Friday, February 27, 2015

The Call of the Wild

Oh, cruel February. The two dog nights of February drag their boots through the heavy snow as the grandfather clock slugs its way through the doldrums of the calendar year. But March, March is a month of promise. The muds and fogs and greens of March -- my birth month, fittingly: the dead come back to life during March.

With March comes the stirrings, year after year, deep inside, of some primal call of the wild. March brings with it the memories of boyhood Springs and Summers in the woods behind Millwood Village, the woods that compose the backdrop to my collective childhood memory. As the calendar page turns this weekend, and the great hands of the clock are winded forwards, to the Ides of March, we begin the descent from winter's alpine pinnacle towards the liberation of Spring, and the wilderness of summer.

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, 
There is a rapture on the lonely shore, 
There is society, where none intrudes, 
By the deep sea, and music in its roar: 
I love not man the less, but Nature more, 
- Lord Byron

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


So this is it, huh? This is adulthood. This is what the twelve years of education, the four years of college, the summer jobs, and the internships were for. I can't even say I wasn't warned. For all the years I've professed to be a Springsteen fan, though, it is only now that I can truly hear his words.

I get up in the evening
and I ain't got nothing to say
I come home in the morning
I go to bed feeling the same way
I ain't nothing but tired
Man I'm just tired and bored with myself

You sit around getting older
there's a joke here somewhere and it's on me
I'll shake this world off my shoulders
come on baby this laugh's on me

Stay on the streets of this town
and they'll be carving you up alright
They say you gotta stay hungry
hey baby I'm just about starving tonight
I'm dying for some action
I'm sick of sitting 'round here trying to write this book

Friday, February 20, 2015

In Memoriam

The great Hunter S. Thompson shot himself with a rifle ten years ago to the day. "No more games. No more bombs. No more walking. No more fun. No more swimming. Relax -- this won't hurt," he wrote in his suicide letter. Forever ingrained in my memory will be the image of his face on the walls of my college house bedroom. His spirit lives on there and on my bookshelves. There's less truth in the words around us without you, good doctor.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February Nights

"Just such a pleasure to tie up above that mainline with a woman's silk stocking and hit the mark and watch the blood rise into the dropper like a certain desert lily I remember I saw once in my child's encylopedia, so red. Yeah, I shoot desert lilies into my arm.

It's been hard, the writing lately. Just all comes in beautiful fragments, like nods now. . . so high. . . guess I'd rather sleep forever and forget. . . but the gnats, they keep buzzing in my ear and the heat and the dreams.

Bob Dylan, he's on the radio. He glows in the dark and my fingers are just light feathers falling and fading down."

- James Carroll

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Man Who Walks Beside Me

Going to see Jason Isbell tomorrow. It's a little bit more than just going to a concert, for me. Three years sober himself (as of last Friday), Isbell released "Southeastern" - an album not about the demons of living with the bottle, but about the demons men face when they put down the bottle for good and have to atone for their past - just as I was was starting to accept my own alcoholism in mid-2013. The words existing within that album ("In a room/ by myself/ looks like I'm here with a guy I judge worse than anyone else/ So I pace/ and I pray/ and I repeat the mantras that might keep me clean for the day") were the real-world situations I was simultaneously facing in the pursuit of my own sobriety, and I leaned on Isbell's words during the nights it seemed darkest. Isbell is one of the greatest living songwriters in my book, but tomorrow's about more than just the music. It's going to say thanks, in a way, to the man who helped make me the man I am today.

