Friday, April 20, 2018

Can you tell I'm faking it?

A lot of people I know are shipping out on the Flogging Molly Cruise today.

Fuck those fuckers.

Nah, I am just kidding. I hope they have fun. And come back with some sort of virus.

I am heading to Mississippi for the weekend. Then a follow up appointment on Monday morning.

I need to write TGB's original oncologist a letter.

What would you write

I would write thank you.

Thank you Dr. Dorigo for saving my wife's life. Thank you for leaving her as whole as you could while taking out all that was trying to hurt her. Thank you for five and a half years of the best years of our lives; every laugh, every joyous moment, every awesome concert - you had a hand in.

Thank you never condescending. Thank you for always being patient with the moron husband who wasn't nearly as up to speed as she was on what was going on. Thank you for never pitying me but, always empathizing.

Thank you for the words, 'your wife doesn't have cancer anymore.'

That's what I would say.

I have to go pack for the weekend.

There's a casino waiting for the rest of my tour money.

Titty sprinkles!


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Bless me father

My eye bags from the tour are finally gone. They were horrendous.

I wrote the beginning of a thing and 1200 words later I felt like I hadn't written a thing.

Kris thinks I should turn it into a book when it's done and make the 47 of you pay for it.

I don't think it will be long enough for that.

Not long enough. Story of my life.

The other night TGB learned something about me she never knew on the way to the Jason Isbell show.

I went on a meth bender back in high school. Just a couple, three days.

I'd run away for about two weeks and part of that consisted of doing copious amounts of drugs and alcohol for about a week of it.

I also tried to bleach my hair. With bleach. Didn't know I needed to use peroxide.

I was not a smart kid.

It was a strange two weeks for me. I wanted to die. I wanted to feel something. I wanted to stop feeling everything.

I was standing in front of a church with my little redhaired girl while a bunch of my friends were fighting over who-the-fuck-remembers. I took her into the church foyer - they were having some midweek thing. Brown shag carpet, cheap, plastic fountain with holy water, a sexy Jesus hanging on a cross and the whitest fucking walls.

I collapsed into her arms. I buried my face in her thick auburn hair and breathed her in. I cried. Time slowed down almost to a complete stop for one of the few times I wanted it to.

She took my face into her hands and looked at me, wiped my tears with her sleeve, pulled me back into her and buried her face in my neck. I felt the wetness but, she wouldn't let me pull her off of me. She cried into me until she stopped. We stood there awhile, alone, the bickering outside dissipating in the quiet of the moment. Church patrons walked past without a word.

She pulled away and looked at me with those green-hazel eyes and that crooked smile. She touched the side of my face and I leaned in.

I've rarely felt that alive. I've rarely felt that broken. There is a part of me that is always in that moment.

We left and played miniature golf with our idiotic friends. Her parents picked her up at the end of the night. Same with my friends.

I broke into my grandmother's garage and slept on the floor.

I left before sunrise.

I spent the next several days high, drunk, surrounded by people but, completely alone.

Titty sprinkles!


Monday, April 16, 2018

One day I'll be gone

Godammit Jason, I have that god awful Lionel Ritchie song in my head. You asshole.

Last night was the Isbell show.

By now, dear reader, you know that Southeastern has saved my sanity and sobriety, if not my actual life, on more than one occasion.

It was a great show and one that I needed more than I realized.

First up was Richard Thompson - a guy I regret to admit I had never heard of before. A guy I am hoping will be in London in July while I am there.

I love that he knows that Florida, not California, is the Sunshine State. I'm looking at you, Frank Turner.

He's one hell of a song writer and a holy shit balls ungodly guitar player.
I am a fan.

Then there was Isbell.

He is that rare artist that heals me even when I don't realize I have a wound. Like that time I ended up bleeding while restringing my bass. Yeah, that really happened and I had no idea til I saw red stuff dripping onto my bass.

My favorite thing about Isbell live is always the guitar playing. It never comes across in the studio the way it does live. It's like a creamy chocolate mousse that tickles the roof of your mouth.

It was an awesome show. And then Songs That She Sang In The Shower happened. I felt a hand on my back and could feel her eyes. I couldn't look because I knew I would crumble.

It's a song I have lived more times than I can count. It's a song I live everyday. It's a song that has saved me from myself.

It was a sweet show that ended with Jason serenading the two of us like we were the only two people in the venue while we danced.

If I never get sent to Monterey I never end up at that concert last night. I sure as fuck would never move to Florida on my own.

