Welcome Back Open Mic, If Only Once

Kellyn Kimbrell reads by the light of her cell phone Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019 during Open Mic Nyte at Hot Shots Coffee Shop.
Kellyn Kimbrell reads by the light of her cell phone Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019 during Open Mic Nyte at Hot Shots Coffee Shop.

One of my favorite Ada community events, Open Mic Nyte, ceased meeting in May for a variety of reasons. But the gathering came roaring back for a one-time event Thursday on the patio of Hot Shots Coffee House in Ada, drawing many regular artists and readers, and a few new participants.

Sterling Jacobs glances skyward as he reads a particularly meaningful passage of his writing at Open Mic Nyte Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019 at Hot Shots Coffee Shop.
Sterling Jacobs glances skyward as he reads a particularly meaningful passage of his writing at Open Mic Nyte Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019 at Hot Shots Coffee Shop.
Open Mic founder Rhonda Ragsdale and I pose prior to the event.
Open Mic founder Rhonda Ragsdale and I pose prior to the event.

The event was precipitated by the death of Terry Ragsdale, father of Open Mic’s original founders, Lisa Ragsdale and Rhonda Ragsdale. Since they traveled to Ada for their father’s funeral, they decided to get Open Mic back together for one night.

The event was Open Mic’s first occasion to be outdoors, and the weather was about as perfect as anyone could ask. Since Hot Shots is in the Ada Arts District, the neighborhood had an air of night life about it. People came and went from various businesses, or passed us as they walked their dogs.

Without an Open Mic event all summer, it seemed to me that our creative energy built up, then came out in a flurry Thursday night. We all still write and sing and read and play music, but expressing it in a public gathering allows us to hear it out loud and assess our voices. Someone told me once that a thought isn’t really real until it’s shared, and I think Open Mic Nyte helps us bring our thoughts to life.

Our one-time venue was the patio at Hot Shots Coffee House.
Our one-time venue was the patio at Hot Shots Coffee House.

Into the Void of Misunderstanding: The Journals of Kurt Cobain

I write this on the 41st anniversary of my journal.

My reading glasses sit on a map of Colorado in the morning sun. Two things of note... 1. I recently switched to 2.0x readers, partially due to trying to read Kurt Cobain's child-like handwriting, and 2. Abby and I hope to visit Colorado again very soon.
My reading glasses sit on a map of Colorado in the morning sun. Two things of note… 1. I recently switched to 2.0x readers, partially due to trying to read Kurt Cobain’s child-like handwriting, and 2. Abby and I hope to visit Colorado again very soon.

My reviewance of Kurt Cobain’s journal continues. I am about halfway through, but I grab his big red book at every commodal sit-down and late afternoon nap. So far, it has been every bit the epic roller coaster I hoped it would.

“No matter what you write, it will be completely misinterpreted by everyone who reads it every time.” ~M7

“Don’t read my diary when I’m gone.” ~Kurt Cobain, in his journal

When I got ahold of the journals of Kurt Cobain and published an insistent social media post about it, I was set upon by immediate misinterpretation by friends and acquaintances, the most significant of which was the notion that this was about the band Nirvana or the grunge music scene in the early 1990s.

The Initial Commentary...

“I’m not a fan of Cobain or Nirvana. It’s not because I specifically dislike him or their music, it’s just not my thing.”

“…never cared for Cobain or Nirvana. I know the ‘Teen Spirit’ thing always made the charts and lists as a great song and I never understood why. Love music and my taste runs from Pink Floyd to Johnny Cash and a lot in between but Nirvana wasn’t one of them.”

“Nirvana was meh. I don’t think it translates very well post-90s, but that is just me.”

“Overrated band….period..and history has now proven that.”

This has nothing to do with music.

I saw these journals and, as a journal writer and reader, I was fascinated. I said that in the initial post, but… sigh. Maybe M7 was right. Maybe my best efforts to unravel Cobain’s thoughts are doomed from the start.

Sometimes I see myself as far too organized, far too careful. Part of me admires Cobain’s total chaos. Even when I try to let myself be chaotic, in writing or photography, the chaos I create is pretentious and fraudulent. I am not, however, a fraud myself. Two works I admired as a teenager and later found out to be complete fakes were Go Ask Alice and Jay’s Journal, both conjured by a religious nutbag to try to scare kids away from drug, the occult, and Satanism. Ironically, it drew more kids to those things than away, so hmm. Maybe it was a false flag. I don’t know. Maybe no one knows.

I won’t make this post a review of Cobain’s journals, at least not until I have made a couple of complete passes through it, but this is an indictment of myself: too careful, too controlled, too controlling, too disgusted and afraid of what I might become if I let go of all that.

I made this pretentious illustration of journals this morning. Possibly the most pretentious thing about it is that my own journals, the spiral-bound ones from years ago, and a hardback volume of today, above and beneath the others. Wow, Richard. Blunt.
I made this pretentious illustration of journals this morning. Possibly the most pretentious thing about it is that my own journals, the spiral-bound ones from years ago, and a hardback volume of today, above and beneath the others. Wow, Richard. Blunt.

Smells Like Teen Suicide

Kurt Cobain wrote in Mead spiral notebooks? So did I!
Kurt Cobain wrote in Mead spiral notebooks? So did I!

Browsing YouTube recently, I came across a video from The Nerdwriter called, “Polly: Nirvana’s Darkest Song.”

I wasn’t into Nirvana when the band was huge. I found their sound, like a lot of grunge/garage of the era, a bit too ratty and melodiless.

In the video, Nerdwriter mentions front man Kurt Cobain’s journals. I literally stopped the video right then, swiped over to the Amazon app, found and bought Cobain’s journals. Why? Everyone who knows me knows that not only have I curated journals since 1978 (when Cobain was just 11), but also that I read all the journals I can find, from friends who shared theirs with me or gave them to me, to famous journalers like Anaîs Nin or Franz Kafka.

I read Cobain’s suicide note years ago, and it left me wanting more, and more than just music.

This is Kurt Cobain's suicide note.
This is Kurt Cobain’s suicide note.

Today I got a fat book in the mail. It is photos of his journal pages, which, honestly, is beyond cool. It is messy, chaotic, vulgar, brilliant, interesting. I will dig in with my multi-colored highlighters, and attempt to decode the journal of this troubled, complex, dark soul. Watch this space for a review.

Look at this beautiful chaos! I can't wait to dig into this!
Look at this beautiful chaos! I can’t wait to dig into this!

Goodbye Open Mic Nyte; What’s Next?

Your humble host speaks at Open Mic Nyte earlier this year.
Your humble host speaks at Open Mic Nyte earlier this year.

I am saddened to report that Open Mic Nyte, which I have attended since June 2017, has suspended performances.

We saw this coming when its long-time home, Mojo’s Coffee, closed in October 2018. The Grandview hosted us for a while, which was unassailably generous, but the space wasn’t quite conducive to our scene. Another factor that contributed to this was that many of the musicians who performed at Open Mic moved to Sessions, a new live music and alehouse venue, which hosted performances on the same night just down the street.

Sterling Jacobs organized Open Mic Nyte for the last couple of years. When he read something, anything could happen.
Sterling Jacobs organized Open Mic Nyte for the last couple of years. When he read something, anything could happen.

Sterling Jacobs, a friend for decades, organized the event, and though he has been a poetry rock star, attendance has been faltering. Sterling said in a video that he hopes to keep it going via Facebook, but it’s definitely not the same, not a scene. Besides, my writing is overwhelmingly here at richardbarron.net, not on social media.

We had some great times at Open Mic Nyte, and I feel like I expressed myself well. I always looked forward to it. I met some great people, and reconnected with some old friends.

I hope to find another frequent open microphone event where I can read soon.

Open Mic Nyte often filled Mojo's Coffee, shown here in July 2017.
Open Mic Nyte often filled Mojo’s Coffee, shown here in July 2017.

Manifest of Mary’s 24th Century Weaponry

This is from the Bl@k Bük.  It was written by a long-time friend of mine.

Manifest of Mary’s 24th Century Weaponry

by M7/Rectal Infectant

Personal defense…

  • Mood wand
  • Spider gun
  • The constipater
  • Nut hook
  • Sonic buttplug
  • Dung sabre
  • Point ‘n vomit
  • Vomit box
  • Beavisator
  • Halitosis projector
  • Dangerously infected semen
  • Wash plug in ureter
  • Julio Iglesiator
  • Crystalline toilet paper

Small Meleé…

  • Es carne el diablo
  • Tri-directional fuckstream
  • Ass packet
  • Big rock materializer
  • Neck-mounted howitzer
  • Massive chigger attack vector
  • Rectum? Damn near kill’d em!
  • Anti-nucleic jizz rag device
  • Inner fetus
  • Dohicky dick hickey
  • Insertable calculator
  • Bucket full of assholes
  • Pap smear slip-up

Mass destruction…

  • Magna ream
  • Ad agency
  • Cylinder of death
  • Nerdlinger
  • Television
  • Tater smack
  • Fat blocker
  • Blat focker
  • Quantum hurl trough
  • Democratic National Convention
  • Major League Baseball

Shopping List for American Jee-Hodd

Editor’s note: I read this at Open Mic Nyte recently, and I felt is deserved a wider audience. It was written by a long-time friend of mine in one of the notebooks we share.

