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"