a coffee shop with good couches and good caffeine cokehead buzzing blood and a big window to the street where the slideshow of flesh and skateboards under bare feet, shirts tucked into jeans like coattails and summer dresses in the hot schizophrenic california fall carousels around and around for my viewing pleasure, and a good coffeecake donut and a Brian Jonestown Massacre soundtrack to the movie I’m watching in my head of the book I'm reading in my lap; this is my Bukowski's Nirvana and I'd live here if I could. I don't care if it's the drugs in my hot bean juice or the sugar my brain is eating or a feng shui ambience placebo or the dream woven by the book feeding me pictures, or the pretty girl on her laptop across from me, who I will never touch, with whom I will never speak. Whatever this is I'll take it. Knowing what things are made of does not change my experience of them, knowing that the coffee is made of beans and the book is made of trees and horses in the spinal glue and ink and that love is an emergent property of oxytocin meant to keep us from eating our own children does not change my experience of coffee, books, love.
The world is not made for me. I've been over six feet since I was a preteen, and six-foot-eight for over a decade. I don't fit in cars or planes. I have chronic knee pain from years of angling it under the steering wheel to make turns while keeping my foot on the break pedal. I trip servers in restaurants and flight attendants when I'm in aisle seats. Occasionally, asking about my height has started conversations with pretty girls. More often, it starts conversations with everyone else, whether I want it to or not. This time, it was the catalyst for a blood plasma epidural. Win some, lose some.
We open on a Barcelona cobblestone alleyway with dimly glowing fairy lights and drying laundry, both hanging on lines that lazily loop from window to window above. The heat is wet and my mouth is dry and I've decided that public bike shares are suddenly "my thing" and that I should swear off cabs for the trip. Of course, these are public bikes, made for the public, i.e., normal-sized people. Cut to a quick zoom as we shrink down, magic-school-bus style, diving into a pore on my skin while dodging an engorging sweat droplet. Beneath the skin we reveal my spine, bent at an odd angle due to my hunching posture because that is the only way for my hands to reach the handlebars of this normal-sized-person bike. The pressure of this posture causes a jelly-donut-like disc of goo between my fourth and fifth vertebrate to herniate, i.e. squirt out between the bones like... well, like a jelly donut.
The next few cuts are a montage representing a full month of aches, pains, ill-advised kettle bell swinging (why, just why?) and a sudden inability to bend over to reach the faucet on my sink. Yes, I have to bend over to reach the faucet on my sink, no, I don't know why I haven't just paid someone to raise the sink. End montage on a shot of me face-up on a whirring platform as it ferries me, lovingly, into the smooth, minimalist white donut hole of Steve Jobs' gigantic anus. This is the second MRI I've had this week. The first was for pain in my knee that turned out to be a consequence of my back pain radiating down. In other words, nothing. Money well spent. Fast forward a week, and I am watching a cartoonishly large vial of my arm blood being injected into a centrifuge. It spins until it separates into a sort of yellowish, translucent pus of platelet-rich plasma, which is then promptly injected into my back as I lay ass up on yet another table. They let me film it with my phone after I apologize for wanting to film it with my phone.
I gotta tell ya, the urge to over-dramatize this thing is overwhelming, because the aesthetics of it all look very clinical and gross. Bags of dripping blood traveling through tubes, needles into bone, x-rays. Truthfully, it's not all that serious. My actual pain is minimal. I'm fine, I'm not dying, everything's good, I just hem and haw like an old man when I put my socks on now, and hopefully that'll go away with some physical therapy and maybe a couple more back needles. I'm sure we all know some old man in our family that has complained about a hernia at some point. This is hardly chemo. But still, the strange temptation is there. What if, I fantasize, I sent a picture of the MRI machine or the blood spinning and separating to my friends or family without context? That would certainly cause a commotion. So, of course, that's exactly what I do, because there's nothing more fun than making my loved ones worry needlessly. (At the suggestion of a friend, I may or may not have also posted a video of the aforementioned spinning blood wheel on a certain social media profile to the tune of Meshuggah's "Ivory Tower." Because blood is so metal, you guys.) "What happened?!" "Are you okay?!" "That's crazy!?" Oh, sweet dopamine receptors, open like lotus flowers as the attention floods my brain with delicious juices. Drown me in love, fill the locked room of my head with love.
But really, I'm fine. No surgery on the horizon as of yet. That will be a last resort if these epidurals don't work. So the man in the white coat told me.
It's weird to admit that there's a certain thrill in being injured or sick. It goes without saying, of course, that if I were actually significantly injured in some truly horrible way, I wouldn't find it fun at all. Obviously. And of course no one wants the pain or death part. But we do kind of instinctually want everything else that comes with it. Being special, being tended to, being unique. Don't you remember taking a sick day as a kid, maybe even getting breakfast in bed from a sympathetic parent, while everyone else had to get up at the crack of ass in the morning? Don't you remember snuggling deeper into your blanket as you imagined everyone else shivering though pre-sunlight showers and then attempting to navigate all the subtle social politics of school (that thresher through which all fresh meat must pass)? Sure, the sniffles and the fever were uncomfortable, the stomach aches sucked, but didn't you still feel a kind of special?
