Sunday, December 04, 2011

I call it whatever I want to call it

OK, let’s talk about cars. And while about them, let’s talk about how much, with deep and abiding fidelity, I love the Mercedes Benz W123 chassis more than any other car ever made. I’ve been lucky in my life when it comes to cars. I’ve had the normal clunker (JJ will remember my first car more than most—gearing up for homecoming maybe junior year I picked him up at his house, he rolling on his skateboard and holding on the passenger side door with the window down while we drove from his house the two blocks to the high school parking lot where I sped up and subsequently slammed on the breaks, launching him [on his skateboard] toward a yellow wall of school bus in the faculty parking lot as we were supposedly going to go help the student counsel geeks build our junior year float for the parade [was there a parade?] and the ambulance that was called [JJ’s dad was the Assistant Pastor at our church so he didn’t have the health insurance] and his not wanting to go to the hospital because he knew the financial [and physical—meaning his dad would kick the shit out of him for taking an ambulance and the costs it would no doubt incur] and practical sticks in the mud such a [short] trip would cost him), and the all-time standby love, the Toyota pickup truck, which was home to many a road trip and some of the saddest roadmoments of my life (which will be saved, to be certain, for another post), but, then, after all that young stuff (and a brief stint with cars I don’t want to remember owning), I get the car I’d always wanted: a 1981 Mercedes-beige 240d: slow off the line, bulletproof, hand-cranked sunroof, manual windows, matching hubcaps and interior. I loved this car. Biodiesel, class, I felt like The Shit, no matter who was honking at my on the Arizona onramps. I had a Fugazi sticker on the window as my only Modification (just as all my other cars had only a Fugazi sticker—and nothing else—from Stinkweeds on it). At the time I also had a silver 1965 Vespa SuperSprint 150 in the stable, so I was pretty much the pinnacle of King Fucking Shit on Terd Island as far as driveways were concerned. I was working at Lux, which was for all intents and purposes the coolest espresso bar south of Portland in the USA in 200—what? 2? The sound of the door closing. So solid, safe, in control. It was the beginning of my realization that, no matter what, what my mother always said was more correct than I’d ever want to admit: class isn’t a determinant of socio-economic status. (Tho,  now, I’m not even sure if she herself understood her posit.) Something about existentialism and the ability to live the life that one chose to live was in there, getting sorted out. I wore cowboy boots to work every day, with a black t-shirt and tight, expensive jeans. I had gone out and purchased glasses that required research, extra work/convincing the optometrist that I had to have, and realized that I didn’t have to be rich to enjoy the Fine Things in life. Driving that car around, I felt like I knew something that my family didn’t understand or like: I bought that car for 1400$ (talking down the guy from 1500$, which was the only way I could purchase the car while still feeling like a Mains) eventhough I knew my dad would be bummed that I bought a German car. (It’s so fucking expensive to fix, parts are so hard to come by, etc.) I’d done my research, tho: this car had the THE best production engine ever made, and, goddamnit, it was smart. I had the car for about three months, didn’t check the oil much (which, if you know these cars, they burn a little, and you have to check the oil), and, one night, driving home from work, late, a line that was Important, popped off, and the engine sized. Not. The. Point. This car was my baby. It was the first car I loved. My boss at Lux (himself a Europhile in the auto department, albeit a different tint of one) approved, and since he was a Mench in all ways I wanted to be a mench, this was important to me—he thought they were