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Archive for the tag “pain”

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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Absolution

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She said…

Baby,

I wanna make you feel all better.

Be absolution for the blame.

 

I said…

I appreciate that,

lover.

But I no longer play the game. 

I won’t give myself that freely now,

or ever be the same. 

I don’t let my guard down,

because you haven’t earned my pain. 

And there is no absolution

for the blame.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

New Year’s Fucking Eve

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We who remain

Must remember,

for those of

us who

do not. 

 

Surrender

ourselves to

the past,

and 

forget not. 

 

Find hope in the

retelling,

pain welling

in our hearts,

and eyes. 

 

Let what we lost

go, what we found

show, in

remembrance

of the good.

 

© Copyright 2016 William S. Friday

Breath on Windowpanes

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Before I got there
it was gone
All the words that
went with every feeling of my heart

Pain
not acute enough to notice
except when accompanied by the will to
give in

Give up
my pursuit of happiness
in the way that turns colors to
chalk beneath December rain

And breath on windowpanes
into wishes
that will not fade until
the coming of spring

© Copyright 2015 Bill Friday

Philip Seymour Hoffman

PhilipSeymourHoffman andsoitbeginsfilmsDOTcom

Philip Seymour Hoffman – andsoitbeginsfilms.com

 

Philip Seymour Hoffman died with his conviction in his arm, hanging by a vein, for all the world to see.  He died as he lived… committed to his choices, his actions… his demons.  He knew the truth, and the truth set him free to follow his manifest destiny, in life and in death.  He was not cheated.  He lived, and died, life to the full.  He was beautiful… and ultimately, utterly fucked.  He was human.

As am I. 

In one of the I-lost-count-already number of Facebook posts (it is 11:19 a.m. Pacific Time as I write this) that inundated my news feed within the last hour of my Super Bowl Sunday morning… about the man’s untimely time and about his self-inflicted death… inevitably, one thread poster mentioned something about “self-medicating”.  True, I thought.  And truer, I thought next, that in some twisted respect, this famous dead actor was a braver man than I will ever be… if bravery can be measured in the foolishness of bad choices, based on a well-cultivated philosophy of “What the Fuck”.  My guess is, Philip Seymour Hoffman just had a bigger sack-full of “What the Fuck” between his legs than I do.  Because I’ve been told that I don’t know how commit to anything, and because, about a month ago, I took the coward’s way out, and handed back the keys to my addiction. 

Maybe I just wasn’t as committed to the part as he was.

Obviously, a man who died with a needle hanging from his arm knew more about pain than I ever could in ten lifetimes.  But the sources of what drives the addict (and there’s no better, harsher, truer word in the dictionary that fits him) to fill up on death as a daily comfort against the realities of life, shows that Philip Seymour Hoffman… actor, sufferer, human… was more committed to his truth, more sold to the role he portrayed, than I ever was. 

He died, committed to the pain. 

So now, as I finish this piece almost no one will read, about the sad end of a man so many people thought they knew but didn’t, I still have 8 unopened bottles of wine on my kitchen counter.  I mention the wine, only because I drank all the beer, the bourbon, and the tequila, and the wine was all that was left when I handed over the keys last month.  If those bottles get opened, they get opened.  For now, they stand… and/or lie on their sides in their rack… as a monument to how I almost lived up to the promise that Philip Seymour Hoffman fulfilled.  I guess I really don’t know how to commit to anything, after all.

What the fuck. 

 

© 2014 Bill Friday

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