When the doctor describes the "paramedian disc protrusion" as "significant," I get this pit of worry in my stomach. But then, like swarming antibodies, adrenaline follows suit. In other words, I get excited. It's a confusing feeling. Could be the way the body defends against emotional trauma. You can kind of understand the strange logic of Munchausen's syndrome, in a way. I mean look at the title of this article. I really made it seem bad, didn't I? I must have, on some level, gotten a kick out of making people worry (or even of giving someone that hates me false hope that I'm terminally ill, and letting them down. Delicious). There's a reason we all like movies where the main character almost dies, and the world almost ends. The thrill feels good. The more narrowly we escape death's teeth, the more alive we feel.
But of course, I didn't "escape death." I just have a hernia because I'm too tall for a fucking bicycle, and this is all me being melodramatic. Right. Back to Earth.
I've got this Vicodin prescription now, which I'm only going to use if I am absolutely writhing in agony over the next week or so. I've apparently already got a few addictions to the happy chemicals produced naturally in my brain (oxytocin, dopamine, adrenaline). I probably don't need another one on top of that. Although, hypothetically, snorting a crushed up Vicodin in front of my sister to see her jaw drop sounds pretty appealing. Is it illegal to snort a medication for which you have a prescription, and actual medical need? Asking for a friend.
I don't really know why I'm doing this.
The older I get, the more averse I am to shouting into the void. I know everyone says it, but I really do prefer a private, solitary life. I "post" things all the time, but I respond/interact less and less every year (the irony of saying this here has occurred to me, yes). It's a cliche by this point, but the less I engage with this trillion-mouthed-beast, the less insane I feel. Before the internet, we all thought certain public figures were just crazy with their see-me-don't-see-me break downs. Now we know that even the smallest levels of public exposure can make you crazy. A camera in your direction can make you crazy. And everyone has a camera. All the time. You don't need to have been on television to feel like you're being watched anymore.
This is why I say that making this blog is a little out of character for me. I almost said "off-brand." Is that telling, that the expression "off-brand" is slowly replacing "out of character"? That's a little creepy, right? I feel like there's some shift there. The self as ultimate product, something that lives or dies by its consumption by others. Normal business acumen I guess. To me it sounds like I've become carrion. I'm not sure I like it.
If you're here and you're aware of me (50/50 chance at best), there might be a few elephants in the room you're waiting for me to address, and if that's why you're here, you should probably leave, because I'm not going to do it. Fuck open letters, fuck the arbitrary shit the internet decides gets to live forever or is "of note," and fuck the faceless mob that believe they have a whole and complete picture of people and events they did not experience themselves. This isn't for them, it's for me, and I'm not answerable to them. Insert shrug emoji. If something newsworthy happens about me, or someone close to me, I'm probably not gonna talk about it. Look for your tabloid fix somewhere else. No good band I've ever liked ever listened to the guy in the back of the venue that heckled, "just play that one top 40 hit I like!" Instead of talking about whatever it is people want me to talk about, I'm gonna talk about what I want to talk about. A new breakfast place where I really like the eggs, or a book I'm crazy about right now, or whatever's been on my mind, because go fuck yourself, that's why. No one gets to move the Overton window in this place but me. So there's the disclaimer. Moving along.
There are potentially things to gain from having a blog, in theory, but not immediately. And probably not a blog like this, honestly. The only plus for me at the moment is a kind of public exorcism of a brain that never shuts up. Draining a cyst that re-swells daily. The umpteenth twenty-to-thirty something male with dysthymia, reaching out to strangers he doesn't necessarily want to actually meet. Who the fuck knows if this is even healthy? Guess I'm just adding to those endless yawning libraries of the world, or the legions of pretentious wannabe artists who insist on undressing themselves publicly so someone might notice how "brave" they are. Wherever I fall on the spectrum, just know, this thing is probably not going to be accessible enough or bite-sized enough to be marketable to anyone. I tend not to like marketable things. I tend to like weird things. So this thing is going to be weird. Hell, maybe there will even be poems. Ok, maybe not poems.
Although I don't actually want any feedback on this, I do wonder why you're here. Just curious? Spite search? I don't know why anyone goes to anyone's website. Have you seen Jim Carrey's website? It's crazy. I mean, crazy intricate, not crazy as in should-be-dismissed. Well designed, if surreal. Someone put a lot of work into it. But who goes there? I'm a Jim Carrey fan, I like his stand-up and I like Ace Ventura and Eternal Sunshine, and I like his existentialist depression rants half the time. But why would I go to his website? What more is there to be consumed?
