Bottled Up

Due to a recent health issue, my doctor told me I had to stop drinking, give my body a rest. It’s not that I’m addicted (I’m not), it’s that I’m habitual. When there’s a bottle in my house, of course I’ll have some shots before bed. But I’ve been doing this daily — for the past three-something years. My liver’s not pickled or anything, because quite honestly I never got to the point of killing a fifth all by myself in a night, but that low level of alcohol knocked some things out of balance, caused me to go to bed dehydrated, have crappy sleep, and wake up hating the world. Now I go to bed hydrated, get crappy sleep, and hate the world in other ways.

So my most recent bottle was emptied about two weeks ago, and I haven’t been to the store since. I’m not saying I’ll never go back, or that I’ll never have another drink. That’s a bullshit claim. I’m saying that my health is something I need to look after, and that daily consumption may not have been killing me but it was making my health a burden to carry.

The downside is that I am increasingly pensive and irritable, to a hateful point. It’s surprising and it’s a scary thing. I don’t want to be that — I’m trying to take better care of myself by not drinking every goddamn day (only occasionally with other people around, for once). I don’t want to hate, don’t want to be antisocial, don’t want to have all these negative emotions, but goddammit I have no release now, nothing to pat me on the back and tell me things will be alright. Y’know?

Is this to be expected?

Sonance

The latest album from Shara Worden’s project My Brightest Diamond is in my heavy rotation this week. Of the ten tracks on her release “This Is My Hand” (2014), the one that is really getting under my skin is “Resonance“.

It’s a complex piece of work. The disparate musical and rhythmic elements phase in and out, each on its own apparent time signature, starting and stopping at its own whim, mashing together into a polyrhythmic, atonal whole. This serves as a strong poetic allegory to the hunger of Worden’s lyrics, of seeking resonance with the rhythms of other people as they phase in and out of our lives, of reaching out in search of a matching heartbeat in the noise. “All alone, we come and go / I long to be known by you / A resonance coming through”. The dense structure never fully congeals into a hard rhythm — just like the complexity of interpersonal relationships never fully merges into a beating dance — but eventually things melt together into an understandable drone where we can let go and let it wash over. “Can I dance without pulling back? / I can’t control you / I don’t even want to”.

The parts that swing together are the choruses, the points where the author draws inside and paints an overall conclusion about the world. A single, solitary viewpoint, an ideology, an interpretation of reality, As the author reaches outward for a hand to pull her back into the dance, the polyrhythms reappear, the chaos restarts. Other voices, other views, other lives take the floor. Reality is not so clean and pure. Holding hands to stay together, a resonance eventually comes through.

The vibration of one inducing the vibration of another. Resonance. Tuned strings. Poetry.

Sulfur, Creosote, Mold, Brimstone

It takes the first sulphurous whiff of a papermill on my way in to town to smother my hope and raise the vapors of despair in my soul. The decay and desparation in Texarkana is palpable. I may have been born here, I may have spent the bulk of my young life inside these city limits, but after finally, resolutely, pushing my way out and staying out, every time I come back as an outsider, I’m reminded of every reason I left.

Every family business shuttered because the next generation left town. Every stately house with a blue tarp hanging over some part of the structure. Every vacant lot that was previously the homesite of someone’s dreams. Every gas station turned into a payday loan store. Every quickmart turned into a smoke shop. Every stand of pine trees turned into a stripmall. Every stripmall turned into a godbox. Every steel-sided structure with a brick façade and a cross on top. Every block of homes bulldozed for a hospital parking lot. Every hospital turned into a juvenile detention center. Every bogus statistic that tells you to fear the boogey man, because crime is on the rise (the cops said so). Every downtown intersection with the stoplights pulled down because it costs too much to keep them running. Every downtown business throwing in the towel because the money is along the interstate.

I hate change, I really do. My internal behaviour indicates this. Why? Because it’s uncontrollable. Change happens. I’d rather it didn’t. I’d rather things didn’t change, only improved, only maintained. Instead of letting things rot, instead of tearing them down, instead of building a new thing in its place, why not just maintain? We have no connection with the past; no sense of history. Our only sense is that old things are old and worthless, and new things are what we need, but now the only place to get new things is Walmart. And those new things are worthless, but we want them.

I think I’d rather have all the delapidated, crumbling structures torn down a la Detroit. Just vast swaths of nothing, empty spaces sold for their true value: nothing. This was once a booming industrial town — now it’s an in-joke. When I ask, “so, what’s there to do here nowadays,” the residents just look at me and brokenly laugh, shrugging, “This is Texarkana.” Why is there not anything worthwhile here? I currently live in a city where distractions are a dime a dozen. I mean, there’s got to be life here, activity aplenty, right? There’s got to be interesting things with lasting value here, right? Right? It just seems so small, so unimportant. So desperate.

Decay has happened, Texarkana. You did it. You let it happen. You failed yourselves. You stopped caring. You looked at the fuzz in your own navels and found it more interesting than your community, you sons of bitches. You had all the power to make your town a wonderful place, but you let it all go to Hell. Your fault.

My own problem with Texarkana, truth be told, is that it’s a reminder of my own failings, a signpost marking the source and shape of my own failings. It’s a damage that I’m trying to overcome. Were it not for my family who still call this place their home, I’m pretty sure I would have no problem with never coming back again.

Clam

I think I am going to shut up now. I have opinions. Opinions on things that matter. They are empty opinions with no force, no defense. I cannot defend them, because defending means struggle. I cannot struggle.

Matter of fact, I am a coward on the things that matter. I wish this were a joke, but it is not a joke. I am too old for jokes.

That, of course, is another indefensible opinion.