Sometimes bravery is the smallest of things, a grain of sand lying under a mountain of regret. This, I felt as I watched my mother die. Exactly two years before the moment she left this world, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It started with a pain in her breast that wouldn’t go away.
I remember my first week at Dartmouth College. It was after a week-long bus ride from California. Dartmouth, the Ivies, the East Coast, College in general, they are all worlds away from the reality of the California Rez (American Indian Reservation).
I can close my eyes and remember the day my friend died. I was sitting in the kitchen on the stairs that led to the second floor. It was on the fourth step, where I always sat because it had a large window to my left.
It was a hot summer day. August 16, 1977.
Rats on the platform. Tough guys with tattoos quiver, juke, shriek. Moments later, they're tough again. Dates guffaw. "You're a bitch," one says. "Screw you!" he shouts. "I just don't like them." .... The coward. He leans to vomit on the rails; friends hold his skull.
We arrived at the beach around noon, and everyone there was as naked as a the day they were born, except for the lifeguards – a pair of theatre geeks who were belting out show tunes, flailing their arms at the crescendo, all the while old hippies and young hipsters sat bare-assed behind them, dam
I wake up panting and sweating from every pore. My body is a twitching mass of pain, as usual, and today is a 7 out of 10 day. My normal level is a 4 or 5, just a dull whole body ache that I can work through.
No wonder so many famous authors become alcoholics; it can be a lonely, depressing life.
I never chose a writing career, it chose me. I still recall how excited I was to discover my first new word.
It was bat.
I love music to the point that I taught myself to play some guitar so I could understand how it's created. I guess being the child of a former singer and a former musician has created this hunger for music of any form.
I almost received a new Indian name. It was when Sara and I went to our third Denny's restaurant in three states on the same day. I had been craving Belgian waffles for a week.
I got a lot of feedback, directly and indirectly, negative and positive, as a result of my first submission to ICTMN, "Everyone Wants to Be an Indian, But No One Wants to
I remember the first time I had to act like a father.
My fiancé—and eventual first ex-wife—worked a couple of nights a week and needed a babysitter. I had lots of experience around kids (my sister has seven), so I figured how hard can it be, right?
FRIDAY, JUNE 6, 2014 –1:03 P.M. DENVER, COLORADO – I’ve been without sleep for 24 hours now. … My synapses aren’t firing. I’m hallucinating – not badly, though. It’s still just bees and flies – not yet bunnies with fangs or god-awful Humpty Dumpty looking guys. Thunderclaps smack outside my door. I’ve got weed in my pipe, cappuccino in my cup and Jack Lemon on the tube. But I feel like listening to some deep classical compositions in minor chords. Maybe Mozart? Bach? Hell, maybe not even classical at all. It might take my mood into the deep, the dark, those pits of agony, anger and despair. No. I don’t want to go there. … More coffee. The weed can wait. It’s legal here in Colorado so why not partake? Everything in moderation, balance. Still, you can never have too much of a good thing, they say, but Maureen Dowd of the New York Times did … to the point where she reported that she was convinced she had died and was on her way to sit beside the likes of Jerry Garcia and other ‘60s hippies in headbands, beards and blades of grass in their ass from free loving in public parks.
“As my paranoia deepened, I became convinced that I had died and no one was telling me,” she reported. Dowd had passed through these parts recently and wolfed down a fine caramel-chocolate flavored candy bar, but she ate the whole goddamn thing. Bad craziness there. Or maybe not. She’s new to the whole budding legal weed culture in these parts. The red-eyed granola who sold her the edible should’ve warned her that it never turns out well when a novice goes head long into unfamiliar substances. Moderation. Right. Break it up. Savor small bites. You wouldn’t quaff an entire bottle of Kentucky whiskey now would you? Of course not. Jesus. You’ve been warned. …
Yes. Life is different in Colorado these days. I can sit on my patio with a joint between my lips and wave at the fuzz as he drives by, barely eyeing me. Years ago had I’d try to pull such an audacious stunt the badger assuredly would’ve slammed his cruiser into park, charged out and barked, “Who the hell do you think you are? Smoking that in front of me, you little snarky sonofabitch!” But no. Times have changed, and it weirds out the older generation who remember the days when officious cops would haul off their family and friends feet first to prison to serve five year sentences for having a joint in their purse or pocket or sock.
“Yeah, man,” Grandpa said, “you’d go away for a long time if you were caught with some (weed) back then.”
Now, I can head over to the grocer, pick up some milk, eggs, and then, on my way back to the family home, pop into Northern Lights pot dispensary and get a single joint, which comes rolled fat at the tip and packaged in a vial stuffed into a plastic Ziploc-type bag. This is weed freedom folks, but what’s more is that its simply freedom.
OK. I’m still hallucinating – just a bit, but I haven’t had any weed at all; this is all due to my lack of sleep and those vicious dreams I dream whenever dreaming happens. Weed’s good for those in dire need of serious slumber, I’m told. But I’ve never used it for that. I’ll spark my fine grandfather pipe in front of books, rows of books, stacks of books, blank papers, too. Once in a while I’ll whip out my early 20th century typewriter with its moist ribbon and enjoy the sound of the beast’s bang – its click and clack as I feed my addiction for the written word. The pipe to my right. My quill on the block of papers wet with queer thoughts, late at night: “WHAT IF CHOCOLATE IS TOO SINFUL FOR THE LIKES OF HEAVEN? IS HEAVEN VOID OF CHOCOLATE? DO PEOPLE IN HELL BURN AT THE ANKLES YET STILL SUCK DOWN RIVERS OF CHOCOLATE SAUCE? WOULD YOU WANT TO GO TO HEAVEN IF CHOCOLATE IS ONLY FOUND IN HELL? WOULD GOD AT LEAST GIVE OUT A DAY PASS TO HEAVENERS WHO ARE ADDICTED TO CHOCOLATE? SWEET JESUS! IS THERE A CHOCOLATE BAR CALLED ‘SWEET JESUS’? IF NOT THERE SHOULD BE. …
Weed doesn’t facilitate these types of odd rants. In fact, to the contrary. I have to be stone cold sober, or at least stoned on caffeine, to get the real writing done, bub. “Write drunk. Edit sober.” Ernest Hemingway famously said that, and though a Jack & Coke on the rocks is, indeed, a part of my writing process, I much prefer the subtle periodic plumes of smoke or the meanness of bone-cracking caffeine. In any sense, know your limits, but, jumping Jesus, don’t judge your limits by the limits of those around you. OK. Enough of the wisdom, then. Music. We need music! …
The hallucinations have turned into the wandering stars you see on your eyelids after you’ve stared hard into a beaming light bulb on the ceiling. The bees and flies are all gone. No Humpty Dumpty to fall off storybook walls. There are rabbits, though – yet they have no fangs, just big feet, fluffy tails and teeth like Gary Busey. The storm clouds are now far to the east, and tornado bait sky watchers are hunkering down preparing for the next finger of God to stab and smear the earth and destroy everything they hold dear. … And these folks don’t always see it coming. Once in a while a fantastic funnel comes in the night through the ceiling like a meth head on bath salts and lands right on Dorothy, putting an end to the happiness that once resided there oh so comfortably and oh so ephemerally.
What were their names?
I can't remember their names.
“Who killed me?” I asked.
“Do you want the name of the actual person or the asshole who gave the order?” he said.
“I suppose the latter,” I uttered, gripping my neck.
“That hypocritical sot!”