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

Friday, January 23, 2015

My Old Man

Took my first breath where the muddy Brazos
spills into the Gulf of Mexico,
and the skylines colored by the chemical plants
put bread on the table of the working man.

Where the working man does his best to provide
safety and shelter for kids and a wife,
Give a little of his soul every day,
making overtime to keep the wolves away.

I was barely thirteen when the company man
tried to dig my Daddy's grave
It happened on a French-owned tanker ship
spilling poison into Galveston Bay

Where the liquid fire filled his lungs and his eyes
silenced any moans or cries.
The cold and the grit, death, sting and pain
He fought like hell to keep the wolves away.

For the next few years Dad was sick as a dog,
but he made a recovery just to spite the odds.
Settlement came and we moved out of town
where the sky isn't heavy with refinery clouds.

Yeah he's still alive he's doing good, he's in his fifties
but the money's running out and he's pinching for pennies
so I'm going for broke with every song I play,
cause now it's my turn to keep the wolves away.

- Uncle Lucious, "Keep the Wolves Away"

In my rebellious teen years my Father never could understand my desperate need to chase after every next midnight adventure, to get out of that house, to escape that godforsaken town. He epitomized everything about that town I never wanted to become. It is only now, grown older, wiser even, that I realize my Father is probably worth a hundred of me - a better man that I could ever hope to be.  Not only a better man than me, but damn certain better than every job the Motor City ever gave him. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Anxious to close the curtains on another winter's day, the moon beats me home from work every evening. Should-have-been-retired automobiles sputter and puff smoke into the Garden City streets. On my street, lower middle class houses stare at each other with droopy eyelids, tired of domesticity, tired of winter, the chimneys on the rooftops waving endless handkerchiefs of smoke towards the purple sky. The sound of metal shovel scraping against salt and asphalt echoes from somewhere down the street, but all else is silent, empty, sad, too cold for even the dogs.

Cabin fever having already set in, I forego my front door and decide to go for a walk. My breath visible in the frosty air, I'm sick of this place, this town, this bitching cold. I walk by a procession of identical boxes in the way suburban houses are, cognizant that each of those boxes has a story to tell: someone's getting drunk again for the second time today; someone's coming down off heroin, writhing on a basement sofa; some old man's sitting by the window sill just waiting to die, counting the days since his wife passed away; some single mother fighting tears as she stirs up a steamy pot of beef broth. I want to crawl up through the bushes to those windows and watch these stories like television, but the days of knowing your neighbors had faded along with a simpler America. What a tragedy that these stories will never be heard.

I cut across the park, on the off chance I might find something I lost a long time ago. But it's cold, and all I can think about is how lonely I must look trudging across a snow-covered soccer field. I start to walk home, thinking I'd take just about anything to make this world look new again.