Shopping List for My American Jee-Hodd

(In American, it’s pronounced “She Hot!”)

by M7/Virgil Woodpuff

  • Wood putty
  • Barbed wire
  • 1984
  • Blonde-haired American hookers
  • TRS-80
  • Five miles of coaxial cable
  • Velvet pinwheel
  • 1968 Chevy Camaro – CHERRY FUCKIN’ RED
  • Two dozen goat-skin condoms
  • Passed-over cheap Israeli combat boots
  • Inflatable McDonald’s (makes its own sauce)
  • Particle accelerator
  • Song #2
  • Arc of the Convenience Store
  • Post-modern expletives
  • Jesus fish bumper stickers
  • Undefined threats
  • Idol of the Meat God
  • Blankets infected with lust for material posessions
  • ULTIMATE WEAPON = AMERICAN TELEVISION

 

At Right Angles

Editor’s note: I read this at Open Mic Nyte recently, and I felt is deserved a wider audience. It was written by a long-time friend of mine in one of the notebooks we share.

At Right Angles 

by M7/Rectal Infectant

My pet kangaroo gently bounces in front of me – ears atwitch. I lustily attack her brownie and she farts off into the azure distance somewhere. I mount her ghostly afterimage and slobber all over the back of her neck. Her poltergeistly marsupial climax timpanied at the end with a massive kick of her rabbit/clown feet. I double over in grief, semen dripping from my defeated unit like absinth dripping from Lord Byron’s lips (or like the condensation from a rickety mid-August Oklahoma window mounted air conditioner.)

“Fuck you, Kangaroo!” I groan as I fumble through her ghost pouch for the “off” switch. After seeing my hand pass through the insubstantial pet, I settle for the 24th century super- Quaalude I fish out of my vest pocket.

After a bit, I am calmed and there are no kangaroos about – ghostly or otherwise. Yet I still feel the clammy clutch of her chocolate roo vagina. 45º crooked perspective… loamy earth surrounds… tumbling grains of sand.sugar.salt…

Matching her bounce this time, I hold tight to her ridiculous ears as she farts off into the azure else. The supersonic breeze buffets my erection, but I had taken special adhesive precautions the night before.

The ghostly image was left alone in my room to gleelessly masturbate to the Hoover.

The Luxurious Blue Notebook, Part 2

Cry on my shoulder.

This above all: to thine own self be true.

I just want something I can never have.

Fantasies are opiate of the imaginative.

What image best describes self-involved bleak despair?
What image best describes self-involved bleak despair?

Far away.

Then, it was over.

The secret of life, therefore, is this: when faced with the truth, accept it.

Right now I’ve got fear, pain, and boredom. These are good ones, because they can get so real, so sharp, so clear. ~Journal, July 1985

This mortal pain.

I have no choice.

Every feeling you have is really about yourself.

“You’re good company.” ~M

If you can’t stand the headaches, get out of your head.

Who are you? Actually, I already know, so the question becomes: do you know who you are? Is that an imperative?

I strive for order. I yearn for chaos.

I am not the body you see before you, nor am I the soul inside me. I am all the things I’ve said and done, and all the things I failed to say and do.

Revenge can only make us weak.

And why did you leave at all?

Don’t confuse comfort with happiness.

Don’t resist change. It’s the only thing you’ll always have.

And the pain never dims.

“Nuclear war would have a ‘purifying’ effect on the world.” ~Negative Guy

I deserve to be happy.

Confess that I’m weak. The pain of confession. The starvation of weakness.

Do you ever miss me?

Rainbow of darkness.

Your drama is so incomplete, so infantile. Even if it was complete, it’s still drama.

If you believe the second coming of Christ is imminent, why are you saving for your kids’ college?

I leaned my head on the hard wood, closed my eyes and let the music penetrate my most subtle defenses.

The people are a mess, but the dog is straight up.
The people are a mess, but the dog is straight up.

“This is the price you pay for being a superior person.” ~V to my sister

How would I have loved her? I ask as a surrogate for ever loving again.

Time does fly.

I led her by the hand through her apology.

My hello is goodbye.

“Military whiskey of the house.” ~Dream fragment

I shiver to think how I was violated.

“Shadows wash the room.” ~S&G lyric

Stunted sexuality = repressed creativity.

Have the strength to be happy.

Without a basic understanding of beauty, one can never be happy.

I am expected, but not awaited.

I’d rather be disillusioned than live with my illusions.

“Overall, humanity is a community of suffering.” ~The Modehrus

All I see is your face, and I’ll see your face again.

I can write anything I want as long as I unwrite it.
I can write anything I want as long as I unwrite it.

I’m not afraid.

I’m living at the edge of the world.

The music of love doesn’t play in my ears.

We rise to the levels of strength and bravery that our lives demand.

Part of me waits.

Your life is completely different than mine by virtue of seeing your face in the mirror instead of mine.

Instead of I should, I will.

In the midst of rain, I see ghosts.

All’s fear in love and war.

If you don’t understand freedom, you don’t need it.

Love hasn’t served me especially well, but thought always has.

If only you could have known me when this was my room.
If only you could have known me when this was my room.

Walking across a big, dark room in a house you don’t know, are you scared? Sure you are. My life is walking across that room.

How strong am I?

What you are thinking is what you are becoming.

Order is chaos in a tuxedo.

Time can only take you down the road so far, and then there’s a fork.

It’s such a bitter lie.

I you don’t try to drag me down to your level, I promise not to try to drag you up to mine.

This is my confession.

My mind is made up with hospital corners.

Poetry doesn’t come to me. I come to it.

The beauty of enough is that it’s never enough.

I have blurred visions. Blurred by what? The telephone line. Honesty. Your presence. The realness. History. The smell of winter. Ghosts. The sky on fire. Silence.

There’s nothing “brutal” about honesty.

I’ll be remembered by everyone who matters.

I find it too much … me.

Some things you never get over, and love takes even longer than that.

Swimming in an ocean of hurt.

If who you are is pain, then feeling it with all your heart.

My life is a poem about longing.

The once bright arc between us is, tonight, a silence.

Ignorance is abyss.

Addiction is not disease. Addiction is weakness choice. My addiction, my weakness, my impotence.

I am admired, but not desired.

I don’t need anyone when I’m lonely. They don’t help, anyway.

So much pain. So little time.

I’m nobody you want to know.
I’m a nobody you want to know.

The ring of truth is always there to be heard.

I am revealed.

What kind of ego do I have?
What kind of ego do I have?

The Rabbit Hole

Eastern cottontail says, "If you thought Richard wasn't going to have a rabbit picture handy, you need to re-read the chapter."
Eastern cottontail says, “If you thought Richard wasn’t going to have a rabbit picture handy, you need to re-read the chapter.”

Last semester a photography student of mine told me that she visited this site and took a trip “down the rabbit hole,” meaning she got involved and lost in the content. It was very flattering to me to have someone say that. I try to be as entertaining as I can and as poignant as I can. The internet can be unforgiving, particularly when you tell a truth some people don’t want to hear. I appreciate any approbation offered.

Here’s a little history. In 1978, I started a journal for English class in tenth grade. I wrote in full-sized spiral notebooks for 20 years. After that I switched to smaller hardback volumes. In 2007, I started a blogger.com page. Within a year I migrated to my own web site, and have administered it using WordPress since then. That gradually replaced writing in longhand.

Interestingly, I bought a number of hardback blank journals in the early 2000s that remain unused. I have toyed with the notion of giving them away, but we live in a world of such plenteous paper and so little demand that I expect anyone who would take them wouldn’t use them.

That leaves keeping them for either a special project or some kind of handwritten journal reboot, neither of which is likely in the internet age; I am much more comfortable at the keyboard these days than I am with a pen or a pencil.

An Open Mic Nyte buddy of mine, Timothy, calls them his notebooks “codex” books, which is an elegant name for the same thing. Another OMN friend, next door neighbor Jenn, keeps journal notes all the time. Ideas?

There are two empty 8.5x11-inch notebooks and 11 8x5-inch books in this stack. I want to do something with them. Their potential tasks me.
There are two empty 8.5×11-inch notebooks and 11 8×5-inch books in this stack. I want to do something with them. Their potential tasks me.

Open Mic Nyte

Your humble host speaks as the July 2017 guest artist at Open Mic Nyte.
Your humble host speaks as the July 2017 guest artist at Open Mic Nyte.
A singer/guitarist performs for the Open Mic Nyte crowd.
A singer/guitarist performs for the Open Mic Nyte crowd.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the café culture. Artists and Bohemians like Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac seemed to lead lives of densely-layered creativity. For similar reasons, I’ve always been interested in getting together with fellow writers and poets, to share and compare and express. One result of these interests is the formation of various writing groups over the years: in 1980, in 1992, and in 2000.

Open Mic Nyte participants listen as a poet reads a manuscript from 1982.
Open Mic Nyte participants listen as a poet reads a manuscript from 1982.

So when I was recently invited to join a social media group called Open Mic Nyte, I didn’t hesitate, and in June 2017 I attended my first session.

