Day 6. Combining graphic art and poetry. The full treatment. Back tomorrow with my eye on Long Beach.
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
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.
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
Don’t resist the urge to juggle badly, play the harmonica badly, make choices badly, love badly.
Pick up things you find in the dirt. Shiny things are rarely the best things. Treasure things that aren’t treasured.
Eat the pancakes. Drink the coffee.
Dream dreams while you’re awake. Tell someone those dreams. Dream them together.
Don’t be hard on yourself before you need to be.
Plan for a rainy day, then pray for rain.
Make a list, change everything on the list, throw the list away, make a new list, do all the things on the list.
Do the last thing on the list first.
Get tired. Rest. Repeat.
Don’t be afraid to fix your mistakes. Ask for forgiveness. Go back and try again. Don’t give up before it’s time.
If someone sticks around, maybe there’s a reason. Maybe the reason is you.
Remember the reason. Remember the reason. Remember the reason.
© Copyright 2018 William S. Friday
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.
And it’s exactly what I wanted.
© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday
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
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.
© 2017 William S. Friday