An Ode to Chiron

Restless sleep, gnashing teeth
What-ifs grow into a kingdom of hope
But when tomorrow comes they'll still be there
And so will I, shield always up
Still unable to cope

Ten years gone by, never letting go
That look, that touch, only he only I
Seconds in after picking up the call
His voice, an overdue reward
For never saying goodbye

Small Doses

Denis Leary has this music video that played in moderate rotation on Much Music in the early to mid '90s called "Asshole." It was a complete gag, but it sounded and looked its vintage, which lent it a certain authenticity to a kid just entering his teens. To my young eyes it seemed just about the grittiest, most crass (and thusly interesting) thing I'd seen at that point in my life, and I remember it being one of those things that I'd watch with remote control queued up in case I heard the crack of footsteps in close proximity so no one would catch me watching such a thing. In 1997 Leary released his Lock 'n Load stand-up album, and it was somewhere between then and 1998 that I picked it up, along with No Cure for Cancer, which was the original vehicle for "Asshole." I would usually fast forward through the song to get to the comedy, which hasn't aged particularly well, though I still find myself thinking from time to time about one spot where—in between spurts of seizuristic cigarette huffing—Leary planted a seed that continues to sprout seasonally in my mind. "Happiness comes in small doses, folks. It's a cigarette butt, or a chocolate chip cookie or a five second orgasm. You come, you smoke the butt you eat the cookie you go to sleep wake up and go back to fucking work the next morning, that's it! End of fucking list!" It's a wonder I made it out of my teens alive... The concept's value ebbs and flows with me, but today it returned and it made sense. My brain is constantly on a hunt for The Answer, as if it's even possible for any answer to deliver the satisfaction of a long-lasting cookie or an endless drag from a smoke. And if a cookie or an orgasm won't do, the modus operandi has been to keep going until I feel something. Maybe it's in that space where feeling different becomes confused with feeling better. More is better has been a subconscious mission statement for so long that it struck me as epiphanic when a video I watched this week challenged the idea of binging on food by asking whether or not I'm even enjoying any of it. How much of it is for genuine "mouth pleasure" and how much of it is just mindless habitual self-soothing, seeking something "different" which has become a stand-in for something pleasurable? It's hardly a stretch from there to wondering which actions are in pursuit of what I'm lead to believe "happiness" is, and which actions are actually in pursuit of the things that make me happy? The small doses seem to matter most.

Somewhere in Paris

I don’t know much about other people’s trauma, or upper case Trauma, but I’m learning, and I’ve got my own life I’ve lived experiences… Traumas and traumas. I’m starting to learn about the difference between re-living and healing though.

Cracking open the chest plate for a deeper examination isn’t where the change seems to happen. Revealing that there is hurt isn’t how to stop the pain. Re-living those events—as warped, distorted, and amplified as they might have become after years of self-imposed chest cracking—only gets us so far. Eventually the pins need to set, the scabs need to form, heal, and the stitches removed. Sometimes this happens with the help of others, sometimes not.

There, acceptance is supposed to be the reward, even if what remains seems unacceptable. Sometimes this is healing. Sometimes this is peace.

Hope for Ghosts

In love with a ghost
Ideas mostly
Like, what could have been
If only everything was different
Including us.

To feel that close to you
To touch skin
To feel you pull away
To sense hesitation
To see careful restraint in your eyes
To hear the distance in your voice
Reminding myself it's only just a dream
Doesn't make it hurt any less.

There's no way to know
Who you really are now
Pictures are real
And a few moments together
Spread over years
But mostly nothing
Mostly my imagination
Mostly hope that ghosts exist
That they'll continue to haunt
Because some days it feels like
Without them there
Really might be nothing.

I Don't Believe You

The night was nearly over by the time she joined the band on stage, but something opened up within me as Tristen encouraged the audience's participation. With a gentle bob to her knees she stared into the crowd and crooned, "I don't believe you, I don't believe you." It's just a song, but it's hardly rare for music to embody something greater. Gratitude for being there, regret, maybe, and for the whole ride home frustration with myself that I hadn't been writing lyrics of my own for the past ten years. Maybe regret that I hadn't treated myself better, too. Where did this decade go?

Two or three songs in Paul tapped my elbow, and I turned around to be met with his eyes, which said everything. William is a genius. And to be part of what took place on stage tonight is to be in the presence something memorable. Yet I was continually back and forth between the present and the past, absorbed in the moment and awash with memories. Still in college I remember the exact table I was at in my school's library, sending predictable questions by email to one singer's publicist who forwarded them to her. When I published the interview using her middle name I was reprimanded and had to quickly edit it out. I don't remember what I thought it would add other than I saw it on Wikipedia and felt like it made the blog post seem more legitimate, so I rolled with it. Ten or eleven questions for another singer via email when I first moved to town. Herself a recent transplant, I thought deep-diving into facts about her and her music might seem endearing... Being a self-absorbed drunkard at the time, I thought maybe she would follow up the interview with a request to meet. I saw her waiting tables at The Stone Fox a couple years later. I've always wanted to tell her how beautiful I think she is, but that's an inappropriate thing for a stranger to tell someone, let alone someone who isn't single. A few questions for him via another email. I didn't know his music then, he was just someone who crossed my path via a solicitation for press from a record label. She—another of tonight's performers—I can recall tweeting with. About what? The Sandlot. Damn near a decade ago, and I remember that for some reason. I had dinner with her mom once, as part of a larger group I got wrapped into after a performance for Swedish TV at the Bluebird. My place within the party was uncertain—if anything I was probably just there to help make it appear as though another of the performers had people working for her even though we were paying our own way. This city's streets are paved in the allure of a payoff. And him, I feel guilt every time I see him because I publicly pirated a couple songs from his label eight or nine years ago. He politely asked me to take them down from my blog, which was incredibly kind considering I had never asked for permission to post the music in the first place. All of this being held onto as if it means something, anything. Awash... As the night wore on, however, there was relief. I closed my eyes to just listen. I never realized how just jealous I've been. How I've wanted to be a part of all this, but never allowed myself to feel like I was. Or that I could be. Drinking played its role, but so did blatant self-deception. "IIIII don't believe you."

As the show ended, the increasingly faint scent of incense wafted through the air. Earlier, someone said Alison Mosshart was standing next to us but I only ever caught the back of her head. I was there, too. For a change it felt like that was actually true.