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Archive for the tag “what the fuck”

Crossroads

crossroads

First note to self: Every road has a crossroad, eventually.

This may be my last blog post.  Then again, it may be the first of another few hundred.  It all depends on what’s coming at the next crossroad.  Once upon a time, in a distant, bordering county to Los Angeles, I thought I knew exactly what the path of my life was.  With a wife and two kids, and a history of changing directions every few years, I believed I was cosmically chosen to move back to the land of my raisings, and begin all over again in the very same zip code my parents had once called home.

So we bought a nice, mid-sized home, half a mile from my old high school, and with plans and late-thirties dreams, we marched blindly ahead into the future.  I started a brick and mortar business.  Our eldest started the 9th grade. My wife stayed home with our youngest.  It was an early chapter in our book of the American Dream.  Now because this is an unread blog post and not an essay in some fine quarterly anthology, I will cut to the chase and tell you that in the years following, the business went bust, our eldest learned how to score meth, our youngest retreated into his own insomnia-fueled exile, and the marriage came to an end. 

And those weren’t necessarily the worst things that happened, just the highlights I felt like sharing.

Basically, it was a ten year stretch along a highway of failure after failure, bad choice after bad choice, crossroad after untaken crossroad.

Second note to self: Every crossroad has crossroad of its own, if you’re looking for it.

When I was younger, I would hear this phrase spoken a lot, “When God closes a door, look for a window”.  Now I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds a lot like breaking and entering.  And God being God, I figure if he closes a door, the least he could do is open another actual door, and I would not be required to carry a crowbar and a flashlight everywhere I go just to get into someplace I actually belonged.  Yeah, metaphors are tricky like that.

So anyway, crossroads. 

About ten years ago, give or take, I began two hardcore pursuits that, combined, still occupy nearly all of my waking hours, and a lot of my sleeping hours, too.  Those things are work and writing.  I know, work doesn’t sound like something you just decide to pick up in your late forties, and it’s not.  And frankly, neither is writing.  But the way I threw myself into them was.  Starting slowly, I forced myself to learn what it was to work.  Long hours of actual physical labor, with no human reward except the food it put in the fridge, the rent it paid, and the endurance it created in me.  And at the very same time, after thirty years of ignoring a calling I first heard in college, I began to write.  Then, after ten years of writing, a first book was born.  As much a tribute to the endurance learned from work as any questionable skill I may possess.

Both the work, and the writing, the result of slowing down long enough to look, and to see, the crossroads.

So now, because I sort of know what to look for, I know I am at the crossroads again.  After ten years of these twin occupations, I have decisions to make with them, and what roads to turn down on my way to something newer, better, and right.  One decision is made, and the other is in the making.  The first, I am quitting the job that is now damn near killing me.  That’s a done deal, even if the boss doesn’t know it yet.  The second has to do with the writing, and not even I know what the questions are, let alone the answers.  But I think the writing may be killing me, too.

You remember that line at the beginning of all this, “This may be my last blog post”? 

Maybe it is, maybe not.  But I know I can’t keep doing both the work and the writing for very much longer without becoming some cliché mashup that a friend of mine had called, Norman Rockwell-Bukowski.  So with that, and because I hate being a cliché, I’m taking a detour off of one of these roads before I have to take the other.  And we’ll see what calling it quits with the job does in keeping me from calling it quits with the writing.

But the truth is, I do not know what in the actual fuck I am doing.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Reading America

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I have, often wrongly, been called a poet.  I would argue that point right now, but doing so would defeat the purpose of the next 800 or so carefully spellchecked words.  So instead, I’ll say,

“Poetry is not my friend.”

At best, poetry is that crazy uncle who showed you which liquor store would sell to a minor without a fake ID, then introduced you to the college girl who worked the register, and even made sure you left with her number and a twelve-pack.  At worst, poetry is that same crazy uncle who introduced you to the college girl who worked the register and, it turns out, has a boyfriend with two cauliflower ears, an even more twisted nose, and the willingness and ability to kill you before you can even put your pants back on. 

Once again,

“Poetry is not my friend.”

I’ve got more words, so follow me.

While it is harder and harder to call America a country of readers anymore, America does read.  It reads news and fake news with equal ease, it reads movie reviews, and from time to time, it even reads a book.  The New York Times, that thing with all the book reviews on Sunday, is written for Americans to read.  And the New York Times is written on a 7th grade reading level.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that because, for the most part, America’s conversational grade level is in the neighborhood of Cash me Ousside Girl, which is also fine, because America kinda had to read to even find her. 

But here’s the thing.  Remember what I said about how America does read?  Well, there is one thing that America reads better than every other form of the written word.  The one thing that is the most powerful platform of thought conveyance there is.  A literary form so strong, it even got a morally bankrupt, hairspray-wearing, tiny-handed, Alec Baldwin impersonating, billionaire elected President of the Reading United States of America.

America reads Tweets.