Guest share a laugh at Open Mic Nyte.
Guest share a laugh at Open Mic Nyte.

Though many people recognized me as Richard the news photographer, I told them I was just Richard.

Open Mic Nyte co-founder Sterling Jacobs recites one of his rhymes.
Open Mic Nyte co-founder Sterling Jacobs recites one of his rhymes.

One thing Open Mic Nyte co-founder (along with Steve Brogdon and Lisa M. Pyre) Sterling Jacobs emphasized is vulnerability and its value in situations like this; the willingness to be emotionally vulnerable is indispensable in expressing yourself.

I make a picture in the Open Mic Nyte live stream with event co-founder Steve Brogdon.
I make a picture in the Open Mic Nyte live stream with event co-founder Steve Brogdon.
Open Mic Nyte regular Darice Strickland is shown on my tablet as I broadcast in July 2017.
Open Mic Nyte regular Darice Strickland is shown on my tablet as I broadcast in July 2017.
Rhonda Ragsdale, pen name Lisa M. Pyre, speaks at Open Mic Nyte in July 2017. Ragsdale was the original founder of this event.
Rhonda Ragsdale, pen name Lisa M. Pyre, speaks at Open Mic Nyte in July 2017. Ragsdale was the original founder of this event.
Mackenzie Crosby warms up as she prepares to play her guitar at Open Mic Nyte in July 2017.
Mackenzie Crosby warms up as she prepares to play her guitar at Open Mic Nyte in July 2017.

You can see more images from Open Mic Nyte in the photos section of its Facebook page (link).

25 Years

Abby and I just watched Malcolm X, the 1992 Spike Lee Joint. It’s style summoned some very close-to-home memories from that dark year, so I dove into my journal.

The author sits at his desk in his apartment on E. 12th Street in Ada in the early 1990s.
The author sits at his desk in his apartment on E. 12th Street in Ada in the early 1990s.

I like to imagine these notes are like Kafka’s or Camus’, but they sometimes sound like they came from a high school girl.

These pearls only scratch the surface of what it was like for me that year, but it’s a good start…

• Return to me, and return to me what you have taken.

• Have you ever noticed that it’s the strong who think the strong should survive?

• Part of me wants her to be happy, and part of me wants her.

• I can see you in your navy peacoat, white scarf, snow melting on your glasses, under the street light.

• Sarcasm chasm.

• And yet, today, I failed to hold anyone close, tell anyone I love them, laugh, cry, have fun. What the hell am I doing?

• Tears always require imagination.

• It’s funny how the most boring people I know find me among the most boring people they know.

• Those who seem to be hiding something are usually hiding the fact that they have nothing to hide.

• Slow dance and mean it.

• Home is a moment.

• Before I go, I’d like to 1. Be famous 2. Get rich 3. Feed the world 4. Marry. Don’t be ridiculous. Who’s gonna marry me?

• If I leave, there’s no chance anyone will want me to leave.

• I’d rather eat cereal than hallucinate.

• Alone. What a wonderful word. Sometimes it’s all that needs to be said.

• I don’t want what you have. I want what you are.

• Today was made of tears.

• Misheard lyric: “The dummy between your legs.” Actual lyric: “The damage accumulates.”

• I hold myself tight because no one else will. Not even you.

• (An exhaustive list of women I dated or wanted to date, along with their best and worst characteristics.)

• I stand still and time passes through me.

• Love is an acquired taste.

• Slow-dancing with my imagination.

• “I’m really glad,” she said, not knowing how much it meant to me and how happy I was the hear her say it, “that you started coming over on Friday nights.”

• There is no place in heaven or on earth better than in my arms.

• She chants and she cries and she holds this night as sacred as I.

• We rise to the levels of strength and bravery that our lives demand.

• Somehow it means more to have someone observe than I am lonely than it does to merely be lonely.

• Most people are made up of their bad habits and broken dreams.

• How does it feel? It feels like I am in a pressure chamber, and it’s all pressing on me, making me smaller, harder. Sometimes I feel like I will disappear completely. Right now, as I sit hunched and write backhanded and yarn tearfully, I remember than no matter who or where you are, you are not thinking about me.

• Don’t go. Stay. Don’t stray.

• The future is up for grabs, and the past is up for review.

• I looked at myself in the cold, harsh, judgmental light of that damned mirror and saw so much of myself I had to look away.

• Read me like a book. I dare you.

• I can still smell her on me, the smell of perfume and tears.

• Her whole life has left her unprepared for the kind of openness I offer.

• 3:13 am. You awaken mysteriously to the sound of my voice calling your name. You hear in me my need, my gifts, my love, my life. You sit up and look around. All seems as it should.

• I sit by the window and listen as the wind chimes play the loneliest song ever written.

• Her soft voice touches me with its illusion.

• The words loomed large when she said, “I love Richard.” Never mind that the rest of the sentence was, “because he always brings cookies.”

• Maybe I was tired, or maybe it was the music, but I swear I could hardly bear the next moment.

• You keep me alive by needing me in your life. Telling you who I am is who I am.

• And you, whose caring ends the minute you walk out that door…

• Even if you have nothing to hide, don’t hide.

• The opposite of hurt is hope.

• The train to yesterday leaves tomorrow.

• Tonight the windy mist does a disappointing job hiding my tears. Miserable weather.

• When I’m with you, I’m as unlonely as I ever need to be.

• The future is our only choice.

• Bachelorhood: the freedom to joylessly masturbate to the uninspired pornography of my imagination.

• “You’re one of the most obvious people I’ve ever met.” ~M

• “Do they abandon you, or do you drive them away?” ~F

• Peace doesn’t come from what you do, but from who you are.

• If there is a god, I want to look him in the eyes. Is that the idea behind mirrors?

• Message from girlfriend on answering machine: “Meat loaf. Pot roast. Yankee pot roast. English pot roast. T-bone steak cut from the side of a cow. Round steak. Rib eye. Fillet mignon. Fried crab. Oyster on the half shell. Pork ribs. BBQ beef, dripping, glistening with sauce. McDonald’s Big Mac. Ooo, I have a deep voice. Hamburger meat, nice and lean and frying in a pan forever and ever. Chicken noodle soup. Beefy vegetable soup. …uh… (BEEP).”

• “Part of your heart you only use when you’re in love.” ~J

• A single wish: don’t let it end in tears.

• I give because I need to give.

• She cried.

• There have been hours beyond darkness in which I was totally alone.

• Good men make mistakes.

August 15, 1992: My first flying lesson.

• You awaken. The pillow is cool, but for a moment it seems like someone is there with you. It’s me.

• Silence wraps around me like a boa constrictor.

• There is nothing inside my heart that is outside my reach.

• Cool night. Footsteps on the stairs. Clouds witness my tension as I wait for Darla or Lee or the last person I’ll ever see.

• Fire and wind from the sky laugh at my frail heart as I sit in the unwelcome darkness and miss your smile.

• Missing her comes in waves. Soon they will sweep me away.

• Dressed in black, I walk the night, not among the shadows, but as the shadows.

• Sometimes it feels like if you were to cut me open, my anger and pain would flood the world.

• “Swirling toilet of despair.” ~Aria

• I have blurred visions.

• The trouble with sex with M is that you’d have to get along with her for at least a whole day, and I can’t imagine being able to do that.

• The chocolate of truth

• Perspective: use it or lose it.

• If I believed in god, I’d hate him, but my disbelief deprives me of that luxury.

• When the New Order comes, anyone uttering the word “codependent” will spend six months in a reeducation camp.

• “Hello, Richard. I just wanted to tell you that life is a tragic and terrible struggle that is made harder by the fact that as a race, we are all tragically flawed. See you this weekend. Bye.” ~David, on my answering machine

On the morning of December 20, 1992, my flight instructor signed my logbook and got out of the airplane, and I flew solo for the first time. In addition to the first giant step to becoming a pilot, it was a symbolically high moment in my personal life. My 1992 was over.

Leanring to fly, to overcome fear, challenges, and uncertainty, marked a new chapter in my life, a chapter filled with confidence and success.
Leanring to fly, to overcome fear, challenges, and uncertainty, marked a new chapter in my life, a chapter filled with confidence and success.

Shooting Blanks

Fiction Mirrors Reality
“What do you care what I think anyway? I don’t even count, right? I could disappear forever and it wouldn’t make any difference. I might as well not even exist at this school, remember? And you… don’t like me anyway.” ~John Bender, The Breakfast Club
We Were Young
“When you grow up. your heart dies.” ~Allison Reynolds, The Breakfast Club
Sometimes it can feel this way.
Sometimes it can feel this way.

As I read an old journal – my first journal – as research for another blog entry, I found that it led me to think about my writing. When I was 15, I was so proud of my journal. My journal was everything to me. But it was nothing. It was just me recycling M*A*S*H jokes, stealing Charlie Brown quotes, and being obsessed with waifish girls in my class. I wanted so much to be doing something creative, but it was just masturbation.

 

December 23, 1978
I spent a lot of time out behind the house today. (We have a creek and a dump.) I was constantly thinking about – no, no I wasn’t really thinking of anything. I was just thinking. I came to no real conclusions.

