Still Slugging

Still slugging through my last round of editing my stories. I had originally planned the collection to be a self-contained series of ten stories, but that would have taken another few years to complete to my near satisfaction. Thus, I opted for five–with an additional one that does not really relate to the rest thrown in as literary lagniappe.

Though only six, those stories will capture my overriding concerns about life. After that set, I, ultimately, will have nothing more to say–only reiterations of what I have already said. However, I cannot not write. Even with family, friends, and career, I would still feel adrift if I were not to write. Thus, I must, and I will.

My next collection of stories will descend into the abyss. Over the past few years, I have amassed a decent-sized library of despair literature. Though I have not personally had the misfortune of experiencing great suffering, I am willing to enter into the darkness and to reflect upon it philosophically. Will I emerge from this unscathed? I highly doubt it, but I consider this to be necessary field work.

My mom this very morning asked me if I were still taking my meds. I told her that I was not. She told me that I need to resume my neural nostrum regimen, for when I am on them I am actually pleasant to be around. I told her that is why I want to make a major move in the near future–to grant me the chance to recreate myself, allowing who I am now to die, as I feel he must. I am such a jackass to my mom.

I am not a good person. I have never claimed to be one. I wish more people would realize this. If there will be anything that acts as my advocate, it will be the way that I can use words–both to give life and to destroy.

Speaking of destruction, before I finish my job-mandated therapy, I want to convince both my therapist and my counselor that there are no rational grounds for optimism. If I can do that by May, then, I will, I must confess, come away quite tickled with myself. I plan on presenting my bullet-point plan of action over the course of the ensuing weeks.

After I release my stories, I may even close this blog. I am tired of writing for no one. Also, as mentioned earlier, I beginning to believe that I am only repeating myself at this stage.

Sadly, there are not too many people to whom I can actually voice these concerns and who would want to listen. Thus, I toss these submissions to anonymous readers–I may as well be writing love notes on paper planes and throwing them from the roof of a tall building.

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Fleeting Thoughts (and Life)

Teaching, ultimately, is a moral endeavor. If we, as a society, no longer believe in transcendent forms of truth, i.e., the the truth will set one free, then teaching is reduced to nothing more than a gimmick that allows clever ones to cheat the more stupid–and there definitely are stupid people.

Depression is the most rational response to modern life. Anyone who tells one to cheer up is either an idiot or in denial.

Men are the true romantics who pretend to be pragmatists, and women are the true pragmatists who pretend to be romantics.

Group therapy is fucking bullshit. If takes someone else to tell one how one has fucked up his/her life, then that person does not have introspective wherewithal to improve his/her life. That person is doomed. (Perhaps I am just bitter as I am looking at ten weeks of intensive outpatient group therapy in order to keep my job.)

That being typed, I am attracted to doomed people.

I am doomed, but I will scam everyone. Just watch.

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Taste and See

I am halfway-through my series of edits for my collection of short stories. I want to reread each story at least five times. However, if writing/editing/publishing a story can be compared to enduring a pregnancy (someone somewhere at some point once said that…), the contractions are coming very soon. Comparable to how most expectant mothers think, I humbly assume: for me this baby cannot come too soon. I have been thinking about and playing with these stories, in some fashion, for years now,  and I am already thinking about the next child. (Okay, last analogy….) Once I complete my final edit, I will post a teaser–the first page from each story with a link to the ebook. I truly am excited to see this work, which has suffered the indignity of being all but noticed by most, finally assume form–even if it will be, initially anyway, an ebook.

Here is a teaser snippet from the prelude story:

Every moment that we shared we baptized with the promise of new life—a life that would be understood only by us.  We would recreate a world that would exclude everyone else, thereby making us the only two people remaining.  We would have no choice but to know and to love each other; there would be no room for awkwardness—or there would be all the room in the world.  Either way, the world would be ours, and we would recreate everything and rename all the animals and all the plants and rewrite all the books, so, wherever we looked, we would see proof that we had known and had loved each other.

Synchronicity: as I was working on this story, Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” circulated through my playlist:

And one day we will die / And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea / But for now we are young / Let us lay in the sun / And count every beautiful thing we can see love to be / In the arms of all that I’m keeping here with me.  



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What Is a No-Word Phrase for “Keep Moving”?

Renaissance man Quintus Curtius, through his podcast Fortress of the Mind and his works, the stories of great men and the translated works of ancient minds, serves as a living bastion for those of us who may not otherwise have had people in our lives to recommend such material. More and more young men, once they graduate past the pick-up artist stage of their red-pill awakening, begin yearning for perennial wisdom. Given the anti-traditional nature of media and a general ignorance displayed in the men–if there are any–who are presently in their lives, such young men must embark on haphazard pilgrimages to find those who can at least point them toward tradition. As despair-inducing as it may be some days to observe the young with their narcissistic, snowflake ways, anyone who has the eyes to see can attest that the young are the ones who are returning, often at great personal sacrifice, to traditional worldviews and religious practices. For example, the traditional Latin Mass is extremely popular among young families, not those who were alive during the havoc unleashed by Vatican II. Those who see through the phony divide that keeps ostensible liberals and conservatives at each other’s throats and who see the destructive effects of both statism and unchecked capitalism tend not to be those collecting social security.

