance and discover something more than self, right?

But, bright side, I did become a bloody awful poet, so there’s that.

I journal now.

I don’t know what I will discover, this time.  Will it end up being just another one-man circle jerk of overly-edited thoughts?  So far, no.  I have an actual editor for that now.  One thing I know, so far, is that, where the words used to come out like sawdust, now they come out like blood.  No cuts required.  I even doodle now.  Also in blood.

The world is a different place than it was the last time I tried this, just as my place in it is different.  Recently, my walls came down with a crash, and instead of trying to rebuild walls, I think it’s better if I just write what I find in the rubble and move on.

And no, you will never read my journal.  No one will.  Except maybe God, and then, mostly over my shoulder.

Besides, some of it might be about you.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Breathing

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I don’t overshare.

Yes, I have thoughts.  Yes, I have feelings.  No, I don’t put them out there, all heart on my sleeve, for the world at large to see and sift through.  I had that, in no uncertain terms, kicked outta me years and years ago by someone I loved, and that was enough for one lifetime.  Of course now, it’s taken as a sign of unwillingness on my part to be intimate, but whatever.  It’s my sleeve, and I’ll leave it bare if I want to.

A while ago, I mastered the art of Vaguebooking, but was told, in equally certain terms, that behavior like that only alienates folks from getting to know the real me, but for me, it’s easier to speak the truth I know people want to hear, or just say nothing at all.  Again, the feelings are there, I’ve just been conditioned to keep them to myself.

It doesn’t make for many friends or lovers, but I’ve become reconciled with that, believing, until recently, that when it comes to pain in the heart places, less is better.

Yeah, I said “until recently”.

See, I’ve been going through a Fuck Ton of things in the last year, and thought I could poet my way through them.  Thought I could silent my way through them.  Thought I could Vaguebook my way through them.    

I’ve been going through a Fuck Ton of things in the last year, and I had to finally say something.  The only way I know how.

After the fact.

 ***

A friend of mine, a really good friend, recently told me something that, in the moment, froze my bones.  That something was,

“With change comes sacrifice.”

I didn’t say it in that moment, but I truly hated those words.  Things had been changing so rapidly in my life that the last thing I wanted to hear was that, with all this change, I was going to have to “sacrifice” something or somethings I still held onto like a cheap life jacket after the leaky boat sinks.  I was barely hanging on as it was, and NOW comes sacrifice?

***

On a seemingly unrelated note, a few weeks before this, I had begun the practice of spoken affirmations.  Not the kind you might think, but the kind that only I would think to practice.  Notice I did not say positive affirmations.  I began the practice of negative affirmations.  With phrases like,

“I wish I had never met you.”

“I need to get you OFF of me.” 

And most recently,

“You’re somebody else’s problem now”. 

Whenever I began to feel the sink of sadness begin to drag me to the hell of my own dark mind, I would invoke those, and other phrases.  These negative affirmations became my talismans against the feelings that kept me from moving.  They allowed me the freedom of expression that Vaguebooking never could.  They created in me the ability to breathe.  Not in, but out.  And this was important for me to understand, because, in the world of breathing, you learn quickly that your life is only as good as your next breath.  And if you spend your life holding one breath, that breath just might kill you, because you have to breathe out to breathe in the next breath, and the next, and the next.

You have to sacrifice that breath if you ever hope to have another.            

So in my mind, I did.

And shortly after that, I had me a day.  The kind where you wake up one way, and if you just keep breathing, it ends different than you thought it would.

You see, I woke up holding my breath.  Then sometime during that day, I sacrificed that breath for the promise of the next breath, and the next, and the next.  And the words in the picture at the top of this page were that day.  Poeted through.  With the promise that there could be more than just holding my breath, waiting for the next breath to come.

***

Somewhere on Facebook, maybe a little, but not in a way I think will be held against me, I posted these words, and Instagram posts, at the end of that day,

“Today, I wrote myself all the way through a sadness that has hung on me like grave clothes since last fall. These are the trilogy of Instagram posts that were the path for those feelings to find their way out…”

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***

There is no snappy conclusion to this post.  One that ties up all the loose ends of all the thoughts I’ve just unloaded on you who read this.  It’s like life, I guess.  It’s just a series of breaths that keep you going along the way to more life, and the next breath, and the next, and the next.  And now that I’ve finally let go of that one breath I’ve held for so long, sacrificed it for the change to come, I know I’m still breathing. 

