Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A lot of things.

How do you feel, when you don’t know how to feel?

How do you look into a maddening puzzle box situation, with so many different inputs and so many different viewpoints, with things that are right and things that are wrong? How do you feel sad without feeling guilty? How do you say “hello,” when it’d probably be best to stay away? How do you remember, when the easiest thing to do would be forgetting?

I don’t know.

I’ve never known. But for the most part, I’ve never had to.

I’ve never had that many friends. Certainly, I’ve people that I’ve spoken with, that I’ve called to bullshit about the whats and the haves, that I’ve broken bread with, that I’ve laughed alongside while they’ve smoked and I’ve smiled. For the most part, I enjoy those people, those parts of life. But they aren’t what I look for.

I don’t like crowds, I don’t like parties. I don’t like people yelling in my ear to say what they want to say. I don’t care for “acquaintances”. But friends?

Real friends?

Friends who you’d do anything that is within your power to protect, friends who you’d pay to listen and talk to, friends who you would silently climb fences and trek across muddy pits at three in the morn, just to somehow help them feel better on the night when their pet cat died?

I’ve had a few. Oh me, oh my…I’ve had a few.

I still, have a few. A few people who I trust, above all others. A few people who I wish to converse with, to intellectualize with, to argue with, to be with. More than just about anything else in the world. Which, as always, is where my problem lies.

What the problem is, specifically, is something that I won’t bother to say. The problem isn’t the problem, it’s simply the MacGuffin, the means to the end. And what is the end? The feeling. Always the feeling. Which is where the question comes from.

How do you feel, when you don’t know how to feel? How it is that you should feel? What to do, what to say, what to handle, what to sing, what to shout, what to live by? What to do, for fucks sake? What to do? It’s hard to say.

This afternoon, I was in the bathroom of my local (local? Not quite.) coffee house, where I had been thinking and staring and thinking some more. I washed my face. I washed my hands. And I stared at myself in the mirror, a mirror which has remained surprisingly unscathed, one that has only been touched by a few scratches put there by idle people with a chip and a nail. I stared at my face. At the bags under my eyes, the ones that have been there ever since I was a little boy. And I starting slapping the shit out of myself.

Fast, and hard.

When I walked out of the commode, someone took a look at my face, at the dampness in my hair and the look in my eyes. This person knew what I had done, she could hear it through the door, through the space, through the air. She knew.

But I?

I didn’t know why. For the things that I see, this day and this night, the things that I think about, while I stare into space, as I wonder and I walk, walk, and think…I don’t know how to feel. And once again, my head spirals down into confusion. I want to scream, I want to cry, I want to stare straight ahead and sit perfectly still. I want to sit perfectly still in a smoky room, listening to some long dead musician play a devastatingly mournful tune on a trumpet that he was fucking born to play. I want to hear him put his heart and his very soul through that horn, I want to feel that tremor in his fingers, feel it in mine as my eyes wince against the smell of the air.

It’s often that I waste my time, with images like this. These days, it’s all that I can manage.

But still. Still, today after I’d walked away from things, away from people, away from coffee, away from comics, away from movies, away from things which I know and I love and I think and I feel…I tried something. I tried to get beyond thinking, beyond the commune of cobwebs that gum up my mind with the confusion of the thought, with the dismay of the feelings, I tried something far, far simpler.

Driving through the piercing lights of the Hollywood night, I played my two favorite songs. These are songs that transcend all, to me. They pierce through the moonlit night, circumventing all else, moving beyond all other emotions and fears, piercing their way through air and sea and bullshit and dreams and everything else. Rock. And. Roll.

One of these songs is one that I cannot listen to on a regular basis. These days, it’s one that I save. I save it for me as a last result, a last screaming testament to life, something that digs into my veins, into my bones. Can you feel? Who knows.

I played them. One after the other. Loud. As loud as they could be.

And I screamed alongside them, my sweet-as-salt voice wailing through their pitch perfect tones like some manner of deformed Axl Rose. I screamed.

