Thursday, November 27, 2014

Bespoke Ersatz

I hate myself.  I don’t mean it.  I mean I hate that I’m either only annoyed or frustrated, or isolated, alone, and depressed.  Perhaps it is the bipolar.  Perhaps it is the manic depressives that I surround myself with, my capacity to change always for the social group I’m with, my fundamental lack of self.  I am unfulfilled.  I’ll say it and scream it and flail it and bleed it or some such, and I’ll certainly not grow out of it, or so it seems at this point.  So I’m stuck with it, with me, that is, and that’s depressing since I so desperately want to break free from myself.  Which is why I drink.  Which is why I stopped drinking—the fact that I drank.  Reason enough, with my personality.  It’s just that the self blaming, self victim shit really does get old, especially when on repeat and especially when there’s no earthly reason for it.

And so.

NYC.  The ever loving having made it city.  The place where you go to become something you’re not.  A perfect place for the delusional, really.  Fuck Vegas.  We are in the mirror twisted panorama of human fantasy right here, in this little hip long island, where authenticity rages and ersatz is bespoke.   

The point is not above.  It is not the critical.  Only production matters.  And production—of anything—is quite difficult.

Try it sometime.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Dear Alcoholics

Dear Alcoholics.

Those of you among us who might feel a bit of relief at the tilt of a bottle.  Those of you fight off anxiety.  Those of you who, perhaps, have a wife, and a family, that is, children, who in turn look up to you with none of the scorn that you may dish out your own reflection.  Those of you who find heat unbearable and intensity inevitable.  Who are suffocated.  Miserable.  Placated by nothing objectively good.  Who have problems with proper behavior in social situations, at parties, for instance, or in meetings at work.  Who have dreams of stature and perfection.

I have a quick little message for you.

Seeking perfection is a struggle you can't win. It won't be easy to convince others who suffer for your struggles.  Those others will suffer, regardless.  You can stop their suffering by stopping your quest.  You can find a way to compromise your ideals.  You can find a way to be flexible.  If you do not, you will be driven back to the bottle every time and you will be alone.

Being able to successfully communicate your struggles is a good step, but it is not a solution. Realize that people just don't care as much about you as you care about yourself.  Realize that you are ultimately small, and that there is no way to be big.

Time is limited.   The only thing drinking does is waste time and set the seed for delusional nostalgia.  Not all nostalgia is like this.  Not all memories are like this (wistful, and wanting for a time that once was).

You have been incorrect many times in your life, and you are, in fact, by default incorrect.  Realize this and internalize this so that you can gain humility, and interrogate everything scrupulously, never settling on easy conclusions.

Proving everything you have to prove is in essence an act of masturbation.

Prove yourself by being modest and supporting others.  You will be rewarded for it far more than you think.

Good luck!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Figuring It Out?

How we do or don't understand what we already understand--the circumference of our knowledge, if you will--is actually a terribly difficult and hard project to start.  It is akin or parallel or even exactly the same issue of wondering whether there is ultimately any purpose to one's life, and whether there is any purpose at all.

I don't know what I don't know.  However, I am quite aware that there is a lot I don't know.  At this point, I'm even willing to say that I don't know most things.  However, that's not always a successful way to live life.  Paralyzing anxiety and dread can come out of it, and stop one from thinking straight at all.

So there's got to be some sort of leap of faith in one's own capacity to understand decipher and try to knock down the harsh complexity of the world and one's place in the world into some boxes, categories, and yes, stories.  The reduction of raw data to stories is in fact at the core of almost every discipline.  What is the story with those numbers, for instance, or with that dataset.  How do we understand it in words, even if very complex words that take years to understand?

We reduce.  Simple and plain.  The best of us recognize the reductions, and the complexity behind those reductions.  The worst of us use the reductions as reality.  Conflating the two can yield quick gain, but I'd wager that long term it is not a tenable strategy.  Deciding you understand everything just because you think you do is not, to me, the sign of what we should be aiming toward, or how we should act.  However, it is how we act most of the time.  Almost all arguments are based on someone's misunderstanding of reality, and backing away from your own misunderstanding is the hardest thing to do in the world.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

It is OK to take things seriously, with one important caveat

You must self-correct when you're wrong, and you  must maintain blithe lightness of mind.  Difficult, when getting deeply into something, and emotionally wrapped up in one perspective on that thing.  Purposeful open-mindedness is something that is an artform, and a lot of "open minded" people are quite close-minded.  This troubles me.

But the point of the post was that it is OK to try, to make effort.

What we're scared of isn't effort, but failure, that our efforts = no result.

Even given "failure," though I would argue that there is almost always something to learn if you've made a serious effort.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Doing It, Your Own Way

If you have the right kind of confidence, doing what makes you uncomfortable can be entirely enthralling, and spur on intense creative streaks.

It isn't doing what you are scared of, and it isn't the confidence itself that forms the spine of this sentence.  It is instead the need to go through incredible amounts of repeated mistakes, and still strike forth, nestled atop a scaffolding of slowly built up and and learned increments.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Two Things

I had a horrible classic exchange today where "fuck yous" were exchanged.  Well, it left me shaking, weak, and full of misdirected rage.

I miss some people that I once had in my life.

There are no easy resolutions for either.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Be Here Now

Does it mean to be placid?  To forget about the assholes, the half-brain tail-gating you into the red light-filled intersection?  Does it mean that you should forget?  Be walked over?  Grow humility like other men grow balls?  Find a way to consistently turn, aggressively turn, away, behind, upside down?  Does it mean that you should forgive everything?

Or does it mean that you should purposefully castrate the planning mechanism in your brain, forget about causality and effort and strife and become learnedly helpless, but calm in that sea of non-regret, finding a paddle too much effort, because the concept of a future would be too heavy a burden to bear?