sexy and bulletproof—and that was enough in lieu of familial approval. It sat in my driveway (only time I’ve ever had a driveway, btw) as I rode my bike and Vespa around for the next however-long. But this car was—truly—the Deepest Fucking Shit. This car made me realize that I had my own sense of style, my own sense of purpose, and that I knew what I liked, no matter what anyone else said (and by anyone, I, obviously, mostly, mean my dad). When I moved for graduate school, I sold that car, and my Vespa. (I thought I needed the money and that I was impractical.) Graduate school: I landed a job that was probably, to date, the most pimp, fucking radically braggable job I’ve had: full Faculty positioning, doing weird, cutting edge stuff with a guy named Josh who would become one of my closest friends (which is, itself, a strange, wild phenomenon). F/F a bit: it was the credit economic bubble: everyone was buying shit they shouldn’t: condos, whatever. I bought a really sweet top-of-the-line VW Passat stationwagon. Rims, turbocharged, heated seats, all the best shit. It was, truly, in every sense of the word, awesome. While I was at it, tho, I also bought I 1983 Mercedes 300sd as a commuter car. It was gunmetal grey (the Passat was the same), so, all of a sudden, I’m rocking a fucking stable of cars. This 300sd was made of magic. My girlfriend at the time, obviously, loved the Passat—what, with the heated seats and the fancy, brand new-whatevers, but she loved the SD because I loved the SD so much. This car could do anything, and, on road trips, it was smoother and more solid than this Passat that cost, literally, 20x as much. I put nearly 80k miles on this SD, only changing the oil and rotating the tires and all that normal stuff, and then went and sold it for a profit after all that. It was a dream, or at least, the most dreamy that any possession can be a dream. I loved this car. At this time, I realize that I 1) love the W123 chassis, and, 2) want a black W123 coupe with tan interior in my birth year. (NB: maybe I knew this in 2002, but it’s a realization that grows on a body.) F/F again. I sell both gunmetal grey cars and move to Portland, Oregon, with 150$ in my pocket. I buy my ex-wife a car. What does she want? A 1981 black Mercedes 300d. Done. It’s nothing like the smooth 300sd—it’s got problems, it’s hers…. Fuck it. I get to drive it at least once a week (which is great, because I don’t own a car). My daughter loves it because it reminds her of my SD. She totals it. (I keep promising myself that I’ll never believe it’s because of spite.) And I buy her an old Volvo (which is sexy, and solid, and unbelievably cheep). But, by this point in the game, I know I have a dream car: a 1982 (my birth year) Mercedes Benz 300cd (the coupe of the car I’ve loved for so long). They have all the sexy curves, the bulletproof engine, the chrome, all the shit that I now know is my favorite. Then, what happens? (This is tied in to woo-woo bullshit, and the new woman I’m dating, and my new outlook on life, and my beginning to shed the 40+ lbs. I gained when I moved here because I was deeply depressed.) I find, on a hung-over listing on craigslist after coming home from AWP, an ad for just the car. (NB: the W123 coupe was the rarest of all W123s, having only about 6k made of the two million W123 chassis, so imagine not only the rarity of the coupe, but of the black/tan combo, not to mention the make-year being 1982.)  No price. I called. Turns out, I know the bastard selling the car, and he’s a Stumptown Friend. I buy the car. Now, for the past year or so, I’m driving around what literally is my Dream Machine. It’s sexy, it’s biodiesel, it’s smooth. I start dating the woman of my dreams. She likes the car enough to say she likes it, which is, certainly, something. I’m, all of a sudden, a Stumptown roaster, professor, and young, who is rocking this fucking Dream Machine all over one of the three coolest cities in the world. Who am I? How does this happen?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