Long Tweets, max of 140 characters (not including uploads), short Tweets, soft Tweets, hard Tweets, quiet Tweets, loud Tweets, stupid Tweets, and even… God knows how crazy THIS will sound… smart Tweets.  Tweets are America’s shit ticket to literacy, as literacy is measured anymore.  And America eats this shit up like it’s a dollar dessert at McDonalds.  It is the new literary paradigm, and no amount of MFAs working at McDonalds can stop it.  It is the mint on the pillow of the hotel so good, the first family would rather live there than the home reading America theoretically voted it into.  Tweets are sweet, and don’t even give you the cavities no longer covered in your soon to be lost, affordable dental care. 

Mmmmm, Tweets.

So now, let’s go back to the beginning and review.

I have, often wrongly, been called a poet.  I also know that poetry is not my friend.  It can get you drunk.  It can get you dead.  You know that, while America is really not a country of readers anymore, America does still read.  If you read above a 7th grade reading level, this post introduced you to Cash me Ousside Girl, who probably Tweets, and it taught you that the same Tweets that you can read from her are the Tweets that got a morally bankrupt, hairspray-wearing, tiny-handed, Alec Baldwin impersonating, billionaire elected President of the Reading United States of America.

And you learned that America reads Tweets.  Oh, and that no one cares about those kids in the paper hats with $100,000 worth of student loan debt behind the counter at McDonalds who have advanced college degrees in, well… poetry.

One last thing before the shocking conclusion.

Poetry should be everyone’s friend.

Have you read any Tweets today?  I hope so, and if you haven’t, there’s still time.  I hope so because, if you did, you might have actually read… poetry.

Long poetry, max of 140 characters (not including uploads), short poetry, soft poetry, hard poetry, quiet poetry, loud poetry, stupid poetry, and even… God knows how crazy THIS will sound… smart poetry.  Poems are America’s shit ticket to literacy, as literacy is measured anymore.  And America eats this shit up like it’s a dollar dessert at McDonalds.  It is the new literary paradigm, and no amount of MFAs working at McDonalds can stop it.  It is the mint on the pillow of the hotel so good, the first family would rather live there than the home reading America theoretically voted it into.  Poems are sweet, and don’t even give you the cavities no longer covered in your soon to be lost, affordable dental care. 

Mmmmm, poems.

Poems are reading America’s new literary paradigm, all over again.  And all because, while nobody was looking, reading America was being given an unconscious mind made ready for a brilliance that can be captured in 140 characters or less.  So now,

“Poetry is everyone’s friend.”

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Orphans

orphanage

I followed my feelings,

and got lost. 

I learned late.  

That shit only works in movies. 

In truth,

there are no heroes,

or prisoners.

No princesses,

or monsters.

Except those you imagine. 

But there is one part of the story that’s true.

We are all orphans,

left to raise ourselves

in the shadows we create. 

I want to be alone in the sun.

To be warm,

where nothing blocks the light.

Understood by all,

because all is only me. 

And if then lost,

the only absence I will know

is of the noise I left behind.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

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

I Raised a Generation

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This is my end.  

I raised a generation,

and now look back upon it. 

I raised a generation,

and the next in line to come;

beautiful,

and free from my spotted past. 

And in seeing,

think only that it is to this generation,

and the next,

that I am tied forever. 

One decision,

made so long ago,

that its beginning seems eternal. 

By one decision,

I am now grounded to this earth,

to this very spot on which I stand,

for the rest of my obligation of days. 

I will go nowhere. 

I will not find pleasure,

as a reward for years spent in hopeless,

loving duty,

but in dedication to my craft,

and to my legacy,

this generation,

and the next in line to come. 

This is my end. 

I raised a generation,

and if I am lucky,

one day,

I will know my place,

beneath this ground on which I stand.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

The Theory of Tears

tears

Tears don’t scare me. 

I know people hate them,

in themselves and in others,

depending on just how manipulated

tears make them feel. 

Manipulated,

not by the tears,

but for the reasons they flow. 

There is a theory of tears,

known only by a few. 

Not by the ones who cry,

but by the ones who hold it in. 

They have learned

all the reasons for them,

and choose not to give them away. 

Unmanipulated,

and unmanipulating. 

They hold onto the tears

as tightly as they do the theory. 

Tears don’t scare me,

they say,

as long as I don’t have to see them.

At least that’s what their theory says. 

But the truth about

the theory of tears is this;

that tears are only scary

on the inside.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

These People

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I watch a TV show

or a movie,

and I see friends. 

Human beings

who have friends,

friends who have

human beings

who are their friends. 

And I ask myself,

“How did these people

find each other?”

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Starting and Starting Over

walking backwards png

Starting, and starting over, is not the same thing.  They are as different as walking forward, and walking forward, backwards.  Not as clearly different as starting and stopping.  If it was, then you would have no trouble telling them apart.  But make no mistake; people do have trouble telling them apart.

Starting is that thing we do at the beginning of some something we have not done.  Starting over is that thing we do when some something stops us, but just long enough for us to think that maybe we have not really stopped at all.