Perhaps it means a kind of non-thought.  A sucking up the pieces and molting them into a new skin kind of thought, a meta-metamorphosis, one that consumes so fully so as to invert, to churn into, and transform the utterly alien into acceptably prosaic, the banal into a kind of mystic glitter?

Whatever it is, I wonder, and spit, and keep on walking, looking only so long at the river as possible before going off to class, piecing together the fragments of myself from high school into college, wondering how those cool academics could be so goddamn cool, and emulating them with the kind of obsessive force that meant I'd do whatever it was they thought I should do, even and especially if it involved iterations of being here, now--or then.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Figuring It Out

For me, there have been many false sureties, times when I found what it all meant, and that I could be relatively secure in that knowledge, regardless of "what else" might be.

Having gone through many iterations of my "world view" and built upon and destroyed it even more, I can say for sure that nothing is certain.

Given that, I'd like to proffer a way of being: doubt.  I'd like us to doubt more.  I'd especially like us to doubt that which we are certain about, even and especially when we doubt other people and their capacity, viewpoint, or their certainty.  We may be right.  But in all likelihood we are at least partially wrong, and being partially wrong means the capacity to self-correct, to take in new information, and to all-around keep growing.  That's sort of the important structural element here: growth.  It doesn't have to be perfect and it doesn't have to be all or nothing.  It can't be, in fact.  But it is important that growth remains possible.

And certainty can actually retard growth.   Even as I write this I doubt.  For instance, perhaps doubt can retard growth, too!  And, well, that's true.  There's no sure and fast way forward, much as there is very little certainty about what forward might mean.  Forward is the start and stop, the correction, the reapplication, and the resolve to keep doing it for no other purpose than to experiment.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Don't Give Up! <> Be Realistic?

I'm not sure which one wins the day, either in the short or long run.

To temper the tension, I'd advise myself to both not give up and be realistic.

But what about when being realistic means giving up, by definition?

If you don't have unrealistic expectations, you won't be let down!

Such folk wisdom!~  Who ever said that I would be in control of my own expectations.

Seriously, most of these sayings are grounded in the idea that we have the capacity to control ourselves!  What a fanciful notion.

Still, what if we could control our emotional selves.  Which would be better?  Not giving up, or being realistic?

Which one wins, more often?

Which one wins, more often, for you/x individual?

For those that win, can we be sure that the motto was adhered to in its entirety?

I'm guessing that small level adjustments are made all the time.  But I could be wrong.  I've certainly been exposed to a lot of people that are inflexible, and guess what: their inflexibility works.  For instance, and especially, imagine some negotiation.  Even though it might not be where you want to end up, you take a certain stance precisely because you know that you will have to compromise eventually.,,  you basically bake in that assumption to your stance.  So taken on its own, you don't subscribe to what you're saying.  But taken in the expected context of other people's strategies, your strategy makes sense.

Except that they are doing the same thing: strategizing based on your expected strategy.   What if both sides started at where they wanted to end up?  Then they definitely wouldn't end up where they wanted!  So it makes sense to be extreme, given any antagonistic system.

Perhaps it also makes sense in the personal emotional realm?  For all the fanfare that "giving up the right way" -- "failing well" yields these days in ultra data policy making/personal decision making, perhaps it still makes sense to set expectations unrealistically to get where  you "really" want to be in the end.

Just makes sense to somehow remember where  you really wanted to be, when the time comes to accept something/or keep arguing.

And that part is difficult.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

All Garbage?

Imagine the worst: that your life is mostly worthless.  That you've tried incredibly hard, and that all of the effort has been rolled up into a bunch of mulch. Imagine all of the things that you deeply fear--that you fear so much you can barely conjure them  (that you are alone, in a fundamental and irreconcilable way; that the people you hold closest to you don't value you; that you are suspended in one state of career stagnation; that nothing ever changes and gets better; that shame permeates your soul).  Just let those thoughts consume you momentarily.  That you cannot control who you are.  That you lose your faculties of recognition.  That your most precious memories slowly lose their details.

Now imagine the best: that somehow, despite fuck ups and mistakes, you have not alienated everybody dear to you; that your effort has landed somewhere, and that people recognize you, and come to you for advice.  That your family loves you and looks forward to spending time with you, and that you have balanced successfully most of your needs.  Imagine that you largely control where your life goes, and that, realizing this, you made a point to be purposeful and that you have taken pride in what you can accomplish.  Imagine that brand of genuine self-respect these things can produce, that way that it infuses you and makes you stronger.

Imagine that you can be okay with your limitations.  At peace.  Without the need to prove it, or anything.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stupider, Less Important, and Far Uglier

We sure are a delusional folk.  Outside of the exceptionalism lathered into a foamy mess, the bionic fun-house mirror funk of greediness, and the self-justification route preferred by all (and not programmed into GPS, yet), we might imagine a more real reality.  In that more real reality there is a world where we are seen as other see us: stupider, less important, and far uglier.

Which is a good touchstone for today's lesson: don't act like you're smart, important, and pretty.  In all likelihood, you are not.

Don't despair!

Oh, there I go again, diving us all into a cesspool of depression.  That was not my intention.  In fact, my intention is to divorce the idea of intelligence and status and looks from decision-making.  Because those three things don't bring happiness, and concentrating on those things is purely distracting, in the most banal and superficially serious way.  Chasing after happy endings through the ghost of foggy mirrors!

Anyway, the point is that letting go of all that seems incredibly important in regards to looks and intelligence and status will actually free you to do what it is you might enjoy doing without worrying about how what you enjoy makes you unpopular, or whatever, uglier.  