No one will ever let you keep anything they know you have.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Justice is just a bedtime story

It's embarrassing, mostly. Fifteen years ago if you told me I'd be living in an apartment above what to my pretty punk-seasoned ear is a legit punk band (think Mommy's Little Monster-era Social D) playing below on a sluicy Friday night in a pretty cool city, I'd swing a crooked shit-eating. Now-me? I just went digging around for the earplugs my girlfriend keeps here. (I can't find them so I'm drinking beer which I told myself I wasn't going to drink until I got this one Very Important but Unlikely Job Application nailed down and warbling thru the internetz.) [NB lately my 'z' substitute endings have been a little, o, well, unchecked, but I just have to have them, to the chagrin of, mostly, me.] Not purple mohawk me. Not bleaching-mohawk-in-back-of-friend's-mom's-car-on-the-way-to-show-me. Not even X-ed up hardcore kid me, or--damn, probably not--even philosophy major me. And here's the point (because, well, thank christ it's a little deeper than me facing the complicated yet very real presence of my age directly positively correlating to my hair thickness and negatively correlating to my plant-watering consistency): I want to blame my uptightness on Portland. Something about the herd here being so--is this the word?--ideal is off-putting. (I think the word is b/t/w Portlandian, but that seems a bit self-referential.)

By way of personal delusion/justification: Race: Arizonan (Hassayampan). So, this means, if I may generalize about my people, that, more than anything, this: You don't ever tell me what the fuck to do. See the "Had Enough? Vote Libertarian" signs in every punkrock house in Tucson for more (be)dazzling examples of this. (But, srsly--punkrock houses?...) On some level, it's in every real Arizonan. Whether you're a pistol-under-the-front-seat teabagging conspiracy theorist or a tattooed professor/poet type, Arizona means Don't tread on me more than it means anything else. But if you are a punk kid--or an intellectual kid, or a creative kid--in a place like AZ, on some level your whole identity is oppositional. When you walk in to a coffee shop (and we're talking about the '90s, here, to be sure), you know everyone else there is on the goodguy team. The Tucson coffeeshop called Safe House had its name for a reason. It doesn't matter if you want to curbcrush the wank in Birkenstocks with socks and flowy pants who lets his moustache whiskers grow into his mouth so he can suck on them, you're, while in the coffeeshop in Arizona, on the same team, and you'd stick up for this whisker-sucker if some gooch came in to the place and started shit. (Tho you'd do it begrudgingly and then maybe kick the shit out of the W-S after you kicked the shit out of the G for causing you the trouble.) So, now you have this Arizonan, or punk, self defined by its opposition to normative herd behavior. [NB My friend Kate (Arizonan) and I, when moving up to PDX together in a late-night drive-talk agreed that this definition-by-opposition is the most troubling philosophical component of moving to our adoptive town.] Then you move to a place where the herd acts as you want it to act. Kinda-sorta. Everyone has: degrees, Subarus, Pavement albums, bikes, feelings. Sure, iPhones, too. They read--and we're talking Actual Reading. A 23yr old dropout is reading Russian novels in her free time. This 32yr old douchey guy is learning Portuguese (maybe to finally get laid, but still...). Urban gardens. Smiling at strangers you wouldn't fuck. It's weird, it turns out. OK, so, you're now dealing with a mass culture that is in many of the best ways yours while simultaneously dealing with the throbbing, almost Darwinian, impulse to rebel against the masses which in your new environment is actually the kinda-good-guys. Next thing I know I'm rendered quasi-motionless by conflict. Who am I? Why can't I say yes to the good thing? Well, it turns out--and I now realize I may be, in my not returning or feeling any sort of fedality to my original topic, boldly forging into the tangental and pontificatory--that this city of ideal-herd is the very thing (shock of all being) to turn me, for the first time in my pretty little life, into an Aristotelian. (Writing it both brings me joy/causes me to wince/apologize to Dr. Tim Luther, my political philosophy mentor. He'd suffocate himself on carrots if he ever read this.) It strikes me as a Kafkan type of funny that spending my whole life in a dominantly-conservative place made me feel like, "Man, if we can get these herd folks to see what's happening, we'll totally change their mind," to "Fuck, buddy--these people are fucking dumb and spineless, but at least they listen to me, because I'm smarter than them and know how to manipulate them into getting them to want what I want in a way that would be fun or exciting if it weren't so easy." And, for realz [NB there's the 'z' again...], that feels sick. I don't understand what is happening to me.

