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Reader

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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

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Please May I Have a Coma?

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“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

The Night

I forgot what it was like. 

The Night 

The road. 

The hours. 

Everything is loud again. 

Nothing is beautiful, 

like I had convinced myself it was, 

once. 

I already miss the days, 

and have vowed this will end soon. 

Either for something else, 

or somewhere. 

I will say goodbye, 

and for the first time, 

mean it. 


© 2017 William S. Friday 

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

Green Grass

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Silence,

the green grass upon which

every dream of summer rests,

to wither,

lost for seasons,

burnt,

then cold,

unremembered,

until awakening in the

nightmares of another spring.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

In Warmth

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I’m sitting on a beach,

an hour before sunset,

in the summertime. 

 

The only shadow on the sand is behind me,

along with every thought and action leading up to this point

in my life. 

 

And before me, only two things show themselves. 

The sun, setting,

and an endless ocean,

with the sun setting into it. 

 

These two are, for me,

not the sun and the ocean, but life and eternity. 

 

The ending of the day, life. 

The ocean,

a soon-black eternity. 

 

Together,

they are all my finite mind can handle,

as I wait, in warmth,

for both.

 

© Copyright 2016 William S. Friday

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