Those things have no control over you if they have no control over you.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Stop Drinking Now = Learning a New Language

Listen, when you don't know something, it seems incredibly mysterious.  Think about traveling in a foreign country where you don't even know how to say "please", "hello", or "thank you."  It is incredibly frustrating.  Not only that but the language seems mind-bogglingly complex.  Right?


And so, it seems like you might learn some of the language, and in the process, that somehow you will swallow the mind-boggling complexity, and subsume it as part of you, and then feel good about it.  I'm not knocking language learning at all, but the truth is that as you learn a language, hearing it seems less and less mysterious and more and more normal.  That makes sense if you consider that language is a form of communication.  And communication is functional (even if esoterically so at times, like with subtext and all).  And so, it isn't that the language is incredibly mysterious.  It is that your knowledge of that structure was zero, mostly.  And as you go from zero upward, well, intriguing, and challenging, and constantly there, but not quite as mysterious.

Sobriety is the same.  It is a wonder, a kind of language in itself.  It takes getting used to.  In conceptual terms only, it is special and mysterious and even hard to see the contours of it, how they might apply to you.  And like a language, it takes a lot of time to learn.  And like a language, you get better with more practice.  And time, therefore.  And patience.

And like a language, it allows you to communicate with other people, to understand a set of standards that were previously invisible.

Friday, July 11, 2014


I meant to write this "in the moment."

I was feeling slightly--albeit ever so slightly--magical.  There was a sense of promise.  A whiff of nostalgia mixed in with the possibility of change, the connection to something larger.  The awe-inspiring performance of total immersion in an activity.

Anyway, I don't often feel this way.  Lately I've been getting better, though, having more frequent "high consistent energy" type days.   I've been sleeping consistently too, that is, not waking up at night as much as I used to.  I've been eating less.  I have control over my hunger.  For the first time in a long long time.  A little bit of honest control.  Not to brutal ends, no.  To moderate ones.  I've been out of control, quite literally, for many years.

I like to aim toward poise.  I don't think it didactic or excessive or wrong.  I respect poise.  I respect restrained intelligence.  I respect people who firmly know when they don't know and aggressively pursue.  I want to be like that more often.  I don't think it is bad to aim toward betterment of self, to change oneself, and to blossom into something new.  Consistency is in some regards quite over-rated, when it, for instance, keeps people blinded, when they feel like they have to "keep it real" and stay emotionally immature, act out, or do other inane shit to basically signal their capacity to exhibit normal social behavior for a particular group.  I say show yourself as someone who is striving to be better.  There's nothing wrong with that.  That's not a reason to feel shame.  Anyone who wants to make you feel shame for that shouldn't be allowed "in" emotionally.  People should feel shame for abusing their wives, for manipulating a benefits system, or even for not pushing themselves.  They shouldn't feel it for true effort.

I'm convinced that sustained and true effort and magic are strongly related.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Hope is a very delicate thing.  It is hard to quantify and easy to abuse and quite possibly dangerous to harbor.  It deludes us at times, and we are wont to use it as a tool for staying deluded.

And yet we need it.

Without it, I'm fairly sure that I would perish.

And yet it is hard to keep up, to hold out.

Allowing your hope to fill a previously empty structure, that is, shifting goals and moving on, but still maintaining hope, is a delicate dance.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Gaining Perspective (Easy To Be Locked In Without Realizing It)

I suppose the most pernicious thing about alcohol, exempting the physical and immediate behavioral nastiness of it, is really, like a good friend once said, its ability to lock you into a loop, to make it very hard, in other words, to take in new information, feedback about your work (or romantic life), and to make corrections.

Even without alcohol, making changes to oneself are often hard and oftener just not very likely.  We don't say we don't know or that we're sorry easily, but perhaps we should.

Instead, I constantly hear:

a) outraged people

b) people who know the best

c) people complaining about other people and how stupid they are (implicit message is not that clever guys)

Come away from any awkward conflict-type situation, and you, too (and me) will most likely try to justify your actions, and paint the other person's actions with thick nasty old paint.  Regardless of reality.

Add alcohol to that mix, and all of a sudden, you might as well not be curious about anything, because you know everything, and all of your intuition is 100% accurate all the time.  Not only that, but fuck people who disagree, right?

Am I right or wrong here?

So anyway, understanding that a) the world is vastly more complex than we can hope to understand and b) lots of things cannot therefore be assigned causal arrows, particularly our own actions, and that c) alcohol diminishes our already quite small capacity to fully comprehend (a) and (b), well, the only thing left to do is drop out alcohol and work hard to correct previously blocked feedback.  And even then it will be quite difficult.  Because we alcoholics, once sober, will want very badly to find meaning, even or especially easy meaning, the kind we are used to.  But meaning finding isn't easy.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

4 Years Sober Redux

I have been sober over 4 years.  I am very proud of that fact.  I don't mean to denigrate it or take it lightly.  In fact, I see it in almost religious seriousness.

My life has changed immeasurably since I got sober.  For one, I make about three times the money I made when I was drinking.  I know this sounds perhaps superficial, but I assure you, especially with a family, it is not.  Having a solid middle class life is nothing to laugh at or to take lightly, not when the alternative is clear and available, or worse, a deeper, darker alternative, with nothing to look forward to at all.

Speaking of.  Looking forward to things is very important.  I'm not sure I can underestimate that.  It is important to keep in mind current reality, to not get lost in fantasy, but it is likewise healthy and vital and essential to have a respectful notion of future growth, the capacity to realize certain sought after goals, emotional maturity, and to have the capacity to change one's goals according to feedback, to self-correct.  Alcohol stops those things--excuse me: consistent chronic alcohol abuse stops those things, mostly the capacity to self-correct.  It shortens one's perspective into a very narrow slit and doesn't let go.