It is understandable when those who have never really started a something, and seen it to its end, don’t know.  Most books don’t teach it, and most folks have never lived it.  It’s a mystery, on the lines of accepted but incomprehensible things like the laws of gravity, and thermodynamics.  But whether or not someone knows what those names are names for, ask them if a satellite or even a shooting star could fall to earth, and they nod and say, of course those things are true.

And this is where I say that, because those laws say that a body in motion tends to stay in motion, and a body at rest tends to stay at rest, the very same thing can be equally true about the path of a human life, lived in this human world, often at the mercy of the most human of circumstances.

Speed bumps are formed.  Detours are made.  Shit happens.  And sometimes, those obstacles stop the beautiful movement of a body in motion, until it becomes a body at unintended rest.

Have you ever tried to give a falling star a shove to get it back on its course through the heavens?  It’s not as easy as it sounds.  In fact, it’s damn fucking impossible.  Yet when a very human body, with all its complexities of motion and emotion, loses its path through the glory of this world, it is no more easily shoved back on course than the star that fell from the sky.

But we still ask of those who lost all their momentum, sometimes well-intentioned, sometimes with a critical intent, why can’t you just start over?

Maybe it’s in the way they’re walking.  And maybe you’ve been fooled, because you haven’t noticed that they’re walking forward, backwards.  And maybe in walking backwards, they are slowed by looking at the past that was; their past, lost to the speed bumps, the detours, and the shit of something that no longer is, and not the new that waits behind their back, right over their shoulder.  Not in starting over, but in turning around and starting brand new.

So in the same way you would look into the night sky and at the stars within it, look closely at the shining stars before you, and understand.  Because starting over is never easy, and they are doing the best that they can.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

If a Tree Falls

tree falls png

I have never been a successful writer.  I’ve never won a single award for writing.  I’ve never been a best-seller on any list, anywhere.  I have fewer than a thousand followers of my blog.  I don’t drive dollars, pageviews, or likes.  My words have never been found on a shelf in any library.  As writers go, I have not been quoted in another book; I’ve not spoken at a conference, or given a talk that was recorded for play on anyone’s YouTube channel.

If a tree falls in the forest, does anyone know I’m a writer?

I once asked someone who knows me well, “What if I just stopped writing?”  They answered, “Better chance of you becoming a woman.”  Okay, if that’s true, what prompted me to ask that question?  Then I remembered I also once asked this person, “Can’t I just be a posthumous success?” 

And no, I didn’t like their answer to that question, either.

Pausing as I write this, I remind myself that only 20 to 30 people will ever read these words.  But I’m still writing them.  I just don’t know why.  I’m hoping that one day, before I stop for good, I will.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Like a Grocery Store Trout

trout png

Sometimes, we are handed a life.  Cleaned and cold, gutted, like a grocery store trout, bones in, with all the skin and scales still attached, knowing nothing of the frying pan, and hoping only to avoid the fire beneath.

This is how I think most of us exist.  Unaware of our surroundings, except what directly affects us, and that, only if we ever are in actual contact, and hopefully with the right combination of tastes and smells that allow all to forget that we, in the big picture, are really nothing more than the stink of low tide and death.

Pick a metaphor.  Sardines in a can.  Lemmings on a cliff.  The people of Soylent Green.  Fast forwarding our way to an inglorious end, unaware, for the most part, what we are speeding toward.  That end always in sight if we only think to look.

This was me, until it wasn’t anymore.

I work a job that, in the couple hundred times I’ve tried explaining it to folks over nearly a decade, defies description.  And it’s not even the job description that defies it.  It’s not the job of Freight Runner, Certified Forklift Operator, Warehouse Night Manager, Inventory Control Specialist, Bookkeeper, and Small Parcel Courier that confuses people, it’s how the job gets paid.

The bottom of bottom lines is, I am not an employee.  I am a contractor.  This means there is no salary, no hourly wage, no insurance and paid time off.  There is only the job, or NO job.  Pay, or NO pay.  Don’t come in?  Don’t come back.  Every day for the last 8 years, 8 months, 13 days, 23 hours, and a handful of minutes and seconds, I haven’t taken a day off that didn’t cost me in docked pay.  That includes two major surgeries, bookended weekdays around weekend getaways, sick days, dentist appointments, family birthdays, national holidays, you name it. 

If I took it, I ate that day’s pay.

This also includes regularly adding duties to the job description at no additional compensation, four double-shifts per week at one flat rate, hours worked for free one night a week, as well as… now THIS is where it gets interesting… back pay stolen by the third party job broker who held my contract with the warehouse, and finally, intermittent pay cuts, just to be allowed to keep my job.  All that, and however many hours I find between the cracks to write and publish two books, and maybe mix in a nap.  Then today, one more demand for me to spend another $500 for additional licensing and commercial insuring, just to keep my job.  As I write this, I have less than three weeks until I pay, or get out.

Sometimes, we are handed a life.  Cleaned and cold, gutted, like a grocery store trout, bones in, with all the skin and scales still attached, living in the false comfort of the frying pan, and hoping only to avoid the terror of the fire beneath.

On this day, I see the frying pan for what it is, and no longer fear the fire.

Today, I decided to get out.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

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