Somehow this epiphany extended to the present, and at the moment I am feeling that every word I’ve ever written has been a jumbled, better-spelled, better-grammared version of those first whiny spiral-bound entries from tenth grade.

January 14, 1979
I’ve been thinking lately. In what do I excel? Am I totally useless? No. I have three outstanding abilities. Firstly, I am a good orator, seeing that I got first place at Cameron [speech contest]. Secondly, my hobby. I am a pretty fair photographer. Lastly, and probably most important to me, I am a highly prolific writer. This paragraph may sound conceited, but I must occasionally remind myself that I am not totally untalented and worthless.

I tried to quench this deserted thirst by re-reading some of my blog entries and short stories, but that was just shooting blanks. Maybe I really am a bad writer. The only writing I’ve ever actually gotten published is in Ada Magazine, and that wasn’t much of an accomplishment since I am the editor. By this time in 1979, after a school year of journal writing, I fantasized that I would end up writing novels.

January 14, 1979
I feel surrealistically sad right now. I feel so much as if I am going to die. But of course, it is only a feeling. Or perhaps, a hope? After all, what’s there to live for? A few novels, maybe one of my photos on a magazine cover, an award for best oratory? Maybe nothing, maybe everything.

The journal entries themselves from that period seem – at least from my probably too-close, too-critical perspective – much more self-involved, self-indulgent, and self-piteous than I imagine other 15-year-olds’ thoughts would be.

January 30, 1979

I just don’t understand. Why? Why am I the one and only Richard R. Barron? The totally untalented and superfluous RRB? The great unsung hero of absolutely nothing of any importance? I really should call X; she hardly knows that I exist. All of my long nights spent in ambivalence, all that pain and suffering was for nothing at all. Then again, maybe not.

So here I am watching a late night documentary about mind control. I don’t think my brain could be washed or mind could be controlled.

And there seemed to be so many violent thoughts; I often used the word “revenge.” I know I never had violent fantasies at the time, so it might be that I was relatively inarticulate. Maybe I just wanted justice, or maybe I just wanted to be heard. “Revenge” is a loud word to write, but no one seemed to hear it.

April 27, 1979
I feel like crying. I want to die. Everything has suddenly gone wrong. Everyone is starting to hate me. Worst of all, I am starting to hate myself. My entire emotional structure is collapsing. Time lingers on and brings back memories. So much has happened inside me since last summer. A good deal has changed just within a few days. I am alone, but I am not lonely. I am at peace, but there is much unrest. I know I exist and yet I do not understand why.  I am just a shadow on the wall. I am nothing.

I could vanish from the face of the Earth right now and no one would know.

I effect no one’s life and play no significant role in any society. Who cares? Who DOES care? No one. No one will ever care about or for me. I am totally inadequate and superfluous.

But what about the long run? Is it possible that I could significantly influence the future of the world? Perhaps there is a definite reason to remain part of life on Earth.

For me, these spiral-nound notebooks were my very heart and soul converted to words, but when I was young, the words were completely inadequate.
For me, these spiral-bound notebooks were my very heart and soul converted to words, but when I was young, the words were completely inadequate.

Another thing I did in junior high and high school was sneaking out of the house late at night. I don’t know what other kids did when they snuck out; maybe it was to get high, drink, and screw, or all three. In Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Jennifer Jason Leigh sneaks out to have sex with a college kid. I snuck out to explore. A buddy and I would meet up somewhere – a park or the golf course – and go from there, finding and exploring stuff like construction sites, vacant lots, storage areas, whatever. We always did it when it was super cold outside, and I always wore my dad’s surplus army jacket. The next day we made maps of what we did.

I wonder how many kids snuck out late at night, and what they did. Abby and I were guardians of her nephew for a few years during his teen years, and I always wondered if he snuck out. As far as I know, my parents never knew I snuck out, and I was never aware that he snuck out.

May 4, 1979

I have come a conclusion. I am totally and absolutely worthless. It’s not really all that bad that no one else cares about you once you get used to it. It’s just that I really don’t care any longer. I need a way out and I am desperate. No one even really likes me. I am simply an outcast, a loner, an oddball in a great crown of normal, happy people.

What would really happen if I killed myself? What would REALLY happen? I would, in a way, have my long-sought-after justice. Justice, indeed, my friend, justice.

Life goes on. I must continue regardless of the world’s meaninglessness.

Like most kids, or even most people whose perspective becomes myopic and self-centered, I thought of my life as miserable and difficult. I honestly had no idea how good it was; carefree, full of potential, healthy. George Bernard Shaw pierced the heart of the matter when he said, “Youth is wasted on the young.”

May 5, 1979

My life is going very badly now. I am filled with pressures and anxieties. Learning to ignore problems… especially those unsolvable ones… is hardly a solution. Something is wrong… deep down inside, something is wrong. Is it just that I am very tired?? Am I losing my sanity??

One thing is for sure… those vast, untapped and long forgotten memories will soon return. Once again I will wish and hope and eventually be hurt, disillusioned and disappointed.

Nothing has gone right in a very long time. I must have a reprieve or I will go insane. Why is the world so deeply set against me?

All I can tell you now is that I feel like nothing in a world of something, and that something wants to push me deeper into oblivion.

One fairly impressive thing about all these crazy, sometimes seemingly dangerous, things I wrote in my journal: my English teacher completely respected its implied confidentiality, and made dozens of mostly helpful, understanding comments in the margins when he graded it. I’m not sure a teacher in the 21st century would be as understanding about my teen angst, but might instead regard me as a threat and report me to authorities, the result of which is to push such feelings and expressions deeper into the shadows.

May 10, 1979
I am losing control over my emotional status once again. My feelings have, as usual, suddenly and profoundly changed. I am again confused and somewhat afraid. I am falling apart. I am under a great deal of stress in all ways. I am so tired. No one really cares right now. I would try to care, but I tried to care one and failed. No longer is there poetic justice in the world. There is only work and bad feelings. No rest.

Another lesson I might take from these ramblings is the value of communicating clearly. Teenagers can’t really do it. Part of that is the Small World syndrome, a subset of wishful thinking, in which we believe the things closest to us are the only things in the world, and everyone else surely sees them.

At the end of the year, the English teacher hosted the infamous luncheon at his home that devolved into the famous “social pressure” conversation. It was an odd experience for me, since I spent more than a year presuming and assuming all kinds of unhappy fiction about how everyone felt about me. The luncheon laid out before me, to some extent, that there were other people in the world, and that despite their good looks and popular friends, these other people had feelings not entirely unlike my own.

Recently I've been putting Post-It notes on all the passages in my journal I perceived as significant. The result is that I have journals full of Post-It notes.
Recently I’ve been putting Post-It notes on all the passages in my journal I perceived as significant. The result is that I have journals full of Post-It notes.

“The Book”

The "Pool Party" drawing from "The Book"
The “Pool Party” drawing from “The Book”
Richard
Richard

When I was about 14 and my sister Nicole was about 11, we started writing and drawing in a spiral notebook that we kept under her bed. We wrote in it off and on for several years. It was an ideal fusion of the “Amy plus Bobby 2gether 4ever” type notes you see scribbled on an eighth grade girls’ notebook, and skill-lessly draw pictures of penises.

Nicole
Nicole

It included charts and graphs of people we hated or people we wanted to love. The charts were fill-in-the-blanks charts that requested basic information: age, date of birth, virginity status, hair color, eye color, height, phone number, school, grades, use of profanity, voice, and “molestee” for girls and “molester” for boys.

Our class schedules are in there, as are some hysterically funny drawings.

I don’t know if this is an insight into the minds of young adolescents, or a scathing indictment of how weird we were.

A Few Tidbits
Jenny’s bludges. -Richard

And my personality has never recovered. -Nicole

I’m so happy-sad! -Nicole

Sure, I hated him this morning. That’s when I didn’t know him. -Nicole, quoting Peggy

(In different handwritings)… Hot stuff. Stuff. Stuff. Hot stuff. Cold shit. Blotchey. Blotchey pen. Blotchie? No no no. Blotchey. -Richard and Nicole

Let’s be friends, okay? -Nicole

Let’s hear it for the real people. -Nicole

Freshenup gum! -Nicole

(Name of Nicole’s date)… Stupid! Dumb! Ugly! But at least he’s nice. -Richard

I wish he would get into me. -Nicole

(In large script handwriting)… The Crystal Chandelier -Nicole

What? What? What! That’s what I said. I said what! -Nicole

NO MORE PARTY LINE! -Nicole

Hatehatehatehatehatehatehate. Lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove. -Richard

Clean pen. Clean clean pen. -Richard

Ursula. Stacey and Ronald. Bloo. -Nicole

"Names Page" from "The Book"
“Names Page” from “The Book”
End of Nicole's Letter to Angela
P.S. Remember our secret about why we were late getting back to the bus at the Spanish Club trip? Keep it a secret.

I have always wondered about that secret.

Nicole's List of First-Day-of-School Fears

No one will talk to me in the morning.

On the first day, I’m going to wear corduroy and I scared everyone will think I’m dressed wrong for the season.

My hair is straight on one side and curly on the other and I can’t get them to match.

My face is all broken out and my makeup fades too fast.