Like I said, I'm going to write whatever I feel like writing here, because writing is something I do anyway, impulsively, constantly. I rarely share it with anyone, and people tell me I "should." I've got a couple thousand pages of book-length things lying around in various hard drives and notebooks and old laptops and I honestly have no idea what I'm going to do with them. This is what a bachelor's in English and World Lit gets you, kids: vague memories of how grammar works and a very expensive lesson in how to make a negligible amount of money being introspective and exhausting. But like the dirty old man said, "if it doesn't come bursting out of you / in spite of everything, / don't do it," so I guess I have to do it. I don't think Bukowski was imagining self-involved/self-conscious blogs in that poem, but it's good advice anyway. And you know us millennials, we cannot help but share. Pretty sure I still count as one. We are each of us an unholy chimera of audience and performer and venue stitched together into one self-digesting theatre, eating and regurgitating ourselves and each other endlessly, never feeling quite full. I'm hoping this stream of consciousness-diary-rant type thing will help channel that impulse into something productive, instead of something vain (in more than one sense of the word). Fuck, aren't we all just a little tired of analyzing, and being analyzed? I think we're good on the think-pieces, I think the articles about millennials might outnumber actual millennials by this point. Do they do anything or are they just agreement/disagreement porn? Guess I kind of just added to that a little. Oh well.
I don't think I'll ever allow comments, or Q & A's on this, and I probably won't talk politics, because I think there's enough of all of that out there, thank you very much. If nobody was talking about the big issues, I would feel compelled to talk, but it seems more like our problem now is everyone talking at the same time with bad information (instead of, y'know. Reading, listening, admitting their ignorance. Voting). Kinda seems like some sort of ingenious conspiracy by a shadowy, world-ruling cabal; public discourse has been the primordial soup out of which so many revolutions and power-shifts have crawled, and every explosion of expression seems to come after someone tries to silence the masses. I just saw an old interview with the late, great Bourdain on Rogan's podcast, where he talked about how cafes were banned in England for a while because morning coffee was the only place where people would meet and talk while sober enough to notice what was wrong in their society. Before coffee, people from that part of the world apparently drank mead as the default morning beverage, pacifying their minds with an alcoholic buzz for the rest of the day. So cafes were banned for fear of inevitable cultural or political upheaval due to too much sober, clear-thinking conversation. Today it seems like someone in the illuminati round table was finally like, "Ok. They wanna talk? Let 'em ALL talk, all the time, so incessantly that no one voice can be heard clearly. Churn the waters forever so the best ideas have no space to rise to the top." And social media was born, and that's how they won, this fictitious evil society I just made up. If everyone's an activist and a motivational speaker and a debater and an influencer, it's kind of like no one is, in the end. The best way to silence people, it turns out, is to let them talk themselves and each other to death. Maybe. I don't know.
It's pretty weird that you can tell almost anyone in the world that you hate them or love them or want them to die or want to fuck them, and they will probably see it. Imagine the effort it would have taken a few decades ago, to tell these things to someone you don't know. I know I'm not the first person to notice that.
So, you don't get to comment here. You just get to read this thing, or not. I haven't googled myself or anyone close to me in over a decade, and I'm not going to start. Sounds stupid, but realizing you don't actually have to read your twitter mentions - ever - is amazing. Fun to imagine that if I don't read it, it just becomes a few guys talking at an ever-smiling picture of me, their faces growing more twisted with frustration as my portrait stays mockingly pristine, like a reverse Dorian Grey. I mean I guess regular life is already a reverse Dorian Grey since we all age and our pictures don't. Maybe that's a shitty simile. Whatever, I'm gonna leave it there anyway. For the sake of realness, yo.
I imagine not many people will see this. But If you want to review or critisize this weird little non-blog on your own site, go ahead. Tweet about the blog, meta-blog about the blog, and trust that I probably won't see yours either. This isn't a side business where feedback is important, and I'm not doing this for any reason other than an impulse somewhere akin to throwing stones into a lake. So criticize, ignore, blog, meta-blog, whatever. And then someone can meta-meta-blog about your meta-blog, and then we can all fall together, brothers and sisters, down the infinite spiral staircase of critique and counter-critique, into a post-literary purgatory so deep that no light, truth, beacon or firmament can exist from which we can extrapolate true north and south. Sounds fun. As for me, I think the world has a more than sufficient helping of comments, reviews, surveys, reactions, ratings and critiques for multiple lifetimes. I'm just going to write about what I feel like writing about, and that will be that. That's what the internet is for, after all, isn't it? And if someone sees it, or no one sees it, that's all well and fine.
So. If you're here and you got to the end of this unintelligible rant, hi. I make no promises and I owe you nothing, but you're welcome to stay as long as you like.