However, the scientist in me would be remiss if he didn't point out that I may have undergone many of these changes even if I were drinking.  I am, after all, at an age where such changes happen regardless.

Still, although it is not perfect, I know that I have a certain emotional levity--the ability, to actually view myself, to hold simultaneously self-doubt and self-assertion, and to use my insecurity to my advantage, attributes that are difficult to acquire without hardship and the constant onslaught that we should just affirm our deepest intuitions and fuck everyone who disagrees.

There is, indeed, some hubris in the assertion that we can know, and I would prefer to hold the assumption that we cannot know, that we must constantly strive to know, and that this struggle should inform us at a basic and constitutional level.

Which is why I won't just say that not drinking did the trick, end of sentence, end of paragraph.  I will instead say that it is something I should have corrected a long time ago, and I finally did, and I'm far from perfect in this respect, but I'm very very glad I did, and I wouldn't have gotten to the point where I could even write/say what I just did if I didn't stop drinking.  I was definitely locked in the cycle I see in many many people, which is outrage, affirmation of righteous intuition, very little homework being done, and more assertions than anything else.

Truth, if it exists, is very difficult to access.  I think this is self-evident, and applies to all fields of study, including human interaction, and, because of that, I'm quite hesitant to ascribe reasons to events that are far too complicated to begin to comprehend, including my own cessation of drinking.  Still, I'm quite glad that I did it, and I will continue "not" doing it, forever more, regardless of how much I might imagine I could, given a hypothetical non-consequential world where I can indeed control myself.  One truth that I know is that I cannot control myself with regard to alcohol.  For that one, I don't need more evidence.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

4 Years - Obligated To Mark This Moment

I feel like I should at least mention that it has been 4 years since I last had a drink and decided that hey, I'm going to seriously ruin my life if I keep drinking.

The incontrovertible truth was that I was taking yet another sick day off of work.  This just shouldn't be the case.

Anyway, I'm sober.

Here's what sobriety doesn't equal:



lack of boredom

perfect embodiment of ideals

So don't figure that it will deliver those goods, that is, if you decide you might try it out for a spin.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Why NYC Sucks.

It doesn't intrinsically just suck, but here are a few of the most apparent reasons for me.

Nobody feels that it is a home.  It is a transient city.  For those that feel it IS a home, their misplaced sense of place is actually founded on rootlessness, on a  fundamental "spareness" of being, which is best exemplified with this fact: you can make and remake yourself in NYC as often as you desire.  For people who don't like themselves (me me me or at least, me 5 years ago!), this is great.  (Paren: I like NYC less now and like myself much more: Paren).

Because it is a masturbation machine.  Because nobody thinks NYC is a home, nobody wants to take care of it like a home.  People want to use it for their needs and then get out, or get back, or whatever.  Needs may be and often are narcissistic (it is the center, it is the biggest, it is the loudest and so are we, its denizens).  I'm being harsh, but hey, it is true.

NYC is all about signalling that you live in NYC.  There is no such thing left as "original" here.  It is a roving consuming animal, all of us, and it.  "New" neighborhoods are consumed as fast as you can say fuck me.  Why?  Because if there was a scrap of originality there, on the horizon,, everyone who wants so desperately to project themselves as original will go there and consume the shit out of that originality.  And by those terms, they will fully pollute whatever was there, and whatever is left will be blathered off into a waste basket.  The whole city is based on this dynamic and there is no starting point for originality anywhere, to be clear--it isn't as if the real originality actually is consumed and gone.  The so-called real originality was gone 40 years ago and what's left was a shard of an echo, frozen into a lyric.

Car alarms and noise and buses and general just disgust.  Pissing people.  Pissed off people.  Commuting on the misery of infrastructure that exists thusly, filled with all those people.

Me.  I make NYC suck.  You.

Deep breath.

Personally, I probably feel the need to move on every 3-5 years, and the fact that I've been here over 7 years now makes me feel totally worthless somewhere.  I've used up the hope here a long time ago, and now the shell of shame is all that keeps me somewhat sane.  Yes, shame keeps me from coming undone.  Because I can see my own growth in the outlines of puke on the sidewalk, I can sort of come to terms with my past, here, and only here.

There are plenty of crazy redeeming things about NYC, none of which are the point of this blog post and none of which actually undo the bad things. I am certainly not claiming that NYC is worse or better than any other city.  I am just generally sick of it and need some fresh air.

I'm Looking For Home.

It's not a hard thing to fathom.  I want to feel like I'm at home.  Relaxed, and engaged, and comfortable, and surrounded by the things that I love and that make me want to submerge myself deeper.

Lately I've felt exactly the opposite--that everything is alien.  The strangeness that has pervaded almost everything is hard to pinpoint, both in a way that is totally accurate and a way that tries to unveil its origin.

Why should I, after all, feel so tremendously off?  Everywhere?  Even at home?  Is there a reason that would allow me some sort of excoriation to jab at and turn over?  I'm serious!  I really could deal with reasons here, instead of the opaque ambiguity of feeling lost.

I admit that my current job does not help the situation.  I'm basically staring at lots of computer code all day long.  It makes me feel unhinged, even though it is, at a basic level, incredibly logical, incredibly mathematical.

Oddly enough I've finally sort of gotten a hold on the tremendous back pain that has plagued me for many many years.

Too many tangents here.

I have  sense of pervading hopelessness, but it is not so acute that I will be silly and act out like a teenager.  It is instead the way it is spread so thin, how it just sort of layers over everything, that makes it so damn cloying.

I'm also sick of NYC.  I'll say that btw.  I should have a different post on that.  I will endeavor to post about that now, actually.  Two posts in one day.  It is a testament to my strange sadness that I must write.

Monday, June 16, 2014

What To Do When Sober?

I admit that it isn't easy to figure out what the best regarding activities when you get sober.

