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Disenfranchised

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I lost a child.  You lost a parent.  She lost a spouse.  He lost a limb.  We lose what we lose, and when it’s lost, it is gone.  Not misplaced. 

Not missing like car keys to be found five minutes later next to the half-and-half in the fridge. 

But missing like one minute you’re saying “Good morning”, “Goodnight”, “See you soon”, and the next, you’re never saying it again, except to a ghost.

This is grief, unless it’s not your child, your parent, your spouse, or your limb.  Then, it’s an excuse, a personal problem, a character flaw.  And it isn’t even that your grief doesn’t belong to you, it’s that you don’t belong to your grief.

You are disenfranchised.

From your pain.  From your love.  From your god-granted human experience.  From all of it. 

You are disenfranchised. 

She lost a best friend?  Get over it.  He lost a girlfriend?  Get over it.  They lost a reason to get out of bed in the morning?  Get the fuck over it. 

When our right to grieve is denied us, except within the boxes others say must be checked.  When all love is love, but not all grief is grief.  When pain and mourning require blood kin for legitimacy.  And when the dignity to recover, as we are, is questioned, we are disenfranchised.

And if you wonder why this story has no end, it is because, like an end to grief, there isn’t one.  Because like you, like me, like he, like she, it, and we, remain disenfranchised.

 

© Copyright 2018 William S. Friday

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A Day in an Invisible Life: Hour 6

A Day in an Invisible Life (9)

I feel.

(and by the way, I hate it)

I don’t know why.  I don’t know when.  But there are days that, after a rush of accomplishment, there is a vacuum created inside of me.  It’s almost a physical property, like when a low pressure system moves into a geographic location, and soon after, the real weather moves in.  Dark clouds, heavy with rain.  Wind.  Thunder.  Lightning.  You can taste it. 

Sometimes, the hair on your arms even stands up.

I feel this.

(and by the way, I hate it)

I’m feeling it right now.

And just like the weather, I never know what emotion will blow in when the low pressure system comes.  Today, it’s sadness.  But let’s be clear, today it’s ONLY sadness.  Not depression like the depression that came last summer.  That was a fucking weather Armageddon.  That was purple-black funnel clouds, with cows spinning inside them.  This is just sadness.  Like on another day, it’s just anger, or another day, it’s fear, anticipation, or even joy.

Today, it’s sadness.  And I’m writing my way through it.  It’s how I learned to cope, last summer.  And I’m coping right now.  Hell, I’m even writing a blog post and not matchbook poetry, which was about all I could do in 2017.  Matchbook poetry.  Poetry so short, it could fit on the cover of a matchbook.  Yeah, it’s a thing.  Anyway, if you’ve read the first five posts in this series, and shame on you if you haven’t… I’m laughing as I write that… you know that I’m okay, and you are not to call the authorities when you read shit like “sadness”, “anger”, or “weather Armageddon” in a sentence.  Buddha Bukowski 5 BETTER ENDINGYou also know that, while I have spent the last decade writing poetry that would make Mary Poppins cry, I still believe in the better ending. 

Here’s a picture of a shirt design I created that says so. 

And that I believe all these feelings, these feelings that are as common to everyone as they are to me, are just a part of the earthscape that I’ve been put here to describe, in words that are insufficient.  Which is why I try, every day.  Because maybe, if I try, every day, better words will appear than “sadness” and “anger”.  And you will read them, and know that you are not alone.       

Because when we feel, we are never alone.

(and by the way, even if we hate it)

 

© Copyright 2018 William S. Friday   

A Day in an Invisible Life: Hour 5

A Day in an Invisible Life (6)

I write.

Writing is something I never thought I would do.  In the dedication of my first book, I thanked the junior college English teacher who actually, briefly, encouraged me in the notes of turned-in poetry and prose assignments for her composition class. 

Then I did nothing with words for another 25 years.

With what’s left of this morning, I’ll be writing.

Writer’s block is my friend.  The reason I’m a poet is because of a horrible case of writer’s block about 10 years ago.  I thought I was on my way to being an internet-famous journalist, back when there was such a thing.  I wrote for a site, now long gone, and after a few years of doing that, I simply ran out of words.  Looking back, I’m pretty sure what I ran out of was bullshit.  At least that one particular vein of bullshit I had been mining for hits and likes on that site.  Given how small the pond, for a time, I was a pretty big fish in it, and the idea that I would just run out of ideas was something I wasn’t ready for.  I don’t think anyone is ever really ready for a lie to catch up to them.  The truth was, I wasn’t cut out for that kind of writing.  Deadlines and promises and the responsibilities of a byline had sucked all the clever right out of me.  When I sat down in front of the screen to write, all that was left was a head full of feelings, and a string of incomplete sentences to describe them. 

So after a while, I did just that.  I wrote in short sentences.  I used small words.  And before I wrote, I felt.  Because these were no longer word counts, they were what counts.  I sucked at it, but the what counts started bleeding out of me.  My writing changed, and eventually, I changed.  A little.  I’m still changing.