And that’s living.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Six Tacos

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Today, I ate six tacos from Del Taco, and watched a movie that I wished had been about my life.  Also, I considered day drinking, but there was company in the downstairs, and I didn’t want to have to explain to anyone why I was crafting a boilermaker at 2:54 in the afternoon.  The movie was about a child musical prodigy, and his college age summer nanny.

And before you think that thought out loud, no… not because I have a fantasy about that sort of thing… although, hot nanny… but because I wish I had a childhood memory I held dear that didn’t involve loneliness, or being an outcast. The way the boy felt in the movie.

The way I feel now.

Over the previous bunch of months, in both my poetry and my blog posts, I’ve been telling the folks who read me that I was changing my life.  Changing it for the good.  Cutting the ties that held me to the old life…the job and other questionable choices… and I did.  Except, I realize, that the one thing I brought with me in all the changes, that I have not yet changed, is me.

So now, after all the changes, it is time for me to change me.

Changes begin the moment the first one happens, like eating six tacos from Del Taco, or stumbling upon a movie you wished you’d lived, decades before.  There’s a part in the movie where the boy and his nanny talk about past choices… hers… and the possibilities for the future.  And since I’ve already lived my past, it all made me think what those possibilities will be.  And to be truthful, I don’t know what they are yet.  But I know now that they aren’t as far off as I once thought they were.  They are as close as a story I wished I’d lived.  They are as close as six tacos from Del Taco.

They are here. 

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Ghost Town

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Today I moved into a ghost town, where the past and the future live in perpetual now.  Leaving behind all my worldly possessions, except my bed, where all my senses are aware, in dreams. 

In this ghost town, there is everything you need.  There is silence and solace, ignorance and inquiry.  And time, because in a ghost town, time is as plentiful as weeds in eternal sunshine.

There is no fear in my ghost town.  The neighbors, because they are good ghosts, welcome you.  But slowly, as they know that you, like themselves, came here with the echoes of the noises of your old life in your head, and that is scary enough for now.

So today, I live in a ghost town, where life and death aren’t the law, only acceptance.  This is the place I always belonged, where hope and love keep the peace, and the ghosts of the past shake hands every day, because they have made peace with each other.

And they wait to shake hands with you.  Wait, until you are one of them.    

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Coffee and Mid-Afternoon Panic

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I think I’ve seen the world as it will be, but that might have been a mistake. 

The voices, real and imagined, pretty much all said do it. 

But I can count on the fingers of one amputated hand how many times the voices, real and imagined, have been right. 

I lived a lifetime of failure within structure, and now that’s gone, replaced by an endless freedom to fail. 

Quiet times are the worst, when the voices, all of them imagined but one, my own, come. 

Louder times, spent in the company of people or amusements, I think of as distractions. 

And both come with a feeling, a gnawing, like the scraping of a stone tool against my bones.

And in the wake of all this, come the times when I tell myself I will create worlds, unimagined. 

When I limit my distractions to coffee and mid-afternoon panic, and I shut off the world, all of it, the voices included. 

And I tell myself, only I, that everything will be as I’ve seen it.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

I’m Really Gone

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I’m really gone.

Okay, technically, after I leave in the dawn’s early light of this Friday morning, I will still have six-and-a-half hours left to go.  But in a very real sense, the job I’ve worked for three weeks short of nine years is over.

I’m really gone.

So on this last night of a seemingly endless run of thirteen-hour shifts, I said goodbye to some people I work with, in this, and other states.  Officially trained my replacement for a few whole hours (I hope THAT works out for all concerned next week when I’m no longer here).  And I wrote this, to remind myself that…

I’m really gone.

To remind myself, because at a time of night when most decent folks have been asleep for hours, I had a revelatory burst of zero-dark-thirty energy.  Not the “Mrs. Howell on radioactive sugar beets” energy (by all means, find it on YouTube), but the “I just realized how much actual time I’m getting back in my life to do all the things I could only do in my non-existent spare time” energy which, when harnessed, creates its own CERN-level epiphany that years of sleep deprivation and exhaustion can’t touch.

