Unsubscribe Now or Forever Hold Your Peas

Have you ever been disappointed when one of your favorite bands put out an album that you hated? I mean one that's so far and away from their previous stuff that you don't recognize them in it? I feel like that's what I'm doing to you.

the trees are blue, the soil is purple
lightly edited photograph of a wood covered path, Petaluma CA

I want to say a few things about the poem I sent a couple of weeks ago, Proctalgia Fugax, but since it wasn't exactly what you signed up for, I'm only posting it to my blog instead of sending it by email.

Proctalgia Fugax Is Pain or Cramping Felt Around Your Buttocks and Rectum.

I began this email distribution writing about my recovery from trauma. This was borne of a need to tell. Writing has helped free me from the many constraints I had put on myself in order to survive. But it has also become a trap.

Have you ever been disappointed when one of your favorite bands put out an album that you hated? I mean one that's so far and away from their previous stuff that you don't recognize them in it? I feel like that's what I'm doing to you. And it's been holding me back. Don't take that the wrong way. It's not about you, it's all me. You're wonderful. I am grateful for you. I needed you, and you were there for me. But I'm growing and I need to explore...

I would never have chosen this life. What happened to me fucked me up. For most of my life I have been in reactive mode. I have been forever struggling, coping, hiding, angry, depressed, lonely, lost, distracted, off-balance, confused, anxious, paranoid, and frustrated.

But not in the way that you think. Or not only in the way that you think. Or not in the way that I used to think. My single biggest disappointment in my life has always been me. It was that I never allowed myself to fully become the person I wanted to be.

I thought I always wanted to be a writer. But I've fought against it the whole time. Before that, I thought I wanted to be an actor. But I sabotaged that in a way that almost took my life. I had childhood dreams and I threw them away. My childhood was at first taken from me, but then I went all in and killed myself. Over and over. I call it suicide by thousands of tiny compromises.

I'm not dismissing the good shit. I've been incredibly lucky in so many ways. It took a long time but I finally understand what family is. I have one. I am surrounded by loving people, whom I love in return. I'm the closest to happy that I've ever been, despite holding a deep philosophical opposition to such a thing.

On my fortieth birthday, we had a celebration with a large group. I got shit-faced and made a mortifying confession. I blurted out to the entire crowd that when I was young, I always wanted a nickname, but never got one. My friend Tony (asshole) immediately shouted, "Scooter!" We all had a good laugh, but I felt shamed.

Twenty-five years later, I realize that what I was trying to express with that admission, was that I have always felt like I never really had a childhood. Sure, I have some childhood memories. Some good ones, along with the others. But I was never fully present within myself. I was always too alert, too guarded, too uncertain, too busy pretending to be OK.

I'm not drunk right now. But I may be about to mortify myself. Way back when. Before That Time. Before I wanted to be an actor. Before I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be an artist. I then spent the next 50+ years telling myself I could never be that.

Note that I did not capitalize, 'artist.' I didn't imagine success or fame. I just wanted to be able to make art. I tried drawing for a while. Then oil painting. Then guitar. Then piano. Then acting. Then photography. Then writing. But throughout all of these dabblings, I never learned how to get out of my head. I never learned how to tap into any kind of creative flow. But I am now beginning to.

Two of the aspects of my young personality that I sacrificed for my survival were vulnerability and spontaneity.

The paranoid trope I've lived over and over again is the one depicted in the movie, The Sixth Sense. Spoiler alert. The main character finds himself in mysterious circumstances involving a young boy who sees ghosts. The big reveal at the end is that the protagonist is the ghost that the boy is seeing. They guy just couldn't accept that he in fact had already died. This is also the plot of Jacob's Ladder, which I've written about before. It's also been the stuff of my nightmares.