Except for the process of how I write poetry.  I still do that the way I did when I was a wannabe, writer’s blocked journalist.  On a computer.  It wasn’t until the last year of scribbling in a journal (see the earlier post, Hour 2, for that story) that I could write anything poetic other than by typing. 

My last holdover from those bad old days.

So in this hour, after what feels like a whole day has already passed, I write.  It’s a loose habit now.  Less about discipline and more about need.  I’ve written three books this way so far.  Not out of responsibility, but out of desperation.  All those years ago, when the words stopped coming, it was because there was something more important than words on the way to replace them.  A lifetime of thoughts and feelings, love and pain, and the need to translate them into a language I had never known before.

This may take more than one hour today.

 

© Copyright 2018 William S. Friday

A Day in an Invisible Life: Hour 4

A Day in an Invisible Life (8)

I need to eat something.

I have a stupid high metabolism.  Always have.  Hypoglycemic high, even.  It was inherited.  Hungry sneaks up on me like a kitchen ninja, who sneaks up on you while you’re staring into the fridge.  A really boring ninja. 

Food is always boring.  Boring like that ninja in your kitchen.

Unless I’m actually hungry, because… hypoglycemia.  Except on THIS day, I haven’t been to the grocery store for 5 days past when all the food I want to eat is gone. 

When I’m hungry, food becomes almost exciting.  Not like most people… okay, people who aren’t me… think of as exciting.  Not like 5-Star dining with a whisky bar the size of the closed end of the LA Coliseum exciting.  More like, I have a can of refried black beans with jalapenos, a 6 month old frozen slice of beef brisket, 2 eggs, a jar of salsa past its expiration date, and a few street taco sized corn tortillas, exciting.

Kinda like the ‘I’m hungry and can’t go anywhere’ version of Food Network’s Chopped.  I become competitive with myself.  The-contestant-judging-himself kind of competitive.  Where the only win at the end of the game is, did I like it enough to eat it.  On this day, I did.  And, a little secret, I’m getting good at making my own pan fried tostadas.tostadas png

Apologies to all my Keto brothers and sisters.

So, since you can’t all eat my homemade desperation cooking, here’s a bonus picture.  Sorry if I’m too hungry to talk about it, anymore. And now that I’ve eaten, let’s see what kind of trouble I can get into for Hour 5.

 

© Copyright 2018 William S. Friday

A Day in an Invisible Life: Hour 3

A Day in an Invisible Life (3)

I Read.

I tell myself that it’s important to do that.  When I was at my deep darkest, it was first reading… not writing… that turned my face to the light again. 

As a child, I was reading on my own before the chairs got warm in kindergarten, but like anything an undisciplined child accomplishes too soon, that child takes it for granted, and if left to wander too long on this path, that child loses his way.  At least this child did.

As an adult, it turns out, the ones I love the most, read the most.  It wasn’t that I set out to reclaim my lost path by finding and loving those who read, it just worked out that way.  Like Guy Montag in Fahrenheit 451, maybe readers just found me.  To hear of their love of this thing I took for granted from childhood made me curious to know them, and this love that filled them up.  Without meaning to, they showed me the empty inside myself.  They spoke of reading like a person in love speaks of their special someone, corporeal, as real to them as the touch of another human being.  Of a love that fills their soul.

And I needed to fill my soul.

I read now.  Remedially.  Not because my comprehension or vocabulary is stunted, but because the muscles in my brain that should be running reading marathons are atrophied, like someone waking from a coma, and falling on the way to the bathroom. 

I read now.  Slowly.  Chewing on every word, often aloud, to let the taste and weight of every word satisfy me.  I get filled up so easily, and it hurts to take it all inside, so some days it’s all I can do to read a few lines before I have to stop and digest what new thing I just took in.  Some days it’s poetry, others, classic fiction.  But most days, it’s something I’ve never tasted before, and I chew on it like a baby chews on that first bite of peas or blueberries.  Cautiously, curiously, the way someone who lived life without friends makes friends for the first time.

So today, in this hour, I read.  Not for others, but for myself. 

Because I am empty, and I am so hungry.

 

© Copyright 2018 William S. Friday

A Day in an Invisible Life: Hour 2

A Day in an Invisible Life (5)

Hour 2

 

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

A Day in an Invisible Life

A Day in an Invisible Life

Prologue…

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. 

 

Hour 1…

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

Stream of Consciousness

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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

Between Love and Orgasms

The wait is over.

My new book, Between Love and Orgasms, is available on amazon.com. Along with my new book, the second book in the True Story Trilogy, the first book, A Death on Skunk Street is also available. And if you’re an Amazon Prime member, any purchase of $25 or more (the price of both these books together) your shipping is FREE!

A simple book of love poems, this one goes inside the human heart, touching the broken places, the scars, but also the joys, opening the reader up to “…everyday secrets, the things we ought to know, and the way life is lived in the space Between Love and Orgasms.”

Click the link at the top, and order your copy today.

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