I’m three inches taller than my boyfriend.

The "Fox Page" from "The Book"
The “Fox Page” from “The Book”
Nicole in the morning
Nicole in the morning

There is at least one “make a face” game in it, which Nicole and I developed during long drives to see our grandparents in Missouri. In it, we each took a turn adding a feature to a face, with emphasis on making it as funny or grotesque as possible.

There is a certain chaos about “The Book” that I find compelling, yet am unable to reproduce in latter-day efforts.

The cover to the spiral-bound book was lost many years ago, so I don’t know where it actually begins and ends. There is an A thru Z comparison of my handwriting and my sisters, so I treat that as the cover.

Apparently I was into a girl named Peggy at the time, but I only recall ever seeing her once. (Updated May 2018 to add that I recall it was Peggy Crockett, the girl I hugged under the streetlight in the summer of 1978.)

The biggest surprise about the book is that it made our parent’s move from Lawton, Oklahoma to Palm Coast, Florida in 1987. I would have thought they would have thrown it out.

As far as I know, this in the only surviving example of "Make a Face," a game my sister Nicole and I played, usually on long car rides. We took turns adding an element, trying to make it more shocking and funny than the last.
As far as I know, this in the only surviving example of “Make a Face,” a game my sister Nicole and I played, usually on long car rides. We took turns adding an element, trying to make it more shocking and funny than the last.

The Tortilla Sessions

These are notes from one time I went to dinner with my friends with whom I later formed the writing group called Robert’s Frost.

Pink = Audrey  | Green = Shana | Blue = Richard | Red = Merida

These are actual drawings of those involved, drawn by each other.
These are actual drawings of those involved, drawn by each other.

Mickey Hamstrings the Pope by Minimus 7.0.1

In the future, everything will be made from leather; leather furniture, leather kitchen utensils, leather consumer electronics.

In restaurants, leather will be served on rice, on the side, flambéed, grilled, smoked, and on ice.

Certain leather, expensive and sensual to the touch, will be soaked in a substance from the future that is part drug and part 24th-century psychotropic herb that yields perfect perception when stirred with gold foil and pressed atop a leather pyramid.

Cows will be forced to eat their own processed hide.

Chips are crunchy, chips are good, chips are my favorite munchy.

My friend says tortillas smell like cum. My tortillas never smell like cum., but if they did, I would swallow them.

Mickey liked the way women would smile graciously and gently masturbate the Pope with a special leather apparatus. “I’m apparatus man!” he would proclaim.

When I am cold goosebumps I grow. They appear any time of the day. Goosebumps or “freeze dots” are not fun. My legs turn prickly and that’s when I know I’VE GOT GOOSEBUMPS.

Try biting your own crack. Goosebumps gone.

I saw myself eat!

This is another image from the night we went to dinner and talked about the smell of tortillas.
This is another image from the night we went to dinner and talked about the smell of tortillas.

“Flush, twice if you have to. Flush your stuff. Why is this so hard for you to do?” -Sign in bathroom

I’m a cat. Meow.

Maybe they had cum on them. Maybe you should see your tortilla maker.

He could just think about getting it up and it would get up.

Yea, I’m thinking about getting it up right now.

Richard, stop poking me!

Yes, I would characterize myself as an avid masturbator.

I got gunk on the page. [There was gunk under her comment.]

She just snorted! Oh my gosh!

I bet she masturbates all the time.

Since I’ve had women with sex.

I forgot about the cheese!

I don’t ever get to drink with other people.

Wouldn’t it be cool if I found a human head?

Nothing stinks more than garbage.

My boobs are falling out!

Ooo, they’re hard now.

I saw Merida’s nipples!

I love the taste of myself.

Photo I made in the women's room mirror that night; Merida, Shana, and Audry.
Photo I made in the women’s room mirror that night; Merida, Shana, and Audry.

 

The Luxurious Blue Notebook, Part 1

Raise the blue flag and begin the end.
Raise the blue flag and begin the end.

I don’t want what you have. I want who you are.

What do you expect from me? Isn’t it enough that I insist on putting myself on your front porch, wimpering like a wet, hungry puppy?

The quiet cool of this night has surrounded me, isolated me, captured me, holding me in this envelope of solitude, and is rolling me away into a silent escape of dreams.

I laugh myself to sleep.

Who do you think I think I am?

Merely hating people doesn’t make your superior to them.

I pour the filth of my soul onto your doorstep, and you cleanse me by merely witnessing my suffering.

Ticking Away
Time flies, far above, silently, casting no shadow. One day it’s gone.

I had a feeling that was made pure in the moment I held her.

All those in favor, signify by suffering.

Truer than Beauty
Nothing has ever hurt me more than, “She is gone.”

There is so much inside of me that never speaks.

Never forget the pain, because it will never forget you.

Wishes are just beautiful complaints.

Why do I miss you so much? Why are you gone?

You must make a friend of pain, or one day you will have no friends at all.

I don’t have to explain myself to you, or even to me.

Like This
Clouds like mountains
Mountains like dreams
Dreams like water
Water like clouds

IF is the word in the middle of LIFE.

Is fear of death really fear of loneliness?

Insecurities are your heart’s bad advice.

The ground will always hold me up when nothing else will.

I have more pencils than enemies.

You don’t deserve me, and I certainly don’t deserve you.

Cold world. Bundle up.

Beauty is the most seductive deception.

My life is a work of fiction.

I never had a nightmare I didn’t like.

You are free to do as you are told.

Pain is the perfect pet. You never need to feed it because you can feed it everything you have and it will still be hungry.

I taste tears, or maybe they taste me before they devour me.

What's wrong with this picture? Nothing, I guess.
What’s wrong with this picture? Nothing, I guess.

The Twenty Transition

Forget Facebook. THIS is how you journal.
Forget Facebook. THIS is how you journal.

In September 1998, my journal (sometimes lightheartedly referred to as “Lord Byron” from a name I gave it in high school) turned 20. I thought of marking the occasion in several different ways. One somewhat radical concept I had involved writing the next 20 years in the margins of the first 20 years, which were all handwritten in huge Mead spiral notebooks. It had a conceptual high art feel to it, but my friends talked me out of it.

Also Ran
A woman I dated in the 1980s also wrote a journal in Mead notebooks, but insisted on writing a pun associated with the word “Mead” next to it on the cover, like “Mead and Podadoes.”
I was reading a lot of Albert Camus in the late 1990s, and I'm sure his writing influenced my own. This is me reading "The Plague."
I was reading a lot of Albert Camus in the late 1990s, and I’m sure his writing influenced my own. This is me reading “The Plague.”

It was around this time that I was frequenting book stores. Remember those? Borders and Barnes & Noble were in their heyday, and had whole sections of blank journals. Some of the journals were fairly plain, while others were clad in the finest Italian leather. Some had faint designs on their inside pages, while others were entirely blank. My pages of choice were simple ruled paper, so I could just write. All of them were dimensionally smaller than the college-rule spirals, which I stuck with for the first 20 years because that was what I had when I started writing the journal in tenth grade.

It was on September 5, 1998 that I made the switch. In addition to smaller paper, I abbreviated the date, which I had always written out in the Mead books.

Upon looking over the transitional period, I began to discover that I was really writing well during that period. At least I thought I was.

February 25, 1998
I wonder if this journal is what sets me apart from the millions who toil like Sisyphus every day, pointlessly churning out paperwork or rubber dogshit or the culture of excess and disease. Or is it my photography? What sets me above?
I have always been a list maker, from those first journal days in 1978, to this very day.
I have always been a list maker, from those first journal days in 1978, to this very day.
March 14, 1998

I desire to be brilliant. Ready? GO!

Cynicism is not the answer. Who is happy? Not the cynic. By definition, happiness is the goal. But the definition of happiness eludes us. To believe one’s self to be happy but in actuality being destructive, ignorant, lazy, stupid, or not using one’s potential is not happiness, just the illusion of happiness.

These are the hardcover journal books to which I switched in 1998. I continued to write in them until about 2008, when my handwritten product was replaced by typewritten and online product.
These are the hardcover journal books to which I switched in 1998. I continued to write in them until about 2008, when my handwritten product was replaced by typewritten and online product.
May 11, 1998

The biggest imagination gap: self-image. So many people look and act like complete idiots and believe they are the coolest thing since ice cream. How can you think you look good in that ball cap, that moo moo, that pair of urine-soaked golf pants?

LOOK AT YOURSELF!

Then there were the lists.

Write It Down

  • The only happy teenagers are the stupid ones.
  • I am the sky, and I must go home.
  • What I wouldn’t give to write this page in my own blood.
  • I would snap you like a twig.
  • There but for the grace of not being a flipping idiot go I.
  • I feel that I can write much more honestly now that I have a document shredder for my notes.
  • Sometimes I feel like I need my anger the way I need my next breath.
  • “That was very sexy.” -T, after watching me lick salt from my margarita glass.
  • Never in my life have I been so good at concealing my feelings.

I have written a lot of words over the years. Most of it is drivel. In fact, almost all of it is drivel. Occasionally, however, there is a pearl.

This is the Richard who filled up one notebook after another in 1998.
This is the Richard who filled up one notebook after another in 1998.