Titty sprinkles!


Sunday, April 15, 2018

I lost faith you were trying to believe

I have a lot of friends, a lot of people who love me. I tend to focus on those who leave me. Few things disappoint me more about myself. 

It's a fatal flaw in my design.

That's what I fell asleep thinking about. 

I was all set to write about it when I was scrolling through my on this day on Facebook this morning before I crawled out of bed. I found a dribble I wrote a couple of years ago. It left a tear in my eye and some perspective in my wee brain. 

Then I came downstairs to write, turned on Skinny Lister radio on Apple Music.

A Dave Hause song I'd never heard before came on. 

About a girl he loved. She loved Jesus. They did the things young people in love do. The Jesus people tried to make them feel like shit for it. 

She was clean and easily absolved of their sins. 

He was ragged and not so easily absolved. 

But easy enough to dismiss. 

At least that was my take. 

Twenty-seven years later and Dave Hause comes into my life with songs that make me wonder whether I invented him in my head. 

Between the dribble and the song I was caught off guard thinking about that little redhead I loved a lifetime ago. 

I'm not sad, not like I was when she died. There's a deliciousness to this particular melancholy. 

I loved in a way that few get to. Young, passionate, crazy, naive love that gets to grow up and become a real thing. And it never grows old, stale, divorced. 

Anymore, when I smell jasmine, I still get that momentary gut punch but, now, it's followed by a huge fucking smile. 

I dunno. TGB is up and I want waffles. 

One day I will tell you the whole story about Jen. 

But today I am going to leave you with this: when you find people in your life who make you feel alive - really fucking alive - hold onto them. If you get to have them for an hour or a lifetime, you can't ever regret them. Not ever. Just make sure you savor every second you get with them. 

And when they go away from your life don't waste too much time being sad. Remember instead what they taught you about how to be really fucking alive. 

Titty sprinkles!


Saturday, April 14, 2018

I may be a bit arrogant

I am a shit bass player. Always have been.

It was an accident that I ever played bass at all.

I was a recent transfer to Upland High School (my third HS) when it happened. I was sitting in shop class and there was a tap on my shoulder.

Hey, do you play bass?

I turned around and it was a guy with long blonde hair. I realized instantly that my long hair left him with certain assumptions about my own musical acumen.

Nah man, a little guitar is all I've ever played. 

Can you play scales?

My look said, fuck you.

Cool, you're in my band. 

I don't have a bass. 

I do. We're jamming tonight.

That was how I ended up in a high school cover band called Confusion.

It was an awful bass he bought for ten bucks at a yard sale which was fine, because I was an awful bass player.

In the coming months I would play with my church worship band to get better.

Eventually, my dad saw the earnestness with which I pursued this musical endeavor and he bought me a Washburn.

The bass I still own.

That bass has been through a couple of shitty cover bands and one angry ex. It survived a machete attack and being tossed off a second story balcony. See: angry ex.

It survived almost two decades of neglect.

Then, Craigory happened. Craigory plays drums. He suggested a long time ago that we get together and jam. While on tour with Skinny Lister and Brasstracks I decided it might be fun. So I ordered a new bass amp (the last one did not survive the machete attack).

Last night I plugged in to play with another human for the first time since I wore a uniform for the US Air Force.

We fucked around with a few songs, jammed on some improv of our own.

Then I remembered one of the only songs I know.

Hey, I recognize that song.

I kept playing.

Who is that?

Cream. 

And then... we fucking jammed.

After the first go round it was obvious how not good we were together. Yet. But it was obvious how good we could be.

Trying to emulate the work of two gods while being a fucking homeless man's knockoff is humbling and exhilarating.

Who the fuck am I to try to play a Jack Bruce song? A fucking asshole is who. 

We tried a couple more songs; nothing of note.

Craigory's wife came in and made a comment that what we were playing before made her stop and take note.

Fuck it, let's do it again.

So I turned my amp up to 11 and we fucking played it like it was ours.

Was it good?

Fuck. No.

Will it eventually be?

Titty sprinkles!



Friday, April 13, 2018

Wait, Kris is a drunk hooligan?

Get in the cab.

That's what I remember most from The Road Beneath My Feet

What I learned while on the road is that you cannot get somewhat into the cab; you cannot have a leg in and the rest of you waiting to see where the cab goes.

I also was reminded that the best people for me are the dregs; the unwashed miscreants covered in sin and ink.