In this podcast, Quintus discusses the importance of the will–though not in the “alt-right” kind of way. Rather, he seeks to stress the necessity of cultivating a will power that endures through the trials that life will undoubtedly bring to all. I have never listened to one of his podcasts that did not speak to me; however, this one resonated with me powerfully. I have lingered these past few months in a listlessness that, despite my age or perhaps because of it, has never been more vicious: I have not found consolation in religious practices; I cannot stay focused long enough to finish reading anything of substance; I no longer take the joy I once did in the company of my friends; I find the benefits of exercise to fall short of the effort; I fail to find familiarity with the buildings and streets that once gave me a geographic sense of self; I have long ago ceased to find any excitement in what I do to make a living; I have even begun to think that writing itself has become merely a prop that I use to trick myself into thinking that I possess something worth sharing. Only a manic walking routine that allows my nebulous thoughts to interact brings me any semblance of relief. Thus, to be reminded that I need only to keep moving and that such itself constitutes a victory is exactly what I needed to hear.

While the victory may go with the one who keeps moving, the victory may not go with the one who keeps moving in the same direction. Yukio Mishima once wrote about the “corrosive power” of words. The irony: a man who wanted, in the end, to be remembered for his steely actions will, more than likely, live in history as a penetrating wordsmith. However, I am coming to sense that a darker truth abides. Yes, I realize the gall in using words to express my fear that words per se words can capture only an exposed amount of reality, leaving the rest to hide below the surface like the bottom of an iceberg.

Perhaps if we were not so image/video-driven, I may have greater faith in the alchemical properties of words–signs that go on to transform the very reality they seek to capture, but we are–and there is no indication that will change. I am reminded of something that St. Mother Teresa once wrote (and I paraphrase): only prayer and works of charity seem to make this sense in these deranged times. Okay, I know what you are going to say: prayer = words. Usually, but not always. Even then, I am not arguing for an atavistic, wholesale abandonment of words, for our ability to use words is what distinguishes us from other species and grants us the curse/blessing of self-consciousness. (This leaves aside whether such an endeavor is even possible for any sentient person.) Rather, I am coming to terms with my own waning desire to write and the futility of it.

I still want to finish my current collection of short stories, and I believe that I have one more in me. After that, I cannot imagine that I will have anything left to say either in fiction or non-fiction. Realistically, I doubt that I will abandon a skill for which I seem to have some facility, but I think that I will direct my writing toward private self-examination, messages to family and friends, and scattered aphorisms.

Thus, the bourbon apocalypse may soon occur, but I have appreciated the consolation and the provocation that this blog has provided me has provided me over the years, especially as I bitter-sweetly reminisce on all that has happened in my life during that period. Sadly, as someone who has regrettably later in life discovered the emptiness of a verbally expressed “I love you,” I cannot say that there is much left to attempt that will require that I continue to live a life so divorced from measurable actions.



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Blog Anniversary

WordPress thoughtfully notified me this morning that today is the eighth year anniversary of my swelling underground classic blog, Bourbon Apocalypse. (I will go to my grave proud of that name.)

Eight years.

I remember that day–surprisingly, given the amount of alcohol that I have consumed in the past eight years. I was sitting outside my local Trinkets Books-A-Million, using its WiFi.

I had just returned to my adopted hometown after my second tour of grad school (Mississippi State University–Starkville, what a dreadful, dreadful city). I was still engaged. In fact, if one cares to peruse, one can find comments left by my ex-fiancee on my earliest entries.

I decided to return to grad school after my girlfriend at the time broke up with me over the phone while I was finishing my shift at the local library. I excused myself from the reference desk, walked to an empty (or so I thought–not the case) corner of the library, and left her the most vicious voicemail. I, most horribly, would, a few years later, break up with my fiancee over the phone. I still feel guilty about that dastardly move. What a piece of shit I was–perhaps still am.

I took my Catholic faith much more seriously than I currently do. However, as only a Catholic can attest, the specter of Catholicism will continue to haunt a Catholic, devout or not, for the rest of his/her life. Though this may constitute the sin of presumption, I do hope one day to return to a more consistent practicing of the faith, for, if there is no other reason, I could never fully disembarrass myself of my devotion to Mary, the Mother of God.