The Mad Dash of Destiny

It was September 1978 when Eisenhower High School English Teacher Gil Hernandez assigned my English II class to write in a journal three times a week.

Less that a year later I almost lost the damn thing.

Dad let me take his car to school. It was the Cadillac our family bought years earlier for our vacation to California, but as it got older, it became Dad’s everyday car. (It’s hard to fathom today that a car that guzzled fuel at a rate of 8 miles per gallon could be an “everyday” car.) Michael and I decided to hang out after school, so we got in this 5000-pound rolling house of a car and rumbled off down 53rd Street in the direction of my home.

Journal, November 2, 1979
Having to face adversity every day, my share has been dealt for today. A car ran over my journal. Fortunately there were no fatalities. Almost all of the pages survived, but the spiral part of the notebook is hopelessly crushed. Ironically, I only had today and tomorrow to enter and this book would have been full. How, you may be wondering, could my journal possibly be run over by a car? It fell off the roof, of course.

As we drove on, something didn’t seem right, and when I looked in the back seat, I didn’t see my journal. It dawned on my that I’d put it on the roof of the Cadillac while I unlocked the door, and left it there.

In something of a panic, we turned the boat car around and raced back toward the high school. We spotted the journal sitting forlornly in the middle of the road in the very busy intersection of 53rd and Gore. In my mind I began to formulate some kind of a plan to pull the car up to it when the light turned green and grab it through the open door as we passed it. But before my plan was concrete in my head or the light was close to turning green, Michael was out the door. He dashed like an idiot into traffic and grabbed the journal like a football, then dashed back to the car and got in.

Nearly losing the journal wasn’t nearly as embarrassing as many of the things I wrote in it.

Journal, April 28, 1979
My entire emotional structure is collapsing. Time lingers on and brings back memories. So much has happened to me since last summer. I remember. I remember all the days and nights of bitter, sad, angry, empty feelings. And I know, now, that absolutely no one cares about me. Right now I sit and write and no one on earth is thinking of me or remembering me. I am just a shadow on a wall. I am nothing.

I gotta go back in time and get this guy laid.

This is the journal volume as it appears today, with the steel spirals slightly unsquished by several straightening attempts with a needle-nosed pliers.
This is the journal volume as it appears today, with the steel spirals slightly unsquished by several straightening attempts with a needle-nosed pliers.

My Empire of Dirt

Another pile of dreck from the blue filigree notebook, marked for my reference in fuchsia and powder-blue Post-It notes. Sigh…

I want someone to tell it’s alright, even when it’s not.

“At least it’s intense.” -Kathy, 1986
“At least you know you’re alive.” -Ann (who is no longer alive), 2002

I look at pictures of us together and think, “did it really happen?” (Applies to everyone)

In his last dying days and suffering a brain tumor, V was asked if he saw people where he was going. He counted eight.

There’s no going back now. There’s nothing back there, anyway.

c 2001: Disappearance..
My problem is very obviously too much imagination when it comes to romance. That they have beautiful eyes is more about their mastery of mascara than the depth of love in their hearts. Their slender hands grow without any help from their concepts of right and wrong. The intoxication I feel when I smell their soft hair isn’t from inhaling their brilliant insights.

Then I find that even looking in the mirror is too much to bear.

I lent him a cent for lent
but now I relent
for the scent
is that the cent
I lent him for lent
has been spent
for lent   ~Dream fragment, 1993

As if any of you care, that’s it for the blue notebook.

“It’s all there, in shades of grey…”

There are words on every page.
There are words on every page.

In addition to the scores of blog entries here over the years, I’ve written dozens of notebooks full of journal entries, as well as the hilarious green and red notebooks full of stuff my friends and I thought was funny or ridiculous. I also kept a few “other” notebooks. Some of them were full of personal observations I hoped would lead to story or poem ideas, while others were just phrases or sentences I though were deep or meaningful. I quoted movies, I quoted friends, I quoted Camus and Nietzsche and Kafka. I was deep and pretentious, honest and phony, brilliant and idiotic, and all the while I was self-involved and myopic.

Since the early 1980s, I had a couple of extra spiral notebooks where I could carve out some of my inconclusive free-verse or jot single-line ideas. I also used them for shot lists of movies I never made, and outlining novels I never wrote. I really liked the hard cover notebooks that were popularly for sale at bookstores in the 1990s, so I switched to them from the old spirals.

As an aside, I was wondering the other day what I did with my free time back in the old days before the internet, and except for obsessive masturbation and the occasional video rental, writing in my journals and these notebooks must have been it.

Almost all of the things written here about women were written before I was married.

There is no chronology to these items. In fact, I usually just opened the book to a random page or a page that looked particularly empty.

Also of note: writing a lot of material doesn’t necessarily make any of it good.

  • Life is a song. Time is the voice.
  • Home is a moment.
  • Hell is the moment of ultimate regret.
  • “You don’t conquer fear. You learn to get excited by it.” –Gary Busey
  • It’s all there, in shades of grey.
  • “All is not lost, only misplaced.” -Unknown, quoted here from M. Z.
  • I have as much paper as I want. The day will never come when I say to myself that I’ve written too much.
  • My life is full of undocumented suffering.
  • “We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.” ~1984
  • She had that damned black soul that got all over my fingers.
  • I feel happy on purpose, but often feel sad by default.
Prepare and Prevent
What do we mostly offer our children? Candy, sugar, fat, video games, television, the internet, violent movies, cigarettes, alcohol, bad advice, empty morality, hypocrisy, Mr. Self Destruct. What kid could possibly resist? Moral: don’t act so surprised.
  • Medicine is not candy. Food is not medicine.
  • I despise women who date and marry loser guys who are really good looking, but I fawn over really beautiful women.
  • Story idea: a man spends an entire winter cutting down a huge oak tree with his bare hands.
  • Is confession an action?
  • Unhappiness fuels the engine of passion.
  • Violate my tender place and witness the darkness.
  • Everyone else is so ridiculous. I wish I had a clearer picture of my own ridiculousness.
Spirit is Psyche
Don’t tell me who I should be. Don’t tell me that buying something will make me happy, that I’ll be loved, that I’ll be The One. In fact, don’t tell me anything. Give me the truth.
  • “I use hate as a weapon. Had I been strong, I never would have needed such a weapon.” ~Ann, from her journal
  • Fear: If I let this all out, the explosion of violence and rage will destroy me.
  • “Anger and sorrow frighten me because I fear losing control and becoming a raging maniac.” ~Letter from girlfriend, 1992
  • I look into their beautiful chestnut eyes and think about the bold, uncaring ingratitude their husbands will show them tonight.
  • Demanding that I demand nothing is a demand.
  • I don’t miss you. But I miss who I was when I was with you. Or thinking about you. Or missing you.
  • Story idea: “The Disk,” about a writer who has misplaced a computer disk full of intimate erotica she has written, and the search to find it through subtle dialog and observation.
  • Having others around me suffer helps because I think they deserve it.
  • Lots of people call me for advice to ignore.
  • My life is raw material for writing.
It Is Your Destiny
Wherever I am is where it seems like I was destined to be. When I am with someone, it seems natural, obvious, inevitable. It’s the same when I am alone. The truth is, though, that I am alone much more than I am with someone.
  • I am not insane, but I sometimes have insane fantasies.
  • If you castrated me today, would I care about anything in two weeks? How much of what I feel and desire is in my glands?
  • Today I walked venomously close to that place of dangerous insanity. My hate, all clad in white and red, led me by the hand.
  • Then there’s that intensely person moment, in the dark, shared with no one, when you finally say you’re sorry.
  • That day, I was her hero.
  • I’m lucky: I fantasize about violence that is so ridiculous that I could never actually do it. (K called this “utility tempered vengeance.”)

That brings us about a third of the way through the blue book with the gold filigree. More to come.

With these notebooks I have always tried to be a little messier, a little more chaotic, a little closer to the edge.
With these notebooks I have always tried to be a little messier, a little more chaotic, a little closer to the edge.

Word of the Month: “Ponderous”

Like a lot of writers, I tend to gravitate toward a word that I find interesting, and then use it ad nauseum. Lately I have been labeling anything I find to be slow moving or boring “ponderous,” particularly if it is attempting to express an intellectual construct, even unsuccessfully. This paragraph, for example, is ponderous.

I’m also really liking the word “plodding” lately.

Tonight I was reading about my favorite author when I was 16, Richard Bach. As is my habit, I let the internet take me places, and I eventually landed on the YouTube video of the movie Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the movie that was so terrible that Richard Bach himself actually sued the studio in an attempt to prevent its release.

Ponderous, plodding, pensive, pedantic, doggerel and niggardly, this is how I looked when I was about 16.
Ponderous, plodding, pensive, pedantic, doggerel and niggardly, this is how I looked when I was about 16.

But I was blissfully unaware of this intrigue at 16, and as a sensitive teen I became enamored of the Neil Diamond soundtrack to the movie, which was in Dad’s record collection, between The Carpenters and The Ray Conniff Singers. In November of 1979, I listened to the soundtrack over and over and, with the brilliance of magical thinking that resides in all sensitive teens, believed that it made me seem deep and interesting, and that that red-haired girl would fall for me if I just thought about her a little harder.