The antiseptically clean, live-life-by-the-rules, safe motherfuckers... I was reminded to always run from those. Theirs is a special kind of cowardice. They'll run in a fight, turn on you to cover their ass, fuck you and forget to leave the money on the night stand.

I assume that last part is true. Seems like something they'd do.

They want in the cab so bad but, they need to know where it's going, when it will arrive, the driver's history, the personal history of the other riders, what time they can expect to be home, a contact number in case of emergency... blah, fucking, blah, blah.

Their sense of adventure stems from everything they've ever read and nothing they've ever done.

Those people? They'll disappoint you and let you down every time.

The lesson: always leave those people on the curb.

Except for you, Kris. You are the squeakiest of clean, antiseptic types. And yet... you get out there are live this fucking life (when you aren't overworking). You have my back like a fucking drunk hooligan after a Man-U match.

You're an anomaly.

I guess that makes you the weirdest of the weird.

The lesson: Rudy has no fucking idea what he's talking about.

Titty sprinkles!


Thursday, April 12, 2018

I'm not afraid to laugh

I have a bit of sensory overload this morning.

I have a story I have been writing and it's open in another tab. As much bravado as I put on in yesterday's dribble, I am catching myself editing, deleting, and considering not posting it at all.

Then I have this post open and dribble was only ever meant to be a priming of the spigot, not an actual thing.

Words... words... words... ah, okay, now they are coming and I can go work on something real.

But then twelve eleven people started reading on the regular and fuck me if I don't hear from them when I don't post something.

Today I have the second of the two songs I have been playing on a loop going. Coincidentally, Neil Finn is replacing what's his name in Fleetwood Mac. Not coincidentally, that won't make me like Fleetwood Mac.

Neil Finn wrote a song after seeing his dog chase a cat and almost get hit by a truck.

WHO THE FUCK DOES THAT?!?!

That's the kind of talent that makes me want to punch someone in the face.

Taking an event like that and writing a deep song about the brevity and precariousness of life? Fuck you, Neil. Nobody needs to be that talented.

I don't know exactly why I have been obsessing over these same two songs for the last two-three weeks. I just know that when I head to the beach in a bit and go for my morning walk I will have Given to Fly and Anytime on a loop the entire time. Again.

The first night I went to the beach after getting home I plugged in my earbuds and cranked it as loud as I could. I talked to my dad about the tour, about my baby sister, about the things that have been weighing me down and the things that made me smile.

A dead man has more of me than anyone alive.

I dunno that that is healthy or sad or what.

Why these two songs, dad?

Because even when you can't find the words music can; something in you right now needs these words, mijo. 

I need these words. Even if I don't know why, something deep within me does.

I won't let go of the first clear moment I saw you

There's nothing safe about this life



Wednesday, April 11, 2018

He just gives it away

Sometimes I write a thing and give no thoughts to how someone will read and interpret what I say.

That always bites me in the ass.

Censoring myself or considering feelings is fucking arduous. This life is my story to tell and I spend an inordinate amount of it being careful with the words I put down on paper.

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” - Anne Lamott

That's one half of it. The other half is that all of these stories make up me. I am the stories I tell; the non-fiction and the fiction. If I write a word of it, it is a thing that has lived inside of me.

Those were the things I was thinking about yesterday walking the beach listening to Given.

I blame Junot Diaz.

I was thinking about his story about being raped. I was thinking about how flattering it was that one of my friends thought I wrote it. Seriously, being mistaken for my favorite writer is never not going to make me smile.

I thought about my friend, Liz, who introduced me to Sr. Diaz's writing. She sent me a text that she was planning on reading that story on a plane. I suggested she wait til she's alone.

It'll make you angry and sad. And if you've ever experienced anything like what he writes about you may want to just read it in private. 

She opted to wait til after her meeting and read it on the flight home.

So I blamed Liz because without her there is no Junot Diaz. Then I laughed at my own ridiculousness.

The truth is that it is nobody's fault. Well, nobody's fault but mine. I censor me, nobody else does.

TGB came home as I was in the midst of reading the Diaz article and could tell something was up but, didn't push. I wasn't done reading and I didn't want to stop so she left me be.

I was hollow by the time I got to the end of it.

I've told my own story piecemeal over the course of my life. Some I've written here. A small number of people who matter to me have heard it.

As Eddie sang in my ear yesterday I caught myself wondering, why haven't you told your story - all of it?

Because mom and I get along-ish now and it would hurt her. 

She should have behaved better.