There's a man who walks beside me
It is who I used to be
And I wonder if she sees him
and confuses him with me
- "Live Oak"

Friday, January 30, 2015

Mid-Winter Night's Dream

(on addiction)
"Your nose is running, your legs are cramped. But there's always a voice in the back of your head saying just one more time and then I'll quit. And you want to stop. You really do. But it's like a dream. And you can't stop dreams"

- The Baketball Diaries

Sometimes I still do think about those days -- the ones from when I was most lost. Most terrifying are the dreams I have in which I'm drinking again. Vulnerable as it makes me feel to admit, I am still tempted, too. It comes with the affliction. But movies like this, quotes like this - they remind me of who I am and where I've been, and, most importantly, of where I can never go again.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


After a too-long day spent busting my hump at the office -working man that I have become - I spent some time this evening nostalgically clicking through the pages of my old college house blog. The following is a post from one of my good friends who lived next door at 1001 South State, right next door that college house I so fondly remember. But it could have just as easily been written by me back then - for better or worse it's representative of the lives we lived inside those walls at 933 South State Street. The author was also one of the most well-known faces in the Maize Rage during those college years (back before it was popular to make the trip to Crisler for basketball games), which makes this old post even funnier to me. 

That world! It's an entirely different world than that which I now live in. Funny to think about the things that can happen in a span of five years. If ever life begins to feel stale, as it is prone to do, juxtapose the 2010 me with the 2015 me and know that change is as real as it is inexorable. 

(From the college blog, circa February 2010)

Well folks, what an interesting journey thus far. For clearly the longest stretch in my drinking career, I have gone sober for 12 straight days. I must consider this one of my most shining accomplishments in the history of the Friendly Neighborhood Drunk considering the crowd I run with. For those who do not know, I decided after a slight mishap prior to the UM/MSU basketball game that this was necessary. 

The day started like any other basketball weekday game. Clearly I needed to skip class to start drinking about 3 hours before the game. But unlike other games, I was not drinking forties or the delicious red with the mere alcohol content of 9%. The Danimal had finally convinced me to man up and thus I drank a fine Vella Merlot with the content of 12%. This was my first major mistake. I had drank 6 fairly large glasses by the time my friend Mitch came to pick me up to go to the game. The second mistake was trying to tie one more on with Mitch.

I proceeded to pour us each one more glass before going to that two hour wait to get into the game. I finished mine in roughly a minute, and Mitch decided not to finish his so I just decided to chug the rest of his. This decision would ultimately lead to an epic failure. The last thing I remember is walking out of BOX and falling down the stairs, utterly destroying a fresh tin of dip in my pocket. While walking past the IM building, trying to clean a tin’s worth of dip out of my pocket, I entered the blackness. From there the rest of what happened I only know from hearsay or second hand sources.

Apparently when I reached Crisler, I proceeded to run around the arena looking for cameras. Why? I have no explanation. That is all I know what happened outside of the game. Once entered, I marched down the stairs to my typical spot where I could inevitably lay into Tom Izzo. But unfortunately I could not stand. A police officer noticed the state I was in and came to escort me out of the arena. When he tried to grab me, I thought he was shaking my hand, so I gave him the firmest handshake I possibly could. As I was being escorted out, the only words I could put together were “I’m just livin’ the dream.”

When I awoke from my blackout, it was 4am and I was in a hospital bed. This being the second time I ended up in the hospital due to drinking, I was obviously angry. But I saw the wristband from the game on my hand so I assumed I had at least seen the game. Unfortunately the nurse informed me that I was admitted at 6:20pm…40 minutes to tip. Needless to say I was very disappointed. Then, I saw the highlights to the game and how we completely blew it. That was just more salt in my already gaping wound. When I was discharged at 7am, I was given my bag of things: My swim trunks, my maize rage shirt, another shirt I was using as a turban, my Neil Diamond Vest, my cellular, my wallet, one half used tin of grizzly wintergreen longcut, and two pieces of the other tin that shattered in my pocket. I was driven home from the hospital by DPS and proceeded to sleep through all three of my classes.

 Right now my goal is to pick up drinking again by the spring game, but odds are that it will be relatively sooner that I end my sabbatical. I would also like to congratulate NotoriousPLC on his case race victory. The man knows how to drink. But I digress. So the next time in the coming weeks that any of you decide to drink have one or two or ten drinks for me.

- I have to give credit to this guy: The Friendly Neighborhood Drunk