So, in a separate but related bit of information that I hope you will connect the dots to so I don't have to, I assigned for my classes this week the DFW essay "The View from Ms. Thompson's" for discussion. (Still, the punk band is so loud....) One of my classes got on the topic of revolution (maybe I instigated by chiding them for knowing nothing of the Occupy Oakland police brutality), and that quickly turning into one of my (maybe?) *star* students quoting, at length, from Capital about the inevitability of violent revolution. They went into whether or not a militia type 2nd Ammendment-type insurrection might come up at some near point in time. This student talked about how 30 years ago we woudn't be having this conversation at a community college in the rural west. He also asked the class how many of them had guns. (+/- 65% said they did.) At one point I had to out myself in a personal, and corrective, way letting them know that A.) I spent every weekend (essentially) of my childhood at gun shows because my dad was a gun dealer, and B.) that I was a member of the junior olympic shooting team during same, in order to both keep certain stupid pupils quiet and establish a continued and pervasive dominance over any and all conversations that could even potentially come up in conversation. They went everywhere--from the EU and China not even letting a violent uprising happen in USA b/c/o global economic ties to how community colleges/off-brand state schools in the middle of nowhere will be the hotbeds of the post-9/11 militia because they're rural, (generally now, more) educated, but still own guns and know how to use them (as opposed to legs...). And, you know, I mostly hate everyone in this class, normally, but this day I felt connected to them like I haven't felt connected to a group since I left Arizona. Again, these are people that I generally distain.

Meanwhile, I'm looking out my (awesome, big) apartment window, on the best intersection in town, with the raddest jobs a dude'll ever want in Portland, and pissing about the bleedout of this stupid punk band and wanting to throw beer bottles at them. (Kinda.) There's people my age here that are down at the show. There's people my age that are vegan (still!). And there's people my age that are (surely) not quite as tired as me (but 1/2 as close, I hope--at best) that would be cool with this bullshit. So what does that say about me/this world/me? I'm not camping d/t at Occupy Portland (--for sure!). While I work 85-90hrs/wk, I make plenty of money. I have a big apartment, I'm writing on an expensive computer and drinking expensive beer and I just dropped a lot of money into the continual fix-up of my dream car. I'm in love with the most lovely woman in the world (and she loves me), I have two kids that would make absolutely anyone in the world who wanted kids feel second-tier, and I have an ex-wife who is probably one of my better friends. I'm under 30 and teach at a great college. Shit--I'm even handsome. I'm a Complete Fucking Bastard. Why on earth am I writing about this Social D rip-off-band? Fuck, after a few beers, I'm almost my 15-years-earlier self that loves it, even if I want to go to sleep now. OK: take aways: 1) I'm a lucky bastard--for sure, at least on some level; 2) being an Aristotelian is just like Portland itself: awesome/sucks; 3) being part Mexican/being poor/being the first Mains to go to college is all much less relevant than being from Arizona. Other take aways: it's rainy & cold and my love's 4.5k/mi away is daunting. I don't have a guitar in Portland, or my turntable, or my speakers, or lots of shit, and I'd like to have those things; 4) beer in this town is getting unrealistically expensive, while I'm getting good at local wines, which causes local wines to be almost as cost-effective as beer while making me less fat; 5) if you read this far, you missed your calling of being a professional masturbator.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Friendos: You're going to be hearing more about my new project, Bone Church, soon. For now, know that its home is also the new home to Poor Claudia and Octopus Books and Bad Blood. The space is called Milk/Shop. If you're in Portland, ca'mon, stop on by the Lecheria. We'll crack your beer. We'll crack your heart. You can stay for a little while. Come. 