I forced my body into convulsions, charging my foot towards the gas and the brake, my other foot ramming into the steel frame as it pushed my body backwards, upwards, forcing my flesh against the not quite comfortable cloth of the 13 year old seats. My fists punching the ceiling in tune with the notes. My head, whipping back and forth, my already pained neck cracking against the effort. I screamed. I screamed until my heart hurt in my chest and I could taste the tartness of bile mixed with daily vitamin supplements splashing against my tongue.

And then the songs ended.

With nothing resolved, I turned off the stereo, rolled up the windows, and sat there stewing in my newfound sweat. My hands at 10 and 2. How am I supposed to feel? How?

I wonder if I can ever know. As it is, I know that my life is this way somewhat by circumstance, and somewhat by design. Actions, reactions, choices and chances, moving forward and sideward, but hopefully never backward. I’ve always tried to be a good man. Have I succeeded?

Not a clue. These days, it’s hard to say. I’ve wondered about this, as I’ve talked to people about the act of missing, and how it feels to be missed. I’ve wondered about it. I miss often, and in the past I have been missed. But when I went about the roundtable, it felt as if it hadn’t happened to me in too long a time. And now, I’m disgusted by how selfish that sounds.


For the most part when I write these, I try to make them have something. A bit of insight, a bit of imagery, a question that I felt should be asked, an idea I thought should be expressed. I try to make them worth your while, whoever you are, and however it is that you’ve come upon these. All I want is thought. I want you to think, I want you to wonder, I want you to ask yourself questions and speak back no lies. I’m neither a Tim Rogers or a Warren Ellis. I don’t hold influence over any corner of the internet, and I’m not a candidate in the coveted race towards the title of Internet Jesus.

I’m just a guy.

But I don’t want to leave you like this. With just my odd explanations of things that did indeed happen, and are indeed happening, if only in my stupid brain.

So let me say to you, whoever you are…if you have a friend. If you have a best friend, one that you trust more than anyone in the world, or just one who you love to talk to, who helps you think in times of strife. If you have a significant other, a lover, a wife, a husband. If you have a father, mother, sister or brother. If you have anyone whom you love, white/light white/heat, or at the very least, you trust with every twinging tendon in your body…find them. When you get the chance, if they are close enough to you, find them. Find them and for the love of Joss, let them know you love them. Hug them, kiss them, fuck them, talk to them, whatever it takes. Look over at your best friend in the world and flash a terrific smile. Look over at the huddled form of your lover, draped in moonlight, and then walk over to where they silently sleep and kiss them on the cheek.

Let people know you care. But please, be wary.

Don’t be like me. Don’t put so much of what you have into others, so much so that when they’re gone, you tear yourself apart with confusion and hatred and love and madness. I love people. I love them all. But I love some more than others. And sometimes, sometimes, sometimes, that can backfire. And ruin you in the process.

Because people have lives, and feelings, ideas and drives. People change, and people stay the same. Friends can become violent, they can turn to heroin in their time of duress, remembering you only as the one who stood in the way of a solution that they sought. Or they might just simply have that look in their eye, the one that says they’re here until they’re gone. Here to go.

It isn’t simple. It’s endlessly complicated, not something easy like “Life sucks and then you die,” or even the more poetic, “Man is born crying; when he has cried enough, he dies.” Life is wonderful. Life is just, by the very nature of its flash-in-the-pan existence. In a universe of chaos, we can be grateful for all. Even when it hurts. Even when it’s unfair. Even when life sucks, and you’re just waiting to die. We move on. Don’t we?

We just don’t know how to feel about it.

I never do, it seems. So I ask you kindly, to friend your friends, love your loves, and live your lives. Dream your dreams, as you sleep through the night, a luxury that insomniacs like me just cannot usually afford.

So that’s one more thing.

One more request. Get some sleep, and dream a lovely dream in my stead.

Goodnight, all.

Sweet dreams.


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