What are you supposed to do, after all, especially when so many of your nights/days/weekends have been dominated by seeking out drinks--whether, or especially, drinking is not the main subject, it always sits in the backdrop.

I remember drinking on the way to going out drinking, so I would be good and stoned drunk before I arrived.  This was all about anxiety alleviation, this need to be charged prior to the main event, which was in itself, drinking.

So much energy and waste went into being "okay" to be drunk.

And so, what do you/  When not drunk?  When sober?  When not going to get drunk?

It is hard. I'll admit it.  Even after the clarity of the first few months or the first few YEARS.  It is still hard to know what to do.  Very few things offer the same kind of immediate reward of seeming deep relaxation and relative immediate release.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Not Being Scared of Failure.

That might sound like a fancy way to talk about some mostly soft and emotional concept, but it's not.  Here's the book.  McArdle is especially cogent and tight in her writing.  Forgetting about all of the technical background to her eloquent chapters, there is this: we live in a culture where we're quite afraid to fail, which makes us less likely to try new things, and those of us who have succeeded, obsessed with keeping our status--that is, trying to do things perfectly the first time.

McArdle says it is important to engage, that progress and success happens in increments, small increments, and that nobody has pure success without lots an lots of iterations first.  It is a really important less for anyone who has thought of themselves as imperfect, and thought of this imperfection as pure failure.  It is okay not to be perfect.  It is okay to try.  It is okay to play a little and experiment with things to figure them out.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Packaging Your Message 2

But the larger reason that it matters that we take care to communicate with empathy and thoroughness (see yesterday's post), is that we could be wrong.  Our assumptions that a) what we're saying is coherent, b) that it is logically represented, and c) that we have stated it lucidly, are self-serving and hard to check, especially when we are emotionally engaged with the material.

This is probably worth a larger post on its own, but I'd argue that our capacity to understand that we could be wrong in any given situation should be used much more widely than it is.    Why assume that you make sense?  Isn't that the lazy way out?  If you're the rare person that doesn't have to make sense when talking with someone else (and who could this be?  even billionaires, or especially billionaires, have communications that demand precision), then don't worry about it.

But I guess my "test" or way around this problem is this: assume you are wrong, and then communicate from that starting point.  Seek less comfort.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Packaging Your Message

At some level, it is disagreeable to think about the way that one's words might be received, and to alter those words according to perceived reception.  After all, we then must frame ourselves contingent on our perception of other people's perception of us--that is, we must guess at how they might interpret our message and have a quick mini-conversation with that phantom conversation partner prior to actually communicating.

This is, in a very real sense, how severe anxiety manifests itself, partially because it might in most cases prove impossible to corner all possible interpretations in time to actually communicate.

But it is also disagreeable to contour our speech for consumption at a more guttural level, one that provides the bravado of a good "fuck you" and the satisfaction of outrage.  Why should we cater to others at all?  Why think about how our expression is or is not received?  At an abstract level, the answer is that language is contingent on multiple nodes, each person necessary but not sufficient alone to produce it.  There's no real language without the capacity to understand one another, to have a degree of "inter-subjectivity" -- to be inside each other's heads.

I think the reason we find it disagreeable to change our speech is that we feel as though we're compromising our message, that somehow it isn't as pure or authentic if we change it.  I'd argue, or at least I feel, that this is a highly selfish and almost narcissistic or conceded way to operate.  Making sure that other's understand what you're saying, or what you mean, assures that you get what you want, and it also helps the larger functions of the interaction you may be having proceed--whether at work, a traffic intersection, or in an unfamiliar setting.

It is also incredibly hard to concede what we don't know, at times--say a board meeting, or anytime we want to impress our superiors.  But I'd submit that the capacity to hone in on what we don't know, what remains ambiguous, or what is not being communicated clearly, and to distill it (both the gap, or space itself that isn't being successfully bridged, and also a way to synthesize that gap and move forward), is something that takes time to learn, and that builds a tremendous amount of character.  It certainly isn't always intuitive, especially in a toxic self-centered culture, and it certainly doesn't mean you have failed, if you chose to acknowledge it in real time.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

It Is Possible To Be Unhappy Anywhere

Let's all play a game, whereby we run.

We could run from anything, parents, teachers, peer pressure, social outings, or inferiority in general, en masse.  We could figure out a way to see the negative shit in any situation, finagle, pull, and coax out the layers embedded in normal discourse that represent the darkest most angsty and inward interpretations, lexical touchstones that reify what we "always knew" anyway.

We could let outrage bloom.  We could allow it breathing room.  Outrage at everything, anywhere, all day, all night.

We could frolic with the narcissism that accompanies not taking anything seriously.  And we could certainly froth with the stubborn refusal to self-correct.

That would be easy.

And then we could keep on running.  All day, All Night.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Absurdest Comments: Drinking to Celebrate Not Drinking

Every once in a while a comment comes in that just irks me in a deep and fundamental way.  You see, it is illogical, this comment, the smiley face following the admission, for instance.  It drives me crazy, nuts, batty.  I won't delete it.  But I will highlight it thusly:

SOBERDUDE?  Listen up.  Listening?  You're not fucking sober if you're drinking.  I don't know how else to say it.  You can be one or the other, not both. If you chose to be one, and post on my blog, I appreciate your honesty, and your willingness to share your experiences, but I wholeheartedly disagree with your logic when you think you can be both.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Finding Meaning and Sobriety

So the hardest part of getting sober beyond the whole physical thing and readjusting to live part and finding basically a somewhat new set of friends and basically sort of relearning how to do a lot of stuff, is this: relearning how to enjoy yourself.  For, shall I say it explicitly?, the problem with people like me, who can have one hell of a time when drinking is that, well, drying up the source of booze also dries up a lot of the outward affected personality.  And the willingness to engage.