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Ancient melodies of the future

At first, getting old felt like the world knew you had a big dick (and go fuck yourself for wanting to call me on some Freudian chauvinistic bullshit; that’s not how I mean it and you know it). I grew into my strut walking down the avenue, (mostly) stopped fighting—I’m able to be more honest with myself than I’ve ever been—and I care less about stupid shit. Less gossip and negativity, more patience and love.
And, see, here—this is what I wanted to talk about beginning after the first sentence: now getting old bears the stark, unmaskable stain of woowoo. (I’d only ever admit this using my Actual Adult Serious Voice in Real Life to one person in the world, so, unless you’re that person, glaze yr pretty eyes for a paragraph or more.) You there: glaze thine fucking eyes! OK, woowoo: not much to say, right? It’s all piss-stained sheets in the sun in the wind on a clothesline in an over-saturated shot from a flashback in a film. And, since we’re here, it’s time to pour a little out for our Greek and Roman friends: being able to inherit their baseline culture of logic over mysticism has kept me from needing to know my astrological sign until my realization that I wanted to start laying on top of the artist-set. So, now I know I’m an Aquarius, etc., along with a few presidents and best friends. It means I don’t give a fuck about all the shits around me (—and to think, for the longest time I thought it was just because I decided I didn’t give a fuck…). And here I am, on the far side of being over-educated, of having a pretty solid chunk of life experience carved out of the belief that existence precedes essence, and I happen upon vibrations of strings waving throughout the world. I find myself in moments that are so perfect—or at least familiar—that I feel they’ve been in my world, outside of time, waiting (well, they can’t be waiting outside of time, so let’s say resting) for me and then just insert themselves into my consciousness at just the right—wait for it, now…—time. I look into someone’s eyes and felt the sort of preeminence I’ve only ever felt with my self qua self before.
There comes a point like this, here, where I have to take a step back toward the west: I don’t feel this with everyone. I’m not saying I’m fucking benevolent in some zen or JC way. It’s a limited exposure. It’s kind of like feeling more connected to the world—more a part of the world—thru my experience with one single person, which would normally sound woowoo but I’m going to call it an example of duende, slap it on it’s ass, and send it out into the world. See, here’s the, in the self-consciously postmodern parlance of our time, rub: describing this type of shit results only in soggy juicers of cliché or tie-dye.
I also make this point about rubbing: for me, there is a very deep value in choice. I, for example, am very patient with people I love. This isn’t a personality trait. This isn’t because I was born at 10:30 on a Saturday morning. In fact, I’m generally speaking a very impatient person. (As any ex-wife or mother will tell you.) Patience has been a skill I knew I was very bad it, and because I didn’t ever want to be my father, I taught myself how to be good at it. Then I practiced it a bunch. Sometimes I got myself drunk over it, both as a reward and in the way one diverts the pain of getting tattooed into a different part of the body so the piece of skin getting tattooed stays flexible, stable. I’m proud of the work I’ve done in this area of my life. It was a choice, and to my mind to call it anything else diminishes the ethics, work, and intentionality that goes in to each demonstration of that learned skill. (Who am I arguing with here?)
Now, here’s another difficulty: In the face of the inevitability of such a shared connect(ion), the cultivation of this connect(ion), and, really, the cultivation of the circumstances that even allowed for such an eternal consciousness manifesting itself historically is the result of careful planning, confidence, understanding, and iron will, which is to say, choice. I think the work and fidelity that goes into such an act deepens its magnitude. The perfection that tingles in it, however, makes if feel too big for a person (or two) to have created independently in such a large, complex world.
And what about my sign—my fucking sign? Kierkegaard’s probably going to get leaned on a little, here, in saying that astrology is just a system that superimposes meaning post-facto, the same way someone from a church group visiting a rape victim in the hospital might say everything happens for a reason. It’s, on some level, just a way of making the world feel more secure/of making how small we are feel less small. But it’s reductive to dismiss woowoo as a horoscope in the free weekly rag, to be thought of as out-of-date as chip’n dips and fondu and shag carpet—or, by now, even brie and sun-dried tomato (adios, ‘90s). The world is a bit more complicated than that. And what happens when one begins to develop an epistemology that regards systems as heuristic? (But—let’s be clear—not in a woowoo way. We’re not talking about an omni-systemic world, but a world where judgment and action are more critical now than ever.) It seems like I, for one, feel like things are more real, like things matter a little hunk more.
Is that Aquarian of me or what?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Everything you say has water under it

It's the first day of summer. I went running, it felt awful, and I wanted to walk the last mile. I hadn't eaten since early Sunday, so maybe I should have eaten. Maybe that would have made me feel better. You know how people say that they just forgot to eat and you don't believe them? I feel like that happened to me the last few days. Now, I don't know if it's because I'm older & now pay attention, or if I'm just deteriorating as quickly as I suspect, but I can feel my mind slipping in ways I didn't notice even two years ago.