I think of the friends that I had in my life eight years ago whom I no longer have or care to have and the friends who have wandered into my life during this time and the friends who have remained consistent. Oh, the adventures that we have had and the parties that we have thrown and the conversations that have been savored. For some reason, one prominent memory that sticks out to me was riding in the back of truck with a friend because there was no room inside. We had spent the evening consuming Mai Tai pitchers and playing old country songs on the jukebox at the most atmospheric Thai restaurant I have ever visited. It was cold, and the mist was sharp; however, my friend and I giggled like schoolgirls the entire ride. Once we arrived at our destination, I passed out on a couch, only to wake up at regular intervals to bless him and the random girl with whom he was dancing at an impromptu house dance party. We both agreed that I would have made a great whiskey priest.  He is now married and expecting his second child.

I had not started teaching at the junior college where I still teach. I had to move back to my parents’ place to find my bearings. The enormous amount of free time–an amount of time that I will never again have free–that I squandered. Then again, I did take quite a few meandering walks at the local lake–never wasted time, in my opinion. During this span of time, I have determined that teaching is not my vocation, but there is nothing else I can do, honestly. I am, more or less, worthless–unless you need an incredibly charming conversationalist in the house.

The women. My God, the women who have come into and exited my life in the past eight years.  Most of them, sadly, I will remember as nothing more than warm ways to have passed the time. The ones whom I will remember differently will be the ones I wish I could forget.

If nothing else, the past eight years have revealed to me that my vocation is to write. A sickly ennui descends on me whenever I am not writing. Though no one may ever acknowledge my writing, I will continue to proclaim my creed in the darkness.



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Rainy Days and Bad Desires

Today’s mood:

Hey, little girl, is your daddy home?                                                                                                  Did he go away and leave you all alone?                                                                                             I got a bad desire                                                                                                                                    Oh oh oh                                                                                                                                                  I’m on fire

Tell me now, baby, is he good to you?                                                                                                Can he do to you those things that I do?                                                                                            Oh no, I can take you higher                                                                                                                Oh oh oh                                                                                                                                                  I’m on fire

Sometimes it’s like someone took a knife, baby                                                                        Edgy and dull and cut a six-inch valley                                                                                      Through the middle of my soul

At night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet                                                                            And a freight train running through the middle of my head                                                      Only you can cool my desire                                                                                                                Oh oh oh                                                                                                                                               I’m on fire                                                                                                                                                 Oh oh oh                                                                                                                                                   I’m on fire                                                                                                                                                 Oh oh oh                                                                                                                                                   I’m on fire

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eBook in the Works

I have finished–to the degree that a perfectionist writer like myself can ever finish–the first of five short stories, originally planned for a collection of ten. However, I will release the first five as a separate volume. These stories are darkly humorous and, per your expectations, simply dark ruminations on souls knowingly and unknowingly disenchanted with modern life, a life unmoored from the stabilizing, though necessarily restricting, influences of religion, family, and community. The first one starts off whimsically in tone, though careful readers will detect the not-always functional despair lurking beneath the playful surface. By the time the reader reaches the fifth story, the darkness will have descended. The next five, which may take me a year or two to write, will engage themes that have taken up residence in my head these past few years: namely, anti-natalism, automation, post-humanism, and the need for the prioritizing of the monastic life in order to save what is left of Western civilization.

In the next few days, I hope to post the first page or so from each story, giving you a tantalizing tease of what the collection contains. Then, provided on how soon I can get to editing, I want to have an ebook available very soon. I hope this can be done before Christmas. I plan to make it available through Amazon. While I would be lying to say that I do not care to make any money, my primary concern to expose my writing to a larger audience, for as Walker Percy once wryly noted, any author who continues to write does so because he believes he was something worthwhile to say.

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The Sense of Unhappiness

The sense of unhappiness is so much easier to convey than that of happiness. In misery we seem aware of our own existence, even though it may be in the form of a monstrous egotism: this pain of mine is individual, this nerve that winces belongs to me and to no other. But happiness annihilates us: we lose our identity. The words of human love have been used by the saints to describe their vision of God, and so, I suppose, we might use the terms of prayer, meditation, contemplation to explain the intensity of the love we feel for a woman. We too surrender memory, intellect, intelligence, and we too experience the deprivation, the noche oscura, and sometimes as a reward a kind of peace. The act of love itself has been described as the little death, and lovers sometimes experience too the little peace. 

~Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

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Today’s mood:

Drink up, baby, stay up all night
With the things you could do
You won’t but you might
The potential you’ll be
That you’ll never see
The promises you’ll only make

Drink up with me now
And forget all about
The pressure of days
Do what I say
And I’ll make you okay
And drive them away
The images stuck in your head

People you’ve been before
That you don’t want around anymore
That push and shove and won’t bend to your will
I’ll keep them still

Drink up, baby, look at the stars
I’ll kiss you again between the bars
Where I’m seeing you there
With your hands in the air
Waiting to finally be caught

Drink up one more time
And I’ll make you mine
Keep you apart,
Deep in my heart
Separate from the rest,
Where I like you the best
And keep the things you forgot

The people you’ve been before
That you don’t want around anymore
That push and shove and won’t bend to your will
I’ll keep them still

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Today’s mood:

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