I left that thought alone and wondered about other things I have written and all of the things in my head still unwritten. The times in my life that people have been upset for one reason or another by what I write... the times I don't say what I want to say exactly the way I want to say it as a result.

Yeah, I am pretty much done with that shit.

Titty sprinkles


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Hey, look at me now

I hate when I write a thing I like and nobody reads it.

I suppose if I stick to music and times I fuck up the counter will shoot back up.

Fuckers.

I have been listening to the same two songs on a loop since getting home. I've also been learning them on my guitar. I don't think I've learned a new song in a year or two.

Given To Fly has become more important to me than any song since Elephant.

Funny thing is I had heard Given before. I knew the song on a superficial level. Then I was driving on tour a few weeks ago and it popped into my head while listening to a totally different, not Pearl Jam, song.

Siri, play Given to Fly

Turns out I have two different versions of it on my iTunes.

It was a particularly rough stretch of the tour for me for myriad reasons. I was feeling particularly beaten down emotionally. Mentally I was beyond spent.

It was a bad time and I was isolated.

A bad time nothing could save him
Alone in a corridor waiting locked out


So I drove. For hundreds, then thousands of miles. To Bellingham, WA of all places. And the sea. My salvation, the fucking Pacific Ocean.

He got up outta there ran for hundreds of miles
He made it to the ocean had a smoke in a tree
The wind rose up set him down on his knee


I stood there, cold and rained on. Sometimes the only thing you can do is breathe (a totally different PJ song, I know). Sometimes breathing is enough to hold the fragments together.

Yes, I cried.

Yes, I knew I would be okay.

I let the delicious melancholy run through me while Eddie sang in my ears.

well, fuckers, he still stands

Two ducks landed right in front of me and just seemed to stare at me. I dunno if they were hoping for bread but, I like to think the universe was just checking in on me. After a bit they swam away but, not too far. Twice they came back. The mallard cranked his neck to the side and just looked at me.

I'm okay little guy, really. Thank you. 

He shook his head and then his body and flew off. The lady duck followed.

And he still gives his love, he just gives it away
The love he receives is the love that is saved


Titty sprinkles


I told you there were two songs.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Assholes and Hamhocks The End

Part Two

C'mon, I'm gonna show you were I spent most of my childhood, she said as we walked out of Powell's.

She took me past blocks of food trucks. All the food you have ever craved can be found in Portland, on a truck and better than in most restaurants.

She told me the story about moving to Portland when she was a little girl. Homeless and dealing with a strung out parental unit. It was a tragic story she told with the pride of a survivor. It was her half of our scar sharing session.

Her scars are the deep and beautiful marks of a fighter; a woman not to be trifled with and impossible to ignore. She wore them not as a victim but as badass.

I'll show you the shelter that saved us after the library. 


Vivacious Bad Ass
The library was ... a library. Books, stairs - so many stairs - homeless people, junkies, serious people and, music.

We crawled up a bazillion flights of stairs and she told me about her brother. Dear reader, that is a story I will leave for her to tell you. Suffice to say, the library couldn't quite save him the way it did Chantel.

We came to the room she wanted to show me.

This used to be records and record players. I would come here and get lost in the music. 

She loves jazz and classical.

The turntables were replaced by computers and headphones, the vinyl by CDs and playaways.

I walked around and touched everything. It helps me feel connected to a place and I wanted to let this place that meant so much to my friend find its way into my own heart. I could imagine a tiny, frizzy haired redhead taking the Kind of Blue LP to a turntable causing double takes from the other patrons and just losing herself... forgetting that life is fucked up mess... for just a bit.

We left the library.

There's an arcade with old games we played growing up down by the shelter I used to call home. 

We stopped a block from the arcade, within sight of the shelter and a few punk clubs. She lit a smoke and I bummed one from her. I knew there was another story coming and I wanted to get lost in it.

She told me about the drug addicted parental unit, the move to Portland because the city was a good place for the homeless, the shelter, the vagabond life. Never once did she fall into the role of victim.

To paraphrase, this is shit that happened, it sucked, it hurt me, it could have ruined me but, fuck that, I survived and I love who I am now because of it. 

I love who you are, too, Chantel.

We noticed the punk club across the street from where we were standing was having Ministry that night. I gave serious thought to skipping my band's show and going to Ministry. Then the guys from the band went walking by and we were giddy. The timing was perfect. We decided that was enough and we could go to Brasstracks instead. Besides, if you were paying attention you'd know she likes jazz.

We walked past the shelter that saved her and into the arcade.

Five dollars, please. 