If you recall, one of my recurring nightmares is a visit from The Prince of Darkness. The pattern is always the same, even if the circumstances vary. Usually he appears by himself, but sometimes he has an angry mob behind him. His appearance is sudden and ominous. He never speaks. He has a knife. Sometimes the angry mob is armed with pitchforks, I kid you not.

The P of D, as I like to call him, is there to kill me. Well, not exactly. He's there to convince me to kill myself. He does this simply by tossing his knife to me. The scariest aspect of the dream is that I know he's right. I am supposed to kill myself. It is my fate. It is inevitable. It cannot be escaped. It can only be postponed. Which I do, every time, by waking myself up. Sometimes with a scream.

In addition to recurrent nightmares, I've also always had lucid dreams. Some years ago, I started becoming lucid in the nightmares. In these dreams, even if without words, there was something like a mental battle between me and the P of D. Eventually, I found the courage to face the knife. I don't recall the details (they're probably written down but my dream files are too many and too disorganized to easily find any particular one).

Are you familiar with the Edward Albee play, The Zoo Story? Two guys meet in a city park, on a bench. Jerry is eating his lunch when Peter appears. Peter chats up Jerry, asking increasingly personal questions. As Peter talks, his stories become bizarre and confrontational. Suddenly Peter pulls out a knife. After being vaguely threatening to Jerry with the knife, Peter places it on the bench. He continues to harangue Jerry, who becomes scared of Peter so he picks up the knife and brandishes it in defense. Peter leaps forward and impales himself on the knife in Jerry's hand.


(Reminder that a knife figured prominently in my attack. A jackknife was held to my throat to stop me from resisting. So, yeah, a fear of knives is a logical element in my nightmares.)

(PS - One day, answering the question, Why do you have so many tattoos?, it dawned on me that getting tattooed is literally being stabbed thousands of times per minute.)

So this is what I finally did with the P of D. I leapt into the knife before he could toss it to me. I completely surrendered to his intention and allowed myself to die in the dream. I woke with an amazing feeling of lightness and relief. Pretty cool, huh?

The big takeaway from my nightmares is that I have been walking around dead my wholelife. I ritually sacrificed my young self by shutting off his ability to be vulnerable or spontaneous. I had to figure that out, and I had to accept it. You see my dreams were real. I not only had to accept my (childhood) death, I had to embrace it. I had to go backwards in time, I had to go back through that death, in order to let that kid live again.

"I have seen the dorfns!"

Did the nightmares stop? Yes, and no. The P of D no longer hunts me, but I continue to have dreams of death and annihilation. I still have lucid dreams, and combinations of the two, but I enjoy all of them. My dreaming has become a surreal playground that I look forward to visiting. Which brings me to the point of this message.

I have bizarre dreams and I am beginning to harvest them for inspiration. What I mean to say is, if you thought Proctalgia Fugax was strange, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Surrealism was partly inspired/influenced by dreams and dreaming.

I have allowed myself to be vulnerable with you here, by sharing some of my secrets.

I am trying to get out of my own way and be spontaneous.

I have always been guided by my intuition. To the point that I trust it more than anything.

I am not suddenly an artist. I am not becoming an artist. I'm giving up trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Scratch that. I'm never growing up. Growing up is for adults.

"The more I look, the more I see."

What I want to do now is unknown to me beyond exploring creative outlets and my creativity. Once a dilettante, always a dilettante. I'm going to continue writing. I'm going to continue my visual art experimentations. I'm beginning to make electronic music. I'm making cultural commentary stickers, and posting nonsense to social media.

And I intend to share much of it through this blog. If you came here to support me in my recovery, to bear witness to my story that I needed to tell, I thank you so much. Writing these stories has freed me to begin telling other stories.

My trauma will never not be part of my story, and whatever I create will partly reflect that. But I started this, whatever this is, with an objective. That objective has been met. I don't know exactly what's to come. But I promise it will be weird.

I understand if what's to come is not what you signed up for. If that's the case, please unsubscribe now with my blessing. You are beautiful.