And basically queue a kind of new dry period of stoned realization that life isn't just going to get easier, i.e. social situations and anxiety will not just go away because there isn't any booze greasing the hinges.

And anyway this is apropos of nothing, as per the usual.  Now play it again, Johnny.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Haunting Past Is Misnomer

Easy for me to think that the past is back there, frozen, both in time, somehow, and geography.  I don't go near my indiscretions, physically, that is, for fear that somehow I'll find myself there, stuck in some endless loop, and the only true solution to such a mercurial discovery would be both murder and suicide.  I'd have to kill that version of me, thereby committing a kind of suicide.

Which is intrinsically sad, no?  Thinking not of suicide, but that the past is somehow frozen back there, and that the place and people inhabiting that place are also locked in--that is: locked into your egocentric perambulations of shame!  Because so long as "you" left the past, then, well, that past can't possibly move about, grow, change, frolic, or even whither up and die on its own, even without your overwhelming urge to go and kill it!  It might already be dead without your constant semi-nostalgic-semi-religious treatment of it all these years.

So I do have a few words that are not designed for the faint of heart.

And they hurt.  But once the hurt dissipates, there is an ultimate freedom in smallness and regularity, and a spirit in the everyday that can actually overcome wildly dramatic fits and starts to one's life.  So let's try to live small for a bit.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Letting Go -

The need to control is at times (for some of us) quite strong: social situations, other people's thoughts, patterns of activity throughout the day, and what have you.  Flexibility, in other words, can be quite low, even and especially for people who profess verbally to be quite open to new experiences, people, things, places, or ideas.  In fact, I'd wager that most of us are a lot more rigid than we allow.  Just think of the list of things that pisses you off, for instance, about other people, particularly in regards to politics or social policy or any other idea based conception.  Why would it be that normal living standards, habits, norms, and routines, run counter to this base intuition--that "I" am fundamentally correct in what I do, and others are basically, to the extent that they differ, incorrect.

Anyway, there's ways to break this a bit.  One is to try really hard not to come to conclusions based purely on intuition, or even if you have, to try to understand that others have come to conclusions based on their own sense of intuition, what is right, and what they think should be.  It is difficult, it is said, to reason with someone who hasn't reasoned to get to the place they are, wherever they have been.  It is doubly difficult to see your own blindspots.  And not always necessary, either, but crucially important at times.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Club

Wherever you wish.  Film it, if you can, and we'll pawn it later, to fund our first house, raise kids on the royalties, and denounce the puritans who rarefy all that is bad with everything we don't like.  How sweet it could be--can't you see?  At least they'll know where they came from, right?  No more wondering about it.

Slither into my energy, my peacekeeper, and find a hollowed out grave for safe keeping for your valuables, where we might appreciate them through the process of fermentation, make them sweet like kombucha and honey.

Filter out the rinky dinky little thoughts of panagyric fantasy, blessing yourself with a smite bit of delusion and, shall we indulge? - ecstasy.

I loved you, once upon a time, in a world that we inhabited.  I loved you, and you were more than just a drug.  I promise you that much.  There are no conclusions when worlds slowly shift, disintegrate in such a fuzz of synth.

So much for the tears.  So much for these long and wasted years.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dramatic Change

Personal self-induced dramatic change (say, from the cessation of using alcohol), is probably a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I wish it wasn't, naturally.  This doesn't preclude change, it just means that we don't become entirely new people just because we put down the bottle.

In fact, we alcoholics are probably so self-centered that we think the change that occurs from not drinking is equivalent to something more than it is, simply because it happened to us.

I'm not trying to take away the somewhat amazing accomplishment of sobriety from anyone who has achieved it.  That's not my aim at all.  I'm just saying, in short, that being sober is a necessary condition for certain people to live relatively normal and non-horrible catastrophic lives, but it is not a sufficient condition, alone, for those same people to excel.

It is nice, but it is not everything, see?  A foundation of sorts.  If we don't wear clothes (and often times specific clothes), we can't go to work.  See, but if we don't wear any clothes, we can't really go to work (and be allowed to keep going).  Simple as that.  Wearing clothes by itself isn't special, but it is for us, people who have a problem conforming, perhaps, to the "uniform" of whatever it is that normal consists of, or to carry the analogy off the deep end, people who just love to be naked no matter the costs.

We, the naked ones, who pretend so hard to be vulnerable, exposed, groomed, and otherwise mature, and yet, can't manage to just keep our clothes on!

I'll tell you this much, and I won't tell you no more.  Not today.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bad Stuff Happening - The Game.

Let's play a game.

Let's only deal with bad stuff happening when it is actually, really, happening.

If it isn't happening, in defined, concrete and objective ways, ways that are somehow actually impactful, and not purely mental (including gossip), let's just not deal with it.  Since, well, there's honestly no it to deal with.

Let's try that for a few days.  All the bad stuff on the registry, ready to occur?  You know the stuff I'm talking about.  Let's only deal with it if it is real.  I have a feeling it might make life a little more enjoyable.

Happiness In Life -- It Happens Only Now

Would you be happy with your life if nothing changed--that is, if from now, from whatever present circumstances you have (job, family, et al), nothing substantially different happened/changed?  That is, you didn't get to "win" any of your myriad fantasies?

Could you force yourself to be happy, to be content and sated?

I'm asking because I have a deep suspicion that true happiness will only occur if the answer to that question is yes.

In other words: happiness cannot be predicated on changing any of the fundamental attributes of life.  That is the challenge of happiness.  It is not, in other words, to necessarily work hard to obtain the types of things that most of us think signify happiness.  It is to let go of those things so utterly and completely that you're naked, and in that nakedness, that fundamental vulnerability, feel totally content.