Do we need tokens or quarters?

No, five bucks gets you in and you can play any game free.

Our eyes got HUGE!

By the end of our arcade stop we were both covered in sweat. She kicked my ass - like, made me her bitch - at pinball. I saved her ass time and again at Terminator. And I only got my ass kicked a half dozen times at Mortal Kombat.

We needed air and she needed a smoke so we headed back out onto the street.

Portland used to lead the country in strip clubs per capita and Thai places.

That's an odd combination. 

They're unrelated just... funny to me. C'mon, you need a jacket from the oldest strip club in Portland. 

Before I could react she was on the march.

Mary's Club was a tiny little dive in downtown.  One small stage and a smaller bar. We sat and I watched the beauty on stage while Chantel ordered - no shit - a child size IPA. It was a cute little goblet. She struck up a conversation with the gorgeous bartender and you would have thought they were besties from childhood.

What size do you want?

Large for me and whatever size you want. 

Really?

It's the least I can do for you.

The bartender went to the back and got us our jackets. I paid and Chantel and the bartender promised they'd see each other again.

We walked out of the dark strip club into the sunny afternoon. It sucked.

Fuck Voodoo donuts, I am going to take you to get a real donut. 

So she did. It was a donut place next to her favorite tiki lounge - her real motivation.

C'mon, if we time it right we can catch a storm inside! 

I ordered a virgin somethingorother. She ordered a drink on fire. Literally.

My friend Brandon texted that he was on his way to pick me up. It was bitter sweet. Just then I heard thunder.

YES! You're gonna get to experience the storm! 

There is a little bar that has drinks that are literally on fire and indoor thunder storms. I recommend a particular tour guide when you visit the place. Her joy is infectious and you'll find yourself wanting to live in her world a little longer than you planned.


Postscript, I had dinner with Brandon and Phillip then slept til showtime. Chantel came to the show with a friend and I left them to enjoy it. I hung out near the merch table with Gabe. About halfway through the show a sweaty Chantel made her way to the bench I occupied and we enjoyed the rest of the show from afar. Really, we enjoyed watching this little white girl in yoga pants and sneakers dance her ass off while the two dudes she was with realized that they were never gonna get some of that. After the show we had a bite at a local institution whose name now escapes me. We talked about things that matter; heartbreak, love, putting yourself back together and her crush on my wife. When it was time to say goodbye I was genuinely sad. It was that good sadness, you know? The kind you fucking earn because you lose a little piece of yourself.

That day was a thing I needed. It was so very one-sided I actually felt bad for not being better. I woke to a text from Chantel thanking me.

Yesterday was a salve.

Maybe the lesson is to simply be present. Let yourself leave the world behind for a time and get lost in the experience of the moment.

Anyway, Chantel, thank you. For so much. And if you ever find yourself forgetting to enjoy the journey in between the beginning and end of a thing play the above song. It's been in my head every time I think about you the last week or so.

The journey's brought joy that outweighs the pain.

The end.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Home

I'll finish telling you about Portland tomorrow. I want to finish that as much so that I never forget as anything else.

For now, I am home.

It felt like it took forever to get here but, now that I am here I don't hate the things I hated about the road as much as I did while I was in it. Well, aside from crashing a bandwagon into a bridge.

I dunno if I'll do it again. I dunno that I'll be asked to.

I do know that being on the road made me write. A lot. And want to write a lot more.

I know that some parts of being on the road made me sad while others made me want to stop time so I could get lost in a moment.

Tomorrow I'll finish my story about Portland. Chantel really is one of the coolest people I know. I think by the end of it you'll agree.

When I was sitting at Duffy's Monterey, CA staring out at the Presidio sign I realized how different my life would be had I never been stationed there.

I wouldn't have met TGB. If I didn't know you before '93 I likely never would have met you. My time in Monterey changed the trajectory of my life.

Which got me thinking about the life or lives I could have had had Monterey never happened.

Who would I love? Who would be fiercely protective of me the way Kris is? Who would steady me the way Katee did in Chicago? Who would make me laugh so hard my face hurts like TGB does?

Would I be friends with rock stars?

Would I be sober in any other life?

Would I be less of a whore? More?

Did my dad make it out alive in some other life? Was I home when he died or still someplace far away?

Would I regret those things I refuse to regret in this life? Would I even do those things I might regret?

I'm rambling.

But I spent hours driving and wondering about all of the above.

It's good to be home. In this life.

Titty sprinkles!

https://youtu.be/yQWsSKILPpA