Two years ago I was slipping out of the things that comforted me in, and about, Arizona. I was running a lot, not really eating, except for these light, cool, desert-y meals I made with my then-girlfriend. I drank tequila all the time. It feels so green & alive in your mouth when it's prohibitively hot out. Most things in my life were destroyed right about then and I didn't really see the value in trying to reassemble them when I was about to move away. I remember pulling my foot up from the asphalt in Arizona as I got in the car to drive to Portland. There was this really stupid moment where I remembered a book I read once on the Potato Famine in Ireland where these boys would sail to the United States because their home couldn't support them any more. Their families would wake for them because they knew it was good bye for good once they stepped on that boat. Pulling my foot into the car, I felt this--a little bit. I felt like I was going into exile. I feel like I'm in exile. I haven't been back--and tho it's only been two years, the pulling up of that foot already feels prophetic in certain ways. I want to go back, but when I think about what I want to do there, it's just hanging around with ghosts that I know live there, seeping out of the walls and bottles and dried ravines where I'd target practice with self-portrait polaroids.

Here, in Portland, it's just as empty. It's almost eerie. I'm in love--frighteningly, uncontrollably--and that is just about the only good thing I've got going. If I didn't know better, I'd ask the gods if life ever stops being an echo of one's failures that keeps getting amplified thru all the feedback. Sometimes it feels less shoegazey: sometimes it's just deja-vu of all the failures I was scared of repeating, and then seeing them repeated.

My first recollection of deja-vu was when I was a sophomore in high school. I was at a swim meet at some pool in Phoenix. I was sitting at the side of the pool by a ladder out of the water. Looking down into the water, seeing the lane lines blurring and shaking from the races reminded me of a time--maybe when I was six, eight--I was sitting in the same place, the same pool, the same blurry ripples. I asked my mom about it later, and it turns out I fell in that same pool and almost drowned when I was six during one of my older sibling's swim meets. She was surprised I remembered (as only my mom could be). But what makes me recall this instance of deja-vu so often now, fifteen years later, is this rippling looming familiar since of the inevitable in my world. Now it doesn't seem as tho it matters whether it was a pool I fell into, or love, or my dreams--or even my body. It's all at the edge of this pool. I've been there before.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


You know, sometimes, and just a very rare, kind, sometimes, old life starts seeping in to the cloudy way life changes. Tonight I watched an episode of Ken Burns' documentary Baseball. Satchel Paige, one remembers, was, maybe, the best pitcher in all of baseball. He was black, and so he never got the shot to pitch against Murders' Alley on the Yanks, which is too bad, because that would have shut their asses down in a way that would have made anyone I know & love happy, 'cos, really, fuck the Yankees, but, anyway, it reminds me of the tiers I exist within. So, what--I google search our past--we can all find memories of ourselves--I found pictures of me guitar in a band that I loved being in with my best friends, of a show in southern California at the end of a very long & hard tour and all that sort of thing. We had traveled from Arizona out to Tennessee and back, had one night in AZ again before hitting the west coast. I stayed that night, after a show & party, at my girlfriend's place. We were 18 or so--like, candles and radiohead and we took a pretty memorable shower together--and we didn't know how our van would make it up the I-5 tomorrow. But, you know, it's a little lucky, and I hate to say it, how the internets allows these things to survive.