This is it, folks.  Get used to it, adjust, and find a way to see your life that is not ensconced in the fluff of impossibility and innuendo at more important lurking events/places/things on the horizon.  '

Now, just imagine getting to this mindset, and then obtaining something that really matters.  Instead of feeling like you deserved it, and it is just one thing that you have, you might actually value it as something incredibly special and totally unique, and feel a deep sense of humility.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Normal Ain't So Bad -

In fact, for us addicts, it is downright difficult, and that's probably why we think it is so pathetic, prosaic, and just plain stupid/boring--because we have trouble being it.  Normal, that is.  For goodness sake, what's wrong with it again?  Stability.  Peace of mind.  Expected routine.  Habit.

And so, let's stop thinking we're so damn exceptional all the time, okay?

That doesn't mean it has to be depressing or banal or clinically registered.  It just means we can get joys and not go to extremes.

Blah blah blah, self, takes a lot of learning to get there.

yes, it does, self.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hard To Get Hold/Firm Grasp/Purchase

In a way, the only "grasp" we can have is self-induced.  If we don't intrinsically feel grounded, well, we won't be grounded.  It is really as simple as that.  There is no reference, no person, and no place/event that can define us beyond the meaning we apply to those references, people, and/or events, no matter the permutations, the complexity, the layering, all of the aching meaning we WANT there to be.  And still, at times, we know when meaning "is" there and we know when it "isn't" even when we want it.  So wanting it does not seem to be the actual variable that determines what is--that is, whether we ourselves are grounded or not.  We can't just want to be grounded and make it happen.

Which is to say sometimes we have to be lost.

And sometimes, we have to be very lost.

And that is quite scary.  Way scarier than I can write in words.  Because if you know the lost/scare I reference, then you know it already, and I will not be able to show it or not show it.  You've got it by reference of sorts, and so.  Perhaps I disprove my earlier point in a way, or maybe prove it.  Whatever.

The point is that being scared and seeking stable ground is intrinsic to our existence, and we might not be able to get rid of it--period.  Ever.   This is the whole faith issue, in general, the capacity to have faith that there is something worthwhile, that life has meaning, and that the meaning we impute on things is somewhat accurate to the intrinsic meaning, or even the meaning we really have in relation to those things--i.e. that we're not lying to ourselves.

It can get quite scary, again, when we're totally unsure whether the thoughts we have are in fact relevant in any way to reality, and yet: thoughts that we have are the only way to get back to reality, to reconnect.

Thoughts, or experiences, rather.  Sometimes the funnel-cloud of thoughts, swirling while listening to music, for instance, or riding a train, in a somewhat opaque cloud that isn't distilled, on purpose, and isn't distillable.

And to bridge that chasm, yes, we need a little faith, not always in all the grand stuff that "is" out there, but just straight up in other people--that they care about us, for instance, and that we care about them and that our mutual caring is intrinsically good, and not, for example, just a way for genes to reproduce successfully.  And I think that it is good and not just vessel-like, and I hope it is.  And I feel enough beauty still, in my life, to maintain a flicker of hope in all of the tremendous confusion, but I know that I don't have the answers and I've grown a deep humility along the way.  And that is not a fun process.  But it is a solid one, that, ironically, allows me to feel slightly more solid with myself, too.

This is like the incompleteness theorem.  I have to feel insecure to feel secure.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Owning Up, Releasing Shame

This one is hard to do, but hey, let's give it a shot.  Instead of holding on to the shame, bitterness, and the outrage that has settled into grooves around our collective eyes, let's instead find a way to own up to our past(s) and be at peace with those pasts, such that they do not negatively impact our current and future selves.

It is easy, especially after partaken in tremendous amounts of shame inducing activities, to NOT LEARN from those activities, but instead let the lead blanket of shame that came from those activities cover up current life.  But that's really no way to live.  Nor is the other extreme, simply forgetting about the past completely.  But there is a sweet spot here, one that is highly idiosyncratic, that you cannot learn from others necessarily, but must endeavor to find on your own pace and intensity.

Which is to say that you don't need to hold on so desperately to all of the bad stuff, even or especially because it is familiar and routine.  It is possible not to be defensive and insecure and to live into the future on a level plane of curiosity, neutrality, and relative engagement.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Trying New Things [and] Killing What You Love

I know you think you know what I'm going to say, that there's a way to abscond from our base desires, to heighten our meditational stance against the warring forces within and without, and just climb over past blights as if rock solid foundations, reaching new heights and then, well, the zen-buddhist stance goes on into a beautiful cycle of constant renovation through dismissal and letting go and all that, and it is all true.  I mean, it is all as true as you want to make it.  But it is not what I'm going to say.

I just tossed the header together, since I think there's a serious tension between trying new things and trying to hold on to what it is you know you love.  And here I don't mean people, not explicitly anyway, although there's nothing quite as sour as the obvious reality of a relationship going south and the awareness that it is occurring, all the while both parties try to preserve it in a weird way that makes me think more of paternal suburban inauthentic cliches than it does about (actual paternal instincts or suburbia), and so what/  The point is more about trying to get into words a little bit of a lived experience, a reality that we know and one that we, individually, and mostly to ourselves, have trouble totally coherently talking about.

See, that's the thing, really, some sort of accuracy, that's the thing I like, or want, or think I want even as I really want what I really want instead anyway, like all of us.  And yes, there's a bit of me smeared all over the highway there and you too, because we're dancing this accident out, in a kind of slow-mo booty call late into the night when we should be back in suburbia, living remote lives, buying creamy drinks, falling into patterns, and habituation of interactions and all the rest that yes, I admit, drives me in a way that also disgusts me.  And that simultaneous understanding, when truly understood is indeed enough to crack better men than me, i.e. it is enough to crack me, and i.e. by the way, I have all sorts of cracks, for better or worse, and microscopic or relatively major, and life sober is not easy because it is very hard to stay sane without alcohol, no?  And yet.  And yet.  Life with alcohol is not exactly manageable.