I know. It sounds idiotic to normals like you, but I’ll bet that someone in my audience did the exact same thing only with irrelevantly different details.

As an adult, and an experienced one at that, I now view such indulgences as fruitless and derivative. But when I was 16, it was all real and it was my entire world.

What does this mean? Does it say that all sensitive teens are idiots? Does it say that the shallowest film and music has the potential to shape the lives of millions of young people? Or was it all just a paranoid adolescent fantasy I conjured to attract the attention of one good-looking but vapid high school girl?

I have to admit that when I hear that music, even in the context of that awful movie (which I still haven’t watched in its entirety), I am viscerally drawn to those days in 1979, with my head on the phone on the floor, making a complete fool of myself, confessing what I thought at the time was love to a girl who, at the time, I thought merited it. It does. It takes me back to that moment.

Seething with Contentment

“We shall come all over.” -Creedo of Cool Left-Wing Juggling Nihilist for Social Revolution, my 1986-88 girlfriend’s college club.

“I’d rather pop a boner in a nursing home.”

Hey, Hitler! Nobody likes you!

My approval rating skyrocketed after I said some nice things about an event elsewhere in the world.

“Talking to yourself is only bad if you’re telling yourself jokes you’ve never heard before.” -Stolen from someone who stole it from a Facebook friend.

“It doesnt matter who’s completely right or completely wrong, it’s the guy’s job to say sorry.”
“Then what does she do?”
“She gets to forgive you.” -Also stolen from Facebook

Misheard lyrics…
Actual lyric: “The damage accumulates.”
Misheard: “The dummy between your legs.”

I dreamed that Max the Chihuahua got lost at a rodeo. I eventually found him in a cubby hole next to a cattle stall, but by then I was all the way across town (it seemed like Norman, Oklahoma) and was late for Abby’s family reunion night tug-of-war.

A brighter future for all, whether the want it or not.
A brighter future for all, whether they want it or not.

X has decided that people who act like morons when being photographed are doing so because they are afraid that if they don’t, they will look like morons anyway because they really are morons.

I am getting old and I can prove it. I just set a wall clock to the “correct” time, since it appeared to be 6 hours off. Then I realized it was upside down in my hands. (Please visit me at the old folks home.)

Ever wonder why so many products bear the moniker “SX”? Simple: you can’t say “SX” without saying “sex.” Try it!

The original thatched hutch in Europe was invented by a Polish civil servant named Antonin Starsky. His invention is now known as the Starskian Hutch.

I was going to lock the bathroom door while I did my business, but then thought to myself, “What if I fall in?” (No, I am not kidding.)

If there is one thing I have learned in all my years, it’s that my goats know what to eat and what not to eat.

Brenda White Simpson: “You know Richard, Ive been meaning to tell you this for a long time. You are one of the funniest people Ive ever ‘met’. Thank You.”

A Hunger that Never Dies

The ornate brown and gold book has slicker pages than other notebooks I own, so the ink flowed more swiftly. Occasionally it would fly off the pages, and go places I regretted.

  • Is today that day I forgive the world?
  • Create an image with words instead of creating an image with suffering.
  • For me, the maxim is: If you can’t say something intelligent, don’t say anything at all.
  • Today my mind is buried deep inside my feelings.
  • I deny ever having been me.
  • Whisper my name. I call yours and you do not answer.
  • I would take humanity, the whole world, tenderly in my arms before I destroy it.
  • I am sorry for the awkward way I loved you. For years you filled up my heart. (You know who you are, even if you don’t know it’s you.)
  • I was once close to her. Now I am only close to this moment.
  • Sometimes I feel like I need my anger the way I need my next breath.
  • I cannot make sense of my dreams, even though they make perfect sense.
  • Who am I? Funny question, since I ask as though finding the answer would make a difference.
  • Even after she left me, she said she would never leave me. (about K, 1988.)
  • Sometimes I am like insect repellent, which is okay, since sometimes people are like insects.
  • Staring at myself in the mirror for a long time, I slowly seem to see someone else.
  • Ignorance is abyss.
  • You can’t look at something without changing it.
  • It’s impossible to hope for a moral society when 97% of the participants willingly murder their fellow mammals for pleasure.
  • You mostly want what you want because someone a little smarter and a lot richer told you to want it.
  • Get down behind me and kiss my path.
  • Who are you anyway, you humanity? Your grand plan is to consume and procreate, like flies. You add to that a culture of suffering and atrocities, and act like you are God’s gift to the earth.
  • Crying: never enough, always too much.
  • The darkest place on earth.
  • How can you see me as “sweet” when sometimes I can barely see myself as sane?
  • In this moment, I understand your denial. How else could you bear your existence?
  • “I think I hear the answer, but it is only the wind and the dark and the vast emptiness.” -Journal, 1979
  • The fork in the road: dreams or mirrors.
  • The last foxhole atheist.
  • Infidelity: the object for some is getting caught, because it punishes their partner for being such a disappointment.
  • I leave dark scars on your life.
  • Story idea: held in my hands, trembling, insane words written in my own handwriting, that I don’t remember writing.
  • The work of love’s axe on the frozen sea.
  • I am a totally superior person and a completely inferior man.
  • During a particularly dark vision, I stand up and walk around the room, but am unable to escape myself. As dark as it was in 1978, 1985, 1988, I think maybe it is darkest now, this moment, this vanishing point.
  • These bones are wearing out. Would you pay to live forever, or would you eventually pay to die?
  • Bomb me into the fucking stone age.
  • I never knew how to let her go. It doesn’t matter if she let me go or not: she’s gone.
  • Wallowing in the muddy sludge you get when you mix broken dreams with alcohol.
  • “Maybe I’m boring and don’t know it. How terrifying.” -Journal, 1980.
  • I want her to come home. That day will never come.
  • It’s not a sore spot. It’s a dark spot. It’s less about losing her, and more about going back to that lonely place.
  • …that darkest part of me, the cold, hungry, injured animal part of me, understands the terrorist, the murderer, the despot.
  • I feel fragile, like old yellow paper.
  • Nobody is as lonely as I am. Not even me.
  • How can women love men who spit in public, but not love me?
  • Just what I need: another black-souled woman for my collection.
  • My wildest sin is dreaming. My worst mistake was caring.
  • Real men don’t let bumper stickers think for them.
  • How could I have held their hands, and let them go? Your hands.
  • I love like a woman, but I hate like a wild animal.
  • What do I want? I want to keep you warm.
  • I’d rather live a dramatic life, as long as it’s good drama.
  • Tears are an admission.
  • When asked for one word to describe me, Whitney was split between “intense” and “passionate.”
  • STOP! In large crowds, I find myself calculating how many cluster bombs it would take to kill them all. I have to stop that.

Thus the end. In many ways, I am relieved.

Scenes from Apartment 11

Here are some profound excerpts from the ornate brown and gold notebook. The first words in this book are, “A black paradise.”

  • I know I am in love when she and I stare into the sky.
  • Specious conclusion: that you deserve a second chance just because you screwed up the first one.
  • I was wrong to think we were part of each other.
  • Write more, think more, be more.
  • The kindness of winter: its cruelty pushed away all other cruelty.
  • Going a little crazy? Give me something to do.
  • An artist creates his own moral Universe.
  • Letting it be quiet.
  • Perception of blackness is a surrogate for perception of nothingness.
  • Women become an abstraction.
  • Validity of despair: only if it is tied to something creative.
  • There are so many ugly people in the world, in so many senses of the word ugly.
  • Don’t waste time justifying yourself to those who can’t justify themselves.
  • Certain shameful things give us those feelings because they so deeply, secretly excite us.
  • Has every moment been like this? I am refining my vision of destruction.
  • The fundamental solution to the core problems of humanity: to act properly as an individual.
  • Objectivity: the impossible objective.
  • The future is your only choice.
  • Bachelorhood: the freedom to joylessly masturbate to the uninspired pornography of your imagination.
  • “Richard,” she said, “you must be so lonely.”
  • You can’t believe in God based on what you lack.
  • Always just tell me the truth.
  • There is nothing more beautiful than tears.
  • It may be an insane place, but it is mine alone.
  • Possibly the best thing about my apartment: you’re not here.
  • I don’t want your apology; I just want you to shut the fuck up.
  • What sets me apart from the millions who toil like Sysyphus every day, pointlessly churning out paperwork or rubber dogshit or the culture of disease and excess? What sets me above?
  • Only nature seems fair, because even when it destroys you, it does so without judgement.
  • Christianity’s most arrogant assumption: that God needs us.
  • I spit, and hear no splash in the bottomless pit of your life.
  • The biggest crime is failing to face the truth, to say, “Here I am.”
  • Time can only take you so far down the road, and then there is a fork.
  • “No talking to imaginary people.” -Sign in New Orleans restaurant The Hummingbird, circa 1991.
  • Time is the illusion.
  • Words slip away, but an act of affection speaks louder.
  • Midnight is not the enemy.
  • My vision for the ascendancy of man is one in which the masses are able to stop acting like children, which 99% of them do 99% of the time now, and finally behave as adults in every sense. Adults don’t need their fears.
  • My friends are not the enemy.
  • When the night settles around me, nothing can touch me.
  • How dark can it get?
  • Your dreams know who you are.
  • A hurt I cannot name: words are not sufficient for this pain.
  • I am not the enemy.
  • Have the strength to be happy.
  • No matter how much they sympathize, they can’t feel it with you, or for you. You must feel it alone.
  • There is a big difference between letting yourself feel sad and making yourself feel sad.
  • Confusion is not a feeling.
  • Women are not the enemy.
  • I don’t have to get what I need. I am what I need.
  • You run home to your spiritual mommy.
  • You are the enemy.