The show, in particular, I was able to google image pictures of  was at a very special place called Koos Cafe in Santa Ana (do you remember this place from the '90s?). I recall seeing flyers from a show a few nights before still stapled to the phone poles for Forstella Ford, who we had played with three or four times before all over the place. On the porch of Koos there were condoms--some new, some used--and a vegetarian kitchen where the real kitchen of this place used to be in the pre-war state where a family kept a place there. I felt so cool. It was cold for an Arizona boy--probably I had on my dickies jacket--and before the show we hit a Korean doughnut shop that was vegan. The old living room was the main show space. There were fireplaces on either side of the room. It was very long, and full, and there were people standing outside, looking in thru the windows to see us play. I don't remember who we played with, and I don't even remember where we stayed that night. I remember getting stuck in traffic and being on The 5 which I also remember was not the best way to be getting there. It felt like I was doing something special with my life, even though, especially now, I know, it was only cool to about 16 people in the world. Ten, or more, years later, tho, I can look these pictures up on google, I can tell you that the shirt I was wearing I stole from my sister's goodwill finds, my amp and cabnet were from Mike Pinkstaff, the cool punk kid from my high school. I had two tattoos, and felt so cool for having them.

It's been about ten years since that show. It's even been about five years since I started this blog. In that time, I've gotten married, had two kids, got divorced, had two kids, some degrees; I've lived in four or five different cities and gotten a lot more tattoos and maybe even figured out the type of life I'd like to lead--I don't really know, yet. Really, tho, not a lot has changed, and this makes me feel conflicted. As I write this, I hear kids skateboarding outside my apartment. There are some guys drinking and some other guys collecting cans and bottles. On the floor of my apartment I have a pile of clean clothes, and another pile of dirty clothes, I have a few stacks of books, some papers I need to grade, lots of shoes--a bill and a bag of corn chips. Not much has changed. I still feel punk rock, even as I know that punk rock kids would never see me as such. I think I'm fat, I worry about how I'm going to keep my daughter in the yellow dress, I wonder if I've missed my chance to make poetry writing my life. Every night I have nightmares. Some of them are terrible all the way thru. Some of them are only terrors once I wake up. I live in a city I hate, for example, but that I'm tied to, that I know is offering me something during the current economic downturn.

My apartment has two things hanging in it: a painting of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and a painting by my friend and fellow poet, Zach. They kind of face each other in a strange way, like they're asking something of one another. I have a housekey on a nail, a painting on a cross-section of a small pine tree trunk that my daughter made. Above my bedroom, I have the horse shoe from my love's apartment in Arizona to catch any good luck that comes my way. It isn't working in the way I'd like. Some nights, I think it just catches bad memories that I wish would escape with the steam.

The way I thought I'd earn my life, or my ease of life, is not working out. Before, like ten years--maybe--ago, I'd look at me and think that maybe I'm making it, or maybe I'm poor but happy. Now, tho, I'm living it, and I don't think I was right. Sure, I can point to this woman, and I can point to some poems that people have maybe read somewhere, and I can say that I'm a good dad, and maybe even a good person in general. I can check off a list of things I've wanted to accomplish, and that looks better than maybe some folks' lists look. But I'm still very alone, and when I think of myself in the future, I see me alone there, too--save some calls from my daughter, maybe some kind letter from an old friend. But the idea of carving a special arc out of my life feels foreign on some level. Making a difference in someone's life has gone from immediate to in-a-few-years to when-I'm-late-career-in-poetry to nonexistent much more quickly than I'd have liked to fancy.

In the mid-'90s there was a Victory band called Snapcase.  They had an album called Progression thru Unlearning. Since it came out, but especially since high school, I've really like that idea. I now see times where the idea was spot-on, and I feel empty, and other times where it really does feel like a proper progression, which is to say that things feel like they're getting more grey, they make less sense, but that allows me to be more forgiving, more kind, and, I can (very luckily) say, more aware and open to the new things I need to learn and to be in my life.