See the thread of impossibility runs through so many currents that it is impossible for me to walk away from this place.  Basically everything I think is related to alcohol or something about alcohol, or something about alcohol is related to everything I think or experience, and that's fucking scary, and not because I'm an addict or alcoholic, or obsessive in a genuine almost need to be medicated way, but also more importantly, in the way that thoughts can merge and form synergy and find a way into brand new not just version2 thoughts, and realizations and insights, and what's simultaneously happening is that these great new insights are working on themselves, too, like bleach left on the counter, working to disabuse themselves, finding a way to crack, and fling mud and over-modulate right into the rough texture of incoherence, again, at the same time that they find a way toward foundational stability.  And that's what it is, really, a live wire, one that is in constant tension, just balanced there with a lot of energy on either end, in all directions, and that's it, right, the thing I mean to get out here, and with that, I will go and eat a delicious baked in a slight layer of coconut oil sweet potato and go on trying to believe in myself, because I need to, for the base fact of going on.

Monday, January 20, 2014

I Can't Stop -

I guess I just can't stop posting here.  I thought I was done, but every now and then a thought pops into my head, and I'm obliged to follow it through, and then, well, there's only one place for it, a place unfettered by the dogma of mindless social anxiety or forced interaction, or all of the filters and layers and endless sputtering that one must put up with to actually try to have a decent conversation; and that place, well, it turns out, is right here.

So I'm not quite back, but I'm not quite leaving, either, and that means I won't try to stick to a rigid schedule; I'll just post what and when I feel like (um, that's not quite different or anything, but a re-affirmation never hurt).

Because this is a bit of my identity, whether I like it (or want to walk away from it) or not, and I can't quite deny it anymore, even though I've sort of aggressively embraced it, I underestimated the need to stay strong in a low-volume way, and in a consistent way.

Yours always and truly, constantly striving to make headway into the nether regions of our collective addictions,

Offbooze (and off everything else).

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Being Honest -

It is okay to just think the thoughts that you have and follow them, and know that they are not purely your own thoughts, and that those particular thoughts at that particular time don't determine everything about you or necessarily define you for all eternity.  They could even be meaningless, inconsequential, flighty little things that don't hold much more water than the most recently passed flatulence.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


It has become evident to me that faith is paramount to life.  It is a thing that religion gets fundamentally correct, at base, and it is important that we all see the more abstract notion of faith, divorced from any baggage of guilt or the sabotage of our personal histories regarding what we've been told to think, or reacted to, regarding religion.

Faith is vital.  We must believe in the future.  We must come to an emotional or philosophical, or even a hold-me-by-my-hips kind of need or want to aim into the future, not for personal gain, for laziness, sloth, etc., but because we can fathom a future of betterness, improvement, constant development, and where we matter. --

Not where we tell ourselves we matter, or where ambition flouts about for ambition's sake.  But a future that we somehow fundamentally believe in, because it matters.  Because it matters without a because.  It matters.  That's the faith part, at once intoxicatingly simple to say and disregard and hideously difficult to practice and hold steady and strong.  But that is what we need, make no mistake, and we will go about trying to find it.  Better to be clear about what we're looking for first, before embarking.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Push Toward Flat

I have a tendency to build hyperbole into everything I do, think about, react to, or experience.  It is exceedingly difficult for me to experience, to live, accurately, flatly, neutrally.  I'd prefer to have some pinch of feedback to know that I'm alive.  As if life's meaning is flat because life is flat.  Because there is no drama.

I'm also intensely self-aware, which, when combined with the need to have drama, or seek action, really pollutes my own feelings of contentment or the possibility of peace.

I also don't think I'm alone.

So what?

So nothing.  Deal with it and development within it too--a much harder task than the constantly bounding mania that so often fueled the exegesis of anything and anyone who would listen.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Death On My Mind

Constantly.  That may sound strikingly myopic, or abnormal.  Perhaps I am indeed deranged in some fundamental way, or just wrong, deep down.

Or perhaps not.

Regardless, I do maintain what I believe in is a healthy respect for death, for darkness, for the reality and need to heed that flavor of our basic existence.

It is hard not to sound quaint or even cliched at this moment, this point, and I don't mean it in a way to evoke some weird kind of nostalgia or even any reflection whatsoever.  It is more about me getting to the basics of accuracy. I experience life with a chronic understanding of death.  It isn't bad, necessarily.  It just is. Before we get to bad, we get to what exists.  In short, I have a certain awareness of vulnerability.  I don't think it is bad, per se.  I think it is perhaps helpful.  You may think that my concurrent problem of never being able to relax, to "settle" into my life, as it were, was closely related to my chronic fatiguing ever present awareness of death.

You'd be right, possibly, but I don't exactly care because I know the more entrenched reality is that you likely care less than that.  My thoughts are almost uniquely inapplicable to you, average person, and your thoughts to me likewise.  It is truly depressing, that sort of relentless unhinged nature of modern life, but I do stare it down with as little distortion as possible.

The point is that death isn't funny, and it isn't intriguing and it certainly isn't something that can be used lightly.  It is scary.  Scary because of its permanence.  Permanence is a concept that takes some time to get used to, since it is easy to hold traction of such notions in conversation, and much harder in the waves of isolation, or even habitual every day life.  Permanence overlays lot of things, the concept of it, a nice little ancillary sub-death thought.  I believe that we make decisions that stick with us, and maybe I'm wrong, but then again, the chance that I'm right is what worries me more.