So, though you’ve all seen me around the blogospheric interwebz for a while now, you’re going to be seeing more of me.  Call this your pre-dawn heads-up for all things Bill Friday.  The kind of heads-up where I tell you that when one life ends, another life can begin.  A life where you really can do all the things.  A life where you figure out what works, and do it.  A life where you figure out what doesn’t work, and you try like hell not to do it again.  A life where even the old things feel new again, because this is the exact, right time for all of them to finally happen.  Just like you always wanted them to, but you always ran ahead of God, or the universe, or your own shoelaces, and you tripped and fell every time. 

Until now.

Because now, I’m really gone.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Baby Face Chinaski

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I don’t have time for your shit,

you post-pubescent misanthrope. 

Once upon a time,

when your ironic alter-ego roamed the streets,

and haunted the bars of dirty L.A.

like a piss-stained ghost,

you were yet a regret in your

bitch of a mother’s misbegotten womb. 

Although I don’t think I blame her

for how you turned out,

given how you beg for the teat

in every Facebook post of yours

I have ever read. 

Maybe I’ll listen to you

when you can grow a mustache

thicker than a row of pubes. 

Until then,

I will simply shake my head,

and comment less and less,

because the only two things you are listening to

in these last days of your misspent youth

are your own mewling laments of growing up too fast,

and the hollow sympathies of girls your own age,

who would sooner court the clap

than give you what you think will make it all better

for just one night,

before the sun rises in your sunken child-eyes,

and you post online once more.         

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

The Warehouse of Brand New Dreams

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In my favorite picture of me, I look like classed-up shit.  Or maybe just shit on the outside, and class, invisible, on the inside.

Either way, it’s me.

I’m told I look skinny.  But I must make up for it in ways not seen by the naked eye.  And get your mind out of the gutter, right now.  My kids could be reading this, after I’m dead, of course.

In the thoughts that went through my mind between that last paragraph and this one, I realize how many things I’ve written that I know won’t see the light of day before I’m gone.  Things I’ve written that are so honest, they even scare me when I consider the possibility of making them public while I’m still around to reap the consequences.  And not things that are acceptable between consenting adults, but things that a lifetime of reinforcement cause me to share only with myself and the blank computer screen.

I do hint at them, in poems, mostly.  Sometimes in song lyrics that only have music playing inside my head as I write.  Regrets about the past.  Fears about the future.  And how many people I’ve hurt from there to here.  As a writer, I know it’s assumed that everything is fair game, especially those things that you’ve lived through and survived.  But most of them are an embarrassment to me, and I will probably keep them locked away for safe keeping, until I have made peace with them in this life, or am at peace in the next.

This evening, I had my daily talk with one of the drivers who come in and out of the warehouse with freight and parcels headed from point of origin to destination every day.  I’ve known him my entire time here. I was the one who spotted the heart attack he was having back in ’09 while he sat in a chair waiting for his truck to be loaded up for another run.  There’s a closeness between folks when one recognizes the looming mortality on the face of the other.  Mortality that could just as easily be your own face as his.  On this day, he was stunned when I told him that in two weeks, when I finally work my last day here, I will be leaving just three weeks short of nine years.  Nine years as, essentially, as a blue-collar temp. 

He’s been here for sixteen.

Today, we talked about all the drivers and warehousemen we’ve known, and how much each one ended up hating the work they did.  The same work he and I have done.  By the end of our conversation, he asked me if I regretted the last nine years, on the road and in the warehouse.  I told him that without those years, which seem to have passed overnight, and taken me through a lifetime’s worth of trials that, without it, I would have learned nothing, had nothing, to show for my fifty-some-odd years on this earth.  That seemingly, all the lessons I’ve learned in my life came to pass in these nine years, doing something I hated, just to survive.

And that in leaving I know, looking back, this was exactly where I needed to be to understand anything about where I’m going.

A couple of days ago, I posted something on social media that went like this,

“I used to call this place The Warehouse of Broken Dreams. No more. From this moment forward, I call it The Warehouse of Brand New Dreams.”

I’ve got two weeks to go until I step out of here and into an unknown future that these last nine years have prepared me for.

And maybe then I won’t be afraid of the all the honesty I’ve kept hidden in this life, while there’s still more life to be lived.

More to follow.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

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