There. Now I can sleep.

This was forever ago.
This was forever ago.

Notes that Don’t Sing

Before blogging, there was journaling. It was fun, but only one person at a time could share it. The advantage was that it could be more intimate. The disadvantage was that it would sit in the dark. Here, then, are some choice excerpts from something dark.

Possible subtitle: dripping with cynicism.

  • If you ask for it, you deserve it.
  • I don’t despise who you are. I despise who you believe you are.
  • Your lies are of no interest to me, even if they are only lies to yourself.
  • The tree of life obscures the target. Cut it down.
  • Responsibility automatically comes to those who are aware.
  • Somehow we come to believe that suffering will make us important.
  • Humanity might not be the place for greatness.
  • Fly away. I see you in the distance.
  • I have no right to say that I am lonely. I only have the right to be lonely.
  • You are out of excuses.
  • “It never worked.” -K, about our two years together.
  • Pure and simple vs complex and subtle.
  • I let the moment fill me with what is essential.
  • Despite the small people around me, I remain at large.
  • Why would I ever expect you to understand this?
  • “I’m not afraid of this. I know I should be.” -M, about a relationship with me.
  • I am Erebus.
  • It feels like digging a hole.
  • She’s like me: dirty, impure, raging, real.
  • “I’m not smart enough to be an atheist.” -Negative Guy
  • Women love young, fat guys because they look like babies, and women love babies.
  • I am more complex than this. I am more complex than you can imagine.
  • Hope and fear stand in their corners, blame and guilt their coaches. The bell rings.

The end of the black and silver notebook.

Let me know if you need my notes.
Let me know if you need my notes.

The Mentality of the Wealthy

In high school and college, I used to have three friends who were the sons of very wealthy families. They were all incredibly arrogant, and all shared a common feeling that they should be, or were, above the law. They all routinely used their fathers’ money to purchase expensive radar detectors, buy their way out of traffic tickets, illegally modify their expensive cars, etc.

One of them collected guns. He had dozens. Eventually all three of them had lots of guns, and one of them, my room mate for a little while in college, once told me, “Chicks love it when I carry this.” It was a .41 magnum, and of course, he didn’t have a concealed carry permit.

They all got high, and thought they were entitled to get high if they wanted. They all littered as much as they could. One of them hated pennies so much that if he got pennies in his change, he would throw them on the ground, or in the trash.

Their favorite thing to do on a Saturday night was piss off cops and run from them, their expensive Swiss stereo systems blaring. Once, one of these guys left his car in a tow-away zone, with a loaded pistol in the front seat. It was towed, and the gun was confiscated. The next day – the very next day – his father got the car out of impound, and managed to get the pistol returned. That same guy thought he shouldn’t have to use unleaded gasoline, so he illegally used premium leaded gas.

I confess, it took me a long time to realize what a bunch of d!ckwads these guys were. We are all arrogant when we’re young, but these guys never seemed to grow up. I say that with a sense of irony, since one of them shot himself in the head when he was 19. I was 18 at the time, and saw his suicide with some wonder and sympathy, but in the last 20 years or so I have opened my eyes and seen it for what it was: a petulant, spoiled, rich a$$hole throwing his life away in a tantrum.

As adults, these are the people who live in gated communities, taking their vacations in the Bahamas, and hosting cocktail parties for important guests, meaning wealthy ones. I don’t ever see their kind on the trail. I see all races, faiths, and walks of life in the wilderness, with the exception of the filthy rich.

This kind of wealth corrupting lives is ultimately manifested in heads of state who also think they are above the very law they are charged with governing. From political corruption in its purest form, like Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal, to personal indiscretions like Bill Clinton’s Lewinsky mess, all the way to the George Bush father-and-son war dynasty, which sacrifices the blood of honorable soldiers not for the people, but in the end to keep the rich rich.

Sidebar: I was incredulous that Bill Clinton was actually impeached for the Lewinsky fiasco. He may have lied about his relations with her, but come on, people. Are we really so sexually infantile that it’s more important to us that a man lied about having sex versus a man who led us into a war in which we lost thousands of soldiers? Are you freaking kidding me?

Broken Machines

True Story: in the winter of 2001, a woman I know named “Barbie,” good-looking and successful, is found in the trunk of her car one morning with her eyes and mouth taped and a cord wrapped around her neck. Two weeks earlier she had shown police and coworkers a doll in the same condition that she said she had received in the mail.

The day after she was found in the trunk of her car, the sheriff told me that she had done it all to herself.

I found this story much more chilling than the story of my mentally ill neighbor who left street garbage as a gift for me, for one central reason: if it could happen to “Barbie,” it could happen to me.

Jeffrey Dahmer told the news media that by the time he was 15, he was killing animals all the time, and that he knew it was wrong but could not stop. He also said he felt his feelings and actions had become “unconfessable.”

What do we do to keep the machine from breaking?

“The ones that don’t fit in…”

This afternoon as I drove to a photo assignment, I had my stereo turned up with a Third Eye Blind CD in it. The song “Misfits” played and I remembered that tonight Abby and I were having Wil and Marline Fry down from Seminole for dinner at our favorite restaurant, Papa Gjorgio’s.

Wil Fry with His Camera
Wil Fry with His Camera

They are moving to Texas this week, and we wanted one last chance to hang out with them before they left. They came down, and we all enjoyed sparkling conversation and an excellent meal on this wonderfully soft, warm August evening.

The reason that song reminded me that they were coming is that Wil and I think alike a lot of the time. I know that he was as big a misfit as I was growing up, and I know from conversations with him that we share a lot of key paradigms. Example: our minds are always racing with thoughts, even when we are trying to sleep (maybe especially when we try to sleep.)

I told him to download “Misfits” and listen to it like it was something of a theme for people like us.

Those are the ones for me
Those are the ones for me
The misfits, the freaks, the enemy, you and me
Those are the ones for me
Those are the ones for me
The misfits, the freaks, the enemy, you and me

Sidebar: I detest it when people who were popular and good-looking in high school later claim that they were awkward, shy or insecure. It’s a crock. Their arrogance kept a lot of people like Wil and me down, and they knew it at the time. Their latter-day claims of nurdishness are made to look like an apology of ignorance, but are really just another way to rub our noses in it. I tried to be friends with a couple of them over the years, and I know the truth, that they are still just as full of themselves as ever.

Snotmosis

Wow! It makes a really cool noise when I whack this notebook on my steering wheel!

Myiasis = infestation with maggots.

“Government pork is lower than dog vomit.” -D

“Am I sharp and pointy and heavy?” -R

“My modus operandi is nothing but a diarrhea-ic thought process.” -D

Boulevaardvark.

If you don’t try to drag me down to your level,
I promise not to try to haul you up to mine.

Abbrevurrito = small Mexican snack

Free-range Janitors Association

“If you poke into something hard, back up! You may be in the wrong hole.” -T

My apartment is so small you couldn’t raise veal in here.

-Bagmire
-Christmosis
-Snotwater

Beer on chili, farts really silly.

“She’s just like him, only she doesn’t have a dick!” -D’s friend

Carefully vomit.

“The search for the absolute always ends in hot, futile tears.” -D

“If the world ends, what about all those people who live underground? Under the earth,
you’ve got movement and motion everywhere. What would happen if gravity stops working?
I pray every night that it doesn’t.” -a friend’s mom (“Is she institutionalized?” -T  “No, she’s dead.” -R)

“A mathematically precise feeling of complete inadequacy.”

Sporadically Interwoven
by Miminus Infectant

Occasionally He had felt
deluded and cheated by misplaced
guilt, but lately he felt better, he
felt like he could stand up and
say that he was a worthy person –
that he deserved the good things
that a life in this modern country
could offer a moderately talented
man such as himself.

Then. Later.

He figured out the deserve has
nothing to do with it.
Everything was just a matter
of finding some stupid and
tottering piece of reality and
then holding on for dear life
and in the end,

nobody deserved a fate like
that.

As brilliant as it is stupid.

What’s for dinner? Roots and gazelle.

The go-go bar on the edge of forever.

The first wipe breaks off the turd that can’t decide whether to come out or not.

Folding stool.

8200 people were hospitalized in 1996 for injuries that occurred while wiping their asses.

Real answers given in game of Tabloid Teasers…

Manager reveals that Frank Sinatra had ________
a symbiotic relationship with an unusual species of blue-green algae.

Skydiver _______
falls into open cockpit, flies to Las Vegas.

Woman rescues three-year-old from _______
cougar.  (That was the best)

“and after all,
this song has been sung,
still there ain’t no lifetime
metaphor for dung.” -Musical dream fragment